Best Cordless Lawn Mower of 2020
Best All-Around Lawn Mower
Few lawns are too demanding for the EGO LM2102SP. With a 5 amp-hour, 56-volt battery and a mammoth cutting deck, this machine can mow down the toughest of turfs and mulch with the best of them. The EGO has all the important features — like self-propulsion, a wide range of cutting heights, and easy folding and storing — to make cutting your lawn that much easier.
There is little to criticize about this burly machine except to say that it's big. Really big. That means it will take up more room when put away and it might be more mower than smaller lawns require. This model isn't the most expensive on the market, but it isn't the most affordable either. Given that these are the only real knocks against this machine, it's clear to us that this electric marvel is far superior to its gas-powered predecessors and is the top dog among cordless mowers.
Read Full Review: EGO LM2102SP
Best Reel Mower
Sometimes less is more. The Greenworks 25052 fits this notion to a T as it is an inexpensive, simplistic, manually powered mower. Yes, that means that the user supplies the power. However, it also means that there is little to no maintenance and the machine is always ready to cut some turf when you are. Additionally, this mower is compact, so it won't take up too much room in the tool shed.
While we really took to the simplicity of this mower, it is not for all lawns or for all those maintaining lawns for that matter. If you have a large lawn or the ground is uneven or the shape of the lawn is complex, this machine will not be that useful as its motor powered counterparts. Additionally, if your lawn type is best kept on the longer side, then this mower is also not for you because it cuts in the range of 1 to 2 inches. That said, if you have a low maintenance, simple lawn, this mower will be a reliable tool in your landscaping tool kit.
Read Full Review: Greenworks 25052
Best for Easy Handling
The BLACK+DECKER is not a high-end mower, but it has several characteristics that make it worth consideration. First, the price is well below average. Second, it's maneuverable, excelling in tight spots such as inside corners. Finally, it supplies enough power for moderately demanding jobs, which is good because the cutting deck covers a wide range.
On the other hand, it disappoints in several key areas that negate its usefulness for high demand lawns. Of chief concern is this mower's short battery life that is only capable of cutting ~6,457 ft² (~80' x 80' area). Exasperating this issue is a prolonged recharge interval of 300 minutes. We should also point out that the BLACK+DECKER is not self-propelled. But if you have a small lawn, perhaps one with an irregular shape, then this little guy can get the job done while leaving enough money in your wallet to do something fun when the chores are all done.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER CM2043
Best Bang for Your Buck
This economical machine is a good choice for those with moderately demanding lawns and modest budgets. Unlike some other affordable models, the Greenworks is not burdened with a short runtime (we clocked 73 minutes of runtime per charge). Nor does the mower suffer from a long recharge interval (we topped its battery off in an hour). To round things out, this machine packs enough cutting power to mulch well-managed lawns.
There are some negatives worth mentioning. The Greenworks isn't self-propelled, which can be a pain if you have a sloping lawn. Also, it has a meager 13 ¾" cutting deck compared to the competition, which means more passes to cut the same amount of turf. And, surprisingly, this slim mower is not as easy to maneuver as we expected. A plus to its small size is that it's easy to fold and store.
Read Full Review: Greenworks 25322
Why You Should Trust Us?
We're passionate about evaluating the full range of battery-powered tools from string trimmers and pressure washers, to chain saws, leaf blowers, and drills. Our Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer has been tearing apart electronics with an eye for quality design and engineering for most of his adult life in our laboratory and the field.
Senior Review Editor Nick Miley draws on his research experience in university laboratories to build a predictive runtime/cutting square footage model for the mowers. He draws on 10 years of product testing, not to mention the half-acre lawn that he mowed as a kid, to analyze these machines.
Related: How We Tested Cordless Lawn Mowers
Analysis and Test Results
We devise a comprehensive set of testing categories or metrics to standardize and quantify all of our product evaluations. For cordless lawn mowers, these metrics are mowing (35%), battery (25%), handling (25%), and ease of use (15%).
There are two ways of looking at value. First is assessing which models offer more to the consumer. This more could be features, quality, or aesthetic appeal. The second is to identify two or more products that offer the same features, and then comparing their cost. Take the Ryobi RY40190-Y and the Husqvarna LE221R — two similarly priced machines. The Ryobi offers features and a level of performance that's on par with other products that cost considerably more. The Husqvarna does not. Conversely, the Makita XML03 and the Greenworks 25322 offer comparable features and performance, but are available for markedly different prices. Both the Greenworks and the Ryobi offer the consumer significant value over their peers, though for slightly different reasons.
The performance of the mowers while they're actually mowing is the meat and potatoes of this review. It includes cutting efficiency based on the maximum cutting width minus the minimum overlap required to eliminate a cutting gap. (The cutting gap is the space between the end of the blade and the outer edge of the cutting deck). This metric also covers the range of cutting heights compared to the claims of the manufacturer. Last, we field tested the mowers' ability to power through shaggy as well as weedy, knee-high grass while mulching. Mulching is the recutting of clipped grass repeatedly so that the clippings can be deposited deep into the turf.
The mowing metric makes up a whopping 35% of the overall score for each mower, and each model's performance here mirrors their final ranking. The EGO, Ryobi, and Worx topped the class. However, the Worx didn't tear through the super tall grass with the same gusto as the other leading models, but it can handle the task without too much fuss.
These cordless lawn mowers run on lithium-ion battery cells, and we consider performance here as second only to mowing. We measured runtime as the time it takes a stationary mower with the blade spinning to exhaust a fully charged battery. Recharge time is simply the time it takes for a dead battery to recharge to full. Interestingly, some models with the longest runtimes (such as the Worx and Makita) also displayed the shortest recharge times.
Unfortunately, the runtime measurement tells us fairly little about the longevity of a battery charge when the mower is actually cutting grass. This is harder to measure. Some of these cordless mowers, like the EGO, Worx, and Makita, can cut tens of thousands of square feet of turf on a single charge. We simply couldn't find a field of grass of sufficient size and uniform length to conduct a cutting-grass battery test. Instead, we used a statistical model based on runtime and the dimensions of each cutting deck to render square footage estimates.
What our model reveals is a fairly wide range of square footage cutting estimates. Unsurprisingly, one of our favorite models, the EGO, crushed the competition with an estimated 14,275 sq.ft. of turf trimmed on a single charge. On the other end of the spectrum is the Husqvarna LE221R, which our model suggests can cut an estimated 6,304 sq.ft. of lawn on a charge. While that is quite a bit less than the EGO, this square footage still equates to a lawn that is ~80 feet on each side on a single charge! This is fairly impressive considering that it's near the low end of what one can expect from their cordless mower. The average square footage for the class is 9,270 sq.ft.
Ease of Use
This metric evaluates the mower features that are not critical to a machine's performance but make using the mower more enjoyable. It includes the noise level of a running mower, the battery charge meter, battery removal, and mower storage.
One of the big benefits of an electric mower is the lower noise level. Gas mowers roar, electric mowers purr — a significant difference.
The A-weighted decibel (dBA) scale measures the pressure vibrations in the air, referred to as sound intensity. The decibel scale is not linear like measurements of distance or mass. Instead, it's logarithmic, and scaled so that an increase of three decibels represents a doubling of sound intensity.
To get an objective measurement of the noise output coming from the cordless lawn mowers, we used a sound pressure level meter that records sound intensity in decibels (dBA). We found a relatively substantial difference in the sound intensity within the class that worked out to a 7.4 dBA spread between the loudest and quietest models. The Makita is the quietest of the group at 70 dBA with the EGO and Ryobi coming in a close second at 71 dBA. On the other end of the spectrum is the Husqvarna LE221R at a relatively harsh 77.4 dBA. To put this in perspective, the Federal Aviation Administration describes 80 dBA as what one can expect from a busy urban area during the day. The takeaway here is that these mowers are, in comparison to their gas-powered counterparts, quite a bit less noisy.
Let's move on to look at the battery charge meter and battery removal. We find this kind of evaluation to be rather important because the little details that don't seem significant when making a purchase nonetheless seem to come up when we ask people how they like their purchase after having used it a few times. Notably, the Worx's design proved to be exceptional with its 4-light, push-button readout next to the bail and a battery release that is the smoothest of the bunch. Conversely, the Greenworks placed the battery meter under the battery cover, and the batteries themselves require two hands to remove.
Although the battery charge meter and battery removal system may seem like minor details, the folding/ unfolding mechanism is not. These mowers — even the smaller ones — take up a lot of space when stored. Old gas-powered models usually allowed you to fold the handle, but the oil and gas reservoirs prevented them from being stored in a vertical position. This is not the case for the electric models, and as such, they take up quite a bit less room when out of use. Unfortunately, some models such as the Sun Joe and, to a lesser degree, the BLACK+DECKER make folding and unfolding quite difficult and time-consuming. Conversely, the Worx has a beautiful design that makes this process a breeze.
The handling metric complements the ease of use evaluation. Both are concerned with the effort required to perform the task of mowing the lawn. The difference is that the handling evaluation focuses on the core task of mowing the lawn and not those aspects of a product that support this function. Specifically, we assess the starting mechanism. Is it easy to engage? Is there a lag in the start-up process? Next, we evaluate how much effort goes into directing the mower around the turf. This is a general assessment of maneuverability. Finally, we dig into the bail — which is the lever that engages the blade — and how it feels when gripped.
As far as starting goes, these machines all start up pretty much the same way. One simply pushes the start button. The difference from one mower to the next is in the starting delay once the button has been pushed. The EGO fires-up immediately. On the other hand, the Ryobi takes long enough that someone not accustomed to the wait might think that there was wrong. Despite some delay, all the models here reviewed start-up without a problem.
We saw more variance in the maneuverability of these machines than we did with the starting mechanisms. The first big difference is in the propulsion of the mowers. Some machines, such as the EGO and Ryobi, are self-propelled. Others, like the Worx, have to be pushed if you want them to move. Both options offer pros and cons. In general, self-propelled models cost more, but if the lawn is large or inclined, it's probably worth the extra money. On the other hand, some models like the EGO can — even at their slowest setting — be a bit fast for tight spots or corners. While one can simply disengage the drive system in such scenarios, the EGO delivers some resistance when it is pushed.
Whether you are interested in a self-propelled cordless lawn mower or not, activation of the cutting blade is controlled by a component called a bail. This is a spring-loaded bar that is connected to the handle. When the bail is depressed, the blade is engaged. When released, the blade stops spinning. Although this component may seem uniform across mower models, this turns out not to be the case. The shape and resistance of the bail can cause discomfort, especially on longer jobs. As such, we paid close attention to the feel and functionality of the bail during our various field tests.
While most of the bails went unnoticed — which is a good thing — a few were quite stiff and taxing to grip for prolonged periods. The primary offenders in this evaluation are the Makita and the Worx. Their stiffness seems to be the result of firm springs that return the bail to the off position when one's grip is loosened. It remains to be seen if these springs will loosen in time.
The above review covers every aspect of cordless lawn mowers from handling to mowing power. We hope that this analysis provided you with all the information to allow you to confidently select the perfect mower. Moreover, we hope that this article will shed a bit of light on some aspects of these machines that will improve your overall experience. We have had a great time testing and writing about these machines and hope that our work will help you better enjoy your time in the backyard.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer