Electric and gas mowers differ greatly in maintenance requirements.

Differences Between Electric & Gas Lawn Mowers

by Herb Kirchhoff

A lawnmower is an essential tool for maintaining an attractive yard. If you are contemplating a new or replacement walk-behind mower for your yard, you can choose an electric mower or a gasoline-powered mower. Knowing the important differences between these types of lawnmower may help you make the right purchase decision for your yard.


The biggest difference between electric and gas mowers is in the area of maintenance. An electric mower only requires cleaning the underside of the deck after each mowing session and periodic blade sharpening. With battery-powered electric models, you also have to replace the battery after five to seven years of use. Gas mowers need cleaning and blade sharpening, but also require frequent refilling of the gas tank, changing engine oil during the mowing season, cleaning or changing the spark plug as part of an annual tune-up and cleaning air filters and carburetors when they become clogged.


Electric mowers are less polluting than gas mowers. The engine on a gas mower emits airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases in its exhaust fumes, while the motor on an electric mower has no emissions at all. A walk-behind mower’s small engine in one year emits as much pollution as a modern automobile emits in 2,000 miles of driving. Gas mowers also are noisier than electric mowers. An electric mower’s noise measures around 75 decibels, equivalent to a washing machine or normal conversation. A gas mower emits around 95 decibels, about the same as a motorcycle.

Operating Range

A corded electric mower is limited in operating range to about 100 feet from an electric outlet. Use of a longer extension cord can cause a voltage drop that leads to overheating and damage to the mower’s motor. A battery-powered electric mower’s run time is limited by the capacity of the battery. A typical battery mower gives you about an hour of mowing time. A gas-powered mower has no limits on operating range or run time. It will keep on mowing so long as the gas tank is refilled when needed. An electric mower may be more economical to run than a gas mower. You can mow your yard all year for about $5 in electricity. That same $5 would buy you only about 1.5 gallons of gas at 2013 prices.


Electric and gas mowers each come with particular safety concerns. When using a corded mower, you must always be mindful of where the cord is lest you trip over it or cut it with the mower blade and get a dangerous shock. A faulty extension cord plus wet grass also can create shock conditions. An outlet used with an electric mower should have a GFCI device to instantly cut off the power if there’s a short or other malfunction. Gas mowers pose a hazard when being refueled. Gasoline is flammable. Spilling gas onto hot engine parts or fueling near an open flame or heat source could result in a fire.

About the Author

Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.

Photo Credits

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