Benefits of Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
As technology advancements bring battery powered and electric lawn mowers to the marketplace, many landscapers are asking themselves if electric lawn mowers are any good and if it’s time to make the switch from gas lawn mowers.
Before considering the change to an electric lawn mower, identify the differences between gas mowers and electric mowers so you can make an informed decision. You might even be asking yourself if electric lawn mowers are any good? We say it depends on the brand, but read on to learn more about the benefits of a battery powered lawn mower, and choosing the best mower for your landscaping business.
Benefits of Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
Electric riding lawn mowers are great for the environment.
Electric zero turn mowers have zero emissions. They’re powered completely by batteries and don’t have an engine that burns gasoline. Without using so much as one drop of fuel, an electric zero turn mower produces no exhaust, has zero pollution and puts nothing harmful into the environment.
Electric riding lawn mowers have lower maintenance, saving time and money.
Electric riding lawn mowers don’t need engine oil changes
Electric motors are fundamentally different than internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engines aren’t anything new or special – they’re engines in our cars, power equipment, etc. that burn fuels like gasoline or diesel to generate power. These engines have numerous moving parts which are lubricated by oil for long lasting life and performance. After a certain amount of use, oil breaks down, becomes less effective and needs changing – a time and money expense in labor and replacement parts. The Gravely Pro-Turn EV will never experience the downtime or the expenses of regular engine oil changes.
Electric riding lawn mowers don’t have spark plugs
Electric lawn mowers don’t have spark plugs, meaning power is consistent and reliable. It also means you’ll never have to spend time or money checking, changing or re-gapping a spark plug. If a spark plug in a gasoline engine becomes fouled (coated in gasoline, oil or some other contaminate), it can prevent the spark plug from sparking. When a spark plug doesn’t spark, the engine may not start or could misfire and result in power loss.As long as the batteries are charged, an electric mower will have uninterrupted power delivery.
EGO Z6 Zero Turn Lawn Mower Review. Finally a Good Electric Riding Lawn Mower!?
Electric riding lawn mowers don’t have an air filter
Electric motors don’t have an air intake system. That means no time or money spent checking, cleaning or replacing air filters. No matter how dirty or dusty, environmental conditions will never compromise the health or reliability of an electric lawn mower.
Electric lawn mowers don’t have transaxles
Instead of transaxles on traditional commercial lawn mowers, the Gravely Pro-Turn EV uses proprietary wheel-drive motors. Transaxles usually require an oil change after their first 75 hours of operation and every 400 hours thereafter, but the Pro-Turn EV’s electric wheel motors won’t require a gearbox oil change until after the first 250 hours, and then every 500 hours thereafter.
Electric lawn mowers don’t have belts
We can’t speak for all electric mowers, but the Gravely Pro-Turn EV, doesn’t use belts. Wheels and spindles are powered by independent motors and require no mechanical link from an engine to the mower’s moving parts. That means you’ll never need to check or replace a belt or have the surprise belt break and the downtime that follows. And because there are no belt guards or spindle pulleys, you’ll never have to clean grass from those areas again or worry about an obstruction knocking the belt off a pulley.
- No checking for belt wear
- No surprise belt breaks / jumps
- No belt replacements
- No cleaning under a belt cover
Electric lawn mowers don’t get fuel clogs
Without gasoline, your chances for downtime and expense from a clogged fuel line is zero percent. Carbureted (non-EFI / electronic fuel injection) engines aren’t airtight and gasoline isn’t self-preserving. When air meets gasoline, gasoline can oxidize and turn into a gummy film and clog a mower’s fuel system, even in as little as two weeks with fresh gasoline. If it does, your engine won’t start until the fuel system is cleaned by a mechanic.
You can prevent fuel oxidation in carbureted gasoline engines by adding a quality fuel stabilizer to your fuel before putting your mower into storage. With battery-powered mowers like the Pro-Turn EV, there’s no possibility of this happening, nor is there a need to prepare the mower for seasonal storage.
Electric riding lawn mowers are great for the grass.
Exhaust and pollution are just as bad for plants, trees and grass as they are for humans. While trees, grass and plants intake carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, it’s a misconception that they like exhaust. Exhaust contains harmful chemicals, soot and toxins which are just as harmful to your plants and grass as they are to the air around us. Switching to electric riding lawn mowers gives your customers, and the world, healthier trees and plants.
Electric riding lawn mowers have a lower cost of operation.
In maintenance costs alone, money that would’ve been spent on:
is returned to the s of Pro-Turn EV operators.
Owners also avoid paying the indirect costs of that maintenance. Electric mowers spare you the time and money spent ordering parts, picking them up from a dealership, having them shipped to your home and the service or installation. Most importantly, you’re not spending money on gasoline. It’s no secret that entry into an electric mower like the Pro-Turn EV is going to be more than a gas mower, but when measured against the lifetime value of the equipment in your fleet, the battery-powered unit proves its worth and payout as an investment. For some operators, eliminating the fuel costs, most of the maintenance costs and time and labor savings of each, switching to an electric commercial lawn mower can start paying off in as little as two years. That means as a commercial owner / operator, every dollar saved on gasoline and maintenance after the first two years is money back into your
Electric riding lawn mowers are quieter.
The noise level of an electric lawn mower is much quieter than a gas mower. When the Pro-Turn EV’s blades are engaged, the noise level is similar to that of a vacuum cleaner. Compare that with a gasoline lawn mower, which has a noise level to match a subway train. Quieter lawn mowers are not only safer for the operator’s hearing, but they’re able to operate in noise-restricted areas like around schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
Electric lawn mower last longer than gas mowers.
Studies have shown that the lifecycle of electric mowers outlast gas mowers because electric mowers don’t have belts, pulleys or fuel systems that wear over time. While we can’t speak to other mowers on the market, engineers at Gravely explained how the bearings in the spindle and wheel motors of the Pro-Turn EV are designed to such precise tolerances that they are expected to outlast any transaxle or spindle bearing, by far. Even the batteries on the Pro-Turn EV are designed to hold a charge through the first 1,000 charge cycles. Depending on use, that’s about 10 years and much longer than the lifecycle of a commercial lawn mower engine.
Electric lawn mowers are more comfortable.
Without vibration from an engine and a system of belts rapidly winding through spindle pulleys, your ride on the Pro-Turn EV mower is already more comfortable than a gasoline mower. Even so, it’s still outfitted with the same comfort features as other Gravely commercial lawn mowers like adjustable steering levers, and a full-suspension seat.
Benefits of Gas Riding Lawn Mowers
Traditionally, gas riding lawn mowers have had more power than an electric mower. At least, that’s the way it has been. The proprietary battery technology in the Gravely Pro-Turn EV is designed and proven to deliver as much power as its gasoline counterparts.
Initial expense is less.
A gas zero turn mower has a lower price point than electric mowers. The battery technology required for the electric mowers brings the up for this type of equipment, however, it only takes a couple years for a commercial operator to start seeing the payout from their investment in an electric mower.
Access to maintenance experts.
Electric mowers require specialized maintenance experts who understand the technology in these relatively new and lesser-used machines.
However, the factory-created learning materials supplied to Gravely dealers makes the Pro-Turn EV service knowledge more accessible to more dealers in more areas, giving users easy and reliable product support options.
Gas mowers are more portable.
Among the biggest concerns of a battery-powered mower is the combination of cut time and battery charge time. If the battery on your electric mower runs out, you’re done for the day until fully recharged. With gasoline mowers, you can go as far as your portable gasoline tanks will let you. It’s a valid concern if you’re accustomed to other battery-powered commercial mowers on the market today.
Gravely, on the other hand, designed the Pro-Turn EV to give its operators more freedom and capability. The Pro-Turn EV is equipped with four, interchangeable 50-pound batteries. Depleted batteries can be swapped with fully charged batteries in seconds, and the batteries can be fully charged both in the mower or with an offboard charger. Charge time is 12 hours, but a fast charger can juice four batteries in as little as six hours.
Conclusion: Which is Better for Landscapers: Electric or Gas Lawn Mowers?
Gas riding mowers have always worked great, especially if you don’t mind the little extra maintenance. The strong power makes it a great option for those larger yards. However, if you want to minimize the maintenance on your lawn mower fleet, consider switching to electric mowers.
Consider your budget. Do you have the capital to invest in the electric riding mowers? The higher initial cost does mean you need to have the budget upfront, but investing in an electric mower for your business has even more long-term savings. Gas mowers cost less initially, but their costs grow when you consider gas, oil changes, and maintenance costs. They also have shorter lifecycles than electric mowers, meaning you have to make capital investments in new mowers more frequently.
It comes down to if you want to pay the extra expense now to reap the rewards from your investment later.
Finally, consider how your business fits into the commercial lawn mowing landscape. Electric riding lawn mowers are gaining popularity among residential homeowners and landscapers. Owning electric lawn mowers tells your customers what your business believes in. Do you want to show your customers a deep caring for the environment? Or is that not important to them?
What is the best electric lawn mower?
While electric, or battery-powered mowers are still in their infancy, they’re not brand new. With the Pro-Turn EV’s entrance to the stage, commercial operators now have three brands to choose from if they want the benefits that come with a lithium-ion fuel source. And with more marketplace competition, the more benefits are offered to the customer.
Built by an industry leader
The fundamental difference between the Gravely Pro-Turn EV and existing commercial mowers on the market is where they came from. The other brands are battery manufacturers that built a lawn mower. Gravely, on the other hand, is a 104-year-old, industry-leading commercial lawn mower manufacturer. We know our customer, and we know them well. Their needs, their pain points and the blueprints for equipment that performs to the arduous demands of a commercial lawn maintenance professional.
The Pro-Turn EV uses four 50-pound batteries, that’s about 100 total pounds lighter than products that are already on the market. On four fully charged batteries, the Pro-Turn EV can cut between 12 and 15.5 acres, or about four to five hours of continuous cutting time, depending on cutting conditions. But if you need to go farther for longer, simply replace at least two of the discharged batteries with fully charged batteries in seconds.
The battery and battery management system are just a portion of the proprietary designs in the Pro-Turn EV. Gravely builds the complete Pro-Turn EV system. From large wheel-drive motors to blade-slip technology that help protect the spindle motors from incurring damage and more, none of this machine is built with cheap, off-the-shelf components.
Gravely brought the same well-known commercial features to the Pro-Turn EV as seen in its gasoline-powered models. This includes a durable, mandrel-bend frame rail, a 7–gauge fabricated steel deck with ½ protective edge around front and sides, an intuitive height-of-cut selection system, a four-point, solid-post deck hanging system for deck stability, the latest commercial baffle system for a premium cut quality and ROPS, standard. Additionally, Gravely provides its customers with the assurance of a 5-year / 1500-hour limited warranty with no hour limit for the first two years on the Pro-Turn EV.
The 7 Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers of 2023, According To Testing
We put these battery-powered lawn mowers to the test to see which left our lawns looking fresh.
Andrea Wurzburger has been a writer for nearly a decade, with experience writing for publications like HerCampus.com, REDBOOK Magazine, VH1.com, and People.com. As a features writer at People.com, she wrote across verticals about everything from gift guides to buzzy pop culture galleries.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics that range from film and beauty to science and the automobile industry. Her plant biology degree has a FOCUS on sustainable agriculture, and she’s an expert on growing your own food, environmental sciences, and all topics relating to houseplants.
In This Article
Whether you’re looking to save money on fuel or do your small part to save the environment, battery-powered lawn mowers are an easy way to do so without sacrificing function. Battery-powered mowers are cordless, don’t use gasoline, and are typically best for small to medium-sized yards.
There are a few important factors to consider when looking for the best battery-powered lawn mower, according to Nicole Durden, senior merchant of outdoor power at The Home Depot.
“Be mindful of the size of your yard,” she advises, since over half an acre will require more battery power. “Consider the terrain and the drive system on the mower. Customers with steep or hilly yards should consider a self-propelled mower.”
Best Self-Propelled Push Mower
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
We’ve chosen the Ego Power LM2101SP Cordless Lawn Mower as the best self-propelled push lawn mower because it is easy to use, thanks to a powerful self-propel feature that makes it perfect for small- to medium-sized yards.
Self-propelled mowers use the motor to propel the mower forward, which means it takes less of an effort on the user’s part to cut the grass. During our testing, we noted that it may be ideal for those with limited strength or mobility since it doesn’t require as much muscle use as other push mowers.
It has six different height settings for lawn mower blades, which range from 1.5 inches to 4 inches. While testing, we found that it was simple to adjust the cutting height, the propelling speed, and the height of the handle with just one hand. It comes with LED lights, so if you are looking to beat the heat and mow your lawn before the sun rises or as it is setting, you will still be able to see what you’re cutting.
This lawn mower offers 60 minutes of run time on a single charge with a 56 volt 7.5Ah ARC lithium battery. This means that it is best suited for a small to medium-sized yard of 0.5 acres.
This unit made our list not only for its cutting capabilities, but also its disposal option. It offers three options for use: mulching, side discharge, or bagging. Although we loved having options for disposal, we found that attaching the bag for disposal was not an easy task on our own as it would sometimes pop off on one side as we pulled it tight to attach to the other—we think having an extra set of hands could be beneficial.
One feature we loved was this mower’s storage capability. Whereas some mowers can take up quite a bit of space in your garage or outdoor shed, the Ego Power Mower can fold in order to be stored away.
Price at time of publish: 700
Product Details: Run Time: 60 minutes | Height Adjustments: Six | Recommended Yard Size: 0.5 acres | Deck Width: 21 inches
Greenworks 40V 16-Inch Electric Push Lawn Mower
The Greenworks Cordless Lawn Mower is our pick for the best battery-powered lawn mower for those on a budget. It has five height settings, mulching, and rear bagging capabilities.
For a push mower, it’s lightweight at 37.5 pounds—as light as our pick for best lightweight mower. Some lawn mowers on this list weigh as much as 66 pounds.
With this mower, even though you have to do the work of pushing it around the yard, it makes the task much less difficult. It also has five height adjustments to choose from, this lawn mower can cut from 1.25 inches to 3.375 inches.
When it comes to mowing, it’s important to have a plan when it comes to handling your clippings, and this lawn mower offers options for both mulching and rear bagging. It even comes with a collection bag, should you choose to use it.
Keep in mind that this battery-powered lawn mower only has 45 minutes of run time on a full charge. Its 16-inch deck width also means that you clip less grass per pass, so it could take longer to mow your yard.
If you don’t have a small yard, this could present a problem, as you’ll have to pause to recharge. The good news is, the battery reaches full power after two hours.
Price at time of publish: 255
Product Details: Run Time: 45 minutes | Height Adjustments: Five | Recommended Yard Size: Up to 0.33 acres | Deck Width: 16 inches
BlackDecker 40V Max 16 inch Cordless Lawn Mower
We chose the BlackDecker Cordless Lawn Mower because it is affordable, and it is only 38 pounds, which makes it easy to maneuver around your yard. The mower’s technology also makes it simple to use as it determines the height of your grass and adjusts accordingly to increase power and preserve battery life.
Because it’s lightweight, it is also a pretty compact model, with handles that fold down to make storage simpler. Additionally, this model has carrying handles that make moving it easy. It’s the best battery-powered lawn mower for people who need a mower that is lightweight and convenient to carry.
This battery-powered lawn mower has plenty of practical features as well, and includes six cutting heights that range from 1 inch to 3 inches, and the single lever height adjustment is easy to use.
It also has a 9.5 gallon grass bag, which is attached to the back of the mower. The bag is made of soft fabric with a hard top, and it’s simple to check its capacity with a simple tap on the soft fabric.
With a 16-inch deck, plus a 30-minute run time, it can mow yards up to 0.125 acres big. If you have a yard larger than this, you’ll find yourself either switching out batteries (it does come with two) or stopping to recharge them.
Price at time of publish: 330
Product Details: Run Time: 30 minutes | Height Adjustments: Six | Recommended Yard Size: 0.125 acres | Deck Width: 16 inches
Best Push Mower
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower
The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Mower is our choice for best battery-powered push mower because it is intuitive to use with self-propelled technology that makes it possible to intuitively adjust the speed, plus it has options for clipping disposal.
We found that it took a bit to get used to maneuvering this lawn mower over uneven ground, as we needed to change the blade height in order to keep it from getting stuck. Otherwise, it was extremely easy to use, even on grass that was 6 inches high. The yard tested typically takes 45 minutes to mow, and this battery-powered lawn mower managed to get it done in 20 minutes.
We were able to use the mower three times, each round ranging from 10 to 15 minutes, without having to charge the battery, which holds a charge for up to 70 minutes. The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Mower uses two 6.0Ah batteries, which are powerful and carry a longer charge than your average lawn mower battery, which can range from 45 to 60 minutes of run time.
This lawn mower has the option of disposing of clippings via mulching, bagging, or side-discharging, which we loved while testing because it’s possible to decide which type of disposal based on each user’s unique needs. When we mowed the test lawn for the first time, we found that we had to empty the bag quite a bit, due to the height of the grass, even though it was only 0.05 acres.
We appreciated that this mower was quiet compared to other lawn mowers we tested. During testing, we noticed that it didn’t sound much louder than a noise machine. We also loved that this mower folds up so that it can be stored vertically, leaving floor space free in a garage or shed.
Price at time of publish: 749
Product Details: Run Time: 70 minutes | Height Adjustments: Seven | Recommended Yard Size: 0.5 to 1 acre | Deck Width: 22 inches
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
If you’re looking to do less manual labor while tending to your lawn, a ride-on mower may be the best battery-powered mower for you, like the Ryobi Electric Ride-On Mower. This model can mow a large yard without needing to be recharged, and it has cruise control.
During testing, we found that this battery-powered ride-on lawn mower was intuitive to use and easy to operate with the use of a single joystick. This mower has three travel speeds and three blade speeds, which are able to be changed with push button controls. It also has an LCD screen that displays battery life and run time (so that you’re never surprised that it’s time to recharge).
This mower comes with two 80V and two 40V batteries that make it possible to mow 3 acres per charge, and the batteries can recharge fully in two and a half hours. If this mower is getting low on battery while in use, there’s no need to worry: When the battery drops below 35%, the mower automatically begins to preserve battery so that it can be driven back to wherever the extra batteries are being stored or charged.
We love that this ride-on mower is powerful, with the equivalent power of 31 horsepower, and 12 different cutting settings, ranging from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches. Even with all those settings, there is also comfort in mind: the seat has premium seat suspension, which minimizes the feel of rough terrain. It also has cup holders, USB ports, and storage compartments. The option to mulch or side discharge clippings was also a plus.
As is the case with most ride-on mowers, comfort and convenience comes at a premium. However, if you have a large yard and are looking to keep it looking good while keeping environmentally friendly, it’s a worthy investment.
Price at time of publish: 5,999
Product Details: Run Time: 2.5 hours | Height Adjustments: 12 | Recommended Yard Size: 2 to 4 acres | Deck Width: 42 inches
Riding Mower vs Electric Zero Turn. Which Should You Buy?
Best for Small Yards
Makita 36-Volt Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower
Our pick for best battery-powered lawn mower for small yards is the Makita Brushless Lawn Mower.
The Makita comes with four batteries, which power the mower for long enough to cut up to 0.33 acres of land in 43 minutes or less. It runs on two of those batteries at a time. Its brushless motor also allows you to cut grass faster at 2,500 to 3,300 rotations per minute.
The batteries are equipped with battery overload, overheat, and over-discharge protection, which help to extend the battery life by shutting it down before damage can occur.
Not looking to disturb your neighbors when you get up early to mow the lawn? The Makita Brushless Lawn Mower has a quiet mode that reduces noise by providing constant speed control.
With a single-lever, you can adjust the height of the mower to 10 different heights. The deck width of this mower is 19 inches, so it can cut up to 19 inches across of grass per pass of the lawn mower.
When it comes to your grass clippings, this lawn mower has a disposal bag that has a 16-gallon capacity—this means there isn’t the option for mulching or side-disposal.
Price at time of publish: 399
Product Details: Run Time: 43 minutes | Height Adjustments: 10 | Recommended Yard Size: 0.33 acres | Deck Width: 19 inches
Best with Storage
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor
- We found that, because it does not have power steering, it takes some muscle to turn while going slowly.
After testing, we determined that the best battery-powered lawn mower with storage is the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Riding Lawn Tractor because it has two separate compartments. It’s great for someone who loves to landscape, as you can get more done than just mowing. We loved the large back storage area in particular, noting that it would make it easy to load up some bags of mulch to tote around your property.
When it came to actually mowing the lawn, we found that the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Riding Lawn Tractor was easy to maneuver, and we liked that it is able to change speeds easily to maneuver around obstacles, but can instantly speed up once past them.
It handled the lawn with ease, mowing over sticks, leaves, and more. We even took the lawn mower out in wet conditions, and it managed to mow grass without a problem. When the blades are on, it is still less noisy than a gas mower.
This mower has 13 height adjustments ranging from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches, and we found that adjusting the height was simple with the use of a large lever on the side of the mower. We liked that we could get a close cut, even in wet conditions.
This ride-on lawn mower is able to side-discharge and mulch clippings, and is also capable of bagging. We only tested the side discharge and mulching capabilities, as the bagger is sold separately.
This mower also comes with a few safety features. It beeps while in reverse, as well as if the user hops off the seat while the mower is turned on. It also turns off the mowing deck while in reverse. While it does have headlights, we found that they are very small, and that we wouldn’t use them to mow in the dark.
Keep in mind that there is no power steering, and we found that we needed to use quite a bit of force when turning at a slow speed.
Price at time of publish: 5,000
Product Details: Run Time: 2.5 hours | Height Adjustments: 13 | Recommended Yard Size: 3 acres | Deck Width: 42 inches
The Bottom Line
Overall, when looking for the best battery-powered lawn mower, you should consider the size of your yard, whether or not you’ll need more than one battery, and whether you want a push, self-propelled, or ride-on mower.
After testing, we chose the Ryobi Electric Ride-On Mower as the best ride-on mower because it is easy to use and can mow up to 3 acres in a single charge, making it a great choice for a large yard. Our pick for best push mower was from the same brand: the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 in. Self-Propelled Mower because it has an impressive 70 minutes of runtime on a single charge plus multiple options for clipping disposal.
Our Testing Process
In order to find the best battery-powered lawn mowers, we tested 15 mowers, narrowing down our results to determine which of these battery-powered favorites made our list. First, we recorded how long it took to assemble each mower straight out of the box.
Then, we mowed our lawns with each mower three times, noting the date, weather conditions, how much we cut off the grass in inches, how much surface area we were mowing in acres, and how long it took for us to mow that area.
As we used each mower, we considered many factors. We began with the ease of starting and powering the mower, plus the ease of adjusting the seat (if a ride-on mower) or heights for comfort, and whether or not the controls were user friendly.
With the riding mowers, we also took note of how easy it was to adjust our speed, as well as how easy it was to switch between cutting heights and how many options there were. We also evaluated how each mower compared to those that we previously owned or tried.
One of the most important aspects of a battery-powered lawn mower is its power source. We determined how many batteries came with the mower, how long they took to charge, and how long that battery lasted before we had to swap it or recharge it.
We also tested each mower’s ease of movement, observing how they performed when maneuvering around obstacles like trees, flowerbeds, and tough terrain like hills or inclines.
When it came to how well the mowers discharged the clippings, we noted if they discharged, collected debris in a bag, or mulched them. Some models performed more than one function, and if that was the case, we tested each type of discharge method, and how easy it was to insert or remove collection bags (if applicable). We also observed how much storage each model had and how they would eventually be stored away.
Finally, we tried each mower’s features. On the riding mowers, we tested their ignition cut-off switches, wheel weights, and headlights, or reflective surfaces. For push mowers, we tested the handle lever, back flap, and blade brake control. We also evaluated the cutting height options, plus various speeds of each mower. If possible, we even tested these lawn mowers on other lawns, to see how the experience differed depending on type of grass and terrain.
What to Know About Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers Before Shopping
When shopping for the best battery-powered lawn mower for your home, it’s important to take into consideration the size of your lawn. Typically, the batteries in your mower will last 50 to 60 minutes on one charge, so you’ll want to make sure you can cover the distance of your lawn in that time.
Otherwise you’ll have to either change out the battery for a fully charged back-up, or charge your battery. If you have a yard that is more than an acre, it’s not ideal to have a battery-powered mower unless you have one that is made with large yards in mind.
There are a few different types of battery-powered lawn mower to choose from: self-propelled mowers, push mowers, and ride-on mowers.
Self-propelled mowers are less work to operate than push mowers, with a design that uses the motor to propel the wheels, which makes it easy for you to simply guide the mower across your lawn.
In order to operate a push mower, you have to push it forward manually. The bad news: You’re the one doing the pushing. The good news: most models are compact and lighter weight (especially when compared to a gas model) so it isn’t too difficult.
Ride-on mowers require the least amount of work, but are also the most expensive models. They are a great choice for people with larger lawns, and you can simply sit up top and steer it where you want it to go.
Battery-powered mowers need to be charged before use, and those times will vary. We found that the time it takes to recharge varies anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours. For example, our best riding mower pick, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Zero Turn Riding Mower, takes 2.5 hours to reach full charge. If you don’t have the time to pause your mowing to recharge, consider choosing a mower with an extra battery so you can change them out and continue on.
Battery-powered lawn mowers do not require chords to function. Instead, they work using rechargeable batteries that have an output of anywhere from 36 to 120 volts.
Run time is largely dependent on the voltage of your battery. The higher the battery, the longer your mower will run. The higher the voltage, the larger the battery, so it may affect your mower’s deck size.
The deck is the part of the lawn mower that covers the engine and blades of the mower. It is measured in square inches, and is determined by multiplying the width of the bottom part of your mower (between the wheels) by the length. They are also usually made with durable material so they stand up against debris and the elements.
The size of the deck determines how much grass the machine will cut in one pass, as it is generally large enough to cover the blade. Smaller mowers may only have one blade, while larger models have two or three for more efficient cutting.
Mowers with larger decks offer less mobility, so it’s beneficial to use a mower with a smaller deck and voltage for a yard with less acreage. The larger your yard, the bigger the deck you’ll require because you’ll need to cover more ground in the same amount of time.
The best battery-powered lawn mowers come with plenty of features to make your lawn-cutting experiences as enjoyable as possible. For example, some come with mulchers that take the grass, chop it up, and leave them behind on the lawn. Others have a grass bag catcher that attaches to the mower on either the side or rear where the clippings drop straight into the bag.
Another feature that is important is the ability to adjust the blade height so that you can tailor your mower to your preferences. They usually range from 1 to 4 inches, and keep in mind that you should only remove the top third of the grass blades.
Adjustable handles are also important because they allow you to change the height in order to make them easier to mow.
Other Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers We Tested
Greenworks Pro 80V Max, 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
We loved that the Greenworks Pro 80V Max, 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower lawn mower had a space-saving storage design that allowed it to be stowed away vertically. We also appreciated how long the battery lasted—about 50 minutes total.
While testing, we found that this lawn mower had difficulty maneuvering in tight spots, and its weight made it difficult to turn. When we switched it to the self-propel mode, we found that even the fastest setting did not measure up to others on this list.
Your Questions, Answered
How long do batteries last in a battery-powered mower?
This answer depends on the mower, but typically the batteries in a battery-powered mower last around 50 minutes to an hour if fully charged. This is why battery-powered mowers are recommended for small to medium-sized yards—if you can’t get your mowing done within an hour, you’ll need to hit pause, plug it in to charge (or replace it with another fully charged battery if you’ve got a spare), and wait to mow.
What is the best voltage for a battery-powered mower?
The batteries in battery-powered lawn mowers provide anywhere from 36 to 120 volts of power. The higher the voltage, the longer the run time. The longer the run time, the more time you have to cover some distance in your yard before that battery runs out.
Getting a battery with a high voltage may sound Smart because it allows for a longer run time. However, it also makes the machine heavier which can slow you down and can decrease the run time.
Which mower is better: battery-powered, electric, or gas?
Battery-powered, electric, and gas lawn mowers each have their own pros and cons. Gas powered mowers have the advantage when it comes to being able to fuel them right away. When an electric or battery-powered mower runs out of juice, it needs to be plugged in and charged.
“Battery-powered lawn mowers provide the power of traditional lawn mowers without the harmful emissions, which make them perfect for customers that value efficiency and sustainability,” Durden says.
Gas mowers also tend to require more maintenance in order to run smoothly, and you need to take care to store the fuel properly and even winterize your mower.
Battery-powered lawn mowers have the advantage of being “lightweight and quieter than gas-powered mowers, too,” says Durden. You just need to remember to keep the battery charged.
Additionally, whereas gas-powered mowers need to be pulled or cranked, and cared for to ensure they’re winterized, you just need to push to start a battery-powered or electric mower and go.
One downside to an electric mower is the range of motion—you may be limited by the cord. Battery powered and electric mowers are more equipped to handle small to medium-sized yards.
Who We Are
Andrea Wurzburger is a freelance writer for Better Homes Gardens. For this story, she spent several hours researching the best battery-powered lawn mowers by comparing product specifications. She also spoke with Nicole Durden, who is the senior merchant of outdoor power at The Home Depot.
The 8 Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Michelle Ullman is a home decor expert and product reviewer for home and garden products. She has been writing about home decor for over 10 years for publications like BobVila.com and Better Homes Gardens, among others.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics including environmental science and houseplants.
For lawns that are 1 acre or more, a riding lawn mower can make turf maintenance less of a chore. Instead of sweating behind a push mower, you’ll ride in comfort while keeping your lawn in tip-top shape. Marc Mayer, Director of Technical Operations at TruGreen, says, Commonly, homeowners choose a riding lawn mower to save time and/or energy if they have a large lawn area that is too much work to utilize a walk-behind mower. Most ride-on mowers can also be used for other chores around the yard to improve efficiency, such as pulling a trailer or aerator.
Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, adds, A riding mower gives you the precision you need to make straight lines and even cuts. Plus, with options like zero-turn technology, you’ll be able to trim around obstacles and corners like a pro. Riding mowers have the power, agility, and versatility to handle it all with ease.
We’ve tested over a dozen lawn mowers in our own lawns across the country including six riding lawn mowers, using each for three separate mowing sessions. During each session, the mowers were evaluated for ease of operation, comfort while riding, intuitiveness of the controls, battery runtime where applicable. and of course, how well the mower cut the grass. We considered how well the mowers maneuvered around obstacles, the range of accessories available for separate purchase, and the overall value of each mower before compiling our final list of winners.
John Deere S100 42-Inch 17.5 HP Gas Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor
- Very easy to maneuver even around tight turns
- Excellent performance cutting both wet and dry grass
- Smooth, comfortable ride
- White Glove Service
Our top-scoring riding mower performed like a Champion on all three mowing sessions at our 10-acre New Jersey yard (although the manufacturer recommends it for yards up to 1 acre in size). We were amazed at how easy it was to maneuver even around tight corners or close to trees. And it did a great job of cleanly cutting both dry and wet grass; remarkably, it did not leave any ruts on the wet grass, just small indentations. The mower provides a comfortable, smooth ride; we drove it down a 500-foot gravel path to reach the lawn without any discomfort or difficulty. This mower has 13 cutting levels ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches, and we found it very easy to set the desired cutting height. Even better, it was delivered already assembled and ready to go thanks to its White Glove Service.
The cutting deck is 42 inches, which is a good size for making quick work of the lawn, yet not so large that it’s bulky or hard to steer. It has a tight 18-inch turning radius. And with its 17.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine, this is a powerful mower that won’t struggle with slopes, tall grass, or thick weeds. It discharges the clippings to the side, and we found that it also easily cleared away fallen leaves from the grass. John Deere sells clipping bags, mulchers, and several other yard maintenance accessories separately. Like most gasoline-powered riding mowers, you will need to occasionally perform oil changes, but the process is not too difficult. And thanks to the electric start, it’s very easy to power the mower up and get right to work.
We found the seat to be quite comfortable, and you can adjust the position to suit your height. All of the controls are easy to identify and use, although it took us a few minutes to get used to the side-by-side foot pedals for going forward or reversing. The mower’s top speed is 5.5 mph going forward, and 3.2 mph in reverse. It can cut the grass in either direction. It has headlights if you want to mow at dusk or dawn, and a cup holder to keep your favorite beverage close at hand while you work.
This riding mower is covered by John Deere’s 2-year/120-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty. And it’s quite reasonably priced for a riding mower; overall, it’s hard to go wrong with this hard-working mower.
Price at time of publish: 2,399
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gasoline | Weight: 414 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 1 acre
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor
- Excellent performance
- Comfortable and fun to drive
- Long battery runtime
- LCD screen and app for tracking battery life
If you are looking for an electric riding lawn mower with all the power of a gas model, but without the fumes or bother of a gas engine, the RYOBI 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery Riding Lawn Tractor is our top choice. We found it fun to ride; with a maximum forward speed of 7 mph, this is a zippy mower that speeds up or slows down almost immediately when adjusting your foot on the lever, but we did find it a bit jerky at times. It also was somewhat tricky to assemble, taking us over an hour to have it ready to go. The mower has a 42-inch deck and four steel blades with 13 different cutting height positions to choose from (within 1.5 to 4.5 inches), so you can really fine-tune the look of your lawn. It did a great job cutting the grass, whether wet or dry, at our third-acre Iowa test garden, and even chopped up small sticks, leaves, and weeds very easily. It even features a warning beep when backing up; while we appreciate this safety feature, it admittedly did become tiresome to hear the beep every time we reversed.
According to the manufacturer, it has the equivalent of a 21-horsepower engine, but it runs on the included three 80-volt, 10Ah batteries which allow you to cut up to 2 acres on a single charge (about 60 minutes of runtime) and quickly recharge in less than 2.5 hours thanks to the onboard charger. In our test sessions, the batteries never dropped much below 80 percent capacity, and we appreciated the LCD touchscreen that lets you keep tabs on the battery runtime and charging speed, as well as blade speed, driving speed, and blade height. Other extra features we like include LED headlights, front and back storage compartments, two tow hitches, two cup holders, and two USB ports to charge your phone.
Of course, the most important feature of a lawn mower is how well it cuts grass, and this one left our test lawn looking great, without creating ruts, ridges, or unevenly chopped grass. The mower discharges clippings to the side, but you can purchase a bagger and mulching kit separately, as well as various lawn care attachments. This is a powerful, feature-packed riding lawn tractor so it comes at a bigger price tag than other picks. If you don’t need all of these features, you may want to choose a more budget-friendly model. However, we think if you are looking for a great electric riding mower with all of the features and power you need, this is your best bet. It comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Price at time of publish: 4,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 557 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 to 2 acres
Toro TimeCutter 50 inch 24.5 HP Zero-Turn Riding Mower
- Excellent cutting performance
- Very comfortable, smooth ride
- Easy maintenance
- Zero-turn radius
- A bit of a learning curve to handle
- Bagger and mulching kit must be purchased separately
- No headlights
While we did have a bit of a learning curve with this powerful gas riding mower from Toro, once we got the hang of using the hand levers to control our speed, braking, direction, and blade engagement, we found that it was easy to maneuver between trees and other obstacles on our half-acre Iowa lawn. But if you have a larger property, you’ll be happy to know that this mower is rated for yards up to 4 acres in size. It has a hefty 50-inch cutting deck, so the zero-turn capability comes in handy when swiveling such a large mower around flowerbeds, between trees, or near retaining walls or other obstacles. We also found it very easy to set the cutting height, which ranges from a low of 1.5 inches to a high of 4.5 inches.
On our first mowing session, the grass was wet and the mower’s tires slipped a bit while moving down a slope, but on subsequent sessions, we had little problem in mowing over wet grass, thick grass, leaves, and other small lawn debris. The mower left the grass very evenly cut, with a lush, full appearance. Like many riding mowers, the clippings discharge to the side; if you want a bag or mulching kit, you’ll have to buy them separately. We definitely appreciated Toro’s MyRide suspension system, which keeps the ride smooth and pleasant even when the terrain isn’t completely level. And with a top speed of 7 mph, this mower can get the job done quickly. It has a cup holder to keep a cold beverage close at hand but does not have headlights, unlike many other riding mowers.
One great feature of this gas mower is that while it does require annual oil changes, it’s designed to make the task as easy as possible, so you won’t have to waste your afternoon on maintenance. It also has wash-out ports underneath the deck, so you can quickly blast away caked-on grass, mud, and grunge with your garden hose. And the sturdy construction, including the steel deck, means that this mower can take a beating and keep right on mowing without a pause. It comes with a 3-year residential limited warranty.
Price at time of publish: 4,299
Cutting Width: 50 inches | Power Type: Gasoline | Weight: 694 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 4 acres
Best Lawn Tractor
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46-Inch Hydrostatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor
- Comfortable, adjustable seat
- Reasonable price
- Excellent performance in cutting grass
We put this gas-powered lawn tractor to the test on a 6-acre Iowa property that once housed horses, and so is rather bumpy, and also has many trees and other obstacles. The mower was easy to assemble, but the instructions for starting it were somewhat unclear, and it took us several tries to get it up and running. Still, once we figured it out, we were very pleased with the mower’s performance. It operated beautifully over wet grass, thick grass, and uneven spots, plus, it maneuvered easily around all obstacles. The mower has a 23-horsepower/725 cc Kohler engine with plenty of power, and the 46-inch deck is big enough for getting the job done quickly but not so large that it’s hard to slip between trees and other obstacles.
The mower has 12 cutting settings ranging from 1.5 inches to 4 inches. We found it very easy to adjust the cutting height, as well as other controls on the mower. It has a 16-inch turn radius, which is tight enough for most lawns, although we couldn’t get quite as close to some trees as we would have liked. The maximum forward speed is 5.5 mph, which is a bit slower than some other models, but more than sufficient for most users. Overall, we felt like our lawn looked great once we finished mowing, and the mower spewed the grass clippings evenly from the side chute. Like most riding mowers, if you want a bagger or mulching kit, you’ll need to purchase them separately. There are quite a few other attachments available for this mower as well.
The seat can be adjusted, which was a definite plus for us, along with the smooth ride. On the downside, this mower does require periodic oil changes, but the process shouldn’t be too difficult or time-intensive. And on the plus side, the mower has cruise control, so once you find a speed that you like, you can easily set the mower to continue at that pace. It also has headlights for mowing in shady spots or at dusk. While riding mowers are undeniably expensive, this one is reasonably priced for the quality and performance it provides. It’s rated for use on lawns up to 4 acres in size and comes with a 3-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 2,574
Cutting Width: 46 inches | Power Type: Gasoline | Weight: 575 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 4 acres
Best Battery Zero-Turn
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Joystick for steering and speed control
- Long battery runtime
- Very clean cut on all types of grass
- Initially received a defective mower, although customer service was excellent
We tested this mower on a half-acre property in Iowa. While it was fairly straightforward and quick to assemble the mower and give the batteries an initial charge, it turned out that our first test mower had an electrical problem that required several phone calls and a technician’s visit before determining that the mower was defective. However, we were quickly provided a new mower, which was already assembled and ready to go. Despite this unfortunate start to our testing sessions, we were very impressed with the manufacturer’s customer service, and we loved the performance of this zero-turn mower, which has a 42-inch deck and power that Ryobi claims is equivalent to 31 horsepower.
Unlike many other riding mowers, which have levers, pedals, or steering wheels to control the motion of the machine, this one has Ryobi’s iDrive joystick, which lets you set your speed in forward or reverse, as well as turn and maneuver the mower. Not only was this fun, but it was also very intuitive and easy to use. The mower also has an LCD screen that shows battery life and runtime. This mower comes with four batteries: two 80-volt, 10-amp hour and two 40-volt, 12-amp hour batteries, which can all be charged simultaneously. In our testing sessions, the batteries still had plenty of charge left once mowing was finished. Ryobi claims that you can mow up to 3 acres on a single full charge.
Setting the cutting height, which ranges from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches, is easily accomplished with a single lever, and with four blades, this mower easily handled wet grass, thick grass, and tall grass, leaving our lawn looking great. The clippings discharge from the side, although you can purchase a bagger or mulching kit separately if desired. While riding the mower, we especially appreciated how quiet it is in comparison to gas mowers—we could actually talk to nearby family members while riding it—and how smooth and comfortable a ride it provides, thanks to the superior seat suspension that absorbs a lot of the bumps and vibrations. The mower also has some nice extra features, including headlights, cup holders, and USB charging ports. While this mower is undeniably a big investment, we felt that its performance, power, and ease of use make it well worth the cost for those with big yards. It has a 5-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 5,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 700 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 4 acres
Best Gas Zero-Turn
Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42-Inch 22 HP Zero-Turn Mower
- Seat can be fully adjusted for a comfortable ride
- Relatively reasonable price
- Easy to control
While all riding mowers are fairly expensive, particularly zero-turn mowers, the Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZT1 Zero-Turn Mower is relatively reasonable in price, making it even more of a great option for yards up to 4 acres in size. While testing, It took us around 30 minutes to assemble, but it did take us a little longer to figure out the choke. However, once we understood the instructions, we got started mowing a third-acre Iowa lawn that includes hills, several obstacles, and areas of very thick, tall grass. Initially, we took it easy and went slowly while we got used to the handling of the mower, which was a bit touchy. However, once we got the hang of it, we did find the mower to be easy to control, and we really liked being able to make sharp turns around obstacles. We did report some rattling from a belt that needed to be tightened, but that didn’t affect the performance.
While mowing, we found it very easy to adjust the cutting height, which has an impressive range of 1 inch to 4.5 inches. We mowed right through very tall patches of grass without a hitch and liked the way the clippings were ejected far to the side of the mower, so there was no annoying buildup of clumps. It’s easy to speed up or slow down; the more you push the handlebars, the faster you’ll go, up to a top speed of 7 mph. Plus, you can mow both forward and in reverse, which made it easier to reach some trickier spots on the lawn. The mower felt very stable and safe even while mowing on slopes. Initially, we found the ride to be somewhat bumpy, but once we had the fully adjustable seat set to our ideal position, the ride became quite smooth.
With a 22-horsepower Kohler engine, this is a powerful mower with a very sturdy build. Like other gas mowers, it does require periodic oil changes. While we liked its side-discharge function, you’ll have to purchase a bagger or mulching kit separately if that’s your preference. Cub Cadet also sells various attachments that can be added to the mower for other lawn care functions. It has a 3-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 3,499
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gasoline | Weight: 580 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 3 acres
Best for Hills
Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower
- Automatic transmission
- Good traction on hills
- Extra leg room
- Compatible with a variety of accessories
While we were not able to personally test the Bronco 42, we still recommend this 19-horsepower, 42-inch gas mower for yards up to 2 acres in size, especially if your yard has a lot of slopes. This sturdy mower has an automatic transmission and uses a simple foot pedal to control your speed, just like your car. That means you are likely to feel comfortable handling the mower from the start, even if you have never used a riding lawn mower before.
The mower has anti-scalp, 20-inch all-terrain wheels, making it much easier to mow smoothly over uneven terrain or up and down slopes without bogging down or damaging your turf. Note that as with all riding mowers, you should always mow from side to side across a slope, not up and down the slope, to maintain stability. There are five cutting height settings, which are easy to adjust with a single lever, and range from 1.25 inches to 3.75 inches. That’s a smaller cutting range than many other riding mowers, but it easily handles most common lawn grasses, and the double blades, large wheels, and sturdy construction of the mower allow it to plow right through tall or thick turf without a problem.
The Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 has a step-through frame that offers more leg room, and the mid-back seat and rubber footpads keep you comfortable while you work. Its 18-inch turn radius is tight enough to maneuver around most yard obstacles, such as trees, fences, flowerbeds, or playsets. The machine has a rear hitch to pull garden carts, sprayers, and spreaders. It comes with a side-discharge chute for clippings, but if you prefer to bag or mulch the grass clippings, you’ll need to buy those accessories separately. Like all gas mowers, you’ll need to carry out periodic oil changes, usually recommended after every 50 hours of use or annually. It comes with a 2-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 2,199
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gasoline | Weight: 520 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 to 2 acres
Cub Cadet 30 in. 56-Volt MAX 30 Ah Battery Riding Lawn Tractor
Not everyone needs a beast of a mower that can handle yards up to 4 acres in size. If you have a lawn that’s 1 acre or less, or you have a lot of obstacles on your property that require a smaller mower to maneuver between and around them, we recommend this battery-powered mower from Cub Cadet. It has a 30-inch deck that can slip through a 36-inch gate, and which won’t take up a lot of space in your garage or garden shed. While we were unable to test this mower ourselves, it’s still our top choice for smaller yards.
The mower comes with a 56-volt MAX 30 amp-hour battery that can mow up to 1 acre, or for 1 hour, before needing a recharge, which takes roughly 4 hours. It’s supremely quiet compared to gas mowers, and the ride is smooth and comfortable. Plus, no need for oil changes, pouring gasoline into a fuel tank, or smelly fumes. You can adjust the cutting height within a range of 1.5 inches to 4 inches, and no bogging down on tall or thick grass. The 18-inch turning radius is tight enough to easily work your way around most obstacles.
One feature that we especially approve of, and yet isn’t offered on many riding mowers, is this model’s cruise control, which allows you to set your speed up to a maximum of 5.5 mph and then let the mower keep your pace steady; no need to concentrate on maintaining an even speed by pushing pedals or gripping levers. Plus, it has a very comfortable high-back seat with armrests, LED headlights, a cup holder, and two onboard USB ports to power up your phone or music while you ride. Additionally, unlike every other mower on our list, this one includes the mulching kit—all others require you to purchase that separately—so you can turn the grass clippings into fine mulch to help feed your lawn. It comes with a 3-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 3,600
Cutting Width: 30 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 362 pounds | Cutting Options: Mulch, side-discharge | Size of Yard: Up to 2 acres
Our top recommendation, the gas-powered John Deere S100 42-Inch Riding Lawn Mower, is supremely easy to maneuver around obstacles while creating a very smooth cut even on thick or tall grass. It comes with “White Glove Service” delivery, so you won’t have to assemble it, and it is easy to operate and maintain. However, if you prefer an electric mower, then we recommend the Ryobi 80V 42-Inch Battery Riding Mower, which has a lot of power and excellent battery runtime; you can get up to an hour of mowing done before needing to recharge. That’s enough for most people to complete the task on just one charge.
How We Tested the Riding Lawn Mowers
After testing eight walk-behind lawn mowers across the country, we tested six riding mowers, including gas, electric, and zero-turn options, each tested on a different property with varying terrain and lawn conditions, including slopes, rough spots, tall grass, and wet areas. We started by recording how long it took to unbox and assemble the riding lawn mower, as well as the difficulty or ease of assembly. (Two of the mowers were delivered assembled and ready to go, however.)
Once the grass was long enough to require mowing, we tested the riding mower on three separate occasions. For each session, we recorded the date and weather conditions, the size of the area to be mowed, the height of grass to be cut, and the length of time it took to accomplish the mowing. At the end of the session, we noted how cleanly and evenly the lawn had been cut, as well as how well the side-discharge chute shot the clippings back onto the lawn. (Only one of our tested mowers included an option other than side-discharge of the clippings; commonly clippings bags and mulching kits are not included with a riding mower, but must be purchased separately if desired.)
As we rode the mowers, we noted how easy it was to speed up or slow down the machine in both forward and reverse, the ease of raising or lowering the cutting height, how well the mower maneuvered around obstacles, and how evenly the mower cut all types of grass, including tall or thick patches as well as wet turf. We also paid attention to the comfort of the seat and the overall comfort of the ride, noting if it was unusually rough, had excessive vibration, or was in any other way uncomfortable to use the mower. We also tried out any extra features on the mowers, including headlights, cupholders, USB charging ports, or onboard storage areas.
At the end of each mowing session, we noted how much battery charge was left on electric mowers, as well as the length of time required for a full recharge. Finally, we summed up each experience with the mower, noting whether or not we felt it was a good value for the performance delivered.
What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a gas- or electric-powered riding lawn mower. Marc Mayer, Director of Technical Operations at TruGreen, says, Like in the automobileworld, battery-powered equipment is popular right now. Electrical mowers on both the residential and professional/commercial side are becoming more preferred over gas powered. You have to take into account that they both require different maintenance schedules, and it’s important to ask questions like ‘How long does the battery last, and what is the cost of a replacement battery’ before making a commitment to electric.
As a general rule, gas mowers, including our Best Overall choice, the John Deere S100, are more powerful than electric models, but they’re louder, less eco-friendly, and require more maintenance, including regular oil changes. Plus, in some locations, gas mowers have very stringent requirements for emission levels that some models can’t meet. However, Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance notes that the power of a gas mower can be especially useful if your lawn has rough areas, thick weeds, or especially tough grass.
Electric mowers, on the other hand, like our Best Electric Riding Mower, the Ryobi 80V Brushless Electric Riding Mower, are typically less powerful and require you to keep an eye on the battery charge level, but they’re also quieter, easier to start, and better for the environment. Still, while electric mowers require consistent charging, they often don’t require as much maintenance as gas models that have spark plugs, belts, and filters that must be maintained over time.
The deck size of a lawn mower dictates how wide a path it cuts—larger decks cut wider paths on each pass. Most residential riding mowers have decks that are around 42 inches, but if you have a very large property, you might want to consider a mower with deck that’s considerably bigger, like our Best Gas Mower pick, the Toro TimeCutter Zero-Turn Mower, which has a 50-inch deck. And of course, small properties, or lawns with many obstacles, might do best with a mower that has a smaller deck.
Keep in mind that the larger the mower, the harder it will be to maneuver through gates and other obstacles, plus the more space it will require in your garage or shed. Also, a mower‘s deck size will impact its turning radius—except for zero-turn mowers, which can manage wider decks thanks to their overall design—and will also make it more challenging to navigate uneven terrain. Our Best Battery Powered Zero-Turn Mower, the Ryobi 80V Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower, turns on a dime even with its 42-inch deck.
While the typical push mower’s engine is just 2 to 5 horsepower or the equivalent in battery power, a riding mower requires considering more oomph, with most having engine power or equivalent battery power of 13 to 30 horsepower. Noah James says, Make sure the riding mower you’re considering has enough horsepower to handle your specific needs. A larger engine will be able to handle thicker grass and steeper hills with ease.
As a rough guideline, a lawn that’s less than an acre can be handled by a riding mower with at least 13 horsepower, but a 3-acre lawn needs at least 18 horsepower to get the job done, and even more if your lawn has slopes or rugged terrain.
Don’t forget to consider how the lawn mower handles grass clippings. Just about every riding mower has a side-discharge chute to spit the clippings back out onto your lawn. But many brands also offer mulching kits or clipping bags for their riding mowers; note that you’ll generally have to purchase these separately. However, our Best Small Mower, the Cub Cadet 30-Inch Battery Mower, does include a mulching kit. If you want to mulch or bag your clippings, be sure that any riding mower you are considering offers these options, and remember to add the price of the accessories to the cost of the mower itself.
The defining feature of zero-turn mowers is a zero-degree turning radius, but these mowers are generally also much faster than regular riding mowers. However, keep in mind that it’s easier to maintain control around obstacles at lower speeds, so unless you have a very large, flat lawn, you’re unlikely to be running your mower at top speed very often. Plus, zero-turn mowers are much more expensive than regular riding mowers.
According to Marc Mayer, a riding lawn mower is suited to any type of turf, but because these machines are heavy, they can cause soil compaction, which can affect the health of your grass. You can help prevent this by not mowing when the ground is wet, and by trying to avoid mowing over the same area more than once.
The top speed for standard riding lawnmowers ranges from 4 to 6 mph. Zero-turn mowers are much faster, with some going 8 to 10 mph at full speed. While speed is a great factor to consider if you prefer to quickly complete outdoor tasks, a speedy job does not always result in a better cut, so don’t automatically assume that you need the fastest mower available.
The easiest way to transport a riding lawn mower is with a trailer. Mowers can be driven up a ramp into a low trailer and towed behind a vehicle. You may also transport riding mowers in the bed of a pickup truck, but special ramps are required. Of course, if you are merely loaning the mower to a neighbor or somewhere very close by, you may be able to ride the mower to the location, as long as the terrain permits this and you keep the blade turned off and elevated.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she relied on input from our team of testers, but also considered dozens of other riding lawn mowers of various types, evaluating each for features, power, effectiveness, ease of use, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative, as well as reviews and information on landscaping websites. Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, and Marc Mayer, Director of Technical Operations at TruGreen, also provided additional expert input.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure 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 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.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy an Electric Riding Lawn Mower
Riding lawn mowers are great for making quick work of lawn care. But they’re loud, jerky, and chug through oil and gas. An electric riding lawn mower promises to solve all of that. But after two years of owning one, I’m here to say don’t make the mistake of buying one. At least not yet.
I’ve owned a variety of lawn mowers, both of the push and riding variety, and have tried both gas and electric options. I switched over to electric mowers years ago, first with my push mowers and then my rider. And while I absolutely loved my electric riding lawn mower in the beginning, now I’m sorry I bought it. The purchase feels like a mistake, and it’s all down to using old technology.
The Benefits of an Electric Mower
Although it’s easy to think an electric mower sounds like a dumb idea, that’s not true. Range really isn’t as much of an issue as you might assume. While corded electric mowers were once a thing, battery tech has come a long way. If you have an electric push mower, chances are a single battery can get through the average 1/4th acre yard found in the U.S., and if not, you can swap it out with another battery on the fly.
It helps that companies selling electric push mowers also typically sell other yard tools, like weed whips, that use the same batteries. It’s a lot like power tools at this point—stick with a brand, buy more batteries, and you’ll have plenty of juice for the job. And you get other benefits along the way.
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For one, whether we’re talking push or riding, electric mowers are much quieter thanks to skipping the traditional engine. Depending on your machine, the loudest part will be the blades themselves; you may not even need hearing protection as you do with conventional mowers. In the case of my riding lawn mower, I once helped out a neighbor who ran out of gas partway through a mowing job. When I started mowing, she grabbed my attention as though something was wrong. It turned out she thought I hadn’t started the blades on the machine because it was so quiet.
An electric mower is easier to use, too. No seriously. Think about all the times you’ve pulled the chain of a gas mower only to have to pull it again and then a third time. If you’re lucky, that’s all it took. Even with a riding lawn mower, you’ve probably dealt with getting everything set just right, so it starts when you turn the key. Electric mowers are nothing that. You push a button, and it just goes. Every single time, assuming you remembered to charge the battery.
On top of all that, while an electric mower is typically more expensive to purchase than a gas mower, it’s also less costly to use. Electricity is cheaper than gas, especially right now, and you won’t have to deal with oil. Depending on where you live, it’ll cost you pennies to mow your lawn with an electric mower.
When I first purchased my electric riding lawn mower, I loved it for all these reasons. It starts quickly, it’s quiet, it doesn’t cost much to run, and it felt like I finished mowing the lawn faster than with my old gas-riding lawn mower.
But two years later, I’m not so in love with it anymore.
The Problem With Most Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
The first year and a half I owned my riding lawn mower, I loved the thing. But starting this summer, I changed my mind. In fact, I can’t in good conscience advise anyone to buy an electric riding mower right now. You should not buy one at all. You’re better off with a gas mower, at least for the next few years.
Why did I change my mind so much? The batteries. When you buy an electric push mower, you get a nice set of easy-to-change long-lasting lithium-ion batteries. But that’s not the case with an electric riding mower. Instead, most currently use a Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery. You’re probably already familiar with SLA batteries—there’s one in your car. Yes, it’s the same kind of battery your car uses. And chances are, if you have a gas riding mower, it also uses one as well!
But there’s a big difference between how your gas riding mower, your car, and an electric riding mower use that battery. In very basic terms with the former two, the battery starts the engine before the gas components take over to keep things going. After that, the battery powers other electrical functions, like those useless headlights on your mower.
Electric riding mowers are entirely reliant on SLA batteries. In the case of my machine, it houses four SLA batteries under the seat, and they all work together to provide 48 volts or about an “hour of run time.” My mower promises to get through an acre before needing a recharge, but I can tell you from my experience that’s inaccurate. It’s probably something closer to 3/4ths of an acre.
So what’s bad about that? Well, SLA batteries are, frankly, terrible. They don’t last long at all and are easy to damage. They work well enough in a car (though some people might disagree) because most people drive their vehicles daily. But you probably don’t mow your lawn every day, and you definitely don’t during the winter.
And therein lies the problem. Buy any electric mower with an SLA battery, and you’ll find heavy warnings:
Always connect the mower to the charger when the unit is not in use. If it is not possible to leave the mower charger connected, make sure to charge the batteries fully at least once a month.
Unlike other battery tech, SLA batteries need to remain charged, and letting them drop below 50% can damage them. They don’t do well with cold either. Ignore those warnings, and you can kill batteries. Or the batteries may not hold a charge anymore. We tried our best to keep to those rules, but our batteries aren’t working correctly two years later.
I think range issues ended up killing the batteries. Our mower is rated for a full acre before needing a recharge, but it’s realistically closer to 3/4ths an acre. We have a half acre of land, so just mowing the lawn regularly drained the battery below 50%. Again, going below 50% can deplete an SLA battery’s recharge life.
From the information I’m now getting from the battery indicator display, I can tell two of the four batteries are dead. That tracks, as when I get the mower to start (it now takes several tries), I only get half the range I had when I first bought the mower. Two years in, and my electric mower needs two new SLA batteries—that’ll cost around 480 to swap out. And doing so requires a tricky procedure that entails taking apart the mower, dragging a heavy tray back, avoiding toppling the mower over in the process, then avoiding shorting out the system since the four batteries are tied together. It’s not pretty.
I spent over 2,000 on a mower that’s now half as useful as it once was, and I’ll spend hundreds more getting it back into shape. Only to have to repeat the process two years from now. That same mower now costs even more than when I first purchased it. A gas mower would be better. You might be wondering if better electric riding mowers are on the way, and the answer is yes. But it’s not all good news.
The Future of Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
Obviously, the biggest complaint and downfall of most current electric riding lawnmowers is the reliance on SLA batteries. And if that’s the case, the solution is, in theory, pretty easy—switch to Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. You probably own devices that already use Li-ion batteries. Do you have a smartphone, cordless drill, true wireless earbuds, or an electric vehicle? All of those use Li-ion batteries.
It’s not surprising that so many gadgets made that choice either because Li-ion solves many of the problems plaguing SLA batteries. It doesn’t damage them to drain the battery to zero (at least not as much), you can keep them charged all the time (modern tech prevents “overcharging”), it doesn’t suffer from “memory issues,” and as much it’s generally longer lasting. With a Li-ion battery-powered electric mower, you won’t have to worry about maintaining charge as much or plugging in over the winter.
So what’s the catch? Price. Electric riding mowers are already expensive. You’ll pay over 2,000 for a model that promises to mow just one acre on a charge, more if you need something that can handle a bigger yard. Compared to other similar riding mowers, that’s a 20% premium. But if you want to buy a Li-ion electric riding mower, the price goes way up.
Ryobi only recently started selling its first Li-ion options, and the starting price is a wallet-busting 6,000. That giant price gets you a mower that only promises to mow around an acre of land on a single charge. And remember, companies tend to overpromise and underdeliver on charge claims. When it comes time to recharge, you’ll need to wait an hour and a half to get back to a full charge. You can buy a model with more range, but each step up adds another 1,000 to the price.
Other mowers either go for a similar price or come from lesser-known manufacturers. The most affordable entry I can find is a Craftsman, tipping the scales at 3,000. But scroll through the reviews, and any Комментарии и мнения владельцев not tagged as a promotion are pretty negative.
For that kind of money, you can buy professional-grade gear that’ll cut your lawn in a fraction of the time.
The bottom line is until come down and enough time has passed to prove reliability; you probably shouldn’t drop a ton of cash on a Li-ion electric riding mower. Push mowers, on the other hand, are a solid bet. Those work well and won’t break the bank. For now, electric riding mowers just aren’t worth the money, despite their benefits. They’ll either cost way too much up front, or cost too much down the road as you replace batteries again and again.
Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site’s content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a Smart home enthusiast who built his own Smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »