The Best Electric Mowers for Your Lawn
Learn the pros and cons of both plug-in and battery-operated lawn mowers, how they stack up against their gas-powered counterparts, and which models are the top-performers.
If you’re ready to upgrade to a new lawn mower but aren’t sure you want a traditional gas-powered model, consider going electric. Not only would you be able to bid goodbye to jerking a pull cord, replacing fouled spark plugs, and storing flammable fuel, you’d be doing your part to reduce carbon emissions. But electric mowers do have their downsides when it comes to power, price, and even safety. So read on to understand the pros and cons, figure out what features to look for when shopping, and get the 411 on our picks for the best electric lawn mower.
So read on to understand the pros and cons of electric mowers, to figure out what features to look for when shopping, and to find out why we chose the following models as our top recommendations:
- BEST OVERALL: Greenworks 21-inch Cordless Mower
- BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: Greenworks 16-inch Cordless Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Yard Force 22-inch 3-in-1 Cordless Mower
Why You Might Want an Electric Mower
Electric mowers cut the grass the same way gas-powered mowers do: Spinning rotary blades chop off the top of the grass leaves as you push the mower across the lawn. While gas mowers operate via small combustion engines, electric lawn mowers rely on power from either extension cords or rechargeable batteries. Corded electric mowers have been around for years, and they’re great for mowing small lawns, but with recent advances in battery power storage, cordless electric mowers—the new kids on the block—are carving a niche in residential lawn care.
If you’re accustomed to operating a gas mower, you may be pleasantly surprised by an electric model’s benefits and options. But you’ll find a few drawbacks as well.
- No engine maintenance, such as changing spark plugs, engine oil, or filters.
- No flammable gasoline stored in your garage or shed.
- Whether using a plug-in or battery model, it will cost between $5 and $10 to operate an electric lawn mower for a single four- to six-month growing season. Fuel to operate a similar size gas mower costs between $15 to $25 per season.
- Environmentally friendly electric mowers do not produce carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, or other fossil-fuel fumes.
- Quiet. An electric lawn mower produces 65 to 75 decibels of noise, which is equivalent to a washing machine or a two-person conversation. Gas mowers generate between 95 to 100 decibels of noise, comparable to a loud motorcycle.
- Corded electric mowers are limited to the length of the cord, typically about 100 feet from an exterior power outlet.
- Mowing time for cordless models depends on how long the batteries hold a charge. Typically, you can operate a battery powered mower for between half an hour to an hour before it requires a recharge, and it takes approximately eight to 12 hours to recharge. If your yard is large, you could be charging the battery halfway through.
- Electric lawn mowers, not quite as powerful as gas mowers, can be challenged by thick lawns, where the carpet of grass is so dense you can’t see soil when you separate the top of the blades. Thick grass creates more resistance, causing the mower blades to bog down or leave entire clumps uncut. To compensate, electric mower owners raise the mowing height and mow more often (every two to three days), cutting off only the top quarter or so of the grass blades.
- Electric mowers should not be operated on wet grass due to the risk of shock.
- Inadvertently mowing over the cord could cause electric shock.
- Cordless electric mowers tend to be more expensive, on average, than gas mowers. The average push gas mower runs $100 to $350, while the average cordless electric mower runs $200 to $450. Corded electric models are the least expensive, however, ranging from $90 to $150.
Key Shopping Considerations
While most models within the category offer similar options, a few features are really worth paying attention to when distinguishing the best electric lawn mowers from the competition.
- Swath width. The wider the swath—the width of the path you can cut in a single pass—the fewer passes you’ll have to make. On the other hand, wider swaths require more power, which can translate into quicker battery discharge. Average electrical mower swath widths range from 15 inches to 22 inches.
- Battery power. A variety of heavy duty rechargeable batteries (measured in volts) is used to power cordless mowers. The more powerful the battery, the more power the mower will have and the better it will cut the grass. The batteries used to power cordless mowers average between 20 and 60 volts.
- Side (or rear) discharge or mulching. Collecting grass clippings as you mow or choosing to let them fall to the ground and decompose (mulching) is a personal preference, but if you want to collect the clippings, look for a mower that has either a side or rear discharge and a bag you can attach.
- Cutting height. Most electric mowers, like gas models, can be adjusted to suit a variety of cutting heights, from less than one inch to up to four inches high.
- Cordless vs. corded. While many new electric mowers today are battery powered, a number of good corded models are also on the market. Cordless models allow the user to range farther from an electrical outlet, while corded models always have a constant supply of power. If you choose a corded mower, keep in mind that you’ll need a heavy-duty extension cord; a 12-gauge or 14-gauge cord is recommended.
Our Top Picks
BEST OVERALL: Greenworks 21-inch Cordless Mower
If you’re looking for a powerful cordless electric mower with a generous swath cut, you’ll love the Greenworks 21-inch Cordless Mower. It uses two 80-volt G-MAX lithium-ion batteries (included, and compatible with other G-MAX powered lawn tools) and will power through nearly an acre of lawn on a single charge. This electric mower turns on easily with a push-start button, and it features the brand’s SmartCut technology, which senses when the grass becomes denser and speeds up the blades. Large, 7-inch front wheels and 10-inch rear wheels make it easy to mow and maneuver.
BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: Greenworks 16-inch Cordless Lawn Mower
With a 16-inch swath cut and a 40-volt Lithium-ion battery system, the Greenworks 16-inch Cordless Electric Lawn Mower will mow up to 7,000 sq. ft. on a single charge, suiting it perfectly for small- to medium-sized yards. The quiet-running mower features a push-button start and graduated wheel size (6-inch front wheels and 7-inch back wheels) to make maneuvering the mower a snap. Plus, it offers both mulching and rear-bagging. Grass-cut height is adjustable from 1-3/4- to 3-3/8-inch, and the mower’s SmartCut technology speeds up the blades when the machine senses thicker-than-average grass. At the end of an afternoon’s work, the handle folds down for easy storage, and its G-MAX battery can be charged to use next time (or with other G-MAX yard tools).
BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Yard Force 22-inch 3-in-1 Cordless Mower
Give away that old gas-guzzling mower, toss out those fuel cans, and throw out that oil-changing pan—you won’t have any need for them when you have the Yard Force 22-inch 3-in-1 Cordless Mower. Designed with a generous 22-inch swath cut, the Yard Force will make quick work of larger yards and will mow up to a half-acre of lawn on a single charge. The mower comes with two 120-volt lithium-ion batteries (to be used at the same time) for superior turf-cutting power. The mower features self-propulsion (rare for electric mowers), push-button start, single-lever height adjustment from 1-1/2to 4 inches, and a folding handle for easy storage. Rear-bagging, side-discharge, and mulching options are also available.