Friday, March 6, 2020
Adventures with lawnmowers
At the end of last summer, our old lawnmower (a low-end Toro unit we bought when we moved here in 2016) blew its engine in fairly spectacular fashion: a loud bang, a puff of white smoke, and a deafening silence thereafter. Our local small engine repair shop said it was deader than the proverbial doornail. I asked the mechanic's advice on a replacement, and he said that none of the low-end machines were worth getting these days. He pointed out that all their engines either came from China, or incorporated Chinese-made parts, and estimated that none of them had a useful life longer than 2-3 years. He recommended paying a little more for something with a good engine.
I did some research. Better-quality mowers mostly cost several hundred dollars, and at that price point, battery-operated units were price-competitive. The thought of quiet, gasoline- and oil-free operation appealed to me, and so I decided to try one, as reviews and surveys seemed to indicate that they were now ready for prime time. Unfortunately, the model I chose (a Ryobi 40-volt unit) proved to be very disappointing.
It stopped running no less than five times on a single trip across our back yard (less than 100 feet!), even though it was set high enough to trim only the top half-inch to one inch from the grass. It was worse than useless. I took it straight back to Home Depot, who were their usual efficient selves at issuing me a full refund.
I took another look at the lower-cost gasoline mowers available, but most of them seemed to fall into the "dubious" category described by our small engine mechanic. I didn't want to waste money on something that would have to be replaced in another two to three years. Fortunately, Home Depot has a special at present on a Honda self-propelled mower, which came to not much more than I'd spent on the Ryobi and an extended warranty.
That made my choice a lot easier - Honda engines have a well-deserved reputation for quality and longevity. One of them followed me home today.
The Home Depot salesperson made some disparaging comments about most battery-powered lawnmowers during our discussion this morning. I'd be interested to hear from readers who've bought or used them. Have any of you found a model that suits your needs, and operates well enough to do a good job? Please let us know in Comments.