Gas-powered lawn mowers and string trimmers may be the gold-standard, but electric options (battery-powered and corded alike) are becoming more common. Here are some things you should know about both so you can decide which is best for your situation.
RELATED: How to Maintain Your Lawnmower So It Lasts (Almost) Forever
For this guide, we’ll mostly be focusing on push lawn mowers and string trimmers. There are a lot of tools and equipment to choose from to maintain your yard, but these are by far the two most common. Let’s get started!
Electric Equipment Is Easier to Maintain
The most obvious benefit of electric yard equipment (whether it’s battery-powered or corded) is that there’s no gas engine to maintain—no oil, spark plugs, or air filters to change. And if you store it away for the winter, there’s not that inherent fear of it not starting right up in the spring. Basically, gas equipment has the possibility of acting fussy without the proper maintenance (and most people don’t bother with proper maintenance), whereas electric equipment behaves quite well with minimal supervision.
There’s still some maintenance, obviously, but none that requires a specific set of skills. With electric stuff, it mostly comes down to keeping the lawn mower blade sharp, adding more string to a string trimmer, and remember to clean and lubricate the things once in a while. Swapping out and charging batteries could also be on that list, but I wouldn’t even call that “maintenance” per se.
Plus, you can’t beat that instant start feature on electric equipment, whereas most gas-powered stuff uses a pull string that requires a few huffs on your part.
Good Electric Equipment Is Usually More Expensive
You can get a battery-powered lawn mower or string trimmer for about the same price as their gas-powered equivalents, but if you want something that will perform really well, you’ll be paying dearly for it.
For example, Ego is one of the top brands that makes battery-powered lawn mowers and string trimmers, and their stuff is widely regarded as the best in its category. However, you’ll pay a few bucks more than an equivalent gas mower that works just as well or even better. This fancy gas-powered model is $100 cheaper.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t spend more money on going electric, but you’ll pay a bit more if you’re wanting an electric mower or trimmer that’s worth buying in the first place.
Gas-Powered Equipment Gives You Way More Power
There’s a big difference in performance when comparing gas and electric lawn mowers and string trimmers. Electric equipment (whether it runs on battery or you plug it in) can only provide so much power, whereas even those small gas engines on string trimmers are pretty dang powerful.
Of course, when it comes to lawn mowers, electric models can perform just fine, even if they might be less powerful, since you’re just cutting grass. There’s usually not a lot of complexity with that—especially if you’re cutting it regularly and don’t have to deal thick, tall weeds.
However, where I’ve noticed a real difference is with string trimmers.
Electric trimmers can cut through normal grass without issue, but anything more than that requires a bit of patience. Cutting through thick weeds, for instance, can cause the trimmer to bog down a bit, so you have to go slow. It gets the job done, but not as unapologetically as a gas trimmer.
Granted, I was trying out a budget electric trimmer from Black and Decker at the time, so I wasn’t too surprised with the results—it’s likely that more-expensive models would’ve performed better for me. But even then, it’s nice knowing that you can buy pretty much any gas-powered trimmer you want and not worry about whether it’ll cut through thick weeds or not.
Electric Equipment Is Great for Small Lawns
If you have a small enough yard, gas-powered equipment actually might be a bit overkill. This is where electric can be very beneficial.
Electric can work on larger yards, but you might have to carry an extra battery with you in case you drain the first one—a single charge usually lasts anywhere between 30-60 minutes, depending on the equipment and how much juice you regularly drain from it.
And that’s another issue with electric equipment. If you run out of juice, you’ll either need a spare battery or a good bit of downtime to recharge. Refilling a gas tank, on the other hand, takes no time at all.
If you have a really small yard, you might even be able to get away with a corded mower and trimmer.
However, going corded with a lawn mower is really only a viable option for those with yards that are very small—we’re talking 1,500 square feet or less. Anything more than that and you’ll be trying to wrangle with long extension cords and making sure you down mow over them.
Corded trimmers are a bit more forgiving, since you’re much less likely to get yourself in a tangle and accidentally hit the cord with the trimmer. Still, they give you nowhere near the freedom that a battery or gas powered device does.
In the End, You Can Never Go Wrong with Gas-Powered Equipment
I always like to say that you can never go wrong with gas-powered yard equipment. They’re tried and true, have been around for decades, and always provide ample power wherever and whenever you need it.
Plus, with just a little bit of regular maintenance, gas-powered lawn mowers and string trimmers can last pretty much forever—they’re truly “buy it for life” devices.
With battery-powered equipment, the batteries themselves probably won’t last for more than a few years before they’ll need to be replaced. Luckily, most manufacturers will replace old degraded batteries free of charge if they’re still within the warranty period, but even then, batteries will slowly lose capacity over time and perform less admirably with age.