Comparing petrol and cordless lawn mowers for price and performance

If you asked a hundred people to name a garden tool, I would bet good money that lawnmower is one of the top answers, right up there with spade and rake.

Corded electric lawnmowers have been around for years, and are still popular among the general population, but we are seeing that more and more people are choosing to go with cordless or petrol lawnmowers instead of their corded counterparts.

There are numerous reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that battery technology has improved massively in recent years and this has made cordless lawnmowers a much more practical option than they used to be.

Another reason is that more and more companies are producing petrol lawnmowers, and it is now possible to buy one without selling a kidney or remortgaging your house.

So, we essentially have two options when it comes to lawnmowers that don’t need to be plugged into the mains, but which would suit you the best?

Today, we will compare petrol and cordless lawnmowers for price and performance for you, in the hopes that it will make your decision a little easier. Looks like some people have already made up their minds-

How do petrol lawnmowers and cordless lawnmowers compare when it comes to price?

If we are just talking about the initial price tag, then I would have to say that, in general, cordless lawnmowers are slightly more expensive than petrol ones. This is due to the fact that cordless machines run on lithium-ion batteries and they aren’t the cheapest things in the world. If you do see a very low-cost cordless lawnmower for sale, you should double-check that the battery comes with the machine, as some cordless lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, strimmers, etc. are sold as the main unit only and are useless without the battery and charger.

When calculating cost, we also have to think about how much we have to spend to keep the machines running. For any petrol-powered tool, such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and pressure washers, there is always the fuel costs to consider, and also spark plugs and oil too. With these extra expenses, the overall cost of cordless and petrol lawnmowers draws much closer together.

Of course, you will have to charge the lithium-ion batteries for a cordless lawnmower, but they are quite efficient these days and the cost of fully charging a battery works out much less than filling a tank with a petrol and oil mix to run the 2-stroke engine.

If you’d like to know the difference between a 4 stroke and 2 stroke engine, take a minute or two to watch this informative and entertaining video on the subject-

Cutting performance- how do cordless and petrol lawnmowers compare?

I’ve said this is articles comparing chainsaws, leaf blowers, strimmers, log splitters, and just about every other type of garden power tool that I’ve written about: you can’t beat petrol machines for raw power. Lawnmowers are no exception to this, and petrol lawnmowers are the ones to go for if you are really seeking the most powerful model you can buy, but you have to ask yourself if you really need all that power.

Most modern, cordless lawnmowers have more than enough power to deal with overgrown grass, and the only time I would say you’d need a bit more ‘grunt’ is if you have left the garden to grow into a jungle over months of neglect, and now have to deal with grass that is above knee high. Robot lawnmowers are a new addition to the overall mower line-up, and while they are great to look at and time saving tools, they might struglle with longer grass.

Having said that, you might have some particularly thick grass and weeds to get rid of and a petrol mower would be a better choice, and there is also the opinion shared by many gardeners that petrol lawnmowers do a better job of cutting the clippings up into smaller pieces, making an ideal mulch, much like a shredder.

If you have a problem with wet leaves falling onto your lawn in Autumn, and you don’t own a leaf vacuum or leaf blower, you’ll probably need a petrol mower to help take care of those leaves at the same time as cutting the grass.

Which is better for large lawns?

Although battery technology has improved significantly in recent years, you will still probably find it hard to get more than an hour’s worth of running time on a single charge. Now, your working time can be extended by having a second battery on charge while you use the first one, but as already mentioned, those batteries aren’t cheap.

Because of the limits of lithium-ion batteries, I would have to say that a petrol lawnmower is the better choice for taking care of large lawns. A full tank of petrol should see you through to the end of a good-sized mowing job without having to stop to refuel, and this will allow you to get the job done faster.

Which is better for smaller lawns?

If you have a smaller lawn, or a medium sized one with lots of obstacles like garden furniture, sheds, etc. A cordless lawn might be a better choice as they tend to be much lighter in weight, and therefore more manoeuvrable.

A fully charged battery should be more than enough to finish a small or medium sized lawn with a cordless lawnmower, so there’s really no practical advantage to using a larger and heavier tool like a petrol mower for such jobs. Here’s a cordess lawnmower in action, so you can see that the performance is actually pretty good when the battery is charged-

Petrol and cordless lawnmowers compared for noise, vibration, and fumes

All powered tools create some noise and vibration, but the levels of these can vary quite significantly, from a gentle hum and almost massaging vibration to an ear-shattering din and rumbles that’ll shake your teeth loose.

Thankfully, with lawnmowers, these problems aren’t as bad as with some other tools but they aren’t exactly completely innocent either. In particular, petrol lawnmowers’ engines can produce their fair share of noise and vibration, and also petrol and oil fumes to go with them.

The vast majority of cordless lawnmowers will run much quieter, have lower vibrations, and as they are electric there won’t be any fumes produced while you cut the grass. This lack of fumes obviously means they are better for your health and the environment, so that’s always something to consider.

As you can see from this video, the noise levels of modern petrol awnmowers isn’t reallly bad if you buy a good brand like this honda-

Ease of use and maintenance compared

As they are designed for the masses, cordless lawnmowers are very easy to set up and use. Assembly is usually kept to a minimum, and using one is often just the case of pressing the right button and away you go.

There is very little maintenance to deal with when you own a cordless lawnmower too. Of course, you should keep it clean and make sure the blades are sharp, but when compared to a petrol mower, they are relatively simple.

Petrol machines need maintaining and regular services to keep them ticking. Things like changing spark plugs, checking filters, and cleaning and changing fuel lines are all part and parcel of owning a petrol lawnmower.

I have to say though, that if you look after your petrol lawnmower properly, and it really isn’t that difficult, you will have a tool that will keep you happily cutting away for years to come. In comparison, the batteries used for cordless mowers and cordless hover mowers will only last about 3 years before they need replacing, and if there is a problem with the electrical components, it is not something that most people know how to DIY fix  and will require a professional to look at it


Final thoughts

Cordless lawnmowers have lots of advantages. They run quieter than petrol machines, produce less vibration, and emit zero fumes. They are much lighter and agile and so can be manoeuvred around obstacles and oddly shaped lawns much easier than the heavier petrol versions too.

However, the running time is limited to the battery’s charge and this really only makes them viable for smaller to medium sized lawns, unless you want to spend quite a bit more money on a spare battery. there are thng that you can do to extend your battery’s life, as yu can see from this video-

If you have a large property or want something for commercial use, you really need a petrol lawnmower. A full tank will keep you working for a much longer time than with a cordless mower, ad the extra power is great for thicker and longer grass and leaves.

The downsides to petrol lawnmowers are the same for petrol tillers, garden shredders, and any other tool. We of course talking about the extra noise, vibrations, and fumes, but if you spend a bit more and get yourself a higher-tier machine from a trusted brand, these problems are often controlled and diminished to comfortable levels. Plus, you can always pop on a pair of ear defenders and mask if you need to, right?

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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