Should You Buy an Electric Lawn Mower in 2023? Here Are the Pros and Cons – CNET

For decades, lawn mowers have been gas-guzzling and emissions-spouting beasts that are a pain to pull-start and loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. But a new generation of electric-powered models is changing the lawncare game.

Though gas-powered lawn mowers still dominate the aisles of big-box stores, a growing number of affordable electric mowers now provide a compelling alternative, whether your priority is power, convenience, or sustainability.

If you’re in the market for a new mower, you have more options than ever – and the best electric mowers are now good enough to rival their gas-powered competitors. We’ll break down the pros and cons of electric mowers to help guide your buying decision. 

Pro: Electric lawn mowers are quieter 

Lawn mowers are loud. While standard gas-powered mowers usually operate at 95 decibels — equivalent to a motorcycle — electric mowers max out at around 75 decibels on average, closer to the racket made by a washing machine. If you live in a neighborhood, an electric mower is the less disruptive option. 

Con: Shorter run times

If you go through the motions of breaking out your lawn mower, you’ll definitely want to get the job done in one fell swoop. That means you might want to rethink an electric lawn mower if your yard is more than half an acre. They may be impractical if you have a larger yard, given their finite run times, which range between 45 to 60 minutes per charge

Some electric mowers, like the Sun Joe Hover Walk Behind model, use a cord, which lets you mow a yard up to a quarter of an acre — but as is the case with a corded vacuum, that tether can be a real hindrance as you work. 

Other electric models run on charged batteries and offer run times ranging from 20 to 45 minutes. If it typically takes you longer than this to mow your yard, this limitation will likely cause some consistent irritations. Meaning in order to finish the job, you’ll have to wait for the mower to recharge. A good work-around to this problem is to keep another charged battery on hand to extend your mowing time, but that’ll require you to purchase an extra standalone battery.

Pro: Easier to maneuver and less maintenance

One of the biggest perks of electric mowers is there’s less maintenance involved. With gas mowers, you have to replace parts — spark plugs, oil and air filters — frequently. That isn’t the case with electric mowers, which require part replacements less regularly. This will increase your savings long term, making an electric model more economical than its gas-powered counterpart. 

Electric lawn mowers are also lighter and therefore easier to maneuver around tight corners and navigate around your lawn. One notable example is that the EGO Power Plus 56-volt, 21-inch push cordless electric lawn mower weighs 62.6 pounds after assembly. Whereas the Craftsman M250 160cc, 21-inch self-propelled gas push lawn mower with Honda engine weighs a hefty 90 pounds. Though the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when you mow, it’s still a heavy object to push around when it isn’t in operation.

electric lawn mowers

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="30"></p> <p>Electric models may not be ideal for larger lawns or lawns with hills and slopes, but they&#8217;re great for regular, suburban lawns.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Brian Bennett/CNET</span>

Pro: Better for the environment

Gasoline-powered engines produce a surprising amount of carbon emissions and a slew of pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. And the Environmental Protection Agency says that gas lawn mowers contribute the majority of nonroad-related air pollution generated nationwide.

Electric lawn mowers are a much cleaner, energy-efficient alternative. The Electric Power Research Institute notes that if we replaced half the gas-powered lawn mowers with electric models, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as removing 2 million vehicles from the road. This is certainly an important factor to consider when purchasing a new mower. 

Ryobi electric mower

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>Gas-powered lawn mowers contribute the majority of nonroad-related air pollution generated nationwide, according to the EPA. Electric models are much more eco-friendly.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Ryobi</span>

Con: Electric lawn mowers aren’t as powerful 

Lawn mower power is measured by a torque rating, which quantifies the driving force behind the blade’s rotation. The higher the torque rating, the more powerful the chopping motion — and the less likely the mower is to get stuck or caught up on a clump of grass or other obstruction.

The average electric lawn mower has between 2 and 2.5 pound-feet of torque. The average of a gas-powered mower is between 4.5 and 8.75 pound-feet, which is about three times more power. This means a gas-powered mower will make it easier to tackle challenging terrain like hills and dips and slants in your yard. Homeowners with larger lawns or yards with hills or slopes may require heavier duty equipment like a riding lawn mower. While most riding lawn mowers are gas-powered, there are riding electric lawn mowers on the market, like this Ryobi electric riding mower model.

Pro: They can be less expensive

If you’re in the market for a new mower, a basic electric mower is less expensive than a basic gas mower.

Electric models start as low as $88, the price for the 11-inch, 10-amp Electric Hover walk behind push mower from Sun Joe. Prices for gas-powered mowers tend to start at around $170. For example, the Yardmax 20-inch, 166cc OHV gas walk behind push mower and 20-inch, 125cc Briggs & Stratton gas walk behind models each cost $169. 

Final thoughts 

Overall, the lawn mower market continues to expand with an array of diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers may still be the best fit, since they have the durability and power to tackle bigger lawns with ease. 

But if you want to maintain your midsize yard and reduce your carbon footprint (and even save some money) in the process, then an electric lawn mower is probably the best for your needs. Either route you take can help you gain a healthy-looking lawn that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.

More for your lawn: