Lawn mowers are a lot like lawns: they come in all shapes and sizes.
While a few years ago it was accepted that large lawns required a petrol mower and electric mowers were for smaller lawns, this is no longer the case. Cordless-mower tech has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade, and now many battery-operated models rival their petrol-guzzling peers for power and convenience.
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There are pros and cons to each mower type. Despite technological advancements in the mowing world, petrol mowers are still generally more powerful than cordless ones. If you’re regularly dealing with a large lawn with long stubborn grass, your options are narrowed down to either a petrol model, or a high-end cordless one (usually at a high-end price).
All that power comes at a cost: petrol mowers are heavy. Finding a model that’s less than 30kg is pretty rare. You may need two people to carry a petrol mower out of the shed and you may find manoeuvring it difficult, especially if it doesn’t have a self-propelled drive.
On the other hand, most cordless mowers weigh less than 15kg. Their light weight makes them easy to move around your lawn and makes them much easier to handle when mowing on a slope.
Petrol mowers are also loud. We’ve measured some at decibel levels comparable to the noise of a passing train. Cordless mowers are much quieter and make a less abrasive noise.
In terms of accessories and abilities, there isn't much difference between petrol and cordless mowers. Regardless of which you choose, you should still be able to find a model with a mulching feature or a roller to create a neatly striped lawn. There’s a range of cutting widths across both categories too, suitable for any size lawn.
Finally, cordless mowers are much better from an environmental standpoint. As they're powered by electricity, they don’t give off any polluting fumes when you use them. However, you should check whether the battery that will be easily replaceable. If it's not, having to replace your entire mower when the battery fails may not prove to be the most environmentally friendly option.
Ultimately, you need to pick a lawn mower that’s right for you and right for your lawn, whether that’s a petrol or cordless model. Thankfully, you’re in the right place. We’ve reviewed hundreds of lawn mowers over the years, with our rigorous testing really separating the wheat from the chaff. Here are a few of the models we’ve recently taken a look at:
The Stihl RMA 448 VC is a cordless mower designed to be used with large lawns over 150 sq m. We really liked when we reviewed it in 2019, which is a similar model but petrol powered. This cordless version has the same self-propelled drive, but unlike the petrol model the 448 VC’s speed is adjustable via a lever on the handlebar, which is really handy when navigating any slopes or uneven ground.
There are some clever design choices in this model too – for example, the handles are only attached to the right-hand side of the deck, leaving the grass box easy to access from the left-hand side. The battery compartment has a section that can be used to store a spare battery, so you can easily swap over when the other one runs out of charge.
Homebase’s own Powerbase Petrol Push lawn mower is appealingly priced at £229, which makes it one of the cheapest petrol mowers we’ve reviewed capable of tackling large lawns.
The low price comes at some cost though, as it lacks a lot of the features that higher-priced models have. There’s no self-propulsion in this mower, which might pose a problem if you’re having to push it around a steep lawn. It is light for a petrol mower though, at only 21kg, which might make this less of a problem than it would be otherwise.
Another Powerbase model, but this one’s cordless. Unlike the petrol model, which is fairly light on features, this cordless mower comes with some that would generally be found on much more expensive models. It’s self-propelled and has a mulching feature, as well as seven cutting height settings. It's well suited to larger lawns.
It is pretty weighty for a cordless mower at 27.3kg.
We consider several different things when testing lawn mowers, but the main things we assess are:
In order to be considered a Which? Best Buy, petrol mowers must earn at least 75% and cordless models must earn at least 73%. Anything that scores less than 45% is highlighted as a Don't Buy.