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16 Jun 2022

Should you buy a cordless or petrol lawn mower?

These days, there are cordless mowers just as well suited to large lawns as petrol models. But are they the better choice? 

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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Petrol vs cordless mowers

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).

Head to our cordless and petrol mower reviews to read how each model fared on trickier grass types.

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:

Recently tested models

Stihl RMA 448 VC – £595

The Stihl RMA 448 VC is a cordless mower designed to be used with large lawns over 150 sq m. We really liked Stihl's 448 TC 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.

There’s no point in all of these neat features if the mower can’t cut grass well. Read our full Stihl RMA 448 VC review to see how it performed in our different lawn tests.

Powerbase 41cm Petrol Push 300E – £229

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.  

Could you save yourself some money by opting for this budget petrol mower? Check out our full Powerbase Petrol Push lawn mower review to see if this is a bargain worth seizing.

Powerbase 40V Cordless 46cm – £349

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. 

Attractively priced and with convenient features, the Powerbase 40V cordless lawn mower certainly seems promising. But how well did it mow the lawn? Read our full Powerbase 40V cordless lawn mower review to find out.

How Which? tests lawn mowers

Selection of lawn mower brands

We consider several different things when testing lawn mowers, but the main things we assess are: 

  • How well will it mow my grass? 
  • Will it leave grass clippings everywhere? 
  • Is the lawn mower easy to use? 
  • How close to the lawn edges will it mow? 
  • Can it tackle long grass? 
  • Should I buy it?

To read more about our testing process, check out our 'how we test lawn mowers' guide.

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.

If you’re still not sure on what lawn mower to pick, check out our buying guide for our expert tips on selecting the best lawn mower for you.

Alternatively, head to our reviews page to get detailed information about all of the models we’ve tested.