Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Cordless Lawn Mowers - Buyers Guild Part 2

As I said in the Cordless Lawn Mowers Buyers Guide Part 1, with everything you purchase in life, it’s the Features & Benefit against the Cost that give you the final Incentive Merit that ultimately makes you decide either to purchase or to walk away from a certain product, or to focus on a particular make or model.

Before buying a battery-powered mower, you need to take some factors into consideration in order to make the right choice for you, remember everyone is different and a "Feature" can have a number of different "Benefits" to different people. A hatchback car has a single feature but a different benefit to a dog owner and someone who like to play golf.     

1. Cutting Width and Height

It is very important for you to consider the cutting width and height of the push mower you want to buy. Smaller cutting width means you will have to do more passes before completing the mowing process, but it also normally means a lighter machine as there is a correlation between width and weight.

One of the advantages of a machine with a smaller cutting width is that it is easier to manoeuvre, and normally lighter. Battery-powered mowers with larger cutting width will require a few passes before completing your job. However, they are not as easy to manoeuvre, or lift.
Majority of push mowers in today’s world come with adjustable height setting so that you can make a choice. You need to consider the ease of changing height settings and possible heights that can be set. Height settings normally range between 3 and 7 different heights, and a height range of somewhere between 20mm to 80mm.
  
2. Choosing the Right Battery

The type of battery used is very important in a cordless quiet lawnmower. This goes a long way in determining the cutting time that will be experienced. Best cordless lawn mowers come with lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries or lead-acid batteries. Lithium-battery cordless mowers are more popular.

You need to consider the capacity of the battery as this will determine its runtime. A battery with a higher capacity will surely have a higher runtime when compared to one with a lower capacity. The time taken to charge the battery should also be considered – the faster, the better. So the cut area from a single charge is fairly important to determine, unfortunately I have found that not all companies will disclose this information on their web sites
A cordless mower gives you the freedom of a petrol driven mower by using two types of batteries: lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

Both of them are available with a power of anywhere between 18V to 120V. Higher the volts, better will be the coverage capacity, durability and runtime of a battery. Li-ion batteries can hold the charge for a longer duration and are considered better than lead acids. Some of the lithium-ion batteries can be recharged up to 100 cycles. The Green works Power Range is

The other consideration when looking at a battery is the Amp Hour (AH or Ah) specification which provides a measurement of battery capacity. It is an indication of how much energy can be stored by the battery. A typical Amp Hour specification might read, "100 AH @ 20HR".

Figures below are for Cuting Area based on the Ah of the battery used on a 48V 41cm Greenworks Cordless Lawnmower

Rec. Cutting Area (2Ah) = 275 m2
Rec. Cutting Area (4Ah) = 550 m2
Rec. Cutting Area (6Ah) = 825 m2 

250 m2 is considered a small garden and is often referred too as being tennis court sized 

Many companies like Ryobi, Makita, Works, and Greenworks etc. now also market on a one battery fits a number of power tools so that you can buy a starter kits that come with batteries and then buy additional Body only tools that can utilise the same batteries. It's just a shame they don't reduce the body only down in price the UK as much as they do in the rest of the world.

Once you are hooked on a brand or actually their battery format it's very difficult not to take that ownership into consideration when looking to buy a new power tool of some description. 

One quickly learns that for use of any power tool for any reasonable duration that one needs to invest in an appropriate Ah battery. I became a "Ryobi One+ 18V Man" after testing my Brother-in-Laws circular saw using a 2Ah and a 4Ah battery and saw first hand the difference in power and duration of use. Thus I bought a starter kit with a better 4.0 Ah battery.  

Ryobi only sell their One+ 18V lawnmowers with 4.0 Ah and more recently as they have added larger Ah batteries to the range 5.0 Ah batteries and I'm truly stunned Greenworks are shipping their 24V and their 48V (24V=24V) range with 2Ah batteries and not something with a longer life span per charge. 

Again at then end of the day it really all depends on the actual area you have to cut with a mower. I have been trying to get figures from Greenworks for their different machines as these are not currently quoted on all pages for all their machines.  

3. Lawn Size and Condition

Which magazine tests each mowers ability to cope with Standard Grass, Long Grass, Rough Grass and Wet Grass, judging how tidily it cuts the grass and what it's like in different conditions. 

We all know that the first cut of the year in March/ April depending on the amount of rain is always the worst, and that the height is adjusted up as high as possible to allow airflow and for the lower levels of grass to dry out before lowering the height and cutting again.
    
Because of shortened battery life, cordless lawn mowers traditionally been only though  suitable for only small and medium-sized lawns, but what is actually considered a small or medium sized lawn?. If you own a large garden, then you should do more research and find a mower with a powerful battery and extended runtime adequate to cut the area you have on a single charge. 

If you are okay with taking breaks, then you can use a cordless mower over extensive gardens as well. Depending upon the make and model, you can choose up to 40 minutes of runtime for small or medium grounds. For more significant areas, you will need a battery backup of up to 2 hours.

If you want to include some breaks while maintaining a large lawn, then look for a cordless mower with a rapid charging feature or consider investing in an additional battery.

4. Weight               

Battery-powered mowers are lighter in general when compared to petrol mowers. However, if you suffer from a bad back or you are elderly then weight and manoeuvrability must be considered. Normally extra space is required for big footprint mowers that are not easy to fold up and store away.

5. Self-Propelled Features

Now, this is a feature that can make things easy here. If you are recovering from an injury, then a self-propelled mower can be the best to maintain your lawn or garden. They will move forward without your support; however, you need the strength to be able to guide them around the corners.

6. Cutting Width

Width of the blade is another factor that helps you choose a cordless lawnmower. Most of us make sad faces after seeing a low runtime, but it’s not bad news if the same mower has wide cutting blades. With a wide cutting blade, the mower will cover more area, and the mowing task will be completed in less time and energy. So a comparison of blade width, Runtime and Cut Area per charge needs to be considered. 

7. Storage Space

Storage is another vital factor to consider when buying a mower. If you don’t have too much space for storage, you should go for a rechargeable lawnmower that has vertical storage ability. A product like this can be folded up and stored upright saving you much space.

How much-reserved space you have to store a cordless lawnmower? Are you going to store it in a garage, or due to lack of space you are forced to take the cutting machine indoors; under the stairs or might be inside the cupboard. If you are running low on storage space, then you should check the dimensions of cordless lawnmowers.

In the list mentioned above, we have discussed several variants that have foldable handles. Once they are collapsed, you can store the machine in small places. On the other hand, if you own a large house and there is no need to think about space, you can check any of the above considerations.

8. Charging System

Most of the times, you will see that a cordless lawn mower has removable batteries. Removable battery means, you can charge it quickly indoors while not in use. Moreover, you can purchase a spare battery for virtually unlimited runtime.

9. Cutting Management

Cutting management is very essential for any cordless mower. You should check if the machine you want to buy has all the features that make mowing easier. Does it have mulching, bagging and side discharge functions? Does it have a self-propelled ability which will make your job easier and effective?

10. Ergonomics & Ease of Use

It is better to choose a product with an ergonomic handle so that convenience will be enhanced. A lot of rechargeable lawn mowers come with many easy-to-use features like a single lever, push-button start, fold-up storage and so on. You should choose a product that will give you the greatest convenience so that you will be able to get satisfactory results. 

For me it's a trade off between a lighter model 8.8 kg without a mulcher or a 18.5 kg machine with a mulcher. If I'm going to be humping this down to the allotment on a regular basis do I really want a machine that is twice as heavy but with a cutting width only 30mm wider than the model below and is less than half the weight?

11. Additional Features

Above we have discussed the essential features that need to be checked for an enjoyable mowing experience. However, there are many other traits of cordless mowers that can add that extra something to your mowing session. For instance, there are cordless mowers that can also work as a mulcher (Greenworks 36cm & 41cm models) or discharge the grass cuttings from one side. 

For me as an allotment owner who enjoys making his own compose the mulcher is a feature that gives me a tangible benefit. As I can throw my spent vegetation on the grass and get it compost bin ready really easily. I'm considering looking at if I could make a mulching plug for the smaller machine that the larger machine has, to get that additional feature.  

Then comes the battery and grass level indicator (Hyundai HYM60LI420), which keeps you informed about the ongoing process. We have discussed mowers that can automatically regulate power input for improved efficiency and runtime. It also an additional and useful feature that you can look. Example, Yard Force 108V cordless lawnmower has Torque-Sense Technology that manages the power according to the mowing conditions, which results in a long-lasting backup.

Cordless mowers do not always include the battery and charger. If you are purchasing a body only mower, make sure you already have a compatible battery. If you are investing in power tools, you should check whether the power accessories are included or you have to purchase them separately.

12 Customer Support and warranty              

We don’t have to look for support on a rechargeable lawn mower every week. However, everyone should be prepared for worst-case scenarios. If you need a maintenance technician or any internal part is not working, there should be various ways to contact the manufacturer. So, look for a mower that comes from an established brand with helpline and e-mail support. It’s even better if they have a live chat option. Example, Bosch has a hotline number and you can also contact them over e-mail.

Another essential point is the warranty. Cordless mowers are available with a guarantee of one year, three years and sometimes more. The guarantee on the battery may be a year less than the machine i.e. Greenworks provided 3 years on the machine but only 2 years on the batteries, so think which duration satisfies your mind, when finally making a choice.

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