It’s no longer easy to purchase a new lawn mower. Your first question may be, “Should I buy a battery-powered, corded, or gas mower?” You should take reliability, storage, maintenance, and noise level into account before making the final decision.
Compared to their gas-powered counterparts, electric mowers are typically easier to operate and maintain. Because they lack a gas engine or batteries, corded electric mowers are the least expensive option.
In this guide, we’ll help you navigate this wide-open field to decide which type of mower is best for your lawn.
Three Different Types of Mowers
Today’s mower market is for you if you like options. To find one that suits your lawn, mowing style, and budget, choose between a gas, corded electric, or battery-powered lawn mower.
Battery-powered Lawn Mower
The first of two varieties of electric lawn mowers is battery-powered equipment. (Be aware that we will not discuss battery-operated robotic lawn mowers in this article because they belong in a different category.)
Battery-powered mowers for smaller lawns are a good option if you don’t like gas, fumes, or oil changes. Find a brand you like, and stick with it if you’re interested in electric lawn tools. You’ll be able to power their entire line of lawn equipment with one brand of battery.
Corded Electric Lawn Mower
Corded electric lawn mowers are the other kid on the electric lawn mower block. These lawn mowers, which use an electric cord rather than batteries, are excellent for small, flat lawns. These might not be for you if you don’t like dealing with a vacuum cleaner’s electrical cord. These are an affordable option that can fit nearly any budget if carrying a cord doesn’t bother you.
Gas Lawn Mower
No introduction is necessary for gas lawn mowers. They’ve been around for decades, and until recently, “lawn mower” didn’t need an adjective in front to describe its power source. However, power comes with a price. Be ready to carry a gas can rather than a cord, and be aware that once the season is over, you’ll need to do a little winterizing.
Pros and Cons of Battery-powered Lawn Mowers
Formerly viewed as inferior to the powerful gas mower, battery-powered lawn mowers (also known as cordless electric mowers) are now updated and improved, and they are prepared to face off (or race head-to-head) with the opposition.
These cordless electric lawn mowers used to be an impractical option for small to medium-sized lawns, but as battery life and power have increased, they are now a viable option. They operate without emissions and with less maintenance, which is appreciated by homeowners. (Look, Dad, no oil!)
Mowers that run on batteries sometimes fall short when compared to mowers that run on gas. Many battery-powered models slow down or stop in thicker grass, which has led to complaints from homeowners. This is not an issue with gas mowers.
Another problem is the length of the mow. On a single battery charge, some battery-powered equipment can’t mow a medium-sized, moderately dense, or weedy lawn. People who want to mow an average-sized lawn in a single session may find this frustrating.
There is still hope if you want a battery-operated mower. Here are a few solutions to these typical issues.
Problems and Solutions for Battery-powered Mowers
|Buy more than one battery
|Thick grass, dense vegetation
|Mow slower, tilt the mower back, or raise the mowing height
|Find a local service dealer before you buy
If you have a larger yard to mow, or you have thick grass or lots of fall leaves, look for more battery power. Most battery-powered mowers use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and you’ll see the battery power listed in volts (18V, 20V, 80V). You’ll have a longer run time with a higher voltage.
Maintenance is yet another issue. Finding a service facility that can fix a corded or battery-powered lawn mower will be more challenging in the majority of the country. (California might be an exception.) In addition, centers that repair battery-powered (or corded) mowers often work only on specific brands.
Check the website of the brand you are considering purchasing to see if a service center is available in your area before making a purchase. If so, give a call and find out how much repairs usually cost, how long they last, and what warranties cover. You might want to think about a different brand if there aren’t any nearby service centers, or you could call around to see if any independent stores carry that brand.
If your lawn is one-quarter to one-third of an acre and your grass isn’t too dense, many battery-powered machines will mow the lawn on a single charge. You might want to make an investment in at least one spare battery if you intend to mulch leaves in the fall or if your lawn starts to get thicker from all the fall fertilizer.
Pro Tip: Before making a purchase, review the specifications sheet. The product description or online owner’s manual for that mower includes a list of all the specifications, including battery run time, lawn size, cutting height, and other details.
Pros and Cons of Corded Electric Lawn Mowers
- Very low energy costs
- Easy and inexpensive to maintain
- Weighs less than a gas mower and is easier to store
- Lower noise output than a gas mower
- No toxic gas emissions
- Usually lower powered than a gas mower
- Limited range due to cord
- Irritating to use as you have to pay attention to cord safety
- Usually a narrower cutting width than a gas mower
A corded electric mower could be the perfect solution if your yard is very small. You’ll get the eco-friendliness and low noise of a battery-powered mower without ever running out of juice. Corded models offer an effortless, cost-effective mowing experience that is suitable for their lawn and budget, according to many homeowners with straightforwardly shaped lawns.
For lawns up to a quarter acre, the majority of manufacturers advise corded mowers. Some models claim they will operate on up to half an acre. However, would you want to carry an extension cord even a quarter of an acre away? Even for larger lawns, some homeowners find a corded mower to be ideal. It depends on personal preference and the layout of your lawn (hills, flat, outlet location).
You will require a conveniently located garage or outdoor outlet and close attention to where your cord is at all times in order to operate a corded mower. (Normal grounded outlets function as intended.)
Although they lack a self-propelled option at the moment, corded electric mowers are incredibly light. Even when compared to battery-powered machines, the smallest models with plastic (poly) decks are exceptionally light. Similar to a midsize battery-powered model, the larger and more average sizes are similarly heavy.
The power of corded models is measured in amps (amperes), as they are connected to an outlet. For 14 to 21-inch cutting widths, the majority of models range from 9 to 13 amps. You have more power to mow long grass and difficult terrain the higher the amps.
When using a corded mower, some homeowners find it challenging to cut through thick or tall grass. Follow the tips we suggested in the “Battery-Powered Workaround” section above to help your mower get through the tough sections.
The main message is that homeowners with smaller lawns have an accessible, adequate option in corded electric mowers. These machines work well for small suburban lawns if you don’t mind spending some time learning how to handle the cord.
Maintenance and Ease of Use for Electric Mowers
Electric mowers typically have enough power to handle most lawns and are less expensive than gas mowers. Low power electric mowers can become overworked if you have long, thick grass or try to cut it when it’s wet, so pick your mower carefully to suit your needs.
Best practice: If you find yourself with a rambunctious patch of pasture that hasn’t been mowed in a while, consider borrowing a gas-powered mower for the initial pass (check out your local tool libraries and ask friends and family for recommendations), then save money and the environment by using a more environmentally friendly electric mower for maintenance.
Furthermore, maintaining and storing electric mowers is much simpler. The only other maintenance needed to keep an electric mower in good condition is to change the motor’s brushes. This is in addition to routine cleanings and simple checks on things like the wiring from time to time.
You should always clean the cutting deck before putting your lawnmower in storage, whether it is an electric or gas-powered model. To remove the fine grass clippings stuck to the blades, get a hard brush and some water. If there is a hose attachment, all you have to do is plug in your hose and turn on the water to complete the task.
Again, check the general condition of the mower for every mower at least once a year, taking note of the condition of the fuel pipes, electrical wires, nuts, bolts, paintwork, and other components. Apply new paint or another rust inhibitor to exposed metal after cleaning it of any dirt and rust, as necessary. Annually grease shafts, levers, and bearings, and tighten any necessary nuts and bolts.
Pros and Cons of Gas Lawn Mowers
- Powerful performance
- Longer mowing time on a tank of gas
- No cord to contend with
- Can be used when grass is wet
- Great for steep, hilly, uneven ground
- Can handle going over some errant rocks and stones
- Emit toxic fumes and pose risks of gas spills
- Loud! May fall foul of neighborhood noise restrictions
- Heavy and more difficult to maneuver – not great for tight spaces
- Take up more storage space
- Require more maintenance than electric mowers
- Fuel costs more than an electric charge/electricity
- Harder to start
- Need to mix fuel and oil, and/or drain fuel for longer periods of disuse
- Higher vibrations, which can cause health problems over time
(Notably, we’ll limit our discussion in this section to gas-powered push mowers and gas-powered self-propelled mowers because lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers belong in a separate category.)
A gas lawn mower is not for you if old gas and loud noises annoy you. You’ve found the ideal mower if you value strength and efficiency.
The reigning American mowing champions are gas lawn mowers. They’ve helped homeowners maintain their lawns without the help of a family cow or scythe for many years. These workhorses are a key component in a DIYer’s toolkit and have many advantages:
- Gas mowers are reliable and tough — just keep them clean and oiled
- When a gas mower breaks down, you can probably fix it yourself
- Most will mow through any vegetation with no problem: leaves, grass, and weeds
- Can mow almost any size suburban lawn
Modern gas mowers are easier to use and have more bells and whistles than earlier models. Here are a few of the newer features you can find on some modern gas mowers:
- Push-button electric start or spring-assist pull start
- Compact storage feature (fold up and store)
- Self-propelled or standard push mower
- Your choice of mulching, side discharge, bag, or a combination
If you’re interested in the power gas mowers provide, look at the number next to “cc” (cubic centimeters) in the product description. The greater the number, the more force you have to mow difficult terrain.
Despite the benefits of gas mowers, more and more homeowners are beginning to choose electric or battery-powered mowers instead. Homeowners cite the following reasons for going gas-free:
- High noise levels
- Messy gas and oil
- Harmful emissions
- Difficult to start (older models)
- Engine maintenance and winterization
Whatever your stance on gas or electric mowers, it’s impossible to deny that gas mowers have a solid track record, a wide range of features, and the power to cut through any vegetation that gets in the way.
Maintenance and Ease of Use of Gas-Powered Mowers
A gas-powered lawn mower might be the best option for you if you really enjoy getting greasy and filthy and have the kind of masochistic tendencies that make you want to spend your weekends pulling cords to try to start wandering motors. Otherwise, keep in mind that these engines aren’t nearly as simple to operate and maintain as an electric mower.
When pulling a recoil starter repeatedly and the gas-powered lawn mower didn’t start, I have many memories of myself and different family members becoming rather frustrated. Therefore, suffice it to say that I was delighted when my parents upgraded to a corded electric mower.
There is a greater likelihood that your engine won’t start when you need it if you live somewhere cool or have an old mower. You’ll need to take care of either a dirty carburetor or carbon on your spark plug if you want to continue using the lawnmower.
Larger engines with heavier pistons are even more difficult to start, which is why lawn mower manufacturers created easy-start features. These are typically built around an electronic decompression system to aid in lowering engine resistance and an electric ignition system to facilitate a more dependable start-up process. Some gasoline-powered engines, including those in my top picks for Leaf Score, also have spark plugs and oil drains that are simple to access.
It’s best to regularly have a licensed professional service your gas lawn mower if you own one. DIY maintenance may appear cheaper and simpler in the short run, but it voids your warranty, leaving you unprotected in the event that something goes horribly wrong.
Before each use of your gas mower, you should, at the very least, take the air filter off and clean it. This quick and comparatively easy task will support dependability. You must also use the proper proportion of fuel to oil. The engine and carburetor are harmed by too much oil because it produces too much carbon, which also causes more smoke. Overheating and severe engine damage can result from insufficient oil. Fresh fuel is essential for proper gas mower maintenance as ethanol-based gas typically degrades over a short period of time. Therefore, whenever your mower will be idle for more than a few months or at the end of the mowing season, you should drain the fuel from the carburetor. This can be accomplished by running the mower’s engine with the fuel cap shut until the engine burns out and shuts off.
These problems probably don’t even phase you the slightest if you have a mechanical mind and enjoy fiddling around with motors. The fact remains, however, that gas mowers are still noisier, require more maintenance, reduce air quality and cause more pollution than electric mowers, even if they do still tend to be a bit more powerful, for now.
Your local small engine repair shop and home improvement store are excellent places to learn more about top-notch mower models, whether you’re prepared to get creative and environmentally friendly with electric mowers or stick with the tried-and-true gas mower.