As stated in my previous article To Go Green You Must Start With The Grass I had decided to purchase a new Craftsman 48 Volt Battery Powered Mower to put my own “Green Credentials” to the test. This was a bid to unchain myself from the Energy Mafia. Now lets “Cut” to the chase (Yes, lame).
When I first started this experiment I did not really think too much of the the lawn mower. I just figured it would be my first large step toward green. I started looking for the mower in retail stores because I needed one as soon as possible. Looking around Sears I saw a sign that said you should only get a battery powered mower if your yard is under 900 square feet and lucky for me my yard is around 700 square feet. The Craftsman mower looked like the best choice I had, it was fully loaded, a 19″ cutting deck, bag attachment, mulching capability,side shooting, single lever height adjuster… and the only battery powered mower there. Yep, it cuts grass and has a battery, that is why I chose it.
The first thing I noticed was how much this battery powered mower weighs. On the Sears site it says the mower weighs 80 lbs. Now grant it when pushing it around your yard it is well balanced enough that it is hard to notice but, it feels as though it has power assist… without the actual help of power assist. I was pretty excited about my first large green purchase and the weight of the mower was probably due to the lead acid batteries. No biggie.
Next, I un-boxed the beast. Pulling the mower out of the box I noticed that the handle already had been screwed together, all I needed to do was fold out the handle and tighten the large wing nuts. Finally, my brand new mower was un-boxed and ready to tear through the grass.
To start the mower you need to place a “Key” into the mower. When this key is not present the mower will not start which is helpful if you need to do some cleaning or anything around the blade. Once the key is in the mower you must push an orange button with your thumb while you pull the standard safety handle and the mower starts right up. It was one of the coolest feelings to have this mower in your hands. The mower is so quiet that it sounded like a large fan. Still not whisper quiet but you could hold a casual conversation with someone across the yard while mowing. Another cool thing is that you can actually hear the blades of grass being cut which gives you a bigger sense of power over the grass.
But all good stories must come to an end some day. The sad part is that the beginning of my good experience and the end of my good experience occurred on the same day. The first problem was required 18 hour charge before use!!! Still, I was not swayed, I told myself, “It doesn’t matter, I will just plug it in and leave it there, I only need to mow once a week, that should give it plenty of time…” So I charged the mower as instructed.
The next day, I pulled out my new mower freshly charged and ready to go! Man was I ready for this! I put the mower on the grass and started mowing. Man the sound of the grass being cut just felt cool. Then I noticed of the four power LED’s I only had two more left! “Eh,” I said, “The battery light probably doesn’t indicate the real power left. The last two LEDs should work longer than the first two,” I was wrong. The charge is lost quicker on the last two LEDs. I got to the last square foot patch of grass in my back yard and the mower kicked and screamed and tried its darnedest to die before the grass was cut and I still needed to cut the front yard.
Nothing to fear. I figured the batteries probably needed to be conditioned to handle the full charge and complete my yard. I plugged the mower in again and went to bed to finish the front the next day.
When I woke up, I felt great, I was ready to mow my front yard! Pulled out the mower and got the front yard done without a hiccup. I ended the front yard with barely three green LED’s out of four. When that was done I plugged the mower back in for next weeks mow.
Well, my third and final mow the next week was a mirror image of my first, barely making it through the entire back yard before the mowers battery died. As far as recommendations go… purchase the Craftsman 19″ battery powered mower at your own risk. I have to say that this idea has much promise, possibly if the mower used Lithium Ion batteries instead of the led acid ones it currently comes with. I recommend holding off unless you are just going to mow around your porch or would like to trim your banzi grass.
Craftsman 19in 48 Volt Battery Powered Mower 4 out of 10
On a more positive note, I looked around for a different and better mower and found the Neuton, These mowers seem to be much more suited for this situation, plus they have removable batteries, so even if you ran out you could just pop in a newly charged one and finish the job.
Craftsman 48 Volt Battery Powered Mower
Neuton Battery Powered Mowers