The truth you need to know about battery powered mowers...
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
In this 20th century of modern technology you maybe on the verge of pulling the trigger on one of the latest lawn maintenance innovations. You guessed it, the battery powered lawn mower and all the tools its batteries are compatible with. However, if you here and not at the sales counter, then you must not be completely sold on the idea at this point. No doubt you have already heard the sales pitch, which is usually free and easy to find on the sales floor from the staff, but if you want the truth, here it is.
First thing many people wonder about a battery power machine is how long do I have? How long can I use this tool before its going to shut down and require recharging? Most battery powered mowers with a 40-volt battery advertise 30 to 40 minutes of run time. On the surface that sounds pretty good considering most properties under a ¼ acre can be mowed between 30 to 40 minutes. The time to mow can be increased or reduced based on factors such as how fast the mower will go, how fast the operator can walk with the mower, is the turf wide open or full of turns with various nooks and crannies, as well as the number of hills on the property and how steep they are. BUT WHAT THEY HAVEN’T TOLD YOU is that the advertised 30 to 40 minutes of run time is under ideal conditions. That’s mowing the lawn 2 or 3 times weekly as needed to remove only short amounts of grass. In fact, anything over 4 inches is less than ideal. When you consider grass can grow 2 to 4 inches a week you can see how easily we drift from these ideal conditions. If you want to cut a whole weeks’ worth of grass in one pass just know that will work the electric motor harder reducing your run time. If you fall behind or get sick and miss a week, just call in some help because the little electric motor will struggle to perform for long. Another consideration is what speed do you want to go. If slow is fine for you then you may not notice much impact to run time. However, if you would rather get done and get on with life just remember the faster you go, the faster you drain the battery. To remain in ideal conditions, one would also want no dew or moisture on the turf. Where gas engines can power thru these inevitable variables, battery powered equipment can only do so much strenuous work before charging. In our busy lives avoiding situations like these is easier said then done. Especially if you must mow 2 to 3 times a week to avoid overloading your mower with what would be considered tall grass for a battery mower. You have all these issues regarding run time to contend with before you even begin to consider diminishing run time as the battery ages. WHICH GETS US TO THE NEXT THING THEY HAVEN’T TOLD YOU, THAT YOU HAVE TO KNOW…
Speaking of battery run time diminishing with age, which is common with all rechargeable batteries, what goes into the life of a battery in the first place. After some digging, these are recommended procedures to maintaining one common brand’s electric mower battery. They say always remove the battery from the tool when not in use. Sounds easy as your going to put it in the charger anyways. However, your also advised to remove the battery from the charger and unplug the charger once the battery is charged. How many times do you imagine people will remember to do this step the next day when the battery has finished charging and they are off to work? What is more important than this, however, is to charge the battery every 2 months for 2 hours. Again, this sounds easy but how difficult is it to remember something as simple as adding fuel stabilizer to a gas mower or starting a gas mower every 2 months in the off seasons. Most people buy battery powered equipment to avoid these necessities. Considering these batteries run $60 to $150 each depending on if you get the low or high capacity battery, you really need these to go the distance. Otherwise all the money saved in fuel gets spent on batteries. In a perfect world the battery is warrantied 3 years by some manufacturers but how likely are they to honor the warranty with so many impossible variables involved in the maintenance? Most warranties also only cover workmanship or premature failure, not diminishing runtime due to use or age. How long do you think it will be before you will need new or additional batteries to keep up with your lawn? The last variable to consider is the quality and ability to cut the grass in the first place.
We all get sick, it happens. Did you cut the grass the last time you had the flu or a cold? We all fall behind from time to time due either to illness or rain, however, the lawn continues to grow. Once its tall grass often takes two cuts even with a commercial mower, and even they can struggle depending on the height of the grass. Battery mowers face limits that gas powered units can more easily overcome. Between limited battery capacity and additional wear and tear, the electric motor just isn’t designed to handle falling behind on mowing. It really isn’t an option for battery powered mowers. Even if you keep up with weekly lawn mowing you are still likely far from the ideal conditions the lawn mower was made to operate in. This presents another issue beyond ability to cut, next we should consider the quality of cut. Perfect cuts are made when the blades maintain their max speed, add any load or strain beyond what the motor is meant to handle in ideal situations and the blade slows down. The result when this happens is the mower produces less vacuum reducing it ability lift all the grass up high enough to produce and even complete cut. This vacuum becomes more important for thinner grasses or grass weighed down with morning dew. This can be some what over come with blades designed to produce extra vacuum, however they require additional power to run, straining an already over work electric motor quickly reducing battery run time. Running the battery powered mower in real world conditions will often result in the need to cut the lawn initially and then do additional passes to get what the mower failed to get the first time.
Every situation is different and for some people, this may still be a viable option. If you have made it this far and the battery mower was able to accomplish the job congratulations. Now you just need to use those depleted batteries to run the string trimmer for what the mower couldn’t reach and use the blower to blow the clippings off the walkways, patios, driveway and street.
If this sounds like more than you would like to mess with you can call a local lawn mowing service such as Advance Lawn Care at 501-617-2773 for a free estimate on lawn mowing, leaf removal and pruning. Advance Lawn Care serves Hot Springs Arkansas and surrounding areas.