It’s time to buy a lawn mower but you’ve got a budget to follow. Maybe you’ve decided against corded electric models because they are a big hassle. You want freedom to move around and not worry about cords. So now you need to know if you should get a traditional gas mower or a battery-powered one. Which one will save you more money?
The choice would be simple if you had a large yard, say ½-acre or more. Of course you’d get a gas-powered mower since cordless electric ones only cover up to 1/3-acre on a charge. You’d probably do the same if you had a lot of hilly terrain because your battery charge would last even less time. But none of this matters in your yard, so how else do you make up your mind?
No worries, we can help you make this crucial decision. Let’s look at the reasons for and against both kinds of mowers to see which one will cost you less in the long run.
Every power tool has two prices: one at its purchase, and the ongoing cost of keeping it running.
Just like a car, a gas-powered mower needs fuel and tune-ups. At the time of writing, gas costs just under $2 a gallon. If you’re pushing a mower, it could take up to an hour to mow 1/3-acre. A typical gas mower consumes about a gallon per hour. That means you’ll spend around $2 each time you mow. That doesn’t seem like much to spend, does it? But wait, there’s more.
Gas mowers need tune-ups each year. Those include a new spark plug, fuel filter, air filter, and oil change. Some companies like Briggs & Stratton sell tune-up kits with all these parts for about $15, but you’ll have to do the work yourself. If you take the mower to a mechanic, the cost rockets up to between $40 to $85. (The pricier end includes blade sharpening, extra steps for self-propelled mowers, and general clean-up and lubrication.)
Battery-powered cordless mowers
A cordless mower does best on mostly-flat lawns measuring around 8,000-square-feet or less. Some models handle up to 1/3-acre, which is about 14,520-square-feet, on a single charge. The average runtime is about 45 minutes, but some last up to almost an hour and a half.
Charging the mower’s battery might cost $0.40 each time. (This is based on the current price of electricity per kilowatt/hour.) A cordless electric, or battery, lawn mower doesn’t need a lot of other maintenance. Just keep it clean, sharpen the blade, and charge the battery. What a relief after dealing with messy, smelly, and noisy gas mowers. No more cord-pulling, just start it and go. (See, you really are cordless!)
But replacing the batteries…That’s where the big cost of owning a cordless mower happens. A lead-acid battery, like those in WORX mowers, have a lifetime up to 5 years if they aren’t constantly exposed to high heat. Lead-acid replacements run around $150 to over $200. Lithium-Ion batteries, like those in Greenworks mowers, last around three years and cost around $80 to $120.
But wait, there’s more…
Blade maintenance for both kinds of mowers
No matter what kind of mower you have, you’ll need to sharpen the blade. You can do this yourself with a file or grinder. If you hire someone else to do it, the price is about $10 each time. A replacement blade is $15 to $20.
Time to calculate the cost
The average warranty on a lawn mower is 3 years or less. Let’s plan on you keeping your new mower for three years (although many owners keep them for double that before upgrading). Let’s also pretend that you have no desire to do your own maintenance on your mower, so you’ll be paying full price to maintain and fuel it.
Gas mower cost over 3 years
Blade sharpening twice a year
$10 x 2 = $20
$2.00 per gallon x 30 mows a year = $60
So far, that’s $120 for one year using a gas mower. Multiply by 3 and that’s $360 for three years. Given that a decent gas-powered push mower costs around $250, you’ll need $610 total for three years of lawn care. That’s about $17 a month. At least that’s cheaper than paying someone else to do it.
Cordless mower cost over 3 years
Blade sharpening twice a year
$10 x 2 = $20
Electricity to recharge the battery
$0.40 x 30 = $12 per year
(one charge after each mow, although you might need to check your charge once or twice during the winter)
$80 to $120
But if you only use the mower for three years, you probably won’t need a new battery, so we’re leaving this out of the total for now.
$32 per year to operate a cordless electric mower. In three years, that’s $96. If you had to purchase a new battery, that’s about equal to the cost of one year of owning a gas mower.
A decent cordless mower costs about the same as a gas-powered push mower, around $250. The total cost of ownership would then be $346 for three years ($250 + $96), or $9.61 a month.
A cordless mower costs a lot less to operate and maintain–about ¼ of what a gas mower does. Now you know, so it’s time to go shopping. See our reviews about the best lawn mowers at lawntoolsguide.com.