Spring certainly has a look. Outside, lawns are greening up while the tulips peek up like botanical exclamation points. But even before the birds start chirping, that other sound of spring ruins the tranquility: rumbling gas lawn mowers. If you’re working from home now, you’ll be hearing from them. The remedy — a whisper-quiet battery-powered lawn mower — isn’t exactly new: You’ve seen them in the hardware store for years now. But the Ego Power+ 21” Select Cut XP is a game-changer because it’s capable of outperforming gas mowers. This is the first battery-powered mower that, pound for pound, delivers the cutting power of gas, yet includes features that simply make lawn care easier.
Finally, a battery-powered mower that's better than gas, and easier to use.
Already dismissed the cordless lawn mowers at the home center? You could hardly be blamed. A few years back, when manufacturers rushed to offer mowers using power tool batteries, DIYers were greeted with anemic power and runtime. It wasn’t enough to keep up with the 1/4-acre size of the average American lawn. The Ego’s power plant is a 7 1/2-pound rechargeable lithium-ion battery that packs 56-volts at 10 amps. That’s light-years ahead of early battery-powered lawn mowers that used 18-volt batteries at 4 or 5 amps. Fine for a circular saw — not for a mower.
While the volts are impressive — the Ego’s running at 8.3 ft-lbs of torque, which is more than a lot of gas mowers — it’s the amps that you should pay attention to. That number is an indicator of the pluckiness of the battery. The number of amps tells you if the mower can get the job done in a single charge. In this case, expect about 75 minutes of cutting per charge. That power is metered out by an efficient, digital motor. These so-called brushless motors make sure every drop of energy in the battery is used, wasting less of it as heat — a design tradeoff in a less expensive, traditional brushed motor design.
Another benefit of packing a more powerful battery is the ability to use that juice to spin a pair of blades, one stacked on top of the other. With two blades, more steel comes in contact with the grass clippings, resulting in a finer mince. In mulching mode, the chopped-up clippings fall down in between the blades of grass as you pass over. Because they’re smaller, they break down quickly and return nitrogen to the soil. You won’t be leaving any clumps behind in your wake. (By the way, you should always be in mulching mode because it’s healthier for the lawn than bagging the clippings.) Before the Ego, the only way to spin two blades was on a high-end gas-powered mower.
But you might be asking, “Okay, but how is it easier?” And that’s where the self-propelled feature comes in. For years now, cordless mowers have used rear-wheel transmissions to pull power from the battery and drive the wheels, but the Ego is adjustable on the fly with the turn of a knob. That lets you dial in the walking pace, from about 1 to 3 miles per hour. You can effectively mow with one hand, even up hills.
With the free hand, you can crank the lever back that controls the height adjustment. Older mower styles had adjustments at all four wheels, but the Ego’s adjustment is faster. For true turf nerds, you get seven different heights, from a cropped 1 3/8 inches to a jungle-like 4 inches tall.
There are a host of other benefits that come with ditching a gas mower. You will not miss runs to the gas station for fuel, then worrying about treating that fuel with a stabilizer. Nor checking the oil, maybe adding some, or changing it every year. There is no spark plug to gap or clean. No air filter to blow out. As long as the battery is charged, the Ego starts with the push of a button. Don’t underestimate the joy of not having to yank a finicky pull cord.
You can also mow earlier in the morning or later in the evening (the Ego has headlights) because it’s basically a tick louder than a hair dryer on steroids. A far cry from a rumbling gas engine. With a fold-down handle — and no oil or gas to leak out — you can stand the Ego on its rear wheels and tuck it up against a wall in the garage or shed.
While a battery-powered lawn mower is easier to live with, it’s usually a higher upfront cost than a gas equivalent. But paying for all the fuel in one shot allows you to yank the battery out of the mower and use it in other tools, like a string trimmer, leaf blower, or chain saw. Wince once when you pay for it, and you’ll likely be in for smooth sailing after. Just make sure you keep those blades sharp, touching them up at least once a season.
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