Until recently, electric lawnmowers tended to be underpowered, expensive, and unreliable, making them an inferior choice for many homeowners. But today, with those problems largely solved, the best electric mowers have the power and battery life to keep pace with just about any gas mower, depending on the size of your lawn. A cordless electric mower with a large, 56-volt battery can run for about an hour. Plug-in electric mowers can of course, go even longer, but using a long electrical cord can be challenging.
Quality electric mowers—especially the cordless, rechargeable ones—still tend to cost a little more than most new gas models. But you can recoup some of the expense with cheaper operating costs, since electricity is a less expensive fuel than gas, and electric motors generally require less maintenance than gas engines.
Another important cost consideration is that rechargeable batteries typically need to be replaced after three to five years. The cost savings also depend on the size of your lot. A small lot uses less gas, so fuel savings are less significant. You can save an important amount on the purchase price with a corded mower if you don’t mind the hassle of navigating around the cord.
There are additional benefits of electric mowers besides lower fuel and maintenance costs. Electric mowers are much quieter than their gas counterparts—a benefit your neighbors will appreciate if you like to mow early on weekend mornings—and they start instantly. Electric mowers produce zero emissions, but the overall environmental impact depends on how the electricity you’re using (to charge the mower) is generated. The environmental benefits will be greater if the electricity is generated from renewable sources.
If you’re willing to keep your lawn mowed regularly and don’t mind breaking a sweat, consider a manual reel mower. Some models are more effective than you might think, they’re far less expensive and require little maintenance or storage space.
The most dramatic step you could take is replacing your lawn completely, perhaps with water-efficient landscaping, a rock garden or vegetable garden, or even an artificial lawn. This could dramatically cut your water bill and the environmental impact of a lawn. Any change you make, whether in mowing or landscaping, will require a little research. But it’s great to know the option of an electric mower is more viable than ever.