Electric Mower

How Does An Electric Lawn Mower Work?

Figuring out how electric lawn mowers work my sound intimidating, but it can be simple once you understand the basics. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about owning and operating your first electric mower as well as preparing you for all your electric battery powered tools.

When you are done here, but sure to read The Best Electric Lawn Mowers to see the top mowers on the market and learn what to look for in a good electric mower.

Electric Lawn Mower History

The first lawn mower was invented in 1830, and it sure did take a long time for something new and better to come along. Gas mowers weren’t invented until nearly a hundred years later in 1919, with electric mowers right on their heels in 1930.

So if electric mowers have been around for almost a century, why are most of us still using gas mowers? This is a great question, considering the challenges associated with the use of gas versions.

Electric lawn mowers are money-saving, energy efficient, and easy to use. Their batteries last a very long time, and they typically take much less effort to start up the first time in spring than gas mowers do.

But you likely have more questions about how electric lawn mowers work that need to be answered before switching from gas. Here’s more information about the electric lawn mower that will help you decide which is better for your lawn.

How Are Electric Lawn Mowers Powered?

Naturally, every lawn mower must have a power source. Gas mowers are powered by gas, and push mowers are powered by—us! And electric lawn mowers are powered by electricity.

There are two types of electric lawn mowers available in in the lawn-and-garden industry today, and the difference between them has everything to do with their power source, regardless of the fact that they’re both powered by electricity.

These two types are: corded and cordless. The most fundamental difference between these two types is evident, as the corded ones have cords and, well, the cordless ones don’t. However, there other differences. 


Obviously, corded mowers have cords, which means they have unlimited run times. As long as the electricity runs through to that outlet, we’re able to cut grass with corded mowers. Of course, the bigger the yard the longer the cord must be. This is why corded electric mowers typically are best for cutting small lawns. 


Cordless mowers run on batteries. Naturally, this means their batteries must be charged up sufficiently in order to run for as long a time as users feel like cutting grass.

These batteries must be charged up and, like all battery-powered devices, once their batteries run out, grass-cutting time runs out also.

One of the major advantages to using a cordless electric mower over corded is their longer range. Cordless mowers can cut much further away from the outlet than a corded mower can because they are not limited by a cord’s length. Cordless mowers are excellent for flat lawns. There are, however, solar-powered batteries for electric lawn mowers, which run on solar power and can be charged up in most cases for no cost at all (unless solar panels are being used, in which charging costs are still very minimal).

Cordless electric lawn mowers also come in a ‘robotic’ style, which only emerged on the scene recently. These mowers also typically run on batteries, but they contain a sensor which helps the unit find its way over a lawn. These need no human presence to push them.

Because they are new to the market, the models available can be quite expensive. However, like robotic vacuum cleaners, the price is expected to come down over the next several years. 

How Do Electric Lawn Mowers Start?

Start Button

Right up, that’s how! Seriously, electric lawn mowers don’t take all the toil and sweat that most gas lawn mowers do to start them.

Those of us who have used gas lawn mowers know that they often take some ‘elbow grease’ to get them started. Pulling that cord can take an awful lot of muscle and ‘oomph,’ particularly if it’s the first grass cutting of spring.

One of the most wonderful things about electric lawn mowers is that they start up very easily. For the cordless models, all users typically must do is turn a key and pull a lever or push a button. If it doesn’t start right up, you likely have a battery that needs to be recharged.

For corded mowers, like all other corded devices, simply plug it in and push a button or flip a switch. The only reason electric lawn mowers have a key is as a safety precaution. 

What Are The Controls On Electric Lawn Mowers?

So what about the switches, plugs, and buttons that come equipped on electric lawn mowers? Do they make these mowers more difficult or complicated to use? Not a chance! In fact, it’s the simplicity of the controls of electric mowers that makes these babies so easy to cut the grass.

Aside from the buttons and levers that control start-up, there are a few other controls present on electric mowers. These include levers, rear rollers, cutout switches, cords, and batteries.

Control Levers

Mower Controls

These typically are hand-controlled devices that are used to determine the level at which the lawn will be cut. 

Rear Rollers

Rear rollers are designed to help flatten longer grass, which is an excellent tool for use because it aids us in cutting our lawns when unbalanced grass levels are present. These rollers also aid in stabilizing the mower.

Safety Cutout Switches

These are also referred to as ‘snap safety cutout switches’ or simply ‘cutout switches.’ Every electrical device needs a cutout switch in order to protect those using the gadget.

These switches are designed to halt the operation of electric lawn mower blades when a safety issue is detected.

Electrical Cord

Naturally, this is the cord used in corded electric lawn mowers. The power cord is plugged into the outlet and utilizes a home or building’s electricity to power up the mower. As long as the power runs through that outlet, so too will the power run to the mower. 



Cordless electric mowers use batteries to power them which need to be continuously recharged. They also must be replaced at the end of their charging life with replacement batteries. Robotic cordless electric mowers use a battery with a sensor mechanism which helps it find its way over a lawn.

How Do Electric Lawn Mowers Perform?

Electric lawn mowers typically perform very well, particularly considering the money and energy they save over gas lawn mowers. Their price more than rivals that of their gas brothers.

While some of the more advanced cordless mowers can match or exceed that of a gas mower, you can find corded mowers that are inexpensive. Anyone on a tight budget typically can find a corded lawn mower at around $100, and some go even lower! (Try that with a gas mower!)

It’s important to know that electric mowers are not suited to huge lawns, but millions of lawns in the U.S. alone would be well-suited to the use of an electric lawn mower.

In fact, most lawns whose owners use a push- or walk-behind gas mower can easily be cut with an electric mower. These mowers typically last around 10 years, with batteries of cordless models lasting around five years. Like any mower, the performance of an electric lawn mower depends on how well it is maintained. 

How Are Electric Lawn Mowers Cleaned And Stored?


Whether it’s cordless or corded, the best time to clean your electric mower is after each use.

First, never attempt to clean a mower while it’s running! After users have shut off the power, unplugged the cord (if necessary) and/or turned off all power switches and turned the key to the ‘off’ position, now the mower can be cleaned.

A best practice to clean the blade is with a wooden stick or plastic utensil to wipe off all grass trimmings. Metal tools can damage blades.

After cleaning the blades, hit the mower deck with a once-over to wipe away residue, then the ventilation system, wheels, and power system. A soft, clean cloth is an invaluable tool when cleaning an electric lawn mower’s inner workings from grass, dirt, and other debris.

Be mindful as well that all screws and fasteners are tight so that there will be no problems with the mower’s next use. 


Mower Storage

A best practice for electric lawn mowers is to place them indoors following each use. However, some folks like to keep their lawn mowers on a porch, and that’s all right so long as the mower is kept in a cool, dry place.

For winter, an electric lawn mower should always be cleaned properly, ensuring that all dirt, debris, and grass trimmings are gone. They should also be wiped clean with a soft cloth.

Proper storage of an electric lawn mower is to place it indoors, whether that be a shed, garage, or other covered and heated area. Never store an electric lawn mower near a water heater, furnace, or gas cans.

Are There Advantages To Using Electric Over Gas?

Electric lawn mowers provide a number of advantages over the use of gas mowers. Though most electric mowers currently are not constructed for extreme rugged use, they can be used on most lawns. Many lawns that are easily done with a gas mower can also take an electric mower.

The advantages to using an electric mower over gas include:

Reduction In Maintenance

Electric mowers require less maintenance all-around than gas mowers do. For a corded mower, simply plug it in and go. For cordless mowers, as long as the battery is charged up, the mower will cut away. Other than that, electric mowers require the same cleaning and storage maintenance that gas mowers require. 

Easier To Start

Hands-down, electric mowers are easier to start than are gas mowers. For cordless, simply turn a key and flip a lever or push a button. For corded, simply plug in, turn a key, and push a button. It’s that easy! And they don’t take all the muscle that some gas mowers do to start up, particularly in spring for the first grass cutting.

Reduction In Noise Pollution

Electric mowers typically are just not as loud as the engines of gas mowers, thereby reducing that awful noise pollution that can be heard up and down the streets when gas mowers are in use.

Reduction In Air Pollution

Mowing Yard

One of the most significant advantages to using an electric mower of a gas model is their energy efficiency and smaller carbon footprint. Gas-powered mowers are attributed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as being one of our nation’s most substantial air polluters.

Using a gas powered mower for one hour is the equivalent to driving a typical car for 350 miles. It also contributes to as much as 5% of our nations pollution. 

Replacing gas mowers with electric ones results in significant reductions in hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, methane, and carbon monoxide.

Additional Information

The following are additional tips and information about how to use an electric lawn mower.

Read The Mower’s Manual

Every device comes with a user manual that explains the manufacturer’s recommendations for its use. The best practice when using an electric mower, particularly for those who have never used one before, is to read this manual from cover to cover. This action will save loads of headaches in the long run.

Clean The Mower After Each Use

Never allow grass, dirt, and other debris to sit in an electric lawn mower from one use to the next. It takes just a few moments to wipe away all trimmings and wipe it down with a soft, clean cloth before placing it in storage until its next use.

Keep An Extra Battery Charged

We can never tell when a battery is about to die. For larger lawns, it’s a best practice to keep an extra battery on the charger at all times.

Some mowers even have an extra storage compartment on board the mower to keep your backup close.


Electric lawn mowers are a great way to save money, conserve energy, reduce maintenance, and scale down the amount of work it takes to cut your lawn.

Our advice to someone looking into purchasing their first electric mower is the following:

  1. Buy a quality respected brand in the electric mower industry
  2. Buy a cordless mower unless you have an extremely small yard
  3. Make sure you own a backup battery

If you do those three things, you will be reaping the benefits each and every time you mow for the next decade.

Be sure to check out Are Electric Mowers Cheaper Than Gas Mowers? to learn more about how electric lawn mowers compare to gas mowers.

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