Oct. 28, 2020

Green Commercial Lawn Mowers (Text Version)

This is a text version of the video segment Green Commercial Lawn Mowers, which aired on Oct. 28, 2020.

JOHN DAVIS: Advances in electric batteries are driving our cars to a quiet, clean, energy-efficient future, and increasingly batteries are replacing fossil fuels and motorized equipment like lawnmowers. On top of that, innovative charging solutions are giving a second life to electric vehicle battery packs, and a whole new meaning to growing green.

There are 40 to 50 million acres of lawn grass in the U.S., making it technically the largest irrigated crop in the country. And an estimated 56 million lawn mowers are keeping all of those yards and golf courses trimmed. 

If you consider that in one hour, a single gasoline-powered mower produces the same amount of emissions as driving 11 cars, and that an estimated 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment, then maintaining our green spaces in the current manner isn’t doing any favors for the rest of the planet. Which is why electric-powered lawn equipment is gaining favor with eco-conscious homeowners and forward-thinking commercial lawn care services.

The city of Burlington, Vermont has bought into the advantages of battery power, and is encouraging others to do the same.

DARREN SPRINGER: We at Burlington Electric are promoting electrification in many technology areas. We have electric vehicle programs, electric bike, electric bus, cold climate heat pumps for heating and cooling, and as part of that we also are promoting electric lawn mowers, both commercial scale, and residential. And we have rebate programs to support those, and we’re really doing it because our customers can save money, when they mow electric compared to mowing with a gas mower. It's better for the environment for a variety of reasons, and it’s also quieter, so it’s better for our neighborhoods as well. 

JOHN DAVIS: Consumer-grade electric mowers, blowers and trimmers are available in most big-box home improvement stores, and are cost-competitive with gas-powered models right off the shelf. 

Larger commercial units, with their higher capacity batteries, may cost a bit more up front, but lower fuel and maintenance costs can pay that back and generate bottom line savings in 3 or 4 years.

Burlington's incentive program offers up to $100 for homeowners and $3500 for commercial operators who purchase electric lawn mowers. It has become their most popular rebate program, and other cities are starting to follow suit. 

Blue Roof Foundation, a Dallas-based non-profit, educates consumers and pros on the tremendous potential of battery-powered lawn equipment, and came up with a unique battery recharging solution to aid in the transition.

Blue Roof has created this prototype trailer, equipped with lithium-ion modules re-purposed from a Nissan Leaf battery pack. It allows a typical lawn care crew to swap and recharge equipment batteries on location, and power through a full day of mowing without burning, or spilling, a drop of gas.

CARLOS OJEDA: The whole idea of the trailer is to really carry, store, and plug in one power cord that recharges everything inside. So the whole idea is that, during the work day, they can just come back, swap batteries, just like they were switching and refueling gasoline.

JOHN DAVIS: The high-energy battery packs that propel electric vehicles may lose capacity over time, yet still produce enough kilowatt-hours of power for less-demanding uses.

CARLOS OJEDA: Our main mission is really to reduce pollution by reducing the usage of small gas engines and switch that to electric. It just happens that, by repurposing the Leaf batteries, we’re actually at the same time, delaying the time that those batteries will end up in a landfill. So we’re giving them a second life as an effect of all this. So, it’s part of our mission, but the most important one is really to reduce pollution.

JOHN DAVIS: Reducing air and noise pollution while saving money is a win-win-win proposition. So, when it’s time to replace that old mower in your shed, remember that mowing clean can preserve the green all around us.

Search for another case study