Product Review:
Battery Powered Lawnmowers

TLDR: Iíll not be buying any more gasoline lawnmowers, and I think theyíll be rare in ten years.
In April of 2000 when my family moved into a big house, I bought a new lawnmower, as the old one had crapped out the previous fall, a week before my next door neighborís crapped out; he had bought an identical model a week after I did, a perfect example of planned obsolescence. They had lasted a month longer than the two year warranties.
So I bought a lawnmower that would last, a top of the line Lawn Boy. It was self-propelled, and changeable between a bagging mower, a mulching mower, or a side chute mower. It was a little over $400, about twice what the cheap one cost.
After all this time, and letting people borrow it (thatís not going to happen again), and after having it serviced it was hard to start. One pull after priming when it was new, now starting it wore me out, far more than actually mowing the grass. I paid people to mow my yard last year, just so I wouldnít have to start it.
I decided Iíd buy a new lawnmower, one that had a button to push rather than a rope to pull, one with electric start this spring.
Then I saw they were selling battery powered lawnmowers at Tru-Value, next door to a drive up liquor store. So I stopped there before I got my beer, and they didnít have any lawnmowers at all. They had sold out.
The next day I tried Ace, about as far away only in a different direction, and the fellow said they had trouble keeping electric start ones in stock, but they had these battery onesÖ which was what I really wanted.
Again, I bought the top of the line, this time a little over $600, but a brand Iíd never heard of, =GO.
It was nothing like any lawnmower Iíd ever used, including the electric mower my dad had when I was a kid. That one needed a really long outside extension cord, but its biggest plus was probably its lack of needed maintenance. But wrapping that damned extension cable after using itÖ
At any rate, every other lawnmower after that was the same, except for some safety features, like the bar you have to hang onto to keep it running these days. You know, everyone does, at least whoís had a lawn.
Every Spring you change the oil, clean the air filter, drive to the gas station for fuel for the mower, fill it, start it up, and if it wonít start, cuss and find a spark plug wrench. After that initial Spring maintenance, when you use it you check the oil, add gasoline, and if itís very old, wrestle with getting it started.
The hardware store delivered the new electric one late Friday afternoon, after Iíd been to the bar, so I locked it in the garage until the next morning when Iíd be sober, and took the manuals inside to study. Whoever has been in college knows about studying after drinking.
The next day I was in the manual again, trying to figure out how to get the grass basket off. Not only did I want to mulch, everything you needed to make it work was in the basket. The manual had gone into detail on how to install it, but apparently assumed that once you had attached it you could easily detach it.
The hardware store had attached it. I was able to work my way backwards from how to install it and got it off. Now to charge the battery.
The manual for the charger said its lights would dance or something in a self-diagnostic when you plugged it in, but it stayed dark. An untested outlet in the garage? I took it inside, along with the almost eight pound battery.
I was greatly amused when I removed the battery from its box. It looked like a robotic tool in the ST:NG episode The Quality of Life that Data proved was sentient. Itís been years since I saw that episode.
Inside, with a known outlet, plugging the charger in worried me, because it stayed dark. Crap, defective? But it lit up and a fan started whirring when I slid the battery in, as did the battery, which didnít whirr.
I read for a half hour, and it reported itself charged when I checked it. I unplugged the charger, and it died sadly and silently like in a science fiction movie, with a couple of blinking flashes, like electric tears.
Outside again, the sky looked threatening. The TV had predicted rain. Well, people predicted it but TV gets the blame. The battery slid in without a problem, as it had in the charger.
I quickly did the bare minimum of testing, making the blades spin and the wheels to turn before locking it back up in the garage. I feared the mixture of electricity and rain.
This morning, not quite noon, I opened the garage, pulled the mower out, and discovered that if you just touch the ďgoĒ buttons it goes, it only needs the extra switch thing for the blades.
The yard didnít really need cutting yet, but I wanted to try it out, and mowed the front yard and put it away. And realized just what a pain in the ass gasoline lawnmowers are. With an electric mower, you just get it out and mow, no rope, gasoline, oil, or any other maintenance except for charging the battery a couple of times a year..
Oh, my old mower had one speed, with a clutch. The new one has a speed control. Adjusting cutting height is now easy compared to the pain in the ass the old mower was.
The battery mower is superior to a gasoline mower in every way, and sooner or later people will realize it, and it will be hard to sell gasoline mowers. Which, of course, will make them obsolete.
Good riddance. Now I want an electric car! And it has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with ease of use.


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