We did firsthand, comparative testing on the 9 best cordless lawn mowers of 2020 so that you can easily pick the optimal machine for your needs and budget. As consumers ourselves, we understand that there are dozens of cordless lawn mowers to choose from and that the manufacturers' marketing claims are often inconsistent and confusing. To remedy this problem, we bought the most promising machines and subjected them to a rigorous direct comparison analysis. We hope that this review will simplify the market for you, making the selection of a cordless mower a breeze.
The Best Cordless Lawn Mowers of 2020
Best All-Around Lawn Mower
Few lawns are too rowdy for the EGO LM2102SP. With a 5 amp-hour, 56-volt battery and a mammoth cutting deck, this machine will mow down the toughest of turfs and mulch with the best of them. The EGO has all the important features — like easy folding and storing, a wide range of cutting heights, and self-propulsion, to name just a few — that will make cutting the lawn that much easier.
There is little to critique this burly machine on except to say that it is a big really big. What this means is that it will take up more room when put away, and it may be more mower than smaller lawns require. Additionally, while this model isn't the most expensive on the market, it isn't the cheapest either. Given that these are the only real knocks against this machine, we think that you'll agree that this electric marvel is far superior to its gas-powered predecessors and the top dog in the class of cordless mowers.
Read Full Review: EGO LM2102SP
Best Mower for Mid-Sized Lawns
The Ryobi RY40190 gave an above-average performance despite its competitive price. Our evaluation revealed that this cordless mower will buzz through the shaggiest of lawns with little difficulty, which is a boon because it also covers a wide range of cutting heights. Moreover, the combination of this machine's ease of use and handling features — such as the low noise level and maneuverability — deliver a capable mower that is nearly stress-free to operate.
The Ryobi is nearly, opposed to completely stress-free because it's runtime is relatively short, and this inconvenience is compounded by a relatively long recharge interval. As a result, the Ryobi isn't the best for larger lawns. Despite these shortcomings, this mower is quite effective while its charge lasts, and the price is hard to beat considering the performance.
Read Full Review: Ryobi RY40190-Y
Best Buy for Maneuverability
While the BLACK+DECKER is not a high-end mower, there are several aspects of this machine that make it worth consideration. First off, this machine's price is well below average for the class. Second, this mower is maneuverable, so it excels in tight spots, such as inside corners. Finally, this machine has enough power for moderately demanding jobs, which is good because the cutting deck covers a wide range.
Conversely, this machine lacks in several key areas that disqualify it from 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). Compounding this issue is a prolonged recharge interval of 300 minutes. Additionally, the BLACK+DECKER is not self-propelled. That said, if you have a small lawn, perhaps one with a funky shape, then this little guy will get the job done while leaving enough money in your wallet to do something fun after the chores are done.
Read Full Review: BLACK+DECKER CM2043
Best Buy for Runtime
This economical machine is a good choice for those that have moderately demanding lawns and moderate budgets to maintain them. Unlike some other lower-cost models, the Greenworks is not burdened with a short runtime (we clocked it at 73 minutes to a charge). Nor does the mower suffer from a long recharge interval (we timed it at 1 hour). To round things out, this machine packs enough cutting power to mulch well-managed lawns.
On the other hand, the Greenworks isn't self-propelled, which can be a pain if you have a sloping lawn. Compounding this issue is the machine's meager 13 ¾" cutting deck that requires more passes than the competition to cut the same amount of turf. Surprisingly, this slim mower is not as easy to maneuver as we expected. That said, when the work is all wrapped up, this mower's moderate dimensions make it easy to fold and store.
Read Full Review: Greenworks 25322
Top Pick for Mowers without Self-Propulsion
If you're new to taking care of a lawn or your lawn is fairly low maintenance, then the Worx WG774 is a good option. This model has an extended runtime with an easy to read 4-light battery-life display. If the battery is run down, the cell recharges quickly so you can get back out there in short order. This machine is also effective for tight spots and/or unique lawn shapes because it's easy to maneuver. When the job is done, this puppy collapses for storage with a level of efficiency that makes the competition's designs look a little absurd.
On the other hand, the Worx lacks self-propulsion, requiring an increase in physical input from the user. The bail leaves something to be desired as well. The lever is stiff, and there is noticeable pushback when engaged. Finally, the mower renders so-so results on really tall grass, but it does get the job done where others fail. All and all, the Worx delivered a respectable performance in all the right categories to make it an excellent choice for those new to lawn management or those with low-demand lawns wanting to upgrade to a cordless mower.
Read Full Review: Worx WG774
Why You Should Trust Us?
As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Likewise, we believe that the depth and accuracy of our research and testing comes across in the articles written to convey that information. We are, and have been, engaged in monitoring the battery-powered tool market. This continual research allows us to spot exciting new products and purchase them for testing. We have tested dozens of battery-powered tools such as string trimmers, pressure washers, chain saws, leaf blowers, and drills. When we report that a product has, for example, a certain runtime, we know that because we ran that battery from a full charge until it died. The same is true for all the data presented to our readers.
Our senior research analyst Austin Palmer has been literally and figuratively tearing apart electronics with an eye on sound design and engineering for most of his adult life. He has extensive experience in our laboratory and in the field where he has put new products — and their accompanying marketing claims — through purpose-designed tests.
Likewise, senior review editor Nick Miley draws on his research experience in university laboratories as well as his freelance product review background to inform his work. Not to mention the half-acre lawn that he was responsible for mowing as a kid. Together, Austin and Nick have produced several reviews, such as The Best Electric Scooters of 2019 and The Best Hoverboards of 2019, to name just a few.
Related: How We Tested Cordless Lawn Mowers
Analysis and Test Results
Many of the products in our reviews offer consumers similar feature options and thus present difficulties in establishing which models are superior to others in the class. To address this issue, we devise a comprehensive set of testing categories or metrics to standardize and quantify our evaluation of a given class of products. In the case of cordless lawn mowers, these metrics (and their contribution to a product's final score) are: mowing (35%), battery (25%), handling (25%), and ease of use (15%). The following delves into the tests siloed within each of these metric categories.
For many shoppers, getting a good price on a purchase is paramount. Accordingly, we think of value as a measure of what one gets for the dollars they spend. There are two ways of looking at this definition of value. The first is an assessment of two or more similarly priced products to see which offers more to the consumer. This more could be features, quality, or aesthetic appeal. The second is to look at two or more products that offer the same features, etcetera, and then selecting the product that costs the least. To put these concepts into a practical example, take the Ryobi RY40190-Y and the Husqvarna LE221R — two similarly priced machines. The Ryobi is the recipient of the Best Buy Award as it offers consumers a suite of features and a level of performance that, when seen in other products, cost considerably more money than what Ryobi is asking. Conversely, the Makita XML03 and the Greenworks 25322 offer comparable features and performance, yet they have markedly different prices. Both the Greenworks and the Ryobi offer the consumer significant value over their peers, though for different reasons.
While the other metrics describing cordless mower features and capability are quite important, the performance of the mowers while they're actually mowing is the meat and potatoes of this review. This metric is made up of an analysis of the mowers' 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 cutting height settings as compared to the claims of the manufacturer. Last, but certainly not least, we field test 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 remains can be deposited deep into the turf.
As the mowing metric makes up a whopping 35% of the overall score of each mower, it isn't much of a shock that each model's performance here mirrors their final ranking. Case in point, the EGO, Ryobi, and Worx topped the class offering exceptional performance across the board. However, it should be noted that the Worx didn't eat-up the super tall grass with the same gusto as the other award-winners, but did dispense with the task without too much fuss.
As these cordless lawn mowers run on electricity provided by lithium-ion battery cells, we think that the analysis of this component is second only to mowing. Therefore, we have established criteria by which to judge these machines' power source that focuses on runtime and recharge time. We measure 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 the fully depleted batteries from the runtime tests to fully charge. Proving that not all battery technologies are created equal, some of the models with the longest runtimes (such as the Worx and Makita) have the shortest recharge times.
Unfortunately, runtime tells us little about the longevity of a battery charge when the mower is actually cutting grass. This is a much harder data point to render for one simple reason. Some of these cordless mowers, like the EGO, Worx, and Makita, can literally cut tens of thousands of square feet of turf on a single charge. While we want to take these machines out and cut grass until their batteries die, we can't locate a lawn that is uniform in grass length and density large enough to test a full roster of mowers. As such, we used a statistical model based on runtime and the dimensions of each cutting deck to render square footage estimates.
Methodology aside, what our model reveals is a fairly wide spectrum of square footage outcomes within the class of cordless mowers under review. Not surprisingly, the Editor's Choice Award-winning 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 with an estimated 6,304 sq.ft. of lawn mowed on a charge. While that is quite a bit less than the EGO, that square footage still breaks down to being able to mow a lawn that is ~80 feet on a side on a single charge! This is fairly impressive considering that it's 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
As the name implies, the ease of use metric is an evaluation of mower features that contribute to a quality user experience. While these characteristics are not critical to a machine's performance, when addressed, they make the use of a mower quite a bit more enjoyable. Specifically, this metric assesses the noise level of a running mower, the battery charge meter, battery removal, and mower storage.
One of the benefits of an electric mower, when compared to the old gas models, is the difference in the level of noise that each machine produces. Where the gas mowers roar, electric mowers purr. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, the difference in sound intensity is nonetheless significant.
The measurement of sound can be hard to understand. This difficulty is partly due to the subjective nature of interpreting sound volume — what one person thinks of as a loud noise may go unnoticed by another person. The A-weighted decibel (dBA) scale renders the measurement of sound objective by measuring the pressure vibrations in the air, which is referred to as sound intensity. The decibel scale is not linear like measurements of distance or mass. Rather, it is logarithmic. Without going into a math lesson here, what you need to know is 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 under review, we use a sound pressure level meter that records sound intensity in decibels (dBA). What we found was 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 valuable as the little details that don't seem important when deciding on a purchase nonetheless seem to come up when asking someone 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.
While 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. The old gas models allowed for the folding of the handle, but due to the oil and gas, they could not be 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. There are no knobs to twist, no adjustments in the cutting deck height necessary — just two levers that are easy to depress.
The handling metric complements the ease of use evaluation as 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 one not accustomed to the wait might think that something is wrong. Despite some delay, all the models here reviewed start-up without a problem.
Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit more variance in the maneuverability of these machines than we observe in the starting mechanisms. The first big difference is in the propulsion of the mower. Some mowers, such as the EGO and Ryobi, are self-propel. 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 manually 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. While 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 pay close attention to the feel and functionality of the bail during our various field tests.
While most of the bails were unnoticeable — which is a good thing — a few were quite stiff and hard to grip for prolonged periods. The primary offenders in this evaluation are the Makita and the Worx. This stiffness is the product of the spring that returns the bail to the off position when one's grip is loosened. It remains to be seen if these springs will loosen in time.
It is our hope that this thorough analysis of cordless lawn mowers has provided you with all the pertinent information that will enable you to confidently select your newest garden tool purchase. 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 to enjoy your time in the backyard.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer