Bass on Bass

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lawn Mowing: The Combustion Free Future Is NOW

Mean Green's 48" Stalker stand on, zero degree turn commercial cordless electric mower 

     The age of combustion powered landscape maintenance equipment both for homeowners and commercial operators is ending. The age of rechargeable battery powered equipment has arrived, at all levels. There are even cordless electric small farm tractors on the market now. All of the time and money drain to deal with combustion engine startup, ongoing maintenance of complicated motor design and fuel handling  are becoming complete non issues for lawn, landscape and even some farm maintenance equipment. 

A small sample of what's available for homeowners

    I'll limit this discussion almost completely to mowing equipment, starting with homeowner grade mowers. The options for them have almost literally exploded. The market for cordless electric mowers is nothing like what it was 12 years ago when I bought my 14" Neuton EM 4.1 with it's in use replaceable 24volt sealed lead acid battery packs. 

    Note the plural. I, as do all wise owners of them, maintain a spare (2 in my case) battery pack to accomodate the reality that mowing workload varies as much as the weather. Also the nature of most rechargeable batteries is that they require routine drain to nominal fully discharged state with each use /charge cycle to maximize per charge runtime and overall battery lifespan. Owners need to be ready to swap in a spare whenever that occurs mid use. It's just like having that can of gas around for the same purpose with gasoline powered mowers.

    That Neuton of mine was pretty much the only one of it's kind on the market when I bought it. I wasn't able to find ANY other with in use replaceable battery packs at that time. I think both Black and Decker and Toro had SLA battery powered rotary mowers but both machines required significant disassembly to replace the battery pack. Both of those same models are still on the market. Toro's is the only battery powered mower they sell. Black and  Decker now offers in use removeable SLA battery models and a lithium ion battery model. Their in use replaceable SLA battery model has been around for just a few years less than I've owned my Neuton.

    The image at the top of this post is of one of an array of fully commercial grade mower options offered by Mean Green Products.  They offer complete crew equipment packages which include one or more large swath walk behind or riding mowers, a 20" push mower, hand held trimmer and blower (both use the same backpack carried battery pack), all required battery chargers and a fully enclosed trailer all wired up with outlets for charging the all lithium polymer battery powered equipment's battery packs.

I became aware of Mean Green via the photo of  Eco-Lectric Landscaping Service's array of equipment which cycles up on the top of their home page. Their owner, Josh Flowers, was featured in the following video promoting Greenworks Pro 80 volt mower

    The comparable Mean Green 20" mower costs several times the price of the Greenworks 80 volt model, part of an array of same battery pack powered yard equipment which among others includes a 20" single stage snow blower. How about never handling gas or pull starts in the "dead" of winter to blow snow? Greenworks also makes a more extensive array of same battery pack powered 40 volt equipment, their G-Max lineup.
    All that lithium battery powered stuff aside, there is still something to be said for the old (or new) SLA battery powered equipment. SO FAR, there isn't any standard, easy way to renew / reload lithium ion battery packs with new batteries like there is for SLA(sealed lead acid) battery packs. 

    The cost of reload can be more than 50% less than purchase of a replacement SLA battery pack. I can complete the reload of any of my Neuton 24v packs with a pair of new, standard, 12v, 10 AH batteries in about 10 minutes using one simple tool. I'd never waste my time with 12v 9AH batteries like the guy in the video though. I've seen the 12v 10AH batteries on sale for as little as $18 each. The Neuton packs that use them cost $89-109 depending on whether they're on special or not. All the SLA packs I'm aware of incorporate industry standard 12v SLA batteries and therefor offer that reload possibility.

   The final proof of the maturity of battery powered landscape maintenance equipment is clearly shown in this video about the Sol Trac battery powered tractor. It appears it's Power Take Off is capable of operating standard PTO powered equipment such as ganged mower rigs, large roto-tillers etc.


Willyvon1 said...

Here's another all cordless electric lawncare service, a part of a franchise chain I think

Cherry Yi said...

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