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Head to Head Lawn Mower Shootout
UPDATE: We have recently done a NEW Cordless Law Mower Head-to-Head article. Click on the link to view that one with the latest models tested.
Cordless Lawn Mowers are quickly taking over the lawn and gardens section in stores, so we wanted to test several of the leading brands and find out who makes the best Cordless Lawn Mower.
The first U.S., gasoline powered lawn mower was manufactured in 1914 by Ideal Power Mower Co. and they certainly do a great job cutting small to medium size lawns and trimming tough areas on large lawns. But gas mowers are noisy, smelly, and require a bunch of regular maintenance on the gas powered engine.
Why Cordless Lawn Mowers?
Cordless Lawn Mowers are being touted for being quieter, odorless, and nearly maintenance free. On the other hand, gas powered mowers require lots of service including oil changes, fuel filters, spark plugs and air filters. Any often times people wait to do service until the mower won’t start and the lawn is growing faster than the hair on your head! Cordless mowers eliminate much of the maintenance and they are quieter and odorless.
Our cordless lawn mower head to head will tell you who we think makes the best model, and we’ll answer the question whether cordless mowers perform similar to a gas powered mower.
Cordless Lawn Mower Head to Head Comparisons
While this head to head isn’t a scientific research project, we did make an attempt to evaluate each mower in several categories and rank them against each other. The results are not necessarily comparative to other models on the market, but they are relative to the 5 models tested. For this comparison we looked at the following categories:
- Quality of Cut – This was a subject comparison based on mowing adjacent areas of lawn and comparing the quality of the cut areas.
- Noise – We measured decibel levels for each mower. The test was performed with each mower set at the highest deck level, sitting on a concrete slab. We measured the noise at the highest motor speed and the lowest ( Note – some models motors ra mp down due to demand to save battery life).
- Run Time – Run time is affected by so many different variables that there’s no great way to test this. However, we wanted to give a relative comparison for discussion purposes so we tested the run time under “no load” conditions.
- Handle Comfort Adjustment – Another subjective comparison focusing on the handle height, adjustments, and overall comfort.
- Maneuverability – We evaluated how easily the mowers were to push. This category is largely factored based on the mower weight and wheel design.
- Deck Height Adjustability – We ranked each of the mowers based on how easy they were to adjust th e cutting deck hei ght.
Cordless Lawn Mower Lineup
We reached out to several of the top cordless lawn mower manufacturers and asked if they would like to participate in our head to head article. We received 5 different models from 4 manufacturers including: Kobalt, Craftsman, Black Decker and EGO. The models we tested include:
- Black Decker 36V Lead Acid 19″ Single Blade Cordless Lawn Mower – Model CM1936
- Craftsman 40V Lithium-Ion 20″ Dual Blade Cordless Lawn Mower – Model 25081
- EGO Power 56V Lithium-Ion 20″ Single Blade Cordless Lawn Mower – Model LM2001
- Kobalt 40V Lithium-Ion 19″ Single Blade Cordless Lawn Mower – Model KM1940-06
- Kobalt 40V Lithium-Ion 20″ Dual Blade Cordless Lawn Mower – Model KM2040X-06
|Max voltage, nominal voltage is 36V.
|Weight includes battery (2 if avail), but does not include clippings bag.
Cordless Lawn Mower Features
All 5 mowers have fairly similar features included the ones noted in the table below. The EGO does offer a unique LED light system to help mow in the dark if you feel like stretching your work day!
|Black & Decker
Both mowers did a great job cutting tall grass. To test the mowers in an extreme (really tall grass to strain the motor) case we mowed a section of lawn that was just over 6″ tall. The EGO really excelled when mowing tall grass due to it’s powerful 56V engine. The EGO also edged out the Black & Decker slightly when cutting in mulching mode and that’s was also a result of power of power. The 56V battery platform pushes the EGO LM2001 into an entire category by itself with respect to power and I really felt like I was using a gas powered mower.
Noise – Winner Kobalt KM1940-06
One of the biggest questions readers have asked about cordless mowers seems to be how loud are they?
We did a basic decibel test to measure the noise of the mowers in a controlled situation to get a relative comparison of noise. The test consisted of running each mower with the deck raised to it’s highest level sitting on a concrete slab. We measured the decibel levels with a simple cell phone app. Many of the mower motors start at a high RPM and cycle down to a slower speed to save energy (the motors cycle up in RPMs with tall er or thick grass). We measured the noise at both high and low levels where applicable.
The average gas powered lawn mower is approximately 90 dB. Therefore, these cordless mowers are almost 100 times less noisy compared to the gas mower. (decibels are a logarithmic scale, 20 decibels difference is 100 times louder). While the Kobalt did edge out the other models, all of them are significantly quieter compared to a traditional gas powered mower which is a good thing!
Run Time Winner – Black & Decker CM1936
In order to get a relative comparison of run time we tested the mowers under “no load” conditions. Obviously this results in longer run times than can be expected while mowing grass, it does allow us to compare the mowers on the same conditions to rank them from longest run time to shortest run time.
While the Black & Decker definitely took the run time category it does come at a price and that’s overall weight. The large, bulky battery weighs 30 lbs and it’s the size of a small car battery. The battery is a sealed lead acid battery much like an automobile battery which is much different than the other battery types.
All of the other mowers averaged about 1 hour of run time. The Craftsman and 20″ Kobalt both use two batteries so we tested them with the 4.0 and 2.0 Ah batteries that came standard with the mowers. The run time would definitely go up if you used two 4.0 Ah batteries in them so that’s certainly something to consider as an upgrade.
Also, another thing to consider in this category is the charge time for the batteries. While the B&D lasts longer, it takes MUCH longer to charge. The user manual states 12 to 20 hours to charge the battery compared to just an hour or two with all the other models. EGO really does great with their 30 minute fast charger which really comes in handy.
Handle Comfort & Adjustability Winner – EGO LM2001
When it comes to comfort with respect to push mowers the handle is a big deal. We evaluated the five mowers on comfort and adjustability and found that the EGO LM2001 was not only the more comfortable but it offered the easiest height adjustment. The EGO offers a durable, yet comfortable foam/rubber padding on the handle and a comfortable angle configuration on the main handle that allows for a couple different hand positions.
It’s worth noting that the EGO had a much higher handle height than the other models which I prefer as I’m over 6′ tall. For shorter users, this height may be an issue to consider. Rob is quite a bit shorter than I am and he still found the lower setting to be comfortable.
Maneuverability Winner – Craftsman, EGO & Kobalt
Maneuverability of push mowers is especially important when trimming around gardens, trees and other landscaping features. The ease with which the mowers role is largely a result of the wheels and mower weight. We had a 3 way tie for this category between the Craftsman 25081, EGO LM2001, and the Kobalt KM2040X-06. All three mowers had good size wheels, relatively low total weight, and comfortable handles.
The heavier weight and smaller wheels on the Black & Decker made this mower feel much harder to push and maneuver around obstacles. The steel deck Kobalt KM1940-06 also felt “heavy” and less nimble in this category.
Deck Height Adjustability Winner – Black & Decker CM1936
All of the mowers we tested include a single lever deck height adjustment feature. This sure does beat adjusting each wheel like the old style mowers. Four of the mowers use some sort of lever while the Black & Decker uses a unique patented One-Touch height adjustment. The Black & Decker CM1936 is very easy to move both up and down with a single hand. All the other models need a bit of assistance from a second hand to help lift the mowers up. The Kobalt KM1940-06 came in 2nd place because it offered 7 positions (more than any other model) and it has a spring assisted system that also helps moving the deck up with less effort compared to other models.
Compact Design & Storage Winner – EGO LM2001
One of the big reasons you should consider one of these cordless mowers is some of them offer a very compact design that allows you to store them in small spaces. Garages seem to be taken over by mowers, trimmers and tools during the summer and some of these models do a great job minimizing storage space. The EGO LM2001 really blew away the competition with their very easy to store design. In just 15 seconds you can quickly fold the unit up and store it vertically in a space the size of a suitcase.
Because the EGO can be stored both horizontal and vertically, it offers a better solution in tight spaces. Also, with the vertical solution you can even hang it on the wall which I think is a great option for those of us with a need to hang everything in it’s place.
The Kobalt and Craftsman models also fold up fairly small, but the handles don’t lock into place making it hard to store vertically like the EGO. The B&D model only folds at the deck so it doesn’t fold up as small as some of the other models.
Fit & Finish Winner – EGO LM2001
Two of the mowers really stood out with regard to fit and finish. The EGO LM2001 was our first choice with heavy duty parts, simple operate levers and clamps, and a very polished appearance. The runner up in this category goes to the Black & Decker CM1936. It too has heavy duty parts and smooth operating features. It’s worth noting that all five mowers are well built and operated easily.
Runner-Up Fit & Finish – Black & Decker CM1936
Value Winner – Kobalt KM1940-06
This category was tough to decide on a winner but we are giving it to the Kobalt KM1940-06 because it’s the cheapest model we tested and it comes with two batteries (2.0 Ah and 4.0 Ah). Kobalt has a great line of outdoor power equipment that runs off this same platform so having a mower for 349 including two batteries is a great value. The Black & Decker CM1936 is roughly the same price but the big bulky battery isn’t useful for anything else so in our opinion it’s not nearly the same value.
The EGO was the most expensive at 499 but we believe it’s a case of you get what you pay for. The great fit and finish along with exceptional design features make the extra cost worth it in our opinion.
Best” Cordless Lawn Mower – EGO LM2001 56V Mower
Each of the mowers we tested did a good job cutting grass and offer features that you’d expect from a good push mower. However, the EGO LM2001 was definitely a cut above the competition. Starting with it’s excellent portable design to the powerful 56V motor, the EGO outperformed the competition when it came to performance, store-ability, and durability.
EGO also offers a platform of outdoor power equipment with a blower, trimmer and chainsaw so you can combine batteries and have one platform and a solution for all of your lawn and garden tasks. Th e EGO was the most expensive model we tested but we feel the extra cost is worth it and likely to pay off in a very short period of time.
If the Black & Decker was on a more current battery platform it would have competed much closer for the top billing. A newer battery platform would help the mower shed some unnecessary weight and make it more versatile.