All over the world, people are switching to cleaner sources of energy in the home, in the garden and on the road, as the harm caused to the environment by carbon emissions becomes clearer. In recent years, more and more gardeners are realising the advantages of using electric riding lawn mowers in place of traditional, gas powered garden tools, which can contribute as much as 5% of the total man-made hydrocarbons in large urban areas.
In February 2017, CNBC reported that air pollution contributed to more than four million premature deaths in 2015. Over half of these were from China and India, two nations where dangerous levels of air pollution are rife. The USA is not far behind, with studies showing that even air pollution levels that were previously thought of as “safe” could still cause thousands of premature deaths every year.
Inhabitants of heavily polluted cities and countries are exposed to a high risk of early death. This is one of the key reasons behind the Paris Climate Agreement, which 148 countries have signed up to in a pledge to reduce emissions. This infographic provides a good summary.
Statistics such as these are persuading more and more people to switch to cleaner, zero-emission sources of energy.
Record numbers of electric cars are being sold. Solar panels have become more prevalent amongst residential homes. Even big oil and gas corporations are investing millions of dollars in renewable energy.
The movement to cleaner sources of energy is also being experienced in relation to gardening and landscaping. In fact, it started in the 90s, as seen in this General Electric print advert in the National Geographic. It may have taken a while but the shift to electric is now gathering incredible pace.
Conventional, gas-powered mowers and tractors are slowly being replaced by their electric, battery-powered counterparts, mirroring the shift happening on the roads.
Aside from helping to reduce your carbon footprint, let’s examine some of the advantages of using electric riding lawn mowers:
1. Better for your plants
There is little doubt that the poisonous gases released by gas mowers are harmful to plants around the garden.
Sulphur dioxide, which is a by-product of burning gasoline, can have a direct adverse impact on leaves by discoloring and damaging them. Over time, leaves could develop holes and in severe cases, enough damaged leaves could kill off a plant altogether.
A gas such as carbon monoxide can also slow down the growth of plants, rendering them unable to take full advantage of the spring and summer seasons. Again, some plants or trees may begin to drop their leaves completely.
If that isn’t enough, studies have also shown that harmful emissions can make plants more vulnerable to insect infestation, and in severe cases these can kill off entire crops – let alone just one or two plants in the back yard.
So one major advantage of using electric riding lawn mowers will be that it’s safer for the plants and trees in your garden.
That is a major plus. It starts to make less sense that the very tool you currently use to mow your lawn (i.e a gas mower) could be a major contributor to damaging the plants and trees around that lawn.
Electric riding lawn mowers – and for that matter other electric garden tools – have zero emissions, so you can look after your garden with confidence and a clear conscience.
2. No spillages
We have all done it haven’t we? Spilt gasoline and oil. I once had a spillage whilst topping up the engine oil for my car as it was parked on my mom’s driveway. To this day she still mentions how difficult she found it to remove the stains!
With a gas-powered lawn mower, you run similar risks. Topping up the gasoline could result in spillages which damage your garage surface, or worse, your lawn – especially if the oil begins to leak as you’re mowing.
It can be a messy process and the clean-up job is even trickier when your lawn gets damaged.
With an electric riding lawn mower, the fuel source is clean. No gasoline, no spills and no stains. Your yard (and your clothes) are safe.
We are not suggesting that you mow your lawn late at night.
But if you ever wanted to (and you have a well-lit yard), there would be a much better chance that you don’t wake the neighbours or disturb the wildlife with an electric riding lawn mower.
The advantage of using electric riding lawn mowers are that they are much quieter – up to as much as 50-75% quieter – than gas powered mowers.
Current users of gas powered mowers may even have to wear ear protectors if mowing their lawn takes a longer period of time.
With an electric riding lawn mower, that’s not something you, your neighbors, or the hedgehog hiding in the bushes has to worry about.
4. Cheaper to run
Oil prices are notoriously volatile and gasoline costs add up. A gas powered riding tractor that guzzles oil while you mow can require regular top-ups, especially if you have a large lawn.
Generally, the cost of electricity is cheaper. Newer models of electric riding lawn mowers can run for longer on a lower amount of charge, so the running costs of electric mowers are getting cheaper.
And there is no longer a need to take regular trips to the gas station!
5. Cheaper maintenance
If you own a car, you’ll be familiar with the number of things that can go wrong with it, especially problems relating to the engine, belts, motors, pumps, filters. These are all parts you’ll also find in a gas-powered lawn mower.
Regular maintenance and servicing will be a hallmark of owning this type of mower, and even then the engine is not guaranteed to start when you’re about to mow the lawn.
Another advantage of using electric riding lawn mowers is that they simply don’t require the level of maintenance or servicing that a gas powered mower would. They tend to be more reliable machines, so you are very likely to save a lot of time and cost on maintenance issues.
6. Electric lawn mowers are getting more powerful
One of the doubts that seasoned gas mower users have is around how much less powerful electric riding mowers tend to be than their oil powered counterparts.
That may still be true to an extent.
However, technological advances over just the last few years mean that electric mowers – as well as things such as cars and vacuum cleaners – are becoming more and more powerful, and can do the same job just as well as gasoline-powered tools.
7. Batteries lasting longer
Continuing the theme of power improvements in the electric tool market, another key development has been the increase in battery power and charge duration.
With a modern electric riding mower, you can now mow a reasonably sized lawn on a single charge because batteries are lasting for much longer.
In the case of mowing a very large lawn, you may have to take a break to recharge the battery, but recharge times themselves have shortened considerably in the last couple of years, so you can get going again within an hour (maybe using the recharge time to tend to other parts of the yard). And with a spare battery that has already been charged beforehand, you can simply replace the depleted one and keep going.
8. Easier to use
Imagine using a gas-powered mower after a considerable length of time, say after the winter. You would have had to make sure you drained all the oil from your last pre-winter mow. Then refill the mower with new oil (having taken a trip to the gas station). You may have to check the filters and spark plugs.
The advantage of using electric riding mowers is that none of the above is necessary. Just make sure the battery is charged, hit the button and off you go.
It’s a much easier way to mow your yard, free from the hassle and worry that using an engine powered device brings, especially after a long break.
9. Stylish and sleek design
Modern electric mowers tend to be aesthetically pleasing. Housing a battery rather than an engine allows electric riding mowers to have a sleeker look, as well as being smaller in size (and therefore easier to store). Check out a great example in the video below of a Ryobi electric riding mower.
10. Easier to clean
You can imagine the dirt that gathers in and on a gas powered mower. Dirt which is not easy to remove and can also be transferred to your lawn. Not good for the soil or vegetation.
Electric riding mowers are much easier to clean, if anything because they don’t need oil and therefore don’t pose the same clean-up issues of an engine powered device.
The cost of electric riding lawn mowers has traditionally been high.
But with the benefit to the environment and technological advancements (especially battery cost and efficiency), these machines have become more and more popular, driving the cost down and making them more affordable and accessible to the wider market. In fact, in some states, you may be able to part-exchange your gas mower for an electric one, as a result of subsidies given for environmentally friendly initiatives, such as one recent exchange event in Boulder CO, and all-year-round initiatives in Los Angeles, CA.
In addition, all the old criticisms about electric riding mowers are no longer holding true. They are getting more powerful, and battery life is increasing. They are now viable alternatives to combustion engine powered mowers. Except they are quieter, cheaper to run and of course, far better for the environment. And soon enough, they will likely exceed power and range of gasoline equivalents. Just like a certain electric car is now the fastest production sedan cars in the world, beating high-end sports cars in acceleration and coming close to gasoline ranges on a single charge.
Electric is more and more the better option to consider when purchasing a riding lawn mower.