The 6 Best Electric Mowers of 2021

A cleaner and quieter way to cut the grass.

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Mowing your lawn doesn’t have to be noisy, smelly, and involve spewing pollutants into the environment. Reel mowers, which haven’t changed much since introduced in 1868, remain the most Earth-friendly way to mow because you’re the only source of power. But they’re definitely not for everyone! Weighing about 20 to 50 pounds, reel mowers aren’t easy to maneuver on uneven, hilly or large yards. You’d better have plenty of time and energy because they’re a strenuous workout on a sticky summer day!

Electric mowers, available in both corded and cordless options, are another environmentally-conscious option, and they’ve come a long way in recent years. If your home is powered by renewables, they can run without any fossil fuels. New design and technology have improved their performance so they’re more reliable and practical. They’re ideal if you have a typical lot that’s around a quarter of an acre or slightly more. They also start with a push button instead of having to yank a rope as you do with a gas mower. So, it’s easier to get going so you can finish chores faster and get on the fun stuff (like relaxing on the patio).  

 Ahead, our top picks for the best electric mowers of the year:

The Rundown
The self-propelled feature makes mowing easier, especially in thick and tall grass or weeds.
It easily converts from a trimmer to an edger to a mower so you won’t have to buy separate tools for each lawn chore.
It has a cast aluminum deck, which won’t rust, and a battery that’s estimated to last up to 50 minutes for lawns up to 1/3 acre.
If you have a small yard, this reasonably-priced mower is a good option.
You can check battery power, engage the blades, and turn on the LED headlights from the onboard control panel.
This mower has a sturdy metal deck and auto-sensing technology that increase torque in overgrown areas of your lawn.

Best Overall: RYOBI 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Brushless Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

RYOBI 20 in. 40-Volt 6.0 Ah Lithium-Ion Battery Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Key Specs

Width: 20 inches | Battery Run Time: 42 minutes | Cutting Height Range: 1.5-4 inches | Warranty: 5-year limited tool warranty, 3-year limited battery warranty

This mower allows you to mulch or bag clippings; the bagger is included but you can also purchase a side discharge accessory separately. The self-propelled feature makes mowing easier, especially in thick or tall grass or weeds. There are seven cutting height adjustments, as well as LED headlights if you prefer mowing in the evening when it’s cooler.

The mower runs off one battery with a run time of about 40 minutes, but you can buy a backup as a spare that can conveniently be stored on board for speedy change-outs. A quick-release handle folds flat for vertical storage. This mower is recommended for 0.25 to 0.5-acre lawns and comes with a five-year warranty.

Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Lawn Mower, String Trimmer and Edger

BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Lawn Mower, String Trimmer and Edger
Key Specs

Width: 12 inches | Battery Run Time: 30 minutes | Cutting Height Range: 1.6-2.4 inches | Warranty: 2-year limited tool warranty

If you have a small yard, this all-in-one machine is a great idea. It easily converts from a trimmer to an edger to a mower so you won’t have to buy separate tools for each lawn chore. With only a 12-inch mowing width, it’s best for small strips of grass, lawns up to 750-square feet, or hillsides where a push mower would be too hard to handle. At such a diminutive size, it’s not for big lawns but doesn't need much space for storage. It comes with two batteries and has a two-year warranty.

"We have a small backyard and an even smaller amount of grass, so the BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Lawn Mower is well-suited for our needs. The size might make it seem toy-like, but it gets the job done. If things get a bit weedy, the trimmer makes it easy to take a first pass. Since our home has solar, I love that we can run it without fossil fuels." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Senior Editor 

Best Splurge: Toro Super Recycler 21 in. 60-Volt SmartStow Max Cordless Battery Walk Behind Mower

Toro Super Recycler 21 in. 60-Volt SmartStow Max Cordless Battery Walk Behind Mower
Key Specs

Width: 21 inches | Battery Run Time: 50 minutes | Cutting Height Range: 1.25-4.25 inches | Warranty: 5-year full mower; 3-year full battery

This self-propelled mower has an intake to suck in air as you mow and recirculate clippings under the mowing deck so they’re ultra-fine in texture (great if you plan to leave them in place as natural fertilizer). It also comes with a bagger. The machine automatically adjusts to your walking speed based on how much pressure you apply to the handle, and cutting heights range from 1.25 to 4.25 inches.

It has a cast aluminum deck, which won’t rust, and a battery that’s estimated to last up to 50 minutes for lawns up to 0.33 acre. There’s even a handy washout port to which you can attach a garden hose to rinse the mower deck. It folds down neatly to reduce stowing space by 70%. It has a five-year warranty on the mower, and three years on the battery.

Best for Small Lawns: Greenworks Corded Lawn Mower 25022

Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1Electric Corded Lawn Mower
Key Specs

Width: 20 inches | Battery Run Time: Not applicable (corded mower) | Cutting Height Range: 1.5-3.75 inches | Warranty: Limited 4-year warranty

If you have a small yard, this reasonably-priced mower is a good option. It has a 20-inch steel deck and can mulch, side discharge, and rear bag clippings. Cutting height can be adjusted from 1.5 to 3.75 inches. The handles fold down for storage. But it’s not self-propelled, and it weighs 56 pounds, so you’ll get a workout when mowing.

You’ll have to buy a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord separately (the owner’s manual advises which one to use based on the length of the cord you’ll need) if you don't already have one. It comes with a bagger and has a three-year warranty.

Best for Large Lawns: RYOBI 100 AH 38" Electric Riding Mower RY48111

Ryobi 38 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
Key Specs

Width: 38 inches | Battery Run Time: 150 minutes | Cutting Height Range: 1.5-4.5 inches | Warranty: Limited 3-year warranty

If you have a large lawn, a riding mower is the best way to go if you don’t want to spend hours out there cutting the grass. This one’s relatively quiet (70 decibels) and comes with a two-blade deck with a 12-position adjustment. It’s estimated to run up 2.5 hours on a charge so it can handle lawns up to 2.5 acres before running out of juice.

You can check battery power, engage the blades, and turn on the LED headlights from the onboard control panel. There’s even a USB phone charging port for your phone. A 16-inch turning radius makes it handy for tight areas. It has a three-year warranty on the mower, one-year on the battery.

Best for Weeds or Thick Grass: DEWALT 21.5 in. 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Battery Walk Behind Self Propelled Mower

DEWALT 21.5 in. 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Battery Walk Behind Self Propelled Mower
Key Specs

Width: 21.5 inches | Battery Run Time: 60 minutes | Cutting Height Range: 1.45 to 4.5 inches | Warranty: Limited 3-year warranty

If your lawn is more weeds than grass or if you have thick, healthy grass, you need a mower that won’t bog down during heavy work. This mower has a sturdy metal deck and auto-sensing technology that increase torque in overgrown areas of your lawn. It’s also front wheel drive, which makes it highly maneuverable.

You can bag (included), mulch or side discharge clippings and adjust the cutting height. It’s ideal for lawns up to 0.5 acre with a 60-minute run time. The mower is made in the United States. The warranty includes 1 year of free service, and a 90-day money back guarantee.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Ryobi 20-inch 40-volt Battery Walk Behind Self-Propelled Push Mower because it’s full-featured yet reasonably priced (view at Home Depot). But we also like the Black+Decker 12-inch 20-volt Cordless 3-in-1 Compact Mower if you have a small plot, a hill that’s hard to navigate with a typical push mower, or if you need to invest in several lawn tools at once (view at Walmart).

What to Look for in an Electric Mower

Corded vs. Cordless

Because they’re plugged in during use, corded mowers have an unlimited run time so you’ll never run out of power before you’re done mowing. But you will have to keep the cord out of the way to avoid tangling it or tripping yourself. Plus, it’s generally practical only on yards smaller than a 0.25 acre.

Cordless electric mowers, powered by a battery, have various run times (ranging from 40 to 70 minutes on most units) on a single charge. Battery charge times range from a few hours to overnight.

Adjustable Cutting Heights

You may want to look for a cutting deck which can be raised and lowered for different types of grass. For example, Bermuda grass should be cut at 1.5 to 2 inches, while tall fescue should be mowed at 2.5 to 4 inches. Grass is healthier when you cut it at the correct height for its species. If you don’t know what kind of grass you have, your local university coop extension service can help (find yours here).

Batteries that Swap Between Products

Chances are, you may have or plan to purchase other battery-powered tools such as a string trimmer or chainsaw. If so, it makes sense to stick with one brand name because many manufacturers design interchangeable batteries that fit on their other tools. If you need more than one power tool, there’s no sense buying three different brands that require three different batteries.

Bagging, Mulching, and Side Clipping Discharge Options

Depending on how you want to handle clippings, make sure your mower has the appropriate options. Be aware that most turf experts recommend you leave the cuttings on the lawn as organic fertilizer, but they are also a great addition to compost.

Self-Propelled vs. Manual

No contest: A self-propelled mower is easier to push than the manual version. Consider this feature if you have hilly terrain or difficulty maneuvering a mower because many mowers weigh 50 pounds or more.

Foldaway Handle

Many units come with handles that fold down. This is a great option if you’re tight on storage space.

FAQs

Are electric mowers quiet?

Electric mowers typically operate around 65 decibels or louder. To provide perspective, normal conversation is around 60 decibels. On the other hand, many gas-powered mowers operate at 85 decibels or louder. Regular exposure at this level can damage hearing — and annoy your neighbors if you’re cranking it up early on the weekend.

What are the pros and cons of electric mowers?

Electric mowers are quieter, require less maintenance (typically, only disconnecting the battery in the off-season and sharpening blades), and don’t send pollutants into the environment. There’s no storing gas or having to change oil. But they have limited run times, and the manufacturer’s estimated times vary depending on factors such as the terrain, height, and texture of the grass. Some battery-powered mowers may get sluggish on lush, thick lawns.

Also, because everything has a lifespan, rechargeable batteries still must be recycled properly when they no longer hold a charge, which is typically in two to three years.  

Where can I find used electric mowers?

Social media resell sites, such as Facebook or OfferUp, list used mowers locally, but these probably won’t have a warranty. Amazon and local mower dealers also sometimes sell refurbished models. Or you can check eBay.

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Treehugger wants to help readers find garden tools that have less impact on the environment. Arricca SanSone specializes in writing about home, shelter, and gardening.