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Gas vs electric lawn equipment


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02-08-17, 09:33 AM   #1  
Gas vs electric lawn equipment

I have decided to buy a self-propelled mower for this upcoming cutting season, so I am looking at all options. I have 1/3 an acre corner lot that is pretty much flat with no noticeable inclines and very little vegetation. It's pretty much all lawn with the exception of a few trees.

Along with gas powered mowers which I have always used, I decided to also look at electric cordless mowers for the size lot I own. Specifically the EGO 21" mower has caught my eye. It was introduced with self-propel last year. Overall the EGO products get good reviews, but like most new tools sometimes it takes a year to get the bugs worked out.

I owned corded electric products in the past but pretty much switched to all gas powered equipment many years ago, so this would be pretty much a transition from one means of powering to another. I don't expect to get the same performance with electric equipment that I get with gas powered. But I am open to objective thoughts for those who have used both tools.

 
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02-08-17, 11:14 AM   #2  
I have a buddy who can't stand the sound of a lawn mower engine so he used to use corded but went cordless a couple years ago and has been happy. I don't know what kind of capacity the battery has but would check before buying and compare to how long it takes for you to mow.

 
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02-08-17, 04:21 PM   #3  
First, if your lawn is small and level why do you want self propelled? It adds cost, is one more thing to go wrong and consumes power shortening your mowing time versus a manual push model.

Lithium batteries are great. They pack a lot of power into a small package and have made many cordless devices truly useful for the first time. Unfortunately they are expensive and compared to a gasoline engine or corded device the batteries have a short life. So, make sure to include battery replacement into your long term cost analysis. A replacement 5ah pack is $219 and the 7.5ah battery is $418.

If you have never seen a lithium battery fire take a few minutes and search the Internet. They can be safe but they can, rarely "flame on". The battery pack for the mower are considering is pretty large so make sure to charge it in a proper location.

 
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02-09-17, 09:10 AM   #4  
As for as the cordless, I am looking at EGO with a 7.5ah battery. Exact time fluctuates, but I think I would be able to get my whole yard done with one charge. My concern is more of power.

 
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02-09-17, 09:19 AM   #5  
1/3 of an acre is small when you're young, but once you get older that old yard seems to get bigger every season.

I have done research on the EGO self-propelled and spoke with folks at their forum who has them. 2016 was their first year making the self-propelled mower. Like all new innovations based on discussions, EGO still has to work out some bugs.

The bigger concern is the persistent complaints about the poor suctioning and inability to mulch. I generally bag my yard on the first cut of the season, maybe 1 to 2 times during the season if I am having a get together in the backyard and possibly once depending on how leaves fall during the autumn. Otherwise I mulch, so need a mower that mulches well.

Cordless is not gas powered and I understand that, so I don't expect the same results although EGO touts their 21" mowers as being on the same level as gas powered mowers. I am a bit suspect especially for the money. If it's going to do no better than my 13 year old Troy Bilt, then I consider the cost too much. Besides I can buy a Honda HRX for the same price.

I've never had drama with my mowers. To the contrary my Troy-Bilt has always started on the first pull and does well.

 
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02-09-17, 10:53 AM   #6  
I hesitated in responding because my experience may not be applicable. I know nothing about EGO or its products.

I DO know about Black & Decker cordless mowers, specifically the CMM 1000 and the CMM 1200 models. These are 19 inch cut and not self-propelled.

My previous home was on a shy quarter acre that was mostly grass with the 900 square foot house in the middle. My present house is a smaller yard, larger house and a greater percentage of the yard is un-mowable due to terrain. The original CMM 1000 cut both lawns with ease, even when I let the grass grow much too long. I got that mower in 1998 when my girlfriend at the time moved in with me and she got a 20% discount shopping spree at a big box mega-mart homecenter. It would cut the entire yard on one charge with enough charge left to mow at least half the yard a week later.

I moved to my current home in December of 1999. The CMM 1000 continued to give me good service the primary difference being I could easily mow twice on one battery charge due to having a smaller yard. Mind you, I do NOT mow my yard as often as I should and often let the grass get as high as a foot before mowing. Also, living in the pacific northwest the grass grows quite thick. No matter as the mower had all the power necessary but the operator (me) often "ran out of gas" and had to take a break. This latter is due to my continuing health problems and I understand well your desire for the self-propelled mower. On the other hand, my experience with power-drive mowers was that a person still exerts a fair amount of "internal power" horsing around the bigger mower.

Last year, or maybe two years ago, I can't remember, I bought a used B & D model CMM 1200 off of Craig's List for $25. Since the mower deck was in better condition than my CMM 1000 I swapped the battery and cannibalized the older mower. In other words, my current mower is still going strong with eighteen year old batteries. Yep, you read it, EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD BATTERIES! Just a pair of 12 volt gel-cells wired in series. I attribute their long life to never running them much below half charge and NOT leaving the charger connected continuously as recommended by the manufacturer.

 
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02-09-17, 11:15 AM   #7  
As far as your concern about power electric motors can be better than a gasoline engine. A gas engine in heavy grass will bog and slow down. An electric motor on the other hand will try to run at the same speed. When it gets into heavy grass it will draw more current to keep the rpm up. As long as the supporting stuff like your battery and controller are up to it it can have surprising power. Both of my electric push mowers (corded) have handled incredibly thick grass. The tone of the motor changes a bit but they hunker down and chew through it without bogging down.

 
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02-09-17, 11:49 AM   #8  
When it gets into heavy grass it will draw more current to keep the rpm up
That might explain my electric chainsaw that I inherited from my father. I was shocked at how much power it has! I still prefer my gas saws as there is no cord or needed access to electricity. I have no experience with electric mowers so can't add any input to the original question.


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02-10-17, 07:02 AM   #9  
Thanks for the feedback Dane. Interestingly I play the "Devils Advocate" role when people try to indicate one style of power is superior to the other. I agree that issues I see people complain about with their electric mowers are the same issues I have with gas powered mowers under similar conditions.

Just curious if there are comparatives of how much horsepower equals to amps or volts in an electric mower. I would think most electric mowers are going to have the equivalency of maybe a 165 cc or 6.5hp gas mower?

 
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02-10-17, 07:12 AM   #10  
Thanks Furd. Actually folks with cordless mowers experience in general is what I am looking for since in all fairness gas vs electric is an apple/orange comparison.

You bring up a great point that also concerned me about the EGO brand mowers. The company has only been around for about 10 years. They seem to make quality products, but there is a question of longevity. The customer feedback provided is too recent to know how they stand up over the course of years. Clearly if I can't get 5-10 years out of a mower, then I will be disappointed.

 
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02-10-17, 09:49 AM   #11  
Since the manufacturer does not provide specs on the motor and power system used in the electric mower you can't compare it to anything. All they tell you is voltage which is sort of useless without knowing anything else about it. Even them saying it's a 56 volt is somewhat ambiguous since 56 volts doesn't divide out evenly to a lithium cell. Depending on the numbers you use there could be 13-15 cells in the battery.

You can't even extrapolate from the 7.5Ah battery size and run time as their time claim might just be for how long the motor will turn under no load conditions and discharging the battery to that level might harm the battery. Or, it could be a real world number. But, since they say "run time" and not mowing time I assume it's just how long the motor will turn.

However you look at the numbers though a 56volt 7.5amp lithium battery is quite large. I assume they even have the battery pack broken down into multiple smaller "packs" inside their battery cartridge to get around shipping restrictions for lithium batteries.

 
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02-10-17, 10:10 AM   #12  
I just Googled for images of the battery to learn more and found this article. The battery contains ten cells. And if you think a battery is just a simple olde battery look at the number of wires connecting the cells inside the pack. It looks like they are using the wires for both discharge and charging. Likely balance charging and maybe with temperature sensing. They definitely put some work into the battery. After all it's a $400 battery.

I think you should get the mower and take it apart for us. I'm dying to know the nuts and bolts of what they are doing. Then you can put it back together and let us know how it does on your lawn.

 
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02-10-17, 11:49 AM   #13  
Thanks again Dane. It's hard to compare hp from gas power to watts of electricity. Based on what I have read the EGO self-propelled motor is about 1k watts. As for your suggestions, I have Bermuda and live in Oklahoma. So the earliest I usually start cutting is mid to late April.

I hate the thought of buying anything with a mindset of returning. But to allow myself sufficient time to assess the mower within the 90 day period, I will have to wait before buying. As far as tearing it down, LOL that's not going to happen. I know what I know and I know what I don't know.

 
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02-10-17, 05:04 PM   #14  
The main thing between gas and electric as far as power, is Torque. Both are capable of producing HP, but the amount of torque is the apples/oranges.

Electric motors, if A/C, are not able to produce much torque, so they use RPM/Momentum to counter.
Regardless of your power source, you may have and AC or DC electric motor. Advantage of DC motor is torque, (think starter motor) which draws heavy amps/storage of power from battery and lower RPM.
Even being plugged into AC, you may still have a DC motor with lots of torque and an endless supply of AMPS/storage.
On mowers OEM's dictate the RPM to the engine/motor manufacturer that results in the desired tip speed of the blade the OEM has determined to provide the best results.

Mulching, wet, deep etc. grass will draw much more from the reservoir. If on a battery, this is only stored, if on a cord, the res is always full.

In this case you might consider having both to use. Get a cheap gas or perhaps better used from a local dealer or seller to use for the heavier uses, and do the regular maintaining with the battery.

I am all for replacing small two stroke engines with electric (except for chain saws) Hit a switch and you are doing bizness. IE: Blowers, String Trimmers n such. I have little experience with bigger applications to date, but I do know of a (to be un named but yellow and starts with a C) Manufacture, that has a 42" ZTR electric we are looking at for our spring booking.


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02-10-17, 09:34 PM   #15  
Electric yard-care equipment has been fighting an uphill battle since the first electric motor was attached to a lawn mower. It doesn't seem to matter how good it is, there will be people that simply state, without any personal knowledge, that electric can't possibly be as good as gasoline. My own thoughts on this always come back to people equating noise with power. Gasoline engines make more noise than electric motors so they MUST be more powerful. Gasoline engines without a muffler make more noise than an engine with a muffler so removing the muffler MUST increase the power.

Well, kiddos, it ain't true! But such is the mindset of the typical consumer.

The regulars here know of my "project" building an electric riding mower. I had been giving details and regular updates until I decided that it was really a blog, and therefore forbidden on these forums, at which time I had it removed. In the opening posts I told how many different manufacturers over the years (starting in about 1973) have built electric riders and/or garden tractors but they simply never took off. How I spoke to one local (to me) rental agency that used to sell electric riders and the man told me that the ONLY problem he ever saw was one of perception, that far too many people simply didn't "think" that an electric mower or tractor could possibly be anything more than a gimmick...probably because it didn't make enough noise. He also told me that every single person that did buy one absolutely loved it.

I detest the noise of gasoline engines. I don't like storing gasoline. I find small gasoline engines to be recalcitrant and require far more maintenance than electric motors. I had a good friend (he's been planted for three years now and I miss him dearly) that had a "postage stamp" yard. Bert bought the most expensive Honda lawnmower he could find at the time, I think it set him back about $650 or maybe a bit more. It was an excellent mower, no doubt about that, but like ALL gasoline mowers it required periodic maintenance. He would spend about $100-125 a year on tune-ups and maintenance. About the same time I bought a Sunbeam (corded) electric mower for, as I recall, about $150. I never put one thin dime into maintaining that mower. I ran it until the plastic top was so broken it wouldn't stay on and it still cut the grass just fine. And remember, I probably had five times as much grass to cut than Bert.

Over the last couple of years I have picked up three battery-operated push mowers, the B & D CMM 1200 I mentioned and two others whose name escapes me at the moment; they are sold under at least three different names although the same machine. The last one I got for free maybe a mile from home. There are good and bad parts of all mowers and these electric models are no different in that respect. The B & D mowers have a plastic shell that is impervious to rust out but can under certain conditions break or erode. All of them have relatively small discharge chutes (into the catcher) that have a tendency to clog if the grass is tall and thick. My earlier B & D had a battery meter that would show both how much battery capacity remained and how hard the motor was working, the later model did away with the meter, probably as a cost-saving measure. The "no name" machines had four LED indicators to take the place of the meter but it was nowhere near as informative as the meter in my opinion.

All of my experience has been with lead-acid batteries. The push mowers have all had gel-cell batteries, a proven technology and as stated I am still using the original batteries from my first B & D after eighteen years. From what I have read on the subject this is phenomenal life but maybe it is just that I understand a bit more about how to use batteries. All of the three "replacement" mowers I got either dirt cheap or for free because the owners did not want to replace the battery. With two of the mowers the batteries were truly shot but the third one, (the free one) I am using the batteries as a temporary battery for my rider project. EVERYTHING I have read on recent (about five years) made battery-powered mowers has pointed to problems with battery life and EVERYTHING has pointed to a deficiency in the charging systems. Manufacturers are wanting to have a "system" where the homeowner simply plugs in the charger and forgets it between uses and THAT simply doesn't work UNLESS you spend a rather hefty sum for a smart charger.

I can add a bit about power comparisons to gasoline engines if someone wants to know.

 
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02-11-17, 07:59 AM   #16  
Producing sufficient power is not the issue, it is providing enough energy over a period of time.
Locomotives and Tug boats both are propelled by electric motors


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02-11-17, 09:40 AM   #17  
Locomotives and tug boats use a Diesel engine to drive a generator to provide the electric power for the drive motors. Are you proposing a Diesel-electric lawn mower?

Electric drives on locomotives are to provide maximum torque at start up, electric drives on marine vessels are used for ease of reversing and also maneuverability. neither is especially important on a lawn mower.

And, your statement of AC motors not being able to produce much torque is at best only applicable to single-phase motors of certain designs. Multi-phase AC motors DO have quite a bit of torque at zero rpms and ALL battery-operated AC motors are of multi-phase design.

A rough comparison of power between electric motors (all designs) and single-cylinder gasoline engines is that only about 2/3 of the rating of the gasoline engine in an electric motor is equivalent. In other words, a two-horsepower electric motor is equivalent to a three-horsepower single cylinder gasoline engine. This equivalency DOES change, and in some cases significantly, depending on the design of the electric motor and the application.

 
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02-11-17, 11:37 AM   #18  
Not proposing any thing, simply pointing out that electric motors are just as capable of producing the same or more power and advantages over gas, simply being able to store enough energy is the issue that has yet to be resolved with batteries.
I don't disagree with any of your statements neither are any of mine incorrect...


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02-11-17, 03:09 PM   #19  
I fly AC motors on my RC airplanes and I know you don't want to be in the wrong place on startup. I don't know if it's rpm or torque but they can cut you hard on the first revolution so the power is in there somewhere. I also have an amp meter that I put inline with the motors and it's amazing how they will draw whatever current is needed to maintain rpm. For such a tiny little package they can deliver amazing power.

But as has been pointed out the key is the gas tank. Either it's a real tank with liquid fuel or a battery with electrons. What I've seen with my toy planes is that the electrics can win out for raw power on short flights. A electric helicopter can burn through a 5amp battery in 6 minutes while the same airframe with a liquid fueled engine can run considerably longer but without that peak punch of power.

 
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02-12-17, 12:34 PM   #20  
Back on topic, here are some YouTube reviews on the subject mower.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0hZMgFL2rw

 
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02-12-17, 10:24 PM   #21  
A product coming to my store this spring...I have some input of the development and am familiar with platform. The weak spot on this type of ZTR is the steering linkage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtkExlYJ8wE


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04-04-17, 10:40 AM   #22  
resurrecting a slightly aged thread, but figured I'd add some commentary.

I recently made the transition to electric lawn equipment (EGO push mower and trimmer). Thus far I am quite pleased with this mower. Justification of purchasing a similar/same mower probably is driven by the size of your yard, type of grass/use, and how wet it gets there. I have a roughly .25 acre lot, I can mow and have apprx 1/4 charge of battery remaining.

No performance issues thus far, but I am interested to see how the battery holds up over the next 1-2 years. The battery costs about as much as the mower itself!

OVERALL, I enjoy using my electric mower. IMO it is still a bit of a niche market, with more advancements needed for electric mowers/equipment to gain more market share.

 
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11-01-17, 10:29 AM   #23  
I think the jury's still out on cordless mowers where the issue is providing sufficient power for an average lawn not whether or not the battery can power the mower.

I don't believe that's an issue with chainsaws because the battery only discharges while the saw is cutting - 10 to 15 seconds or so per cut. After a lot of research, I've ended my love affair with my gas chainsaw and ordered an EGO 56 volt 14" chainsaw - picking it up tomorrow. According to reviews (of which there are many) the battery should be good for 100 cuts. Even if it turns out to be 50 cuts, that's a nice size tree (75 linear feet) and a good morning's work. The battery recharges in 30 minutes so I can continue after lunch.

I have two trees to clear so I'll let you know whether the chainsaw's as good as reviews say.

 
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