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 yanking a pull cord, replacing fouled spark plugs, and storing flammable fuel, you’d be doing your part to reduce carbon emissions. However, electric mowers do have their downsides when it comes to power, price, and even safety. Read on to understand the pros and cons, figure out what features to look for when shopping, and get the 411 on the picks for the best electric mower.
- BEST OVERALL: Greenworks GLM801601 21-Inch 80V Cordless Push Lawn
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: American Lawn Mower Company 50514 14-Inch 11-Amp
- BEST SPLURGE: Snapper 1687914 21″ SP Walk Mower Kit
- BEST CORDED: Sun Joe MJ401E-PRO 14 Inch 13 Amp Electric Lawn Mower
- BEST SELF-PROPELLED: EGO Power+ LM2020SP 20-Inch 56-Volt Lithium-Ion
- BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: Greenworks 14-Inch 9 Amp Corded Electric Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Greenworks 40V 21” Brushless (Smart Pace)
Before You Buy an Electric Mower
Electric mowers are eco-friendly and well suited to homes without garages or sheds to store the combustible fuel necessary for running a gas-powered mower. Still, an electric mower might not be for everyone. The gas vs. electric mower debate rages on, with adherents on both sides making convincing points. An electric mower reduces the carbon footprint and is relatively quiet. In contrast, a gas-powered mower is loud but can run for hours, as long as a can of gasoline is nearby. It’s also usually more powerful, making it better suited to mowing thick, dense grasses where an electric mower can become clogged.
Types of Electric Mowers
The two basic types of electric mowers are corded and cordless (battery powered). The best type for any lawn will depend on the size of the property, the grass type, and how long it normally takes to mow.
Heavy-duty, rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries (measured in volts) are necessary for powering cordless mowers. The more powerful the battery, the more cutting power the mower will have. The batteries used to power cordless mowers average between 20 and 82 volts. The upside to a battery-powered electric mower is that the user can take it anywhere a lawn needs cutting. The downside is that when the battery runs down, in usually 30 to 50 minutes, it will have to be recharged before resuming mowing. To double run time, consider investing in a second battery you can switch to when the first one runs down.
While most new electric mowers today are battery powered, several reliable corded models are also on the market. The benefit of a corded electric mower is that, as long as an electrical outlet is nearby, it will run at maximum power. A definite downside is that the user is limited to the extension cord’s length, which is typically 50 to 100 feet long. For those considering a corded electric mower, keep in mind it will require a heavy-duty extension cord; a 12-gauge or 14-gauge cord is best, although it’s always important to check the owner’s manual. Smaller cords are not suitable for the amount of electricity an electric mower requires and may become hot, short out, or even melt.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Electric Mower
Electric mowers offer a variety of options that make them better suited to individual yards and users. Important considerations to keep in mind during the buying process include the amount of grass the mower will cut in a single pass, the adjustable height of the cutting blades, and how the mower discharges the grass. Some of the newer, most powerful electric mowers feature self-propulsion, a handy assist that makes mowing much easier.
The wider the swath—the width of grass you can cut in a single pass—the fewer passes you’ll have to make. On the other hand, a wider swath requires more power, which can translate into shorter battery life. The average swath width of an electrical mower ranges from 15 to 22 inches. If the lawn is small, even a 15-inch swath width will get the job done without taking too much time. Larger yards will benefit from a broader swath width so it doesn’t take forever to mow them.
Like gas models, most electric mowers can be adjusted to suit a variety of cutting heights, ranging from 1 to 4 inches. Before choosing a mower, find out the optimal cutting height for the grass. The general rule of thumb is to cut most grass types between 2 and 3¾ inches high.
Side or Rear Discharge and Mulching
Collecting grass clippings as you mow or choosing to let them fall to the ground and decompose (mulching) is a personal preference. For users who want to collect the clippings, either to discard or add to a compost pile, look for a mower with a side or rear discharge and an attachable bag.
Until recently, almost all electric mowers were propelled solely by the user, which required the mower to be very lightweight. In the past few years, a few self-propelled models have been appearing online and on showroom floors. Self-propelled mowers are usually battery operated, and the mower uses high-volt lithium-ion batteries to produce sufficient power to pull the wheels forward while cutting grass. These upscale mowers often cost several hundred dollars more than their nonpropelled counterparts, but they offer a great deal of convenience.
Tips for Using Electric Mowers
Corded electric lawn mowers have been around for decades, but they didn’t have nearly the power to rival most gas-powered mowers until recently. Today’s models cut most turf with ease, but the following tips will help users achieve the best results.
- Cut the lawn as often as needed to maintain optimal grass height without cutting away more than ⅓ of each grass blade. This might mean having to mow every three or four days during the lawn’s fast-growing season, but by cutting no more than ⅓ of the grass blade, the grass will be healthier and more resistant to diseases.
- Mow away from the cord. Rather than starting at the outside of the yard and mowing back and forth toward the house, start near the electrical outlet and then mow in swaths progressively farther away. This helps keep the cord out of the way and reduces the risk of running over it.
- Don’t use a corded electric mower on wet grass. Electricity and water don’t mix, and mowing wet grass can lead to an electrical short or danger of electrical shock.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, an electric mower should be durable, designed for easy maneuvering, and powerful enough to cut the type of grass in the lawn. The best electric mower for any individual yard will depend on the yard’s size and whether the user prefers a corded or cordless model. The following electric mowers are designed with different yards and users in mind, but they’re all among the tops in their class.
This cordless electric mower from Greenworks uses two included 80-volt G-MAX lithium-ion batteries (compatible with other G-MAX-powered lawn tools) and will power through nearly an acre of lawn during the 60 minutes of run time provided by a full charge.
This electric mower turns on easily with a push-start button and boasts a generous 21-inch swath cut. It features the brand’s SmartCut technology, which senses when the grass becomes denser and speeds up the blades. The mower also provides a 3-in-1 system, allowing the user to choose between mulching, bagging, or discharging the grass clippings. Large 7-inch front wheels and 10-inch rear wheels make it easy to mow and maneuver.
No need to spend a lot on a reliable electric mower. This corded electric mower from American Lawn Mower Company offers a wide range of features, all at an attractive price point. It provides a powerful, yet highly efficient, 11-amp motor while remaining lightweight and easy to maneuver. The mower also boasts a respectable 14-inch swath width. And its cutting height is adjustable to five positions, from 1 inch up to 2.5 inches, making it suitable for low-growing and warm-season grass types.
The handle on this affordable mower has a nonslip grip, features a safety shutoff if the user releases the handle while mowing, and folds down to aid in storage. You can set the mower for clippings to discharge into a 16-gallon grass bag or to fall back on the lawn for use as natural mulch. Users will need a 12- or 14-gauge exterior extension cord (not included) to run the mower.
For those looking for a powerful, high-end electric mower, this cordless model from Snapper doesn’t disappoint. It runs on a super-charged 82-volt lithium-ion battery: two batteries and the charger are included. This mower cuts an enviable 21-inch swath width, rivaling some of its gas-powered competitors. Weighing in at a hefty 80.9 pounds, this item is heavier than most electric mowers but features self-propulsion so users only need to walk behind and guide the mower.
The mower features a push-button start and seven cutting heights, from 1⅜ inches to 3¾ inches, making it appropriate for most turf types. It offers large 10-inch rear wheels and a grass-catching bag that fits on the back, with clippings discharging to either the side or the back.
The corded Sun Joe electric mower cuts a 14-inch swath and includes a rear-mount grass bag to catch clippings. It features a powerful 13-amp motor and large molded plastic wheels that make pushing the mower easier. An adjustable cutting height, from just over 1 inch to 2¼ inches, makes it well suited to low-growing, warm-season grasses, such as buffalo.
No need to store gasoline or change spark plugs with this plastic mower that is as eco-friendly as it gets. Collect grass clippings in a 10.6-gallon bag or discard them via a rear discharge chute. The mower boasts a nonslip grip handle that folds down for easy storage. A 12- or 14-gauge exterior extension cord is necessary for operation (not included). Some assembly of both the handle and the wheels is required.
No need to push a mower when this cordless electric mower from EGO Power does all the work. This electric mower runs on a powerful 56-volt lithium-ion battery (both battery and charger sold separately) and cuts an ample 20-inch swath. The user walks behind and guides; no pushing necessary with this self-propelled model.
The mower includes LED headlights for those early morning or after dusk mowing jobs, and the fold-down handle adjusts to six different positions to suit a variety of grass heights. On a fully charged battery, this model runs up to 60 minutes without needing a recharge. It features side, back, and mulch discharge options for clippings.
With a 14-inch swath width powered by a 9-amp electric motor, this Greenworks corded electric mower makes quick work of cutting small- to medium-size yards. The quiet-running mower features a push-button start and graduated wheel size, with 6-inch front wheels and 7-inch rear wheels, to make maneuvering the mower a snap. It features a safety handle that must be engaged when mowing; when the handle is released, the mower stops.
The grass cutting height is adjustable from 1¼ inches to 3 inches, and the mower features both a 10-gallon rear bag for catching grass clippings and mulching capability. At the end of an afternoon’s work, the handle folds down for easy storage, allowing it to be stowed along a wall in a garage or storage shed. A 12- or 14-gauge exterior extension cord (not included) is required for operation.
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 purchase this cordless electric mower from Greenworks. Boasting a 21-inch swath cut, this mower can operate for up to 70 minutes powered by its two 40-volt lithium-ion batteries (included), allowing users to mow longer without stopping to recharge. When one battery runs down, the power automatically switches to the second battery.
The mower features self-propulsion, large front and rear wheels for easy maneuvering, a push-button start, height adjustment from 1⅜ to 3¾ inches, and a folding handle for easy storage. Rear bagging, side discharge, and mulching options are all available to collect clippings. As a bonus, the battery charger includes a USB port that can charge a cell phone or tablet if necessary.
The Advantages of Owning an Electric Lawn Mower
Electric mowers cut grass in the same way as gas-powered mowers: Spinning rotary blades chop off the top of each piece of grass 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 while they’re ideal for mowing small lawns, recent advances in battery power storage are allowing cordless electric mowers to carve 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, and filters, is required.
- No flammable gasoline is stored in your garage or shed.
- Whether using a corded or cordless 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.
- An electric lawn mower produces just 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 electric mowers depends on how long the batteries hold a charge. Typically, you can operate a battery-powered mower between 30 and 60 minutes before it requires a recharge, and it then takes approximately 8 to 12 hours to recharge. For a large yard, you could be inconveniently charging the battery halfway through the job.
- Electric lawn mowers, since they’re 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 blades. Thick grass creates more resistance, causing the mower blades to clog or leave entire clumps uncut. To compensate, electric mower owners raise the mowing height, cutting off only the top quarter or so of the grass blades and requiring you to mow more often (every two to three days).
- Electric mowers should not be operated on wet grass due to the risk of shock.
- Inadvertently mowing over the cord of an electric mower 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.
FAQs About Electric Mowers
More electric mowers are on the market today than ever before, and they’re an eco-friendly way to care for a lawn. For those new to this type of mower, read on to have a few of the most frequently asked questions answered.
Q. Do electric mowers cut well?
In general, electric mowers are not as powerful as gas-powered mowers, but for average lawns where the grass isn’t ultradense, they usually work quite well.
Q. How long does an electric mower last?
Depending on quality, an electric mower should last between 5 and 10 years. A lithium-ion battery (for a cordless electric mower) should be replaced approximately every five years.
Q. How do you maintain an electric mower?
Store an electric mower in a garage or covered shed and clean any stuck-on grass clippings from under the mower deck before use. In comparison to gas mowers, electric mowers require very little maintenance.