In a recent article, I mentioned how an updated version of the old-fashioned reel lawn mower might be appropriate for the person who emailed their question. Sometimes I edit the email to fit space and to zero in on one topic. In this case, several people complained that my answer wasn’t comprehensive enough.
For instance, the original question mentioned that the gas-powered lawn mower had quit, and they wanted a new mower that was quieter and produced fewer pollutants. Even though the question said that the repair was going to cost more than the mower was worth, I could have mentioned that it may be better to repair it than to buy a new lawn mower. Also of concern was how the old mower was going to be disposed of or recycled.
It’s rare for people to make end-of-life decisions on tools, appliances, and even cars before they purchase them. Many lawn mowers last for decades and with regular maintenance can last indefinitely. What components the product is made from make a big difference in product longevity and future environmental impact of disposal. With many of today’s newer technologies, we don’t have a good idea of product longevity and we don’t know how to recycle many of the rare earth elements they may have in their electrical components and batteries.
Besides the pros and cons of gas, battery, and electric mowers, the lawn size, land topography, and the operator need to be considered before buying a mower. Large lawn areas may be too big for battery-operated mowers and too far away from electrical outlets, so only gas-powered mowers will work. People mowing lawns on hilly areas may benefit from self-propelled lawn mowers that can consume a lot of the battery power of battery-powered mowers. People who can’t walk too far may need a riding mower or help from a self-propelled mower.
If you have the proper type of grass, the physical fitness, and a small enough lawn, a reel mower will be quieter and pollute less than the other types of mowers. Battery-powered mowers get their electricity from somewhere that may be on or off the grid. One of my readers is powering her Ego brand battery mower and Ego snowblower from the solar panels on her roof.
As I mentioned in the previous article, I am currently using an electric lawn mower that I use with an extension cord. My yard is small, and I installed outlets in the landscapes in the front and back while doing other landscaping work, so the outlets are convenient.
The motor technology for battery and electric mowers is just a plain old electric fan motor, so they should be easy and cheap to repair in the future. There are several brands of battery and electric mowers, and I don’t have experience with most of them. If you are looking to buy American or to buy products with a good safety record, you will have to do some research.
There is concern that the minerals used in batteries are being mined with unsustainable methods. Recycling those minerals in the future at the end of the battery’s life is also a concern that needs to be addressed. A lot of research is being done on making battery materials recyclable.