This article discusses the latest electric riding mowers for 2019. Two years ago there were only three available – today there are more than a dozen!
First: The state of the industry
Going “green” by homeowners and large corporations is leading to a rapid growth in cordless electric landscaping tools. Homeowners now have string trimmers, blowers and walk-behind mowers that are as powerful as their gas counterparts. (and they start every time!) Many corporations are demanding that landscapers use equipment with environmentally friendly features. Towns and homeowner associations are banning gas-powered blowers because of the noise. Some corporations are going as far as requiring landscapers to use ONLY electric mowers and handheld equipment. The market is rapidly approaching the point where the large manufacturers will have to accept the responsibility to develop eco-friendly, durable residential models that move the nation to a completely cordless electric riding mower fleet.
Cordless electric walk-behind mowers are getting better every year. Two years ago there were around 20 – this year there will be over 50 different cordless electric walk-behind mowers that will mow well and last. Most of them are using 36, 54 and 72-volt interchangeable lithium batteries to give you enough run time to mow up to 1/2 acre on one battery. They have plenty of power to mulch, bag or side discharge and can easily mow your city yard or trim your suburban yard. The batteries all plugin – 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.
We are still waiting for real changes though in the riding mower area. Tool manufacturers and entrepreneurs are jumping into the market but only one of the major manufacturers (MTD) currently has electric riding mowers for sale in the U.S. Others, for example, Husqvarna, showed us what it could do five years ago but never made good on that promise. Remeber the Panthera Leo? The Panthera Leo deck was so revolutionary I still think the Leo could change the way we mow our yards. They even developed the Husqvarna Rider Battery but never brought it here to the U.S.
Unfortunately, the large brands like Husqvarna appear to still be focused on cramming robotic mowers down our throats. The Robotic Mower is just not something the U.S. market, in general, is interested in. They just don’t get that we LIKE to mow our lawns.
A few other big brands (Gravely EVZT) are working on commercial products but these mowers will be way out of most homeowners price range.
Outside the box ideas: It appears someone completely new with the technology and has the resources to think outside the box will have to come along and make a cordless electric riding mower North America can use and afford. For example, instead of heavy steel mower decks that needed the rigidity to keep v-belts from slipping and the kids from knocking the decks off the mower, electric riding mowers could use rugged lightweight poly decks that fold away on impact. The decks will still be strong enough to pass the required government projectile tests. Batteries (even deep cycle lead-acid) could be located well below the current center of gravity making the mowers much more stable on slopes. Lower center of gravity and balanced weight on all the wheels would allow smaller cordless electric mowers that are stable enough to mow around tree roots and berms without the fear of tipping over.
That said, I’ll jump down off my soapbox…..
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One big advantage that’s not advertised: Performing yard work with an electric rider. My wife loves to work outside on her landscaping. It’s her therapy. She is constantly moving from one landscape bed to another trimming that branch, pinching off that flower or changing a plant that has flowered for another yet to bloom. A Cub Cadet yard cart stays attached all the time. An electric rider is perfect for her. No noise, no choking the engine and waiting for it to warm up. She just turns the key and goes from bed to bed. She doesn’t mow the yard so the electric rider’s battery easily lasts a week or more before it needs to be plugged in and charged.
Ryobi currently has two electric zero-turns and two electric riders on the market. The riders have been on the market for over two years and gets a solid 4.75 star average rating from owners. I expect the new 42-inch ZTR to be even better!
Ryobi 42 Inch Zero-Turn Mower
I’ve been waiting for this mower for a long, long time. No emissions, no starting issues, no fuel or other maintenance besides changing the mowing blades once in a while. Combine this ZTR with the Ryobi 40 volt Tool Collection or the Toro Flex-Force System and you no longer need a gas-powered product to maintain your 2-3 acre yard! It’s time to get rid of the gas can! The RYOBI 48V Zero Turn Electric Riding Mower is powered by 75 Ah or 100 Ah Batteries and 4 High-Powered Brushless Motors. This mower can cut up to 2.25/3.0 acres on a single charge. The durable 42 in. steel deck is equipped with two precision cut steel blades. Combined with aggressive zero turn technology, the 12-Position Manual Deck Adjustment provides a clean cut to your lawn every time. The advanced control panel activates the blades, slow speed function, LED headlights, and displays the battery level and run-time. The rear access charging port makes charging your rider easy when the job is done.
- Battery Operated: fully electric and 0 emissions
- Up to 3 acres of mowing per charge (2.25 acres with 75 AH batteries)
- 4 high powered brushless motors
- 42 in. heavy-duty steel deck
- 2 precision cut steel blades
- 12 position manual deck adjustment
- Side discharge, mulching or bagging capable (bagger accessory available online only)
- 1.5 in. to 4.5 in. adjustable cutting height
- Low maintenance: no belts, spark plugs, or filters
- Battery operated: quiet cutting, no gas, fumes, charge and go
- Control panel: battery level indicator, unit hour meter, USB charging
- Easy access rear charging port
- Charges through a standard 120-Volt outlet
- Includes towing hitch and tow assembly hardware
Read more and buy at The Home Depot: Ryobi RY48ZTR75 – 42-inch Electric Zero-Turn Mower with 75 AH batteries
Read more and buy at The Home Depot: Ryobi RY48ZTR100 – 42-inch Electric Zero-Turn Mower with 100AH batteries
Ryobi RM480E – RM480ex ELECTRIC RIDING MOWER
The Ryobi RM480E has been on the market for two years and features a proven battery and propulsion system that will give you years of use. No gas, no oil changes, no real maintenance besides blades and cleaning for years. This mower uses standard deep discharge batteries for long mowing time and long battery life.
- Battery Operated: fully electric and 0 emissions
- 3 Brushless motors for superior power and performance
- Up to 2 hours of runtime or 2 acres of mowing
- Environmentally friendly.
- Virtually maintenance free.
- Super quiet. Intuitive operation.
With the RM480E, you get all the benefits of owning a fully electric riding lawn mower without sacrificing power, performance or features.
Read more at The Home Depot 75 AH Batteries: Ryobi RM480e 38 in. Battery Electric Riding Lawn Mower
100 AH Batteries: Ryobi RM480ex 38 in. Battery Electric Riding Lawn Mower Up to 2.5 hours run-time!
While you are there buy the Ryobi Gas-Like Power 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless String Trimmer/Hedge Trimmer and Jet Fan Blower Combo Kit and throw the old gas can away!
To give you a little perspective on the electric mowers available elsewhere. Husqvarna sells in the rest of the world the Husqvarna Rider Battery. It uses a 36 volt 125 AH hour battery, 1500 Watt drive motor and two 800 Watt decks motors. The deck is 33 inches (85 cm). It has a maximum runtime of 90 minutes. Cost in U.S. dollars – $3999.
Weibang E-Rider 30 in. W 72-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Rear Engine Riding Mower. This “little” rider has actually been around for quite a while now and this is the first time it is being offered in the U.S. It’s a great mower for smaller 1/3 to 3/4 acre yards. It mows really well and the Lithium-ion battery will mow up to 2 hrs on a charge. I really like the fact that it is light enough to tip it up on the back so you can store it upright, change blades and clean the deck.
- User-friendly control panel with forward, neutral and reverse
- 2 blade cutting system
- LED lights mounted on the front bumper
- 10 cutting positions 1 in. to 4 in.
- Comfortable adjustable seat
- Easy to clean deck
Cub Cadet RZT S Zero – Residential Electric Zero-Turn
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 a wonderful mower. Cub Cadet has taken their steering wheel zero turn and replaced the belts, pulleys, transmissions and gas engine with electric motors and batteries.
The RZTS Zero has been on the market for over 3 years and is proving to be a very reliable mower.
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. 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 degrees 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.
Find out more about the Cub Cadet RZT S Zero here: Cub Cadet RZT S Zero
Cub Cadet Electric Lawn Tractor and Riding Mower, Troy-Bilt Riding Mower and Craftsman at Lowes.
Last year Troy-Bilt introduced the TB30 E Lithium-Ion Riding Mower. Cub Cadet was also slated to introduce a lawn tractor and their own version of the electric riding mower this year. Unfortunately, all those mowers have been discontinued and it looks like Lowes is going to get Craftsman versions instead. Lowes has the sales pages up but there is no indication of if or when they will be available.
Buy at the Home Depot: Weibang E-Rider 30 in. W 72-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Rear Engine Riding Mower
American Power Products
There is a new ZTR on the market from a company called American Power Products. I don’t have enough info at this time to discuss it here.
Number One: Mean Green – Commercial Electric Mowers
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 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?
Find out more about Mean Green Mowers here: Mean Green Mowers
Greenworks is now offering commercial zero-turn and stand-on lithium-ion powered mowers. Check them out here. Greenworks Commerical