Shopping for Cheap Lawn Mowers 101
Cheap is a relative term, especially when applied to lawn mowers, since anything with moving parts will need maintenance and energy or fuel to run on. Also, not all cheap lawn mowers are created equally.
Some of the brands that have cheap lawn mowers in their lineup may not be worthy of consideration due to poor customer satisfaction, ease of breakage when you hit the inevitable stone or tree root, or a reputation for poor mechanical durability.
If your “cheap” lawn mower spends more time in the shop than one that would have cost you a hundred bucks more to buy, what have you saved?
There are some other considerations:
- Cost of use
- Ease of use
- Size of lawn in proportion to the size of the lawn mower cutting width
Cost of Use
Right now gasoline is on the rise in price. People have also become aware of carbon emissions, and gas-powered lawn mowers are polluters, so there is more behind the cost than just the cost of the fuel, there’s also the cost to the environment.
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Gasoline-powered engines do require periodic maintenance. Figure in the cost of your runs to the gas station to fuel up your mower, both in car costs and in cost to the environment, to get the true cost of use.
There are now other options, which will work for most lawns. Electric lawn mowers, many of which are now cordless, are becoming popular for a lot of reasons. Even if the power for charging them up comes from a coal fired electrical plant, the amount of harm to the environment is much less than from a gas-powered mower.
Do be aware that the batteries for the cordless mowers will require proper disposal or recycling when they’re at the end of their lifespan. Electric mowers have only a few maintenance needs. One huge benefit to an electric mower is that it is considerably quieter than a comparable gas-powered mower.
The one that’s the cheapest of all to run and maintain is the old-fashioned push mower, which is human powered. New versions of these have been released over the last few years in response to the growing Green Movement.
Push-mowers are very suitable for smaller lawns, are quiet to use, and don’t pollute at all. They’re also very low cost and low maintenance. Most people find them hard work, yet it is a cheaper alternative to a gym membership!
Ease of Use
Gas powered mowers are not always the easiest mowers to operate.
Many of the gas-powered motors in the cheaper lawn mower models are a pull-cord starter. Many people might have trouble getting these cheaper lawn mowers started. If you can’t get it running, it’s useless to you. Adding an electric start feature to a gas mower adds to the cost.
Gas cans are heavy, and fueling a mower can be messy and smelly. There’s also the trip to the gas station with the gas can to add into the equation. Even the electric-start mowers can sometimes be finicky to get started. Old or dirty gas can scuttle a start attempt no matter how well-maintained the mower. Once you get them running, gas-powered mowers usually work very well…but getting them running smoothly is the key.
Electric mowers are easy for anyone to start, and don’t require any trips to the gas station. However, if you don’t have an easy place to plug-in and charge the mower, you might have to figure out a way to do so using a heavy duty outdoor extension cord.
The downside to cordless electric mowers is battery capacity. If you have a large yard, you need to be sure that the battery will hold enough charge for you to mow the whole yard, so make sure you buy a high enough voltage to ensure enough mowing time.
Push mowers can be used anywhere, and will run as long as you have enough muscles to push it. The newer ones are actually pretty easy to use, and don’t take as much work as you might think. But if you have a large yard, this might not be the best option, especially if you’re in a hot climate.
Size of Lawn
Many of the lower cost lawn mowers available have a smaller cutting width than the more expensive models. This means that if you have a large yard, it will take you more passes to mow it, which uses more energy and takes more work from you.
Let the size of your lawn help dictate the type of mower you select.
How to Shop for a Cheap Lawn Mower
First of all, you’ll need to know what all the extra features do, so you’ll know if you find them desirable or not. Usually the less features there are, the cheaper the price.
Self-propelled: This means that there is drive wheel that helps propel the mower forward. Helpful if you have hilly terrain to mow or if you need the assistance due to physical limitations. Look for a variable speed self-propelled mower, which will allow you to adjust the speed that the mower moves to suit your walk.
Mulching; Mulching lawn mowers cut the clippings up much finer. These can then either be left on the lawn to feed it, simply by using the side chute, or bagged and deposited in a compost pile.
CARB compliant: CARB is the acronym for the California Air Resource Board. If a gas mower meets CARB standards it can be sold in California, and runs cleaner than a mower that is non-CARB compliant. Though these gas-powered engines do run cleaner than those that are non-compliant, they do still pollute.
Flip handle: This means you can simply flip the mower handle over the top and switch directions easily. This feature doesn’t work on mowers with rear-mounted bags. May be a useful feature in a small fenced-in yard.
Once you’ve determined your desired features and needs, go shopping! Lawn Boy, Snapper, Earthwise, Worx, Fiskars, Black and Decker, Poulan, and Toro all have models well under $300. Read reviews on websites such as Amazon and Consumer Reports, and you’ll be ready to purchase your cheap lawn mower.