Best Cordless Lawn Mower

Cordless Lawn Mower Head-To-Head | 2020

Cordless Lawn Mowers have taken over the lawn and garden section in many retail stores. Six years ago, Tool Box Buzz ran a Best Cordless Lawn Mower Head-to-Head test of five cordless mowers, so we were really interested in how the field of manufacturers has increased and how the offerings have changed after six years.

Our 2020 cordless lawn mower head-to-head will answer the question of whether cordless mowers’ performance “cut it” when compared to a gas-powered mower.

Why Cordless Lawn Mowers?

Even when operated correctly, gas-powered mowers require lots of service including oil changes, fuel filters, spark plugs, and air filters. Oftentimes people wait to do service until the mower won’t start! Anyone who has had to get a small engine repaired knows the hassle and time-sink that can be. Cordless mowers eliminate all of the above-mentioned maintenance, last-minute fuel purchases and they’re quieter to operate and do not emit fumes.

Cordless Lawn Mower Line Up

We reached out to 10 of the top cordless lawn mower manufacturers and asked if they would like to participate in our head to head article. We received 12 mowers, Greenworks and Kobalt sent two models. The models we tested included:

Black and Decker  60 V POWERSWAP 20″ Cordless Mower CM2060C

 

DEWALT  2x 20V Brushless 20 in. 3-IN-1 Cordless Lawn Mower DCMW220X2C 

 

EGOPower+ 21″ Select Cut Mower with Touch Drive Self-Propelled Technology LM2130SP

 

Greenworks   60V 21 in. Cordless Brushless Self-Propelled Lawn Mower with 5Ah Battery and Charger 2520102

 

Greenworks 60V 25 in. Cordless Mower  with 4Ah and 2.5 Ah Battery and Charger 2510802

 

HART 40V Brushless 21″ Self Propelled Mower Kit HLPM021VMN

 

Kobalt 80-volt Max Brushless  Self-propelled 21-in Cordless Mower MP 6080-06

 

Kobalt 40-volt Max Brushless Self-propelled 21-in Cordless Mower KMP 2580-06

 

Makita 18V X2 (36V) LXT® Lithium‑Ion Brushless Cordless 21″ Self‑Propelled Lawn Mower Kit with 4 Batteries (5.0Ah) XML08PT1

 

Ryobi 21 in. 40-Volt Cordless Self Propelled Mower with 7.5 Ah Batteries & 1 Charger RY401130

 

SKIL PWRCore 40™ Brushless 40V 20″ Self-Propelled Mower Kit SM4910-10

 

STIHL Cordless Lawn Mower RMA 510 V

** Weight includes batteries but does not include clippings bag.

 

Cordless Lawn Mower Head-to-Head Comparison

While this head to head is not a scientific research project, we did take measurements, evaluate each mower in several categories, and rank them against each other. When we begin to pull together our Head-To-Head tool tests, we always try to figure out how to make the tests consistent, repeatable, and fair. Often, we figure out how to take the human variable out of a test, but we couldn’t do that with mowers.

We looked at the following categories in order to give you the Best Cordless Lawn Mower.

  • Quality of Cut – This was a subjective comparison based on mowing adjacent areas of lawn and comparing the quality of the cut areas.
  • Noise – We measured decibel levels for each mower. The test was performed with each mower set at the highest deck level, sitting on a concrete slab. We measured the noise at the highest motor speed and the lowest (Note – some models motors ramp down due to demand to save battery life).
  • Run-Time – Run-time is affected by so many different variables. However, we wanted to give a relative comparison for discussion purposes so we tested the run-time using a very large field and ran the mowers under “load” conditions.
  • Ergonomics – Ergonomics play a major role in all of our evaluations and testing. Not only does the mower need to perform well, but it’s very important that it is comfortable, which ultimately leads to more productivity and reduced risk of injury.
  • Handle Comfort & Adjustment– Another subjective comparison focusing on the handle height, adjustments, and overall comfort.
  • Maneuverability – We evaluated how easily the mowers were to push and to cut around trees.  This category is largely factored based on the mower weight, self-propulsion, and wheelbase design.
  • Deck Height Adjustability – We ranked each of the mowers based on how easy they were to adjust the cutting deck height.
  • Rough Stuff – We took the mowers to a field that had 18” tall grass to see which mowers could handle this condition.
  • Compact Storage – Users know that folding up and storing these mowers is an important consideration for purchasing. We examined what it took to fold these up and how much volume it takes to store them.

Cordless Lawn Mower Features

All 12 mowers have fairly similar features included the ones noted in the table below:

Both Hart and Stihl have an inoperable battery storage bay (this means when one battery is exhausted, the pack needs to be swapped out manually). One of the big differences with the mowers is how many battery packs each one uses, and how those packs are combined/utilized to power the mower.

  • The Greenworks switches automatically to the next battery pack when the first one is exhausted.
  • Makita has a switch that is used to change from one set of packs to the other when the first packs are exhausted.
  • Lastly, there are others that run two batteries in parallel, like DEWALT and Makita (Makita holds 4 batteries onboard that swap over with a switch).

Cut Quality – Winner EGO Power+

To evaluate the cut quality we mowed adjacent areas with each mower side by side. After cutting the grass we evaluated how well the grass was cut.  The cut quality of the grass areas was excellent. This is due to the fact that each mower was brand new with an extremely sharp and new blade. There was no BIG discernible difference in the cut quality of the mowers.

Note on grass quality: The grass we mowed was field-quality. As a result, the grass plant type was not particularly uniform. This made the cut quality harder to determine than if we had cut a sod-quality lawn.

Since we were evaluating cut quality, we noted that one mower had a unique blade configuration. The Ego Power+ mower comes with three blades. The mower itself runs with a two-blade combination. The top blade is consistent in any combination. The bottom blade is designed to be switched out with either:  a ‘Premium Mulching Blade’ or a ‘Premium Bagging Blade’.

The Premium Mulching Blade is ideal for weekly mowing, giving you the cut quality and run time expected from high-end gas lawnmowers. The Premium Bagging Blade is a heavy-duty blade that turns grass into fine fragments ideal for both bagging and mulching.

We wanted to see if there was a difference in cut quality between all of the single-blade mowers, and the two mowers that had unique blade configurations, [EGO and 25″ Greenworks] hoping to see a cut quality difference.

We attached grass bags to the mowers and mowed a consistent section of grass. The team examined the clippings and saw a substantive difference in the size of the grass pieces. The EGO clippings were much smaller in size than the second-best sample that belonged to the 25″ Greenworks mower. Both of these mowers cut the grass into much finer pieces than the single-blade mowers.

We ranked the EGO mower in the top spot, followed by the 25″ Greenworks mower. The ten single-bladed mowers ranked in third place for cut quality.

Noise Winner – Makita XML08PT1

One of the biggest questions readers have asked about cordless mowers seems to be how much noise do they produce?

We did a basic decibel test to measure the noise of the mowers in a controlled situation to get a relative comparison of noise. The test consisted of running each mower with the deck raised to its midpoint level sitting on a concrete slab. We placed each mower in the exact same designated spot on the floor in a large barn and the decibel meter located in the same height and relative position to the test mower. The decibel meter used an ITU-R 468 frequency rating.

We ran the test for enough time to have the mowers reach a maximum and stable rpm speed. Many of the mower motors start at a high RPM and then cycle down to a slower speed to save energy. Our time interval took the readings before the speed algorithms stepped the rpm down because of the no-load condition.

Makita took the win with 80.5 dB and was noticeably quieter even without a decibel meter. HART came in second place with 82.4 dB and EGO was third with 84.1 dB.

For reference, the average gas lawnmower produces approximately 95 – 100 dB. The average of the noise measurements for our test mowers was 86.1 dB. Compared to a 100 dB noise level, these cordless mowers reduce the sound energy you hear by just over 20 times compared to a loud gas mower. (decibels are a logarithmic scale, 14 decibels difference is approximately 20 times louder).

Many communities have adopted noise restrictions that limit the time that you can mow with a gas mower. Please note that these mowers were measured while running on top of a concrete slab. In practice, these are much quieter when used on a lawn. As a group, these mowers will not have to be limited in their time of use. That is a great improvement!

Run-Time Winner – Kobalt 80v MP 6080-06

Run-time is a big question on the minds of people considering the purchase of battery-powered mowers. Huge advancements in battery technology are making these cordless mowers a viable option but the million-dollar question on everyone’s mind is how long can you mow on a battery charge? Mowing run time will vary greatly depending on the height of grass, the thickness of grass, and the type of grass.

The winner of our run-time test was the Kobalt 80v mower.

It’s important to note that all 12 of these mowers have different battery Amp-Hour, capacities, and voltages. So, how do you make any sense of that in order to determine the best runtime?  We measured the performance of the mowers “out of the box,” and also normalized performance on the basis of the energy available. [Watt-Hours explained below]

In order to get a relative comparison of run time, we tested the mowers in a very large field under load conditions. The field was mowed a week prior to our test and the grass type and height were very consistent within the borders of the test area. We set the deck height at the same height of 2 ½” for each mower.

 


 

 

We set each mower to its maximum speed if it were self-propelled. For the push mowers, (DEWALT and Black & Decker) we asked the operators to move at a comfortable pace. (It was interesting to note that a 40-year old man in good shape pushing a mower was much faster than most of the self-propelled mowers.)

Runtime Procedure

We measured, and marked off mowing lanes for each mower and kept track of the time and total distance that each mower traveled by counting the number of laps it traveled. We required the operator to place the wheel onto the furthest extent of the previous lap.

In the event that any mower completed its entire lane, we lowered the mower deck by one additional inch and re-cut the lane.

Watt-Hours is calculated by multiplying the voltage (actual load voltage, not the MAX that some companies advertise) by the battery pack Amp-Hours. This calculation allows us to compare the total energy available to do the work based on both the voltage and size of the battery pack (amp-hours).

The Kobalt 80v took first place, it ran 85.5 minutes and mowed 38,600 sq. ft. Second place went to the MAKITA, it ran 83 minutes, and mowed 35,000 Sq. Ft. Third place went to the Greenworks 60V 21″ mower which ran for 65 minutes and mowed 27,700 Sq Ft.

The HART mower ran the least at 22 minutes and mowed 8,400 Sq. Ft.

 

Ergonomics – Winner 25″ Greenworks

Ergonomics is the science of designing and producing tools that improve a worker’s efficiency while reducing discomfort, fatigue, and risk of injury.

For the ergonomics, we evaluated seven areas. These included the adjustability of the handle, the effort of maneuverability,  human factor in the ease of foldability and storage, deck adjustment ergonomics, and the control ergonomics.

The Greenworks mowers were virtually identical in a number of ergonomic categories and scored very well in those. The mowers’ handle adjustment factors, the ease of folding and unfolding the mowers, and the design of the mower control were where the Greenworks units shined. In close second place was the ergonomic scores in these categories that the EGO mower collected.

Manufacturer Handle Maneuv. Storage Quality Deck Adj Controls Points Ranking
Greenworks 25" 1 3 2 3 7 1 17 1
EGO 2 9 1 2 3 3 20 2
Greenworks 21" 1 7 2 3 6 1 20 2
Ryobi 4 4 5 7 1 5 26 4
DEWALT 5 2 8 5 8 6 34 5
Makita 8 8 11 1 3 4 35 6
Skil 3 6 6 11 4 11 41 7
Stihl 11 5 7 6 5 8 42 8
Black & Decker 6 1 9 10 9 9 44 9
Hart 9 12 4 12 10 7 54 10
Kobalt 80v 10 11 10 9 11 10 61 11
Kobalt 40v 7 19 10 8 12 11 67 12

 

Handle Comfort & Adjustment Winner –Both Greenworks Mowers Models 21″ 2520102 and 25″ 2510802

 

When it comes to comfort with respect to push mowers the handle is a big deal. Both of the Greenworks mowers were superior to the group in terms of comfort, handle height, and adjustments. Adjustment is easily done with the two slides on each side of the handle. Just pull back on them and they dis-engage pins that set the adjustment and you can move the handle up or down. Release the slides and once the pins spring back into place you’re ready to go!

The EGO has a very simple and intuitive adjustment single lever near the base of the handle. Testers liked the large rubber over-mold handle and found it to be quite comfortable. The controls are also easy to use and everything is pretty intuitive, most buttons or levers are green making them easy to find.

The Skil has a wide paddle switch for the self propel mode along with an easy handle adjustment. Making it a third-place runner up in this category.

 

Maneuverability Winner – Black & Decker Model CM2060C

Black and Decker and DEWALT were more maneuverable than the rest of the mowers because they were NOT self-propelled. The self-propelled units require the user to disengage the propulsion in order to maneuver tightly. The user must then push against the propulsion mechanism to turn the mower tightly.

The 25″ Greenworks was the best maneuverability in the self-propelled mowers. This was due because of the short wheelbase front to back. The mowers with the longest wheelbase ranked towards the bottom.

The maneuverability of push mowers is especially important when trimming around gardens, trees, and other landscaping features. The ease with which the mower’s turn is largely a result of the wheels and mower weight.

 

Deck Height Adjustability Winner – Ryobi

All of the mowers we tested include a single lever deck height adjustment feature. This sure does beat adjusting each wheel like the old-style mowers. The Ryobi mower was a dramatic stand out with a grab handle that allowed the user to lift or drop the mower while adjusting the height. Rather than the other mechanisms which all relied on a short lever to lift the mower.  EGO took second place with the deck height adjustment out on the deck, clear of any obstructions. Third place went to the Skil, the large handle and reinforced plastic detent plate worked smoothly and easily.

Some mowers had knuckle-busting setups that would cause the user to hit the lower part of the handle assembly when adjusting the mower for taller cutting.

Rough Stuff Testing – Not included in Rankings

We took the mowers to a field that had 18” tall grass and weeds to see which mowers could handle this condition. We recognize that this is the WRONG application for this type of equipment, and did not use the results in the final rankings.

Almost all of the mowers pushed the larger weeds down and simply cut the leaves off of them. The lighter mowers with plastic decks tended to float over the top of the weeds, the Skil and Hart mowers were especially prone to this. Amazingly only one mower failed this test. The 40v Kobalt stalled out three times in quick succession and was the only mower that we felt ‘did not finish’.

Some mowers stalled out but started back up or were simply clogged up with leaves and weeds, and once cleared started up again. The Black and Decker, 21″ Greenworks, 25″ Greenworks, Skil, and Kobalt 80v mowers completed the test without stalling or needing their bags emptied. Testers found that the lightweight Black and Decker, Skil, and Hart mowers basically just slid over the top of the really tall weeds and didn’t do much cutting, but they did cut the overgrown grass.

A few mowers clogged up and needed their bags emptied (we decided to give them a thorough test on bagging in this context as well).  The 25″ Greenworks cut well, which we attribute to the dual blades. The Stihl stopped running a few times because the bag was full but completed the test and absolutely dominated bagging efficiency. The Makita clogged up but would get right back to it when the bag was emptied. The Kobalt 80V got through the test without stalling but didn’t cut as well as some of the other mowers. The EGO’s dual blades made for better cutting and it filled it’s bag near the end of the test and stopped at that point but picked right back up after the bag was emptied. All in All the 25″ Greenworks, 21″ Greenworks, and Kobalt 80v mowers performed best in this test, no stalling and doing a decent job of knocking down the rough stuff.

Compact Design & Storage Size Winner – EGO LM2130SP

Storage is important to some folks, as garages seem to be taken over by mowers, trimmers, and tools during the summer.  Additionally, cordless mowers CAN be stored vertically without the fear of spilling gas onto the floor or filling the cylinder with engine oil.

The EGO LM213oSP really blew away the competition with their very easy to store design. In just 15 seconds you can quickly fold the unit up and store it vertically in a space the size of a suitcase. Because the EGO can be stored both horizontal and vertically, it offers a better solution in tight spaces. Also, with the vertical solution, you can even hang it on the wall which I think is a great option for those of us with a need to hang everything in its place.

Both Greenworks and the HART models also fold up fairly small. The Makita model doesn’t fold and that is due to its durability and PRO grade construction. This mower is designed to be a professional-grade piece of equipment that lives on a landscaping trailer. The handle was specifically designed this way to eliminate a weak point at a hinge.

Fit & Finish Winner – Makita XML08PT1

Makita stands out in this category. This mower was built for daily nonstop use by professional landscapers. The Makita features large-diameter rubber over-molded wheels, a steel deck, and everything about it is tight and made to stand up to some hard use. Screws and bolts hold everything together including the handle which is not adjustable or foldable without a wrench. Almost all of the parts are metal. In short, this high-quality tool is made for the long haul.

 

The Ego and Greenworks mowers also stood out with regard to fit and finish. The EGO has heavy-duty parts, simply to operate levers and clamps, and a very polished appearance. The Greenworks mowers also have heavy-duty parts and smooth operating features.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Value Winner –Greenworks 21″

At the time of publication, the 21″ Greenworks mower was priced at about $349 with a 4.0Ah battery given the performance and overall quality this was a solid pick for the best value. This mower came in tied for 1st place overall and is the second least expensive in the group.

 

Best Cordless Lawn Mower – EGO and 21″ GreenWorks 

These tests and evaluations are very difficult, take a lot of time, and ultimately limited in scope as we’re not a professional testing company. We also cannot do long term testing that would shed light on durability.

In order to choose the best cordless lawn mower, all ten [10] evaluated categories were scored and ranked 1 through 12, to define the winner. We then tallied those category numbers to come up with a total number. The lower the number the better.

Our test in 2014 crowned EGO as the best cordless lawn mower and its obvious they didn’t take their foot off the gas with this generation 3 mower.  EGO tied for the best mower with the 21″ Greenworks mower. Third place went to the 25″ Greenworks and Black and Decker coming in 6-points behind the top two mowers.

 

Each of the mowers we tested did a good job cutting grass and offer features that you’d expect from a great mower.

The EGO LM2130SP has an excellent portable design and performed well in all categories, especially the quality of cut, fit and finish, handle comport, adjustments, controls, and ergonomics.

EGO also offers a platform of outdoor power equipment with a blower, trimmer, edger, hedge trimmer, snowblower, chainsaw, a multi-head system, and a portable power station. The EGO is above average in cost compared to the rest of the mowers.

 

Greenworks also offers a platform of outdoor power equipment with a chainsaw, blower, trimmer, edger, hedge trimmer, pressure washer, and a portable power station. Both EGO and Greenworks tools work off the same battery platform and provide a complete solution for all of your lawn and garden tasks.

 

Final Thoughts

While gasoline mowers have been around since 1914, the advances in powerful lithium-ion batteries have created a battery-powered lawnmower market that can truly compete for many users with gasoline-powered mowers. Today’s cordless mower owners are not subject to the noise, smell, and maintenance issues that are the hallmarks of gas mower ownership.

Best Cordless Lawn Mower Video Review

 

About the author

Stan Durlacher

Stan has been a project manager in the Boston commercial real estate and construction market since 1978. He is currently a Project Executive for a major Boston Construction Manager, building High Rise apartment and office buildings. Two of his current projects are Air Right Developments over the Mass Turnpike in downtown Boston. One of the hallmarks of his career has been innovative problem solving. As Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stan was instrumental in bringing the hydromill slurry wall machinery and technology to Boston in the 1990’s for use on the Central Artery Third Harbor Tunnel Project. Stan has been an avid woodworker since college and brings an innovative point of view to this field. He owns an 1886 farmhouse near Concord, Mass and his skills and time are never idle for long. His barn and attached spaces serve as his ever-expanding workshop. Stan is a self-avowed tool hound. In 2013, Stan decided to design and build his own CNC router. This machine has become a centerpiece of his woodworking and his craft focus Stan will share many of the ways that this innovative technology has solved many current problems and how CNC will begin to impact the woodworking and home renovation businesses.

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9 Comments

  1. Alexei

    Hi Stan,
    Would you provide the stats of the run times of the tested mowers here?
    In addition, do you have any data on actual mowing speed difference between 21 vs 25 inch blade machines?

    Regards,
    Alexei

    1. Stan Durlacher

      The runtime statistics are listed out in the tables in the runtime section of the article.
      Also, I calculated the actual speeds of the two Greenworks mowers you asked about. The 21″ mower ran at 2.8 mph while the 25″ at 2.4 mph.

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  3. BobP

    Can you list where they are manufactured? Like many viewers, I’d prefer to keep Americans employed and will include USA made in my purchase considerations. Thanks for a great review.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Bob – Great question, likely none of them are made here, but possible. The packaging was tossed weeks ago so I’m not sure to be honest.

  4. Lil Magill

    Seems like a balanced a review would include female testers. I’m guessing that at least 40% of the people mowing are female, at least in my neighborhood. I would be interested in a female opinion.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Lil – Certainly a good point, unfortunately we don’t have any women on the team. I will say I don’t believe any of these mowers is extremely heavy (maybe the Makita), but most are far lighter than traditional gas mowers and therefore much easier to move and operate.

  5. Tim Jennings

    I find a huge problem with the cordless mowers is the non-standard battery packs. I had a Ryobi model a few years ago that was a wonderful machine, even self propelled. I had to scrap it prematurely because Ryobi quit making the battery. The cordless mowers should all be made with interchangeable, standard battery packs, similar to what one finds in an automobile. We should be able to buy batteries from any source.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Tim – Hard to disagree with you, but it will never happen unfortunately. The money for these companies is in the batteries. Not all batteries are even close to similar inside the packs. There is so much different between them.

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