The sun is shining as you head outside to mow the grass. But instead of filling your machine with gas and yanking on a pull cord, you simply flip a switch and quietly get to work.
Electric cars may be getting the buzz, but they’re not the only things transitioning from gas. A growing number of electric machines have hit the market to help you do something very different: keep your lawn looking great.
The U.S. still has about 121 million pieces of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, according to the EPA. And while electric lawn mowers, trimmers and leaf blowers may not have been widely adopted yet, they’ve attracted a loyal following.
The reason? They can be quieter, easier to maintain and more affordable in the long run. They’re also better for the environment. The EPA says that emissions from gas-powered lawn equipment are responsible for 12 percent of the nation’s carbon monoxide emissions.
But electric lawn tools come with trade-offs, including higher up-front costs and less power. So which is right for you? “You have pros and cons with both gas and electric,” says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, a Nashville-based lawn care company. Gas equipment gives him the high power and fill-and-go ability he needs for his business. But he believes that, for home use, the technology of electric tools has caught up.
Here are some key details on a few of the most popular home lawn care machines.
In recent years, electric mowers have become more powerful, and their batteries last longer than before; they can now go toe-to-toe with many gas mowers available for home use, says Caballero. There are a couple caveats: You may have trouble finishing a larger lawn on a single charge. Also, electric mowers are more expensive to buy (though costs vary depending on factors like engine size). The flip side, of course, is that it costs less to charge the mower than to repeatedly fill it with gasoline. “If you don’t have a lot to mow,” says Caballero, “and you don’t let the lawn get out of hand, the electric works well.”
The pros still swear by gasoline-powered leaf blowers, says Caballero, which are roughly 50 percent more powerful than their electric counterparts. But for regular home use, he says, an electric is probably fine. Before he started GreenPal, Caballero used an electric leaf blower at his home and liked its lightweight and quiet motor. The other upside to electric blowers is a substantial difference in price: It’s around $200 to buy a gas model, while electric ones can cost as little as $20.
You also have a choice when it comes to hedge trimmers and string trimmers (or weed whackers). The same tradeoffs apply as with leaf blowers: Electrics are quieter and cleaner, though typically less powerful. And they’re cheaper, with popular electric trimmers going for less than $100, while gas-powered models tend to run over $300. As with leaf blowers, Caballero says the trade-offs are worth it, and electrics will work well for most people, especially if you have a small lawn and regularly maintain it.
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Read More: Want even more advice on helping your lawn look its best? Check out these 7 Easy Ways to Keep Your Lawn Greener.