Adapted from an article by Steven Wisbaum
Until recently, those of us seeking an alternative to lawn mowers powered by fossil fuels only had electric push-mowers of low horsepower (hp) to choose from. While these mowers are relatively inexpensive, their short run-times of 30 to 60 minutes make them impractical for many homeowners.
However, since 2008, Mean Green Products (www.meangreenproducts.com), based in Ohio, has been manufacturing high-hp electric riding and self-propelled walk-behind mowers that run up to seven hours on a single charge, as well as a high-quality 5.5-hp push mower with a run-time of three to four hours.
A majority of Mean Green’s customers have been commercial lawn care businesses, college campuses, and government organizations. However, they are now introducing the NXR “Nemesis” 24-hp zero-turn riding lawn mower. With a run-time of up to 2.5 hours and a price competitive with similar gas-powered zero-turn mowers, the NXR represents a welcome change for those who want to mow up to five acres a day.
High-performance electric mowers reduce both noise and pollution. They also have lower costs due to avoided fuel and maintenance. Makers of conventional lawn mowers do not usually publish information about fuel usage but experience shows that those in the 20 to 37-hp range typically consume 1.75 gallons of fuel per hour. If one is operated five hours per week through a twenty-five week season, it would consume nearly 220 gallons of fuel. Replacing that with electric power would save both fuel and emissions of carbon dioxide.
The Energy Information Administration says burning a gallon of gasoline produces about 19 gallons of carbon dioxide. If it runs 750 hours per year, a gas-powered mower using 1.75 gallons per hour would use 1,312 gallons, producing 27,552 lbs. of carbon dioxide each year. An electric mower charged using renewably generated power would produce none.
Mean Green Products’ electric mowers consume about 2.8 kilowatt hours (kWh) per hour. Assuming an average electricity cost of $0.19 per kWh for renewably-sourced electricity, the cost of electricity would be $0.53 per hour. By contrast, assuming a cost of fuel at $2.50 per gallon, a conventional mower would cost $4.37 for fuel each hour.
The engines and drive systems of conventional commercial mowers require regular servicing. The repairs often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per year. Electric mowers on the other hand are relatively simple machines that require minimal servicing with few parts to wear out and break. For example, not only are the Mean Green Products’ lithium-ion batteries designed to last 3,000 to 9,000 hours, they can also be repaired if they fail prematurely. This means they should remain in service for at least 12 to 24 years. Mean Green Products’ drive motors are similarly built to last many years, but they only cost $200 and are relatively easy to replace.
Because conventional gas and diesel lawn mowers have minimal emission controls, they are a major source of smog-forming air pollution. According to one EPA study, for every horsepower of its rating, a typical lawn mower emits air pollution equivalent to that of 3.67 automobiles driving at 55 mph. The replacement of a single 24-hp diesel or gas mower with a 24-hp electric mower is the equivalent of removing 88 such cars.
High-performance electric mowers produce less than half the sound of their gas or diesel counterparts, so electric mowers are being enthusiastically endorsed by groups that advocate for reducing human-caused noise levels and the transition to more environmentally responsible lawn care practices. Such groups include Quiet Communities (www.quietcommunities.org) and the American Green Zone Alliance (www.agza.net).
Steven Wisbaum, of Eco-Equipment Supply, LLC, is the Northeast Region Representative for Mean Green Mowers (http://www.meangreenproducts.com).