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Spring has sprung, which means it’s finally time to crack open the windows, start the grill and get the yard in shape for the warmer months ahead.
A major part of any homeowner’s seasonal outdoor duties is lawn care. From gardening to tree trimming, there are numerous boxes to check when it comes to keeping up your home’s curb appeal, but none is more important than keeping your grass cut.
For that most demanding of homeowner responsibilities, the lawn mower is a vital piece of the lawn care puzzle.
If you’re buying your first mower or need to replace an old one, you’ll have three different types of mowers to choose from: gas, corded, and battery-powered.
Which of these three choices is going to give you the greatest lawn-cutting experience? We’ll break that down in our deep dive into electric vs. gas lawn mowers below.
Electric vs. Gas Lawn Mowers: How Much Is a New Lawn Mower?
There are a number of criteria to keep in mind when purchasing a lawn mower, but the upfront cost is going to be one of the biggest deal-breakers.
Typically, corded mowers are going to be the cheapest option. With no fuel-powered engine or battery onboard, these mowers cost anywhere from $150 to $250.
Battery-powered mowers can cost anywhere from $250 up to $800, and that doesn’t include the cost of replacement batteries (more on that later).
This leaves gas-powered mowers as the most expensive option. With prices starting at around $350, the most expensive models can be $1,000 or more, depending on how much power you need to cut your grass.
Speaking of power …
Electric vs. Gas Lawn Mowers: How Much Power Does Your Mower Need?
Does your lawn take up two or more acres? Are there numerous steep sections or rough areas made up of ditches and divots? These are important questions to ask yourself, because the bigger and tougher the lawn you have to deal with, the more power and durability you’re going to require from a mower.
In cases where you’re dealing with a sprawling backyard of grass, or an obstacle-laden property of some sort, a gas mower will likely be a better choice. Why is that? Generally speaking, gas models are stronger than both battery-powered and corded mowers.
Lawn mower power is measured by overall torque and horsepower, with most mowers outputting anywhere between three to 30 horsepower, although some riding mowers may muster even greater numbers.
EGO POWER Electric Mower
While horsepower is relevant, it’s a mower’s torque that you’ll see most commonly as a marketing spec. Torque measures how much energy is used to rotate the mower’s blade, with most mowers capable of producing anywhere from four up to 10 feet per pound.
In a side-by-side comparison, gas mowers produce both greater horsepower and torque than electric lawn mowers, making them ideal for bigger lawns, yards with tough grading and wet grass.
Corded and battery-powered mowers are best suited for lawns with less real estate to cover. While it might be enticing to save a few hundred bucks, cutting a big or tough lawn with a less powerful mower may lead to a breakdown of your mower’s vital components, which will end up costing you more in the long run.
Electric vs. Gas Lawn Mowers: Which Mower Will Run the Longest?
Whether battery, gas, or electricity, your lawn mower’s source of power is the ultimate consideration when it comes to determining how long your mower will operate.
Battery-powered lawn mowers tend to offer the least amount of overall runtime, topping out at about 60 minutes. For homes with small to medium-sized lawns, this may not be such a big deal, but bigger yards may require that you stop cutting for a battery recharge, which can take up to an hour in many cases.
BLACK+DECKER Gas Powered Push Lawn Mower
A gas-powered mower will operate as long as there’s fuel in the tank, with most gas mowers equipped with a 1-gallon gas tank. While an easy-to-cut lawn won’t tax the tank too heavily, lawns with tough terrain will demand more power, and thus more fuel burned.
The key with a gas mower is to always make sure you have extra gasoline on hand. After all, you don’t want to drain the mower’s tank and then have to run out to the local gas station to re-fill your canister.
While they’re not the go-to option for every lawn, corded mowers offer infinite runtimes, just as long as there’s power going to your property. Neighborhood blackouts and summer storms can knock out community power now and then, and if it’s on a day you were planning to cut the grass, your corded mower isn’t going to start.
Electric vs. Gas Lawn Mowers: The Cost To Operate
Like most lawn care appliances, mowers require some general upkeep to keep them operating efficiently.
If a gas-powered mower is the best choice for your yard, then you’ll need to make sure you’re ready for the cost of annual maintenance, as gas models require the most love and care.
During a regular mowing season, you’ll always need to make sure you’ve bought enough gasoline to power your mower. But with more moving parts in a gas mower’s engine, you’ll also be responsible for replacing oil and fuel filters, spark plugs, blades, driveshafts, fuel additives and other components.
RYOBI Brushless Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
When it’s time to store the mower away during the winter, you’ll also want to make sure your gas tank is empty, as the leftover fuel can clog the carburetor, making it near-impossible to start the mower come spring.
While battery-powered mowers require less upkeep than gas models, you’re still responsible for the battery itself. Most mower batteries kick the can after about three years of usage, and if this falls outside your warranty period, you’re going to need to purchase a replacement yourself.
Replacement batteries are not cheap, and because there’s no universal model that will fit every mower, you’re at the mercy of whatever batteries your manufacturer supports. That being said, it’s a good idea to have a spare available in the event that your operating battery reaches its end of life.
Corded mowers require next to no maintenance, but do consider the impact it will have on your electric bill. Fortunately, most corded mowers only cost about 20 to 60 cents to operate per hour, compared to the higher hourly cost of gas-powered models.
Is It Cheaper To Hire a Lawn Care Company?
Considering the many ins and outs of lawn mower ownership, you may be thinking that hiring a landscaping team is a better alternative.
Whether you don’t want to deal with the slog of pushing your mower around, keeping it fueled and maintained or you’re not around enough to give your lawn the attention it needs, getting a professional lawn care service can save you time and energy, but not necessarily money.
These days, you’re looking at anywhere from $50 to over $200 for a lawn care company to cut your grass.
If your zip code receives a particularly rainy summer, and your grass is constantly growing, you may need to cut your grass three to four times per month. That’s $600 to $1,000 to hire a third party to take care of your yard.
With the average gas-powered mower costing around $350, it’s much savvier to invest in your own grass-cutting gear.
That being said, hiring a lawn care team does have its benefits. If your lawn requires additional upkeep like aeration, edging and shrubbery trimming, landscapers will typically provide these extra services (for an additional cost, of course).