By Steven Wisbaum
While the annoying wail of conventional lawn mowers has long been associated with summer, that sound is thankfully becoming less common with the growing popularity of battery electric lawn equipment.
There are lots of reasons why so many people are switching to E-lawn equipment. Due to advancements in lithium ion battery technology, there are now over 25 manufacturers, including at least nine offering residential riding mowers. And in Vermont, almost all of the electric utilities offer rebates, which makes E-lawn equipment (purchased or picked-up in Vermont!) even more affordable. For example, Green Mountain Power offers homeowners a $100 rebate on electric lawn tractors, $50 on push mowers and $25 on electric trimmers, electric leaf blowers and electric chainsaws. Lawncare businesses are eligible to save $2,500 on all electric professional mowers.
Operating cost savings and convenience are also huge motivating factors. E-lawn equipment eliminates the need to buy, transport and handle gasoline; doesn’t require oil changes and tune-ups; and should run for many years without needing any repairs. And without any oil or gas to spill out, most walk-behind E-mowers are designed to stand upright for easy storage. Equally important, E-lawn equipment is quiet and emission-free.
With ever-mounting evidence of the existential impacts of human-caused climate change, many people are trying to shrink their personal carbon footprint, either by driving electric cars, weatherizing their homes, flying less, installing solar PV systems and/or heat pumps and switching to E-lawn equipment.
While a single residential conventional mower or “chore tool” doesn’t burn nearly as much fuel as a car or home furnace, the collective impact of all this lawn equipment is huge. In-fact, a recent DOT- Federal Highway Administration analysis estimated that in Vermont alone, over 5 million gallons of gasoline are burned annually by lawn care equipment, which generates over 5,000 tons of CO2. And this doesn’t even include the millions of gallons of diesel fuel consumed by diesel-powered lawn mowers operated by contractors, local and state public works departments, golf courses, schools, etc.
So, if your gas-powered lawn equipment is at or nearing retirement, and you’re considering making the switch, here are some things to keep in mind:
- How to choose: Since there are lots of manufacturers, and quality is relatively consistent, choice will largely depend on the different features available. Ask your friends and neighbors about their equipment, and try it out. The Mow Electric website also has links to some of the popular video product reviews and websites.
- Stick with one manufacturer: If you’re buying multiple items (e.g. mower and chore tools), stick with one manufacturer since batteries and chargers are NOT interchangeable between manufacturers.
- Battery capacity/run-time: For larger yards, it’s a good idea to buy the higher capacity/longer run-time battery options.
- Buy local: Lastly, while E-lawn equipment can be purchased on-line and at “big-box” stores, most hardware, building supply and lawn equipment stores now sell E-lawn equipment.
Are you interested in Electric Lawn Care?
Are you interested in using an all-electric lawn contractor this coming season? You too can join the “cutting” edge of the environmental lawn care movement! Sustainable Woodstock is gathering the names of businesses and individuals to demonstrate interest to a local all-electric contractor based in Norwich. They are planning to establish a new route in Woodstock that they will mow one day a week.
Email email@example.com with your name and street name to get yourself on the list to receive an electric lawn mowing quote and enable your lawn to secure a spot on the route. Neighbor discounts are available for adjoining or across-the-street properties. Sending your information does not commit you to using this service, just guarantees you a quote.
This is an initiative of Sustainable Woodstock’s Energy Action and Transportation Group (SWEAT). SWEAT promotes eco-friendly transportation options, energy efficiency, conservation and the development and use of renewable energy sources among the Town’s residents, businesses and municipal affairs. We meet monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 PM, over zoom. Visit https://www.sustainablewoodstock.org/energy-action-group/ to learn more and to see our Electric Lawn Care Fact Sheet.
Geoff Martin (Sustainable Woodstock Board Chair) takes a commercial-grade E-mower for a trial run during a 2022 demo for lawn care providers on the Woodstock Green.
Steven Wisbaum is the founder of the Mow Electric! Campaign and website that contains a list of available equipment, links to equipment reviews and comparison videos, a directory for contractors in Vermont offering E-mowing services and links to utility rebates.