Going Green – 2015 Electric Riding Mowers

This article discusses the latest electric riding mowers for 2015.

The rise of sustainability by large corporations has affected commercial landscaping activities considerably in the last three years and is increasing the demand for equipment with environmentally friendly features. We are seeing many new models offered with electronic fuel injection, propane and battery powered. In addition, many commercial facilities are seeking quieter and LEED* qualified models. These eco-friendly advances are starting to filter down into the residential models.

Cordless electric walk-behind mowers are getting better every year. This year there will be around 40 different cordless electric walk behind mowers. Most of them are using 40, 56 and 80 volt interchangeable lithium batteries to give you enough run time to mow your city yard or trim your suburban yard. The batteries all plug in – just like your cordless drill so when you run out of juice just change it out for a freshly charged one. Riding mowers (except one) are not quite as advanced.

Noise: All-electric and hybrid riding mowers are much quieter than your gas powered lawn tractor but they still still make noise when the blades are engaged. The noise is still loud enough that you will want to wear hearing protection.

Here is a quick rundown of the three available now.

Number One: Mean Green – Commercial Electric Mowers

Mean Green Stand On

Mean Green Mowers has a complete line of lithium powered commercial riding, stand-on, walk-behind and trimming mowers. They feature interchangeable high capacity battery packs that can quickly be exchanged to power their mowers all day long. This is the true “Tesla” of riding mowers – state of the art batteries, chargers and electronics.

Like the Tesla and Nissan Leaf autos there is no maintenance on these mowers other than occasional inspections for safety and a few grease fittings. No seasonal maintenance like oil, spark plugs, oil filters, air filters, hydraulic fluid, etc to purchase and store. Best of all, there is NO gas to purchase and haul around in your trunk! No storage cans of stale fuel sitting around your garage! Commercial owners are seeing savings of hundreds of dollars per month on parts and fuel alone, not to mention the high labor costs to accomplish the maintenance. The additional cost of the batteries quickly is offset by maintenance and operating savings over gas powered equipment.

The mowers themselves are true commercial grade mowers and cost about the same as an equivalent commercial gas powered zero-turn. The battery packs and chargers are additional.

Did I mention how quiet they are?

Mean Green Mowers In the News:

ValleyCrest Landscape Cos. (soon to be BrightView) has purchased Mean Green Mowers for use on Google’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif.

The first set of mowers, purchased from Gardenland Power Equipment in Campbell, Calif., arrived Dec. 19. Zach Mersch, inside sales manager for Mean Green Mowers, and Richard Ogawa of Gardenland demonstrated and trained the ValleyCrest crew on how to operate the commercial, electric mowers.

ValleyCrest also purchased Mean Green Mowers for use in Los Angeles, Florida and other high profile areas in the U.S.


Find out more about Mean Green Mowers here: Mean Green Mowers

Number Two: Raven MPV-7100 – Hybrid MultiPurpose Vehicle


One of the biggest problems with residential electric riding mowers is battery capacity. It has always been a trade-off of “this is a practical mower” and “that costs too much.” To meet the purchase cost expectations of the U.S. consumer the battery powered riders are still using deep discharge lead-acid batteries and have limited run times of about an hour. Once the batteries are depleted you get to wait until the next day to finish your lawn while the batteries charge.

The Raven MPV-7100 fixes that problem with an on-board charging system.

The Raven MPV-7100 is a hybrid-electric riding mower. What that means is you do all your chores and running around the yard with electric power. The powerful 48 volt system gives you plenty of power for hauling and buzzing over to the neighbors. Put it in 2nd gear and it will go up to 17 MPH! The on-board batteries have enough capacity you can use it all week running around your property or even quickly remove the deck and get in a round of golf. There is an optional 48 volt charger so you can plug it in when you are done to keep the batteries fully charged.

When you want to mow just start the on-board generator and go! The mowing deck is all-electric (no belts or pulleys) so the engine only charges the battery. Because of that the engine is smaller and a lot more fuel efficient than your lawn tractor, the five gallon fuel tank will let you mow up to 8 hours on a tank of fuel.

The Raven is quieter than your lawn tractor. The engine is quieted by a huge muffler that points the exhaust away from you to the rear. The engine is shrouded and behind you so the engine noise itself goes out the back. The only noise you hear is from the blades spinning.

The Raven is cost effective in three ways.

First – 3 Machines In One: It costs about as much as a X300 series John Deere but also doubles as a 7100/6500 watt 110 volt emergency generator and a run-around-the-property vehicle. It does all three jobs well (mowing, emergency power, utility vehicle) so there is no trade-off for owning an all-in-one multipurpose vehicle.

Second – Fuel Savings: It saves fuel even when mowing. It features a 46 inch fabricated all-electric deck that mows very well. The electric motors that drive the blades are speed controlled so the blades always run at a constant speed – even in thick or tall grass. The 420 cc engine that powers the generator to drive the mower deck uses up to 50% less fuel than your V-Twin Lawn Tractor.

Third – Reduced Maintenance Costs: Since you only run the gas engine when mowing you put less hours per year on it. What that means is fewer oil and filter changes. Plus there are no belts, pulleys and clutches to wear out. The transmission is a cast-iron gear design so you never have to worry about burning it up on hills or pulling heavy loads. The on-board batteries are smaller than an all-electric rider’s so when they do need to be replaced they will cost a lot less.

Find out more about the Raven MPV-7100 here: Raven MPV-7100

Number Three: Cub Cadet RZT S Zero – Residential Electric Zero-Turn

Cub Cadet RZT Zero

If you like to tinker around the yard and don’t mow more than an hour or so at a time the Cub Cadet RZT S Zero is wonderful mower. Cub Cadet has taken their latest steering wheel zero turn and replaced the belts, pulleys, transmissions and gas engine with electric motors and batteries.

The Cub Cadet RZT S Zero has four features that make it a great choice.

No Gas: On your way home from your Cub Cadet dealer with your new mower stop by your local Sears or Home Depot and buy a cordless Craftsman, Ryobi, or EGO Garden System and when you get home – throw the gas can away.

State of the Art Drive System: Even though this mower uses a deep discharge battery instead of lithium-ion it uses the latest technology to make the best use of battery’s capacity. The 48 volt floating ground system uses 4 of the latest 3-phase brushless DC motors for propulsion and the deck. Two motors for the deck and two motors for the all steel gear transmissions in the rear. Each motor’s speed is precisely controlled. Like the Raven above it incorporates a regenerative circuit for downhill braking that actually charges the battery.

A True Zero-Turn that will handle slopes: You know what I think of residential zero-turns. Most of the models on the market work great on flat land but are scary or impossible to drive on slopes. The RZT S Zero is different. It uses steered wheels in front (instead of caster wheels) so that you have full control over the mower all the time. It will handle 15 degree or less slopes just as well as your lawn tractor. The weight of the batteries is centered over the rear wheels to give you the best traction possible. The steering wheel and foot controlled speed controller make it as easy to drive as your car.

Cub Cadet’s best 42 inch deck: A big advantage with today’s electric mowers is the blade tip speed is precisely controlled. If one or both blades encounter heavy thick grass the speed sensor in the motor automatically keeps the blade at a constant RPM. This feature in combination with the fact that this is Cub Cadet’s best 42 inch deck assures that you will always get the best cut possible. But, it doesn’t stop there. If you are mowing light grass the electronic controllers reduce the current to the motors saving the battery and extending the mowing time. Note: When you first get your new RZT S it may not give you the full hour of run time. The brand new batteries take about 10 charging cycles to reach their full capacity. 

This Cub Cadet RZT S Zero is not totally free to use but there are still considerable cost savings over the gas or propane powered equivalent. All electrics like the RZT S Zero that you plug in and charge are not without cost because you still have to pay for the electricity. Electric car owners are seeing about a 70% savings over a 40 MPH car and I expect these riding mowers to give you about the same cost advantages. Of course, the actual cost savings depends on your local electricity rates and the current price of fuel. In addition to the charging cost, conventional deep discharge batteries like the four in the Cub Cadet Zero have an expected life of around 4 to 6 years or 400-600 cycles and cost around $200 EACH. (industry average) In comparison, the Mean Green lithium batteries have an expected life of around 1500 cycles or 10-15 years.

Find out more about the Cub Cadet RZT S Zero here: Cub Cadet RZT S Zero

*LEED, originates from the acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”


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