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Black & Decker SPCM1936 Review

Est. $450
Reviewed
May 2015
by ConsumerSearch

Best electric mower

Pros
  • Energy efficient
  • Great handling
  • Swappable battery for extended mowing
Cons
  • Single battery only good for about a third of an acre
  • Uneven cutting performance
Where to Buy
 

Bottom line

The self-propelled Black & Decker SPCM1936 does a great job of cutting and dispersing clippings to the side, but is only so-so when asked to bag or mulch. But that level of performance is acceptable, most experts and owners say, given this mower's other pluses -- including being one of the few available cordless electric mowers that are self-propelled. Handling is excellent overall, and the propulsion system can be engaged without the blades turning to easily drive the mower around.

Breaking it down

Performance

Keep things to the side. The Black & Decker SPCM1936 draws average ratings when asked to mulch or bag clippings, but does a very good job when in its side discharge mode, cutting uniformly and spreading cut grass evenly and without clumps. Like most electric models -- which are less powerful than gas mowers -- the SPCM1936 can be challenged by a wet and/or overgrown lawn, but expert say that if your lawn is in relatively good shape, keeping it that way with this mower is a cinch. The SPCM1936 uses a 36-volt lead-acid battery with an estimated run time of 45 minutes, though it falls short of that in one test. Either way, that is still 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. The battery is also swappable (spares cost around $125), so when one battery is depleted you could slap another one in. Otherwise, charging a fully depleted battery takes around 12 hours.

Ease of use

Walk this way. The variable-speed self-propel feature on the Black & Decker SPCM1936 is handy, making it easy to set the forward motion to match your pace. Setting the cutting height (from 1.5 to 3.5 inches) is quick with a one-lever adjustment. As is the case with all electric mowers, starting is simple, too. Just engage the safety devices (a key and pull bar) and off you go. Handling is judged to be excellent by expert reviewers, but the mower is heavy -- some 90 pounds, weighed down in no small part by the battery, which weighs 30 pounds on its own. The self-propel system works independently from the motor and blade, to make it easier to do things like drive your mower back to the garage at the end of cutting. Overall, owners say the Black & Decker SPCM1936 is well built and has a reasonable life span but we found some complaints about the manufacturer's customer service.

Safety/noise

Well thought out. The Black & Decker SPCM1936 requires a safety key and a bail handle needs to be pulled up to start and run the mower. The motor and blades turn off within three seconds if the bail handle is released. To prevent the mower from rolling, the front wheels automatically lock anytime the self-propel is turned off and the mower is stopped. A few users say this safety feature makes for an awkward process when you need to mow in reverse. Owners say the SPCM1936 is pretty quiet and equate the noise level to that of a vacuum or big fan. According to "Matt" at Mowing-Cow.com, it's quiet enough to "listen to music … or talk on the phone" while mowing.

Where To Buy
Featured StoresStore RatingNotesTotal Price
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$59.99
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$16.98
 

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

The Black & Decker SPCM1936 is one of only three cordless electric self-propelled mowers covered by ConsumerReports.com in its large comparison review of lawn mowers. Commentary is brief, but the lawn mower is rated for its prowess at various cutting tasks, as well as for how well it handles and how easy it is to use.

Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936 self propelled mower, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated

2. HomeDepot.com

The Black & Decker SPCM1936 earns a high overall rating of 4.1 stars, based on a 5-star scale, from more than 270 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 May 2015

3. Family Handyman

The Family Handyman discusses cordless electric mowers, their various features and how to determine which is best suited to your needs. The Black & Decker SPCM1936 is recommended as an electric option that "rivals" gas mowers.

Review: Best Cordless Lawn Mower, Editors of FamilyHandyman.com, Not Dated

4. Amazon.com

In more than 730 reviews the Black & Decker SPCM1936 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 May 2015

5. Mowing-Cow.com

"Matt," the owner 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 SPCM1936'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 SPCM1936 a little overpriced and gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936 Self-Propelled Cordless Mower Review, "Matt", Not Dated

6. TopTenReviews.com

Grant Morgan of TopTenReviews.com scores the Black & Decker SPCM1936 an overall rating of 9.1 out of 10. That's good enough to earn it the site's Bronze Award among electric mowers and a 2015 Excellence Award According to Morgan, the mower is extremely easy to use but it doesn't do as good a job of bagging clippings as other models. The mowers 90-pound heft is another negative. Still, the overall assessment is that "The Black & Decker SPCM1936 performs as reliably as a gas powered mower and is easy and fun to use."

Review: Black & Decker SPCM1936, Grant Morgan, Not Dated

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