Best Corded Electric Lawn Mowers
Selecting the best corded electric mower requires the knowledge of both lawn mower features and specifications, but also the knowledge of actual work that the lawn mower is going to perform.
Most important features and specifications include physical dimensions and weight, power, cutting width, cutting heights, storage, maintenance procedures, warranty, wheels sizes etc. Although there are many rather similar units on the market, some of the models are more popular than others due to their design, features, performances, but also due to their acceptable price ...
Published: July 17, 2019.
Lawn Mower Physical Dimensions
Physical dimensions of the corded electric lawn mower depend on its intended use (lawn/backyard size), terrain type, cutting width etc.
In order to mow large lawns, lawn mowers must have wide cutting widths and thus either one large(r) cutting blade or two smaller ones.
But, if there are various decorative objects, large flower pots and containers, trees, bushes and other similar obstacles that the lawn mower must mow around and if the terrain is uneven, than the smaller and lighter lawn mowers can come rather handy, despite requiring more time to mow the same area.
Most lawn mowers are designed to maximize the cutting width, while keeping the actual physical dimensions of the lawn mowers as small as possible - very important for negotiating the terrain, even the flat one and for storage.
Lawn Mower Weight
Lawn mowers' weight differ significantly, even among the models of the same cutting width.
Strong and durable plastics are commonly used for cutting decks, saving time and simplifying the maintenance. However, in order to make the cutting decks more durable and sturdier, some models feature steel decks. Such decks are heavier and require anti-corrosion coatings to prevent the rusting, but they are also much more impact resistant, stronger and generally, more durable.
Smaller lawn mowers with plastic cutting decks weigh even under 30 pounds (~13.6 kg) while large corded electric lawn mowers weigh easily 50-60 pounds (~22.7 - 27.2 kg).
Lawn Mower Operations
Most corded electric lawn mowers are designed as 3-in-1 units - after the grass is cut, grass clippings can be discharged on the side, can be used for mulching or can be collected in the rear collection bag.
Side Discharge - grass clippings are discharged on the lawn mower side, usually on the right side.
Mulching - grass clippings are left on the lawn where they were cut. When mulching, it is recommended to keep the cutting height very similar to the actual grass height, so that the grass clippings are short. As such, they fall down to the soil, where they dry out and as they rot, they fertilize the soil. Mulching is recommended for lawns that are often mowed and that need protection from the sun, since grass clippings protect the soil surface from direct sunlight and decrease the moisture loss.
Collector Bag is usually placed in the rear and is used for collecting the grass clippings. As the blade spins, it cuts the grass, but it also creates air flow which carries the clippings into the collector bag. Collected grass clippings can be used for different purposes, for example for mulching, for compost etc.
In order to create cutting decks as strong as possible, some simpler lawn mowers are designed only as 2-in-1 units (side discharge and mulching) or as 'mulching-only' lawn mowers - although such lawn mowers are intended only for lawn mowers that are often mowed, they are simple and durable, and when maintained properly, can last for many seasons.
Lawn Mower Cutting Width
Corded electric lawn mowers generally feature cutting width between 13 inches (~33 cm) and 21 inches (~53.3 cm).
Lawn mowers with narrower cutting width (13-14 inches) are used in smaller backyards and for mowing difficult terrain (slopes). When mowing lawns and backyards with many objects and obstacles, smaller lawn mowers are often combined with electric string trimmers which are used for fine trimming, edging and similar tasks.
Larger lawn mowers with 20-21 inches wide cutting widths are used for larger, flat lawns and backyards. They are commonly 3-in-1 units, allowing the gardener to mow and to collect grass clippings at the same time.
Lawn mowers with 20-21 inches blades tend to be heavier, but there are also units with plastic cutting decks and somewhat weaker motors (lighter motors), intended for mowing ordinary lawn grass - not recommended for lawns with tough grass.
Lawn Mower Power
Lawn mower power is usually given in the Amps (current's strength in amperes). Most corded electric lawn mowers are rated between 8-9 and 13-14 Amps (@120 volts).
Lawn mower's current is related to the cutting width (length of the cutting blade), but there are many variations, since not all lawn mowers are intended for all types of grass - units intended for tough grass are rated at more Amps for the same width than the units intended for ordinary grass.
Note: if you read the manuals/instructions (and you should!), almost all models are 'intended for toughest grass' (according to their manufacturers).
- 13-14" lawn mowers are usually rated in the 9-12 Amps range,
- 15-16" lawn mowers are usually rated in the 10-13 Amps range,
- 17-19" lawn mowers are usually rated in the 11-14 Amps range, and
- 20-21" lawn mowers are usually rated in the 13-14 Amps range.
Just be aware that there are exceptions, for example 17" 10 Amps models, or 14" 13 Amps and similar.
Also, most of the corded electric lawn mowers are walk-behind models propelled by the gardener, but there are also several walk-behind self-propelled units.
Such self-propelled lawn mowers are relatively heavy mowers with large cutting decks and strong motors, intended for large lawns.
Extension Cords for Lawn Mowers
Corded electric lawn mowers feature very short power cord (also known as 'pig-tail' power cord) and it is up to the gardener to provide proper extension cord.
Good extension cord for corded lawn mowers features:
- 3 wires: good extension cord must have ground wire and extension cords with 2 wires are simply not safe enough.
- thick enough: in order to minimize energy loses, extension cord must be thick enough. 16 gauge cords are thick enough only for 10 Amps lawn mowers and only if they are short enough. 14 and 12 gauge cords are recommended, just be sure to check the cord's ratings - Amps and length. For example, if you have 10 Amps lawn mower, go for at least 12 Amps power cord and similar.
- designed for heavy outdoor use: lawn mower power cord is used and often abused during mowing. It must endure mechanical impacts, it must be chemically neutral, it must be waterproof, flame retardant, very flexible and generally, it must be in good condition. Power cords patched 'just here and there' are not good anymore ...
Outdoor extension cords must be labeled at least as SJTW - S stands for Service, J is for Junior (hard service, but not extra hard), T is for Thermoplastic constructed jacket and W is for weather resistant for outdoor use.
There are other, much tougher extension cords, but when the weather gets rough, rarely few people will mow their lawn :)
- bright colors: good extension cord for lawn mower must be easily visible in the grass. Thus, bright colors like yellow, orange or red (or their combinations) are recommended. There are also brightly colored green extension cords, but personally I wouldn't use it for electric lawn mowers.
- lighted connections: this is relatively novel feature - when the power cord is connected to the wall power socket (or anywhere else), connectors are lit via built-in small LED lights. Such lights warns the users that the extension cord is 'live' and they help the users find the connections in low light conditions. Personally, not an absolute 'must have' feature, but it can come handy.
- long enough: if the extension cord is not long enough, some parts of your lawn will remain untouched. So, be sure to buy a power cord that is long enough for your own needs and requirements.
Lawn Mower Cutting Heights
Adjustable cutting height is required in different situations and the best option is to have lawn mower with adjustable cutting height via single lever with at least 4-5, preferably with 6-7 cutting heights.
Cheaper models often have just 2-3 cutting heights, set by the single lever.
Some models don't even have one lever to set the cutting height, but they have threaded holes for screwing in and out the wheel's axles. Such models are simple and robust lawn mower designs, but they also require plenty of time to change the grass cutting height.
Lawn Mowers Safety Features
No-load speed of the lawn mower blade is often in the 3000-4000 rpm (50 to almost 70 rotations per second!) and although such blade cuts grass cleanly, it also can make plenty of damage.
The most important safety feature is the power button and bail switch combination, commonly found in the most models.
When the user let the bail switch go, motor is powered off instantly and the blade stops more or less quickly - it depends on the presence (and condition) of automatic blade breaks. Such automatic blade breaks are common these days (often not even mentioned in the manuals) and they stop the blades within few seconds. If the blade continues to spin after powering off the motor, such automatic break is either not present or not working properly.
Another important safety feature is motor thermal protection - when the grass is tough and heavy, motor is pushed to the limit and can overheat despite the cooling. In such situations, thermal protection system powers off the motor and keeps it disconnected until it is cooled down (usually 30-60 minutes).
Note: spinning blade is the largest safety issue - whatever happens, DON'T lift your lawn mower or turn it on its side as long as the blade is spinning! Although it is intended for cutting grass, it can cut branches, wires or even fingers easily ... This is a serious warning!
Each lawn mower is specific, so one of the very important safety measures is to get accustomed to your lawn mower - for short, read its manual thoroughly!
Lawn Mower Wheels
In order to traverse the lawn, to be as maneuvarble as possible and to leave as little marks on the grass as possible, it is important for lawn mowers to have as large wheels as possible.
On the other hand, large wheels require more space and are heavier. Most lawn mowers have front wheels in the 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) range and the rear wheels in the 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) range.
Rear wheels are larger due to the more weight that they have to transfer to the ground and larger the contact surface, smaller the relative pressure on the ground/grass.
Lawn Mower Storage
When not in use, corded electric lawn mowers must be stored in a dry place. In order to save the storage area, lawn mowers feature foldable handles and some models can be even stored vertically.
When stored vertically, lawn mowers have relatively small storage footprint, but when tipped over, they can make damage, they can get damaged, or they can even hurt someone or something - don't let the kids and pets play around vertically stored lawn mowers.
Corded Electric Lawn Mower Maintenance Procedures
Corded electric lawn mowers are relatively simple to maintain - it is up to the user to clean the unit from grass clippings, and to keep the blade sharp.
Moving parts like wheels can be protected by adding some high quality lubricant, but only if recommended by manufacturer.
So, when you get your new lawn mower, check the maintenance procedures in the manual in order to be sure that you are doing it properly.
Lawn Mower Warranty
Lawn mower warranty differ in length and terms. Most common warranties are between 1 and 3 years, and they don't cover blades and often few more parts.
When the unit arrives, be sure to read the warranty conditions, especially 'small letters' :) Better safe than sorry ...
Long Story Short: When selecting the best corded electric lawn mower for your own personal needs and requirements, be sure to know lawn mower area, terrain type, type of grass, location of mains power, and similar.
Only than you can choose the best lawn mower that will fit your needs perfectly. Generally, most popular models are popular for good reasons - they offer the best features at the most affordable prices.