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For the first time in Consumer Reports’ lawn mower tests, the top Overall Scores for battery-powered walk-behind mowers are comparable with those of the top gas-powered walk-behind mowers.
Simply put, the best battery mowers we evaluated easily rival the best gas ones.
And, for the first time, several battery push mowers in our ratings offer an impressive run time of 70 or 80 minutes. (By contrast, the average run time of battery mowers in our tests is 30 to 45 minutes, enough to cut 1⁄4 acre.) To improve run times, mower makers are designing new models with multiple battery slots; when one battery is spent, another can take over.
If you’re in the market for a mower but worry that a battery might poop out in the middle of the job, these new, faster results might calm those doubts.
“Battery run times have finally increased to the point where some mowers are able to cut nearly half an acre in one charge,” says Misha Kollontai, CR’s test engineer who rates lawn mowers. “They get better every year.”
Battery Mowers Come Into Their Own
In Consumer Reports’ lawn mower ratings, we recommend several battery push mowers that do their job very capably. Push mowers are generally less expensive, with fewer features than self-propelled types. They’re ideal if you have less than 1⁄4 acre of grass to cut.
Our ratings also include a good assortment of highly rated self-propelled mowers. Battery self-propelled models draw energy from the motor to power the wheels. That makes them easier to maneuver if you have a larger or sloped lot.
As in the past, Ego is a presence among the top push and self-propelled battery mowers. But several other brands, including DeWalt, DR, Makita, Ryobi, Toro, and newcomer Hart, demonstrate their prowess.
Battery mower sales are growing far faster than sales of gas mowers, says the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, an industry group based in Alexandria, Va. In part, this is because they’re ideal for lawns of less than 1⁄2 acre, which now make up the bulk of newly developed residential properties. Because they’re electric, battery mowers also are more eco-friendly than gas machines. And our tests show they’re quieter.
Battery mowers are typically more expensive than gas mowers, in large part because of the cost of their lithium-ion battery. But prices are falling, and you can now score a competitive mower for $300 or less.
That investment can pay off in other ways. You can use your mower’s battery to power other outdoor gear from the same brand, including power tools such as string trimmers, leaf blowers, and chainsaws. Those batteries typically are 40 volts or higher. But one brand, Makita, sells a battery mower that runs on the smaller 18-volt batteries that also power its hand tools, including drills and circular saws.
How CR Tests Lawn Mowers and Tractors
CR is testing more walk-behind battery mowers than ever, to keep up with new releases in the rapidly growing category. For instance, we’ve doubled the number of new self-propelled mowers. In total, we rate 39 walk-behind battery mowers this year.
To get you ratings and reviews of the latest models by early spring, our testers travel to Florida to conduct tests in late winter at grounds we specially prepare each year. We plant 1,800 pounds of grass seed (predominantly annual rye, prized for its dense growth). We cut 500,000 square feet of grass in three modes—mulching, side-discharging, and bagging a total of 3,000 pounds of clippings. We mow both level turf and slopes to get a feel for each and every model. We also review the convenience features on every model we assess.
The Overall Score for each model in CR’s mower ratings incorporates all that performance data, along with predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings from our latest member surveys. The surveys leverage data on more than 78,000 lawn mowers and tractors that members purchased between 2010 and 2020.
Not sure which kind of mower you want? Start with our lawn mower buying guide. CR members can browse our comprehensive ratings of more than 100 lawn mowers, including almost four dozen battery-powered lawn mowers from a variety of brands—Atlas, Black+Decker, Cub Cadet, Ego, DeWalt, DR, Greenworks, Hart, Kobalt, Makita, Oregon, Ryobi, Skil, Snapper, Stihl, Sun Joe, Toro, Troy-Bilt, Wen, and Worx.
Read on for ratings and reviews of this year’s very best battery-powered walk-behind mowers, as well as a couple of models that miss the mark.
Best Battery Push Mowers
Push mowers tend to be more affordable than self-propelled mowers. You'll need to use a bit of your own muscle to move and maneuver them. However, if you've got a relatively level yard of 1/4 acre or less, they can be just the ticket.
Best Battery Push Mowers
Push mowers tend to be more affordable than the self-propelled variety. You'll need to use a bit of muscle to move and maneuver them around your yard. However, if you have a level, relatively small yard—say, 1/4 acre or less—they may be just the ticket.
Best Battery Self-Propelled Mowers
Self-propelled models draw energy from the engine (or motor on electric models) to power the wheels, which makes them easier to maneuver if you have a larger lawn or live on a sloped lot. All-wheel drive offers the best traction on slopes, followed by rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive, which is standard on most models, is still well-suited for flat parcels though is not the best choice if you bag clippings. As the bag fills, it can cause the front wheels to lose some traction.
Battery Mowers That Don't Make the Cut
Less than a quarter of the battery push mowers in our ratings perform well enough for CR to recommend; among self-propelled battery models, half earn that distinction. Our testers have also identified a number of models that aren’t worth your money. Here are two of the battery-powered push mowers that struggled in our cutting tests.
Finding the Perfect Lawn Mower
Is your lawn mower failing to make the cut? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert John Galeotafiore explains to host Jack Rico how to find the best mower for your needs.