The Environmental Benefits of Electric Mowers

Why Electric: The Environmental Benefits

  • Decreased Fossil Fuel Use: Traditional commercial gas/diesel mowers typically burn 1 to 2 gallons of gas or diesel per hour which means that for every commercial gas/diesel lawn mower that’s replaced with an electric mower in the New England region, fossil fuel use can be reduced by approximately 1,440 to 1,920 gallons per year (assuming 6 to 8 hours/day, 5 days/week, 24 weeks/year). Depending on the type and horsepower rating of a mower used by a homeowner mowing 1 to 2 hours a week (for 24 weeks), anywhere from 5 to over 50 gallons of gas or diesel could be saved per year.
  • CO2 Reduction: Since every gallon of gas/diesel burned emits an average of about 22 lbs. of CO2 (includes the carbon in the gas/diesel plus the oxygen used during combustion) and because electric mowers have zero CO2 emissions, for every commercial gas/diesel lawn mower that’s replaced with an electric mower in the New England region, CO2 emissions could be reduced by approximately 31,680 to 42,240 lbs (approx. 16 to 21 tons), less the amount of C02 emissions generated by the production of the electricity used, which increasingly is being generated from renewable sources such as sun, wind, and hydro. And therefore, for every 100 commercial gas/diesel lawn mowers that are replaced with electric mowers in the New England region, CO2 emissions will be reduced by approximately 1,600 to 2,100 tons, (again, less the amount of C02 emissions generated by the production of the electricity used).
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Because conventional gas and diesel lawn mowers have minimal emission controls, they are widely recognized as a major source of smog-forming air pollution. In-fact, according to one EPA study, for every 1 hp rating, a typical lawn mower emits the equivalent air pollution of 3.67 automobiles driving at 55 mph. Therefore, replacing a 36 hp diesel or gas mower with a 36 hp electric mower, the equivalent emissions of 132 cars driving at 55 mph could be avoided per hour of mowing. Similarly, the equivalent emissions of 88 cars could be avoided for every 24 hp gas/diesel mower that’s replaced with a 24 hp electric mower, and the equivalent emissions of 20 cars could be avoided for every 5.5 hp gas/diesel mower that’s replaced with a 5.5 hp electric mower. Clearly, considering the hundreds of thousands of conventional lawn mowers operating in New England, there exists enormous potential to improve regional air quality throughout the lawn mowing season, which is both when “High Smog Alert” conditions are most frequent AND when many people are outdoors recreating.
  • Increased Use of Renewable Energy: With ever-expanding solar and wind energy capacity in New England, there’s an ever-increasing potential for the electricity used to recharge batteries to come from renewable sources.
  • Support of Local Economies: For every dollar not spent on imported gas and diesel fuel, more dollars remain to support New England’s local economy.
Tons CO2 avoided using electric

Download an Excel spreadsheet that allows you to compare the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of a specific diesel/gas mower with a high-performance electric mower. (see notes for assumptions and explanations)

Tons CO2 avoided using electric

Download notes Use our interactive PDF document to compare your own use and the carbon dioxide (CO2) savings using a CXR-60 High Performance Electric Mower.

Notes re CO2 emissions analysis: Calculations and assumptions for the sample savings comparison are available here.

Lawn Mower Emissions Facts

According to an EPA study, one 3hp lawn mower emits the same air pollution as 11 cars driving at 55 mph. Each additional HP is calculated with a linear use equation. Each 1 HP from a lawn mower = 3.67 CARS AT 55 MPH EMISSIONS.

COMMERCIAL ZTR GAS MOWER

  • 24 HP COMMERCIAL ZTR MOWER = 88 CARS AT 55 MPH EMISSIONS (= 4,840 car miles each hour)
  • 24 HP ZTR MOWER @ 3.5 HRS (NATIONAL AVERAGE/DAY) = 308 CARS AT 55 MPH/DAY = 16,940 MILES CAR EMISSIONS/DAY
  • 24 HP ZTR USED 350 HOURS/YEAR = 1,694,000 CAR MILES OF EMISSIONS/YEAR
  • 1,694,000/12,000 MILES (AVERAGE ANNUAL CAR MILES) = 141 CAR EMISSIONS PER YEAR FOR EACH COMMERCIAL ZTR MOWER

RESIDENTIAL GAS RIDING TRACTOR MOWER

  • 18 HP RIDING MOWER = 66 CARS AT 55 MPH EMISSIONS (= 3,633 car miles each hour)
  • 18 HP RIDING MOWER @ 1.5 HRS (NATIONAL AVERAGE/WEEK) = 99 CARS AT 55 MPH/WEEK = 5,445 MILES CAR EMISSIONS/WEEK
  • 18 HP RIDING MOWER USED 50 HOURS/YEAR = 181,650 CAR MILES OF EMISSIONS/YEAR
  • 181,650/12,000 MILES (AVERAGE ANNUAL CAR MILES) = 15 CAR EMISSIONS PER YEAR FOR EACH RESIDENTIAL RIDING MOWER

Small Engine Fact Sheet

CARB fact sheet graphicSmall engines in California

Small off-road engines (SORE) are spark-ignition engines rated at or below 19 kilowatts. Engines in this category are primarily used for lawn, garden, and other outdoor power equipment. The population of small engines in California (16.5 million) is greater than that of light-duty passenger cars (13.7 million) and is comprised of 76% residential lawn and garden equipment, 9% commercial lawn and garden equipment, 11% federally regulated construction/farming equipment, and 4% other equipment types (e.g. generators utility carts).

CARB Small Engine Fact Sheet graphicEmissions are significant

Today, operating the best-selling commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving the best-selling 2016 passenger car, a Toyota Camry, about 300 miles – approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. For the best-selling commercial leaf blower, one hour of operation emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver.

The need for additional controls

CARB fact sheet graphicThe California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted emissions standards for small engines in 1990 and was the first agency in the world to control emissions from these engines. Due to the regulations put in place by ARB, small engines are 40-80% cleaner today than they were before the program began. In the early 2020s, however, total smog-forming emissions from small engines are projected to exceed those from passenger cars in the South Coast Air Basin because passenger car emissions will continue to decrease. By 2031, small engine emissions will be more than twice those from passenger cars.

ARB actions to reduce emissions

Because of California’s ongoing air quality challenges, additional emissions reductions are needed from small engines. In 2020, ARB will consider new emission standards to achieve additional reductions from small engines to help California meet its goal of reducing smog-forming pollutant emissions from mobile sources by 80 percent in 2031. Significant emission reductions will be achieved through a combination of regulatory and incentive approaches, and a major shift to zero-emission electric equipment will be needed to meet the 80 percent reduction goal.

For more information please contact the Air Resources Board’s Public Information Office at (916) 322-2990, or (800) 242-4450 toll-free (USA only).

Download the California Air Resource Board (CARB) Small Engine Fact Sheet (PDF).