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Top 8 best lawn mowers of 2019

By PriceRunner Updated 02/14/2019

We have tested lawn mowers and name Viking MA 443 C as best in test. This is a battery powered lawn mower with several clever functions which makes it incredibly user-friendly, all while having the power to cut even high grass on large surfaces.

Everything about Lawn mower

A lawn mower is one of the most important tools you can have for your garden. Lawn mowers have been used to keep grass short since they were first invented in the 1830s. Since then, they have developed significantly, and new variants such as the robotic lawn mower and ride-on lawn mower have been introduced. Traditional lawn mowers are often now called "walk-behind" lawn mowers to distinguish them from these other types.

In addition to a motor, walk-behind lawn mowers have either a rotor or a cylinder. Some lawn mowers have fixed, angled blades, while others have mobile ones fixed to a central hub. Two-stroke motors were once common, but since the 1960s, four-stroke motors have dominated. Today, four-stroke Briggs & Stratton are the most common. But a new historical shift is under way. Battery lawn mowers are becoming increasingly common as batteries are improving, making it possible for motors to be more powerful. Today there are battery lawn mowers on the market that are more than sufficient to cope with cutting a medium sized garden a couple of times on a single charge - although they are also more expensive than the equivalent petrol model.

Battery lawn mowers are taking over because they have a number of advantages. They don't produce exhaust gases, which is good for the environment, for you and for your garden. They're also quieter, and you don't have to buy petrol and oil. But of course you do have to remember to charge the batteries on a regular basis. It's also important that lithium ion batteries aren't allowed to completely discharge, or to get cold over the winter, as this can damage them.

Differences between different types of lawn mower

The differences between lawn mowers are primarily reflected in how well they cut tall, coarse or wet grass. There are significant differences in how long it takes to cut a given area of grass, how much it costs per cut (petrol and oil costs, or charging cost vs run time), the quality of the cutting result and not least how user-friendly the lawn mower is. For example, some models navigate easily around flowerbeds, fences and trees, while others are less agile. How you set the cutting height and how manoeuvrable the lawn mower is also varies between models, as does how well they cope with uneven and sloping surfaces. Lawns often grow a lot during the short time you're away on holiday. With some models, you have to cut long grass several times, or cut very slowly so that they don't get overloaded. Actually, you shouldn't cut grass by more than 2-3 cm per day, but not many people want to cut their lawns that often.

There are also major differences in the functions on offer. Some lawn mowers grind the grass up - this is called mulching. Others lack this function and instead throw out large pieces of grass. You can either collect the cut grass in a collector, if one is included, or have it deposited on the lawn via a side discharge. If the pieces of grass are large, you may need to run over the grass again to get it down to a better size in terms of breaking down and appearance. Other functions that often vary are whether the lawn mower is front or rear drive, and whether it has a number of speeds.

Different consumers also have different budgets. To provide buying advice to as many consumers as possible, we have divided the test candidates into three different price classes and named the winner in each price class as follows:

Budget: up to £300 Medium: approx. £300-£450 Premium: more than £450

If you base your choice on your needs and budget, you'll find a suitable, modern lawn mower in the range below.

Good to know about lawn mowers

Different types of lawn mower:

Cabled electric lawn mowers

Pros and cons:

  • Very low energy costs

  • Economical and inexpensive maintenance due to the electric motor

  • Relatively low noise levels

  • No exhaust fumes

  • Good for the environment and health

  • Often low weight

  • Generally a less powerful motor than a petrol lawn mower

  • The power lead can be seen as being a nuisance and “in the way” during mowing

  • The power led restricts the distance than you can move from the power outlet

  • Electric lawn mowers often have a narrower cutting width than petrol mowers

Battery (cordless) electric lawn mowers

Pros and cons:

  • Relatively low noise levels

  • Often easy to manoeuvre

  • No exhaust fumes

  • Often relatively low energy costs

  • Good for the environment and health

  • Often low weight

  • Less powerful motor than on a petrol lawn mower

  • Operating time is often limited

  • Charging time can be long

  • Often have a narrower cutting width than a petrol lawn mower

  • Battery can be expensive to replace when at then end of its life

Robot lawn mowers

Pros and cons:

  • You don’t have to mow the lawn yourself

  • Very low energy costs

Robot lawn mowers

  • Generally charge themselves in the charging station when the battery starts to run low

  • The lawn is usually very well -maintained and attractive when it is mowed little and often

  • Can usually be programmed to self-start

  • Can often be programmed to remain under a roof when it rains

  • Low noise levels

  • Relatively high purchase price

  • Do not cope with grass that is too high

  • The lawn needs to be fairly even and not slope too much

  • Each mowing usually takes longer than a traditional lawn mower

  • Long and frequent mowings can irritate neighbours who are sensitive to noise who are disturbed by the low-level but long-term noise

Petrol lawn mowers

The petrol lawn mower is the traditional type of lawn mower and is till the most common type of lawn mower. Even though the petrol lawn mower has essentially not changed that much since the 1960s, it is still the best choice in many situations. For example, if the lawn is large, with tall grass, a hilly terrain and there are a lot of roots and stones, the petrol lawn mower is general the preference. This is because petrol lawn mowers with their powerful internal combustion engines are still superior to electric lawn mowers as regards power, speed and durability. However, the price that is paid for this power is exhaust fumes, vibrations and noise. Petrol lawn mowers are of course the type of mower that make the most noise. Furthermore, an internal combustion engine generally requires more maintenance and an electric motor due to the large number of moving parts of an internal combustion engine.

Pros and cons:

  • Have the most powerful motors that cope with the toughest resistance

  • Can mow longer on a tank of fuel

  • High level of noise

  • Relatively a lot of maintenance

  • Relatively expensive fuel

  • Unhealthy and harmful exhaust fumes

  • Greater vibration levels

  • High machine weight

  • Can be seen as awkward on small areas with lots of obstacles

Battery

The majority of battery lawn mowers are today powered by so-called “lithium batteries” (often termed Li-Ion or Lithium-Ion batteries), which are the same type of batteries that are used in laptops and mobile phones, for example. Lithium batteries are able to store a lot of energy compared with traditional batteries and this is why we can now operate such energy-hungry machinery such as lawn mowers using batteries. Unfortunately lithium batteries are expensive and only hold a limited number of discharges. Then the large number of cells within the battery die off one by one and the battery capacity gradually deteriorates. The lithium battery of a battery lawn mower therefore needs to be replaced after several years, which costs a good deal of money. You should also have an extra battery for optimum reliability.

Build quality

If you spend several thousand on a lawn mower you also want it to be durable and to be usable for several years. A lawn mower is often subjected to considerable forces during mowing that result in major stresses. It is therefore important that it is designed in order to cope with long-term and extensive wear and tear if it is to have a sufficiently long service life. Depending on the type of lawn mower you have the maintenance requirement will vary considerably. Petrol lawn mowers generally require the most maintenance. Partly because an internal combustion engine with its large number of moving parts will break down more readily than an electric motor and partly because an internal combustion engine is able to develop greater power and with the development of greater power comes greater stresses on the equipment.

Wheels

Lawn mowers must have stable and durable wheels that are easy to remove. Also it is preferable for the rear wheels to be large as this makes the mower easier to manoeuvre. Front-wheel drive is preferable to rear-wheel drive since lawn mowers with front-wheel drive are easier to manoeuvre.

Cutting width

The cutting width differs considerable between different lawn mowers and is generally between 30-55 cm depending on model. Less expensive lawn mowers generally have a smaller cutting width whilst more expensive ones have larger cutting widths. The greater the cutting width, the faster the lawn mower mows since its blades reach further and therefore cover a larger area. However, the greater the cutting width, the more powerful the lawn mower motor needs to be. For the more grass that it needs to mow in a single session, the more resistance there will be.

Cutting height

The cutting height of lawn mowers varies but is usually above a minimum height of 20 mm and below a maximum height of 80 mm. Actually for most people’s needs a minimum height of 40 mm is sufficient since a lawn should not be cut any shorter than this. This is because such a closely-cropped lawn is more sensitive to wear and drying out and is therefore not suitable for the majority of lawn owners. Restrictions on the cutting height are therefore generally not a problem for a lawn mower. The only lawns that should be cut shorter than 40 mm are so-called “ornamental lawns”, which are not to be walked on and only exist for their aesthetic value. These lawns must in contrast to normal lawns (which are in technical terms called “functional lawns”) are maintained very carefully and are watered regularly and abundantly. A very low cutting height will also cause more wear to the cutting unit and increase the risk of the blade being damaged by stones, roots, etc., especially if the lawn is not sufficiently even.

Sound level

The noise level of a lawn mower is often perceived as being more or less of a problem by both the person carrying out the mowing and those in the vicinity. Besides being a nuisance, the noise from a lawn mower can be immediately harmful. The risk of hearing damage depends on how high the sound level is and on how long a person has been exposed to the noise. The Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) therefore uses the benchmark “Total daily noise exposure level” for its guidelines value. However, in general it can be said that the risk of hearing damage occurs at 85 dB(A) (decibel, A weight) for most people. Sensitivity does, however, vary from person to person, and if you are unlucky you can sustain hearing damage at a figure of 75-80 dB(A). This means that you should be wearing hearing protection when mowing the lawn. The only exception is when using robot lawn mowers since the noise that they generate lies far below the limit values of the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

The sound level differs considerably between the different types of lawn mower. Unsurprisingly petrol lawn mowers with their internal combustion engines generate the highest values with sound levels of up to 100dB(A). Electric lawn mowers with their electric motors usually generate significantly less noise with levels down to 90 dB(A). The quietest are robot lawn mowers with noise level of around 60 dB(A), not least due to the fact that they mow the lawn so often that the grass does not have time to become long. What is important to observe is that the decibel scale is logarithmic, which, for example, means that a noise level of 100 dB(A) is 10 times as intense as a noise level of 90 dB(A).

Manoeuvrability

The manoeuvrability of a lawn mower determines how easy it is to control. The different types of lawn mower have fairly large differences as regards manoeuvrability. The smallest and lightest lawn mowers tend to have the best manoeuvrability, which in practice almost always means electric lawn mowers. There are also electric lawn mowers that run on grid electricity connected to a power outlet with a power cord, just like a vacuum cleaner. This unavoidably involves some bother as the power cord has to be constantly moved in order not to get in the way of the mower. Something that naturally has an adverse effect on manoeuvrability. On the other hand, petrol lawn mowers and relatively heavy and awkward, which makes them less manoeuvrable. This means that generally petrol lawn mowers are more suitable for larger lawns since manoeuvrability is less important for this type of mowing.

Mulching

Mulching means that the blades of the lawn mower cut the blade of grass several times at different levels so that it becomes very short and therefore easier to decompose. Mulching often makes the collection of grass after mowing superfluous. It also returns water and nutrients from the cut grass to the lawn. Remember that when employing the mulching technique that no more than approx. 30 % of the length of the blade of grass should be cut. In addition, the grass should not be too long as the lawn mower will have difficulty in grinding down all of the grass.

Side discharge

A side discharge (also called a “side exhaust”) means that the lawn mower has an exhaust on the side where the cut grass can be discharged. A side discharge is of principal use when the grass is very high and the lawn mower does not manage to grind down the grass, so-called “mulching”.

Safety

A lawn mower with its sharp blades and powerful motor would pose a real threat to life it had not been safely designed. Luckily, modern lawn mowers are safe, sometimes even so safe that overactive safety features can cause irritation. All of the lawn mowers in our test satisfy the European standard for mechanical safety.

Perhaps the most important safety feature is the so-called “dead man’s handle”, which means that a control on the handle is held in during the whole of the mowing process. When the handle is released the control is also released and the lawn mower stops automatically. The equivalent to this found on the robot lawn mower is a safety feature that turns the robot lawn mower off automatically should anybody lift it.

Reliability

You of course have a reliable lawn mower that always delivers and never goes wrong. At the same time a lawn mower is subject to very strong forces and is often pushed to the very limit of what it can deal with. It is therefore not strange that it is relatively common for the motor to stall during mowing. However, the bar will have been set high for a good lawn mower and if the instructions for its use are followed it should be reliable. A lawn mower should also be easy to start and anybody who has had experience of a traditional petrol lawn mower will certainly remember how irritating this can be. In order to reduce the risk of this many petrol lawn mowers today have an electronic start function.

Grass catcher

A grass catcher is a container that is fitted to the lawn mower in order to collect the cut grass. The grass catcher is then removed and then emptied into a compost heap where it produces excellent humus.

A spacious grass catcher of course has the advantage of not needing to be emptied as often. A practical feature is a window t the top of the grass catcher or a light indicator so that you know when it is almost time to empty it.

Equipment vibrations

Vibrating equipment and tools such as lawn mowers can cause injuries to the hands and arms, which is due to the nerves in the hands and arms being damaged by the vibrations. The risk of injury depends on how strong the vibrations are and how long a person is exposed to the vibrations. There are a number of symptoms, but it is usually tingling, pins and needles and impaired or loss of feeling in the fingers, hands and/or arms. The damage is most often temporary for those who only expose themselves to vibrations sporadically, for example, when mowing the lawn for a few hours a week. However, some people are more sensitive than others and if unlucky even moderate vibrations for relatively short periods of time can give rise to permanent damage. Because of this, it is of course desirable for the vibrations caused by lawn mowers to be as weak as possible. The vibrations from a lawn mower are usually measured at the control handles are stated in m/s². In order to ascertain when damage can arise, the Swedish Work Environment Authority has specified limit values depending on how long you should be exposed to vibrations, depending on the strength of the vibrations. For the lowest risk class, these are 8 hours at vibrations of 2.0 m/s², 5 hours at 2.5 m/s² and 1 hour at 5.0 m/s². Generally, petrol lawn mowers with their powerful internal combustion engines vibrate the most while electric lawn mowers vibrate less. A robot lawn mower is of course the best choice for anybody who wishes to avoid vibrations.

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