Ryobi 20″ 40-Volt Lawn Mower – Mower Review
W hen I bought my first home I purchased a self-propelled gas mower. A few years ago the engine finally quit and I decided to go gasless. I opted for a Scott’s 20” Reel Mower and I was happy. For a while. The Reel mower never bagged right, but I mulched. It was quiet, it cut grass really well, but ultimately it didn’t get the high stuff like weeds and fast growing dandelions, so I’d end up going over the lawn again with the string trimmer. Every. Single. Time.
Enter the Ryobi 20 in. 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Walk-Behind Electric Lawn Mower with 2 Batteries. Ryobi has been making quality tools with professional features at an affordable price point for homeowners everywhere. From drills to lawn mowers, Ryobi makes one of everything, and most of that is battery powered. So even with their extensive knowledge of batteries, how good can a battery powered lawn mower be? Was Ryobi up to the challenge?
Recently Ryobi gave Busted Wallet the chance to review this battery powered wonder and I hoped for the power of a gas mower with the quietness and cleanliness of my reel mower. I wasn’t disappointed. It is everything you like about mowing a lawn without all of the things you hate. Here is what we discovered…
What’s in the Box:
- 2 40-volt Lithium-ion Batteries
- 40-volt Charger
- Bag for grass clippings
- Mulching Plug
- Fuse Key
- Owner’s manual
- 5 year limited warranty
- 3 year full warranty (including the batteries)
- Adjustable mowing height from approximately 1.5 in. to 3.75 in.
- 90 minute charge time per battery
- Bags and mulches
- 20” mowing width
- 47 lbs
- Foldable for storage or transport
- Rated for yard sizes 1/2 to 1 acre
Straight out of the box this mower is ready to go fully assembled. I needed only to unfold and tighten the quick release style catches on the handle. It is well built and light enough that when folded I can easily pick it up and put it in the back of my van for transport. The battery compartment holds the battery that is in use, has a slot for an extra battery, and is where you put the ‘key’ which is a fuse that when pulled keeps the mower from turning on. This is a great safety feature for when you are putting in or taking out the mulch plug, turning the mower on the side to inspect/remove/reattach the blade, or leaving it where a kid might find it. There is no ‘pull start’. You press a button, pull the handle back and the mower springs to life.
Setting the mowing height is also easy. It’s one handle that has 7 positions between 1.5″ and 3.75″ One handle moves the adjuster on all four wheels.
The batteries each have a 4 light power meter and they update/blink as they are being charged which is helpful so you don’t have to check them. The charger diagnoses the battery every charge letting you know if it is good or bad, and if it can or can’t charge it. The charger won’t charge a battery that is too hot or too cold. The important part is, you don’t have to think about it, the charger does it for you. In all the mowing I did with the mower the battery never failed to charge after being totally drained, they didn’t seem to get hot with continual use.
Best part of the design? All the “Nos”. No gas. No oil. No cords. No loud noise. Seriously. I can mow the lawn and not smell like I mowed a lawn. Electric plug-in mowers are very powerful, but cords get in the way.
It’s 44.7lbs pushing weight and that isn’t as heavy as it sounds. My Scott’s mower weighted in at 25lbs, but when you push a reel mower you put extra effort into it to turn the gears and blade. I found this to be about the same or less effort than the reel mower. Busted Wallet Recently reviewed the Toro 30” Timemaster and that weighs in at 132lbs! On Rich’s lawn Rich and I took turns going back and forth with the mower, pushing up and down some hills. He has a self-propelled gas mower so I wanted his opinion on the missing self-propulsion. He said it was no better, but no worse than his self-propelled. That the decrease in weight made it just as easy to move over his lawn.
How often have you been asked to help mow a lawn for a parent or friend? My Scotts’ reel mower doesn’t fold to fit in my van and a self-propelled gas mower isn’t an easy lift for 1 person at 130 pounds. That and a gas mower is going to make your vehicle smell like a gas mower. Gas and oil. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your dirty gas can and try not to spill any with your heavy mower.
The Ryobi battery powered mower folds for easy storage, it is fairly easy lift (I had back surgery in 2012 so I pay attention to this detail) when folded, and didn’t make my van smell like anything.
Do you need 800 HP to mow a lawn? Nope. But even still, I didn’t find any grass that I couldn’t cut. I didn’t find any weeds I couldn’t cut. I did find a few sticks and rocks unfortunately. I did mow through some really tall weeds at a slower pace to make sure it was bagging it all. When the mower hits a patch that is tougher it adds more power. You can actually hear the motor rev up.
I mowed my lawn several times but to give this mower a fair shake I had to find lawns to mow other than my own. I found Lisa’s mom’s lawn which is larger than mine, my sister-in-law Laura’s lawn a little smaller than mine, Marshall’s lawn which is about the size of a postage stamp, and a Rich’s lawn the largest lawn of the ones I mowed.
On my lawn it met every expectation I had of a mower, not just of a battery powered mower. It takes about half to ¾ of one battery to do my lawn (bagging or mulching). I used both full batteries to do the Lisa’s lawn and filled 2 full trash cans with clippings. At Laura’s house I filled a lawn bag fully on less than 1 battery. Marshall’s lawn it took less than a quarter charge (really small lawn). The variable power of the motor (automatically adjusting to the heaviness of the cut) keeps battery usage to as low as possible while still cutting everything.
Before mowing Lisa’s lawn:
The real test turned out to be my buddy Rich’s lawn and this is where I really learned something about the mower. Not just because of size, but because of the grass. We set the height of the Ryobi Lawn Mower to the same height as Rich’s gas mower and must have cut enough grass to fill 6 lawn bags (his wife kept emptying them and taking them to a nearby garden). It had only been growing for a week, but he had fertilized and it had been getting plenty of water.
Rich’s monster back lawn:
It was thick. And not just thick, it was grass, not weeds. It is a lawn that I hope my lawn becomes someday. Still, all in all, the mower performed well. It used both full batteries, one for 23 minutes of use (including time to stop and empty the bag) and the second battery for 32 minutes of use. By the time we were done with the second battery the first one had about 7 minutes of charge in it (they have a 90 minute charge time). At the end of that we mowed the back lawn and finished most of the sides. We had been at it for about 62 minutes and finished about 3/4 of the work. He normally does his lawn in about 45-50 minutes. My lawn which used half a battery takes me 45 minutes with any mower I use. That should give you some idea of what I’m talking about. It’s not just the area you are cutting, you have to take into account what you are cutting. Lush lawns take more energy.
His gas mower is wider, and doesn’t run out of power because he can refill it with gas. His lawn is of such a size that he is considering getting a riding lawn mower like his neighbor. If you’ve stayed with me this long I want you to understand, this isn’t the lawn this mower was meant for but I wanted to challenge it.
And yet, his wife liked it, why? Because it did it all quietly. I heard this same comment about how quiet it was from just about everyone that used it or watched me use it. Rich and I talked while we mowed. We didn’t have to shout, we didn’t have to wear hearing protection, and we didn’t smell like gas. He and I figured if you have 4 fully charged batteries you could do his whole lawn on the worst day. That’s not bad.
Ease of Use:
The hardest part of using this mower is the unboxing. Its actual use is straight forward. You don’t have to warn another user about quirks or complicated starting procedures because your gas mower is on its last legs. When you bag a lawn with a gas mower you start it Every. Single. Time. You stop to take the bag off and put it back on. I’ll let you think about how that affects your back…got that in your mind? Now imagine not having to do that ever again. When you bag with this mower it simply starts up again with the press of a button and pull of the handle. It’s light weight makes it easy to maneuver around obstacles and up and down small hills.
The bag fills up great. It doesn’t seem to block up by the mower. Half the bag is mesh, and the other half is solid. I imagine that helps direct the clippings to filling up the bag. I didn’t feel like I had to stop too soon to empty it. When mulching it spreads out the clippings well. They didn’t clump up like other mowers I’ve used.
Removing the blade for sharpening is also easy. Pull the fuse for safety, tip the mower on its side, then loosen the nut and remove the blade. Sharpen and reverse the process to install it again. I sharpened the blade after I hit a few rocks I didn’t see in my lawn. The blade is thin. At first I was going to put this in the negatives, because it kinda feels like one. But ask yourself, how thick does a blade need to be to cut grass? The strength needs to be in the thin sharpened metal edge and on all rotary mowers like this I expect the sharp edge to be thin. I imagine that cutting down on the weight of the blade saves power. It sharpened easily enough and holds an edge, but like all mowers, avoid rocks.
I’m not 100% sure where I can take this to be serviced but I’m not that worried about it yet. It has a limited 5 year warranty and a full 3 year warranty on the mower AND batteries for personal use through Ryobi. See Page 13 of this PDF for more details.
The folding handle. First, let me say that I like the folding handle more than I don’t. Where it doesn’t function well is when you are taking the grass clipping bag off and putting it back on. The middle bar just seems to be in the completely wrong place every time.
Batteries aren’t free, if Rich really wanted to do his lawn without gas, we’d have to buy two more batteries at 99 each.
The mulch plug. Taking it out is easy. Maybe I haven’t found the trick yet, but putting it back in seems awkward. It feels like it always wants to point down. Once in, it is secure, but you have to take a minute to make sure it’s in all the way.
They really could use two handles built into the plastic housing on top for making a one person lift easier. It isn’t bad to pick it up, but it is awkward. If Ryobi wants to give me a call I can tell them where I’d like them put.
At 399 this mower is comparable to gas mowers. It has the power of a gas mower. It cuts as good as a gas mower (it is the same rotary style blade as a gas mower so it should). A quick search showed push gas mowers weighing in between 60 and 70 lbs. So it pushes as easy, or easier, than a push gas mower. It isn’t going to replace a riding lawn mower, but it will do the job for most city lawns and sub-divisions. You can get a gas mower for less money, but then you have to deal with gas.
I’ve harped on ‘gasless’ enough in this review, most people I know use a gas mower and don’t see it as a problem is. It wasn’t until I went gasless that I realized how nice it is. You do pay for it up front, but you don’t have to spend money on gas, or oil changes, or spark plugs or tune ups. Over all I believe it balances out, So don’t be scared off by the starting price point. Add up what you’ve spend on your gas mower over the last 5 years with proper maintenance and you should see this as a comparable purchase.
- I enjoy having a gas free lawn.
- I enjoy being able to mow without disturbing my neighbors.
- I enjoy being able to hear my kids play because I don’t have to wear hearing protection.
- I enjoy being able to put the mower away when I’m done with it, not having to wait for a gas mower to cool down.
This battery powered technology has been a long time coming and I think with the Ryobi battery mower line up, it is finally here. This isn’t some pipe dream, it is reality. These mowers will only improve and I think they will become the standard over the next 10 years for home and personal use.
Update: The model reviewed above is now available without batteries or a charger. The replacement for the mower we reviewed is now available here and comes with one battery that has the same capacity as the two batteries in our review.
The Bottom Line: If you are replacing your aging gas mower, or are looking to go gas free, give this mower a serious look. You’ve got 90 days to take it home and try it and I think the first time you do you’ll be sold on it.
- Inserting the mulch plug is tricky
- Handle in the way removing the bag
- Upfront cost might frighten people, but i think it is a value
About The Author
I’m a family man and the fourth generation to work at my family’s printing and advertising shop. A graduate of Grand Valley State University and Eagle Scout, I’m an amateur photographer who likes to build computers, work with tools, camp, and spend time with family. I’m a scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop and have 30 years of scouting experience. I’m an “idea guy” at work and home and am always on the lookout for the next thing or newest technology to improve my work or home life.
John May 26, 2015 I bought the previous model of the Ryobi 40v mower last year. I love it. I’ll never go back to a gas powered. My yard is just over a quarter acre, partially hilled and all thick grass. It takes me about an hour or so to mow. The mower takes about 3.5 battery charges to do the whole thing. However, I have the other 40v tools like the trimmer and hedger. So I have enough batters and chargers that as I work, the other two can charge up. I’ve found the mower to work just as well as my old gas one. Any places my gas mower had difficulty, my electric did also. So it’s not any better in terms of power. However, the things you stressed, the quietness and the less fumes is spot on. I can talk to my wife as I mow. And not smelling like gasoline when I get done is great. I would suggest everyone who has a manageable yard to get this mower. Reply
heather den Boer May 10, 2019 I’ve had this mower for 3 years. It spent 6 weeks at a service centre last spring only to come home with a new battery. I have suggested and suggested and suggested that it’s not the battery, it’s the connection between the battery and the mower!! It cuts out every 8’ or so. Every time. Ryobi will not replace the mower. I don’t know what to do. 400 is a lot of money for a lemon. I can’t even sell it because it doesn’t work. Reply
Jay July 11, 2019 See “You Tube” for a possible fix for you. I’ve got the same problem. And apparently so do MANY people!
Mike Ver Duin September 10, 2019 I can’t reply to Jay who suggested it, but here’s a YouTube video that describes a fix for what might be happening. https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=iX3tM6hhf24 Obviously, use care, and you are responsible for your own work and safety. I haven’t had this problem on mine, it is still going strong.
Logan Škrtić April 30, 2020 I have had this mower for awhile, and after about 18 months, mine was doing the same thing. What fixed mine? Get yourself a set of torx screwdriver bits that fit into each of the various sized all over its chassis. Make sure to tighten every screw on the mower. Especially the ones that attach the handlebar to to rear right and left sides of the mower. There is a pressure button sensor that when the pressure is relieved from it by folding the handlebar for storage, that cuts off the power to prevent the mower from starting. There, and the plastic crossbar that has the plastic clips that allow the handlebar to collapse for storage also has sensors in it to cut power to the mower if the handlebar is not fully extended and the clips are able to completely grasp around the metal tubes. This started happening after two year of year round use, and also through Phoenix desert temps that swing 35-40 degrees sometimes in a day which causes the plastics on the mower to expand and contract with the temperature changes. Add That to normal usage is well enough that you can’t blame the mower. I got This idea from owning four different German cars over the years. Their warranty service tune-ups make it a point to tighten all exposed chassis bolts on a regular schedule and is most likely a good reason they last so much longer. When stuff comes loose, it misaligns parts, and damage is done from it. So, now I just make myself an reminder on my iPhone to tuneup (or tighten up) the mower every 6 months. Problem solved!
William von Rentzell May 26, 2015 For Rich if he really wants a riding mower, here’s a battery electric one that’ll do the job in half the time, the Cub Cadet 42″ battery electric zero turn radius riding mower. http://newsroom.cubcadet.com/newsroom/article/new-articlepage-42 Alternately for a somewhat lower price, there’s this one that’s been around a bit longer, has a smaller 30″ swath and isn’t zero turn radius from Recharge Mowers. http://www.rechargemower.com/ Reply
BOB MILLER July 26, 2015 WHAT IF ANY IS THE DIFFERENCE OR ADVANTAGE. OF A BRUSHLESS ELECTRIC MOTOR AND HOW DO THEY OPERATE ?? Reply
Mike Ver Duin September 2, 2015 Sorry for the delay, i just saw this now. Here was a good explanation I found on the web: http://www.dynetic.com/brushless%20vs%20brushed.htm Reply
Phil June 27, 2017 Super short battery life…poor Chinese design at best. I hate this product….Mike might have been paid for a positive evaluation of this lawmower
RYOBI 12 Sliding Miter Saw. Tool Review | Busted Wallet September 2, 2015 […] has been making quality tools for professionals and home workshops for years. From drills bits to lawnmowers they can meet just about every tool need in your shop (and generators for out of shop work!). […] Reply
jim September 11, 2015 Bought this mower to replace a gas mower that kept giving me trouble due to alcohol in the gas that eats at the rubber gaskets and hoses. Had this for a couple of months and it seemed to work OK. For my lawn size. But I live in Florida and it can down pour from sunshine in a second. Which it did. I could not get the unit back to the garage before it got wet. I tried to start it in the garage and it would not run. Traded batteries out and it still would not start. I wiped it down put a hair dryer to it where the batt connects and the fuse goes in. Still no start. Left it for a few hours and it fired up but when I let go of the safety lever it kept running. I had to carefully remove the batt to shut it down. I put the battery back in and it would not start then let it set for an hour and it seems to be starting. Not sure if it will work properly or not. For the money its not very impressive. I am thinking of going back to gas and buying the expensive 100 percent gas no alcohol added. I have had Gas mowers last decades this way. Reply
Mike Ver Duin September 14, 2015 Hi jim! Did you contact Ryobi about the issue? There is a 5 year limited warranty. That and I think they’d want to know about it. Thankfully I’ve never gotten rained on while using mine, but i have mowed just after a rain (I know I should wait, but it just had to be done). Seems like letting it dry out is the answer here, hopefully no permanent damage was done. The more I use mine the more I love it. My 8 year old can push it because of how light it is, which has been great for me. I can spend my time weed trimming and still keep an eye on him. Good luck! Reply
jim September 14, 2015 I did contact Ryobi and was told that it was my fault for mowing wet grass and getting caught in the rain. They said that voided the warranty, I then called Home Depot and was told that I was a week under the time before they would just send me to the vendor. I took it back got a full refund and spend the money on a Honda self propelled. I will use 100 percent gas and drain the tank and carb each season to keep it up. I was thinking that the electric could replace the hassle. When I showed them how the unit turned on and did not shut off when the safety lever was let go of they did not question me a bit. I think they felt lets not risk a court case. Gas has prove itself for 100 years.
Cynthia March 18, 2020 Mike I just wanted to know how did you get two batteries in your box I only got one and I paid the same amount as you for I wouldn’t go back to a gas mower for anyting I love it I also have the weed eater in the hedge clippers they’re both good to thank you for listening Cyndi
Mike Ver Duin April 20, 2020 Cynthia, this review is 5 years old. Back then the mower came with 2 smaller capacity batteries. About a year or two later they changed to 1 battery that was a larger capacity. Also, the mower is still working great for me and we’ll probably use it tonight for its first run this spring.
Bruce Foster March 2, 2016 I want to buy a 20″electric mower. Ryobi fits the bill. However on the Ryobi website it is stated that What’s in the Box: Mower 2 (Two) 40-volt Lithium-ion Batteries 40-volt Charger Bag for grass clippings Mulching Plug Fuse Key Owner’s manual However Home Depot will sell the mower at list of 300.00 with only one battery. Is there another place to purchase this mower or to get Home Depot to sell it as listed on your website? Thanks for your help. Reply
jim March 2, 2016 Do not buy this POS, I had tried two of them and they are junk. Yes at first I loved it. But in short order if I got caught in the smallest amount of rain it would short out. The second one I had would turn on with hands off. It would run without me touching it. Its total junk. When it worked it was a great thing, light ect. But It just would not hold up. I see them for sale at many garage sales and flea markets. That tells you something. Reply
Dana May 6, 2016 So now you go around smearing this as a “POS”? I have had mine for a couple years, live in Florida as well, and yes, have gotten caught several times in the rain, soaked me (as well as the mower) and have not had any issues like you have had (Starts right back up, even when still wet). It is unfortunate that your experience has been drastically different, but to label it as a POS is uncalled for.
Jim May 9, 2016 I doubt your post very much. I called Roybi and was told in no uncertain terms to never get it wet. My mower once turned on would not shut off. It was a very dangerous POS. I would be your a tofu licking idiot who would spin anything you perceived in your small brain as eco friendly. 40 percent rated it on Amazon 2 stars or lower. HD pulled them off the shelf and so far I have not seen them for sale. When I do see them for sale at flea markets no one wants the POS. So keep licking tofu and thinking your saving the planet but don’t sell us your crap.
Reynir September 3, 2016 I have to agree with Dana. I have this mower and live in Ft. Lauderdale in Florida. I have used this mower over a year and have had absolutely zero issues with it. I also have the Edger/Trimmer and Blower so used all three every week on my lawn. This is a phenomenal lawn mower in every way. If mine died tomorrow, I would literally buy another one the same day again.
Chris May 18, 2017 This really is a POS, i can mowfor about 25-30 min before it is dead then 4-5 hours of charging to get back to full, it stalls constantly when turning. I hate it will try to return before 90 days are up
Smart one July 29, 2017 why are you bashing this? it clearly states don’t use it in wet rainy conditions and you did. look in the mirror. you are the one to blame. those of us that are intelligent enough to follow the instructions have no issues. obviously you are not smarter than the lawnmower.
shannon August 27, 2017 We totally love ours. Had it for just over a year without any problems. IDK if perhaps yours had an internal issue? But definetley not a pos! We know how much our neighbors pay for their gardeners (we all have the same size lawns), and I would say in 4 months time we already started to see a significant savings by doing it ourselves. So far we are happy with our choice :))
Eric June 21, 2018 I’ve had mine for a little over a year now and no problems to report. The one time it got wet I shut it down and left it powered down till it was dry again. Go figure electronics short out when you get em wet and run em. I bet you are the same type of dope that complains when your TV shuts down cause you showered with it. Sorry you had problems with yours, but mine still works great. And Home Depots up here in KY still stock em and sell em. If fact I could not find one used when I started looking for them. It sounds to me like yours breaking down was a result of poor judgement and impatience not a faulty product. Good luck with your gas mowers. I’d bet you’ve got stories about some of them too.
DonV June 21, 2018 I’ve had mine for about a year now with no problems. Course I never use it in the rain, and I prefer not to mow wet grass.
Shawn June 19, 2019 Maybe you should check the weather report before mowing with an ELECTRIC mower. Duh.
Mike Ver Duin March 2, 2016 The Home Depot website states that the one battery is a 5.0 amp hour, while the two that came with ours for testing were 94 watt hours. The conversion is Wh = Ah x Voltage or 94 = 2.35 x 40). So the one battery is more powerful that the two we have combined. Ours is still running great! Used it all year and we keep it in a shed and out of the rain, thought about getting it out last weekend until it snowed again. Reply
DonV August 3, 2017 My only problem (severe annoyance) with the RY40180 mower that I’ve had for four days is that it frequently stops running. Easy enough to restart, but why does it quit so much? Reply
Jim Young August 3, 2017 Don, I had two. The first one got rained on just for about 3 min before I could get it in the garage and it would not start back up after drying. The second one would start up with the safety lever not being held down and would run without it being touched. Its junk.
DonV August 3, 2017 OK, thanks. That makes your “junk” evaluation much more than empty vitriol. I appreciate the info.
Margery August 3, 2017 It stops cause the handle is a bit loose. Tighten it after every couple of uses. Yes, annoying.
Donald Vicarel March 28, 2018 Margery– I should have gotten back to you last year (sorry). You were right! Once I secured the handle, the machine stopped quitting. Thanks. –DonV
Patrick March 22, 2020 I agree. As soon as I mow on a hillside no mower shuts off. I cannot now horizontally on a hill. I have to go up and down the slightest hill or the mower shuts off.
Greg April 23, 2016 The electric-powered everything industry needs to come together and compete with gas. They’ve got some advantages, but due to all their parts being incompatible, and the fact that they use irrelevant ir useless specs, they all pretty much suck. Too many battery types; no compatibility, even for chargers. Fuel tanks get smaller over time, and they are the most expensive component on an electric. Mowers have their own special deception. Gas power lists cut width; electric–deck size in inches. I bought a 21 inch electric. Should have been equal to most gas mowers, but blade was 19 3/8. They all exaggerate. Corded list amps, but its usually way overrated. My 13 amp drew no more than 9. Battery power is worse. They list volts, as if that’s a measure of power, but it’s not. They should all be listed in watts, which is power output, and use industry standards, but they’d first have to have standards. They don’t compete. They just throw over priced junk out and hope we buy it. Reply
Molly June 16, 2016 Mike, our brand new Ryobi mower just arrived and we tried it on our postage stamp yard as soon as the chargers showed the batteries were ready (they were very nearly charged fully upon arrival). However, after about 10-15 minutes the mower shut off. One battery felt quite hot so we used an older one we owned, and it, too, got hot and the mower shut itself off so I don’ think the batteries are the cause. Do you think the mower is overheating the batteries – or can I not mow on a hot 95 degree day? (Coast of Texas is often that hot so it’s an issue.) What do you think? Reply
Mike Ver Duin June 27, 2016 I’d call Ryobi or where ever you bought it from. That doesn’t sound normal to me based on my usage. I’m in my second year now of using it and I get between 30-45 minutes per battery usually. Reply
Molly June 27, 2016 Mike, thanks for your response. We started to do exactly that but ultimately decided to order the 16″ 40-volt Ryobi mower instead. Mainly because it was hard to get the One mower and it seems to us they might be discontinuing them. We returned that One mower and the batteries, and rec’d our new 40-volt 16″ mower Friday. I cut the pretty high grass on Sat and the mower worked flawlessly. The 40-volt is more powerful than the One, that was evident on start-up, and cut the grass and chewed a couple of sticks with no issues whatsoever. It is light and easy to use. It came with 2 batteries but we did not drain the first one cutting our yard, so that was a bonus. The price was 329 and my husband wasn’t too keen on paying a “gas mower” price for the electric one, but I have no issue with it – I wasn’t trying to get a cheaper mower, I wanted on that I could start without help, and that I could easily handle. I got what I wanted and had no problems cutting my yard – so I am very very pleased with the 16″ 40 volt Ryobi mower. Thank you again for your helpful posts!
Molly June 21, 2018 UPDATE here it is June 2018 two years after we bought our re-OB 40 V electric mower. I still use it once a week and it works great. I must admit it went through a time where it would start with out the double system, in other words I didn’t have to hold the handle to start it, I just push the button. It was unnerving but never otherwise caused any problems. After a few months, it went back to the normal start method which it’s been doing ever cents so it was kind of a non-problem. Again still working great. Reply
Jim Young June 21, 2018 There were serious issues with the electric mowers from 4 years ago. Now there are many on the market. I would not buy used POS mowers. Look up the reviews and buy the ones with the best over all reviews. Just because one or two people have had luck with one does not mean you will also. These were very temperamental new tech.
John Manahan June 27, 2016 I have used a Ryobi electric mower for 2 years. However, it was only the 16″ model, which was all that was available at the time. Here is my experience. For the first year, the batteries lasted right at 45 minutes. Over the course of two years, they have diminished some. I get about 35 minutes now. But they recharge so quickly, that I rotate through them, and they are charged again. I should say that I have the whole suite of Ryobi outdoor 40v tools, so I have 3 batteries and 2 chargers. I have a quarter acre lot, so it takes me about 3 battery charges to mow the entire thing. If I need to trim or use my leaf blower, that will take a fourth battery. I never mow in the rain, so I don’t know how well it stands up to that. But I do mow in 95 degree weather, so that shouldn’t be an issue. The batteries do get pretty hot, so I think that’s standard. If I mow a battery until empty, recharge it and mow again, it will not recharge until it cools down. It gets really hot after a second charge down. Also, I definitely prefer the larger battery, whatever size that is. It lasts longer, but does take longer to recharge. I would sum up my experience as great overall. I have loved having an electric mower. There are disadvantages compared to gas. I have forgotten to charge a battery from mowing the week before, so I’ve had to delay when I mow until later in the day. You can’t just go borrow one from a neighbor. Because the size is smaller, it takes me longer to mow the yard. On really tall and thick grass, it does stop more often than my gas one did, but not an overwhelming amount. But, the things I love about it outweigh the disadvantages. I love not having a gas smell in my face. The maintenance is almost zero. The thing is really lightweight, so it’s much easier to mow up my hill than my gas one was. It’s quieter, so I don’t need ear plugs, and can hear my wife when she calls for me. (Although that may be a disadvantage for some people. lol) Think of a vacuum turned on outside. After owning this Ryobi, whenever it dies, I will definitely get another one. But it will be the 20″ next time. Reply
Mike Ver Duin June 27, 2016 I’m in my second year now with it and I still love it. I expect many more years out of this machine and then I’ll get another one. Not smelling like gas, not having a hot engine, not being loud? These are my favorite things about this mower. Reply
Heidi Peterson August 26, 2016 You may like your mower now, but Ryobi has huge problems with their battery charging unit. Many complaints through the Better Business Bureau. I also sent one to the Consumer Protection Agency. Once your batteries die (and they will shortly), you’re on your own. Despite the fact that their charging unit is what is causing the batteries to die prematurely, Ryobi will not honor their warranties for this issue. This electric lawnmower is the last Ryobi product we will ever buy. Reply
Mike Ver Duin September 6, 2016 This is the ‘end’ of the second summer that I’ve used mine. I’ve not had a problem. That isn’t to say others haven’t, but mine works as expected. Reply
kathy September 3, 2016 Bought a 20″ mower used. The battery says it’s fully charged, the light comes on when I try to start it but the engine won’t start. Any ideas what’s wrong with it? Reply
Mike Ver Duin September 6, 2016 Mine has a key/circuit breaker, did you reset it? it’s in the battery compartment. That’s all I can think of. Reply
Conly July 8, 2017 Just bought this from Home Depot a month ago. I mowed my tiny yard twice. Now it wont start. The key does not have a circuit breaker on it. The LED headlights turn on, but the motor will not run. Even bought a new battery. Nothing. Any ideas? Is there a fuse or circuit breaker somewhere that I’m not looking, because I’ve seen posts on other sites saying the key has a “reset” button on it. Mine does not.
Mike Ver Duin July 11, 2017 Conly, this review is for the 2015 model. I’m not 100% sure about the 2017 model. It looks to have the same red ‘fuse’ key that came with mine. There is a ‘bubble’ on top of the key. it feels like there is a reset switch in there, but being a fuse, it might not. Does the head light work when the fuse key is pulled out? If not, then I doubt that is the problem.
DonV July 10, 2018 Conly–If you have trouble starting, make sure your handle is pulled out ALL THE WAY and locked in place with the white brackets that are in the middle of the handle. That’s the problem I had with my machine when I first got it. Once I secured the handle it worked (and continues to work) just fine.
Roz September 5, 2016 Today was my first day with our brand new Riyobi. (My husband has used it once already.) I was surprised to read your glowing review, because my experience with our postage stamp size lawn wasn’t as enjoyable. It seems that if the grass is even slightly wet (we water at 6am and I was mowing at 1pm on a very hot, sunny day, no humidity), or you’re trying to cut more than an inch off, it won’t go more than a few feet without getting choked up with clippings and stalling out. I definitely haven’t heard it “rev up” to get through tougher areas, so I’m not sure what you were referring to. (Is there a special button for that?) Plus, I still have to rake up after it, even being vigilant emptying the bag, because it seems to have no ability to contain the clippings. I’m not so much angry as I am confused. We’ve had a great experience with our Riyobi edger and smaller appliances. Am I doing something wrong? Batteries were fully charged. Reply
Jim September 6, 2016 I am with you on the frustration. Our experience was that it had potential but it was so fragile that it could not be around water at all. I think its possible to build a good electric mower and it may be something I would be interested in. But this POS is not the one. I live in Florida and it rained just a bit on the mower as it does in Fla and I could not get it inside fast enough. The mower would come on and not go off when the safety bar was released. Took it back to HD and bought a Honda. I only use 100% gas and it works like a charm. Until they get the electric perfected stay away from them. Reply
Jim T September 17, 2016 Hey Jim, I think you should post your story about mowing in the rain several more times, since three times just isn’t enough. Your 100% gas, 100% polluting approach is antithetical to what this mower is all about
Mike Ver Duin September 6, 2016 I mowed my lawn this weekend with it, it performed great. Mine is a 2015 model with the two batteries. I can’t speak for the newer model with the 1 battery. I’ve bagged with it, and not had a problem. I’ve mulched with it (as I did this weekend) and not had any issue. We don’t water our lawn all the time, and I know it was dry this weekend when I mowed it. I do highlight that if you have a THICK lawn, battery time is reduced. Rich’s lawn is watered and fertilized, we didn’t make it through the entire lawn with the two batteries. There is no special button to make it ‘rev up’. It senses the blade slowing down and adds more power. I can definitely hear it. Part of what I mow weekly is an area of weeds in a parking lot, They grow much more than an inch per week, I can’t cut a full mower width when going through those at a normal walking pace, I have to take about a half mower width, but I had to do that with my old (10 years) gas mower too. I’m sure there are mowers that wouldn’t slow down. I guess I wonder what ‘a few feet’ is. On Rich’s lawn we could go I’d say 120 feet (down and back on a 60′ lot) and empty it. I can’t remember exactly, but I believe they were full mower width cuts, and his lawn was lush. On my lawn (which isn’t as lush) I could go much further before emptying the bag each time. Again though, mine is a 2015 model. It’s still one of the favorite things I’ve reviewed. I still use almost everything I’ve reviewed on busted wallet, it’s not just stuff I review then forget about. I’m sorry you are having trouble with the one you purchased, you might have to talk with Ryobi or Home Depot about it. Reply
Molly September 6, 2016 I have now had my Ryobi 40V elec mower for just over 2 months. I have not had the problems you describe, Roz. I have mowed mostly dry grass. Twice I’ve mowed the day after rain, so I would describe the grass as slightly wet at the bottom. It does make for a more “thick” feel when mowing, and filled the bag more quickly made it heavier to empty, but is has never left clippings behind or clogged with clippings. I have only mulched once, incorrectly as it turns out because I forgot to put that discharge plug thing back in. The grass wasn’t too long and it was dry that day. It worked fine despite not using the discharge-plug-thing and the clippings on the lawn weren’t really noticeable. I can’t imagine why yours isn’t picking up the clippings. Re the lawn height for me – I mow once a week, and have gone only about 9 days at longest due to rain delays. I left the mower height at highest setting for the first month, and have lowered it to the second highest setting for the last month or so. Seem’s like I’m cutting the grass by about 1.5 to 2 inches each week (grows fast here on the Gulf coast). Mine has never stalled out. Perhaps you got a lemon? As my earlier post showed, our brand new 16volt only stayed on for seconds, so we just returned it as defective. Then ordered the 40volt. It’s worked fine so far, but other posts have made me aware that I might have future problems. Right now, I am very happy with it. Reply
peter harding September 19, 2016 I have one of these lawn mowers but the battery charger will not charge the batteries have anybody got an email or address of the repair vaciltoreys Reply
Lee M November 2, 2016 I own the 40V 20inch mower, weed eater and snow blower. So I have 4 batteries and 3 chargers. Service is an issue. Ryobi is on their 3rd service center in the Kansas City area and they only ever had one listed. Really, one service center in a metro area over 1M people? Whatever. My mower has worked well and I hose it off … 30 days ago one of the batteries indicated defective. I took it in to the service center and they said 7-10 days normally. I now learn it will be 45 days. I e-mailed Ryobi and they said it was a issue with their “Master Parts Distributor”. Once I tracked down the part # 130186045, this is what Ryobi said: “November 02, 2016 08:41 Item #130186045, is on a back log delay due to manufacturing schedule factors. Orders are being filled in the order they are received by the master parts distributor, as inventory is received by them. If the service center you are using has ordered a replacement #130186045 for you, their order will be filled as soon as possible.” So I would say Ryobi is having problems with the batteries if it takes them 45 days to replace one…… Reply
jim March 7, 2017 I am not sure. I have not looked but when I returned my electric they said they had discontinued because of problems. Maybe they fixed the crap design. Reply
Mike Ver Duin March 7, 2017 Home Depot sells Ryobi. The mower we reviewed has been replaced with a newer model. See the update at the bottom of our review. They still sell several battery powered mowers, including a new electric riding mower. https://www.ryobitools.com/outdoor/products/list/category/mowers Reply
Molly March 9, 2017 My opinion of these Ryobi mowers has changed for the worse, I’m afraid. Our purchase at the end of June of the “newer” 40 volt over our returned 18volt worked great until last month. Now the safety feature has gone away – when you put in the red plastic key the blades start spinning. Yep – while you are crouched down right next to the blades, they just up and start full blast. It still cuts great, but the handle no longer starts and stops the mower – only the red “key” can turn it on or off. Back to the drawing board…
Pete Sommers March 27, 2017 Thanks to this site, I am going to buy this mower at Home Depot. I don’t mind the single battery offering because I have a blower (which I love) with the same battery. And I may even buy a string trimmer to boot, which also uses the same battery. PLUS, this mower is in stock at Home Depot, which means I can use my Veteran Discount (10%). That will pay the tax and then some. Reply
Ronny April 9, 2017 We just got one. Love it, but the mulch plug sucks. Hard to handle while not providing a perfect seal. I really wish they had two models, a bagger or a mulcher. Please replace my model with the latter when available, Ryobi! Reply
Bob Polk April 17, 2017 I purchased the 20″ 40 volt model RY40180 two weeks ago. The 3 times I’ve mowed my small yard, the motor stops with no apparent reason (level ground, short dry grass, fully charged battery). It starts without delay when the start button is pushed and safety lever is pulled. Has anyone else had this problem? Reply
jim April 18, 2017 I had two of them, the last one would start and not go off when the safety was released. It was junk. If they can get it fixed so its dependable and is not so unstable I may look at it again. But for now I would take it back and stay away from them. Reply
Mike Ver Duin April 18, 2017 I’d call Ryobi or where ever you bought it from. That doesn’t sound normal to me based on my usage. You should be able to get an exchange or repair. My guess is the safety switch on the lever is the issue, or some other electrical fault, but don’t try and fix it yourself, as it should still be under warranty. This is the start of my THIRD year with this mower and I’ve had no problems with it at all. Reply
Pete Sommers April 18, 2017 This happened to me a couple of times, and I realized I was letting up on the bar just enough to interrupt the power. I put a Velcro strap on the handle to hold the bar in place. No more stops. Reply
Margery June 8, 2017 I have the same issue. Tried it on the highest setting but it made no difference. Other than this problem, I’m happy with the mower. Reply
Bill May 27, 2018 I have the same problem, I think it is a design flaw. I tested mine by turning it on in the driveway and it will time out at exactly 1 minute and it shuts down. If I let my lawn grow tall the mower works great so if you do not have a plush lawn this mower is not for you. But if you need some exercise you must run quick over the sparse areas before your 1 minute window is up before it shuts down and you have to restart it. I called Ryobi and talked to four people over a half hour and of course they have never heard of this problem before. But test it yourself start it up over the driveway with no load and it will shut down in 1 minute guaranteed. They design way to much redundancy into this product. Reply
Patrick March 22, 2020 Mine seems to stop at soon as I go onto the slightest uneven ground or hill. Reply
Seileng May 16, 2017 Ryobi 20 lawn mower is really nice. And I also like a model GreenWorks 25142 that has a lot of good features as Ryobi 20 too. Mike Ver Duin, what do you think about GreenWorks 25142 vs Ryobi 20, which one is the best? Reply
Mike Ver Duin May 16, 2017 Quickly googling, he GreenWorks 25142 is a 10 amp, 16″ corded mower. From my experience, your limitations with it would be the cord, and the 16″ cutting width. The Ryobi 20″ replaced a gas mower for me. I’m now entering my 3rd summer of use with it, and I wouldn’t want something smaller. There’s a cost savings to be sure with the GreenWorks 25142, it’s just over the cost of a battery for the Ryobi, but again, you’ve got the cord possibly in your way (depending on how you mow and where your outdoor outlets are). The 10amp power would certainly be nice, but the Ryobi hasn’t found weeds it couldn’t cut through yet. For a lawn of my size? I’d stick with the Ryobi, or it’s current replacement. Reply
Jim T May 19, 2017 So far my Ryobi mower has been mostly great. I have a pretty small yard and can do the whole thing with one charge. The only problem I had was today, when it suddenly stopped working. After fiddling around I discovered that the bolt connecting the right side of the handle had come loose and fallen out. That’s on the same side as the little red safety switch that keeps the mower from turning on when the handle isn’t folded up. Because the handle was loose, it wasn’t holding the switch down, which cut the power. Once I found the bolt and screwed it back in tight, the mower ran fine again. The design is pretty slick — it’s easy to fold up, and I like the way it sits upright on the metal handle legs so it takes up minimal space in my garage. I don’t like the way you have to push the height setting knob back down to the lowest setting before you can fold the handle back down, but no complaints other than that. I hear the automatic “speed up to cut taller grass” action, and I’ve never had it bog down even on wet grass. (Which is common here in the Pacific Northwest.) Those of you who have problems with it stalling or running out of power may have lemon batteries. (I’ve got a lot of Ryobi 18V One Plus tools, and the batteries are definitely the weak link.) Home Depot is pretty good about exchanging them if you don’t wait too long. Reply
Kiri May 25, 2017 I live in Canada and trying to find a replacement mower blade for this 40v lithium brushless mower has been an all day project seeing that Home Depot Canada sells the mowers but apparently doesn’t stock the replacement wearable items like the mower blades. BIG loss of time and much disappointment that I have to apparently buy and ship from the USA to maintain a product purchased in Canada…. be fairly warned! Reply
Cliff September 16, 2017 Jim – Thanks for the tip. My RYOBI model 40109 would stop as soon as it hit the (dry) grass, regardless of the height setting. Based on your tip, I took a look at the handles. The bolts were there and tight, but I noticed a red button underneath the right handle. It appeared that the handle was pressing the red button as designed, but I decided it might need a reset. So, I undid the fasteners and folded the handle down, as if for storage. Then re-extended the handle and put it back into an operational position and re-locked it in place. Viola! Now it works. Somehow, the button (or the circuit behind it) got confused. A simple mechanical “handle reset” solved the problem. Reply
Ann Rice June 30, 2017 bought a Ryobi 20″ 40-volt brushless mower at Home Depot May 2017. Two weeks later it was headed to the service center as the battery was stuck in the mower. The service center found the plastic had deformed when the battery overheated. The parts distributor said parts were back-ordered. A 2nd call by the service center to the parts distributor found no new information. An e-mail to Ryobi was answered with Sorry, We Cannot Help You. A several hour effort by the service center finally got the parts distributor to admit that parts would not be available before the end of August. No more Ryobi products for me, due to their poor customer service, but gold stars to Sharon at Tipp-Troy Lawn Service for getting any information she could!! Reply
Eric V July 5, 2017 My experience with the latest incarnation of this mower has definitely been a mixed bag. The push-button start (instead of a starter cord) is great for my bad knees, and not having to worry about gas, oil and air filters is a definite plus. However, this thing has a great deal of trouble with long grass. Since my last lawnmower broke down, it’s been a while since I mowed and my grass is rather long. Since I work an afternoon shift, I have to mow in the morning so the grass is also a little damp. Under these conditions the 5ah battery only lasts 10 – 15 minutes. That’s only enough to cover a tiny portion of my 19000 sq ft lot. After the battery hits the 50% mark, the mower starts cutting out pretty frequently. If I hear it start to choke, I can usually tilt it up and the blades will start spinning again. Sometimes, though, it won’t restart even after holding the bail and hitting the ignition button. This could be due to overheating, but the battery just feels a little warm, not really hot. I’ll have to either get another battery to use while the first cools off, or exchange the Ryobi for the more powerful 60v Greenworks Pro. It would also be nice if this had a side discharge option, which would probably handle long grass better. (Yes, I should’ve done my research.) Reply
10Techy August 24, 2017 I’m agreed with you Mike Ver Duin. Ryobi 20″ 40-Volt lawn mower is a great machine to buy for our back yard job. I bought it since last month and I’m happy to use it very much. recommend for everyone too. Reply
John Menendez March 28, 2018 I’m agreed with you. Ryobi 20″ 40-Volt lawn mower is a great machine to buy for our back yard job. Thanks for the article. Reply
Nick May 24, 2018 I took a quick look through the review and Комментарии и мнения владельцев and have a question I don’t see covered. How is the durability of the mower in general? I have a quarter acre lot with a two year old lawn that is still filling in, so mowing can be a bit “bumpy”. How will the Ryobi (any version) hold up under those conditions? Reply
Jim June 21, 2018 I’ve had mine for about two years, and it’s still in good shape and works great. The only problem I’ve had –and this could show up if you have a bumpy lawn– is the bolt holding the handle to the mower came loose on the side with the sensor switch, so the mower wouldn’t turn on. A few other people have run into this also, but simply tightening up the bolt fixes the problem. Reply
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Letti June 13, 2018 I just bout ny 40V Ryobi – it looks nice, sounds quiet enough, all battery charged, moved well, and ready to go- WHAT!? DIDN’t cut the grass?? Why? I’ve chk everything. Plz help! Reply
DonV June 21, 2018 Letti– Perhaps the non-cutting is an issue with the blade height. Just a thought. Reply
Vikki June 25, 2018 Bought mine a year ago. Well within the first month I had to replace the battery. But the mower worked great the first summer. Fast forward to the second summer. Started out ok. Started having stalling issues. Now the thing just won’t stay running. It starts fine but as soon as I lower it to push it immediately stalls. I have adjusted the height, cleaned it out, sharpened the blade and even went out and bought a second battery. This thing is a piece of #@! I am done with electric. Going back to gas! Reply
Philip Bruner July 4, 2018 The 20in. mower works great, BUT. the battery only lasted 13 months. I had to buy a new battery at 150. Kind of expensive upkeep… I wouldn’t get another one. Reply
Mike Ver Duin July 10, 2018 The current warranty is the same as when I tested the mower, the battery (or batteries depending on the model) are covered for 3 years from purchase date for residential use for the original purchaser. The current policy for 2018 is on page 17 of this pdf: https://manuals.ttigroupna.com/system/files/9351/original/RY40108_107993003_664_trilingual_04.pdf?2018 I’m still mowing my lawn with this mower and the original two batteries. Reply
Blanco, Ok Maintenance Lawn Best July 9, 2018 […] Ryobi 20 40-Volt Lawn Mower – Mower Review | Busted Wallet – Recently Busted Wallet was given the chance to test and review the Ryobi 20 40-Volt Lawn Mower and we hoped for the power of a gas mower with the quietness and cleanliness of my reel mower. […] Reply
Peter September 20, 2018 Unquestionably the worst purchase I have ever made. When my gas mower finally died, my wife wanted me to go electric just so that we wouldn’t have to store gas. What used to take me 15 minutes (front yard) now takes closer to 30 and requires a battery change. My back yard, which 68′ x 48′ takes 90 minutes and 4 battery charges. Almost 3 times as long as it used to. Reply
Robotance May 22, 2019 Hi Mike, very useful review. Thanks for sharing this! May I know the current price of thie Volt Lawn Mower? Reply
Donald Morrison July 6, 2019 I purchased a 20 inch, 40 volt 2 amp Ryobi mower just over two years ago. My lawn is about one half acre. The mower has operated flawless since the day I received it, However, The maintenance Manual states that the wheels are life time lubricated. After being stored inside for the winter I found the wheels frozen and would not turn. After working each wheel back and forth for a while they seem fine. Noe after several mowing I find that the mower is hard to push. The wheels do not seem to have any bearings and they squeak when they roll. I have purchased the 40 Volt 4 Amp battery which only last about 10 minuets longer than the 2 Amp battery. Other than the wheel problem I have not had any problem with this mower. I am 86 years old and use the mower for exercise while mowing my lawn. Reply
Justin September 7, 2019 The blades of the cylinder mower cut the grass in a scissor-like fashion, creating a clean and tidy cut. As such, those who use the cylinder mower often notice a neater-looking lawn. One disadvantage to the cylinder petrol mower is that in order to keep the lawn looking uniform, the user must cut the lawn in the same way every time. Reply
Mike Ver Duin September 10, 2019 Justin, this is not a cylinder (also called a reel) mower. It is a Rotary mower. Reply
Thetechyboss October 7, 2019 Very nice post, I agreed with you that this lawn mower machine did great job and easy to handle it. RYOBI 20 great lawnmower and easy to use. I am a lawn lover and try my best to keep it clean and beautiful and this lawnmower machine plays great role to feed my all necessary related to lawn cleaning purposes. Reply
Travis February 22, 2020 Automatic lawnmowers can roam around your yard trimming your lawn while you are doing something much more exciting, it could be doing it while you are sleeping if you so wished! You can programme your mower to mow on specific days and at specific times so you never need to worry about remembering to switch it on. Reply
Lawrence May 2, 2020 My husband and I are going to buy a riding lawn mower for our 1.25 acre property, and we are trying to decide between a steering wheel and the two-lever system. Reply
The 10 Best Electric Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Sage McHugh has written for Dotdash Meredith since 2019. With over a decade of experience in consumer-oriented content, Sage has a passion for products and how they enhance our everyday lives.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Shereen Jegtvig is an author, fact-checker, and expert with over two decades of experience in health and wellness in the lifestyle space. In addition, she is a Developmental Editor for Dotdash Meredith where she reviews the work of other fact checkers.
Electric lawn mowers have many advantages over gas-powered models. For example, electric models don’t release exhaust fumes and can be significantly quieter and easier to operate, resulting in a much more pleasant mowing experience all around. “Electric lawn mowers come with many features to help owners stay safe, comfortable, and productive,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
We researched many different types of electric lawn mowers and tested several in our own backyards across the country. We then evaluated products based on their setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value and selected our favorites in a range of categories for this list. During our first run with the mower, we timed the assembly process and made careful notes about how clear and simple the included directions were. Following this, we utilized the mowers on three separate occasions, taking note of the grass length cut, the total area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to complete the task.
In our latest round of testing, we put six riding lawn mowers through their paces in our personal yards and selected the best electric ones based on its power, maneuverability, and noise level.
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- Powerful and easy to use
- Lightweight and foldable for vertical storage
- 60-minute runtime and recharging
- Relatively affordable
After testing other electric mowers across the country, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is our best overall pick because it is very easy to use, lightweight and compact, and offers additional power when you need it, all at a relatively affordable price. Self-propelled mowers make mowing—especially over hills and rugged terrain—much easier because the mower moves for you at your pace, while you simply guide it around your yard. This option is no exception. While we tested this mower, we almost found it too powerful at first, especially because it was our first time using a self-propelled mower. But once we got the hang of it, we turned it off and on easily, and adjusted the speeds when needed by using the levers on the handle. We found the self-propulsion helpful for going up small hills (the lowest speed was all we needed) and turned it off when navigating around obstacles.
We also appreciated the battery life and fast recharging this mower offers. Although it comes with just one EGO 56V ARC Lithium battery, it has a 60-minute runtime and only takes about the same time to recharge using the included Rapid charger. And while it only took 50 minutes to mow our lawn, we are happy to report that the battery did not run out. If you have other EGO products at home with the same battery, you could always swap in that battery if you have a larger lawn and want to continue mowing without much of a break.
Other user-friendly features we love include the easily-adjustable handle: You have two options for the height and three options for the angle, so you can pick the one that is most comfortable for you. We also found adjusting the cutting height to be a simple task, with six settings to choose from ranging in height from 1.5 to 4 inches. And when you are done, the handle is just as easy to fold, so you can store your mower vertically in your garage or shed. We do want to note that while we think this mower did a great job mowing in dry and damp conditions, once when mowing over a particularly wet area, an orange light came on and the mower stopped. However, once we moved the mower to a more drier area, we were able to start it again easily. The only other minor issue we reported is putting on the grass collection bag. We found it would be much easier with two people since it clips on tightly and it’s a bit hard to get around the support bar (it popped off a few times during this process). But other than those small issues, we think this is an excellent electric mower for navigating different types of terrain with ease.
How It Performed Long-Term
We’ve been testing this lawn mower for three months and are impressed with its long-lasting battery life. With the ability to mow the lawn three times before requiring a recharge, which only takes around 20 minutes, it is a reliable and efficient machine. This mower can effortlessly handle thick, tall grass and can even manage up to 10 days of uncut grass without any issues. While we initially experienced some issues with the mower stopping and a light running orange while mowing grass, we have since been able to handle damp grass with ease. Overall, this mower is ideal for individuals who may not have the hand or upper body strength to adjust tires or use a pull cord.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 62.61 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower
- Affordable, powerful, and compact
- Unlimited run time
- Seven cutting positions
- Bag, mulch, and side-discharge settings
We’ve tested the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower several times over the last few years, and it continues to stand out as the best affordable choice for small yards and tight spaces, even those with somewhat challenging terrain. In fact, while testing this mower in our latest round of testing, we had no issues navigating over divots, clumps, bumps, and other parts of our lawn that were uneven—we found that this mower powered right through them. Plus, the 12-amp motor is powerful enough for tough cutting and mulching, including the tall, spindly weeds in our yard. We didn’t report any issues mowing over slightly wet grass either.
The 20-inch cutting deck is narrower than some other options, but we found that it helped us get through the tight areas of our yard easily. Adjusting the cutting height (seven different heights ranging from 1.5 to 3.75 inches) is simple as well, and really is the only setting you need to worry about. However, we did note that the mower didn’t go quite low enough to cut some patches of clover. Although it’s budget-friendly, we love that you have three options for your grass clippings—bag, mulch, or side discharge—and you don’t have to purchase any of these features separately (which would add to the cost). The grass collection bag was easy to clip on, although we did spill some grass clippings the first time we removed it and noted that the bag was not even full. However, we think this won’t be an issue once we get the hang of it.
Although this electric model is corded, we appreciated the unlimited runtime and didn’t find the cord to be cumbersome. We did find ourselves holding on to the cord even though there was a cord restraint system that kept it in place, but we were able to mow the lawn easily with our other hand. It’s important to note that this mower must be used with a 14-gauge 50-foot extension cord or a 12-gauge 100-foot extension cord (not included). Overall, we found this to be a really easy lawn mower to set up (just a few screws are needed for the handle), use, and store (just fold the handle), and it continues to impress us with its performance and price.
Price at time of publish: 230
Cutting Width: 20 inches | Weight: 56 pounds | Power Source: Corded | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower
- Powerful performance
- 70-minute runtime
- Fast, 60-minute charging
- Lightweight and folds for storage
Although it is a little more of a splurge compared to other options we tested, The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower stands out for its powerful performance (comparable to some gas models), and long, 70-minute runtime. We tested this mower on the first grass of the season and were quickly impressed by its ease of use and quiet performance (we thought it almost sounded like white noise), especially compared to gas models we’ve used in the past. Thanks to the self-propelled technology, it was a breeze to mow over uneven terrain, even over hills, with little effort on our part. It did take a little bit of time to select the right cutting height for our uneven lawn (the blade did get stuck a few times), but once we adjusted the height, we were impressed by the cutting performance. Luckily this mower offers seven adjustable cutting heights (1.5 to 4 inches), so you can easily pick the one you need. We also want to mention that like our best overall mower, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower, the self-propelled feature does take some time to get used to, and you may feel like the mower will run away on you at first until you figure out which setting you need for each part of your yard.
This model comes with two 40-volt batteries and a Rapid charger. Since only one battery is needed at a time, you will always have one ready to go should you need it. Our lawn took only 45 minutes to an hour each time to mow, and we never had to stop and recharge it to finish the job. However, we did have to stop the first time we mowed to empty the grass collection bag, which we found to be surprisingly small. It filled up after mowing about 25-30 feet of tall grass. The next two times weren’t as much of an issue because the grass wasn’t as overgrown. It was very simple to remove the full bag, but we found that it spilled easily and a few blades even spilled when the mower was in use (whether or not it was filled.) These few issues aside, we appreciated the bag, mulching, and side-discharge options for the grass clippings overall, although it is worth noting that it did not break up older leaves very well.
Like most of the mowers on this list, the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is easy to fold and store vertically to save space. We were equally impressed with all of the safety features. Although it has a simple, push-button start, the mower has a key that you can store separately so no one can accidentally start the mower. When ready to use, the key has to be inserted behind a flap. Plus, the mower only works while you are gripping a lever. The LED headlights provide extra light that might be helpful when mowing around dusk or dawn. Although this mower is a bit more pricey than our best overall (which is also a battery-powered self-propel model), we think it’s worth the extra cost for the power, long runtime, and extra battery.
How It Performed Long-Term
After three months of use, we can report that this lawn mower has continued to impress us with its ease of use and quiet operation. The self-propelled feature makes navigating hills and uneven terrain a breeze, and we were able to get up to 4 uses out of a single charge. The mower excels at cutting grass and collecting clippings, and while it may struggle with heavier weeds, we had no issues with damp grass. It’s worth noting that the grass bag became heavy with clippings, but overall, we are confident in recommending this lawn mower to anyone in need of a reliable and efficient cutting tool.
Price at time of publish: 799
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 75 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Relatively quiet
- Folds for compact storage
While testing, we found that the Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower was as easy to use as a corded vacuum. At under 30 pounds, this mower is very easy to push, even though it’s not a self-propelled model. It is corded, so you will most likely have to use an extension cord. However, you won’t have to worry about the battery running out, stopping to recharge a battery, or fumes from a gas model. We were also impressed by how quiet this mower was, especially compared to gas mowers we’ve used in the past. This mower was simple to set up—we just had to attach the bag and two parts for the handle.
Thanks to the 14-inch cutting deck, we found this to be a great push mower for navigating around tight corners and spaces. However, we do want to point out a few issues we came across while testing. We found that the grass collection bag filled up pretty quickly (after mowing about 20-30 feet). And when we mowed without the bag, we did notice that the grass would get stuck underneath the blades. As a great safety feature, the mower would immediately shut off. The grass was easy to remove though, and we were able to get back to mowing quickly. Also, it’s worth noting that this mower only has three settings for the cutting height, ranging from 1.12 to 2.52 inches. While you won’t get as a precise cut as other models, and you may have to stop to empty a bag or remove grass from underneath the mower when tackling long grass, we think this is a great budget-friendly push mower that is perfect for small lawns.
How It Performed Long-Term
We are still very satisfied with its performance, even after using it for three months. The grass has grown thicker and longer since we first tested the lawn mower, but we were able to adjust the height of the mower to handle it with ease. Even after it rained, we were able to cut through the grass without any problems. However, it should be noted that the grass catcher bag becomes heavier with damp clippings and more difficult to empty. Although we appreciate not having to refill the mower with gasoline constantly, we believe it would be more convenient if it ran on batteries rather than a cord. Having to connect the extension cord to different outlets in the yard can be a bit inconvenient. All in all, we believe it is a dependable mower for its price.
Price at time of publish: 108
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29 pounds | Power Source: Corded electric | Cutting Options: Bag, side-discharge
Milwaukee M18 FUEL or RYOBI 40V HP Whisper Series 21″ Electric Lawn Mower? [2823-20 vs RY401021]
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor
- Powerful Performance
- LCD Screen and app for tracking battery life
- 13 cutting heights
- Many extra features
RYOBI Electric Lawn Mower Unboxing & Review!
If you have a larger yard to mow, a riding lawn mower can save you time and energy with its speed and efficiency. While testing the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor we were impressed with its exceptional cutting performance, long battery runtime, and maneuverability. The electric mower has four steel blades that provide 13 different cutting height positions, ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches, for a very precise cut. We found that the mower was able to handle a variety of debris with ease, effectively chopping up sticks, leaves, grass clippings, and even short dandelions that normally would be difficult to cut. The cutting height can be adjusted using a manual lever on the mower’s right side. However, we did find that the lever was surprisingly close to your leg, which can result in unintentionally changing the cutting height, although we did not experience this issue ourselves.
While putting this battery-powered mower to the test after a rainy morning, we found that it had no trouble dealing with wet grass and cutting it evenly. Even when the grass was damp, the lawn mower effectively discharged the grass clippings. While we love that this mower gives you three options for grass clippings—bag, side-discharge, or mulch—note that you will have to purchase the bagger and mulching kit separately. We were also impressed with the riding mower’s quietness despite its size. When the cutting blades were not moving, the riding mower sound resembled that of a battery-powered ride-on car for kids. And, when the blades were spinning, the noise level was super low compared to traditional gas mowers.
The mower has an onboard LCD screen that lets you check the runtime and charging status and control the LED headlights, drive, and blade speeds. The battery percentage also appears on the digital display menu. You can even monitor the charging status while you are taking a break, using the Ryobi Riding Mower app. We found charging the mower to be a simple process. The battery arrived with just 23 percent charge, and it only took us about an hour to fully recharge. For each mowing session we did, only about 10 percent of the battery was utilized. While we would have preferred a physical speed control lever, we found it manageable to switch while driving. The mower has an accelerator pedal that allows for slow and precise maneuvering around obstacles while providing instant speed when necessary. The mower is also equipped with a backup beeping noise, which is intended as a safety feature but we found it annoying over time.
All in all, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor is a great riding mower that offers a quiet and efficient mowing experience that eliminates the hassle of gas and oil. While this isn’t the best choice for small yards, if you want to keep your large yard looking great without a lot of effort, this is an excellent choice with lots of extras.
Price at time of publish: 4,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 557 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 12 height settings
- Powerful performance
- LCD screen and app to monitor battery life
- Joystick steering
Zero-turn mowers are built to be fast and easily navigate obstacles, and the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower does just that. We put the riding mower through its paces and found it to be a highly intuitive and easy-to-operate machine. Instead of a steering wheel, this riding mower has a joystick that can be operated with just one hand, for better maneuverability while turning. The joystick gave us complete control over the mower’s direction and speed, from a complete stop to top speed. With its impressive turning abilities, we were effortlessly able to mow around trees in a single pass, a task that would have previously required about four passes with a different mower.
Setting the cutting height was equally simple, thanks to the conveniently located lever that offered twelve height settings ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. The mower even comes with a height-stopping key, that allowed us to adjust the mowing deck to our desired cutting height quickly. Overall, the mower did a phenomenal job of cutting the grass evenly. We did encounter some thicker grass areas in the yard, but we found that slowing down the mower’s speed allowed it to power through without any issues. We were able to mow our half-acre yard much faster with this mower compared to the Troy-Built Pony 17 HP 42-inch Deck Rider we previously used. In fact, it took us 40 percent less time to complete the task. It also is much quieter than the gas riding mower, and you don’t have to deal with flammable gas or oil changes.
The RYOBI 80V HP Brushless Riding Mower is equipped with two 80-volt, 10-amp hour batteries and two 40-volt, 12-amp hour batteries, providing ample power for extended mowing sessions. During our testing, we appreciated the ability to install up to three 80-volt and four 40-volt batteries, allowing us to extend the mower’s runtime even further. Charging the batteries was a breeze. We simply had to plug the charging cord into the rear of the mower to simultaneously charge all the onboard batteries. We were also delighted to find out that the 40-volt batteries can be used with different cordless Ryobi tools like trimmers and blowers, expanding the range of our outdoor power equipment collection.
And while it has many of the same features as the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery Riding Lawn Tractor, this option has the power equivalent of a 31-horsepower gas engine and the ability to cut up to three acres on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. It also offers an app to monitor the battery status and has an LCD screen onboard so you can control the LED headlights, blade and drive speed, as well as monitor the battery, runtime, and charging status. This is an expensive mower, but we think it is an excellent zero-turn option that will make your lawn look great quickly and efficiently.
Price at time of publish: 6,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 700 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Toro 22 60V MAX Electric Battery SMARTSTOW Personal Pace High Wheel Mower
- Automatically adjusts to walking pace
- Nine cutting positions
- Vortex Technology results in finer grass clippings
- Quick-connect bagging and mulching
Toro’s cordless, walk-behind mower is a powerful and precise piece of machinery. It has a three-phase brushless motor that maximizes RPM and torque, and a 22-inch deck. While it may come with a fairly steep price tag, its advanced features make mowing hassle-free. There are nine different cutting positions available, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches, so you can make a clean cut even in tight spaces. Toro’s patented Vortex Technology also ensures finer grass clippings and a healthier lawn.
The mower comes with one battery that can run for up to 40 minutes, allowing you to cut up to 0.33 of an acre on a single charge. However, some users have reported the battery running out of juice in half that time. The mower’s 10-inch rear wheels provide excellent traction on tough terrain without damaging your lawn. It also features a self-propelled transmission that adjusts to your walking pace, making it easy to maneuver. Thanks to its quick-connect bagging system, you can easily switch from mulching to bagging. Despite its heavy weight, the Toro Recycler Walk Behind Mower folds up compactly for easy storage.
Price at time of publish: 729
Cutting Width: 22 inches | Weight: 95 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Best for Small Yards
Worx WG779 Power Share 40-Volt 14-Inch Cordless Walk Behind Mower
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Dual charging port for batteries
- Battery charge indicator
- Batteries compatible with other Worx tools
The Worx Power Share Battery Walk-Behind Mower has a 14-inch cutting deck that can cut up to 0.12 acres per charge, making it an ideal choice for smaller yards. At 29 pounds, it’s light enough for almost any user to handle. This unit is equipped with two batteries and a dual charging port to maximize the recharging time. For added convenience, there’s an on-board battery charge indicator that lets you know when you’re running out of juice. Another great thing about these batteries is that they’re compatible with a variety of other Worx tools.
This mower has six height adjustments, and you can easily add more torque with the turn of a knob. It also has the ability to mulch or bag grass clippings, and you can easily gauge when the bag is full, thanks to its transparent plastic top. Keep in mind that this compact model is best-suited for smaller jobs, so you will need to limit your expectations when it comes to performance. According to some reports that we read, it has difficulty powering through tough grass, and it sometimes stalls on lips and edges.
Price at time of publish: 300
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29.1 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch
Makita 36-Volt Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower
- Powerful motor
- Durable construction
- 10 cutting heights
- Optional quiet mode
- Includes extra set of batteries
If you’re looking for a cordless, battery-powered option, this push mower from Makita won’t disappoint. The brushless motor is incredibly powerful, delivering up to 3,300 RPM. This tool is powered by two 18-volt batteries, but four batteries are included, so you can swap them out for extended run time. All together, the batteries deliver up to 43 minutes of runtime. The handlebar has a rubberized grip for user comfort, and the handles fold for compact storage.
The Makita Push Lawn Mower has an 18-inch commercial-grade steel deck for optimal durability. It features a wide range of cutting heights—10 settings ranging from 0.81 to 3 inches. Though it performs well on most turf types, this mower may struggle a bit in overgrown grass. It has the ability to bag, mulch, or rear-discharge clippings. There’s even a quiet mode so you can mow your lawn without disturbing your neighbors.
Price at time of publish: 599
Cutting Width: 18 inches | Weight: 60.46 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, rear-discharge
Worx Landroid Robotic Mower
- Fully automated
- Customize mowing schedules via app
- Navigates 20-degree slopes
- Detects rain and avoids obstacles
Tired of mowing the lawn? This fully automated, robotic lawn mower does all of the work for you. It can mow medium-sized lawns up to 1/4 acre in size. To set it up, you’ll need to put down a boundary wire around your yard and connect the mower to the app. You can start or stop the machine, set up a mowing schedule, and check the mowing progress via the app. The Landroid is equipped with an 8-inch cutting width, the height of which can be adjusted between 1.9 and 3.5 inches. Two brushless wheel motors give it enough traction to navigate 20-degree slopes.
If the mower encounters an obstacle, it will simply back away. For more precise detection, an additional collision is available at an additional cost. It can also be programmed to avoid certain areas of your yard. When the Landroid detects rain or the battery runs low, it will return to the docking to either recharge or wait until the lawn is dry. With all of these features, the Landroid Robotic Mower is certainly worthy of its steep price tag. One thing worth noting is that even though this robotic option gets fairly close to the edges of a yard, you’ll likely need a string trimmer for touch-ups every so often.
Price at time of publish: 2,000
Cutting Width: 8 inches | Weight: 48.5 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: None
After testing this mower in our own backyard, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower earns our top spot. This powerful mower offers up to an hour of uninterrupted runtime and is easy to use, thanks to self-propelled technology. We also love the adjustable and foldable handle for compact storage. If you’re looking for a more affordable option for your small yard, we found the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower to be compact and lightweight enough to navigate around obstacles with ease, and offers unlimited runtime, as long as you don’t mind a cord.
How We Tested the Electric Lawn Mowers
We tested eight walk-behind lawn mowers including gas, electric corded, and cordless, battery-powered models in our own yards across the country. After putting them to the test on our own lawns—ranging from small to large—we evaluated them on setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value. For the first use, we timed setting up the lawn mower and noted what assembly, if any, was required, and if the instructions were detailed and easy to follow. We also recorded the battery charging time if it was a cordless model. We then used the mowers on three separate occasions when the weather and growing conditions allowed and recorded the length of grass cut, the surface area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to accomplish the task. We noted how easy (or not) it was to start the mower, adjust the handle, adjust the speed (if self-propelled), and change the cutting heights. We also evaluated the different features including bagging, mulching, and side-discharge options (if included) for the grass clippings. Aside from evaluating each mower’s set up and features, after use, we noted how easy it was to navigate around obstacles, up slopes, and other challenging areas including uneven or tall grass. We then looked at the appearance of the lawn and noted if it looked evenly cut. We also noted all of the safety features as well as any extra features such as LED headlights, foldable handles for storage, cord management systems, and more. After testing, the top electric mowers were added to this list. In our latest round of testing, we tested six riding lawn mowers in our yards and evaluated them on the same criteria explained above. We conducted thorough testing and compared the results with our previous product recommendations in order to provide the best suggestions possible. We made adjustments to the categories based on standout performance, either by swapping out or adding new options.
What to Look for in an Electric Lawn Mower
Electric mowers fall into four main categories: push, self-propelled, riding, and robot mowers. Choosing the right model depends on the size of your lawn, budget, and how much labor you’re willing to put in. Push mowers require that you walk behind them and manually propel them. Since they lack many of the features that you’ll find on more advanced electric lawn mowers, push mowers tend to cost significantly less. Push mowers also require the most amount of labor, making them an ideal choice for small to medium-sized yards with relatively flat terrain. We like the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower because it is very easy to navigate around your yard and comes at a very budget-friendly price. Self-propelled mowers are equipped with technology that propels the wheels as you mow. These mowers are often significantly pricier than push mowers, but they require a lot less effort on the user’s part. A self-propelled mower like the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is a great choice for medium-sized to large lawns with sloped or uneven terrain. An electric riding mower is the most powerful option—and likewise the most expensive. Users must either sit or stand on the machine in order to operate it. With an ultra-wide cutting swath and the ability to navigate difficult terrain, a riding mower is well-suited for large yards with steeper slopes. We love the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor because it can cut up to two acres on a single charge and offers plenty of great features. Robot lawn mowers are typically programmed through an app, allowing them to operate autonomously with little to no effort. Some initial setup is required, but a robot mower can be programmed to mow your lawn automatically, avoid collisions and inclement weather, and more. Although they’re incredibly convenient, robotic models also have a shorter runtime and a smaller cutting width swath, limiting their use to smaller yards. Our top choice in this category, the Worx WR147 Landroid Robotic Mower, is almost 100 percent autonomous once it’s been set up.
Cordless electric lawn mowers run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A cordless model gives you more flexibility and portability because it doesn’t restrict your movement. However, you will have to be mindful of the battery life, which typically runs down between 30 and 60 minutes. Some cordless electric mowers come with extra batteries that can be swapped out to extend their runtime. You could also purchase a second battery to increase the operating time. That way, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice mid-task. Our top choice for a cordless model, Makita 18-Volt X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower, includes an extra set of batteries so users can mow longer without having to recharge. The biggest advantage to a corded electric lawn mower is that it provides unlimited power. Corded models typically cost less than their battery-operated counterparts. However, your movement is restricted to the cord’s length. A corded mower must be used with a heavy-duty extension cord, which is often sold separately. Most manufacturers recommend a 12-gauge or 14-gauge cord, but you should always refer to the owner’s manual to ensure safe operation.
Deck size refers to the width of the mower, and determines how wide a path it can cut. A wider deck size results in a wider cutting swath, allowing you to cover a larger area in one pass. The standard deck size on both push and self-propelled mowers typically ranges from 13 to 22 inches. Robotic mowers usually have a much smaller cutting deck between 5 and 10 inches. Riding mowers, on the other hand, can have a deck size as wide as 54 inches. A riding mower is best-suited for large lawns that normally take a good deal of time to mow. Our top pick for zero-turn, the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower has a 42-inch deck and 12 cutting heights to make short work of a big job, navigating around obstacles with ease.
Motor Power and Type
Cordless electric mowers that run on batteries produce anywhere from 18 to 20 volts of power. The higher the voltage, the longer the motor will run on a single charge. Likewise, a mower with a higher voltage will allow you to cover more ground in one pass. Higher voltage is usually necessary to mow large lawns and generate enough torque to cut through tall, dense grass. The amp rating is also important in determining how powerful an electric lawn mower is. For example, a 12-amp electric mower can power through tough grass, while a 6-amp model would struggle. A corded electric lawn mower typically draws between 6 and 13 amps from a standard outlet. The battery on most cordless models delivers about 18 amps per hour.
Brushless vs. Brushed Motor
Brushless motors are more efficient, because they don’t lose much energy through friction and heat, both of which could potentially damage the motor. Plus, you don’t have to worry about replacing brushes when they wear out. All of these factors contribute to a more reliable performance and less maintenance. Brushed motors, on the other hand, generate more heat, which explains their tendency to stall and overheat. Although brushed motors are more affordable upfront, you may pay more for maintenance in the long run. You’ll also need to replace worn-out brushes as needed, which is an additional expense.
Grass Bag Catcher
A grass bag catcher attaches to the side or rear of a lawn mower and collects grass clippings. Grass cuttings are collected in a bag at the same time as they are cut. This is a convenient feature because it saves you from having to bag or clean up the clippings yourself. With a grass-catching bag, your lawn will look neat and well-maintained after mowing.
An electric lawn mower with mulching capabilities will chop grass up finely and drop the clippings back onto the lawn. As the clippings decompose, they release nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, into the soil. Since mulching naturally improves the health of your lawn, it may need fewer fertilizer treatments.
Adjustable Cutting Height
Most electric lawn mowers have an adjustable cutting height, ranging from 1 to 4 inches, which allows users to cut a variety of grasses and tackle tall, overgrown lawns. As a general rule of thumb, the ideal height for cool-season grass is about 2 1/2 inches. When mowing, you should only remove about the top third of the grass blades.
“The lifespan of an electric lawn mower varies, based on make, model, and consumer care practices,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Just like other outdoor equipment, with proper maintenance, charging, and battery storage practices, then the electric lawn mower can easily meet the user’s expectations.”
- Regularly inspect the cords for nicks and frays, as well as the batteries for any damage or deformities.
- Confirm that all of the vents are free from debris.
- Be sure to only use batteries and chargers in conjunction with manufacturer recommendations.
In the case of electric lawn mowers, convenience comes with a cost. Push mowers are on the lower end of the price scale, but they also require the most amount of manual labor. Self-propelled mowers typically cost several hundred dollars more than push mowers, but they reduce the amount of manual labor that’s needed. advanced models, such as robotic and riding mowers, can be quite expensive, but they essentially do all the work for you. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to put in the labor or pay more to make your life easier.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019. To select the best electric lawn mowers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their motor type, power source, cutting width, special features, and overall performance. McHugh consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For additional insight, she interviewed Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
Jenica Currie, Commerce Editor for The Spruce updated this list with insights gathered from testing various electric lawn mowers in our own backyards across the country. She also added additional picks and reporting.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure that we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all of these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
Why spend weekends pushing a loud gas mower and breathing exhaust fumes? Let one of these autonomous electric mowers do the work cleanly and quietly.
By Mark Wolfe | Updated Jul 18, 2023 10:43 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
Improvements in rechargeable battery tech and intelligent software have dramatically changed the way we live. Smart televisions and lighting systems improve our sensory environment, while other automated home devices like vacuum cleaners, thermostats, and refrigerators minimize many more mundane tasks. Similarly, robotic lawn mowers can now keep the grass at just the right height, eliminating a time-consuming weekend chore.
These devices may even cost less to own and operate than gasoline-powered mowers while making very little noise and producing no exhaust emissions. They maintain up to an acre or more on most types of terrain, and they work automatically so folks with lawns have more time to relax and enjoy their green space.
No doubt, all of this sounds great—but how well do these robots actually perform? To find out, we put some popular models through their paces on real-life lawns. Read on to learn about the criteria we used to select these mowers, and then check out our product reviews to find out how each one did on our test turf. Anyone in the market for a new mower might just discover that a robot model can be a Smart, time-saving investment. R2-D2 would surely approve!
- BEST OVERALL:Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Gardena 15001-20 Sileno City Automatic Robotic Mower
- UPGRADE PICK:Husqvarna Automower 415X Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR STEEP HILLS:Redback MowRo 9.5-Inch Robot Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE LAWNS:Husqvarna Automower 115H Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR SMALL LAWNS:Gardena 15202-41 Sileno Minimo Robotic Mowe
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Robotic Lawn Mowers
All of the robotic lawn mowers we tested use 14-gauge low-voltage wire to establish the barrier. We assembled two barriers around two 1,200-square-foot patches of lawn—one with Bermuda grass and a steep slope and one mostly flat area with centipede grass. Each test area included two large open spaces connected by a narrow bottleneck corridor, and all the mowers were tested on both test areas.
We established a daily mowing schedule for 7 days in each location. We observed the ease of programming and communication with the mower as well as its actual performance. Criteria to be included in this guide were as follows:
- Consistently reliable mowing on schedule and returning to the base station after initial setup and first-day adjustments
- Consistently navigating the narrow corridor to mow both large areas
- Avoiding random obstacles intentionally left within the boundaries
- Returning to the base station in the event of rain or sprinklers
- Avoiding excessively steep slopes without becoming stuck
- Complete coverage of the test area—no noticeable missed spots for the entire test week
Our Top Picks
We measured the following robotic lawn mowers against our shopping considerations (detailed below) and put each one to work for a 7-day home trial. Find out why we recommend them among the best robot lawn mowers available.
Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
The popular Worx Landroid robotic mower lineup includes models S, M, and L for yards up to 0.125 acre, 0.25 acre, and 0.5 acre, respectively. While they offer many similarities, we found that the Worx Landroid M offers the best combination of capability and affordability. It is powered by a 20-volt 4-amp-hour lithium-ion battery for 2 hours of runtime per 90-minute charge. It can mow on a 20-degree slope thanks to a pair of high-efficiency brushless wheel motors that provide extra traction. The Landroid’s 8-inch self-leveling mowing disc cuts closer to the edges of the yard than many competitors. The blade height manually adjusts from 1.5 to 3.5 inches.
Landroid connects to a home Wi-Fi network via Bluetooth and automatically keeps its own software up to date. You can easily set or adjust the custom mowing schedule or monitor the mower on the go via the Landroid mobile app. An integrated rain sensor stops the mower from cutting if rain starts and sends it back to its charging station.
The Landroid M performed at or near the top in most of our testing rubric categories. Assembly and programming were easy, mowing was reliable with excellent coverage, communication through the mobile app was intuitive, and runtime was superior—all for a very competitive price. Runtime was especially impressive: We clocked it at 2 hours 35 minutes, the longest of all the mowers we tested.
Unfortunately, we subtracted points for poor docking ability. Landroid was the only mower we tested with recharging contacts located on the side of the machine rather than the front or back. To recharge, it must be perfectly positioned in relation to two flexible contact points as it passes over the base station; otherwise, it continues tracking along the perimeter wire without stopping. After resetting the base station three times and ensuring it was absolutely level in all directions with a long, straight approach, we finally achieved satisfactory results.
Aside from that issue, the Landroid provides outstanding overall functionality for the price. Available upgrades include the ACS module that prevents collisions, Find My Landroid GPS cellular module, Radio Link module to extend Wi-Fi connectivity for improved artificial intelligence, an Off Limits module for wire-free no-mow zones within the main mowing area, and the Landroid Garage.
- Coverage area: 0.25 acre (10,890 square feet)
- Mowing height range: 1.5 to 3.5 inches
- Slope rating: 20 degrees
- Includes everything you need to get started and clear step-by-step instructions for easy installation
- User-friendly mobile app makes it simple to control the mower and check status remotely
- 2 hours of runtime per charge means more mowing and less time spent charging
- Competitive price point for a highly capable robotic lawn mower
- Base station must be installed perfectly or the mower may not align properly for charging
- Some desirable features are not included with the base kit
Get the Worx robot lawn mower at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Gardena 15001-20 Sileno City Automatic Robotic Mower
Anyone shopping for an affordable and uncomplicated robotic lawn mower for a small yard would do well to consider the Gardena Sileno City. It navigates slopes up to 25 percent and corridors as narrow as 24 inches wide. Plus, it works rain or shine, day or night.
Available with either a 2,700-square-foot or 5,400-square-foot maximum mowing capacity, the Sileno City is a great option for most urban landscapes. It requires a flat, level area for the charging station and a nearby power source. A low-voltage perimeter wire keeps the mower inbounds and may be configured to mow a secondary area that is isolated from the primary lawn.
You can customize the mowing height between 0.8 inch and 2 inches high by means of a manual adjustment knob. The Gardena Bluetooth app makes it easy to operate the mower or customize the schedule and other settings from any mobile device, or use the onboard control panel to make adjustments.
It took about 1.5 hours to set up the Gardena Sileno City in our testing area. The kit included everything needed to get started, along with clear instructions. We plugged in the base station and allowed the mower to charge while we installed the perimeter wire and guide wire. The guide wire is an extra wire that bisects the lawn from the base station to the most distant portion of the perimeter wire. All Gardena (and parent company Husqvarna) robot mowers use it to navigate more efficiently.
After installation, we followed the instructions to calibrate the system and program the schedule. Starting with a pre-mowed lawn, we adjusted the mower height to mow 1.5 inches high, and the yard looked great throughout the test period.
One feature that shoppers should be aware of is the maximum daily runtime of about 3.5 hours per day (for the 2,700-square-foot version that we tested). Don’t bother scheduling the mower to run more than 3.5 hours total per day since after reaching the time limit, the device will simply return home until the following day. Since we mowed no more than 2.5 hours per day, we didn’t have a problem.
- Coverage area: 2,700 square feet
- Mowing height range: 0.8 to 2.0 inches
- Slope rating: 14.04 degrees
- Value-priced yet feature-rich robotic mower ideal for smaller lawn areas
- Kit includes everything needed for installation and easy-to-follow instructions
- Reliably and quietly mows all kinds of grass, day or night, rain or shine
- Navigates slopes up to 25 percent and passages as narrow as 24 inches
- Preprogrammed with a daily runtime limit that stops the mower regardless of battery status
- Not Wi-Fi or GPS enabled
Get the Gardena 15001-20 robot lawn mower at Amazon or Gardena.
Husqvarna Automower 415X Robotic Lawn Mower
Here is a well-equipped mower for warm-season grasses up to 0.4 acre, especially lawns with challenging obstacles, narrow passages, and sloped terrain. With a mowing height range of 0.8 to 2 inches, the Husqvarna Automower 415X is designed for maintaining low-mow grasses like zoysia, Bermuda, and centipede. It is powered by an 18-volt 2-amp-hour lithium-ion battery that delivers a runtime of 50 minutes per charge and recharges in 60 minutes. This premium mower features a high-resolution onboard display, rugged poly front bumper, LED headlights, and coarse-tread wheels that easily handle slopes up to 40 percent.
The Automower 415X is loaded with communication and control features, beginning with cellular and Bluetooth connectivity. It is easily controlled via the Automower Connect mobile app and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Smart devices. Husqvarna’s intelligent mapping technology uses GPS sensors to virtually map the lawn, enabling zone control with customized settings, and real-time tracking through the app. This high level of communication pairs nicely with precision control and automated features like electric height adjustment, automatic passage handling, remote location starting, spiral- and spot-cutting capabilities, wireless firmware updates, theft protection system with GPS tracking, and more.
The Automower 415X arrived for testing with everything we needed for a quick and easy DIY installation. The layout and setup were similar to the other models we tested but with the unique addition of a central guide wire running through the middle of the mowing area to assist with navigation back to the home base. Initial programming was fast and intuitive with the mower’s onboard controls. After downloading the app, we spent some time customizing mowing options, adding the targeted mowing height and spiral mowing options. Targeted mowing automatically lowered the cutting height each day until our preselected height was achieved. With spiral mowing engaged, the mower automatically detects extra-tall or dense growth and mows that isolated area in a spiral pattern. These two options were especially helpful in combination, as we needed to get our overgrown Bermuda grass under control.
Our testing lawn was an irregularly shaped area encompassing 1,200 square feet, with a tree isolated by the boundary wire near the middle and two larger lawn areas on either side. Part of the test area included a steep slope, close to 50 percent in one small area, and the 415X had no trouble. We noticed after the third or fourth mowing that the robot was making more efficient linear cuts and less frequently getting caught up in multipoint turns.
During the target-height adjustment period, the mower seemed to FOCUS more time on a section after it had been sufficiently cut, then running out of battery before fully cutting the other section. Once the target was achieved, however, daily mowing at 1.25 inches kept the grass looking great. Docking at the base station went perfectly every time. Easy setup, reliable operation, Smart tech, and a lower mowing height range make this a good choice for most small to midsize yards with warm-season lawn grass.
- Coverage area: 0.4 acre (17,424 square feet)
- Mowing height range: 0.8 to 2 inches
- Slope rating: 22 degrees
- Precision control features allow you to target portions of the lawn that require more attention
- GPS-assisted navigation allows the robot to mow challenging areas more efficiently
- Easily navigates obstructions like toys and lawn furniture as well as difficult terrain
- Cellular and Bluetooth connectivity make it easy to connect and control the mower remotely
- Premium price point for top-of-the-line robotic mowing technology
- Highly efficient mowing capability is offset by a somewhat limited runtime per charge
Get the Husqvarna Automower 415X robot lawn mower at Amazon or Lowe’s.
The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 for Making Your Yard Work Easier
These lawn mowers drive themselves, taking the load off you in the process.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 21, 2023
One of the perks of the warm-weather season is getting to spend time outside. If you own your own home and have a yard, it’s very likely that in order to enjoy your outdoor space, you need to mow the lawn. The larger the yard, the more work it will be to maintain. If you have a lot of grass to cut, you’d be wise to consider a self-propelled lawn mower especially now that there are a ton of sales just in time for Memorial Day.
The primary difference between a standard push mower and a self-propelled mower is that the former moves when you push it, and the latter essentially moves itself with only your guidance. Once the engine is running, all you have to do is squeeze a handle or push a lever and the mower will start moving forward with you as you walk.
Turning the mower around is your job, but once you have your heading, just keep the drive handle squeezed and escort the mower down the path, no pushing necessary.
Self-propelled law mowers take power off the engine and route it via a belt to a pulley on the transmission and axle. When you move the drive control lever on the mower handle, you tension the belt, causing the pulley to turn, and this drives the transmission, moving the mower forward.
Move the drive control lever back and the tension is released, the pulley stops turning, and the mower stops moving forward. The belt-driven transmission is a time-tested design to power the mower and take the load off you in the process.
What to Consider
A mower is like many consumer products in that the more features a manufacturer adds, the more expensive it becomes. But a longer or more eye-catching list of features isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes less is more. Here are the most important to keep in mind.
Front-wheel drive mowers tend to be less expensive than rear-wheel drive units. They can be easier to turn because you don’t have to disengage the drive wheels to do so. Simply push down on the handlebar to raise the front wheels off the ground. However, their traction isn’t as strong on hills or when the bag is full, as there isn’t as much weight over the drive wheels.
Rear-wheel drive mowers do cost more and aren’t as easy to turn, as you do need to disengage the drive—but this isn’t too much of a hassle. Rear-wheel drive mowers shine on hills and inclines, and when the grass bag is full. In either scenario, weight is shifted rearward and over the drive wheels, which enables superior traction, thus making the self-propel more effective.
An engine as small as 125 cc can power a mower, but most are somewhere in the 140 cc to 190 cc range. A large engine helps when powering through tall, lush grass or in extreme conditions, such as with a side discharge chute in place and mowing tall weeds in a border area. Also, the extra torque provided by a larger engine can improve bagging when the going gets tough (tall, leaf-covered grass in the fall). But if you mow sensibly and pay attention to deck height—and especially if you don’t let your lawn get out of control—an engine between 140 and 160 cc has more than enough power to get the job done.
A mower can have all four wheels the same diameter (7 to 8 inches), or it may have rear wheels that range from 9.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Larger rear wheels help the mower roll more easily over bumpy ground.
With some mowers you can start the engine with the twist of a key or the press of a button. It’s a great option, but a luxury. Keep the mower engine tuned and use fresh fuel with stabilizer added to it, and you’ll never have trouble starting.
Any number of mechanisms can control a mower’s ground speed—a squeeze handle, a drive bar that you press forward, even a dial. There’s no single right answer here. Look at the design and think about how you like to work. For example, if more than one person will be using the mower (and not all of them are right-handed), a drive control like that on a Toro Personal Pace mower might be the answer. Just push down on the bar to make it go faster. Let up on the bar to slow down.
A mower that can bag, mulch, and side discharge is known as a three-function mower, the most versatile kind. Two-function mowers bag and mulch or mulch and side discharge.
Mowers will typically have one, two, or four levers to control the deck height. Single-lever adjustment is the easiest to use, but it requires more linkage, which adds weight and complexity. If, for some reason, you find yourself varying deck height frequently, it’s a good option. Otherwise, two or four levers work just fine.
Only Honda makes a gas-engine mower with a high-impact plastic deck (there are battery mowers that have plastic decks). Otherwise, mowers generally have a steel deck, and a few manufacturers—Toro, for one—offer a corrosion-resistant aluminum deck. An aluminum deck won’t rot the way a steel deck will, but you still need to keep it clean.
This is a hose fitting mounted on top of the mower’s deck. When you’re done mowing, hook up a hose and run the mower to power wash the underside of the deck. We’ve had mixed results with these, but they’re better than just letting a mass of dried grass clippings accumulate.
expensive mowers come with a more durable bag with more dust-blocking capability. If you bag a lot, especially leaves or other lawn debris in the fall, then you need a mower with a higher quality dust-blocking bag. Having said that, if you rarely bag, the standard one that comes with a mower will last you the life of the mower.
Also called wide-area mowers, machines in this subgroup help homeowners better reconcile their need for more power and speed with the fact that they may not have enough storage for a tractor or zero-turn mower. A typical residential walk mower has a single-blade deck that cuts a swath from 20 to 22 inches wide. Wide-cut mowers (built for homeowner use) have either a single blade or, more typically, a pair of blades, cutting from 26 to 30 inches with each pass. Some of these are rated for light commercial use and have larger decks, in the 32-inch range, and engines that start at 223 cc and go up to about 337 cc.
Wide-cut mowers typically employ gear or hydrostatic drive transmissions, and they have top speeds of about 4 to 6 miles per hour. At their fastest, they move so quickly you have to trot to keep up with them. Needless to say, they’re overkill for small yards; only opt for one of these if you’ve got a significant plot of land that you need to keep tidy, but not one so large that you’d be better off going with a full-on riding mower.
How We Tested and Selected
We compiled this list based on Popular Mechanics mower testing and our knowledge of the lawn mower market at large. For our testing, we put mowers through the paces using our standard Popular Mechanics methodology: We cut turf grasses such as fescues and blue grass and rougher non-turf grasses like Timothy, clover, orchard grass, and wild oats, all in both normal and shin-deep heights. We mow uphill, downhill, and across the faces of hills. The maximum slope we cut is about 30 degrees.
That may not sound like much, but it’s about all you can do to stand on it, let alone push a mower up it or across it. We mow damp and wet grass to test general cutting performance and whether clippings accumulate on the tires. And we cut dry and dusty surfaces to see how well the bag filters under less-than-optimal conditions.
Honda HRN 216VKA
Honda mowers enjoy a sterling reputation. Having tested their walk and self-propelled mowers for the last 30 years, we feel confident that Honda’s entry level mower is a great choice for homeowners looking for power and durability. The HRN features a GCV 170 gas engine that’s built to withstand long hours of operation.
If you do your own maintenance (and most owners who buy this class of product do), you’ll appreciate the easily accessible spark plug and the fuel shutoff valve that enables better winter storage. Close the fuel shutoff and run the mower until it sputters to a halt. This will clear the carburetor of any gasoline, which will prevent the ethanol in it from disintegrating and causing running issues later on. Open the shutoff valve in the spring, add some fresh gasoline, and the mower should start easily.
All this maintenance stuff is great, but we can also tell you that our past test findings on other Hondas prove that their cut quality is outstanding for cleanliness. Sharp blades deliver a velvet-like finish. And their bagging ability is also quite good, in the same league with other well-bagging mowers from Toro.
In all, if you take mowing seriously, you should enjoy this Honda. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, consider the Honda HRX, which features a mower powerful engine and a composite deck that won’t rust and is renowned for its durability.
One note is that Honda has announced that it will cease selling lawn mowers in the United States after this year—so if you’re considering buying one, best do it sooner rather than later.
Toro Recycler 60-Volt Max Lithium-Ion
Toro mowers have garnered more recommendations from us than any other brand for two reasons: build quality and cut quality. These were amply demonstrated in our testing as the Recycler turned in the best ratio of cut area per amp-hour of battery in the self-propelled category, while at the same time not skimping on cutting, mulching, or bagging quality.
We attribute this outstanding mower performance to three features, all upgrades to the previous version of this machine. First, the air vent at the front of the mower deck seems to improve mulching and bagging performance. Toro calls it Vortex technology, a design that increases air flow under the deck. This helps to stand the grass for a cleaner cut, which improves mulching performance, and also allows better airflow into the bag when collecting the clippings.
Next, the company’s redesigned “Atomic” blade configuration appears to assist the air flow and clipping movement. Finally, the three-phase, 60-volt motor is exceptionally efficient, resulting in a large cut area for a single battery.
Toro has maintained features that make this mower work: rear wheel drive, a one-piece deck that’s all steel (no plastic nose), 11-inch wheels to help it roll over roots and crevices, and the same fold-forward handle that was an industry breakthrough when it was introduced some years ago.
Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower
This is one of Ryobi’s top-of-the-line mowers, and it’s American-made construction is something we wish we saw more of. It delivers a tremendous cut area with its two 6-Ah batteries providing a total of 12-Ah of capacity, and its X-shaped blade leaves a pristine surface in its wake.
Ryobi estimates the design should provide 70 minutes of run time; we didn’t time our cut, but it strikes as plausible. Its rear-wheel drive and reasonably aggressive tire tread pattern provide good hill climbing and sidehill cutting performance, and its bagging on all surfaces (level, sidehill, and uphill) is also commendable.
Other ease-of-use features include an easily installed or removed bag that mounts and dismounts straight up and down through the handle; deck adjustment is quick and easy thanks to a single-level deck height adjustment. The straight edge deck is polypropylene; it will never rust and needs very little care other than basic cleaning.
Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs Stratton Personal Pace
The Toro Timemaster 30-in. mower has been around for several years and has earned a reputation as a sturdy workhorse for homeowners who want to cut down on their mowing time. It’s also used by some professionals as well. A few years ago the Timemaster got a slightly more powerful Briggs and Stratton gas engine, so it should have no issues powering through most demanding mowing jobs.
The Timemaster is rear-wheel drive and features Toro’s Personal Pace drive system that’s used on many of its self-propelled mowers. This allows the mower to move at your speed by simply pushing down or releasing the handle, which is spring-tensioned.
With a 30-in. deck, Toro claims the Timemaster will help you reduce your mowing time by about 40% compared to using a standard-sized mower. You can mulch, back, or side discharge with the Timemaster, and the handlebar can be locked in a fully vertical position to reduce space consumption in storage.
If you have half an acre to a full acre of lawn to mow and prefer the experience of a walk-behind mower versus a tractor or zero-turn, the Timemaster is worth a look.
Craftsman mowers have been doing very well in our tests, so we can recommend this one because it’s so much like the many other of the brand’s models that we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a good blend of maneuverability and power, you’ll get it with this mower. Its front drive helps move it along and makes it easy to turn.
It’s important to note that front-drive mowers do lose some traction when running uphill, particularly with a full grass bag. But if your slope is less than 20 degrees, and you’re not bagging uphill, you’ll be fine. The side discharge will also help you handle tall grass. Adjust the two deck levers to bring the mower up to full height and have at the rough stuff.
The fact that this mower bags, mulches, and side discharges is a plus, enabling you to handle a wide range of mowing conditions, from early spring and late into the fall. Three-function mowers like this are our preference for that versatility.
Toro Super Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
This is a beauty of a mower, with a cast-aluminum deck and a smooth-running Briggs Stratton 163-cc engine. We tested the Honda engine-equipped version, and it was effective at both bagging and mulching, even in moist grass.
Equipped with rear-wheel drive and the Personal Pace system (the farther you push the drive bar, the faster the mower goes), it’s an effective hill climber and moderately effective on sidehill cutting. It has relatively small 7.5-inch tires on all four corners, which causes this Toro to bump up and down a bit on washboard surfaces. But the good news is that it’s equipped with a far higher quality tire than we’re used to seeing these days. We didn’t notice them pick up any grass on moist surfaces.
Other features we like include its forward-fold handle that has a built-in shock absorber that Toro calls a Flex Handle Suspension, and a high-quality grass bag that loads through the handle, from the top.
Are there special maintenance considerations with self-propelled mowers?
Yes. Both front- and rear-wheel drive mowers typically feature a drive belt, which can crack or wear out over time. Fortunately these belts are not difficult or particularly expensive to replace.
Secondly, you may have to replace the drive wheels occasionally. These wheels are driven with gears. there are typically teeth on the inside diameter of the drive wheel that line up with a gear on the axle. These teeth can wear out, especially if they are made of plastic. Higher-end mowers may feature drive wheels with a metal gear that meets the metal axle gear, which improves longevity of these components.
My lawnmower says I don’t ever have to change the oil, but just add oil when needed. Is this OK?
It’s not a good idea to never change the oil in your lawn mower. In a lawn mower, same as a car, oil degrades over time and is less effective at reducing heat and friction in metal components. Changing the oil in your lawn mower is easy to do and will significantly increase its service life. For most homeowners, changing the oil at the beginning or end of each mowing season should be sufficient, though there is certainly no harm in doing it more often.
Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.