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 the blades and replacing the battery every few years, which can be pricey. The rechargeable batteries add extra weight but give users the freedom to mow farther than an extension cord can reach.
The Black & Decker SPCM1936 (Est. $450) is a hit with experts and owners. This is a feature rich model that's self-propelled, a relative rarity among electric models. The 36-volt battery mows up to a third of an acre, with an average 45-minute run time -- though only 30 minutes in one large comparative review. If you need more run time, the battery is swappable, and you can simply plug in another Black & Decker Battery (Est. $125) to handle almost any size yard. Otherwise, you'll need to charge the battery overnight (about 12 hours) if it's fully depleted.
Overall cut quality is very good, though the SPCM1936 isn't quite powerful enough to mow overgrown or wet lawns says Grant Morgan at TopTenReviews.com. But Morgan adds that a typical, well-maintained lawn is a cinch for this Black & Decker. "If you mow your lawn as recommended -- when your lawn is dry and at an acceptable length, usually no more than eight inches depending on grass type -- this electric mower will make the same clean cuts and effective passes as any other mower available," he says. Cutting is most impressive in the SPCM1936's side-discharge mode, reports another expert reviewer. Kudos are also given to the mower's handling and ease of use, but mulching and bagging is only average.
Convenience is the key to this well regarded self-propelled electric mower. The SPCM1936 has variable forward speeds so it can be set to match the pace of the user. You can raise and lower the deck height for different mowing conditions using a single lever. Changing between side discharge, rear discharge and mulching is done without tools -- just a flip of a switch. The polymer (i.e. plastic) deck won't rust and is covered by a lifetime warranty. The mower itself is covered for two years.
If you don't need the aid of a self-propelled drive system, the Black & Decker CM1936 (Est. $400) is another well-regarded choice. Users say that in most situations, it does just as good a job as gas-powered machines, only it's much quieter. Despite the similar model numbers, it has different strengths and weakness compared to the Black & Decker SPCM1936, at least according to the one comprehensive and comparative review we spotted. Where that reviewer gives best grades to SPCM1936 for its performance when discharging clippings to the side, it reserves the highest praise for the CM 1936 for mulching.
The 36-volt swappable battery provides enough juice for property sizes up to a third of an acre, and the battery run time lasted 40 minutes in one test. The mower again has a one-touch height adjustment lever that quickly and easily allows users to adjust the deck height to fit their mowing needs. The Black & Decker comes with a two-year warranty, with lifetime coverage for the polymer deck.
If there's a drawback to the above cordless electric lawn mowers, it's that their lead-acid batteries are heavy (30 pounds, reports say) and take a long time to recharge. Some mowers are switching to lighter-weight, faster charging Li-ion batteries, and reviews are very positive. Among these, we saw some strong recommendations for the EGO LM2001 (Est. $500). Its standard 56-volt, 4-amp-hour (Ah) battery provides about as much run-time as batteries in other cordless mowers -- about 40 minutes in one test. The battery is swappable, and you can choose between a second 4-Ah battery; a cheaper, lower-power 2-Ah one or, coming soon, a beefier 5-Ah battery. If you don't feel like springing for the extra battery (the 4-Ah option runs $200 or so), no worries, as recharging only takes around a half hour -- perfect for a break in the middle of mowing a larger property. The warranty is a cut above the norm at a full five years.
As noted, reviews for the EGO cordless mower are pretty good. Last year's version, the EGO LM2000, is lauded by ConsumerReports.org (in a free article) despite being only "mediocre" in most lawn cutting tasks. "Great handling, easy storage, and other conveniences" are the highlights, Ed Perratore says. TheSweetHome.com says similar things about the current model, naming it the best cordless mower based on its research -- with a full test of the LM2001 planned during the 2015 lawn-cutting season. Todd Fratzel at Tool Box Buzz compares the LM2001 to the CM1936 and a field of three other cordless mowers, and gives the overall edge to the EGO. Users are a happy bunch as well. At HomeDepot.com, we spotted over 750 reviews and a rating of 4.5 stars; around 91 percent say that they would recommend the LM2001 to a friend.
Experts say corded electric mowers are the least expensive type to buy and maintain. Maintenance -- apart from sharpening the blades regularly -- is minimal; 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.
Based on feedback from hundreds of owners posting at HomeDepot.com, Amazon.com and elsewhere, the Black & Decker LM175 (Est. $170) looks like a strong option for those who want a low-cost electric push mower. Because it's lightweight, starts at the push of a button and cleanly cuts a small lawn, many owner say that they prefer this corded mower to larger, more powerful options.
The LM175's durable 6.5-amp motor is best for smaller lawns. The mower isn't tough enough to clean up unkempt yards full of overgrown grass and weeds, but it does leave an excellent finish on a healthy lawn. This mower discharges grass out the side and lacks a mulching feature. The optional bag is reported as discontinued, but can still be found at retail (Est. $35). The LM175 is covered by a two-year warranty on the mower and a lifetime warranty on the polymer deck.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Lawn Mowers: Editors look at the different types of lawn mowers -- electric, gas and reel -- including push and self-propelled models. Top picks and worthy alternates are named.
Best Lawn Mowers: Self-propelled mowers get the best recommendations from experts and users. These are the models that finish in the front of the pack
Best Push Mowers: Push mowers are perfect for smaller properties and smaller budgets. Editors name the best gas-powered push mowers from brands like Lawn Boy, Cub Cadet and Husqvarna.
Reel Mowers: A people-powered reel mower is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to keep a small lawn looking its best. These are the top ones.
Buying Guide: Not sure where to start in finding the perfect lawn mower for your property and your budget? These helpful pointers will help steer you in the right direction.
Our Sources: These are the expert and user reviews we used to select the top lawn mowers, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.