Want to buy the best cordless lawn mower? Before you shell out your cash, check out these seven models, and see which one fits your needs. Here's a rundown of features, a comparison of popular models, and the answers to your biggest questions.
A decade ago, there were only a few cordless lawn mowers to choose from. But today, with the emphasis on environmentally friendly living and the introduction of new battery technology, there are dozens. They range from 14 in. to 19 in. in cutting width and cost anywhere from $240 to more than $600. In this article, we'll compare seven cordless mowers from leading manufacturers. We'll help you decide whether a cordless mower is right for you. Then we'll compare battery types and mower features to help you pick the right machine.
The main benefits to owning a cordless mower are convenience and quieter operation. You don't have to worry about storing gas, changing oil or tuning up the mower. You won't struggle with starting the mower or have to worry about old gas gumming up the carburetor. And since they're quieter than gas mowers, you can mow in the morning or later in the evening without disturbing your neighbors.
But you're probably wondering if a cordless mower would work for you. The answer is maybe. It depends on the size of your lawn and how much time you want to spend mowing it. Manufacturers claim that most of these mowers will run between 25 and 45 minutes and can cut between one-quarter and one-third of an acre on a fully charged battery. An average city lot is between one-tenth and one-quarter of an acre, so folks on these properties can finish mowing on one charge. If your lawn is larger than about one-third of an acre, then you would need to divide the mowing to allow time to recharge the battery, or keep an extra battery on hand.
Another consideration is how high you let the grass get between mowings. If your idea of mowing the lawn is more like cutting hay, then you should stick with a gas-powered mower. Battery-powered mowers can cut thick grass, but it puts a lot of strain on the battery and electric motor. The batteries will run down quickly under this kind of load, and lithium ion batteries may heat up, causing the circuitry to momentarily turn off the battery to preserve it. The bottom line is that if you own a cordless mower, you'll have to be a little more vigilant about cutting the grass before it gets too long.
The answer is maybe. If you pay someone to tune up your gas mower every year, a battery mower will definitely save you money. How long the battery will last is the unknown variable. If you follow the manufacturer’s battery care and charging instructions, the batteries should last from three to five years, and may last longer. You'll pay a few hundred dollars for a new battery; how many hundreds depends on your mower. Considering you'd likely spend a hundred or so on gas, conditioner, oil and spark plugs over that period, it seems you could benefit from the advantages of a cordless mower and break even.
We'd rather just control it by remote control with our brain, but a single lever that adjusts the height of all four wheels at once is probably the next best thing.
Adjusting all four wheels with one lever is handy, and a standard feature on all but one of these mowers. (The 14-in. Worx mower requires you to adjust each wheel individually.) We've listed the cutting height range next to each mower. If you like to leave your grass extra long, look for a mower like the Black & Decker or Worx, which can be raised to a cutting height of 3-1/2 in.
Weight: 31 lbs.
Height range: 1.2 to 2.8 in.
Battery: 40V, 2 or 4 Ah lithium ion
This Stihl mower is light and compact and includes a rigid plastic grass catcher that's easy to use. It's the only mower reviewed that's not available as a complete kit. Instead you buy the mower, battery and charger separately. You can choose from a 2- and a 4-amp- hour battery and a regular and fast charger. The batteries are interchangeable with several other Stihl tools including a chain saw. If you plan to purchase other cordless tools, this mower is a good choice.
And the blade stops when you let go.
All cordless mowers are easy to start. All but the Neuton mower have a key that you must insert before you can start the motor. After inserting the key, you hold down or slide a button while pulling the bail or handles to start the blade spinning. The self-propelled Black & Decker has an additional bail that activates the wheels. When you let go of the handle or bail, the motor stops. Just repeat the steps to start mowing again. The 14-in. Worx is especially easy to start because you can operate the switch with your finger while your hands are on the handle.
Weight: 33 lbs.
Height range: 2 to 3-1/2 in.
Battery: 24V, 5 Ah lead acid
This Worx model is the smallest and least expensive of the mowers we reviewed. It's perfect if you have a very small yard and limited storage space. We liked everything but the absence of a single-lever height adjustment. This is a great mower for very small yards.
Make sure the mower you buy discharges clippings the way you want it to.
All the mowers are set up for your choice of bagging or mulching, and all include grass catchers. The Stihl mower has a plastic container rather than a fabric bag, and a built-in mulching plug that can't get lost. The Black & Decker has a convenient switch on top of the mower deck that flips from grass collecting to mulching mode.
The 19-in. Worx and the Greenworks are the only mowers with a side discharge chute. You can order a side discharge accessory for the Neuton. The other mowers discharge out the back when you're not bagging or mulching.
Weight: 40 lbs.
Height range: 3/4 to 2-3/4 in.
Battery: 40V, 2.4 Ah lithium ion (2)
Ryobi offers a great combination of features at a reasonable price with this mower. It's perfect for a small to medium-size lawn, and especially attractive if you plan to buy other tools that can use the 40-volt lithium ion battery. We liked the easy-to-fold handle and the fact that two batteries are included. We gave this mower our Editors' Choice award for “best compact mower” because in addition to the other features, it's also small and light enough to easily fit on a shelf.
Some cordless lawn mowers will fold up and fit on a shelf.
If storage space is at a premium for you, you'll love the smaller cordless mowers. Some of these mowers fold up so small they can even fit on a shelf. The 14-in. Worx and the Ryobi are the most compact models. And both have quick-release clamps at both hinge points on their handles so they fold up quickly and easily. The Ryobi, Greenworks and Stihl mowers all have handholds on top of the mower deck for easy lifting.
Weight: 90 lbs.
Height range: 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 in.
Battery: 36V, 12 Ah lead acid
A heavy self-propelled mower, this Black & Decker rivals gas mowers in size and grass-cutting ability. You can mow with or without the self-propelled feature. Pulling back on the bail powers the wheels. There's a speed-control slider on the handle that determines how fast the mower goes. Our only (minor) complaint: Even the slowest speed is still a pretty fast pace. One nice feature is the ability to easily raise or lower the handle height—perfect if you share the mower with a taller or shorter person.
Get tough when the going gets tough.
The Worx mowers have a feature called IntelliCut that allows you to switch between “Power” and “Quiet” modes. Use power mode for longer grass, and quiet mode to save battery power and reduce the noise level. Quiet mode slows the blade. The Greenworks mower automatically increases power when the mower starts to bog.
Weight: 49 lbs.
Height range: 1-1/4 to 3-1/2 in.
Battery: 40V, 4 Ah lithium ion (2)
The lithium ion battery in this Greenworks 19-in. mower makes it 20 lbs. lighter than comparable-size mowers. The package includes two 4 Ah batteries that you can use in other Greenworks G-MAX tools. The mower requires only one battery at a time, so you can swap it out if you run out of power. The handle folds up to create the most compact 19-in. mower of the group. This is the only mower in our review that has a metal rather than a plastic deck. The metal deck makes the mower feel substantial, but unlike plastic, may be prone to corrosion. We gave this mower our Best Value award because it has all the features we like and includes two powerful lithium ion batteries, all for a competitive price.
Even batteries run out of power. Don't get stuck in the middle of your lawn with a mower that won't mow.
All but one of these mowers have an LED readout to show how much charge is left in the battery. Neuton uses a different approach. The Neuton mower has an analog voltage meter built into the handle that lets you monitor the battery as you mow.
Weight: 91 lbs.
Height range: 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 in.
Battery: 36V, 11 Ah lead acid
This self-propelled Worx mower includes a Pacesetter feature that matches the speed of the mower to your walking speed. We thought it felt a little weird at first, but it doesn't take long to get used to. This is a powerful lawn mower that we think could easily replace a gas mower for most yards. Like the smaller Worx mower, this one has the IntelliCut feature that allows you to switch from quiet to power mode.
They're heavier, but it might not be that big a deal.
They're lighter, and they can fit other tools from the same manufacturer.
This is a tough choice. One of the main advantages of lithium ion batteries over lead acid batteries is that they can pack more power in a lighter package. The extra 15 or 20 lbs. a lead acid battery weighs isn't a deal breaker, though, because you're rolling it around on four wheels. And since you can remove the battery from all of these mowers, the extra weight doesn't affect moving or storing the mower either.
Another advantage of lithium batteries is that they can charge faster—as little as 60 minutes compared with 12 hours for lead acid batteries. This could be important to you if your lawn is too large to finish on one battery charge. Otherwise, the extra charge time required by a lead acid battery shouldn't be a problem.
So what do we recommend? If you plan to buy other cordless tools that can use the same lithium ion battery as the lawn mower, then there's an advantage to buying a lithium ion-powered mower. If not, then we think mowers powered by tried-and-true lead acid batteries are fine.
Weight: 69 lbs.
Height range: 1.2 to 3 in.
Battery: 36V, 10 Ah lead acid
We like the keyless feature and the placement of the voltage gauge on the handle where you can see it easily. The large rear wheels help smooth out the ride on bumpy lawns. And the handle can be set to one of three heights and two lengths, allowing you to fine-tune the mower to your size. Folding the handle on this mower is a little harder than it is with some of the other mowers. The maximum cutting height is 3 in., so if you like your grass even longer, you'll have to check out other mowers. This is the least expensive 19-in. model.
Here’s why you’ll love your cordless lawn mower: