An electric lawn mower may suit you if you have a relatively small lawn to mow, you want a quiet machine and you are not worried about having to handle the extension cord as you mow.
If you’re in that category, then there are some good value models out there.
If you want to buy the best lawn mower for your situation and you think that an electric lawn mower might suit you, this article will give you some further guidance.
How does an electric lawn mower work?
Your electric outlet delivers power, via an extension cord, to an electric motor seated on the top of the mower deck.
In the most common arrangement, at the flick of a switch, the motor delivers power to spin the rotary cutting blade that is seated in the deck housing. Some modern models use a cutting line, like a string trimmer, instead of a steel blade.
Your lawn is cut as you push the mower around your lawn.
Size and power of electric lawn mowers
Corded electric lawn mowers are nearly all of a similar size, with 18 to 20 inch cutting widths and 12 amp electric motors.
Types of electric lawn mowers
Apart from the differences in size of motor and cutting width, there is not a huge amount to distinguish different types of corded electric lawn mowers.
These machines are light in weight and designed for small flat areas, so they are generally all push mowers.
The main distinction lies in the means of grass discharge. Some mowers are 3 in 1 mowers, offering side discharge, mulching and bagging options, whilst some only offer bagging and mulching.
There is full discussion of these various option on our page showing you how to compare lawn mowers.
How do electric lawn mowers compare to gas lawn mowers?
Electric lawn mowers are cheaper, quieter and more environmentally friendly than gas powered lawn mowers.
They are also lighter in weight and usually smaller and easier to store.
Apart from blade sharpening, little maintenance is required with an electric mower, whereas a gas mower needs fuelling, oil changes and sometimes a bit of tinkering to get it started.
On the downside, corded electric mowers are less powerful than gas mowers, so they are not suitable for rough ground and long or especially lush grass.
At the risk of stating the obvious, they are also limited in range by the length of an electric extension cord.
The extension cord also makes it less easy to mow freely than is the case with a gas powered or cordless electric model, especially if you have trees, shrubs or other features in you lawn.
This ‘cord management’ issue, as it is rather grandly called, is one of the main reasons why people might opt for a gas or cordless model.
If you want to avoid the noise and maintenance issues associated with gas models then a cordless lawn mower might suit you. However, cordless models are much heavier and more expensive than corded models and even the best are limited to a run time of an hour to an hour and half by their battery life.
Features to look out for in electric lawn mowers
Corded electric mowers are the cheapest kind of mower available, so they are not generally over-endowed with features.
However look out for the following:
- The right grass discharge option for your preference – bagging, mulching, side or rear discharge or all 3.
- A cord holder that lets you mange your cord more easily when you turn
- A sufficient range of height adjustment for your needs and, preferably, a single lever adjustment mechanism
- Comfortable handles
- Handles that can be adjusted to your height
- Handles that fold for easy storage
- Decent size wheels for better stability and traction.
Best uses for electric lawn mowers
A corded electric mower will suit you if:
- You have a smallish, flattish lawn to mow
- You have few or no obstacles in your lawn
- You want a budget lawn mower option
- You want a quiet, environmentally friendly lawn mower
- You want a light weight machine
- You want the minimum in maintenance
- You don’t have an inbuilt urge to tinker with engines
- You don’t mind ‘cord management’
A word about ‘cord management’
It sounds like something they should run classes in doesn’t it? But actually it’s quite straightforward.
First up, start at the point on you lawn nearest your power outlet and then mow away from there.
So, if your power source is in the bottom left corner, start there and mow up the lawn first and then progress across to the right.
Try also to keep you cord on the same side of the mower as your power source.
You should also make sure you get an extension cord that is properly rated for your mower.
A 14 gauge cord up to fifty feet long, will be fine for a load of between 10 and 15 amps.
For a similar load but between 50 and a 100 feet in length you’ll need a 12 guage cord, like the Coleman Cable 02589 12/3 vinyl outdoor extension cord pictured.
As with all outdoor power equipment, it’s a matter of horses for courses.
If your circumstances fit within the categories outline under ‘best uses’ heading, then a corded electric lawn mower is likely to suit you well.
However, if you’ve anything much more than a quarter acre to mow, or you might have in the future, you might be well advised to think about a gas or cordless lawn mower model.