Electric lawn mowers are ready for prime time (Week 6, 2023)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 5, 2023

Q. I saw your columns about the special promotions on the Ryobi 18V ONE+ cordless power tools and even bought a couple. That leads to my next question, do you have any experience with cordless electric lawn mowers for use in a small yard? I am in the market for one, and with California laws banning sales of new gas mowers I think I am ready to make the switch anyway.

-P.K., San Jose, CA

A. This segment is about to explode and I saw a lot of interesting lawn and garden products at the 2023 Consumer Electronics show last month, including several innovative robot lawn mowers. If you wait you will have many more options to choose from, but for now I do know of one standout that is an excellent value.

I can easily recommend the Kobalt KPM 1040A-03, listed as the Kobalt Gen4 40-volt Max 20-in Push Cordless Lawn Mower 6 Ah. It is sold exclusively at Lowe’s for $329 including a battery and charger, and after a lot of research the mower was purchased for personal use last summer. The lawnmower has been tremendously satisfying in all respects. Set up out of the box was very easy, with very little assembly required. The 20-inch deck is similar to the traditional walk-behind gasoline mowers people are used to, and it is light and easy to push even without power assist. Doing a few thousand square feet of grass did not even fully deplete the single battery, though it is still advisable to have extra batteries charged and ready-to-go, especially if you have a big yard. The finished cut in mulching mode looks excellent and when you realize that tune-ups, oil and air filter changes, and trips to buy gas are now a think of a past it all makes so much sense. If you have a large yard, tall grass or need something self-propelled it is probably not a fit, but otherwise it is a great buy and the overwhelmingly positive owner reviews reinforce my positive impression. I’ve seen two neighbors using the same mower recently, so word is getting around. lowes.com

Since you mentioned Ryobi 18V ONE+ power tools you may be surprised to learn that Home Depot has a low-priced lawnmower that works with this system, despite the comparatively low voltage. It has a small 13-inch deck and is sold for $249 on its own, or in a package with a string trimmer, battery and charger for $287. (Obviously, the package is the way to go here.) If your yard is small and you can get around the low power and small deck size it may work for you. You will also add to your 18V ONE+ battery collection if you go this route. Given the Kobalt is not much more and has a much bigger cutting deck and more powerful battery system, I do think it is the better buy.

A handy place for all those tools: I know a lot of other readers took advantage of those Ryobi promotions last summer, just as I did. If you need a place to organize your growing tool collection check out the PLOSIF 2-in-1 power tool organizer, sold on Amazon starting at $35. I just tested one and was pleased with the clever layout, which holds a lot of manual and power tools in a small space. My grandfather always told me, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you.” I have never forgotten that advice, though I have not always followed it! Keeping everything organized and in one place is aa good start.