Cordless, petrol or electric – what type of mower can you rely on? – Which? News


Those of us who are lucky enough to have gardens will be spending a lot of time there in the weeks to come. That’s why choosing a lawn mower you can rely on is more important than ever.

Recent expert research conducted by Which? can tell you which brands of lawn mowers are the most reliable and help you buy one that lasts.

We asked which one? members to tell us about the gas, cordless and electric models they own, how happy they are with them, what faults they’ve had to deal with and how long they lasted before they needed to be replaced.

Read on for the pros and cons to consider when buying cordless, electric, and gas-powered devices, or head straight to our Guide to lawn mower brands to find out which brands to buy and which ones to avoid.

Or head straight to our lawn mower reviews to see the best models of each type.

Petrol mowers

Central type, gasoline mowers are often large machines with large cutting widths intended for mowing large lawns of more than 150 m².

In our independent tests, gas mowers need to score 75% or higher to become a best buy, which is higher than the scores required for cordless and electric models.

The bar may be set higher than other types of lawnmowers for these big machines, but our tests found gas-powered misfires among the powerful cutters.

Key factors to consider include:


  • Powerful – a powerful engine means a stronger cut, so petrol mowers often excel at cutting tougher types of grass, such as long or rough sections.
  • Professional features – these mowers tend to have features such as mulching plugs or rear rollers, which are handy for redistributing finely cut grass and giving your lawn a sleek, striped finish.
  • Designed for large lawns – with wide cutting blades, long-lasting fuel and no restrictive cables, gas-powered mowers are ideal for cutting large areas. If you have a large garden, a gas-powered model is the option of choice.

The inconvenients:

  • Can be difficult to start – some come with handy push-start buttons, but these are rare. Most gas mowers have a pull cord that requires a good pull, which can be frustrating if it doesn’t work and problematic if you have mobility issues.
  • Heavy – wide cutting blades and large steel motors make this a heavy machine. These mowers can be difficult to push without a self-propelled feature and should always be lifted by at least two people.
  • Noisy – a powerful engine usually makes the most noise, so if your neighbors don’t like to be disturbed, you might have trouble with the noise of a petrol mower.

Want to pull the cord and start one of the best lawn mowers around? Head to our Top 5 lawn mowers for 2020 to see our choices.

Cordless Lawn Mowers

The modern and most popular type of battery-powered cordless lawnmowers are generally intended for mowing the smaller lawns you might find in a city or suburban area. However, there are some that rival gas-powered models for power and are well-suited to larger lawns.

Although cordless products are convenient and generally cost less to run than their gas and electric rivals, you should always make sure the battery is included as they are sometimes sold at discounted prices without the batteries included.

Lithium-ion batteries also gradually lose their ability to hold a charge over time, so make sure you can buy replacement batteries so you don’t end up with a product you can’t use.

Things to keep in mind when buying include:


  • Easy to light – insert your battery into the slot and press the ‘power’ button – it’s that simple. No need to bother with fiddly drawstrings.
  • Multi-purpose batteries – many cordless mowers come with a battery compatible with a range of gardening machines from the same brand. It can be handy for switching from your mower to a weed trimmer or hedge trimmer.
  • Low consumption – the electricity used to recharge the battery will be far less than what is needed to power an electric mower or power a petrol mower.

The inconvenients:

  • Travel times may vary – your mower will frustrate you if you barely use it enough before it runs out of charge. Our tests found cordless trimmers that last just over 10 minutes.
  • Charging times are often long – the batteries take much longer to charge with energy than they take to spend it. A reasonable charge time is around one hour, but some batteries can take six hours or more.
  • Batteries are not always included – be sure to check if the mower comes with a battery included, as sometimes it doesn’t and batteries aren’t cheap – they usually cost £60-90.

We’ve put together a list of the best cordless mowers money can buy. Head to our Top 5 cordless mowers for 2020 to discover the kings of wireless.

Electric lawn mowers

The lightest type of lawn mower available, electric lawn mowers can be very easy to maneuver – as long as you don’t worry about the wire trailing behind you.

The electric mowers we tested have an average weight of 11.8kg, almost a third of the weight of petrol mowers, which weigh an average of 32kg.

Our reliability survey found electric mowers to be a mixed bag. One brand had a very commendable customer satisfaction score of 79%, but we also found one with a much less satisfying score of 65% – the lowest of all the brands we surveyed.

Other important things to consider include:


  • No refueling – with no gas tank to fill or battery to recharge, an electric mower will keep mowing until your grass is the way you like it.
  • Cheap – electric mowers are generally the cheapest to buy with a typical outlay of £130 – that’s less than half the typical price of a cordless one (£300).
  • Lightweight – this type of mower often does well in our ease of use and rough terrain tests. Lighter weight often makes it easier to turn and dodge obstacles.

The inconvenients:

  • Cable length – Depending on the size of your lawn, you may be frustrated that the length of the cable prevents you from reaching certain parts of your garden. A safe and reliable extension cord is essential.
  • Security risks – be sure to move the cord out of the way while mowing, as the last thing you want to do is accidentally cut the cord during use. A residual current device (RCD) can help reduce the risk of electric shock if you accidentally cut the cable.

Head to our Best Buy Lawn Mowers to see which electric lawn mowers we recommend you buy.

What type of lawnmower lasts the longest?

As the graph above shows, the expected life of different lawn mowers can vary by several years.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. There’s a brand of electric mower that our survey says lasts about 11 years, for example. That’s a lot longer than the averages suggest.

Ready to see the complete picture of the reliability of each lawn mower brand? Discover our lawn mower brands to guide.


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