Lawn Mowers

By Ginny Frizzi

July 9, 2010 5 min read

Homeownership involves various responsibilities, including keeping the lawn mowed. But before that can be done, one question must be answered: Should you choose an electric- or gas-powered mower? General factors to be considered include lawn size, terrain, how often the grass is cut and the way you want to cut. According to Victor Stramenga, business development manager of Husqvarna, the world's largest manufacturer of lawn mowers, most people whose houses are located on plots of a half-acre or less use electric mowers. "Those in suburbia or those who live in urban neighborhoods where the houses are located tightly together will use electric-powered mowers," he says. "Electric mowers are lighter and better-suited for lawns less than a quarter-acre. They typically are less powerful than gas mowers and less effective at cutting tall or thick grass. Corded electric mowers are limited by the lengths of their cords, usually 100 feet or less." If you want a high-quality cut, then a gas mower is your best option, according to Aaron Hanlon, product manager for Cub Cadet. "The engines on gas mowers allow for higher revolutions per minute on the blade and allow for better airflow in the deck and better mulching," he says. "An electric or battery mower tends to run on fewer rpm because motors aren't as strong as engines, and to get longer run times, the rpm are lower to conserve energy." As far as the cut goes, Hanlon says: "Electric battery mowers can produce a good cut, but on average, a gas mower will be better. Someone who wants to make sure a yard is perfectly manicured should choose a gas mower." Electric mowers generally have a smaller deck size, which means more passes to mow a lawn. And they are usually easier to maintain than their gas counterparts. "With an electric mower, you don't have to worry about changing gas or oil. I've found that many people put in oil when they first get their mowers and then forget about it. It's the last time they put oil in their mowers," Stramenga says. Electric mowers have another advantage, according to Hanlon. "Electric/battery mowers are much quieter. If you want to mow your yard in the morning or just don't like the noise output from an engine, the battery or electric mower is ideal," he says. Those with more than an acre of property generally choose gas mowers, usually tractor models, because of their power and durability. Rear-wheel drive tractors are better-suited for hilly yards and have a swath of 21-22 inches, whereas gasoline-powered push mowers' cutting coverage is between 19 and 21 inches. For every quarter-acre of lawn mowed, the person doing the job walks between one and two miles. Craig Melby is a consumer who has used both kinds of lawn mower. "If the lot is small enough to reach with a cord, electric is much better," he says. "It's quieter and starts every time, no messing with gas going bad, tuneups or keeping explosive gas cans in the garage. If the lawn is too large, there is not much choice; it needs to be gas." Another idea is for neighbors to pitch in and buy a mower as a group, like Randy Winn and his "mower consortium." "We bought ours electric, in part because it fit the character of the neighborhood better," he says. "It's quieter than gas and uses less imported petroleum products, which is important to our values. I store it in my shed, and members of our mower consortium use it as needed. By the way, the torque is far superior on the electric." Though most people who own electric mowers have ones that are powered by a plug put into an outlet, battery-powered mowers, which also are considered electric, are growing in popularity, according to Stramenga. "Electric-powered mowers are more environmentally responsible because there are no emissions," he says. "As environmental restrictions get tighter, electric will become more popular." Hanlon has a suggestion for those in the market for a new mower. "Someone who has difficulty pushing mowers should try pushing a battery mower in the store before purchasing it," he says. People looking to acquire more efficient or environmentally friendly mowers can turn to agencies like the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has sponsored a lawn mower exchange program that enables people to exchange higher-polluting gas mowers for new battery-powered ones. Those who dream of a self-mowing lawn might find the answer in Husqvarna's Automower. The battery-powered mower resembles a larger version of a self-operating vacuum cleaner and can be set for when to mow. It will do the job automatically and return to its docking station to recharge. Automowers cost between $2,000 and $4,000.COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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