Electric vs Gas Lawn Mowers: How to Decide
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In the market for a new lawn mower, but not sure which type is best? Let us help you navigate the debate on electric vs. gas lawn mowers.
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With more lawn mower models on the market than ever before, and so many sizes, styles and features to consider, making buying a lawn mower isn’t as simple as it once was. And now, electric mowers are making a big splash in the lawn care industry.
Not long ago, mower motors required too much juice for a cord or batteries to be practical. Not anymore. Modern refinements and innovations allowed corded and battery-powered electric lawn mowers to burst onto the scene with gusto.
Gas-powered mowers ignite a mixture of air and fuel, compressing it in a cylinder, then igniting it with a spark to create a miniature explosion which is harnessed to power the machine. Electric mower motors, however, feature magnets interacting with electromagnets, energizing metal coils to move rotors and create power. Electric mowers can be powered by batteries or a 120-volt receptacle via extension cord.
Lawn Mower Considerations
Lawn mower manufacturers can be disingenuous about the real world power levels of their products. It’s not uncommon for electric mowers, for example, to have their “max torque” specs touted as evidence they match gas-burning models in power output. This is deceptive.
Max torque gives an inflated perspective of a mower’s true power because it measures engine torque under little or no load. The fact is, horsepower is the only reasonable unit of measure for lawn mowers, which I suspect is why electric lawn mower manufacturers don’t share this figure. The real-world horsepower of most electric mowers is half, or less than half, the horsepower of a similarly sized gas-powered machine.
It’s hard to measure exactly how much run time you’ll get from a tank of gas in your average fuel-burning mower, because much depends on the speed you run it and the density of the grass you’re cutting. It’s a safe bet, though, that a tank of gas will last longer than a fully charged battery on any equivalent electric model.
Most electric mower manufacturers give a maximum run time estimate, which for push and self-propelled mowers is almost always an hour or less. Riding electric mowers might run two hours, tops, on a single charge. Plug-in mowers don’t require batteries and will keep running continuously unless there’s a power outage. In that case, a generator with sufficient voltage capacity can keep you going.
The Environment and Noise
While power and run time certainly favor gas-powered mowers, noise and environmental considerations support electric. Battery-powered mowers have zero carbon emissions, so running one won’t contribute to climate change. Even the best gas-powered mowers can give off a significant amount of emissions.
Noise is also a factor worth considering. Many municipalities regulate the acceptable amount of yard noise. Big, beefy gas-powered mowers can easily exceed these guidelines, but battery-powered mowers almost certainly won’t.
Note: Some users find vibration is more severe and bothersome with gas burning mowers than electric.
Laws and Regulations
In some states, the laws will dictate which mowers you can and can’t buy. California passed a law in 2021 banning the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment. That will take effect as soon as 2024. However, to help ease this transition, California has set aside 30 million for a rebate program to offset the cost of new zero-emission equipment for professional gardeners and landscapers.
Manufacturers are starting to follow suit. John Deere unveiled its very first electric riding mower in 2023, with additional models to come. Honda announced in 2022 that it will stop making gas-powered mowers all together.
Operating and Maintenance Costs
Although it’s tempting to believe battery-powered mowers will always cost less than gas-burning mowers long-term, this isn’t necessarily the case. Although you’ll almost certainly spend less on electricity charging your batteries or running your corded mower then on gas and lawn mower oil for your fuel-burning machine, there’s more to the equation.
Lithium ion batteries don’t last forever and eventually need replacement. They’re not cheap, either. If your electric mower comes with a generous warranty, you might be lucky enough to get a replacement battery (or batteries, if your mower takes two) for free when yours bites the dust. Otherwise, you could be looking at a 200 to 400 expense.
Ease of Use
Electric mowers are usually simpler to use and maintain than their gas-powered counterparts. They don’t need gas, oil changes or new air filters, and you don’t have to make sure the carburetor and spark plugs are clean and functional.
Electric Lawn Mower Cons
Gas Lawn Mower Cons
How To Choose the Right Mower
Battery-powered mowers work best for people with small lots who want to minimize maintenance, noise and carbon emissions. But if noise and exhaust don’t bother you, and you just want to mow and be done with it as quickly as possible, you’re probably better off going gas-powered.
Whether you go with gas or electric, it’s important to choose the right model for your needs. If you’ve got an acre or less to mow, a self-propelled walk-behind mower is probably your best bet. If you’ve got a larger lawn or simply don’t like walking and mowing at the same time, a riding mower will make your life much easier.
detailed considerations like engine power, blade speed, deck width and other features come down to personal preference and available budget.
Professional landscapers are reluctant to plug into electric mowers due to cost
Austin Acocella, co-owner of Acocella Landscaping in Westchester County, N.Y., is holding onto his gas-powered mowers. He says electric ride-ons are too expensive for him to switch right now. Matthew Schuerman hide caption
Austin Acocella, co-owner of Acocella Landscaping in Westchester County, N.Y., is holding onto his gas-powered mowers. He says electric ride-ons are too expensive for him to switch right now.
SCARSDALE, N.Y. — Electric lawn mowers have taken the U.S. consumer market by storm over the past few years. And they’ve done so quietly — about 20 decibels more quietly in some cases.
Once restricted to lawns no larger than the length of an extension cord, mowers on the market today run on lithium ion batteries that can last 45 minutes or more without charging and cost about as much as gas-powered versions. And in 2021, according to market research company FactMR, electric lawn mowers made up 37% of all sales.
But professional landscapers, who have to run their machines all day, day after day, have yet to join the trend in large numbers. Electric heavy-duty ride-on mowers make up just 11% of the total market for all heavy-duty ride-on mowers.
For homeowners, I feel like it’s great, said Austin Acocella, co-owner of Acocella Landscaping in Scarsdale, N.Y. The battery just doesn’t last long, especially for the stuff that I do.
He has checked out commercial-grade mowers with batteries that can last six or more hours, but hasn’t wanted to pay the upfront costs. A 52-inch-wide ride-on model, the Rival from Mean Green Mowers, starts at nearly 30,000. That is more than three times a comparable gas-powered machine – though the manufacturer says the customer will break even given significantly lower operation and maintenance costs.
In the future I would love to buy them, but right at this second, I just can’t because of inflation and just everything that’s going on, Acocella says. I just can’t swing it yet.
Acocella and his employees began using hand-held electric devices – leaf blowers, weed whackers and hedge trimmers – last year when one of his clients, the town of Larchmont, required it. He’s begun to use them on other properties as well because they are lighter, much quieter, and don’t emit pollutants. But with the exception of the hedge trimmer, he says, they need frequent battery changes and are not as powerful.
I need something that’s going to last long or something that’s easy, Austin says. Like I have a gas can, it’s on a truck that I just fuel up and I go. How many batteries do I need to have in order to get through the day?
Mean Green Mowers, a 10-year-old electric lawn mower company based in Ohio, sells commercial-grade ride-on lawn mowers with long-lasting batteries. Jen Stroker (left), regional development manager for the company, and Raymond Rocco, co-owner of C.R. Power, which sells the products, demonstrated the Rival model in a Port Chester, N.Y., park recently. Matthew Schuerman hide caption
Mean Green Mowers, a 10-year-old electric lawn mower company based in Ohio, sells commercial-grade ride-on lawn mowers with long-lasting batteries. Jen Stroker (left), regional development manager for the company, and Raymond Rocco, co-owner of C.R. Power, which sells the products, demonstrated the Rival model in a Port Chester, N.Y., park recently.
Bans on gas-powered gear
Yet landscapers are being pressured to change – sometimes by clients and sometimes by governments. Last fall, the California Legislature passed a law requiring that all new landscaping equipment sold in the state be emissions-free beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
The state and national landscaping associations objected, arguing that electric equipment wasn’t advanced enough to operate for long periods of time, and in some cases, did not work as well as gas equipment. As proof, they cited a study from the California State University at Fullerton to show that zero emissions equipment hadn’t caught on among professionals. The study found that less than 6% of equipment used by landscapers were zero-emissions, compared to more than 50% of the gear used by homeowners.
But Assemblymember Marc Berman, the bill’s author, disputes the industry’s characterization of zero-emissions equipment.
This equipment is ready today, said Berman, a Democrat from Palo Alto. There are at least eight brands that produce zero emission equipment in each major equipment category for commercial equipment.
After that bill was passed, New York State Sen. Pete Harckham introduced a similar bill in Albany. Though it did not pass in the regular session, Harckham told NPR he plans to re-introduce it but has not decided on when the mandate would take effect.
Both the California legislation and the New York proposal only address the sale of new equipment, meaning landscapers and homeowners can continue using their existing gas-powered tools.
Numerous cities and towns across the country have gone further and restricted the use – as opposed to just the purchase – of gas-powered leaf blowers. And this month, two municipalities in Marin County, Calif., – Fairfax and Sausalito – banned the use of other gas-powered equipment as well, including mowers, to be phased in over the next 18 months.
Mixed environmental impact
Electric lawn mowers won’t help much in terms of climate-changing emissions – people just don’t mow their lawns nearly as much as they drive. The California Air Resources Board, for example, estimates that phasing out gasoline-powered lawn equipment will save an average of 0.66 million metric tons of CO2 a year, while the state produced 418 million tons in 2019 – the last year data was available.
But the agency found that gasoline-powered engines produce substantial amounts of other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, which can lead to respiratory difficulties and smog. In addition, researchers have raised concerns about the impact of the equipment’s noise and vibrations on operators’ health.
Large, commercial-grade equipment is used on a significant proportion of green spaces around the country – not only public properties and office parks. The California State University survey found, for example, that half of the state’s residents with lawns hired landscapers to take care of them, either partially or fully.
Drawbacks of mandates
Still, even some supporters of green landscaping oppose mandating electric equipment, arguing that it may cause small landscapers – an important employer of immigrants and limited-skill workers – to go out of business.
If you just ban the use of equipment, you’re really putting the entire onus on the landscapers to come up with the money that they need to purchase the equipment, said Jamie Banks, the founder and CEO of the non-profit Quiet Communities, Inc. It’s not just purchasing the tool but also purchasing enough batteries and enough chargers that they can meet their work production needs.
And some of those batteries are expensive – as much as 1,500 for a backpack-style one to power a leaf blower. California lawmakers have so far allocated 30 million for subsidies to offset the higher landscapers will have to pay for new electric equipment. But the National Association of Landscape Professionals said the amount breaks down to just 15 for each piece of gas-powered equipment that landscapers in the state need to replace.
Berman, the state legislator, said that he is hoping to get more subsidies in the budget for the coming year.
Quiet Communities and another nonprofit, the American Green Zone Alliance, have been working with towns, school districts, and other entities to adopt zero-emissions equipment for their own properties, but to do so voluntarily. So far, they say they have recruited about 20 locales and institutions across the country to take part in their program.
I think the writing is on the wall, Banks said. It’s just, how do we get there in a way that’s, you know, fair, most efficient and so forth.
The 10 Best Electric Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Sage McHugh has written for Dotdash Meredith since 2019. With over a decade of experience in consumer-oriented content, Sage has a passion for products and how they enhance our everyday lives.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Shereen Jegtvig is an author, fact-checker, and expert with over two decades of experience in health and wellness in the lifestyle space. In addition, she is a Developmental Editor for Dotdash Meredith where she reviews the work of other fact checkers.
Electric lawn mowers have many advantages over gas-powered models. For example, electric models don’t release exhaust fumes and can be significantly quieter and easier to operate, resulting in a much more pleasant mowing experience all around. “Electric lawn mowers come with many features to help owners stay safe, comfortable, and productive,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
We researched many different types of electric lawn mowers and tested several in our own backyards across the country. We then evaluated products based on their setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value and selected our favorites in a range of categories for this list. During our first run with the mower, we timed the assembly process and made careful notes about how clear and simple the included directions were. Following this, we utilized the mowers on three separate occasions, taking note of the grass length cut, the total area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to complete the task.
In our latest round of testing, we put six riding lawn mowers through their paces in our personal yards and selected the best electric ones based on its power, maneuverability, and noise level.
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- Powerful and easy to use
- Lightweight and foldable for vertical storage
- 60-minute runtime and recharging
- Relatively affordable
After testing other electric mowers across the country, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is our best overall pick because it is very easy to use, lightweight and compact, and offers additional power when you need it, all at a relatively affordable price. Self-propelled mowers make mowing—especially over hills and rugged terrain—much easier because the mower moves for you at your pace, while you simply guide it around your yard. This option is no exception. While we tested this mower, we almost found it too powerful at first, especially because it was our first time using a self-propelled mower. But once we got the hang of it, we turned it off and on easily, and adjusted the speeds when needed by using the levers on the handle. We found the self-propulsion helpful for going up small hills (the lowest speed was all we needed) and turned it off when navigating around obstacles.
We also appreciated the battery life and fast recharging this mower offers. Although it comes with just one EGO 56V ARC Lithium battery, it has a 60-minute runtime and only takes about the same time to recharge using the included Rapid charger. And while it only took 50 minutes to mow our lawn, we are happy to report that the battery did not run out. If you have other EGO products at home with the same battery, you could always swap in that battery if you have a larger lawn and want to continue mowing without much of a break.
Other user-friendly features we love include the easily-adjustable handle: You have two options for the height and three options for the angle, so you can pick the one that is most comfortable for you. We also found adjusting the cutting height to be a simple task, with six settings to choose from ranging in height from 1.5 to 4 inches. And when you are done, the handle is just as easy to fold, so you can store your mower vertically in your garage or shed. We do want to note that while we think this mower did a great job mowing in dry and damp conditions, once when mowing over a particularly wet area, an orange light came on and the mower stopped. However, once we moved the mower to a more drier area, we were able to start it again easily. The only other minor issue we reported is putting on the grass collection bag. We found it would be much easier with two people since it clips on tightly and it’s a bit hard to get around the support bar (it popped off a few times during this process). But other than those small issues, we think this is an excellent electric mower for navigating different types of terrain with ease.
How It Performed Long-Term
We’ve been testing this lawn mower for three months and are impressed with its long-lasting battery life. With the ability to mow the lawn three times before requiring a recharge, which only takes around 20 minutes, it is a reliable and efficient machine. This mower can effortlessly handle thick, tall grass and can even manage up to 10 days of uncut grass without any issues. While we initially experienced some issues with the mower stopping and a light running orange while mowing grass, we have since been able to handle damp grass with ease. Overall, this mower is ideal for individuals who may not have the hand or upper body strength to adjust tires or use a pull cord.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 62.61 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower
- Affordable, powerful, and compact
- Unlimited run time
- Seven cutting positions
- Bag, mulch, and side-discharge settings
We’ve tested the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower several times over the last few years, and it continues to stand out as the best affordable choice for small yards and tight spaces, even those with somewhat challenging terrain. In fact, while testing this mower in our latest round of testing, we had no issues navigating over divots, clumps, bumps, and other parts of our lawn that were uneven—we found that this mower powered right through them. Plus, the 12-amp motor is powerful enough for tough cutting and mulching, including the tall, spindly weeds in our yard. We didn’t report any issues mowing over slightly wet grass either.
The 20-inch cutting deck is narrower than some other options, but we found that it helped us get through the tight areas of our yard easily. Adjusting the cutting height (seven different heights ranging from 1.5 to 3.75 inches) is simple as well, and really is the only setting you need to worry about. However, we did note that the mower didn’t go quite low enough to cut some patches of clover. Although it’s budget-friendly, we love that you have three options for your grass clippings—bag, mulch, or side discharge—and you don’t have to purchase any of these features separately (which would add to the cost). The grass collection bag was easy to clip on, although we did spill some grass clippings the first time we removed it and noted that the bag was not even full. However, we think this won’t be an issue once we get the hang of it.
Although this electric model is corded, we appreciated the unlimited runtime and didn’t find the cord to be cumbersome. We did find ourselves holding on to the cord even though there was a cord restraint system that kept it in place, but we were able to mow the lawn easily with our other hand. It’s important to note that this mower must be used with a 14-gauge 50-foot extension cord or a 12-gauge 100-foot extension cord (not included). Overall, we found this to be a really easy lawn mower to set up (just a few screws are needed for the handle), use, and store (just fold the handle), and it continues to impress us with its performance and price.
Price at time of publish: 230
Lawn Mower Review, Battery technology BETTER Than GAS!? Ego Select Cut XP LM2156SP review!
Cutting Width: 20 inches | Weight: 56 pounds | Power Source: Corded | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower
- Powerful performance
- 70-minute runtime
- Fast, 60-minute charging
- Lightweight and folds for storage
Although it is a little more of a splurge compared to other options we tested, The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower stands out for its powerful performance (comparable to some gas models), and long, 70-minute runtime. We tested this mower on the first grass of the season and were quickly impressed by its ease of use and quiet performance (we thought it almost sounded like white noise), especially compared to gas models we’ve used in the past. Thanks to the self-propelled technology, it was a breeze to mow over uneven terrain, even over hills, with little effort on our part. It did take a little bit of time to select the right cutting height for our uneven lawn (the blade did get stuck a few times), but once we adjusted the height, we were impressed by the cutting performance. Luckily this mower offers seven adjustable cutting heights (1.5 to 4 inches), so you can easily pick the one you need. We also want to mention that like our best overall mower, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower, the self-propelled feature does take some time to get used to, and you may feel like the mower will run away on you at first until you figure out which setting you need for each part of your yard.
This model comes with two 40-volt batteries and a Rapid charger. Since only one battery is needed at a time, you will always have one ready to go should you need it. Our lawn took only 45 minutes to an hour each time to mow, and we never had to stop and recharge it to finish the job. However, we did have to stop the first time we mowed to empty the grass collection bag, which we found to be surprisingly small. It filled up after mowing about 25-30 feet of tall grass. The next two times weren’t as much of an issue because the grass wasn’t as overgrown. It was very simple to remove the full bag, but we found that it spilled easily and a few blades even spilled when the mower was in use (whether or not it was filled.) These few issues aside, we appreciated the bag, mulching, and side-discharge options for the grass clippings overall, although it is worth noting that it did not break up older leaves very well.
Like most of the mowers on this list, the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is easy to fold and store vertically to save space. We were equally impressed with all of the safety features. Although it has a simple, push-button start, the mower has a key that you can store separately so no one can accidentally start the mower. When ready to use, the key has to be inserted behind a flap. Plus, the mower only works while you are gripping a lever. The LED headlights provide extra light that might be helpful when mowing around dusk or dawn. Although this mower is a bit more pricey than our best overall (which is also a battery-powered self-propel model), we think it’s worth the extra cost for the power, long runtime, and extra battery.
How It Performed Long-Term
After three months of use, we can report that this lawn mower has continued to impress us with its ease of use and quiet operation. The self-propelled feature makes navigating hills and uneven terrain a breeze, and we were able to get up to 4 uses out of a single charge. The mower excels at cutting grass and collecting clippings, and while it may struggle with heavier weeds, we had no issues with damp grass. It’s worth noting that the grass bag became heavy with clippings, but overall, we are confident in recommending this lawn mower to anyone in need of a reliable and efficient cutting tool.
Price at time of publish: 799
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 75 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Relatively quiet
- Folds for compact storage
While testing, we found that the Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower was as easy to use as a corded vacuum. At under 30 pounds, this mower is very easy to push, even though it’s not a self-propelled model. It is corded, so you will most likely have to use an extension cord. However, you won’t have to worry about the battery running out, stopping to recharge a battery, or fumes from a gas model. We were also impressed by how quiet this mower was, especially compared to gas mowers we’ve used in the past. This mower was simple to set up—we just had to attach the bag and two parts for the handle.
Thanks to the 14-inch cutting deck, we found this to be a great push mower for navigating around tight corners and spaces. However, we do want to point out a few issues we came across while testing. We found that the grass collection bag filled up pretty quickly (after mowing about 20-30 feet). And when we mowed without the bag, we did notice that the grass would get stuck underneath the blades. As a great safety feature, the mower would immediately shut off. The grass was easy to remove though, and we were able to get back to mowing quickly. Also, it’s worth noting that this mower only has three settings for the cutting height, ranging from 1.12 to 2.52 inches. While you won’t get as a precise cut as other models, and you may have to stop to empty a bag or remove grass from underneath the mower when tackling long grass, we think this is a great budget-friendly push mower that is perfect for small lawns.
How It Performed Long-Term
We are still very satisfied with its performance, even after using it for three months. The grass has grown thicker and longer since we first tested the lawn mower, but we were able to adjust the height of the mower to handle it with ease. Even after it rained, we were able to cut through the grass without any problems. However, it should be noted that the grass catcher bag becomes heavier with damp clippings and more difficult to empty. Although we appreciate not having to refill the mower with gasoline constantly, we believe it would be more convenient if it ran on batteries rather than a cord. Having to connect the extension cord to different outlets in the yard can be a bit inconvenient. All in all, we believe it is a dependable mower for its price.
Price at time of publish: 108
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29 pounds | Power Source: Corded electric | Cutting Options: Bag, side-discharge
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor
- Powerful Performance
- LCD Screen and app for tracking battery life
- 13 cutting heights
- Many extra features
If you have a larger yard to mow, a riding lawn mower can save you time and energy with its speed and efficiency. While testing the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor we were impressed with its exceptional cutting performance, long battery runtime, and maneuverability. The electric mower has four steel blades that provide 13 different cutting height positions, ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches, for a very precise cut. We found that the mower was able to handle a variety of debris with ease, effectively chopping up sticks, leaves, grass clippings, and even short dandelions that normally would be difficult to cut. The cutting height can be adjusted using a manual lever on the mower’s right side. However, we did find that the lever was surprisingly close to your leg, which can result in unintentionally changing the cutting height, although we did not experience this issue ourselves.
While putting this battery-powered mower to the test after a rainy morning, we found that it had no trouble dealing with wet grass and cutting it evenly. Even when the grass was damp, the lawn mower effectively discharged the grass clippings. While we love that this mower gives you three options for grass clippings—bag, side-discharge, or mulch—note that you will have to purchase the bagger and mulching kit separately. We were also impressed with the riding mower’s quietness despite its size. When the cutting blades were not moving, the riding mower sound resembled that of a battery-powered ride-on car for kids. And, when the blades were spinning, the noise level was super low compared to traditional gas mowers.
The mower has an onboard LCD screen that lets you check the runtime and charging status and control the LED headlights, drive, and blade speeds. The battery percentage also appears on the digital display menu. You can even monitor the charging status while you are taking a break, using the Ryobi Riding Mower app. We found charging the mower to be a simple process. The battery arrived with just 23 percent charge, and it only took us about an hour to fully recharge. For each mowing session we did, only about 10 percent of the battery was utilized. While we would have preferred a physical speed control lever, we found it manageable to switch while driving. The mower has an accelerator pedal that allows for slow and precise maneuvering around obstacles while providing instant speed when necessary. The mower is also equipped with a backup beeping noise, which is intended as a safety feature but we found it annoying over time.
All in all, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor is a great riding mower that offers a quiet and efficient mowing experience that eliminates the hassle of gas and oil. While this isn’t the best choice for small yards, if you want to keep your large yard looking great without a lot of effort, this is an excellent choice with lots of extras.
Price at time of publish: 4,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 557 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 12 height settings
- Powerful performance
- LCD screen and app to monitor battery life
- Joystick steering
Zero-turn mowers are built to be fast and easily navigate obstacles, and the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower does just that. We put the riding mower through its paces and found it to be a highly intuitive and easy-to-operate machine. Instead of a steering wheel, this riding mower has a joystick that can be operated with just one hand, for better maneuverability while turning. The joystick gave us complete control over the mower’s direction and speed, from a complete stop to top speed. With its impressive turning abilities, we were effortlessly able to mow around trees in a single pass, a task that would have previously required about four passes with a different mower.
Setting the cutting height was equally simple, thanks to the conveniently located lever that offered twelve height settings ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. The mower even comes with a height-stopping key, that allowed us to adjust the mowing deck to our desired cutting height quickly. Overall, the mower did a phenomenal job of cutting the grass evenly. We did encounter some thicker grass areas in the yard, but we found that slowing down the mower’s speed allowed it to power through without any issues. We were able to mow our half-acre yard much faster with this mower compared to the Troy-Built Pony 17 HP 42-inch Deck Rider we previously used. In fact, it took us 40 percent less time to complete the task. It also is much quieter than the gas riding mower, and you don’t have to deal with flammable gas or oil changes.
The RYOBI 80V HP Brushless Riding Mower is equipped with two 80-volt, 10-amp hour batteries and two 40-volt, 12-amp hour batteries, providing ample power for extended mowing sessions. During our testing, we appreciated the ability to install up to three 80-volt and four 40-volt batteries, allowing us to extend the mower’s runtime even further. Charging the batteries was a breeze. We simply had to plug the charging cord into the rear of the mower to simultaneously charge all the onboard batteries. We were also delighted to find out that the 40-volt batteries can be used with different cordless Ryobi tools like trimmers and blowers, expanding the range of our outdoor power equipment collection.
And while it has many of the same features as the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery Riding Lawn Tractor, this option has the power equivalent of a 31-horsepower gas engine and the ability to cut up to three acres on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. It also offers an app to monitor the battery status and has an LCD screen onboard so you can control the LED headlights, blade and drive speed, as well as monitor the battery, runtime, and charging status. This is an expensive mower, but we think it is an excellent zero-turn option that will make your lawn look great quickly and efficiently.
How to Choose the Best Mower and Avoid the Worst! Lowes Mower Buyer’s Guide
Price at time of publish: 6,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 700 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Toro 22 60V MAX Electric Battery SMARTSTOW Personal Pace High Wheel Mower
- Automatically adjusts to walking pace
- Nine cutting positions
- Vortex Technology results in finer grass clippings
- Quick-connect bagging and mulching
Toro’s cordless, walk-behind mower is a powerful and precise piece of machinery. It has a three-phase brushless motor that maximizes RPM and torque, and a 22-inch deck. While it may come with a fairly steep price tag, its advanced features make mowing hassle-free. There are nine different cutting positions available, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches, so you can make a clean cut even in tight spaces. Toro’s patented Vortex Technology also ensures finer grass clippings and a healthier lawn.
The mower comes with one battery that can run for up to 40 minutes, allowing you to cut up to 0.33 of an acre on a single charge. However, some users have reported the battery running out of juice in half that time. The mower’s 10-inch rear wheels provide excellent traction on tough terrain without damaging your lawn. It also features a self-propelled transmission that adjusts to your walking pace, making it easy to maneuver. Thanks to its quick-connect bagging system, you can easily switch from mulching to bagging. Despite its heavy weight, the Toro Recycler Walk Behind Mower folds up compactly for easy storage.
Price at time of publish: 729
Cutting Width: 22 inches | Weight: 95 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Best for Small Yards
Worx WG779 Power Share 40-Volt 14-Inch Cordless Walk Behind Mower
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Dual charging port for batteries
- Battery charge indicator
- Batteries compatible with other Worx tools
The Worx Power Share Battery Walk-Behind Mower has a 14-inch cutting deck that can cut up to 0.12 acres per charge, making it an ideal choice for smaller yards. At 29 pounds, it’s light enough for almost any user to handle. This unit is equipped with two batteries and a dual charging port to maximize the recharging time. For added convenience, there’s an on-board battery charge indicator that lets you know when you’re running out of juice. Another great thing about these batteries is that they’re compatible with a variety of other Worx tools.
This mower has six height adjustments, and you can easily add more torque with the turn of a knob. It also has the ability to mulch or bag grass clippings, and you can easily gauge when the bag is full, thanks to its transparent plastic top. Keep in mind that this compact model is best-suited for smaller jobs, so you will need to limit your expectations when it comes to performance. According to some reports that we read, it has difficulty powering through tough grass, and it sometimes stalls on lips and edges.
Price at time of publish: 300
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29.1 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch
Makita 36-Volt Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower
- Powerful motor
- Durable construction
- 10 cutting heights
- Optional quiet mode
- Includes extra set of batteries
If you’re looking for a cordless, battery-powered option, this push mower from Makita won’t disappoint. The brushless motor is incredibly powerful, delivering up to 3,300 RPM. This tool is powered by two 18-volt batteries, but four batteries are included, so you can swap them out for extended run time. All together, the batteries deliver up to 43 minutes of runtime. The handlebar has a rubberized grip for user comfort, and the handles fold for compact storage.
The Makita Push Lawn Mower has an 18-inch commercial-grade steel deck for optimal durability. It features a wide range of cutting heights—10 settings ranging from 0.81 to 3 inches. Though it performs well on most turf types, this mower may struggle a bit in overgrown grass. It has the ability to bag, mulch, or rear-discharge clippings. There’s even a quiet mode so you can mow your lawn without disturbing your neighbors.
Price at time of publish: 599
Cutting Width: 18 inches | Weight: 60.46 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, rear-discharge
Worx Landroid Robotic Mower
- Fully automated
- Customize mowing schedules via app
- Navigates 20-degree slopes
- Detects rain and avoids obstacles
Tired of mowing the lawn? This fully automated, robotic lawn mower does all of the work for you. It can mow medium-sized lawns up to 1/4 acre in size. To set it up, you’ll need to put down a boundary wire around your yard and connect the mower to the app. You can start or stop the machine, set up a mowing schedule, and check the mowing progress via the app. The Landroid is equipped with an 8-inch cutting width, the height of which can be adjusted between 1.9 and 3.5 inches. Two brushless wheel motors give it enough traction to navigate 20-degree slopes.
If the mower encounters an obstacle, it will simply back away. For more precise detection, an additional collision is available at an additional cost. It can also be programmed to avoid certain areas of your yard. When the Landroid detects rain or the battery runs low, it will return to the docking to either recharge or wait until the lawn is dry. With all of these features, the Landroid Robotic Mower is certainly worthy of its steep price tag. One thing worth noting is that even though this robotic option gets fairly close to the edges of a yard, you’ll likely need a string trimmer for touch-ups every so often.
Price at time of publish: 2,000
Cutting Width: 8 inches | Weight: 48.5 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: None
After testing this mower in our own backyard, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower earns our top spot. This powerful mower offers up to an hour of uninterrupted runtime and is easy to use, thanks to self-propelled technology. We also love the adjustable and foldable handle for compact storage. If you’re looking for a more affordable option for your small yard, we found the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower to be compact and lightweight enough to navigate around obstacles with ease, and offers unlimited runtime, as long as you don’t mind a cord.
How We Tested the Electric Lawn Mowers
We tested eight walk-behind lawn mowers including gas, electric corded, and cordless, battery-powered models in our own yards across the country. After putting them to the test on our own lawns—ranging from small to large—we evaluated them on setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value. For the first use, we timed setting up the lawn mower and noted what assembly, if any, was required, and if the instructions were detailed and easy to follow. We also recorded the battery charging time if it was a cordless model. We then used the mowers on three separate occasions when the weather and growing conditions allowed and recorded the length of grass cut, the surface area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to accomplish the task. We noted how easy (or not) it was to start the mower, adjust the handle, adjust the speed (if self-propelled), and change the cutting heights. We also evaluated the different features including bagging, mulching, and side-discharge options (if included) for the grass clippings. Aside from evaluating each mower’s set up and features, after use, we noted how easy it was to navigate around obstacles, up slopes, and other challenging areas including uneven or tall grass. We then looked at the appearance of the lawn and noted if it looked evenly cut. We also noted all of the safety features as well as any extra features such as LED headlights, foldable handles for storage, cord management systems, and more. After testing, the top electric mowers were added to this list. In our latest round of testing, we tested six riding lawn mowers in our yards and evaluated them on the same criteria explained above. We conducted thorough testing and compared the results with our previous product recommendations in order to provide the best suggestions possible. We made adjustments to the categories based on standout performance, either by swapping out or adding new options.
What to Look for in an Electric Lawn Mower
Electric mowers fall into four main categories: push, self-propelled, riding, and robot mowers. Choosing the right model depends on the size of your lawn, budget, and how much labor you’re willing to put in. Push mowers require that you walk behind them and manually propel them. Since they lack many of the features that you’ll find on more advanced electric lawn mowers, push mowers tend to cost significantly less. Push mowers also require the most amount of labor, making them an ideal choice for small to medium-sized yards with relatively flat terrain. We like the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower because it is very easy to navigate around your yard and comes at a very budget-friendly price. Self-propelled mowers are equipped with technology that propels the wheels as you mow. These mowers are often significantly pricier than push mowers, but they require a lot less effort on the user’s part. A self-propelled mower like the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is a great choice for medium-sized to large lawns with sloped or uneven terrain. An electric riding mower is the most powerful option—and likewise the most expensive. Users must either sit or stand on the machine in order to operate it. With an ultra-wide cutting swath and the ability to navigate difficult terrain, a riding mower is well-suited for large yards with steeper slopes. We love the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor because it can cut up to two acres on a single charge and offers plenty of great features. Robot lawn mowers are typically programmed through an app, allowing them to operate autonomously with little to no effort. Some initial setup is required, but a robot mower can be programmed to mow your lawn automatically, avoid collisions and inclement weather, and more. Although they’re incredibly convenient, robotic models also have a shorter runtime and a smaller cutting width swath, limiting their use to smaller yards. Our top choice in this category, the Worx WR147 Landroid Robotic Mower, is almost 100 percent autonomous once it’s been set up.
Cordless electric lawn mowers run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A cordless model gives you more flexibility and portability because it doesn’t restrict your movement. However, you will have to be mindful of the battery life, which typically runs down between 30 and 60 minutes. Some cordless electric mowers come with extra batteries that can be swapped out to extend their runtime. You could also purchase a second battery to increase the operating time. That way, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice mid-task. Our top choice for a cordless model, Makita 18-Volt X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower, includes an extra set of batteries so users can mow longer without having to recharge. The biggest advantage to a corded electric lawn mower is that it provides unlimited power. Corded models typically cost less than their battery-operated counterparts. However, your movement is restricted to the cord’s length. A corded mower must be used with a heavy-duty extension cord, which is often sold separately. Most manufacturers recommend a 12-gauge or 14-gauge cord, but you should always refer to the owner’s manual to ensure safe operation.
Deck size refers to the width of the mower, and determines how wide a path it can cut. A wider deck size results in a wider cutting swath, allowing you to cover a larger area in one pass. The standard deck size on both push and self-propelled mowers typically ranges from 13 to 22 inches. Robotic mowers usually have a much smaller cutting deck between 5 and 10 inches. Riding mowers, on the other hand, can have a deck size as wide as 54 inches. A riding mower is best-suited for large lawns that normally take a good deal of time to mow. Our top pick for zero-turn, the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower has a 42-inch deck and 12 cutting heights to make short work of a big job, navigating around obstacles with ease.
Motor Power and Type
Cordless electric mowers that run on batteries produce anywhere from 18 to 20 volts of power. The higher the voltage, the longer the motor will run on a single charge. Likewise, a mower with a higher voltage will allow you to cover more ground in one pass. Higher voltage is usually necessary to mow large lawns and generate enough torque to cut through tall, dense grass. The amp rating is also important in determining how powerful an electric lawn mower is. For example, a 12-amp electric mower can power through tough grass, while a 6-amp model would struggle. A corded electric lawn mower typically draws between 6 and 13 amps from a standard outlet. The battery on most cordless models delivers about 18 amps per hour.
Brushless vs. Brushed Motor
Brushless motors are more efficient, because they don’t lose much energy through friction and heat, both of which could potentially damage the motor. Plus, you don’t have to worry about replacing brushes when they wear out. All of these factors contribute to a more reliable performance and less maintenance. Brushed motors, on the other hand, generate more heat, which explains their tendency to stall and overheat. Although brushed motors are more affordable upfront, you may pay more for maintenance in the long run. You’ll also need to replace worn-out brushes as needed, which is an additional expense.
Grass Bag Catcher
A grass bag catcher attaches to the side or rear of a lawn mower and collects grass clippings. Grass cuttings are collected in a bag at the same time as they are cut. This is a convenient feature because it saves you from having to bag or clean up the clippings yourself. With a grass-catching bag, your lawn will look neat and well-maintained after mowing.
An electric lawn mower with mulching capabilities will chop grass up finely and drop the clippings back onto the lawn. As the clippings decompose, they release nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, into the soil. Since mulching naturally improves the health of your lawn, it may need fewer fertilizer treatments.
Adjustable Cutting Height
Most electric lawn mowers have an adjustable cutting height, ranging from 1 to 4 inches, which allows users to cut a variety of grasses and tackle tall, overgrown lawns. As a general rule of thumb, the ideal height for cool-season grass is about 2 1/2 inches. When mowing, you should only remove about the top third of the grass blades.
“The lifespan of an electric lawn mower varies, based on make, model, and consumer care practices,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Just like other outdoor equipment, with proper maintenance, charging, and battery storage practices, then the electric lawn mower can easily meet the user’s expectations.”
- Regularly inspect the cords for nicks and frays, as well as the batteries for any damage or deformities.
- Confirm that all of the vents are free from debris.
- Be sure to only use batteries and chargers in conjunction with manufacturer recommendations.
In the case of electric lawn mowers, convenience comes with a cost. Push mowers are on the lower end of the price scale, but they also require the most amount of manual labor. Self-propelled mowers typically cost several hundred dollars more than push mowers, but they reduce the amount of manual labor that’s needed. advanced models, such as robotic and riding mowers, can be quite expensive, but they essentially do all the work for you. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to put in the labor or pay more to make your life easier.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019. To select the best electric lawn mowers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their motor type, power source, cutting width, special features, and overall performance. McHugh consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For additional insight, she interviewed Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
Jenica Currie, Commerce Editor for The Spruce updated this list with insights gathered from testing various electric lawn mowers in our own backyards across the country. She also added additional picks and reporting.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure that we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all of these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
The pros and cons of electric lawn mowers
Electric lawn mowers have arrived. We lay out the pros and cons of these green yard machines.
Sean Jackson is a creative copywriter living in Florida. He’s had work published with Realtor.com, theScore, ESPN, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In his free time, Sean likes to play drums, fail miserably at improv and spend time at the beach.
Once upon a time, all lawn mowers were gas-burning beasts whose pull-start motors relied as much on elbow grease as internal combustion just to get started. These days you have more options. While big-box stores still have plenty of gas-powered models on display, there’s a growing number of electric mowers available to purchase.
If you’re new to electric lawn mowers, there are some things you should consider before buying one. Electric mowers certainly offer some unique benefits, but they have some performance limitations you will want to be aware of too.
This guide examines both the benefits and drawbacks of electric mowers. By the time you’re done, you’ll hopefully have a sense of whether or not they’re a suitable fit for your specific lawn care needs.
Pro: Quieter operation
Electric mowers can produce up to 75 decibels (think washing machine volume), whereas gasoline mowers are quite a bit louder at 95 decibels (motorcycle volume). If you live in a suburb, an electric mower will be a less disrupting option for your neighbors.
Pro: Less maintenance
One of the biggest perks of electric mowers is there is less maintenance involved. With gas mowers, you have to replace parts annually. Examples are spark plugs, oil and air filters. That’s not the case with electric mowers. And these savings will increase every year, making an electric model more economical.
Pro: Easier to maneuver
Electric lawn mowers are lighter than their gas powered siblings. That means they’re easier to whip around tight corners and navigate through your yard. For example, the EGO Power Plus 56-Volt 21-in Push Cordless Electric Lawn Mower weighs 62.6 pounds after assembly.
Conversely, gasoline lawn mowers can be much heavier. The Craftsman M250 160-cc 21-in Self-Propelled Gas Push Lawn Mower with Honda Engine weighs a hefty 90 pounds. While the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when you mow, it is still a heavy object to lug around when it is not in operation.
Pro: Cleaner for the environment
Gasoline-powered mowers emit lots of airborne pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency states that gas lawn mowers contribute the lion’s share of nonroad-related air pollution generated nationwide.
A clear clean alternative is the electric lawnmower. The Electric Power Research Institute notes if we replaced half the gas-powered lawn mowers with electric ones, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as removing two million vehicles from the road.
Pro: They can be less expensive
If you are looking to save money, electric lawn mowers might be a wise option to consider. Electric models start as low as 88, the price for the 11-inch, 10-amp Electric Hover Walk Behind Push Mower from Sun Joe. However, this model has a relatively narrow cutting width.
Alternatively, for gas-powered mowers tend to start at around 170. For example, the Yardmax 20-inch 166cc OHV Gas Walk Behind Push Mower and 20-inch 125 cc Briggs Stratton Gas Walk Behind models each cost 169 and cut wider swaths of grass.
So saving a little cash also means you’ll take more time and effort to cut the same area than you would with a bigger mower. Generally, the wider the cutting platform, the more money you’ll pay. For instance, the wider Sun Joe Mow Joe 20-inch model will set you back 170 even though it’s an electric model.
Con: Shorter run times
If your yard is more than half an acre, then an electric model might not be the best choice. Many electric mowers, like the Sun Joe Hover Walk Behind model use a cord. It allows you to mow a yard up to a quarter of an acre. However, that tether can also be a hindrance as you work.
Other electric models run on charged batteries and offer runtimes ranging between 20 and 45 minutes. If it takes longer than this to mow your yard, this limitation is a problem. To finish the job, you’ll have to wait for the mower to recharge. A better solution is to keep another charged battery on hand to extend your mowing time. However, that requires you purchase an extra standalone battery.
Con: Not the best for larger yards
For homeowners with hilly or larger yards, finding the right mower can be a challenge. A riding lawn mower like the gas-powered Toro IronForged Deck Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower will do the job. It has a huge cutting width of 60 inches and will definitely finish big yards quicker.
You can purchase electric riding mowers as well. The Ryobi 42-inch 75ah Battery Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower offers a decent cutting width of 42 inches. Still, if you have a yard encompassing multiple acres, it will take you longer to finish the job with an electric model like this one.
Con: They are not as powerful
When shopping for a mower, one thing to consider is its torque rating. Torque is the driving force behind a blade’s rotational movement. Electric lawn mowers generate substantially less torque on average than a gas mower does. It means a gas mower will be a much better choice to tackle challenging terrains like hills and dips.
Overall, the lawn mower market continues to expand with diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers will still be the best fit, as they have the durability and power to tackle large projects with ease.
Meanwhile, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, then an electric lawn mower is the wise way to go. Either route you take can help you gain a healthy-looking lawn that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.
In the meantime, here are some other tips to keep your yard looking great: