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Mowing through lawn-care choices

Do you think it’s worth making the switch from a gas mower to an electric mower?—Eric

Until recently, corded and cordless electric mowers tended to be underpowered, with sub-par battery life for cordless models. But today, those problems are largely solved and the best electric mowers have the power and battery life to keep pace with a gas mower, depending on the size of the lawn. 

A cordless electric mower with a large, 56-volt battery can run for about one hour. Plug-in electric mowers don’t have this limitation, but using a long electrical cord can be challenging. 

Quality electric mowers, especially the cordless, rechargeable ones, tend to cost twice as much as a new equivalent gas model. But you can recoup some of the expense because they are cheaper to operate and maintain. Or you can purchase a less-costly corded mower if you don’t mind the hassle of navigating around the cord.

Another cost factor is that rechargeable batteries typically need to be replaced after three to five years. The savings also depend on the size of your lot. A small lot uses less gas, so fuel cost savings are less significant.

Electric or gas mower?

Besides having lower fuel and maintenance costs, electric mowers are much quieter than gas mowers, and they start instantly. Electric mowers produce less tailpipe emissions, but the overall environmental impact depends on how the electricity you’re using for charging is generated. The environmental benefits will be greater if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources.

So, weigh your priorities. If you are looking to buy a new mower, have a small- to mid-size lot, prioritize environmental concerns and don’t mind navigating a cord or recharging batteries, an electric mower could be the right choice for you.

If you don’t mind the noise, maintenance and other hassles of a gas mower, have a large lot and prefer not to invest in the upfront price tag, a gas mower may be a better option.

PAT KEEGAN and BRAD THIESSEN write on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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