Why should you go with a cordless lawn mower?
According to California Air Resources Board (CARB), a new gas-powered mower running for one hour produces similar emissions to the average car driving for 100 miles. Electric models eliminate these emissions which can cause asthma, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death.
Cordless lawn mowers are convenient because you will never have to worry about adding more extension cords to increase the range, tripping over the pesky cables, oil spillage, running out of gas, changing oil and plugs, toxic emissions, or roaring noise. They offer unlimited range and run quietly, generating a maximum noise of 75 decibels, similar to a washing machine. Statistics estimate that gas lawn mowers account for 5% of the greenhouse emissions in America and 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled annually when replenishing lawn and garden equipment! On the other hand, cordless electric lawn mowers are environmentally-friendly, light in weight and compact enough to maneuver every yard corner and fit in tight spaces for storage. They are also low-maintenance, only requiring regular checkups of trapped clippings to prevent obstruction of airflow, emptying of the grass bag and occasional sharpening of the blades.
Features to consider when choosing a cordless lawn mower
Ultimately, the best value cordless lawn mower is the one which most suits your needs. The following features will equip you with everything you need to identify the right model for you.
Since cordless lawn mowers do not enjoy the unlimited power supply of their corded counterparts, battery life is the most important feature you should prioritize. Manufacturers indicate the estimated coverage and runtime of the fully-charged battery so you can match it to the size of your yard and your mowing speed. Lawn mowers with powerful motors trim thicker grass faster and cleaner, but the high torque depletes the charge fast. You can extend the runtime with a battery with higher ampere-hours like the 7.5 Ah battery pack of the EGO POWER+ 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Lawn Mower or with dual-battery models like Makita XML02Z and Worx WG779, or by investing in more batteries which can be swapped. Removable batteries tend to hold less charge than built-in batteries, but they are easier to replace and can be switched during mowing.
Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are the most common in cordless lawn mowers due to their light weight, high energy density, and low self-discharge rate. They require replacement after a while as their capacity reduces over time although the deterioration process is slowed down by the lack of memory effect. You can estimate the lifespan from the indicated charging cycles.
To estimate the power of your intended model, multiply the battery amperage by the voltage.
You may need to let the battery cool down before recharging it, so factor this as well as the charging time before you start mowing in case you have to switch batteries. Rapid chargers can fully charge the battery in less than half an hour while non-rapid ones can take up to four hours for a full charge. Most models also feature battery indicators which gauge the remaining charge.
Cutting width, also known as deck size, refers to the width of the blade swath and is typically measured in inches. It determines the number of passes required to mow your entire lawn. The broader the total width of the grass that is cut in one pass, the fewer the passes needed and the faster you can complete mowing. However, a broad cutting width requires more power and adds to the weight of the machine.
Ideally, the best cordless rechargeable lawn mower has a minimum deck size of 14 inches like the Sun Joe MJ401C-PRO and the Greenworks MO40B410, and a maximum cutting width of approximately 20 inches like the DEWALT DCMW220P2 and EGO POWER+ 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Lawn Mower.
Adjustable height is another key feature you should never ignore, whether you are eyeing the best cheap cordless lawn mower or upgrading to a pricier and more sophisticated model. This is because mowing too low or too high can damage your lawn or turn it into a shelter for unwelcome intruders.
Mowing should trim and tidy your lawn, not scalp it. Lawn care experts caution against cutting more than a third of the grass blade. Cutting lower than that destroys the part responsible for new growth through photosynthesis and dehydrates grass which makes it turn brown or yellow. The exposed soil may also increase weed. On the other hand, tall and thick grass makes your lawn look unkempt and provide the perfect shade and shelter for pests.
The two crucial aspects to consider for adjustable height are the ease of adjustment and the number and range of height options.
One, two or four levers are used to adjust the cutting height. A single lever is convenient because it adjusts all the wheels simultaneously instead of separate adjustment of each individual wheel.
Height positions and range, denoted in inches, varies with each model. To give examples from our list, Sun Joe MJ401C-PRO has three height options with a range of between 1.18 to 2.52 inches while Makita XML02Z has an impressive 13 height settings ranging from 0.8 to 2.3 inches. Generally, a minimum of four height options ranging between 1.5 and 4 inches would suit most lawns.
Grass discharge options
Cordless lawn mowers dispose of the cut grass by mulching, bagging or through a rear or side discharge chute. Ideally, the best cordless battery lawn mower should allow all the three options, but there are several models which lack the mulching function.
Mulching shreds the clippings and redistributes them back to your lawn where the resultant nitrogen from biodegradation serves as an organic fertilizer. It nourishes your lawn and saves you money on fertilizer.
For bagging, the clippings are collected in a detachable bag for later disposal. The bags hold different amounts so you will need to confirm the capacity before purchase to avoid frequent emptying and remember that a large bag full of grass clippings will make the machine feel heavier as you mow. Bagging is suitable for old or long grass which will not decompose fast if left on the lawn.
Rear and side discharge options shoot the cut grass either into the clippings bag or back on the lawn to be collected afterward. This is an ideal disposal method for aged grass.
Pushing a loaded lawn mower on a sizeable, hilly or uneven lawn can be a laborious task which leaves you drained and exhausted. This is why self-propelling models like Snapper XD Max SXD19PWM82K are a lifesaver which reduces time and effort. Also referred to as drive walk lawn mowers, they feature a speed lever and a gearbox connected to wheels to push themselves forwards and fixed or varied speed control to suit your preferred pace as you guide the machine around.
Wheel options can either be front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel. Front-wheeled models are ideal for flat surfaces, rear-wheeled for hilly or inclined lawns and all-wheel for better traction on wet grass and rough, uneven terrains.
Cordless lawn mowers with powerful motors, large wheels, long handles and wide deck size add to the overall build of the machine. This can make the unit struggle to navigate around obstacles and in tight spaces.
To make them more compact for upright storage, all the models in this review, including Worx WG779, feature handles which can be folded down. If you combine foldability with the desired cutting width and overall unit’s dimensions, you can balance maneuverability, large swathes, and convenient storage.
This is dependent on the construction material, motor, deck size, wheels and other additional components. While a heavy lawn mower can be beneficial in traversing uneven turfs, it is harder to maneuver through thick overgrowth unless it is a self-propelled unit. Manufacturers include wheels to improve mobility and portability.
More often than not, manufacturers offer different warranty periods for the unit and the battery and charger. This may range from a year to five years. Models like the DEWALT DCMW220P2 provide 90-day money back guarantee period as an additional incentive which allows you to test it before committing yourself.
Dual charger: It allows you to charge more batteries which can be swapped to prolong runtime.
Safety features: This is best exemplified by the EGO POWER+ 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Lawn Mower which boasts of safety key ignition, bail switch for blade control and a trailing shield to prevent objects from ricocheting backward.
LED headlights: They illuminate the lawn to improve visibility on poorly-lit sections or for nighttime mowing.
Noise level: A blaring lawnmower will quickly turn you from the dearest neighbor into the most detested intruder. Fortunately, the best cordless electric lawn mowers peak at 75 decibels.
Wheels: They make it easier to steer the unit around the lawn.
Load level indicator: It provides a convenient way of monitoring the grass level.
Foldable handle: It reduces the footprint for compact storage.
Brake clutch: It allows you pausing of mowing and quick resumption by stopping the spinning blades without turning off the engine.