Mowing the Lawn for 2.5 Cents

by Tim Fulton on September 13, 2008

Yep, that’s all it takes for my to mow and edge my front lawn. A cool 2.5 cents. How is this possible? With electric garden tools.

Electric lawnmowers aren’t new…

…But, they are gaining in popularity. A few years ago I remember someone using an electric lawnmower and I was mightily confused. Why was this person dragging a cord around their lawn? What benefit could this possible have? These days, however, I know quite a few people with electric lawn mowers or even new-old-fashioned push mowers, including myself. Here’s why I made the switch:

  • my old lawnmower was dying,
  • even before it was dying, it smelled horribly and puffed smoke,
  • remembering to keep it filled with gas and buying that gas was a pain,
  • I did some research on 2-stroke emissions
  • electric mowers use less energy
  • electric mowers cost less to operate
  • electric mowers are quieter
  • electric mowers are lighter and easier to push around

2.5 cents for a lawn-trim

I knew my electric lawn mower was better than my old gas mower, but I was curious about just how much energy I was using. So, I decided to hook up my trusty Kill-a-Watt and take some measurements. Here’s what I learned:

  • Lawn mower: 480 watts in steady use, .14 kwh to mow the front lawn
  • Edger: 1200 watts in steady use, .11 kwh to edge the side walk

Altogether, the trimming on the front lawn takes just .25 kwh, which at 10 cents per kwh means I’m only paying 2.5 cents in electricity to spruce up the lawn.

Anyone else using electric lawn tools?

If you liked this post, please sign up for our RSS Feed to get updates.


1 nadeshiko September 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

huh…a goat?

2 Jon September 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I got an old electric (plug-in) mower for free at a yard sale a few years ago, but didn’t use it much — the few times I tried, it seemed the cord management was too much of a hassle, making sure you didn’t run over it, getting a long cord where it needed to go, etc.

However, this summer, our gas mower was buried too deeply in the barn, and I decided to have another go with the electric. I found that, with a little forethought, it was a much nicer mowing experience (in addition to the cost and eco benefits): it’s quieter, much lighter, and doesn’t need to run when you’re pushing it from place to place.

For cord management, I just used a technique similar to what mountain climbers use with ropes. Basically, the cord went over one shoulder, crossed in the back, and over the other shoulder, so it’s easy to move the cord one way or the other. That, in addition to mowing smarter (mow so your cord is always either behind you or on the side you have already mowed) made it very easy and quick.

Also, the mower is so light, I found it easiest to move forward for one row (with the cord behind me), then just pull the mower backward with one hand for the next row, using my other hand to flip the cord out of the way. It was surprisingly easy.

I did need to add an extra extension cord to get to one patch of lawn, but they are very heavy duty cords and didn’t seem to have any overheating or other problems.

3 jason preestly April 12, 2009 at 11:50 pm

I’m not buying your calculations. I just looked up a black and decker that is rated at 12oo Wh and if you multiply that by .13 cents per kWh which is about what you’re paying after the fuel charge, I get $1.56. So depending on how much you’re using the thing, your charges are still well over what it costs to burn a gallon of gasoline. Besides all of that, gasoline has all of its energy stored in it whereas the power company is burning away night and day and at only 80% efficiency they’re wasting quite a bit. Along with that are the hidden costs of coal mining disasters and environmental disasters of coke / ash and coal slurry that seems to make its way into our drinking water and who pays for that? We do!

While your attempt to go green is a nice thought, the math doesn’t add up in this case and I’ll spend $2.00 in gas a year mowing my lawn without having to push a 76 pound lawnmower with a toxic battery that loses 5% of its capacity every year and then have to figure out how to dispose of it when its gone.

4 jason preestly April 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm

ooops… 15.6 cents that is… at about 20 hours per year is $3,12… still more money than a gallon of gas!

5 hondo434 July 4, 2009 at 11:13 am

Don’t forget about changing plug and cleaning and adjusting carburator, changing oil ($2.-$4.00 a quart), and trying to keep motor running, Pulling on rope for ever to try and start.Storing in off season. Gas at 4.00 gallon fluctuating wildly. Tuneups. One hour of mowing with electric takes 1.2 kwh, .13 cents which can mow a large lawn in a hour. Electric production is regulated for pollution. Small gas engines or not regulated and contribute large amounts of gas emmissions and noise pollution. Gasoline storage is dangerous and can deteriorate.

6 wogga June 7, 2012 at 9:15 am

small gas engines in gass mowers are incredibly noisy and most are incredibly dirty for the environment, just google it. It’s true that if you mow electrically for an hour or so you’ll probably use 15-20 cents, but with no real maintenance costs (other than sharpening the blade) electric corded mowing has got to be cheaper than gas mowing and is (somewhat) quieter.

I use a rechargeable battery mower. This means that my cost is the battery every 5-6 years ($90) and would normally be the electricity to charge the battery, but mine runs on two $15 solar panels I got – and can be used about every on my smallish suburban lawn. I’ll never go back to gas and hopefully never to power station electricity.

7 Lonny October 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hi All,

You are confusing your units which makes your arguments unresolvable.

A Wh is a measurement of energy. A W is a measurement of power.
A 1200W mower running for an entire hour would be 1200Wh. If it only took 1/2 hour to mow your lawn it would be just 600Wh (or 0.6 kWh).

I hope that helps settle it. See for more.

8 Tim Fulton October 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

You are correct and the post has been updated. Thanks.

9 Lonny October 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thanks for the quick response and fix. (I just realized that I was responding to Jason Preestly’s comment was from way back in 2009)

Anyways… nice site. Keep up the great work!

PS I thought you might like this silliness –

Comments on this entry are closed.