It wasn’t all that long ago when the only choosing a mower simply consisted of deciding which brand of gas mower to go for. Sure, electric mowers existed, but they were pretty much useless and a bit of a gimmick.
Not so any more! Technology has come a long way in the past 10 years and battery and corded electric mowers are now viable alternatives.
Which is best for you really depends on a number of considerations. Read on to learn more so you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a gas or electric mower.
Gas Vs Electric Lawn Mowers
Unfortunately, comparing gas vs electric lawn mowers is not an exact science. To do so effectively, we actually have to look at three types of mowers:
- Gas mowers – requires gasoline to run
- Corded electric mowers – requires a cord plugged into a power outlet to run
- Battery powered electric mowers – requires a charged battery to run
Each of these types of mower has pros and cons and which is best for you really depends on your situation.
Use the table below as a quick comparison guide. Click the + icon next to the mower type to see a summary of the pros and cons.
Keep scrolling past the table for more information.
|Mower Type||Power||Usability||Environmentally Friendly||Price||Ongoing Costs||Pros||Cons|
|Cordless Electric Mower|| |
|Battery Powered Mower|| |
|Gas Mower|| |
What To Consider
There are many factors to consider when choosing between an electric and gas models of mower. There is no wrong and no right choice – it depends on what you consider to be a benefit to you.
In this section we will go over the different factors you should take into consideration and name a winner for each category type.
The power of a lawn mower is certainly a very important consideration. If you are mowing long or thick grass regularly then you will likely want a model with power to spare.
The power of gas mowers is measured in torque usually, although horsepower and cubic centimeters (cc) can also be referred to. The average torque of a walk behind gas powered mower is between 4.50 and 8.75 ft-lbs.
While torque specifications are extremely hard to find for electric mowers – using a few calculations we can take a pretty good guess at what the torque of an average battery powered mower is.
I won’t get into the equations – but we have assumed the following (based on an EGO battery mower):
- Motor power of 1,000w
- RPM of 2,800
The torque of a battery mower such as this would be approximately 2.5 lb-ft which is about a third of the power of a gas mower.
If you want to learn more about torque, there is a great article here.
When we talk about usability we consider factors such as:
- Ease of use
When choosing a type of mower, you should consider these points – what type of mower would suit your yard?
Will a cord get in the way while mowing? Are you strong enough to push a heavy mower around? Can you wait a few hours while a battery charges in the middle of mowing your lawn?
If you are just considering runtime, then without a doubt a corded mower is the winner. As long as it is plugged into power, it can theoretically run forever!
If you don’t want the hassle of a cord, then a gas mower is the next best thing.
Battery mowers typically have a run time of between 30-60 minutes. This is basically decided by the AH rating of the battery. Battery specifications got you confused? We have a great article here that simplifies battery terminology.
Whether a mower is environmentally friendly should be considered carefully.
Gas mowers are quite inefficient and put out a lot of emissions. So we cannot really consider them to be environmentally friendly.
Battery powered mowers put out zero emissions when mowing, but they do use mains power to charge the battery – which obviously does have an environmental cost (although not as high as gas models) unless renewable power sources are used.
An additional environmental issue to consider when considering a battery model is the fact that most batteries contain lithium. Lithium mining has a high environmental impact and old batteries should always be recycled to reduce this as much as possible.
Corded electric mowers are without a doubt the cheapest type available. This is due to the fact that they do not require batteries and are usually made of cheap materials.
Depending on the quality, a good quality battery powered mower will be around the same cost as a mid-range gas model.
Because of the ongoing maintenance required, gas models have a much higher ongoing cost than the other two choices mentioned in this article.
Electric Lawn Mowers – Corded
Corded electric mowers require very little maintenance. You really only need to keep them clean, and keep the blades sharp and you are good to go!
Endless Run Time
As long as you have an electricity supply where you have grass, then you can do so indefinitely! There is no fuel to run out and no battery to go flat.
If you have trouble pushing around a heavy gas mower then a corded mower may be just what you need. They are MUCH lighter and are quite easy to maneuver.
Require a Cord
The most annoying thing about corded electric mowers is the fact that they need to be plugged into an electricity outlet all the time to run.
This can be a real pain to work with – mowing around trees, garden beds and other obstacles can be very difficult when trying to drag a cord behind you!
Mowing with a corded mower also has the potential to be dangerous – if you happen to cut the cable with the mower then you can end up with live wires exposed!
Not Recommended For Wet Conditions
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that water and electricity don’t mix. While corded models can take SOME moisture, they are not designed to mow in wet conditions. Doing so can cause your mower to fail prematurely and can even be dangerous.
Electric Lawn Mowers – Battery Powered
No Gasoline Required
Ever gone to mow your lawn and then remembered that you had no gas left? Pain in the bum isn’t it!
While you still need to make sure you have a charged battery, it doesn’t require a trip to the gas station to fill it up! Simply plug your charger into a standard power outlet at home to charge the battery!
Gas is also smelly, requires special storage containers and can be dangerous. Battery powered lawn mowers are generally much cleaner and safer.
With a rechargeable lawn mower, gone are the days of needing to change the oil and spark plug on your mower.
You will still need to make sure the blades are sharp and that the mower is kept in a generally clean condition, but overall the required maintenance is MUCH less than a gas model.
Easy To Push
Battery mowers are much lighter than their gas counterparts (although not as light as a corded mower).
This means that they are much easier to push around the yard and maneuvering around garden beds and garden ornaments is a breeze.
If the user of the mower suffers from strength issues then a battery powered mower is probably the best choice for them.
Looking For The Best Cordless Mower?
Read our full battery powered mower guide here.
Batteries Require Replacing
Yes, the batteries are rechargeable… and they can be recharged quite a number of times. But they do still run out of legs and need to be replaced – this will depend on how well you look after your batteries, and the brand you use but generally happens after 2-3 years of use.
Some cordless tool batteries are quite expensive to replace, so be sure to research this before committing to a particular brand.
Less Run Time
The amount of mowing time you get between charges on a battery mower is much less than between tanks of gas on a traditional mower.
Typical run times of a battery mower are between 30-60 minutes.
Long Charge Time
While being able to charge at home is a benefit, unfortunately, it can take quite some time to charge the batteries. Some batteries will even need overnight charging before you can use them again.
Of course there are models available with a fast charger (will fully charge in a little over an hour), but you will need to be willing to fork out more cash to have this convenience.
Not Recommended For Wet Conditions
Battery powered lawn mowers are powered by electricity. And what is one of the first lessons we learn as a kid about electricity?
That’s right, electricity and water don’t mix.
While it is unlikely to cause any danger to you as the user – battery-powered lawn mowers are not recommended for use in wet conditions. If the water gets into the electronic components then it will likely result in damage to your mower.
No Standardization For Batteries
Probably the biggest annoyance for me when it comes to battery powered lawn mowers, is the fact that every brand, and sometimes even models within brands, require its own specialized batteries.
This means that batteries from one mower are not able to be used in a different model.
This is an effort by the manufacturer to lock you into their brand for as long as possible. It also results in higher battery prices and more batteries being thrown out – which is very bad for the environment.
Speaking of which – I highly recommend you look into recycling your old batteries instead of throwing them out.
Gas Lawn Mowers
Lots of Power
The most obvious benefit of a good old gas-powered lawn mower is that they have lots of power.
Even cheaper models have more power than most battery powered models.
Long Run Time
Depending on the size of the gas tank in your mower, it is likely that you can mow for at least a couple of hours without needing to refuel.
This is great for those of you with larger lawns, as the last thing you want to be doing is stopping to recharge your battery every 45 minutes!
Gas mowers are generally more durable than either of the electric types. They are usually made from steel and will last many years before needing to replace parts.
This is especially useful if the are you mow in has a lot of obstacles or sticks etc that are likely to be in the mowing area.
Works in Wet Conditions
While mowing in the wet usually leads to less than ideal results – at least it is possible with a gas mower.
You certainly don’t want to leave your mower out in the weather, but mowing while its raining or the grass is wet is not a problem for gas powered models.
The best thing about gas mowers is that fuel is available in many places – and it is pretty much the same wherever you get it.
For a 4 stroke mower, it is important to ensure you choose a fuel with less than 10% ethanol and an octane rating of at least 87.
More Maintenance Required
Of the three types of mowers we are comparing in this article, gas mowers require the most maintenance…by a long way.
You will need to regularly check and maintain the following items:
- Fuel level
- Oil level
- Air filter
- Fuel filter
- Spark Plug
- Cutting blades
- General cleanliness of machine
With great power, comes great responsibility…for safety! And that is because gas mowers are generally the most dangerous.
Because of their high power, it means the blades are much more dangerous and can easily cut through flesh and bone. They can also fling stones and sticks out at high velocity.
The other danger to keep in mind is the fact that you are using a flammable liquid as fuel – and as such it needs to be treated with more care than a battery.
Gasoline motors are heavy, and as such mowers that are powered by gas are made of much heavier materials.
Both of these factors leads to a much heavier machine to push around the yard.
Can Be Difficult To Start
Gas mowers are started usually by a pull cord, which does require some strength to use.
Also, as a gas motor gets older, it’s parts suffer from wear and tear which results in the mower requiring more pulls to start than when it’s brand new.
It should be noted that some newer models have an electric start, and this may be preferable for those with reduced strength.
Pricing last updated on 2020-01-20 at 09:34 / affiliate links - Details