Mulling Over Mowers: A Comparison of Gas, Electric and Push Lawn Mowers

Mulling Over Mowers: A Comparison of Gas, Electric and Push Lawn MowersAt the end of October last year, while blissfully in the middle of my final mow of the season, my lawn mower hit a large stone.

It sputtered, yelped and stopped.

I rolled my mower back into the shop and borrowed my neighbour’s to finish up, knowing that mine had given me eight good years and likely couldn’t be fixed.

So when Spring came around, I knew I was going mower shopping before the grass got too long. Being frugal, curious, and wanting to turn a new mower into potential household savings

...I began calculating what my annual costs are for mowing my lawn.

I did a comparison of my lawn mower options, from gas to cordless electric, and here’s what I discovered:

Not all lawn mowers are made the same

When it comes to mowers, you can spend a lot or a little ‒ and both will get the job done.

You can buy a basic gas lawn mower for under $200 or even get into a corded electric model for around $79 (at the time of this writing). There are cordless electric lawn mowers starting around $300 when on sale or, if you like to mow the lawn in an authentic way, you can pick up a decent manual reel push mower for $130.

Biting the bullet and buying a new lawn mower will cost you anywhere from $79-$599 and beyond. All have their benefits and drawbacks and all have different costs associated with running them.

But it’s important to note that not all mowers are made the same.

They vary in quality, some with fancy, name-brand engines which means they should last a long time as long as you do regular maintenance. Others have small deck sizes at 11 or 13 inches wide, while others clock in at a luxurious 20+ inches.

The big question is, "How big is your yard?" as size dictates what kind of lawn mower you need.

Related: Dear Renters: Home Ownership Costs Plenty

My lawn needs

My yard size is a pretty standard 5,000 square-foot lot for my neighbourhood and takes about 30 minutes to cut.

So all-in-all, I’m not mowing a ton of grass and any one of the mower options (gas, electric, lithium battery, or reel) should do the trick.

One thing to consider on all mowers is the deck size. A larger mowing deck, anything 20 inches or larger, means I’m going to spend less time mowing and more time enjoying life!

Mower Type Cost to Purchase Annual Cost
Gas $349 Approx. $70 - $80
Corded Electric $299 Approx. $14
Battery Powered Electric $499 Approx. $15
Reel Lawn Mower $200 Approx. $10

Gas lawn mower

The good: When it comes to gas-powered lawn mowers, there’s nothing better for the power rating and ease of mowing than not having to be tethered to a power cable. It can cut a swath through tall grass quite easily and the cut-quality is exceptional.

Some of the more expensive models are even self propelled, meaning they help push themselves around the yard. This is definitely a good thing for anyone who finds mowing to be physically taxing.

The bad: To be blunt, gas lawn mowers are loud and contribute to pollution. They also require a type of fuel that is prone to massive swings in price due to global demand.

There is also the storage of gasoline. It’s important to store gas in containers designed to hold them otherwise the vapours can ignite and be dangerous. All-in-all, the Husqvarna model I was looking at cost $349 on sale.

Cost to run: It cost me about 2 litres of gas to run a lawn mower on my yard. At gasoline’s current price of $1.25 per litre (at time of writing) and the idea that I cut my lawn 20 times a year on average, the annual cost of gas to run a mower is around $50.

Add in an oil change, air filter and spark plug change every other year and the price goes up another $20 or so annually.

When all is said and done, I peg my annual costs to run this particular lawn mower in the range of $70-$80.

Corded electric lawn mower

The good: Having had a corded electric lawn mower for the past 8 years, I can tell you they are typically quiet to run, have a ton of power (operating one that is 12-13 Amps) and have extremely low maintenance costs. We’re talking pennies, not dollars folks!

The mower I was looking at is the 21 inch, 13 Amy Greenworks version – power and deck width for quick mowing!

The bad: The cord! This can be a major cost if you keep running over your mower cord.

Not only that, but there’s a bit of a dance that happens when mowing around a cord and, if not done right, the picking up and putting down of a cord can be dangerous when running a moving blade that’s inches from your fingers.

Cost to run: $3.84 per year + blade sharpening at approx $10 per year = $13.84 per year. (Based on this Energy Cost Calculator with the hydro rate in Manitoba at 8.527 per kWh)

Corded lawn mower annual energy cost

Related: How To Get The Best Deal (With This Little Secret)

Cordless electric lawn mower

The good: Nothing says welcome to 2018 like a lithium-battery-powered lawn mower. They not only look a bit cooler than their corded cousins, but they have all the benefits of being super quiet to run and not being tethered to a cord.

The bad: The cost to purchase these mowers-of-the-future can be expensive. The one I was eyeing at Canadian Tire came with one of the highest price tags at $499 and had a deck width of 20 inches.

Runtime can be an issue as well, with most lithium batteries claiming to last between 30 and 70 minutes per mow. Not a problem for my yard, but it might be with a bigger one.

Cost to run: $5.12 per year + blade sharpening at approx $10 per year = $15.12 per year, assuming 2,000 watts are consumed per charge.

Cordless lawn mower annual energy cost

Reel push mower (manual lawn mower)

The good: Nothing says "I’m a hipster" like an authentic reel push mower. I mean, this is what 1955 must have felt like. It’s a silent machine and you can actually hear the blades of grass screaming as they’re being cut.

The Home Depot lawn mower I was looking at cost just under $200. They didn’t make a 20 inch deck version, so I would have to settle for an 18-incher.

The bad: The reel push mower uses technology invented 100 years ago and can be crude to operate when it comes to cornering.

Another annoyance is that branches tend to get stuck in the blades causing a moment where the reels stop and it feels like you may go over the push bar. I equate it to the feeling of hitting the front brake on the first bicycle you had as a kid and learning the hard way what happens.

Cost to run: $0 if you learn how to sharpen the blade yourself. Otherwise, expect to sharpen it every 3 years which averages out to be $10 per year.

What did I buy?

Believe it or not, I went with the Scotts Reel Push Mower. I actually found a used lawn mower on Kijiji for $40, which was only used twice.

Related: How To Shop At Garage Sales And Save

I thought it was worth the try and, if I didn’t like using it every week, I could sell it for what I paid for it and buy something else. That something else would have likely been another corded electric mower. But I do like the reel mower, even though it takes about 5 extra minutes to cut my lawn versus if I bought an electric or a gas lawn mower.

Are you thinking of replacing your old mower with something a bit more cost-effective? What do you use now and what is your experience?

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Money Beagle's picture

How did you figure out that the old mower was unusable? It seems that even a stone hitting it might damage some of the moving parts, but if the engine and such still worked, it should have been repairable.

I don't think I could use a push mower on our lot. We've got a rather substantial slope on one side of the house and I think it would be pretty difficult to manuver, especially considering that my wife has largely taken over the lawn mowing duties (at her request).

My neighbor across the street recently purchased an electric mower. It is watch him use it. I'm not sure why, but every so often he has to stop and sort of shake it a few times before he can continue. I'm thinking maybe it doesn't have enough force to distribute the grass if it's thick enough and he has to shake it loose. I would probably get so frustrated with that I'd end up breaking it :)

July 18, 2018 @ 3:25 pm
Dick's picture

How about a robotic mower?

July 27, 2018 @ 11:28 am
Michael Richard's picture

Gas-powered mowers have been around for nearly 100 years. They have a fan-like blade that tears off the top of grass blades.It is not so costly and can clean your garden smoothly.

July 29, 2018 @ 2:33 pm
Colin Stewart
Colin  Stewart's picture

I have a gas mower. I am concerned about the fumes, smoke and pollution. So, going to sell it and go for a push mower.My neighbor uses one and he has the nicest lawn in the entire community! And, I see him quietly mowing his lawn at 10 pm at night - you'd never know unless you saw him in the act!!

August 18, 2018 @ 2:43 am

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