The Tesla of lawn mowers

Mean Green MOWERS 2

Electrification is coming to vehicles of all shapes and sizes, from buses to ferries to aircraft. The humble lawn mower is no exception – for a couple of years, your correspondent has been happily tending his humble brown patch with a battery-electric mower, and will never go back to gas. My Worx mower cost only a little more than a gas belcher, it starts instantly and effortlessly every time, and there are no trips to the gas station and no range anxiety.

The machines made by Ohio-based Mean Green Products, however, are in quite another class – the company calls itself “the Tesla of lawn mowers” (my little plastic device is more like a Mitsubishi iMiEV). These are heavy-duty commercial mowers, designed for the professional landscape crew.

The MGP-20 push mower goes for $2,499 including charger (Mean Green compares it to commercial gas mowers that sell in the $800-$1,600 range). It has a 6.5 hp motor, runs at 36 volts, features an aluminum deck and steel frame and weighs in at 78 lbs including the battery (a comparable gas burner is 100-120 lbs). According to Mean Green, the battery lasts for over 2 hours of mowing, and recharges in 4 hours (2 hours with the optional fast charger).

Mean Green MOWERS 2

And they get bigger from there. The WBX-33HD ($9,000) is a self-propelled 33” walk-behind mower with 18 hp that can mow “all day” on a charge. Riding models include the SK-48 Stalker and the Nemesis NXR, which claims to be the most powerful electric prosumer zero-turn mower on the market – and, by the way, “the downfall of the gas mower.”

Mean Green says its products’ operating and maintenance costs run about 5% of the costs for legacy gas-chugging products, and that pros can save between $5.50 and $8.00 per hour of mowing time. The only routine maintenance is greasing two fittings on the front wheels every 50-100 hours.

Mean Green also makes hand-held electric tools such as blowers, string trimmers and chain saws. Its products are sold through dealers in several US states and in the UK.

Source: Mean Green

  • Lance Pickup

    I picked up a set of electric lawn tools from Ryobi (mower, trimmer/edger, blower) that all used the same 40V battery, from Home Depot last year. I will say that even though I had a very small yard, the 2 battery packs I had were basically just enough to get the job done (additional packs are a bit pricey at $99/pop). But I did love doing my lawn work using only electricity.
    Unfortunately I moved to a community that has lawncare included in the HOA fees, so I had to sell my equipment. But for one season at least, mowing the lawn was almost pleasant!

  • James Heires

    I, too, use a tiny (12″) Worx lawn mower (mainly for hills and tight spots) on my 1-acre lawn, and love it to pieces. Replaced a battery last year, but otherwise no maintenance. Compared to my John Deere zero turn rider, this is a night-and-day improvement! In addition, According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces more volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions air pollution in one hour of operation as 11 new cars each being driven for one hour.

  • Mark

    Zero emission mowers have been on the market for around two decades in the form of the automower. Bonus not having to mow. They are cost competitive with ride on mowers at an area capacity of 5000 square metres.

    Good to see a bunch of other alternatives coming into the market.

  • gizmowiz

    Go Mean everyone. They mean business!

  • gizmowiz

    I find the GreenWorks 80V mower works fabulously well. I can mow both my front and back yards on a single battery (about 5,000 sq ft). And it will mow the grass very well when thick in the spring after fertilizing it and wet after a rain and up to 8″ high and never misses a beat.

    https://www.amazon.com/GreenWorks-GLM801602-21-Inch-Cordless-Included/dp/B019VXKUDI/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1489615099&sr=8-6&keywords=greenworks+80v

    I’ll never go back to gas or plug-in electric.

    I just wish the same company made a good low price riding mower capable of handling about 5,000 sq ft on a single charge which when you get 70+ that’s too much walking for these old bones. As of yet they don’t make a riding mower darn it which their 80V systems seem to be every bit as powerful as my older plug in 110V electric. In fact, better than they were.

    • Zephyr

      Yes!! I have the mower, blower, trimmer, and chainsaw… they’re awesome.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    I use a Kobalt electric mower (not self propelled) that does a good job (now that I have added a spacer to lower the blades 15mm, I assume the blades were made too high to reduce the chance of hitting rocks and damaging itself) but the battery life is very poor (I have to use both batteries to finish my small suburban block).

    I bought it more for the quietness of operation rather than for any Green qualities it might possess which raises the question why do motor mower manufacturers not make quieter mowers (even my old 4 stroke Honda mower is much too loud and that is known for being quieter than most).

    When I did year 12 chemistry (very late in life) the teacher was very anti unleaded petrol in lawnmowers because the fuel they used contained benzene which is a known brain carcinogen (that has been known for a long time in fact in 1948 the American Petroleum Institute stated the only absolutely safe concentration was zero). Wikipedia says Benzene is often replaced by Toluene (in fuel ?) which is less toxic so I’m not sure if my teachers words of caution still hold (not that Toluene is particularly healthy either).

    Anyway I don’t miss breathing in CO, CO2, various un-burnt hydrocarbons and whatever foul chemical is employed for anti-knock purposes (not sure if the combustion temperature is hot enough to produce NOx). Then there is the noise.

    When I think about it gas powered lawnmowers can’t go away fast enough.

    • pres68y

      I’ll bet you could get much better battery life if you replaced the old batteries with some new Li-Ion batteries. Not cheap (yet) but much more powerful and energy dense battery.

      • dogphlap dogphlap

        The lawnmower came with two 72V, 2Ah, 144Wh Li-ion battery packs. It was new in 2016.

  • Robert Saunders

    This topic and technology is really, really… really old news. In the late 1990’s electric lawn mowers were all the craze. All sorts of lawn equipment were, and have been available since the 70’s. I worked with various state agencies to incentivize the purchase of electric lawn equipment but in typical government style the agencies over promised and under delivered. Sad. In the late 90’s truck stop electrification, cold ironing and electric forklifts became the craze. In 2010 I did consulting with a start up all electric gardener franchise in Colorado that went belly up. Working in electric transportation at a utility gave me a lot of experience in the EV and infrastructure industry. Our company had a “Garage of the Future” that featured various protocols for charging various equipment. Electric lawn mowers is really, really old news.

    • blackbean

      Robert, electric equipment is really really old if you think like you. Electric cars were old. In the early 1900’s there were more electric cars on the road than gasoline cars. If you think like that you don’t understand what is currently going on and why it’s different. Hardly anything you ever see is new. But that’s not the point. The point is that this stuff is going mainstream. In the 80’s and 90’s and before 2010 really batteries were too expensive ($1000+ per kwhr) and the energy density not high enough. Now batteries are closer to $200 per kwhr and energy densities good enough to electrify anything except for big planes and ships. At $200 per kwhr batteries are still too expensive, but the price has dropped by 80% since 2010. At $100 to $125 per kwhr it’s cheap enough to electrify everything (and energy densities will always increase) besides the two noted exceptions. And off course rockets.

      • Robert Saunders

        Thank for the reply. The only reason batteries per kwh came down is due to federal government funding in 2010. Obama visited our Garage of the Future in 2009 and promised federal funding to develop EVs and bring down the cost of batteries. Read here – https://energy.gov/articles/remarks-president-barack-obama-southern-california-edison-electric-vehicle-technical-center
        You need to think again about quoting the cost per kwh. Charging cost depends on the utility EV charging rates IF they have them. In California our rates are among the most expensive despite the use of renewable energy. A battery can be “dense” but the cost per mile depends on the charging rate. Its like basing the price per mile for a gasoline car to the cost per gallon of fuel. In CA utilities are mandated to us wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, hydro and biomass. These resources are expensive. For example, in Cabazon, CA (near Palm Springs) we have multiple windmill farms. The peak wind time is April-June but the peak demand is June-September. Wasted energy. This drives up the cost. Not efficient for charging EVs. SoCal is not the only example. Inefficiency in generation drives up the cost for charging and $200/kwh is inaccurate and misleading.

        • blackbean

          Robert. Thanks for your reply. And you are correct. However, the obstacle to transportation being electrified is not the cost of electricity (as in what you pay per kilowatt hour for your consumption) but the actual cost of building the battery. That is what has been holding it back. Just like you have to pay for building a gasoline car and then still pay for the gasoline afterwards, the same with electric cars. However it’s two different cost components and the cost of electricity is not holding back electric cars, it’s the cost of producing batteries. That’s the only point I tried to make.
          I have read about increasing renewable usage raising the prices of electricity in CA. I am not well enough informed on it to really comment. But I believe it’s a temporary phenomenon which will be resolved with storage resolving the intermittency issue. This will also cause fossil-fuel generation to be needed less for backup. As fossil-fuel based electricity sources gets worked out of the system, electricity prices should drop. Off course regulations can have something to say about that. But if you can have a solar system with battery storage at your house/business then you can drop off the grid. This won’t work for everyone and not for huge energy consumers like heavy industry. The grid will always exist, but it will just be a backup eventually. Energy consumers are becoming energy producers too and energy is becoming distributed instead of centralized. The change over is just starting and won’t be easy. But it will gain steam as storage start to resolve the last issue holding renewables back.
          As for electricity rates in CA, a co-worker paid $42k for his solar system (with no storage). However at $600 per month for his electricity bill, he has a pay back in 6 years (more or less). I would never go with solar in my current setup because my electric bill is about $750 per year. Unless residential installation prices drop by 75% it would just never be worth my while.

        • David Weaver

          That is a constant promise (bringing down cost of batteries, since they are the barrier in the economics of high draw equipment). But it’s not realistic when there is a weight constraint, because of the economics of lithium.

          It’s always politicians who make stupid promises like that, too, because too many of them have no sense in economic issues to begin with. It’s not like making computer chips where the cost is in the manufacturing, it’s in the input. If you can’t come up with a cheaper input, you can’t subsidize something into a cheaper price range.

          Thinner plates is a possible solution, right? But you have to figure out how to do the manufacturing, and that’s a bit slow. Subsidy doesn’t fix that issue because it doesn’t impose the economic constraints properly. The improvements that have come along with solar panels have been market and innovation driven. It’s likely they would’ve occurred without political promises, and batteries will probably be the same – the drive to make money is the drive that will lead innovation, not a pie in the sky political “we should do this because it’s good for us”. People are not that altruistic, especially the true innovators – they’re doing what they’re doing for personal gain.

  • Ash45

    I use EGO’s tools for my lawn, and most recently added their snow blower. Gotta say, I don’t miss having to get gas for my equipment, changing out the oil and spark plug, or hoping that the pull cord doesn’t break on me.

    They have comparable power to their gas counterparts, and are fairly quiet, which is always great for the neighbors.

    As an additional bonus, the lawn mower can be folded and stored upright to save on space, something you can’t do easily with a gas mower.

    Like others have mentioned here though, I will never go back to a gas powered lawn tool if I don’t have to.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0717de3e94d18fdbf56bd77da3e3bf655128467413959878bfe5c9058d11f89e.jpg

  • Zephyr

    I love my Greenworks 80V set… I’ve taken down trees up to ~8″ with the chainsaw, the mower is so quiet that you literally can’t hear it inside, and the blower and trimmer are – well, not 100% on par with top-line commercial gas gear, but close enough.
    This stuff sounds just awesome. Hopefully it will start breaking out in a big way in the commercial markets, since small unregulated motors pollute way more than cars do.