Between rising gas prices and the wide variety of electric lawn mowers on the market today, you may be wondering how much it costs to own and operate compared to a gas model. Here’s what you need to know.
What we are comparing: Push mower vs. Push mower
Electric mowers have come a long way in just a few years and there are quite a few on the market. You’ll find everything from small and inexpensive 13″ push mowers to 54″ zero-turn mowers suitable for mowing multiple acres.
While we would love to compare everything across the entire range of electric lawn mowers on the market, this article would be a bit long to read in one sitting. Instead, we will focus on comparing the most common type of lawnmower when used on the average lawn. For American readers, the most common type of mower is a push mower, and the average lawn size is around a quarter acre.
In addition, we also limit our comparison to cordless electric lawn mowers and exclude corded electric lawn mowers. Even in small yards, corded mowers are an incredible hassle, and battery-operated mowers are now so cheap and efficient that there’s simply no reason to bother with the pointlessness of being tethered to your garage wall.
If you are curious about bigger mowers and bigger lawns, don’t worry. The way we compare gasoline push mowers to electric push mowers can easily be adapted to other sizes. The general terms are the same.
How operating costs compare over time
When comparing running costs, it’s not just about how much it costs to charge the batteries of an electric mower vs. filling the gas tank of a classic mower. There are a few other variables at play that tip the scales in favor of the electric mower—especially for people with small urban and suburban lawns.
We will not compare the purchase price of the mower itself. The cost of basic electric push mowers and basic gasoline push mowers are now on par (around $200-$300), and the price also moves fairly evenly into premium model territory. Starting with the assumption that you need a mower for your average lawn, we calculate the running costs over time.
Our representative for the average electric push mower will be the Ryobi 40V Brushless 20″ Cordless Push Mower. It’s currently Home Depot’s best seller, often on sale for $249, and the 6.0A 40V battery offers about the same run time as a small tank on a similar-sized gasoline mower. You’ll get about 45 minutes of battery life on your average push mower and about 45 minutes of life on a tank of gas.
Price for chopping
First, let’s look at mowing costs using our average quarter-acre yard as a reference point. We will look at other related costs in a moment.
Mowing a quarter acre with a gas mower
While there is a fair amount of variability among gas mowers in terms of engine size, how well the engine is tuned, how thick or wet the grass is, and the like, we can talk about averages.
The average push mower tank is 0.25 gallons and should be enough to mow at least half an acre. With current gas prices hovering at a national average of $5 per gallon in June 2022, that means we’re spending $0.63 on fuel for every quarter acre. Even if gas prices dropped to half that price, down to $2.50 a gallon, your cost per quarter acre would still be $0.33.
Mowing a quarter-acre with an electric push mower
The Ryobi 6.0A 40V battery has enough juice to mow a quarter acre twice on a single charge. The capacity of the 6.0A 40V battery is 240Wh, and at a national average energy price of $0.14 per kWh in June 2022, this works out to $0.03 per charge.
If you’re interested in the math, check out our guide to calculating battery charging costs – we’ve even used this exact battery as an example if you want to see the math!
Depending on the price of gas, it’s safe to say that you’ll spend 1/10 to 1/20 of the amount in “fuel” when you fill up your lithium-ion batteries from the outlet instead of pouring gas into the tank. .
On a side note, we would like to note that many estimates of the cost of charging an electric lawn mower that you will find on the Internet are completely outdated or simply inaccurate. They either refer to old battery technology that was significantly less efficient and more expensive to charge – or they are based on significant misunderstandings about how much energy is stored in a battery (and needed to charge it).
The extremely low cost of charging a modern lithium-ion push mower sounds almost absurd, but we assure you that mowing really does cost pennies (and we do all season long).
How much it costs to fill the tank or charge the battery is only part of the running costs to consider. There are significantly higher ongoing maintenance costs associated with a gasoline engine.
We do not include the cost of replacing or sharpening mower blades here or elsewhere in the article as part of the ongoing costs, as you would do this no matter what kind of mower you had.
Annual Maintenance Costs: Petrol push mower
In addition to refueling the gasoline mower, you also need to maintain the engine itself. This includes changing the oil at the start of the mowing season as well as every additional 50 hours of operation in the season.
Since people are a bit lax about it and 50 hours is a lot of mowing for a small yard, let’s say you change the oil once. Small mower engines usually take around 15-18 oz. oil or something. 32 oz. a container of small motor oil costs $6-10, so it’s safe to say you’ll spend at least $3 a season on oil changes.
You also need to change the air filter at least once a season, which costs around $5-10. (Foam filters are technically washable and reusable, but if you read the manufacturer’s recommendations, they usually tell you to change them.)
You should also replace the spark plug once a season. (If you don’t, we won’t take you to a small engine protection agency, but assuming you treat your engine right, it will cost you $3 a season for a new spark plug.)
So assuming you hit the basic maintenance checkpoints and do it all at least once a season, you’re spending at least $15 a year on maintenance.
If you take your mower to the shop for a tune-up each spring, the tune-up will cost you an average of $50-$75 and will include all of the above and more – although few people opt for engine tune-ups on small push mowers.
Annual maintenance costs: Electric mower
Boy, this is going to be a short stretch. Sure, you still have to sharpen or replace the mower blade as needed, and you have to do basic cleaning like washing stuck-on grass from inside the mower, but that’s where the similarities between gas push mower and electric push mower maintenance end.
Compared to a gas mower, an electric mower is incredibly simple. An electric lawnmower may look, at least in shape, like a traditional lawnmower. But inside, it’s basically just a big old battery-powered electric “fan” that just happens to have super sharp blades. There is no engine, oil, air intake or spark plug. It’s basically a battery, a switch and a motor. There are no user serviceable parts other than the blade itself, and you won’t be replacing any internal parts or taking the mower apart to play with it.
Annual running costs, aside from sharpening the blade, are limited to how much money you spend on charging the battery.
Estimated costs over time
It’s hard to pick a good annual mark to extrapolate costs when comparing the two types of mowers, because lithium-ion battery life and replacement costs come into play at different intervals than annual gasoline maintenance costs. engine.
Lithium-ion batteries that are used in electric lawn mowers are usually guaranteed for 3 years, but realistically they will last about 5 years under normal use when properly charged and stored. They could last even longer, but to avoid overstating their lifespan or sounding like electric lawnmower evangelists, we’ll say that it’s reasonable to replace the battery every 5 years to get another 5 years of use. electric mower.
With that in mind, let’s break down the costs based on our average quarter acre lawn and assuming the lawn is mowed at least once a week from May to October each year. Fuel prices are calculated using June 2022 petrol and electricity prices.
|Petrol lawnmower||Electric mower|
|Fuel price||152 dollars||$4|
|Engine maintenance||150 dollars||ON|
|Battery replacement||ON||200 dollars|
|Estimated costs for 10 years||302 dollars||204 dollars|
Interestingly, the more you mow, the greater the savings. In fact, a high-quality lithium-ion battery is good for thousands of charge cycles. If you double the mowing of our quarter-acre lawn from once a week to twice a week over that entire ten-year period, you’ll still spend less than $10 to “refuel” the mower.
Do the same with a gas mower, and you’ll end up spending just over $300 at current prices (and still spending hundreds even if gas prices continue to drop for the next decade).
And if you’re grinning at the thought of paying $200 for a premium high-capacity battery, keep that in mind. With basic electric push mowers, the cost of the battery is practically the entire cost of the mower itself – so when it comes time to replace the battery, if you want or need a brand new mower, you can spend $250 instead of $200. or something like that and get a brand new battery and mower in one.
Electric mowers of all kinds are becoming increasingly competitive, and it’s really hard to overestimate the savings for people with small lawns. You can charge an electric push mower hundreds of times for the same money you would spend on a gallon of gas. So while it’s still not a viable option for people with huge rolling greens around their homes, the millions of people with smaller lawns mowed on a single charge should really take notice.