The self-propelled Black & Decker SPCM 1936 is a champion at mulching and side-discharging. It's also capable of bagging, though not quite as well. The 36-amp battery has an Energy Star rating and is capable of mowing about a third of an acre of lawn on one battery charge. The propulsion system can be engaged without the blades turning to easily drive the mower around.
Superior mulching. The Black & Decker SPCM 1936's excellent mulching performance is a reviewer favorite. Both expert testers and owners say it finely minces grass into near-invisible pieces that blend into the lawn. It's also very good at side-discharging, but doesn't handle bagging as well. Some owners say this electric mower is powerful enough to push through tall, winter grass, but others say it can bog down on wet grass and leaves.
The SPCM 1936 uses a 36-volt lead-acid battery with an estimated run time of 45 minutes. This is long enough to mow about a third of an acre. Many owners extend battery life by turning off the self-propelling system, saying the mower is easy to push without it.
Powers up hills. The two-speed self-propel feature on the Black & Decker SPCM 1936 is handy, though getting used to it takes a little time. Owners say it doesn't surge forward when you engage it -- a common complaint of gas-powered mowers -- but some say the slowest speed can be a bit too fast for turning or mulching. Setting the cutting height from 1.5 to 3.5 inches is quick with a one-lever adjustment. Starting the mower is simple too. One reviewer explains, "You just plug the safety key in, hold a push button in and pull the blade engagement lever on the handle."
Overall, owners say the Black & Decker SPCM 1936 is well built and has a reasonable life span but we found quite a few complaints about the manufacturer's customer service.
Well thought out. The Black & Decker SPCM 1936 requires a safety key to start and run the mower and the motor and blades turn off within seconds if the key is removed. To prevent the mower from rolling, the front wheels automatically lock anytime the self-propel is turned off and the mower is stopped. Users say this safety feature makes for an awkward process when you need to mow in reverse.
Owners say the SPCM 1936 is pretty quiet and equate the noise level to that of a vacuum or big fan. According to editors at Mowing-Cow.com, it's quiet enough to "listen to music … or talk on the phone" while mowing.
In their large comparison of 92 lawn mowers, editors test 55 different self-propelled models, only one of which is powered with an electric battery. Each model is evaluated on its ability to cut evenly, mulch, bag and side-discharge grass, among other categories.
Review: Lawn Mowers & Tractors, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
This site links to comparison tests from ConsumerReports.org to recommend the greenest consumer products. The most ecological lawn mowers, they say, include low emissions and good mulching capabilities. The Black & Decker SPCM 1936 is mentioned but it isn't rated in comparison to other mowers here.
Review: Lawn Mowers: Green Buying Guide 5/11, Editors of GreenerChoices.org, May 2011
3. J.D. Power & Associates
In its fourth year of analyzing customer satisfaction of walk-behind mowers, J.D. Power and Associates lists only six brands. The smaller listing of brands may also correlate with the smaller number of surveys received, less than half from the year before. Black & Decker again ranks below the industry average and is at the bottom of the chart.
Review: 2012 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Satisfaction Report, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Aug. 30, 2012
The Black & Decker SMCM 1936 earns a high overall rating of 4.1 stars, based on a 5-star scale, from more than 150 users at HomeDepot.com. Users here agree the speed controls take a little time to get used to, but say it's overall a great choice.
Review: Black & Decker 19 in. 36-Volt Self-Propelled Cordless Electric Mower with Removable Battery, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of June 2014
5. Family Handyman
The Family Handyman -- an established magazine for DIY guidance and support -- discusses cordless electric mowers, their various features and how to determine which is best suited to your needs. The Black & Decker SPCM 1936 is recommended as an electric option that "rivals" gas mowers.
Review: Best Cordless Lawn Mower, Editors of FamilyHandyman.com, Not Dated
In more than 560 reviews the SPCM 1936 earns an overall average of 4 stars out of 5. The mower's ability to mulch well, its gasoline-free operation and the self-propelling option are some of the most praised features. Some say it's not strong enough for thick or wet grass, however.
Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936 19-Inch 36-Volt Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Lawn Mower With Removable Battery, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2014
The SPCM 1936 receives praise for being high quality and durable at Lowes.com with about 55 owners giving it 4.3 out of 5 stars. A number of users say the self-propel feature has enough kick to easily cruise up slopes, but the lower speed can be too fast, especially around corners.
Review: Black & Decker 36-Volt 19-in Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Push Lawn Mower with Mulching Capability, Contributors to Lowes.com, As of June 2014
The editor of Mowing-Cow.com does hands-on testing of many of the lawn mowers reviewed here and says he always checks information with the manufacturer to ensure accuracy. He likes the SPCM 1936's easy-start setup and its ability to power up hills but says the "self-propulsion function takes time to get used to." He finds the Black & Decker SPCM 1936 a little overpriced and gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936 Self-Propelled Cordless Mower Review, Editor of Mowing-Cow.com, Not Dated
"Dan Y", an expert for Bestcovery.com, includes the Black & Decker SPCM 1936 in his list of best electric mowers. He gives the mower an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 and says the SPCM 1936 is the easiest to use of all the mowers listed, thanks to its self-propelled feature.
Review: Best Electric Lawn Mower: Black & Decker 36-Volt 19" Cordless Electric Push Mower SPCM1936, "Dan Y", Aug. 1, 2013
Editors of TopTenReviews.com score the Black & Decker SPCM 1936 an overall rating of 9.73 out of 10 and give it their Gold Award for outstanding features and innovation. According to editors, the mower is extremely easy to use but it doesn't do as good a job of bagging clippings as other models.
Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936, Noel Case, Not Dated
About two dozen owners rate the SPCM 1936 on the manufacturer's website, giving it an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewers say it does an excellent job when it's working properly but several complain about the quality and durability of the mower.
Review: 36V 19" Self-Propelled Rechargeable Mower with Removable Battery, Contributors to BlackandDecker.com, As of June 2014