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Comments on electric mowers

(From: Leslie Gerstenfeld (lgerst1@umbc.edu).)

I bought a Ryobi Mulchinator in '94 (cordless electric). I found it cheapest at Home Depot, I think it was about $325. I really like it.



As for the big issue - how does it cut. Well, it cuts pretty well, but it certainly can't take down anything like a gas mower can. As the grass gets higher, it starts to leave a bit along one edge of the cutting strip slightly higher.

If you are the type who knocks a foot off your grass every few weeks, this isn't the right mower. But if you mow regularly, it works pretty well.

(From: Carol J J (caroljj@ix.netcom.com).)

I have used Black and Decker electric mowers for over 20 years. I Love them. We have a small property and a 100 foot extension cord is all we need. Since my husband is disabled, my young sons and I have done all the mowing for years. There are no worries about pouring or storing gasoline, no pulling like crazy to get it started. The blade is easy to replace. The grass bag is awkward but okay. My latest is a mulcher. It switches between regular and mulching easily. The mulch works well, not as good as a Snapper, but we're not paying Snapper prices either.

(From: Nann Blaine Hilyard (hilyard@pol.org).)

I bought a Black & Decker cordless electric mower for $150 at Menard's last year. It is lightweight and very easy to use. I have not calculated the energy cost (we keep it quietly charging between mowings, though we unplug it in the winter) versus a gas mower, but I don't have the strength to pull the cord for a gas mower so the extra electricity doesn't bother me.

(From: Geoffrey G. Shepherd (gshepherd@seanet.com).)

When my old Craftsman gas mower gave up this summer (gas leak) (what, you didn't read this FAQ?? :-) --- sam), I decided it was time to replace it with a new electric mower (my brother-in-law has the old mower now and is working on it for his own use). I ended up purchasing a Black & Decker CMM-1000 5 HP Cordless Mulching Mower from the local home improvement warehouse for just over $350.

So far, I'm quite happy with it. It mulches better than the Craftsman did, and rear-bags when I want to add to the compost pile. It mows my entire city lot on a charge (in fact, the built-in meter still reads full charge when I'm done - admittedly, my house takes up a large portion of the lot). I also like how it adjusts height with one clever lever. It's fairly quiet, and my clothes don't smell like gasoline when I'm done. Call B&D at 1-800-762-6672 and they can send you literature and a free video on the CMM-1000.

My only complaint with it is the weight. It seems to weigh about the same as the gas mower it replaced - it might even be few pounds heavier. But that's OK - I can use the exercise.

(From: Steve Hill (hills@inficad.com).)

I spent 3 years with a push reel mower. If the blades where sharp and the grass short then it was fine. If the blades where dull or out of adjustment or if the length of the grass to be cut at all long, it would leave the lawn a mess. I'd have to make 2 or 3 passes to get decent results. Also some types of weeds with resiliant stems where very difficult to cut.

Finally, last year I bought a Black and Decker cordless electric. It was magnificent. It was a mulching mower so my raking days where over and it gave much better results. Also, it was very quiet and was always ready to go in an instant. All of my neighbors with gas mowers were very jealous.

(From: William Lee (w-lee2@nwu.edu).)

I have had a Ryobi for 4 years and found it to be adequate for our small lawns. It takes me about 20-30 min.to do everything. In my opinion, it does not cut as well as a "good" gas powered mover that has a sharp blade. The batteries do degrade over time, although I'm am still working on the originals. It had an charger problem the first year, but that was fixed without charge. The blades are non-standard and I have an extra so that I can have a resharpened blade ready to go.I do enjoy not having to "listen" to the noise of a gas engine! Good luck!

(From: Andy Dennie (adennie@instinctive.com).)

As a former reel mower user and a current cordless electric mulching mower user, I can comment on both of these items.

I used a reel mower for about a year and a half. I found that it worked well if I cut the grass pretty short, but when I did that I got more weeds. I tried raising the blade height, but then it didn't cut as well.

This year I got a Ryobi Mulchinator cordless electric mower. So far I have been pretty happy with it. The charge is good for about 1-1.5 hours, supposedly, but it only takes me about 45 minutes, so I don't know what its limit is really. It's louder than the reel mower, but quieter than a gas mower. While charging it can stand on its nose and the handle can be folded up so that it takes very little floor space in my garage (this was important for me). One minor inconvenience is that you have to leave it plugged it all the time (at least that's what they recommend), so it is helpful if you have a plug near the place where you will store it (you don't want to be tripping across a long cord all the time). This didn't turn out to be a problem for me. Another thing is that you're not supposed to store it in very cold weather (bad for the battery I guess), so I had to move it inside recently for the winter.

(From: Jim (jstrohm@texas.net).)

The only problem we've had with our plastic-decked B&D is that it tends to collect grass when it's wet, and clogs frequently. We've chunked a few rocks with it, but with no damage.

We haven't actually tried to cut rocks with it, and my experience is that a rock will penetrate the deck of any mower if it hits right. You should pick up the rocks before you mow, not try to hide from the shrapnel.

In general, electric mowers are best suited for smaller lawns with less vigorous growth and without extensive landscaping to tangle the cord. A frequently sharpened blade makes a tremendous difference on electric mowers.

(From: Robert Smits (rs@ham.island.net).)

I've had experience with both electric mowers and gas mowers. I live in an area where the grass can grow quite quickly and thickly, and the B&D electric one just doesn't have the oomph to cut long, thick grass. (Even when you make sure you're using as short a heavy duty cord as is practical - to avoid voltage drop in the cord). My 5HP gas model just whizzes through the same stuff, and not having to hassle with the cord is really an advantage - my lot size is just under an acre.

The battery operated electrics may run out of steam quite soon if you have a larger lot, and count on replacing the battery pack every few years.

(From: Roger Fillingim (rfilling@uab.edu).)

I've had two electric mowers, both cordless - a Ryobi and a Black & Decker. The B&D was rated as a 5 HP engine, although I have no way of knowing whether it delivered the same power as a 5 HP gas mower. I used my electric mowers on a small lawn. I would agree that the electrics don't do as well on a overgrown lawn, but other than that my electric, especially the B&D, were great. I still have the B&D, but I'm in an apartment right now so I don't have much use for it. But, when our new house is completed, I plan to use it again.

While charge time and power are potential downsides of electric, not having to change the oil, fill up with gas, pull a starter cord, etc... are substantial benefits in my opinion. Also, electric lawn mowers are much quieter and more environmentally friendly. If your yard is not too large and you mow fairly regularly, electrics are an option to consider.

(From: Pat Kiewicz (kiewicz@mail.wwnet.com).)

I hung up my reel mower for my Black & Decker rechargeable electric, for the very same reason. My mower also can bag grass for those occasions when due to circumstances beyond my control I must cut grass that is too tall or too damp or when I want grass clips for mulch or composting.

It runs on a lead-acid battery (same technology as your car battery) and can survive the winter in an unheated garage. I have to go rechargeable if I want to go electric as my lot stretches back 200 feet or more from the nearest plug. The battery should last a good, long time if not abused. (How often do you have to replace your car battery?)

I believe the most recent issue of National Gardening Magazine has an article on electric mowers, with comparison between the features of different brands and models.

(From: user@execpc.com (C. Ligh).)

I bought the Toro 24V rechargeable $349 based on the free video tape Toro provided describing all its features and options. The problem with the rechargeable is run time.

I have a 10,000+ sq feet lawn and after about 35 minutes mowing the battery level lights went out. The owner's manual states: one should stop and recharge after the lights are out or the batteries' life will be shortened. Anyway there was still power left and I finished the lawn in about 65 minutes. With the prospect of replacing the batteries every year and run time shortened after every use, I returned the mower.

Toro does offer a 30 day return. You might want to give it a try when you have grass. Get the corded model if you don't have too many trees and save a $100.

When ever my 13 years old Honda dies, I'll probably get a corded electric mower. But I do miss the quietness of a electric and absence of exhaust fume.

P.S. There is a 36V rechargeable, but it's a $100+ more. So, will replacing the two batteries = $200?

(From: Michael Lamb (michael.lamb@nciinc.com).)

I own an electric mower now. It's a beefed-up Sunbeam. I found it on the side of the road and did a bit of 'customizing' to it. I like it MUCH better than the gas thing I had for years. The cord is a bit of a bother but when I think that I'm polluting far less and it uses far less power (costs about 25 cents less energy to cut the yard compared to the old gas one) AND it doesn't stink and be a pain to start and a health hazard and is quieter too. I might get a new cordless eventually but the $375 price tag is a bit much. I tried one out and think they are pretty nice, far lighter than a gas mower. Besides the one I have does very well for now. A friend of mine bought a B&D cordless, she likes it and has no problem doing her yard and her neighbors too! (she likes cutting grass)

(From: ap052137@idirect.com).

Have really enjoyed the convenience of a cordless mower. Bought it in 1992 and went to replace the battery. It is a model 3300m and got the shock off my life when the first place I tried quoted me a price of approx $236 cdn. I got in touch with B&D and they directed me to another dealer where I got it for $93. However, this dealer told me that the new price list does indeed show $236 cdn for new stock. Goodbye B&D the next time the battery needs replacing. I can buy a complete gas or ac unit for the amount of money.

(From: Mike).

The problem you state does not exist for only B&D lawn mowers, but ANY rechargeable product. Batteries do not last forever, and typically account for more than 50% of the cost in any tool. Often times the batteries are a standard size and you can get relatively inexpensive replacements at electronic stores. As an example, most cordless drills use sub 'C' cells which run about $1.75 a piece from Tanner Electronics in Dallas, Tx. For comparison, B&D wants $20 for their replacement (four batteries).

At the risk of sounding like a zealot...the people that think they are "saving the environment" with their electric lawn mowers are fooling themselves. In the first place, all you've done is moved the pollution from your backyard to somebody elses, and soon we're going to extend this fallacy to cars (oh, joy...smog in the country). In the second place, the process used to produce Cadmium plating is so toxic that even the US military is phasing out its use, while most foreign (non-US) governments outlaw its production entirely. "Green factor" wise, we're all probably just as well off with oil burning tub-thumpers.

I predict in the not so distant future (10-20 years) we'll see the end of NiCad powered appliances either because governments ban them, tax the daylights out of them, or nobody will be dumb enough to build the batteries anymore. At the very least, expect to see mandatory recycling programs for *all* types of batteries (not just lead-acid). Regardless, prices will sky rocket.

Ok, soap box mode off :).

(From: J. Matthew Good (jmg14213@ix.netcom.com))

First, battery powered lawn mowers use Lead - Sulfuric acid batteries, just like in your gas powered car, only smaller. Second, these batteries are one hundred percent recyclable. Yes, that is 100%.

To the original poster: The only problem with battery mowers is that you must follow the directions about over- charging. Also, they are sealed, as most of them are installed laying on their sides, so ordinary replacement batteries would leak.

Ryobi has replaced the pair of batteries in their machine with a single 24V unit which lists for about $95 US, PLUS FREIGHT. From what I've seen, they are lasting anywhere from 2 to 3 years for most users. To make it last longer, charge only until the indicator says it is fully charged, then unplug it. On a Ryobi, the light turns from red to green to indicate full charge, and supposedly goes into float charge. Don't take a chance, when it turns green, or whatever Black and Decker's equivalent is, Pull the Plug.

(From: Ronald Kramer (kramerr@oasys.dt.navy.mil).)

This is my third year with a so-called 5HP Black and Decker battery electric. I think they are crap! I couldn't mow the lawn due to rain this weekend once again so the grass got to be twice the cutting height. This requires that I cut without the bag which causes the grass to clump. I then have to go over the area again with the bag. For my 12500 sq. ft. yard takes 4 days because I have only 50 min of charge. So when I finish I have a yard of grass at different heights and it is time to start mowing again.

(From: Jeff Canavan (Canavan@foodfac1.rutgers.spamfree.edu).)

I recently had the decision to make regarding a new lawn mower. I went with all electric stuff for the yard; corded combo weedwacker/edger, 16" chainsaw and Black and Decker CMM1000 rechargeable lawn mower. Searching through prior usenet posts with Dejanews.com, I found mostly good comments about the lawn mower and thought I'd give it a try. It comes with a 30 day money-back offer, so if I really hated it, I could return it to get a corded one or a fume belching fossil fueled model. After plugging it in overnight, I mowed the grass for the first time last Sunday, (it hadn't been mowed for 7+ weeks) After mulching the 1/2 acre of shin- to knee-high grass and weeds, the charge indicator was still in the green zone halfway between the Fullest and the yellow. The box states 1/2 acre range, including driveway, walkways, and house. It must be conservative or I got a really great set of batteries.

Discounting all ecological debates regarding macro pollution issues;


Pluses, neutrals, or minuses, (depending on your view of yardwork):


(From: Frank Wilder (frank.wilder@intrlnk.com).)

We have an 18" rechargeable Black & Decker electric and we really like it. We bought a refurbished unit at a Black & Decker outlet.



I am happy with the one I have but I can't wait to upgrade to a bigger one. The newer B&D lawn mowers look really great.

(From: Dave Clark (Dave_Clark@dg.com).)

Country Home Products, the people who make the DR Field and brush mower offer a cordless lawn mower that has a removable battery. The battery has a built in handle and lifts out of the mower housing for easy replacement and charging. If it is half the quality of the DR Brush mower it is a great mower, and a great company to do business with. They are located in Vermont, and you can get their number from 800 information (1-800-555-1212).

I don't own the mower (yet) but am considering it for my mothers house. I do own the DR and I love it. I have no interest in this company - but I am a very satisfied customer.

(From: Topher Eliot (eliot@alum.mit.edu).)

I'm happy with my Sears electric. I discovered on trick for dealing with the cord: use a heavy duty, long cord (100', 12-gauge in my case) with a short light cord at the end (20' 16 gauge). This allows moving back and forth a moderate amount without having to move that heavy cord.

BTW, I don't think I really needed that 12-gauge; in retrospect a 14-gauge would have been better.

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