The best electric lawn mowers are specially designed to make lawn maintenance as easy as possible without the added annoyance of extra trips to the gas station. While early electric models struggled with pitfalls like a short battery life and easily tangled cords, today’s best models have largely taken care of those issues. Now, many battery-powered electric lawn mowers can go for up to two hours on one charge, while plug-in models have specially designed elements to keep cords contained. Our top pick for the best electric lawn mower is the Kobalt 80-Volt Max 21-Inch Push Cordless Lawn Mower. It offers an hour of runtime on one charge with a cutting width that’s ideal for most lawns.
Electric lawn mowers tend to be easier to use and maintain than their gas-powered counterparts, says professional landscaper Chris Lambton of HGTV’s Going Yard. “They don’t need gas, which means less maintenance both during the season and when it comes time to winterize them,” he says. “You won’t have to check or change its oil, worry about storing or getting gas and taking the gas out for winter storage.” Electric mowers also “run quieter, do not give off emissions and are easier to start,” Lambton says, noting that “you will not have to hurt out your shoulder pulling the starting chord.”
When shopping for an electric lawn mower, you need to first decide if you want a corded or cordless version. Among those who prefer a battery, it’s also important to weigh the pros and cons of a push mower or riding lawn mower. From there, “homeowners should look for a mower that provides value, ease of use and fits the application of the user,” says professional landscaper Marty Grunder of Grunder Landscaping in Miamisburg, Ohio. The size of your yard needs to be factored in, along with access to a plug (if you prefer to go that route) and, of course, how much you’re willing to spend.
While the lawn care needs of every homeowner are different, these are the best electric lawn mowers you can buy right now.
How We Chose The Best Electric Lawn Mowers
To choose the best electric lawn mowers, we consulted three lawn care experts for their advice on what to look for in an electric lawn mower. We also spoke to electric lawn mower owners to get their input on what they think about machines they own. We then found the most popular models on the market and narrowed the field based on elements like cutting width, power output and value. Reviews from real owners were analyzed as well to get a better look at how these machines perform in the real work—and stand up over time.
What To Look For In Electric Lawn Mowers
All electric lawn mowers are not created equal, and there’s a surprising amount of variety in the field. Consider these elements while you shop.
There are several types of electric lawn mowers. These mowers can be broken down by battery powered and corded machines, and then push and ride-on models. Each has its pros and cons. Battery powered mowers offer you freedom to mow where you want, but you’re restricted by the length of the mower’s charge. Corded machines typically have more consistent power that lasts for as long as the machine is plugged in, but you need to be near an outlet to use them, restricting these to smaller lawns. Push mowers are far less expensive than their ride-on counterparts, but they require more legwork on your end. Finally, ride-on mowers are a nice luxury and can cover a lot of ground, but they tend to be expensive.
Today’s electric lawn mowers offer a range of different features to make your mowing experience easier. Push mowers typically have telescoping handles to help you find a height that’s most comfortable for you, while ride-ons may have an adjustable seat. The ability to bag your clippings is often a nice perk, although some people prefer to mulch their grass. Fast adjustments, whether for the cutting height or speed—in the case of self-propelled and ride-on mowers—are nice features to have as well. Some ride-on mowers even have a cupholder and USB port to charge your phone. Keep in mind that extra features tend to cost more, so consider which you can and can’t live without before purchasing.
Your mower’s deck side is the width it covers in one pass. A larger deck means less laps for you, but it doesn’t make sense to have a massive deck if your yard is on the smaller side. For more petite lawns (1/4 acre or less), a deck of 14 to 21 inches is great. For lawns above that, 21 and up are preferred. (For the record, the most common deck size is usually 21 inches.) Some lawn mowers that are designed to tackle large yards will have a huge deck. Consider the Ryobi 54-Inch Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower—it has a huge 54-inch deck and can handle 3.5 acres in one charge.
Charge time is crucial to consider before making a purchase, and there is a range on the market. However, everyone’s needs are different. The Sun Joe 14-Inch Push Cordless Electric Lawn Mower has a charge time of about 25 minutes, for example, but it’s designed for small yards. Electric mowers that are built to handle more acreage can typically go for longer. Take the Ryobi 38-Inch Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower. It has a charge time that lasts for about 2.5 hours, but it’s also designed to take on yards that are two acres or so. Worth noting: If you’re concerned about battery length, you can always purchase a backup. “I recommend buying an extra battery so, as you are using one, the other is charging so you can continuously mow the lawn without having to wait for one to charge,” Lambton says.
How Do Electric Lawn Mowers Differ From Gas or Push-Powered Lawn Mowers?
On a basic level, it comes down to power, explains Bob Mann, senior director of regulatory and technical affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Electric mowers are powered by electricity (either via battery or cord), while gas mowers are fueled by gasoline and push-powered motors have blades that rotate when you push them. “Most times, the electric mower is simply a gasoline powered mower that has had the motor removed,” he says. In general, “electric mowers are lighter, quieter and cleaner than their gas counterparts,” Lambton says.
How Long Do Electric Lawn Mowers Last?
It depends. “Just the same as with any other mower, there are well-made ones and not-so well-made ones,” Mann says. “Their longevity and durability should be on par with their gasoline cousins, with the exception of the batteries.” These will need to be replaced over time—and likely before your machine actually wears out, Grunder says. “Battery-powered equipment has long-life spans with batteries that will run 1,500 charging cycles,” he says. “New innovations such as lithium-ion technology allow them to operate at full speed until the charge is depleted; Therefore, performance is not impacted during run time.” Proper storage is vital to extending the life of your electric mower, Grunder says. If you have a battery-powered machine, you’ll want to keep your battery clean and dry, store it out of direct sunlight, and keep it out of extreme heat and cold.