Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

May 6, 2006

Rechargeable Lawnmower: It’s Great!

Rechargeable Lawn Mower

Rechargeable Lawn Mower

In a previous post I wrote about noise and especially bad energy efficiency of lawnmowers and other garden equipment, and suggested electric lawnmowers. I ordered one through Amazon and it was delivered (free!) in a few days. The grass is finally getting high enough here to mow, so I tried it out. It’s great!

But I am now faced with a moral dilemma. I have a perfectly good gas mower that I bought a few years ago before I saw the light. I could sell it on craigslist, or even give it away via Freecycle. But if I do that, I will be perpetuating its smoke belching, carbon and soot producing habits. Or, I could disassemble it send it for recycling. But that seems kind of wasteful, too.

Anyone have any ideas?

Anyway, here are some details on what I bought and also electric mowers in general.

I bought the Black and Decker CMM1000, which is rechargeable. It has plenty of power and is wonderfully quiet. My yard is small, and the amount of grass is even less, but there is a charge indicator and it didn’t even move after 15 minutes of mowing. It comes with a grass bag, but I have decided to try not picking up grass clippings this year since it’s really a colossal waste of organic material. The earthy-crunchies say that grass clippings help keep grass moist, keep down the weeds and earthworms will aerate, and next year will need less fertilizer. They also recommend mowing the grass at 4 inches, which is quite tall — the mower maxes out at 3-1/2 inches, so I tried about 3 inches to start. The mower has a lever you can use to adjust the height of all four wheels at once, which is nice.

Before my wicked gas mowing days, I was just cheap (not energy conscious) and bought an inexpensive electric mower (with a cord) for the condo we lived in, which also had very little grass. Everyone says that handling the cords is a pain … and it can be. However, two things make mowing with a cord just fine: 1) get several outlets in convenient locations (or run some semi-permanent extension cords), and 2) get a good, long, flexible cord — better one cord than multiples plugged together, since they either unplug when you tug on them, or snag as you pull them around trees and bushes. A final tip: mow from the cord out so that you are not constantly moving the cord around. I also had an electric snow-blower, and setting up the cord was the key to making it no problem (and getting a cord that stays flexible in the cold is also important).

The bottom line on mowing is that it’s really more of a statement. Avoiding an airline flight, or turning down the lights, or commuting to work are all far bigger contributors to a reduction in energy use. But, like our Toyota Prius the effect may be hard to quantify, but I feel like an ambassador of positive change when using it. People know where I stand, and know I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I can’t say how many conversations it has started, and if these conversations lead to awareness and action by others, my five percent will be multiplied.


  1. Paul —

    Gas stinks, no matter how you use it. I have abandoned my snow blower because I would come in smelling like oily gas.

    The lawnmower is great because it’s quiet (!!), always starts instantly, and also doesn’t stink.


    Comment by Tom Harrison — September 4, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  2. I have an earthwise cordless mower for over two years now and am really happy with it. I used to do my lawn with one of those rotating plate manual mowers but always waited for the grass to get too long before I cut it.


    Comment by John — January 8, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

  3. John —

    While your comment falls into my general policy of “no blatant commercial promotion”, I think the site offers some really great and honest information for consumers.

    I have been using a cordless electric mower for three years or so now, and it’s awesome — it always starts, is quiet, never needs a tune up, and doesn’t stink. My lawn is small, but my mower would handle any lawn in my neighborhood with no problem.

    People used to gas mowers should stop and think a minute: your current gas mower is really a huge pain: it sometimes doesn’t start, needs tune ups, and you need to have gas and oil. Electric mowers just work. Your gas mower pollutes as much as a car. No, really. Unless you have a massive lawn, an electric mower is a huge step forward, and one not needing a cord is really nice.

    OK, how’s that for punishing those who do blatant commercial promotion?

    Just don’t let it happen again.


    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 8, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  4. Update: I have been using the mower from the post for 4 years. It’s still great.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 8, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

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