Although all-electric cars are still rare in day-to-day life, electric lawn mowers have been around for a long time. There are two general types of electric mowers: corded and cordless. A corded mower draws its power from an electric outlet. A cordless mower uses a rechargeable battery to power the mower's cutting blades. Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Although the electric lawn mower may seem like a more modern mower, according to the British Old Lawnmower Club, electric lawnmowers were first tried in the 1920s and 1930s. Corded lawn mowers were produced, but gasoline-powered mowers were more popular. Early rechargeable mowers used car batteries to drive the blades. More modern mowers use higher-capacity, faster-charging batteries.
Both corded and cordless mowers are much quieter than traditional gasoline-powered mowers. Electric mowers produce fewer localized emissions common with gasoline mowers. Because many gasoline mowers are two-cycle and burn some engine oil with the gasoline, they produce high levels of pollution. In urban areas where many people are mowing lawns, the combined effects of mower pollution can be significant.
Corded and cordless lawn mowers are similar in many ways. They both use an electric motor to drive the cutting blades. However, in everyday use, there are some significant differences. Corded mowers have the advantage of a constant power supply. As long as the cord is plugged in, the electric motor produces even cutting power and will not run out of fuel. The downside is that they are limited by the length of an extension cord. Corded mowers are generally limited to 100-foot extension cords, according to American Lawns.
Cordless mowers use battery packs to supply power to the motor that drives the mower's blades. They reduce the risk of accidentally mowing the extension cord and allow the mower to operate in places where electrical outlets are impractical. However, the power of the motor may drop as the battery charge drops, thus reducing their cutting ability. In addition, if the batteries go dead part way through mowing a lawn, they will need to be recharged before the job can be finished. How much lawn your cordless mower can mow depends on your lawn. Thicker, more lush lawns use more power. According to American Lawns, higher capacity mowers can mow 5,000 square feet of lush, thick lawn or 8,000 feet of thinner grass. If you mow infrequently, taller grass can increase battery drain.
As battery technology improves, charging times may fall and capacities may increase. Some newer models of electric mowers include hover mowers, which ride on a cushion of air, and robotic mowers. Hover mowers are usually cordless. Robotic mowers are also cordless. Robotic mowers use wires either embedded in the ground or suspended above the ground to define the area to be mowed. Some robotic mowers are able to sense when their batteries are getting low, return to a charging station and charge their batteries without human intervention. Some robotic mowers are able to reliably maintain up to 5 acres of grass, according to Paramumun.