Tips for Switching To Electric Lawn Care

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Electric mowers, blowers and trimmers are quickly changing the lawn care landscape. Here's how you can smoothly make the transition.

With more people working remotely, I’m finding gas-powered lawn equipment increasingly belligerent. The people I interview for articles often yell over a ruckus of leaf-blowers and lawnmowers whirring outside of their home office windows.

While their cursing leads to some hilarious Zoom outtakes, the collective annoyance — combined with growing environmental awareness, health concerns and local bans on gas-powered equipment — is propelling an electric lawn care revolution.

“The transition to electric landscaping is being driven by demand from homeowners in the suburbs,” says Jeff Cordulack, owner of Organic Ways and Means in Stamford, Connecticut. “When home, they can hardly believe the loud sounds created by the gas blowers. People know it’s harmful, and so they want cleaner and quieter services.”

Why Switch to Electric Lawn Care?

Gas-powered lawn equipment has been popular for its high power, but new electric technologies are bridging that gap.

“For a long time, the innovations in electric lawn care were slow,”  says Mallory Micetich, a home expert at Angi. “But [recently] we’ve seen incredible progress in the electric lawn care market thanks to demand.” This is spurring more homeowners to go electric.

Electric tools can:

  • Greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Lessen particulate emissions, which boosts community health;
  • Make for more peaceful, quieter neighborhoods;
  • Give landscapers a healthier work environment, free of exhaust and high decibels;
  • Are often cheaper to buy;
  • Require less maintenance;
  • Bring long-term savings on gas and oil;
  • Don’t require mixing and storing gas and oil;
  • Are the only choice in cities and states that banned sales of new gas-powered lawn equipment.

“As people realize electric equipment has now matched the abilities of gas-powered equipment, they are eager to make the switch,” says Adam St. Pierre of Diamond Cut Lawn Care in Edina, Minnesota.

“We are also making the change from a business standpoint of better value. Electric equipment simply has a better return on investment than gas powered equipment.”

If you’re thinking about making the switch, here’s how to transition smoothly.

Research Brands and Dealers

To find the lawn care tools that best fit your needs, try a neighbor’s electric lawn care equipment, read online product roundups and reviews, and get advice from more than one dealer.

“Shop from electric machinery dealers who are enthusiastic about the products, have valuable insight about brand differences, and are aware of the repairs they’ve seen over time,” says Cordulack.

Make a Wish List

Take note of what you want to accomplish.

“Mowing, trimming and blowing are a good place to start,” says St. Pierre. “However, will you also need a hedge trimmer, a chainsaw for cutting trees, an edger for sidewalks and driveways, or a snow blower for the winter? Look for a platform that has all of the tools you may want to use so that you can stick to one battery system.”

To Cord or Not To Cord

Tools with cords mean no worries about batteries. But cordless electric tools offer greater flexibility and mobility because they don’t need to be plugged in to a power source. Also, if you lack a convenient outdoor electrical outlet, battery-powered tools will save you the cost and hassle of installing one.

Buy Ample Battery Power and Runtime

Although electric tools are now robust, you still need to make sure they’re powerful enough to do the job, says Mike Futia, founder of NerdLawn.com. “Look for tools with high wattage or amps and be sure to consider the runtime of the tool,” he says.

To do that, multiply the voltage by the amp hours to determine the watt hours, or capacity of the battery. Larger capacity means a longer runtime. Generally, higher voltage provides more instant power and faster charging.

Also, some electric lawn tools come with long-lasting batteries meant to be charged overnight. Others have small batteries that must be swapped out and recharged throughout the day. “Both work well, but one will be better for you depending on your needs,” says Cordulack.

If you have a large yard, you might want to keep extra batteries to have on hand, or look for a brand that comes with a backup battery.

Remember Maintenance

To get the maximum lifespan from your electric lawn tools, store them someplace dry and never let the batteries freeze. “Maintenance for electric equipment is extremely simple,” says St. Pierre. “You will no longer need to mix gas, fiddle with carburetors, or replace filters and spark plugs!”

Use This Chance To Upgrade

Your switch-up is the ideal time to ask yourself what you dislike about your current tools. “Is something too heavy or does it force you to work at an angle that is uncomfortable for your body?” says St. Pierre. “Look for electric replacements that match the positives and improve on the negatives.”

Also, think about features that make the work more enjoyable. Look for a lawn mower with a comfortable grip that’s easy to maneuver, or with features to make trimming and mulching easier.

Transition In Steps

It’s OK to phase out your gas-powered equipment when it’s time.

“The most sustainable way to start your transition is to use what you already have,” says Micetich. “Make sure to use up the oil you have. If your equipment needs any repairs or is acting faulty, then it’s a good time to consider your electric replacement.”

Safely Dispose of Gassers

Once you purchase your electric lawn care tools, bring your leftover gas and oil to the local hazardous waste drop off; check your county’s website for locations. Then recycle your tools at a scrap metal shop, or sell or donate them to someone in your community.

“When transitioning to electric lawn care, it’s important to dispose of your gas-powered tools and leftover gas in an environmentally responsible way,” says Futia.

Get Way Ahead of the Joneses

Go electric and be a trendsetter. Go robotic and be king tech of the neighborhood!

An emerging technology, robotic mowers will map out your yard and return to a docking station when done. “Just keep them in a dry location, and maintain any cutting blades just like a standard mower/trimmer,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes for Belgard Outdoor Living. “The future of lawn maintenance has arrived!”

Karuna Eberl
Karuna writes about wildlife, nature, history and travel for magazines, newspapers and websites including National Geographic, National Parks, Discovery Channel, Atlas Obscura and the High Country News. She's also produced a number of independent films and directed the documentary The Guerrero Project, about the search for a sunken slave ship. She and her husband, Steve, wrote an award-winning guidebook to the Florida Keys and are currently completely renovating an abandoned house in a ghost town. She holds a B.A. in journalism and geology from the University of Montana. Member of OWAA, SATW.