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May 16th, 2009

My Lawn Mower Saga

Like anything in life, lawn mowers can be as simple or as complex as you’d like them to be.

Last year when we bought our house, we were all about getting an electric lawn mower. So we got a corded one, as a cordless battery mower was a nice bit of cash more expensive. But after a single use, the constant cord was a big mess – I hated it. Took it back to the store and got a cordless battery mower.

And it worked pretty well last year, actually. It usually started to get down to a medium/low charge when I was just finishing up the back yard. It had enough power, and although it was heavy as all get out (80+ pounds), it was still pretty maneuverable.

September came and lawn mowing season left, and the mower was stored for the winter. Winter happened. And April came around, the lawn was starting to grow again, and it was time to cut. The initial charge of the season took 17 hours per the manual, so I plugged in the mower a day and a half before the inaugural mow.

On mowing day I unplugged it and started it to find… no charge. Huh. Plugged it back in just to be sure and still no charge. Gave it a little more charge time – 3 hours – and no charge. The battery was dead. Great!

In brief, battery replacement can’t be done by an end user (@#$^!) and would cost $130-$180. Ouch.

So we decided to try out a manual, reel mower. Bought one at Lowe’s for $140 and gave it a go. It wasn’t bad, I must admit, but it certainly didn’t give our lawn that nice, even mowed appearance – and it did bupkis with weeds.

So that mower went back to the store, too, and today I caved and got a gas mower. I know. When I told coworkers, one of them said, “Oh, man! Gas!” But you know what? It works better than either the reel or the electric. I realize that there are recurring costs (gas, oil, spark plugs) and I’m destroying the ozone layer. I’ll buy carbon offsets.

Or better yet, how about this: when battery technology improves, I’ll look at electric mowers again. It’s just not quite there yet.

Posted in Everyday Life

Steve A May 16, 2009, 10:58 pm

I’ve run the gamut on mowers as well. Gas is definitely going to give you the power you need to get the job done in the first place.

If you’ve got a bag, great, now you can mulch (save those coffee grounds too! Toss ’em right in). If not, time to hire some neighbor kids to rake it up. Personally, I like that my wife actually _enjoys_ doing that stuff.


Ryan May 17, 2009, 10:07 pm

That’s a shame the electic mower didn’t work out for you, Paul. As you know, I’ve had really good luck with mine — nine years running and only one battery change and one or two blade changes. I wouldn’t want to try and cut a large lawn with it, but it definitely does the trick for our small lawn.

That’s interesting that your model had you unplug the battery all winter. The manual on mine says, if possible, to keep it plugged in over the winter. Still, it shouldn’t have lost all its charge after only a year.

While waiting on a small part for mine this past week, I had to borrow a neighbor’s gas mower and could definitely feel the power but, man oh man, it was about three times as heavy and twice as hard to maneuver.

What brand was your electric mower? So we all know what kind to stay away from… 🙂

Paul May 18, 2009, 12:29 am

It was a Homelite, from Home Depot. Lots of “home” stuff.

“That’s interesting that your model had you unplug the battery all winter.”

I actually had to plug it in every month or thereabouts to keep some sort of charge going, but keeping it plugged in *all* winter was listed in the manual as a no-no.

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