Though a lot more energy-efficient than old models, new gas mowers continue to be a major source of carbon emissions.
But are the more common electric mowers or the newer hybrid electric-solar mowers a good alternative to them?
The best electric lawn mowers are very quiet, easier to use and largely maintenance-free; and they perform as well as gas mowers in well-kept lawns.
Gas units only are a better choice for very large lawns with thick and long grass or with tough weeds. They have more horsepower, and that’s very important for such lawns.
Electric mowers are quiet and better for the environment, but they only become really environmentally-friendly when equipped with a solar panel to charge the batteries or when the electricity is produced by clean generators (wind and photovoltaic electricity). Otherwise the pollution is produced upstream, where the electricity is generated, that is, in the power plants using fossil fuels…
Electric hybrid-solar lawn mowers
Hybrid-solar lawn mowers can be equipped with a small photovoltaic panel (say, 25 watts) able to recharge the mower battery within 2-3 days, in sunny weather (or twice that time in cloudy days).
The technology is fairly simple and there are many DIY-selfers converting electric mowers into solar-charged units. See, for instance:
Self-propelled vs. push models
Whatever the type of mower – electric, hybrid, gas… - the choice between self-propelled and push mower models is relevant.
Self-propelled mowers are a little more expensive but have more features and are more versatile. The best rated self-propelled mowers cut the grass more evenly and are equipped with premium features.
Push mowers, on the other hand, are simpler and cost less. Use some common sense when considering the choice between self-propelled and push models, knowing that self-propelled units are easier to move. Consider the size and the slope of your lawn, and other possible obstacles.
The type of electric mower
Corded electric mowers can be difficult to operate in an environment with obstacles and trees. For ease of use prefer today's cordless models. Newer models run longer per charge than older models, and are more flexible.
Choosing an energy-efficient gas mower
If you do need a gas mower, you can reduce noise and emissions by choosing an energy-efficient model. Choose a unit with a four-cycle OHV engine. It’s a bit more expensive but you will will get energy savings and the mower will last longer.
Choose also a low-emission unit: new gas mowers should now meet (in North America, since 2012) the CARB/EPA 50-state emissions standards for emissions, but there are units exceeding these standards, reducing even more the emissions and lowering the running costs.
Prices and reviews
The quality of lawn mowers varies sharply. Honda has the best rated models in gas mowers, and Black and Decker the best electric units.