Easy to use with little to no assembly right out of the box, the latest cordless electric lawn mowers run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, are far quieter than gas-powered models and, with no risk of fuel leaking or going bad, can be stored away vertically, saving precious garage or shed space and requiring no off-season maintenance. Most importantly, the best cordless electric lawn mowers perform just as well as their gas counterparts, so with many municipalities limiting the use of gas outdoor equipment, it’s time to make the switch.
To find out which electric mowers performed the best, we put six models to work, cutting, bagging and mulching grass and noting everything from interface to special features to run time. So whether you’re keeping up with HOA rules, trying to be more green or just sick of choking down exhaust fumes in the summer heat and dealing with clogged carburetors in the winter, we’ve found the best electric lawn mower for you.
Easier to operate than the competition, self-propelled and, best of all, great at cutting grass, the Ego Power+ Select Cut electric lawn mower packs plenty of power to get through mowing a standard lawn on a single charge and almost makes the chore fun.
Best electric lawn mower overall: Ego Power+ Select Cut LM2135SP
We’re pretty sure when it comes to ranking household chores, “mowing the lawn” comes in close to the bottom of the list, right there with “scrubbing the toilet” and “cleaning the gutters.” Shudder. But when you add a self-propelled electric lawn mower to the picture? Turns out cutting grass doesn’t have to be such a pain after all.
After testing six electric lawn mowers, the Ego Power+ Select Cut LM2135SP came out on top for its ease of use, simple and useful interface and high-performing dual-blade design. It’s simply easier and more comfortable to use than the competition, and has a better-thought-out set of handy features that make mowing simpler.
Now, as far as cutting our grass went, every mower we tested did a great job both when mulching and bagging and required very little assembly, and all had many similar features (mulch, bag and side discharge options, adjustable cutting heights and rechargeable batteries with enough juice to mow our standard-size lawn on one charge).
First, the Ego Power+ Select Cut is practically ready to put to use right out of the box. Fully assembled, you need only put the included bag grass catcher together (an under-five-minute task) and charge the included 56-volt lithium-ion battery. Battery runtime will differ based on how long your grass is, moisture, density and other factors, but on average it lived up to its promise of about 60 minutes of run time on a single charge.
To unfold the mower, a quick-adjust lever lifts the handle and you have the option of three height adjustment levels (high, medium and low — most mowers tested only had two). Then you simply unclamp the side rails to extend the handle and use a short lever on the deck to choose from eight cutting heights ranging from 1 to 4 inches.
When the battery is charged (it takes an hour), pop it into the battery hatch. This may seem like a small point, but we love that the lid on this model stays open on its own when you insert the battery; most other models had to be held open, which is just annoying. Then, to start ‘er up, simply press the green safety button, squeeze the bail switch lever to the handle and hold down the self-propel triggers.
Adjusting the self-propelled speed was the easiest of all mowers tested. A green knob in the middle of the handle clicks to indicate each speed increase (the mower is adjustable from a leisurely .9 to a quick 3 miles per hour), offering you good, steady control. Near the handle, you can also turn on LED headlights with the push of a button, and a set of five indicator lights lets you know if the mower is running correctly, has a low battery, there’s an error, it’s overheating or the handle isn’t correctly in place. Additionally, we appreciate that a power indicator flashes to show how much battery power remains.
We also found the Ego Power+ Select Cut was the most comfortable to push and liked that it can be operated with one hand if needed. It also pushed easily when the self-propel was not engaged, which was not the case with some of the other self-propelled models tested. To stop the mower, just release the bail switch and the automatic braking mechanism stops the blade from spinning within three seconds.
Attaching the grass bag catcher was easy-peasy and we preferred its vertical handle that makes it easier to grasp than horizontal ones. The Ego Power+ Select Cut and the Ryobi were the only mowers we tested that included a mulching blade in addition to the standard cutting blade. And the Ego was only the mower to include extra blades in the box: a high-lift bagging blade for extra suction when you’re bagging grass and an extended runtime blade for longer battery use.
In preparation for testing, we let our lawn grow extra long and the Ego easily cut through it on its highest setting without bogging down the motor and neatly bagged the grass. When cut at normal lengths, it was like a hot knife through butter, mulching grass so fine it seamlessly was incorporated back into the lawn.
Finally, when you’re done mowing, the handle easily folds down and can be stored upright, taking up little space. It also gets bonus points for front and rear handles on the body (at 55.3 pounds, it, along with the Ego Power+, was the lightest of the bunch) that make moving it extra easy.
One nit is that the short lever used to adjust cutting height isn’t as easy to use as the longer handles used on other models, such as the Ryobi and Greenworks; we preferred those. We noticed the mower would move while adjusting it unless you held it in place. But that small complaint pales in comparison to how simple this model is to use, its added features and high performance, not to mention its five-year limited warranty. Yep, “mowing the lawn” just moved from last to first place on our chores list.
How to choose an electric lawn mower
Electric lawn mowers are eco-friendly, convenient (no lugging that gas can to the station for a refill), relatively quiet compared to traditional models and simple to store vertically, saving you precious storage space. Simply charge the battery or batteries (some require more than one), which, in our testing, ranged from two 18-volt batteries to one 80-volt battery, taking about 30 minutes to two hours, and you’re in business.
The models we tested either arrived ready to go out of the box or needed just a bit of assembly to put together, no tools required. All included grass bag catchers, and most of those needed to be assembled, but again with no tools necessary. This makes convenience one of the electric mowers’ best features. They cut grass as well as their gas counterparts, but feature high-efficiency, long-lasting brushless motors which are quieter and, because there’s no gas or oil to worry about, can be stored upright.
All the models we tested featured standard 21-inch decks (save one that had a 22-inch deck), mulch, bag and side discharge and adjustable cutting heights and required at least one brand-specific rechargeable lithium-ion battery. These can be quite pricey: A 56-volt Ego battery is $229 at Lowe’s, but many mowers include them in their price and, if you are loyal to a certain brand, the batteries are often interchangeable with the line’s other cordless tools.
So perhaps the biggest decision in buying an electric mower is whether to opt for a push or self-propelled model. Four of the six mowers we tested were self-propelled, and we found that while a standard electric push mower is just fine for small yards, self-propelled models are worth any extra costs. Fantastic for those with larger yards, or anyone who could use a little assistance, self-propelled mowers use a motorized drive system that, when engaged, moves the mower forward on its own so the user simply walks behind it, guiding it into place. All the self-propelled versions we tested required a metal “bail” bar to be pushed toward the handle. From there, most have a throttle for speed control and, for safety, all stop spinning when you release the bail. It takes just minutes to familiarize yourself with the feel of a self-propelled electric mower and actually makes the chore of mowing so easy, even our teenager stopped complaining about being assigned the task.
Another selling point for an electric mower is maintenance: Little is required. Clearing the underside of grass clippings, leaves or debris after each use and sharpening the blades once or twice a year is about all that’s necessary.
How we tested
Our testing pool included six electric lawn mowers ranging in price from $370 to $640; four featured self-propulsion, while two were push mowers. Most can be purchased as bare tools (since many use the same batteries and chargers as other tools made by their manufacturers) though we tested models sold with at least one rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a charger. All came with grass bag catchers.
While all the models performed admirably and were very comparable when it came to cutting standard Kentucky bluegrass (all performed similarly to our gas mower), some mowers stood out for better mulching, comfort, ease of use and included features and details.
To test performance, we used all six electric mowers several times on a flat, standard residential quarter-acre yard with typical Kentucky bluegrass. Over the course of our testing, we mowed grass of various lengths, both bagging and mulching. Some mowers were self-propelled, which, once accustomed to the functionality, made mowing a cinch, although some were harder to move when not in self-propel mode. All the electric mowers required one or two batteries to operate and were very easy to use, although some were more comfortable and required fewer steps to start mowing. All were quieter than traditional gas mowers, although certainly not silent. And we appreciated that all the mowers collapsed for vertical storage, although, again, some with greater ease than others.
While testing, we took special note of battery voltage, charge time, runtime and whether there was an external life indicator. All but one featured 21-inch decks (one was 22 inches), and we recorded deck height adjustment, handle adjustment, included blades, functionality, variable speed settings for self-propelled models, build materials, ease of setup, size and other features such as LED headlights.
We also noted whether the electric motors were comfortable to use, how easy they were to assemble and store and disassemble and, for self-propelled models, how simple it was to change speeds while mowing. We also looked at warranty coverage, customer service accessibility and price.
Other electric lawn mowers we tested
We didn’t have many complaints when it came to using this electric push lawn mower. It’s simple and well-balanced, and we loved the ease of starting it up. Just insert the 80-volt battery (it comes with two batteries that charge in 30 minutes each, with a run time of up to 45 minutes), press and hold the safety lock-out button and pull the bail lever to the handle, releasing the button. Ready to stop? Release the bail lever. That’s it. While all the brushless motor mowers we tested were quieter than traditional gas models, this one was a little quieter than the Ego models. Its features include a seven-position height adjustment lever, a durable steel deck, a motor that noticeably kicked into a higher gear when the mower encountered a thicker patch of grass, nice big 10-inch rear wheels, a four-year limited warranty and the super-handy all-wheel single-lever height adjuster (we loved this as all four wheels can be adjusted at once with the pull of the lever).
On the other hand, the Greenworks was the priciest model we tested, but also seemed the most bare-bones. For example, it has foam rubber padding around its metal handle instead of molded plastic like most other models, a battery lid that doesn’t stay open on its own and, to fold the handle down, you must turn knobs and pull levers. It also has no headlights, is not self-propelled and required some assembly out of the box (although no tools were required and the grass bag catcher came assembled). That said, this mower was one of our favorites in terms of performance and if self-propulsion isn’t important to you, it’s just right for cutting grass in smaller yards.
There’s a lot to like about Ryobi’s self-propelled Smart Trek model. For one, it was the easiest model to put to use right out of the box. Simply pull the lever on the handle crossbar, raise the handle up and lock it into place, choosing from two height options. When you’re done, one pull of the lever folds the handle back down and you can tilt it vertical to store it. Nothing to it. It also has some nice features: dual blades for better mulching (it and our winner did the best at mulching); LED headlights; a seven-position height adjustment, from 1.5 to 4 inches; bagging, mulching or side discharge options and a lifetime warranty on the 21-inch deck and a five-year warranty on the rest of the tool.
The Ryobi comes with two 40-volt batteries (which can be used with brand’s line of power tools) and a dual battery port with up to 70 minutes of total run time, so you can switch from one to the other if one runs out of juice while you’re still mowing. This (and starting the motor) relies on a start key inserted near the batteries. To change batteries, the key must be turned so its arrows point to the one in use. That, along with the battery lid that doesn’t stay up on its own, creates a lot of rigamarole. Once that’s all set, to start the mower, you press a button and engage the levers. Conversely, just release the levers to stop it.
Ryobi’s “Smart Trek” self-propulsion senses your speed, matching the mower to your pace. But we found the maximum speed slide clumsy to move and the self-propel paddle uncomfortable, as you must push it down to the handle using your thumbs. It’s also bulkier than most of the models tested, weighing 75 pounds. So while it gets props for the easiest handle adjustment and intuitive pacing system, we found the Ego Power+ Select Cut was superior when it came to the ease of actually cutting your grass.
While Makita’s self-propelled electric lawn mower shares many traits with the other models we tested — 21-inch deck; brushless motor; three-in-one design for mulching, bagging or side discharge; eight adjustable height positions from 1 1/4-inch to 3 15/16-inches and vertical storage — it does have a few that stood out among the others. Besides its tranquil turquoise color, we were smitten with the thoughtful design of a grass level indicator on the grass bag catcher. When it’s not full, a fabric indicator floats while the motor is running; but when it’s almost full, it stops floating so you know it’s time to stop and empty the basket. It’s a small, simple thing, but very convenient. It did a great job cutting and bagging, though we did notice this model didn’t do as well as our top pick when it came to mulching.
We also found this to be the quietest lawn mower we tested and liked the functionality of the self-propulsion speed adjustment lever. Even though it didn’t offer clear clicks like the Ego Power+ Select Cut, it was easy to operate and also goes up to 3 miles per hour. To turn the mower on, just pull the bail lever toward the handle while holding down the switch button, then release the button when the motor kicks in. We like that you can hold the bail lever and handle with one hand while using the other to adjust the speed and it was very easy to push when not in use.
One nitpick: You do have to assemble the handle and grass bag out of the box. The handle is similar to an old-school mower, in that it uses knobs and thumb nuts, and isn’t as intuitive as other models tested. It was also the trickiest to fold down for storage, as you must unscrew the thumb nuts, turn the knobs and fold it back on top of itself; we smashed a finger once trying to wrestle it into place. However, there are built-in handles to help move it easily (it weighs about 60 pounds), and you can store it vertically, like all the models. Perhaps the biggest negative is the Makita’s battery situation. This model comes with four 18-volt batteries (charge time is about 45 minutes) and the machine requires two of them to operate, with a run time of up to 40 minutes when you use up all four batteries, so they’ll likely need to be switched out during a single mow. Like the Ryobi, the Makita uses a lock key that must be inserted with the two battery cartridges (and the lid does not stand up on its own). Makita has a three-year limited warranty.
Like Ryobi’s “Smart Trek” self-propulsion, Toro’s “Personal Pace” auto-drive feature takes all the guesswork out of making speed adjustments. The mower senses your walking pace and automatically matches it, also noting inclines and boosting rear-wheel power. To go faster, you just push the handle down farther, resting easy in the knowledge it will never get away from you.
The Toro Recycler SmartStow has nine cutting positions, from 1–4 inches; a durable 22-inch steel deck; bag, mulch and side-discharge functions and comes with a two-year full warranty on the mower and a three-year warranty on the battery. It folds down easily and, like the others, can be stored vertically. The 60-volt battery, meanwhile, lasts up to 40 minutes on a single charge, but it does take about two and a half hours to charge, which is quite a bit longer than others. Another notable feature unique to this model is that there is no need to insert a mulch plug for that task; with the Toro you simply turn a lever between mulching and bagging. Love that.
It’s also set up like a traditional gas mower: You insert a key, pull the bail to the handle and push the start button. Unfortunately, like a traditional mower, the wheels must be adjusted individually, which can be a pain. It also weighs 95 pounds and is really hard to push when it’s not powered on and the power supply unit leaves three exposed wires on the mower’s side, where others, such as the Ego Power+ Select Cut and Makita, hide the wires in a flexible conduit tube or run them through the side handles, as in the Ryobi.
Ego Power+ LM2101
$399 at Lowe’s
Featuring the same basic design as its big brother, our winning model the Ego Power+ Select Cut, this electric mower delivered similar grass-cutting results, though it isn’t self-propelled so you’ll be getting a little more of a workout while you work. It has six height adjustment positions from 1 1/2 to 4 inches (the Select Cut has eight); mulching, bagging and side discharge functions; LED headlights and a five-year limited warranty.
And while the Select Cut’s battery slides into place at an easy angle, this one goes in straight down and the lid doesn’t stay open on its own, making it just a bit annoying. It’s also push-drive, rather than self-propelled, and doesn’t include the indicator lights on the higher-end model. Again, if you have a small yard and don’t care about self-propulsion, this is a great model that will cut your grass evenly, perform well on mulching and barely leave any grass on your drive or sidewalks to clean up. For anyone with a bigger or hillier yard, we think it’s worth stepping up to the self-propelled version.