If you’ve been thinking of buying a new lawn mower, one of the first questions to answer is fuel type. But what are the pros and cons of electric vs gas lawn mowers? Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know to make an informed choice.
What’s the difference between electric and gas lawn mower?
The basic answer is obvious, of course – one type of mower runs on gas, and the other on electricity! But what does that mean in practice?
A gas mower has a gas tank and an oil reservoir. It’s the energy produced when the gas combusts that runs the engine.
In an electric lawn mower, on the other hand, the power can come from a couple of different sources. A corded mower will plug straight into your mains electricity. Cordless versions will have a battery that needs to be charged before you can use your mower.
So what do those different power sources mean for the mowing experience?
One of the most frequently quoted differences between gas and electric devices is performance. Here, gas mowers definitely have the edge – but that’s not to say they’re always the better option.
If you have a modest lawn and tender grass, electric mowers will cope fine. And there are even some ride-on electric mowers out there which will handle larger areas and tougher conditions well.
But as a rule, if you need your mower to cope with coarse overgrowth, gas will give you better results. That’s because these mowers operate with the same amount of power as long as there’s gas. The motor will turn just as fast on the last drop as the first.
With a cordless electric mower, on the other hand, performance will decline as the battery dies. If you have knotty weeds to deal with, that may mean you don’t get the cut you want.
And unless you have a spare battery, you’ll be restricted in the length of time for which you can use a cordless electric mower. Modern batteries will typically give you about an hour of mowing.
For many people, of course, that will be more than adequate. But if you have a larger plot, it won’t be practical. And the cables on corded versions won’t stretch far enough either. Gas will be the better bet here.
Impact on the environment
Where electric mowers really come into their own is their environmental impact. There are no greenhouse gas emissions to worry about, keeping your air cleaner.
They also have advantages in terms of your immediate environment. Electric mowers tend to be much quieter than their gas counterparts. If you prefer a gentle hum to accompany your mowing, they’re the ones to choose.
Up-front costs of gas and electric mowers are broadly similar, but it’s worth thinking about ongoing expenditure too.
A gas lawn mower will need regular refills, and the occasional top-up of oil. And over time you’ll need to replace components like spark plugs and filters.
None of that is an issue for electric mowers – but that’s not to say there are no ongoing costs.
If you’ve got a corded model, you’ll be paying for your electricity usage. (Unless, of course, you have solar panels or some other means of generating your own power.) It won’t add much to your bills, but it’s a cost just the same.
And over time, the batteries for cordless models will wear out. These can be quite pricey to replace.
Overall, though, electric models will work out cheaper to run than gas versions.
The great thing about cordless electric mowers is how easy they are to use. There are no cables to worry about tripping over or – even worse – cutting into. And, unlike gas mowers, you won’t need to do any preparation, or exert yourself to pull a starter cord.
While older gas mowers can take repeated attempts to start up, some models have clever design features to help. In some cases, an electric starter button will get the mower going without a starter cord at all.
Bear in mind, though, that a gas mower will also require regular maintenance to keep it performing at its best. You’ll need to check the gas and oil levels, and many mowers need a full oil change every so often. Spark plugs, fuel filters, and other components may need replacing too.
This handy YouTube video offers hints and tips on effective gas mower maintenance.
Electric mowers are usually lighter than gas models. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, a battery weighs less than a tank full of gas. Secondly, electric mowers usually have more plastic components, while gas mowers make greater use of metal.
A lighter mower will be easier to maneuver – but it’s not all good news. If you’re trying to cut through thicker grass, a heavier mower can be more effective. And while sloping ground will be harder work (unless your mower is self-propelling), a weightier model will be more stable.
The same applies to uneven ground. Light mowers can be easily thrown off course by bumpy terrain. So if your lawn is more hiking range than bowling green, a heavier gas mower is the way to go.
Last but not least, electric and gas mowers pose different issues in relation to health and safety.
Properly functioning electric mowers are very safe. Corded versions will have automatic power breakers that will kick in if you accidentally run over the cable. And unless you deliberately crack open the battery on a cordless version, the fuel source won’t cause any problems.
Gas, on the other hand, is both toxic and flammable. But follow the manufacturers’ instructions and take care when you’re refueling, and gas mowers can be used very safely.
What’s best for you?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of the differences between gas and electric mowers. And that we’ve given you everything you need to make the right choice for your garden.
The environmental credentials of electric mowers alone make them a great option. They’re clean, quiet and cost-effective. But if you have a larger plot with tougher conditions, gas will give you better performance.
Whichever option you choose, happy mowing!
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.