Mar 29, 2023

How does electric lawn equipment stack up against gas

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Electric vehicles are popular with consumers, but how about switching to battery-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers?

While electric is better than gas for your health and the environment, how well does battery-powered outdoor equipment work and how does it compare in cost?

In some places, you may not have the choice of what to use. About 100 communities around the country have started restricting or banning certain kinds of gas-powered outdoor equipment.

Philadelphia could be next.

So we asked the experts at Consumer Reports to weigh in.

Lawnmowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers have traditionally all run on gasoline. But now Quiet Clean Philly is pushing to phase out at least one piece of gas-powered equipment: leaf blowers.

"The emissions and the noise from gas leaf blowers cause significant public harm," said Seth Lieberman, Co-Founder of Quiet Clean Philly.

A 2011 Edmunds study found that a consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a popular model pick-up truck.

"We know that the emissions from 30 minutes of a gas leaf blower are just as bad as driving the distance from Philadelphia to Juneau, Alaska."

Washington D.C., another large city with a similar climate and tree cover as Philadelphia, has now banned gas leaf blowers.

So we asked the experts at Consumer Reports to give us the pros and cons of gas powered versus battery powered outdoor equipment.

"You're better off with a gas string trimmer," said Tobie Stanger, Senior Editor at Consumer Reports. "With leaf blowers, there really is an edge for electric leaf blowers."

"We found some very good battery-powered walk-behind mowers and we're starting to see some very good riding mowers also," she said.

Consumer Reports says the advantages of electric products are that they are generally lighter in weight and much quieter.

And while they can cost you more upfront, they can be less expensive in the long run.

"In most cases, you will save money over a five year period because of the actual cost of the gasoline," said Stanger.

And for the average size yard, CR says battery power holds up.

"Most battery products are gonna go 30 minutes to 45 minutes, which is enough for about a quarter of an acre - maybe a little bit more," she said. "You can also take that battery and use it interchangeably with lots of different tools."

The University of Pennsylvania has already eliminated all gas leaf blowers. Drexel just announced it is doing the same.

Meanwhile, California has mandated that any new products that go on store shelves in 2024 have to be zero emissions, which could result in higher demand for electric products.