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I have had my gas lawnmower for about 3 years, which isnt very long. It is already spewing oil and white smoke. I know it is most likely the head gasket, but I really dont want to deal with it.

So I am considering getting a new lawnmower. While looking at them I noticed that there are a lot of electric lawnmowers out there. I like the idea because they seem to be lower-maintenance.

My yard is about half an acre, and very flat. The only thing I use it for is to cut grass and mulch leaves. I have read that they arent powerful enough to create a fine mulch, so you have to go over the same spots multiple times. I can live with that.

The other downside I have read about is that battery life can be an issue. People recommend having multiple batteries, but batteries are half the price of the lawnmower!

I was wondering if anyone had experience with battery-powered lawnmowers and how they felt about them. Gas-powered mowers are well documented, so if I have an issue I can almost always find a solution online. I dont think that is the case with electric, but I also dont think there are as many things that can break.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

closed as primarily opinion-based by isherwood, Tyson, ThreePhaseEel, Machavity, Daniel Griscom Feb 22 '18 at 1:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    That's a pretty broad question. Electric mowers have been around for a long time, and recent advances in motor and battery technology have vastly improved them. This means that reviews and anecdotes will be all over the map. I suggest you get on [insert your favorite massive online retailer here] and read reviews of specific models. – isherwood Feb 21 '18 at 15:23
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    sorry for your luck, but that short of life from a gas mower is way outside the norm even if you buy the cheapest non-name you can find. – agentp Feb 21 '18 at 15:52
  • There are lots of battery powered mowers 24 v, 40 v, 56 v & 80 v some come with batteries some do not, I purchased one for my step dads birthday. the battery capacity in amp hours and the motor draw in amps to figure out how long the battery would last and the online reviews. With multiple batteries you may be able to do your entire yard. one thing I always do is let the battery cool down prior to recharging. If the battery is hot and you immediately start recharging some battery packs will stop to allow the battery to cool but some do not this shortens the battery life from overheating. – Ed Beal Feb 21 '18 at 18:24
  • @EdBeal That sounds like good advice. The only issue is that they start out expensive, and then go up drastically as the voltage goes up. I am assuming any voltage can cut grass (as long as it isnt growing out of control), but would a more powerful battery be able to mulch leaves? – bsayegh Feb 21 '18 at 19:58
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    That was my point: Anecdotes shared here will be for products used over the last two decades. Product reviews there will be for currently-available products, and therefore far more relevant and useful. You've mentioned the major drawbacks. Now it's a matter of deciding whether you can live with them and a particular product's idiosyncrasies. At that point your question becomes one of product recommendation, which is off-topic here. – isherwood Feb 21 '18 at 20:09
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By far the biggest con is charging battery(ies), although that's becoming less of an issue as battery technology gets better. Any issues with not cutting well, not mulching well, etc are largely issues of older mowers.

Consumer Reports actually starts to recommend some electric mowers as of ~last year. You can read more about their recommendations, but they boil it down to a few points:

  1. Electric mowers tend to cost more up front, but tend to cost less to operate and maintain (by ~$20/year according to their estimates). Payback period is on the order of 10 years, though, making it a long-term investment. You'll want to run numbers using the cost of your electricity and gas for an accurate comparison, of course.
  2. You'll probably want a spare battery (unless you go corded, but those options seem more limited), meaning even more cost. At some point, the battery(ies) will need to replaced as well, potentially eliminating any cost savings compared with gas mowers.
  3. At least right now, there aren't any riding-style electric mowers for large yards. If you have more than ~1/2 acre, electric probably isn't for you.

That said, it seems that the good mowers have good (enough) batteries to last long enough to mow a typical 1/4-1/3 acre lawn on a single charge. You could also go corded and eliminate battery worries entirely.

  • A 1/2 acre on a corded mower would be nightmare in my opinion, the cord for that long would need to be 12awg to limit the voltage drop that big of cord would be expensive and heavy to pack around. – Ed Beal Feb 21 '18 at 18:05
  • @EdBeal Depends on the layout of the yard, but yeah, it probably wouldn't be fun. If the yard is flat and there are several receptacles available, it may not be terrible, though. – mmathis Feb 21 '18 at 18:07
  • I am assuming that it wouldnt have the same issues was a gas powered mower, but also assume it will have other issues unique to electric mowers. The only place I could find any details on that was the QA section of HomeDepot, and most people reported a few loose nuts or clips, but not much as far as whats "under the hood" – bsayegh Feb 21 '18 at 19:56
  • consumer reports math assumes you will never need to replace the battery in 10 years. Good luck with that. – agentp Feb 21 '18 at 20:06
  • Are corded mowers still a thing? Did they ever figure a way to break through the 1440W barrier? – Harper Feb 21 '18 at 20:31
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You clearly got a bummer in your current gas powered mower. They should last far longer than that. Makes me wonder if it was maintained. Still, a head gasket and valve job is pretty cheap, especially in the off season. Gas power provides options such as self propelled not available in electric. Good used machines are readily available very reasonable priced. Battery powered items are the rage right now. Great for computers and phones, not some much for lawn mowers.

  • My Lawnmower was a Troy Built that I got for around $350? Something around those lines. The most I would did is change the oil and fill the gas. The air filter had been changed once but that was it. There are actually self-propelled electric mowers now, but they cost $500-$600 – bsayegh Feb 21 '18 at 19:54
  • Home Depot lists 4 battery-powered self-propelled electric lawnmowers online; Lowes lists 7 (and they all seem to be different from HD's). Hardly "not available in electric" as you state – mmathis Feb 21 '18 at 20:03

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