Are you looking for reliable information on the best cordless lawn mowers? We have done firsthand, comparative testing on the top 9 models so that you can select the optimal machine for your needs and budget. Here at TechGearLab, we take our reviews seriously. As consumers ourselves, we understand that there are literally dozens of cordless lawn mowers to choose from and that the manufacturer's marketing claims are often inconsistent and confusing. To address this conundrum, we spend innumerable hours thoroughly researching the market, eventually purchasing the most promising models. We then subject these products to rigorous analysis and a battery of practical tests. Without the data produced from our analyses it would be nearly impossible to make apples-to-apples comparisons between mower models. The following article is an account of the mowers by performance in our evaluation. It is our hope that this review will clarify the market for you and give you confidence in selecting your new cordless mower.
The Best Cordless Lawn Mowers
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|Pros||Extensive runtime, rapid recharge, massive cutting deck width||Great handling, good at edging, broad cutting deck||Maneuverable, broad cutting range, well designed bail||Self-propelled, maneuverable, well-designed cockpit||Above average runtime, descent power, quiet|
|Cons||Fairly expensive, more mower than some may need||Limited runtime, prolonged recharging||Short runtime, limited cutting power, not self-propelled||Limited runtime, limited power, loud||Narrow cutting deck, not self-propelled, relatively hard to push|
|Bottom Line||This do-it-all mower eats up turf like Popeye eats spinach||An inexpensive mower that delivers above average performance in every category except battery life||A low-cost mower with a shorter runtime and limited cutting power||This moderately priced lawn mower has limited runtime and lacks power||This low-cost lawn mower has an above average runtime, but its narrow cutting deck is not self-propelled|
|Rating Categories||EGO LM2102SP||Ryobi RY40190-Y||BLACK+DECKER CM2043||Husqvarna LE221R||Greenworks 25322|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||EGO LM2102SP||Ryobi RY40190-Y||BLACK+DECKER CM2043||Husqvarna LE221R||Greenworks 25322|
|estimated cutting area (square feet)||14,275 ft²||7,031 ft²||6,457 ft²||6,304 ft²||9,196 ft²|
|measured recharge time||57 mins||250 mins||300 mins||67 mins||60 mins|
|folding/ unfolding ease||9||7||5||6||7|
|measured noise||71 dBA||71 dBA||74.5 dBA||77.4 dBA||72.8 dBA|
|measured cutting gap (inches)||3/4||1/2 in.||1 1/2 in.||1 in.||1 in.|
|measured cutting deck width (inches)||18 1/8 in.||17 in.||15 5/16 in.||16 3/8 in.||13 3/4 in.|
Best All-Around Lawn Mower
There are few jobs that are too rough and tough for the EGO LM2102SP. With a 5 amp-hour, 56-volt battery and a massive cutting deck, this machine can and will bust through 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, easy folding and storing, to name just a few — that will make mowing even the largest of lawns a pleasure.
Our test team had little to say that is critical of this beast of a machine, except that it is big. This means that it will take up a bit more room when stored and it may be more machine than smaller lawns require. Of course the size of the EGO isn't necessarily a negative given the right context. Also, while this model isn't the most expensive on the market, it isn't cheap either. Given that these are the only real critiques of 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 Bang for the Buck
The Ryobi RY40190 delivers above-average performance for a below-average price. Our tests show that this cordless mower will buzz through the shaggiest of lawns with little trouble, which is great because it offers a wide range of cutting heights. Moreover, this machine's ease of use and handling features — such as the low noise level and maneuverability — coalesce to deliver a truly capable mower that is nearly stress-free to operate.
Conversely, this mower is a bit of a drag when it comes to runtime and recharge times. The runtime is relatively short and this inconvenience is compounded by a prolonged recharge interval. Thus, the Ryobi isn't the best for larger lawns. Yet, 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
Top Pick for Greenhorns
If you are new to managing a lawn or your lawn is fairly low maintenance, then the Worx WG774 is a great option. This machine has a long runtime with easy to read 4-light battery-life display. When the battery is run down, it recharges rapidly so you can get back out there in short order. This machine is also great for tight spots and unique lawn shapes as it's quite maneuverable. When the job is done, this puppy folds-up for storage with a level of efficiency that makes the competition's designs look a little ridiculous.
On the other hand, the Worx lacks self-propulsion, so it requires increased physical engagement from the user. The bail leaves something to be desired as well. It's stiff and there is noticeable pushback when gripped. Finally, the mower renders so-so results on 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 a great 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 don't do hit and run reviews. We are, and have been, engaged in monitoring the market of battery-powered tools. This continual research allows us to spot new and interesting products and purchase them for testing. TechGearLab has 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 long 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.
The high standard that we hold ourselves to is only possible because we employ professional testers and writers that have formal scientific training and extensive experience researching and testing consumer products. For example, our senior research analyst Austin Palmer has been literally and figuratively tearing apart electronics with an eye on good 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 — to 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 at TechGearLab. Together, Austin and Nick have produced a number of 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 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 difficult to understand. This 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 makes 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 fairly large 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.
Moving on to 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