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Cordless electric lawn mowers a "green" alternative that work as well as gas

Cordless lawn mowers don't produce emissions and are quieter than gas mowers. While they need significantly less maintenance than gas machines, cordless mowers still require sharpening of the blades and replacing the battery every few years, which can be pricey -- in some cases almost as expensive as the mower itself. Still, these mowers tend to be extremely easy to use and take up very little space in a garage or shed. Some can even fold up and hang on a wall. Electric mowers used to run primarily on lead-acid batteries, such as those found in automobiles, but this technology has largely been discontinued in favor of lighter Lithium-on (Li-ion) technology.

Best electric mower

Ego LM2102SP
Ego LM2102SP

It's no contest in this category, the new-for-2016 Ego LM2102SP (Est. $600) is the standout choice of both experts and owners. In one professional test it garners scores that are comparable to some of the top-rated gas models, earning Very Good ratings for mulching, bagging and side discharging, Excellent scores for handling and ease of use. Another expert, blogger "Brian" writing for WorkshopAddict.com comments that the Ego offers the torque of a gas mower without the fumes, saying, "It is true that you can get a quality lawn mower that runs on a 56 volt battery pack and will provide most people with a smaller lot the ability to mow their lawn on one single charge."

The Ego LM2102SP runs on a 7.5 Ah 56-volt Li-ion battery. It takes about 60 minutes to charge and then runs for about 60 minutes on a full charge. The manufacturer says that's enough for up to half an acre, and owners back that up, saying it's plenty for their normal-sized lawns. A few with larger spreads note that they are perfectly happy to mow their front and back yards in two sessions -- the battery charges quickly enough, they say, that they can recharge while they eat lunch. The battery carries a three-year warranty and, while this product is too new to determine exactly how long the battery can be expected to last, Brian at WorkshopAddict.com does the math and figures it will live for about 5 years. The Ego 56-volt 7.5 Ah Battery ($380), is the one that powers this specific electric mower.

It's hard to name only one area in which the Ego LM2102SP shines. Of course, it's much better for the environment than a gas mower, but it's also incredibly convenient, say owners. The Ego LM2102SP has variable forward speeds so it can be set to match the pace of the user -- up to 3.6 mph if you like a bit of a jog with your mowing.  A single lever raises and lowers the deck height to six different levels, and the handlebars have a three-position height adjustment -- a much-loved feature for families who share mowing duties. Changing between side discharge, rear discharge and mulching is done with a flip of a switch.

Needless to say, the Ego LM2102SP is very quiet. We saw a number of "is this thing even on?" comments, as well as users saying they were able to mow while carrying on a conversation with someone nearby without any issue. It also takes up little space as the handles fold down for storage.

If you don't need the aid of a self-propelled drive system, the EGO LM2101 (Est. $500) is just as well reviewed as its self-propelled sibling. In fact, a lot of people love it exactly because they like to have to work a bit when they get out and mow. Experts and owners are surprised at the cutting prowess of the LM2101, saying that it performs as well as a gas mower in most situations. In the same professional test that recommends the LM2102SP, the LM2101 earns the same scores, Very Good for mulching, bagging and side discharging, Excellent for handling and ease of use. At TheSweethome.com, Doug Mahoney makes it his top pick in the battery-powered mower category, saying it, "has a very good reputation for easy handling, compact storage, and strong power."

The run time on the Ego SL2101 is a bit shorter than that of the LM2102SP, about 45 minutes, but it also charges in just 40 minutes, so that might not be much of an issue. It uses the Ego 56-volt 5.0 Ah Battery (Est. $250).

If you have your heart set on a cordless electric mower, but don't want to pay upwards of $500, we saw some pretty good feedback for the Ryobi RY40112A (Est. $330). It includes two batteries; however, the run time on each battery is only about 20 minutes or so, so you need both to equal the Ego's run time. Charge time is 90 minutes. Still, owners say the Ryobi is a great value and that it cuts very well. We did see some who were unhappy with the plastic body, saying it seems flimsy. We also saw a few more durability complaints that with the Ego, but, to be fair, the Ryobi has been around for several years, the Ego only for a few months, so it's not really apples to apples.

As the price would suggest, the Ryobi is a smaller, less fully-featured machine than the Ego, with one less cutting option (there's no side-discharge), and it's smaller, 16 inches wide compared to the Ego's 21 inches. All of that means it's probably best for lawns that are fairly compact. However, speaking of compact, at 40 pounds with foldable handles, quite a few owners say they can hang it on a hook on the wall.

Corded mowers cost less than cordless mowers

Corded electric mowers are the least expensive type to buy and maintain. You have to sharpen the blades regularly, but there is no gas to buy, no oil to change and no batteries to replace.

Power comes from an extension cord plugged into the nearest outlet. Though some find it a hassle to be mindful of the extension cord, many owners just follow a simple pattern to always keep the cord on the outside so it doesn't interfere with the mower.

Experts don't give corded mowers much love, the highest rated model in one comprehensive professional round up, the Worx WG719 (Est. $200) earns unimpressive scores across the board, just ratings of Good for bagging, mulching and side discharge, Fair for handling, but a Very Good for ease of use. However, users are pretty pleased, saying it's light and easy to use, and is a great choice for a small backyard where you can mow in a logical pattern to keep the cord to your outside.

The Worx WG719 has a 19-inch cutting width, three cutting options -- bagging, mulching and side discharge -- and cutting height adjustments from 1.25 to 4 inches. The handle is not adjustable, but it folds for storage and the Worx stands for storage as well, something space-challenged owners appreciate.

While it's not been reviewed by any professionals, the Sun Joe MJ401E (Est. $100) is the most popular we saw with owners, who give it ratings comparable to any other type of lawn mower, electric or otherwise. Users say it's lightweight and very easy to use and push; and that it handles very well on turns. Many say for the price they can't believe how well it performs, although they do say it's best for regular maintenance of smaller properties, not for heavy-duty use.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Lawn Mowers | Best Self-Propelled Mowers | Best Push Mowers | Reel Mowers | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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