Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ditching the gas mower for a cleaner, better product (and don't complain that I'm not using my push mower, OK?)

So here’s my awesome new cordless battery-powered lawnmower. A Black and Decker model you can read more about here:

I bought it because Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity say environmentalists have to buy expensive “green” gadgets to try and cope with the crippling guilt they feel as weak kneed liberals. I can’t afford a Pruis. So this was my white trash alternative. Just under four bills, shipping included, from Amazon.

Black and Decker claims the mower is “emissions free” which isn’t true, and I’ll explain why. But it’s a damn site less polluting, perhaps by several orders of magnitude than my old Crafstsman gas mower.
Gas mowers are horrifyingly inefficient at burning gasoline…..sending something like one-third of the fuel into the atmosphere unburned. The result is carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and of course carbon dioxide escaping in copious quantities. One hour of mowing, say scientists, produces the emissions of a 100 mile car ride according to this peer reviewed study:

What’s more, the EPA estimates that the little gasoline slopovers and oil spills and leaks that accompany gas lawnmowers total 17 million gallons each year – more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill:

Now the machine surely isn’t emissions free. It simply gets its power from the coal-fired electricity plant than from the gas pump. But the coal plant burns its fuel way more efficiently than the gas mower. And it’s required to filter out a lot of the emissions it does create. The mower has nothing like that. It is – like almost all gas-fueled small machines – virtually unregulated and completely without filtration systems. That’s about to change:

Additionally, it takes shockingly little electricity to charge the battery. My Kil-o-Watt meter recorded 0.46 kilowatt hours of electricity to charge the battery fully. That’s 4 cents worth of juice to cut my entire lawn! Or about what it takes a coffeemaker to brew two pots of coffee.

The battery mower also requires no oil, no spark plug, no air filter, and you don’t have to pull a cord or fiddle with a primer bulb. And you don’t smell like gas afterward.

It is as quiet as an extraordinarily loud vacuum cleaner, and ran strong throughout my 40-minute job with plenty of juice leftover (I left it running after the first cut, and it took about 30 more minutes to drain the battery to zero)


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