Cordless Electric Mowers: Mowing Down Pollution

Cordless electric mowers are easy to use and work as well as gas mowers.

| April/May 2009

As fossil fuels become more scarce (and expensive!), it’s a wise idea to consider more seriously how we use these resources. Americans use more than 800 million gallons of gasoline every year to mow lawns. That may be just a fraction of the 142 billion gallons used annually for all gasoline engines in the United States, but it’s a big source of pollution. Operating a lawn mower for one hour produces as much pollution as driving a car 93 miles.

Enough is enough! A couple years ago, I decided I could no longer ignore the pernicious environmental effects I was causing by mowing my lawn with a gasoline-powered machine. So I decided to switch to cordless electric mowers, and MOTHER EARTH NEWS asked me to try out a range of them.

Electric mowers can be recharged using electricity generated by renewable energy, such as solar or wind. But even if you use electricity generated from burning fossil fuels, it creates less pollution than would come from using a gas mower.

The Test Lawn

My lawn is not a refined and perfect middle-of-the-suburbs lawn. It’s pretty much what grew up of its own accord when the grading was finished around the house, supplemented here and there with some grass seed where nothing seemed to volunteer for ground-cover detail. If left to its own preferences, my lawn would probably be a hayfield. But it actually looks nice, if I keep it mowed. And it is a good test plot for lawn mowers. If a mower can make my lawn look good, it can handle any normal lawn with ease.

The summer of 2008 was challenging for testing lawn mowers. It rained, and rained again, and then rained some more. I was rarely able to mow the lawn when the grass was the right height for mowing. Almost every time I had a window of opportunity for mowing, the grass was too long, and it presented a challenge that some electric mowers met much better than others.

The Test Lawn Mowers

Just a few years ago, there were only a couple cordless mowers to choose from. Now, there are about six, of which I tested four: the Black & Decker CMM1200, the Neuton CE 5.2, the Neuton CE 6.2 and the Remington MPS6017A. All have all-wheel height adjustment with one control and can operate in mulching mode (chopping up the clippings instead of blowing them out the side) or bag mode (collecting the clippings in an attached bag). The Black & Decker and Remington models also have a side-discharge option (clippings are blown out the side), which is standard on the Neuton models. Performance for all the mowers was best in mulch mode.

Dennis Miller_2
6/21/2009 12:32:01 PM

I use gas engines or 120VAC motors for everything except a Dewalt cordless drill. I've also found out that small engines really react favorabally to 93 and 94 octane fuel. Tried it sometime! The boost in horse power is incredible! I've had other battery operated devices but I simply detest the short energy cycle and hate even more when the battery voltage starts to plummet in the middle of a job. Maybe I have larger jobs than those who posted below. I agree with Dan to some extent. Americans should be free to use whatever equipment they chose without fear of other politically motivated people ganging up to force them into buying something they don't want. I believe in Global Climate Change as dictated by Mother Nature... and not the global warming as invented by Al Gore. Mother Nature always wins out.

Dan Ogden
5/16/2009 10:01:06 AM

You people who want to get rid of grass lawns because their maintenance is somehow supposedly harmful to the environment are loony! I'm interested in cordless lawn mowers because I'm tired of the maintenance costs and hassles of gas lawn mowers, not because of some environmentalist-wacko concern. I love having a grass yard and hopefully environmental leftists such as those who have made comments above won't take away my and others sensible people's enjoyment of a grass yard.

Barbara Smith_6
5/6/2009 7:49:20 AM

Rechargeable lawn mower seems like a silly idea to me. My old rotary mower (cost less than $100) uses human power to push it, needs no recharging. Lawns are wasteful of our water supply, should be kept to a minimum at any responsible home. Vegetable and flower gardens, wildflowers, fruit and nut trees could replace that non-productive, outdated luxury--the lawn.

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