5 Things Bob Vila Thinks You Should Know Before Buying an Electric Lawn Mower

Bob Vila is the authority on lawn care. Even though electric lawn mowers were invented during the 1930s, we have only recently started taking them seriously. As such, electric motor and battery technology has improved a ton over the past decade. However, Bob Vila still thinks before spending your hard-earned cabbages; there are five things you should know before buying an electric mower. 

Man mowing a lawn near a lake, highlighting how its bad to mow the grass on a lawn too short
Lawn mower cutting the grass | Ingo Doerrie via Unsplash

1) Will an electric lawn mower make my grass healthier than a gas mower? 

According to Bob Vila, the myth is that grass health is the same no matter what kind of mower you use is one which needs dispelling. It is a known guideline in lawn maintenance: “The better the cut, the healthier the grass.” The truth is that gas-powered mowers tend to offer a better cut because of the blade’s design. Electric mower blades are different from gas mower blades to make the battery last longer. This sacrifices cut quality, and these blades can also get bogged down in thicker growth.

2) Are electric mowers more expensive because they are better? 

The open battery docks of a green-and-silver Ryobi RY401140US 40V HP Brushless 21” self-propelled battery-powered lawn mower
The Ryobi RY401140US 40V HP Brushless 21” self-propelled mower is one of the best battery-powered lawn mowers | Ryobi

First of all, electric lawn mowers are only about $50 more expensive on average than gas lawn mowers. However, it isn’t quite so simple. Gas mowers require you to buy fuel and perform more maintenance. That being said, replacement batteries for electric mowers can get pricey too. So, the cost can be deceptive. I digress. 

So, are electric mowers better than gas mowers? Not exactly. While electric mowers have cool benefits, they are more expensive. Not to mention, battery-powered mowers are nowhere near as long-lasting and durable as their gassy counterparts. 

According to Bob Vila, “In terms of engine life, a gas mower will run for ten years or more, while a battery-powered mower will need to be replaced after about five years, on average.”

3) Are gas lawn mowers hard to maintain? 

While gas mowers do require more maintenance than electric lawn mowers, they aren’t hard to maintain – at least not anymore. It’s true that the power and cut quality of gas mowers used to cost us in messy and frustrating oil changes. However, innovation has even found its way to lawn care. 

These days, Briggs & Stratton engines have revolutionized lawn mower oil changes. The Just Check & Add™ Technology allows you to check oil levels and fill as needed. This means the days of lawn mower oil changes are no more. 

4) Are electric lawn mowers easy to use? 

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the five-minute process required to start our old Honda lawn mower. As an adult, that lengthy, gassy process falls firmly into the “ain’t nobody got time for that” category. It’s true that electric mowers are easy to start, easy to use, and easy to store when the yard is mowed down. But it’s also true that gas mowers have come a long way.

Kids today aren’t likely to know the distinct knuckle-busting pleasure that is starting a pull-chord start. These days gas mowers come with a start button. Can you even imagine? 

5) Are electric lawn mowers better for the environment? 

Man pushing a lawn mower, highlighting reasons to not cut the grass and let your lawn grow wild
Man cutting the grass | Alexander Sayganov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Simply put, electric lawn mowers are probably, marginally better. However, it isn’t a simple equation. Sure, electric motors put off zero emissions. Emissions are only one part of the deal though. Charging these batteries uses a significant amount of electricity. Depending on where you live, this power could come from coal-burning power plants. The other side of it is the waste. Eventually, we will struggle to find where/how to dispose of defunct Lithium-Ion batteries. 

Secondly, gas mowers aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be. Bob Villa says they have become 35 to 75 percent cleaner in the past 10 years. 

Which mower should you get? 

The choice of electric vs. gas, as it pertains to lawn mowers, is a bit trickier than with cars. The pros are cons are muddled and unclear. It seems to come down to preference ultimately.

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