Electric lawn mowers reduce smog and noise pollutionPosted on Oct 3rd 2006 3:00PM by Daryl Kulak
Gasoline lawn mowers, being two-cycle engines, pump 93 times more pollution per gallon of gas than any car or truck, according to the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society. Also, lawn mowers have no catalytic converter, so the pollution is not reduced like it is on an automobile.And when states (like California) have made efforts to get catalytic converters included with gasoline lawn mowers, they've been stonewalled by the lawn mower manufacturers and powerful politicians, especially U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO).
It's true that you only use your mower once or twice a week in the summer, but each hour of mowing is like running your car for 2-4 hours, in terms of the pollution.
Factor in the noise pollution, and mowing the lawn can look downright irresponsible. So what are your options? Well, you could get one of those manual hand-operated lawn mowers with the revolving blades. Believe me, I used to own one and they just don't work that well. They're good when your grass is short, but if you wait a day or two too long and the grass grows too high, they won't cut a thing. For me, they're just not practical.
My solution a few years ago was to buy an cordless electric lawn mower. And no, there's no extension cord (that's everybody's first question). My mower is a Black & Decker Cordless CMM-1000, which has a rechargeable battery on board. I plug it in between mowings and then unplug and go. I've had it for about 7 years now.
Here's what's fantastic about my electric mower:
- It's quiet. Really quiet. When I'm mowing our yard, my wife actually can't hear the mower from inside the house. Sometimes she asks me to go out and mow the lawn right after I've just finished doing it! If a neighbor says something to me from the sidewalk, I can hear them over the mower noise.
- Less pollution. This mower creates no pollution while you're using it. But obviously, the generation of electricity at the power plant produces pollution. However, the net pollution is very small compared to a gasoline mower.
- Instant On. To start the mower, I don't pull a cable. I just pull the handlebar together, and it starts. For a woman or senior living alone, this is ideal. There is a safety key that you can remove if you have children.
- No engine maintenance. There are no spark plugs to change, no oil/gas mixture needed, no tune-ups. The only maintenance item is that the battery will eventually need to be replaced. And no combustible gasoline being stored in your garage.
- Does a nice job of mulching and bagging. This mower accomplishes either with ease.
Here's what's not so great about my electric mower:
- Short battery life. If you have a big lawn, your charge may run out before your lawn is done. We live in the suburbs, but our corner lot is very large, so our mower can finish about half the lawn before the battery needs to be recharged. I don't mind that much, since my lawn mowing time is usually sandwiched between other activities anyway. It takes about 10-12 hours to completely recharge the battery.
- Smaller blade. Electric mowers are often smaller than gasoline mowers, because the electric engine can't power a larger blade. This means more trips around the yard, adding about another 10% to your mowing time.
- Higher cost. The lawn mower costs more initially. An electric mower will be $100 to $200 more than a gasoline mower. Consider it your gift to the environment.
- Battery dies after 5 years. When it comes time to replace that battery, be prepared for sticker shock. A new battery will cost more than $100 in most cases.
I have to be honest. My electric mower is a prized possession. I would never, ever switch back to a gasoline mower. I've had this mower for the past seven years, and it has performed well. We've had to replace the battery once so far. I just wish I could get my noisy neighbors to replace their gas mowers with electric! They've all noticed my mower, but none of them have taken the plunge. Oh well...