Yard appliances that have both an electric or internal combustion power source – straight dope message board electricity words


I have a Black & Decker cordless electric mower that’s outlasted two gas mowers (carburetor issues due to ethanol in the gas, gah) and it’s amazing. No cord, pretty powerful, can do both front and back yard on one charge, charges fairly quickly and best of all that first time in spring–it starts right up, which NO gas mower I’ve ever had did. It’s very quiet, too. Been using it over five years now and I’m not wasting my money on another gas mower until I need something that’s basically a tractor.

Curious how long your gas mowers lasted since your five year battery one outlasted them. I have had 2 gas mowers in my life, treat them hard and put them away wet, and each has lasted over 10 years. One started right up (1 – 2 pulls) every year every time except one which I just forgot to hold the safety and flooded it for the first start of a season, the other older mower would take perhaps 5 – 10 pulls and some pumps of the primer before starting for the season, started up fine for the season after that. Yes ethanol, though sometimes I get ethanol free premium (but have to travel for it so don’t always), and I also use gas stabilizer, and some times add carb cleaner to the tank, though many times I run gas that should be stale.

No electric mower would compete in terms of power, and also be self propelled (walk behind), but looking at the electric ones they seem also to all have a plastic deck, I can’t see that lasting 10 years, I look at the inside of my mowers deck and over the years it has taken some impacts which metal is better of handling.

Perhaps for light mowing a well manicured lawn battery electric would be good, but for weeds, roots and rocks, hills and ruts, and just to get the job when the lawn should have been mowed 2 weeks ago done I can’t see electric yet competing with gas. Even plug in electric, I suspect would need something like 50A 220V to compete on power.

Older gas mowers tend to be freaking tanks that last forever but the new ones (mostly with Briggs & Stratton motors that used to be awesome but now are apparently put together with string and glue) seem to have an intractable problem with ethanol gas. I had one for about three years and it did okay until a combination of wheels wanting to fall off all of a sudden and a froze up carburetor sidelined it. An estimate of repair was actually more than just buying a new one, so I did. It has maybe three HOURS of use on the motor, then winter came and I ran it completely out of gas (which is how I’ve been wintering gas mowers for decades) and in spring it simply would not start because the fucking carb was pasted shut with shellacked ethanol gas. At that point I just threw up my hands and gave up on the damned things.

The electric mows my back yard which is a challenge. I don’t like lawn monoculture much so the yard is more of a barely contained meadow, with seasonal plants of about a million different kinds–big scary rye grasses that grow chest high if you let ’em (I think those came in on some straw bales I used to get for dog bedding when I had an outdoor Malemute who wouldn’t come in the house for more than five minutes) and chickweed and herb robert and deadnettle and dandelions and gnarly dock plants and fucking blackberry invaders from hell and the like. Add to that two dogs who dig random holes here and there, hide toys and sticks in the underbrush for the mower to find and just some very challenging terrain–the electric handles it like a brush mower. Thing is awesome. I have no idea what the battery life is supposed to be but I’ve always been able to mow the back, front and side yards on one charge and it still does to this day.