For most of us, though, lawn care is a frustrating but necessary chore. When you start living a more eco-conscious life, you realize just how bad for the environment this chore is. It can start you wondering, “Would an electric lawn mower be worth it? Do electric lawn mowers work?”
If you’re tired of hauling around and maintaining a gas-guzzling giant of a lawnmower, electric is a tempting option. But should you make the switch? Is an electric lawn mower better than gas?
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Is An Electric Lawn Mower Better Than Gas?
Most people who are looking at electric lawn mowers do so for one of two reasons – the environment and their wallet. Let’s start with the environment.
If you’ve spent any time looking into electric cars, you might have learned that they aren’t too much better for the environment than gas. Long charge times, costly and dangerous-to-manufacture batteries, and the simple problem of making new vs buying used mean electric cars just about break even with gas.
Are electric lawn mowers the same? Do electric mowers hurt the environment just as much as gas?
The answer is a loud, emphatic no. To start with, running your gas mower for even an hour creates as much pollution as driving your car 100 miles. That’s right, you could go on a day trip to a city almost two hours away and create less pollution than your gas mower does.
Electric lawn mowers aren’t completely emission-free, themselves. First and most obvious, there’s the manufacturing process. Building an electric lawn mower will add to pollution, just like all factories. Once you bring it home and plug it in, you’re using electricity to power it, which also creates some emissions.
The difference between an electric mower and an electric car, though, is the charge time. An electric car will take about 8 hours and 7,000 watts on average to reach a full charge. On the other hand, an electric mower will take about 100 minutes, and around 600 – 1,200 watts.
The biggest environmental impact of an electric mower is batteries that aren’t properly disposed of. And you can solve that by being careful and considerate when you dispose of your batteries!
Compare that to gas mowers, which contribute to urban pollution levels more than some vehicles. When urban air pollution goes up, so do health problems among its residents, especially children. Gas mowers produce 1,500 times more carbon monoxide than electric. Talk about a big difference in air pollution!
Cost Comparison: Electric Lawn Mower vs Gas
Ok, now on to the second reason you might switch to an electric mower. Do electric lawn mowers work to save you money? Are they more cost-effective than gas? Here at Penny Calling Penny, we take that just as seriously as helping the environment.
The answer, thankfully, is yes. Electric lawn mowers are much more cost-effective than gas. Let’s break it down into three categories: the upfront cost, the fuel cost, and the maintenance cost.
Electric vs Gas: Upfront Cost
Ok, how much is an electric lawn mower? How about gas? Electic lawn mowers will start off at about $40. Gas is pretty close to that, with an upfront cost starting at $60. These are both prices for the smallest, cheapest mowers on the market.
A high-end tricked-out electric lawn mower can cost you as much as $5,600. A commercial-grade, heavy-duty gas lawn mower can go up to as much as $7,000. That’s almost a $2,000 difference in the upper range!
On average, you can expect to pay about $241 for an electric mower and around $365 for gas.
Electric vs Gas: Fuel
So far, so good. Electric is ahead by an average of $124. How about powering it? As we’ve already mentioned, electric mowers take about 600 – 1,200 watts to power up. With electricity costing an average of $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, you’re looking at about $0.38 to recharge. If you need to charge it once a week, that’s about $19.76 a year.
How about gas? Well, that will depend on gas prices. Bad news, since gas prices are set to rise all summer. On average, a mower takes about a gallon of gas to run. Let’s be generous and assume you can mow your lawn twice on one gallon of gas. Let’s say you also mow once a week. With gas costing an average of $4.58, you’d be looking at $119.08 a year in fuel costs.
Electric vs Gas: Maintenance
Electric is currently winning the low-cost race by an average of $223.32. But what about maintenance? Unfortunately for gas mowers, this is where they perform the worst.
Electric mowers are famously low-maintenance. They typically use a lubricant that will last the life of the mower. All you really need to do is get the blade sharpened about once a year. You may want a backup battery, but you won’t need to replace the battery for about 5 years.
Let’s say the blade-sharpening is about $20 and the replacement battery is an average $75. We’ll go ahead and split that $75 across 5 years, making it $15.
Meanwhile, gas mowers are more complex machines. You’ll need to replace the spark plugs and change the oil and filter yearly. You’ll still need to sharpen the blade yearly, and you may encounter engine troubles that need professional care. But, for the sake of averages, let’s say you spend about $30 on engine maintenance and $20 on the blade sharpening.
That means that in total, you’d be spending an average of $35 a year on electric mower maintenance. Meanwhile, the gas mower is eating up $50 a year!
Electric Lawn Mower Tax Credit – What It Is and How to Claim It
There’s one more cost (or cost-saver) to think about when it comes to electric lawn mowers. From 2017 to 2021, the federal government offered a tax credit to people who bought an electric lawn mower during that time. It doesn’t currently look like this will be renewed for 2022, but don’t give up hope just yet.
The 2021 tax credit was applied retroactively from 2017 to 2021. That means that if you purchase an electric lawn mower in 2022, you may get that tax credit in a future year. (You can check here for updates.)
Even if there is no federal tax credit, you might be able to apply for one. Some states, cities, or counties may be offering rebates for electric mowers. You can find out whether your hometown is one by searching “(your city/state/county) electric lawn mower rebate”.
The qualifications will vary a bit, but generally, you’ll need three things. First, you’ll need proof that you bought a new (not used) electric lawn mower. Next, you’ll need proof that you live within the borders of the jurisdiction offering the rebate. Finally, you may need proof that your old gas mower was scrapped (not resold).
If your area doesn’t offer a rebate, you can also check online through the manufacturer. Just search “(company name) rebates” or “(company name) electric lawn mower rebates”.
In any of these cases, you can get part or all of the cost covered. That adds even more savings to the upfront and operating costs of an electric lawn mower!
Do Electric Lawn Mowers Work?
The cost comparison blew gas mowers out of the water. The average cost to buy and maintain an electric mower is a stunning $238.32 less than gas. And that’s before any rebate or tax credit! The next question is: are electric lawn mowers any good? Do electric lawn mowers work just as well as gas?
They’ll cut your lawn, for sure. And if you live in suburbia, you won’t notice any difference at all. There are a few things to keep in mind before you buy, though.
The first is whether you have a big or small lawn. A bigger lawn will be more of a struggle on an electric mower. If you choose a corded electric mower, you won’t be able to reach your whole lawn. If you go the battery route, you may need to stop and recharge part of the way through mowing a large lawn.
Next is the length of the grass. If you don’t live near an HOA and tend to let your grass grow long, an electric mower may not keep up as well as gas. The longer your grass grows out, the more power it takes to cut it, so your mower will struggle. However, as long as you mow regularly, your electric mower can keep pace just fine.
Finally, you’ll need to think about moisture. Electric mowers hate moisture of any kind. If you leave your mower in the rain, you may not be able to fix it. Mowing right after a storm or when there’s a lot of dew on the grass will also cause some problems for you.
Basically, electric mowers can keep up a lawn just as well as a gas mower. You just have to be a little more thoughtful about mowing.
Are Electric Lawn Mowers Any Good?
In the end, there’s one answer to the question “do electric lawn mowers work?” Yes. Electric mowers are just as good as gas for the average suburban or urban family. They’re more cost-effective, less harmful to the environment, and overall safer to use.
Electric lawn mowers don’t move their blades as quickly as gas, meaning if you hit a rock, it’s less likely to fly up and injure you. They get less hot, minimizing risk of burns, and they eliminate the need to store dangerous, flammable gasoline.
If you’re looking for the most cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and safe mowing option, you may want to look at a push reel mower. These hand-powered, simple machines need zero fuel and no upkeep besides blade-sharpening.
However, one similarity between electric and push reel mowers is the small surface area they can cover comfortably. If your yard is just a little too large for these options, consider replacing that grass with a garden.
Wildflower gardens encourage local wildlife and promote biodiversity. (They’re also just gorgeous!) Meanwhile, a vegetable or herb garden is a great way to make better use of your space and tighten up your grocery budget. Less to mow and kinder to your budget? Yes, please!
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