How Do Electric Lawn Mowers Work?

Never used an electric lawn mower before, or simply keen to learn more about how these mowers work?

In this guide, I’ve shared everything you need to know about the inner working of an electric lawn mower, including how the mower is powered and how the motor and blades work.

✅Key Takeaways:

  • Electric lawn mowers are powered by mains electricity, which powers the motor that causes the mower blades to turn.

  • A corded electric lawn mower will only work when it’s plugged into a socket with a power cord.

  • The main features of an electric mower are control levers, a power cord, cutout switches, and a cut-height adjuster.

Table of Contents

❓How Does An Electric Mower Work? 

Quick Overview

In short, an electric mower works by powering the motor to run, which causes the blades to spin, cutting your grass.

 

As the name suggests, an electric lawn mower gets its power from an electricity supply. A conventional corded electric mower is plugged into a power socket with a cord or lead.

🤔What Is An Electric Lawn Mower?

An electric lawn mower is a type of power that’s powered by electricity.

This term is typically used to describe corded electric mowers, which get their power from your home’s mains electricity supply and need to be plugged into a power outlet while in use.

Battery-operated mowers are sometimes referred to as electric cordless mowers because their batteries are recharged with electricity.

Robot mowers are also a type of electric lawn mower because they use electricity in their docking stations to stay charged between uses.

In this guide, we’ll be looking mainly at corded electric mowers, since these are the conventional and most common electricity-powered mowers.

However, we do have a separate guide on cordless electric mowers, if you’re looking specifically to learn more about these mowers.

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Hyundai HYM3800E Corded Electric Rotary Lawnmower

  • Brand: Hyundai

  • Price: ££

  • Power source: Electric corded

  • Cutting width: 38cm

  • Cut height range: 20-70mm
  • Weight:13.79 kilograms

  • Grass box capacity: 40 litres

  • Dimensions (DxWxH): 42 x 37 x 107cm

  • Power: 1600 W

🔌How Are Electric Mowers Powered?

Electric mowers are powered by mains electricity.

 

That means that, like a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or washing machine, these mowers need to be plugged into a power source at all times to give them fuel to run.

 

Their need to be tethered to your home by a power cord means that electric mowers are only suited to small-to-medium gardens.

lawn, mower, power, cord, wrapped, up

How Much Power Does an Electric Lawn Mower Need to Work?

The average power used by a corded electric mower is 900 watts to 1500 watts.

Corded rotary mowers may use more power (up to 1800 watts) than cylinder mowers (which use as little as 300 watts).

I recommend a sweet spot of around 1,200 watts for a mower for a small-to-medium-sized garden.

The majority of corded electric lawn mower models in the UK just require plugging into a standard 240V socket.

They can also be plugged into extension leads if needed, but keep in mind that the longer the extension cord and the further the distance from the power source, the less powerful the motor. Very long distances may disrupt your mower’s performance.

🧐How Does An Electric Mower Motor Work?

An electric mower motor only works when the mower is plugged into an electrical outlet and switched on.

There are usually a few parts in the motor setup, including:

  • The motor itself

  • The switch assembly

  • The bridge rectifier

When power from the electric outlet reaches the mower, the bridge rectifier performs an AC/DC conversion (necessary for most electronic devices in our homes).

 

The switch assembly usually has two circuits: one that’s connected to the bridge rectifier and one that’s connected to the motor’s + and – terminals. That means that the motor can operate when it has power, but also that the motor is cut off and the blades stop spinning as soon as possible when the handle switch is released.

power, cord, wrapped, up, on, mower,

🏁How Do You Start An Electric Lawn Mower?

To start up an electric lawn mower, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the mower into an electric outlet. This should be as close to your mowing location as possible. You’ll need to (safely) pass the cord through a door or open window.

  2. Press the start button or flick the switch. The mower won’t start until you press the button or flick the switch that kicks it into gear.

  3. At the same time, hold down the lever near the hand grips. This lever has a few names, including the “safety handle”, the “cutoff switch”, the “blade control handle”, and the “brake bail arm”. For safety reasons, the mower won’t operate unless this handle is pressed down.

  4. Start mowing! You can let go of the start button once the mower switches on. If you ever want a break, let go of the blade control handle, then repeat step 2 and 3 when you want to get going again.

✔️What Are The Main Features Of An Electric Mower?

There are a few features of an electric lawn mower that are worth knowing about:

Power Cord

The power cord is the obvious defining feature of a corded electric lawn mower.

Can a corded electric lawn mower work without a power cord? No. Unlike gas-powered mowers and cordless electric lawn mowers, corded mowers will only operate when they’re plugged in and switched on.

You will need to take extra care when mowing with a corded mower. The power cord could get stuck under the mower’s blades, damaging the blades or the cord itself.

The cords for electric lawn mowers are tough, but you still shouldn’t test their strength by mowing over them.

If you’re using an extension cord, you need to be even more vigilant, since extension cords don’t have the same tough design and may cause electrocution if you mow over them.

Cut-Off Switch

The cut-off switch, as I mentioned earlier, is the lever on the handle that you hold onto while you’re mowing.

You can let go of this lever at any time, whether you want a break or (in a worst-case scenario) if you trip or lose control of the mower on a slope, and it will cause the engine to cut off almost instantly.

Cut Height Adjuster

Cut height adjusters, also called control levers, are found on all corded electric lawn mowers. These allow you to vary between two different heights of the cut, depending on how short you want your grass to be.

Some electric lawn mowers let you choose between 3-5 different cut heights, but most folks will be happy with a choice of 2.

Optional Extras

Some electric lawn mowers might come with a few optional extras for folks who want to take extra care of the lawn.

Rear rollers are a popular add-on. These allow you to mow neat stripes into your lawn, so you can take extra pride in your job.

Other features make it easier to carry and store the mower, including carry handles, folding handles, and power cord organizers.

mower, height, adjustment, selector,

✂️How Well Do Electric Mowers Perform?

Electric lawn mowers perform very well compared to other mower types.

 

Because they’re plugged directly into mains electricity, they’re more powerful than cordless electric mowers with a battery.

 

That means they’re the better choice for cutting long, rough grass because the powerful electric motor can handle various terrains and grass lengths.

 

Corded mowers don’t perform as well as petrol (gas) lawn mowers, but gas mowers have their own performance setbacks, including their noisiness and air-polluting emissions.

🗓How Long Do Electric Lawn Mowers Last?

Electric lawn mowers last around 10 years, depending on factors including:

  • The quality of the mower’s build

  • How frequently you use the mower

  • The type of terrain the mower is used to cut

  • How well you maintain the mower

The average warranty for a corded mower is 2-3 years, which tells you that, with proper use, you should at least get this long out of the mower before things start going wrong.

 

Common issues with electric lawn mowers are problems with the switch assembly, the bridge rectifier, clogged vents, a damaged power cable, and a failing motor.

 

Not all of these issues will cause the mower to die, and some may be rectified by maintenance or replacing a component. But in many scenarios, it’s cheaper (not to mention safer) to simply replace the mower than to take the mower apart, diagnose the issue, and carry out a repair job.

man, cutting, grass, with, lawn, mover, back, yard, male, black, apron, guy, repairs,

📊Electric Corded Mowers Vs Cordless Mowers

Although they offer a similar performance and essentially the same end result, there are numerous differences between electric corded mowers and cordless electric mowers.

 

The main difference between electric corded mowers and cordless mowers is that a corded lawn mower has a power cord and uses mains electricity, while a cordless electric mower is battery-operated and needs to be recharged after every use.

 

A cordless mower, otherwise known as a battery-powered mower, is a type of mower that uses a battery, rather than being powered by mains electricity.

 

This mower’s battery has a limited lifespan, depending on the battery size and power. Once the battery power has run out, the battery must be recharged (achieved by plugging the mower into an electric outlet with a charging lead).

 

A cordless electric lawnmower gives more mowing freedom because it doesn’t have a cord, but at the same time, its battery life gives it limited operation time – usually 35 minutes per battery.

Electric Corded Mowers Cordless Mowers
Power Source Mains electricity Battery
Mobility Limited by cord length Cordless and more mobile
Operation time Unlimited Limited by battery life
Battery lifespan N/A Limited by battery lifespan
Maintenance Low High (recharging battery)
Noise level Relatively loud Quieter
power, cord, extension, lawn,

🧲Advantages Of Electric Lawnmowers Vs Other Mower Types

Compared to other mower types, here are the advantages of electric lawnmowers:

 

Easy To Use

Electric lawn mowers start at the touch of a button and are lightweight, making them easy to push and maneuver. You can set up and start the mower in a matter of minutes, in any location with an accessible power socket.

 

Lightweight

An electric lawnmower is lighter than a battery-powered or gas mower, so it’s easier to use if you have mobility issues, you’re older than 60, or you just don’t want to exert yourself mowing the lawn.

 

Powerful Performance

Because their power comes straight from the source, electric lawn mowers are more powerful than rechargeable battery mowers and robot mowers. That means they’re better at handling diverse terrain and long grass.

 

Provide Power As Long As Needed

You can use an electric lawnmower for as long as you want because it isn’t limited by a battery. Providing you have constant power to your home, you can mow your lawn for as long as it takes to get the job done.

😟Setbacks Of Electric Lawnmowers

There are a few setbacks of electric lawn mowers that are also worth knowing about:

Tethered By A Cord

You can only take an electric lawn mower so far down your garden before the cord will prevent you from going any further. Most electric lawn mower models have a 10-metre cord. This can be extended with an extension lead, but I don’t recommend corded lawnmowers for large gardens.

Cost Money To Run

You pay for every second of running a corded mower on your mains power. While the cost to run an electric lawnmower is pennies, these pennies add up in the summer months when you’re mowing your lawn several times a month.

Not As Durable As Petrol Mowers

Electric lawnmower models typically have more plastic parts than gas-powered lawn mowers, so they’re not as long-lasting and may need more maintenance and repairs.

cut, broken, mower, cord

📊Pros And Cons Of Corded Electric Mowers

Pros Cons
Environmentally friendly - no gas emissions Need to be plugged in at all times
Quiet operation compared to gas-powered mowers Power cord can be a hindrance and limit movement
Low maintenance and easy to start Not ideal for large lawns
Lightweight and easy to maneuver May not have as much cutting power as gas-powered mowers
No need to store fuel or perform oil changes May not have as long of a lifespan as gas-powered mowers
mower, maintenance, removing, mower, blade,

🛠How To Maintain An Electric Mower’s Performance

There are a few basic maintenance tasks that electric mowers require.

 

Before you start mowing:

  • Check the mower over for wear, loose nuts and bolts

  • Make sure the electric cord is still in good condition and free from nicks and fraying

After mowing:

  • Clean the mower thoroughly to remove the grass and mud from the blades, grass box, and deck

  • Make sure the vents are free from debris for cooling

  • Store the mower in a cool, dry location to prevent weather damage while not in use

At the end of the grass cutting season:

  • Deep-clean the undercarriage

  • Lubricate the wheels with WD-40

  • Tighten all bolts and fasteners

  • Sharpen the blade

Most of these jobs take only a couple of minutes and are well worth doing if you want to maintain your mower’s performance year after year.

💰Are Electric Lawn Mowers Worth It?

Electric lawnmowers are worth it if you’re looking for the most affordable mower type with the biggest selection of mowers to choose from, and you prefer to be able to use your mower for as long as possible without being restricted by a battery or polluting the air with petrol emissions.

 

Electric lawn mowers work better than battery-powered mowers because they get more power from mains electricity.

 

However, it’s still worth considering all your options before you decide on a mower type for you.

 

For instance, if you don’t like being tethered by a cord or you have a medium-to-large garden, an electric lawnmower isn’t right for you.

 

And, if you don’t want to put any effort into your lawn mowing duties, you might want to bypass manually operated mowers of any type and consider robotic cordless electric mowers.

mown, lawn, stripes,

🔌How Do Electric Mowers Work? FAQ

Do electric lawn mowers need to stay plugged in?

Yes, electric lawnmowers need to stay plugged in while they’re in operation. If you pull too hard on the cord and the plug comes out of the socket, the mower will automatically cut off. If you don’t want to be restricted by an electric mower with a cord, consider cordless lawn mowers, which are battery-powered.

Do electric mowers work in high grass?

Yes, electric lawnmowers work in high grass – but some types of electric mowers are better than others. I recommend a rotary mower, which is more powerful and handles longer grass and rough terrain better than a cylinder mower (although cylinder mowers offer a neater cut).

Do electric lawn mowers have batteries?

Conventional corded electric lawnmowers don’t have batteries because they get their power at a constant rate from a mains electricity outlet. However, cordless electric lawnmowers and robotic electric lawnmowers do use a battery, which needs to be recharged between uses.

What is the life expectancy of an electric lawn mower?

The average life expectancy of an electric lawn mower is 10 years. Your mower might last longer than this if it’s well-built and you take good care of it.

Can you use an electric lawn mower with an extension cord?

Yes, you can use an electric lawn mower with an extension cord. Keep in mind, however, that the longer the cord, the less powerful the mower’s motor, so a very long extension lead wouldn’t be effective in a large garden. You will also need to take extra care not to mow over the cord, which poses a high risk of electrocution.