In many ways a cordless electric lawn mower gives you the best of both worlds when you are looking to select the best lawn mower.
With a cordless lawn mower you get the flexibility and freedom of movement associated with gas powered lawn mower models, but the quietness and environmental soundness found in the the electric lawn mower category.
How does a cordless electric lawn mower work?
The essence of the cordless lawn mower is that it is operated by a rechargeable battery. So you’ll often see one of these models referred to as a battery powered lawn mower, a battery operated lawn mower or a rechargeable mower.
Size and power of cordless electric lawn mowers
Cordless electric lawn mowers come with 12, 24 or 36 volt battery packs. Some of the leading brands are even introducing 40 volt batteries. Although the amount of power each battery size can actually deliver depends on other variables, such as grass conditions and the design of the mower, generally a battery with higher voltage will get you more power and a longer run time.
All things being equal, run times are very approximately as follows:
- 12 volt battery 30 – 45 minutes
- 24 volt battery 45- 75 minutes
- 36 volt battery up to about 90 minutes
Cordless electric mowers typically have cutting widths between 18 and 20 inches.
A model like the Black & Decker SPCM1936 19-Inch 36-Volt cordless mower should be able to cut up to about one-third of an acre on a single charge.
See our comparison tables showing the best 36 volt and 24 volt cordless mowers here.
Types of cordless electric lawn mowers
Cordless electric mowers vary according to:
- Battery size
- Whether they are self-propelled or not
- Grass discharge options
- Cutting widths.
In self-propelled models the battery drives the wheels as well as the blade. So, these models take the effort out of mowing, especially if you have large areas to contend with.
Grass discharge may be by way of mulching, bagging or side/rear discharge of clippings. We look at the pros and cons of these different capabilities here.
How do cordless electric lawn mowers compare to other types of lawn mowers?
Cordless mowers have all the advantages that corded electric lawn mowers have over gas mowers – and then some.
They are good for the environment, good for your relations with your neighbors (they’re quiet) and very easy to use and operate.
You need to make sure they are properly charged, but other than that they’ll work on demand with little in the way of upkeep to be done.
Of course they are not as powerful as gas powered mowers and are not suitable for cutting long and/or very lush grass.
They have the obvious major advantage over corded models that you can use them anywhere without the need for an electric power source.
On the downside, though, even the best models won’t run for more than a couple of hours at most and re-charging fully can take up to 12 hours.
Cordless mowers are also more expensive than corded models (similar in price to gas powered mowers) and also heavier because of the weight of battery.
For example, the Black & Decker MM875 Lawn Hog 19 inch corded electric mulching mower weighs 52 pounds whilst the Black & Decker CM1936 19 inch 36 volt cordless electric mower weighs 92 pounds and, incidentally, will set you back about $160 more.
Features to look out for in cordless electric lawn mowers
The heart of the cordless electric mower is the battery, so look for power and quality there.
Most models have lead acid batteries, although some have Nicad (Nickel cadmium) batteries and some Lithium-Ion. Nicad batteries are probably best avoided as they don’t hold a charge as well as the others and fade as the charge dissipates.
Some models have fixed batteries and some have batteries that can be removed for re-charging. Whichever of those options you would find more convenient is really a matter of choice. But, some people like to keep a spare battery always on charge so that they can mow on demand. If you fall into that camp, you’ll need the removable option.
Bear in mind that no battery will last indefinitely, though you should be able to get 500 recharges out of a good one.
Given the added weight of cordless electric mowers, the self-propelled capability is likely to be preferable, especially if you have any inclines to mow.
Some models have a fixed drive speed, others a variable speed. Some even adjust speed automatically to match your walking pace.
It’s useful to have a power indicator light to alert you to the battery’s level of charge.
This is discussed above, but be alive to the fact that some discharge options may require added extras, e.g. mulching inserts or side discharge chutes, that have to be purchased separately.
It’s worth noting that mulching takes more power from the battery than bagging, so you’ll cover less ground in one charge when mulching than you will using the other options.
Is there such a word?
If not, there should be. In this context I’m referring to the capacity to adjust cutting height easily and to set handle heights and angles that are suitable for the operator. The more adjustability the better!
The handles on many models can be folded down for ease of storage. But remember, these things can be pretty weighty, so they’re not as easy to swing around your garage as other types of mower.
my former garden – ideal for a cordless electric lawn mower
Best uses for cordless electric lawn mowers
A cordless electric mower will suit you if:
- You have a small to medium size lot to mow
- You have trees, shrubs or other obstacles to mow around
- You don’t have slopes or hills to mow
- You are reasonably strong
- You can get your mowing chores done in about an hour and half (or you buy a spare battery)
- You want an environmentally friendly option
- You want a quiet option
- You want a low maintenance option
- You want to avoid gas, oil and electric cords
- You don’t have especially lush grass
- You don’t leave your grass to grow long between mowings.
Cordless lawn mowers compared
I’ve out together a table comparing key features of the best 36 volt and 24 volt cordless lawn mowers.
This cordless lawn mower comparison focuses on the best cordless models available online and categorizes them according to battery size. That way you can compare like with like.
I like cordless outdoor power equipment more and more.
If I was satisfied that I wouldn’t need a gas mower for the extra power and the extra operating time, I’d be quite happy to buy a cordless electric mower.
Unless I had a really small and easy to cut lawn, I think I’d always be willing to stump up the extra cash for a cordless mower instead of a corded mower.