From electric cars to eco-friendly cleaning products, homeowners have been finding ways to go eco-friendly for years.
The trend is even more present in lawn care. Over the past five to ten years, electric and battery powered lawn mowers, weed killers, and leaf blowers have grown steadily in the market.
The green lawn care tools have an important role to play: convenience, said William Royall, store manager at Royall Ace Hardware in Mount Pleasant.
“Many gas-powered devices require good maintenance to keep the engines running,” he said. “With electric and battery-powered options, the cord either connects with a cord and has instant power, or the batteries are charged and you don’t have to unplug them to start them.”
Royall and hardware store owners and managers like him have seen tremendous interest in electric and battery powered lawn tools over the years. While previous versions struggled to maintain a charge, newer tools have extended battery life.
Homeowners can also avoid the boredom associated with gas powered lawnmowers. With the electric versions, there is no need to mix oil in gasoline or store gasoline at all. They’re also much quieter and lighter, even with a battery, said Marissa Ellis, branch manager at East Bay True Value.
“Honestly, I find it easier to use because it’s pretty much plug and play,” she said.
Despite the benefits of the tools, they haven’t overtaken gas-powered options in popularity, Royall said. He estimates that over 50 percent of homeowners are still buying the traditional options.
“I’d say maybe 30 to 40 percent of people are battery-powered by this point,” he said. “The trend is definitely in that direction, but I don’t know that it has really overtaken the market yet.”
Cost is the only downside Ellis and Royall see with electric and battery powered lawnmowers. While prices have come down over the years, they’re still above the typical gas-powered option.
Ellis said that while a homeowner can find a cheaper electric mower, it’s harder to come by, with prices that can run into the thousands.
“If you start smaller and spend on homeowners, that’s very reasonable,” she said. “It rises and gets more expensive depending on how long the battery lasts.”
Royall said people should expect to spend $ 500 to $ 600 on battery-powered mowers, but when it comes to other power tools, prices are falling in line with their more traditional counterparts. Take the weed killer, for example, battery-operated weed cutters have all but replaced their gas-powered counterparts.
Other tools like battery-powered leaf blowers and hedge trimmers have also recently hit the market and have become more desirable, Royall said. They all offer convenience similar to battery-powered lawn mowers.
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“Anything with gas requires a lot of maintenance,” he said. “For the battery and electrical options, you don’t have a carburetor, you don’t have an engine, you don’t have gasoline. You don’t have to crank anything for your battery-operated chainsaws, string trimmers and hedge trimmers. It’s all very simple. “
While homeowners are behind the green lawn maintenance trend, both Ellis and Royall said it was harder to sell to professional landscapers. Because battery-powered tools only last so much life, professionals find it difficult to keep them running long enough to get the job done.
“A trading company would need a very large number of batteries to use for a full day of work,” said Royall.
Landscapers may also be inclined towards ride-on mowers as opposed to smaller push mowers. An electric ride-on mower is harder to find and more expensive, Royall said.
When it comes to professional lawn maintenance and landscaping, gas powered tools end up being more convenient.
“When they run out of gas, they refill it and don’t have to wait for the battery to charge,” Ellis said.
However, this doesn’t mean that no professional landscapers have made the switch. Sara Engstrom, co-owner of Carolina Landscape, said her company took advantage of the downtime caused by slow business during the pandemic to convert tools to electric and battery-powered.
Not only did Engstrom want to be more environmentally friendly, they also said a key factor in the decision was to improve the noise pollution from gas-powered tools. Carolina Landscape works a lot in downtown Charleston, where customers don’t want to wake up early in the morning to a noisy lawnmower. The noise reduction also makes it more convenient for workers all day, she said.
“Reducing noise and improving the environment now and in the future has definitely made us change,” she said.
Engstrom said the Switch has some drawbacks, including higher upfront costs, short battery life, and increasing pain with the relatively new technology. There have been a couple of times the company had to take one of the new mowers in for repair because “they haven’t been perfected,” she said.
However, Engstrom said she believes the decision will pay off in the end.
“There’s no engine so we won’t have the same problems,” she said. “We won’t have the problems where the guys accidentally put in non-mixed gas, so I hope they last longer.”