The Silver 524 SP-A Premium from the German company AL-KO is robustly constructed with a powerful motor, which is also felt when you operate the mower. It effectively cuts high and coarse grass without the need to crawl forward since the motor can cope with high loads. However, petrol fumes are kept to a minimum. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, this means that the powerful motor produces a noise level that is clearly above average. The handle is padded and this gives good grip and reduces the control vibrations and also reduces the risk of doing yourself an injury. The cutting height is easily adjustable centrally and has many levels. The rear wheel drive in combination with the large rear wheels allows for good terrain-handling abilities and increases The grass catcher is a little plasticy but we really like the fact that it is included without extra cost.
Similar to other petrol lawn mowers, the Silver 524 SP-A sig performs best on uncomplicated and slightly larger lawns as it can easily be seen as being unwieldy in small gardens with a lot of turns and borders such as trees, buses and walls.
With its combination of good cutting capacity and clever design for a good price, the Viking MA 443 C is our choice for best battery lawn mower. It's also easy to store as it can be folded to a height of just 40-50 cm. Equally, the cutting height is easy to adjust. You simply push in a handle with one hand and move the lawn mower body up or down. The MA 443 C is suitable for both tall and short users, as you can also adjust the height of the handle. The actual handle is hard plastic, and the safety lever is set into the plastic, which gives a comfortable grip when you're using the lawn mower. It's easy to control, largely because it's very light. The MA 443 C also has low control vibrations and handles undulating terrain very well. The housing is high quality hard plastic and copes with both undergrowth and normal grass without being affected noticeably. The cutting width is average. But of course it is still a battery lawn mower, which implies a slightly smaller cutting width. The major advantage of a battery lawn mower is that they are effective on smaller, more winding lawns, while petrol lawn mowers, with a more generous cutting width, are better for large, open spaces.
The Viking MA 443 C is special in that it lacks the lower horizontal bar normally found on the majority of lawn mowers. We like this as it gives a better view of the immediate area around the lawn mower. So for example if you're cutting around a bush you can clearly see if you're getting close to a stone or another obstacle. You also get a better overview of the lawn mower itself. It can cope with cutting the stated 1000 m2 - even when it's relatively high and coarse grass. It can also cope with very coarse grass, and although this affects the battery life somewhat, it's still reduced less than average. So the run time is still good despite tough resistance. Overall this is a real powerhouse with both a good run time and intelligent, user-friendly solutions. This is a really great buy for anyone with a medium sized lawn with tough areas like undulating terrain and lots of obstacles. It delivers all the advantages of a battery lawn mower without compromising on performance or accessibility.
AL-KO Silver 460 BR-A Bio is a petrol lawn mower from the German-Austrian company AL-KO. The lawn mower features wheel drive that makes mowing quicker and less strenuous. However, it only has one speed. On the other hand this is balanced by the fact that the motor can also cope with higher grass without overworking and causing the motor to stall. Where the grass is very high, i.e. more than 10 cm, you should creep forward, even if the openable side discharge can reduce the resistance. Forward progress is controlled by the use of an operating bar, which unfortunately does not have a rubber handle to reduce the risk of crushing your fingers. A moderate weight combined with front wheel drive and large wheels gives the Silver 460 BR-A good terrain-handling abilities. The cutting height is easily adjustable with a lever, which saves time and protects your back.
In general, the AL-KO Classic 5.16 VS-B Plus 625 Series E is a very competent lawn mower, which feels well-designed and user-friendly. For example, the cutting height adjustment is extremely straightforward. You adjust the entire machine body with a single lever, instead of having to adjust each wheel separately. Another handy function is the stepless speed adjustment. You set the speed with a control like a small throttle lever. This means that, for example, you can reduce the speed when you're working in tricky corners and increase it for longer straights. However, the ergonomics of the lawn mower handle itself could have been better. The safety bar is not integrated, so it's not as comfortable to use as it could have been. Another ergonomic negative is the height adjustment of the handle, where both positions are too high for short users. We would also have liked not to have to unscrew the entire screw to carry out height adjustment.
The Classic 625 Series E does a good job of cutting the grass. It produces an excellent cutting result, even if you have the odd twig, fallen apple or other things lying on the lawn. The lawn mower has a 4-in-1 function, which means that you can cut traditionally with a collector, but also chop the grass small using a mulching function. If you don't insert the mulching plug there's a relatively large gap at the back. This means that it shoots out quite a lot of bits of grass and twigs on your feet as you're cutting. So we recommend that you always keep it in. When we used the collector we found it extremely easy to keep clean between uses as a result of the design and material choice. This lawn mower also gets credit for being very easy to reverse. If it hadn't been for the slightly poor ergonomics, particularly for short users, it would have had an even higher score. Overall, however, it's still a really good lawn mower.
Battery lawn mowers are hotter than ever and the Bosch Rotak 43 Li is more than any other the model that is behind their success. The cutting width is very wide for an electric lawn mower, but what impressed us the most was the powerful motor. The Rotak 43 Li is the mower that is raising the bar for what you can expect of a battery lawn mower as it eats its way through everything you could want and much more besides. In addition to damp, coarse and long grass, also mature weeds such as ground elder and dogwood. Both the sound level and weight are low and the mower is easily carried by a woman of average strength. This helps to make the Rotak 43 Li really useful at edges and under bushes and also makes wheel drive redundant. The control frame is also foldable, which makes winter storage a simple task. The Rotak 43 Li is available in different packages that include different amounts of batteries with different capacities. Fewer accompanying batteries or lower battery capacities often mean a lower price, but always lower performance. The most common package includes two batteries of 4 Ah each and a fast charger. Something that almost triples the operating time compared with only one battery. This makes the Rotak 43 Li an excellent lawn mower for small and medium-sized lawns.
However, if you have a large lawn with large open spaces a petrol lawn mower with its wider cutting width, its unlimited operating time and its often low price would probably be a better option. All in all, the Rotak 43 Li is both an affordable and formidable powerhouse and has therefore been selected as “the best electric lawnmower”.
The premium model HRX 476 VY from the Japanese company Honda is a solidly constructed workhorse with a very powerful motor. The price for this is a high machine weight that makes it relatively difficult to manoeuvre. The powerful motor also provides excellent drive and as long as the wheel drive can be used, its terrain-handling abilities is exemplary. Rear-wheel drive and adjustable speed mean that the HRX 476 copes with hilly terrain, uneven surfaces and steep inclines with ease. The comfort level is high and both the cutting height and the handle height are easy to adjust. In addition to this, the cutting unit can be turned off without turning off the motor. The fabric grass catcher is foldable, making it easier to store. However, it is a bother to clean and the air permeability could have been better. This has an adverse effect on the output, which in itself means that the mover does not cut as well when the grass catcher is detached. However, if you use the mower without the grass catcher it copes with very stern resistance, such as coarse, high and damp grass. All in all, the HRX 476 performs best on large, slightly wilder lawns where the grass grows high between mowings.
The Stiga Turbo 48 S B is a high-quality premium lawn mower with high levels of performance and functionality and an attractive modern design. The powerful motor is manufactured by Briggs & Stratton, who are to lawn mower motors what Rolls Royce are to aeroplane motors. The lawn mower happily chews through both high and coarse grass, even while self-propelling. The Turbo 48 S B also distinguishes itself through its high levels of comfort, which are expressed in many ways, both large and small. Given the motor's high performance levels, the machine weight is moderate. Together with, for example, rear wheel drive, this makes the lawn mower relatively light to manoeuvre as long as the lawn isn't too small or winding. The handle is height adjustable, and rubberised – as is the control grip – which gives you a good grip while reducing the risk of crushing. The starter cord has a useful handle that gives you a great grip when starting the machine, which perhaps contributes to the fact that the Turbo 48 S B feels easy to start. The chassis has a hole in to which you can connect a standard hose for easier cleaning of the housing.
The grass collector is of high-quality textile type, which can be folded up, and has a marker to show when it's getting full. We haven't yet managed to identify any actual shortcomings in the Turbo 48 S B, and despite it's relatively high price tag it's very good value for money. But if you don't want to pay extra for luxury there are other models that give still more lawn mower for the money.
The MTD Optima 46 SPB HW is a lively self-propelling petrol lawn mower with large rear wheels and rear wheel drive, a combination that means it moves smoothly even over an undulating lawn. It's also easy to manoeuvre around obstacles. Despite good patterns on the wheels, however, it tends to slip somewhat on medium-high, thick grass. It also has problems getting the lawn perfectly mowed on straight sections as it tends to miss a good amount of grass when this simply bends over beneath it. The lawn mower maintains a reasonable walking speed, however. Overall, the mowing result is good, particularly given how well it grinds up any fallen twigs and branches that happen to get in the way. The Optima 46 SPB HW has a 3-in-1 function which means that it comes with a collector, mulching function and side discharge. In other words, you can choose either to collect the grass cuttings, or spread them out over the lawn, either whole or ground up into tiny particles.
In terms of ergonomics and build quality, the handle for the drive function isn't great. However, we like the nozzle on the chassis that you can connect to a garden hose for cleaning the cutting head. Unfortunately this is a lawn mower that produces significant levels of vibration, and we could feel it in our wrists even after we'd only cut about 500 m2 of lawn. At one point the petrol tank cap even vibrated itself loose. On the positive side, however, the lawn mower is light and easy to manoeuvre, at least for a petrol machine. We were impressed by its strength, particularly given its neat size. It's also very easy to adjust the cutting height on the Optima 46 SPB HW thanks to the central height adjustment feature. Overall, this is a useful purchase that's good value for money for an average garden with a number of obstacles. It feels like MTD has made intelligent choices to reduce the price, as you get a lot of power and a manoeuvrable lawn mower, although with slightly underwhelming ergonomics.
The AL-KO Moweo 46.5 Li is a slightly different battery-operated lawn mower. Because of their relatively weak motor power, battery-operated lawn mowers normally have a minimal cutting width and a plastic chassis, to reduce the load on the motor. But the Moweo 46.5 Li has a normal cutting width and a sheet metal chassis. In combination with the big back wheels, this means that the lawn mower feels substantial, but also rather clumsy, particularly for a battery-operated lawn mower. This clumsiness is primarily obvious when you have to turn tightly, for example around flower beds, trees etc. This is a shame, because battery-operated lawn mowers are usually particularly good at winding, small spaces, compared to large open areas where petrol lawn mowers are often at their best. However, it's relatively easy to cut straight sections and the large back wheels make it easy to push. As long as the grass isn't particularly high, it does a perfectly good job of cutting. It chops up the grass finely and cuts 500 m2 without problems. However, if the grass is allowed to grow to around 10 cm long, the Moweo 46.5 Li struggles, and the battery runs out relatively quickly. You can see the battery status on the clear battery indicator.
The collector function is perfectly acceptable. It collects dry leaves and so on well, but if you're trying to do heavier jobs such as collecting damp leaves you have to slow down for it to work properly. A big plus when it comes to collection is that the container is made of hard plastic. This means that it's a stable form and a smooth material so it's easy to rinse clean with a pressure washer. It also has lots of holes in so it doesn't get blocked. However, one disadvantage is that you need to use both hands to remove it. From an ergonomic and practical point of view, the Moweo 46.5 Li is just barely acceptable. Partly because you have to adjust the cutting height at three separate places, which also requires quite a lot of force as the lever is very stiff, and partly because there's no easy way to adjust the height of the handle. Either the lawn mower is the right height for you or you have to move your hands to either side when you use it. The height seems to be suited for people of average height. The Moweo 46.5 Li doesn't vibrate much, and it gets credit for that. One advantage with battery-operated lawn mowers is that you avoid exhaust emissions and that there isn't usually much vibration. What primarily reduces the score for this one is that it's hard to control on more irregular lawns. So the Moweo 46.5 Li is best for those with a medium-sized and uncomplicated lawn and who rarely change the cutting height.
* This model is also available as the AL-KO Moweo 46.5 Li SP. The SP includes two sets of batteries and is self-propelling.
The Toro Recycler 55 AD has an extremely substantial cutting width, which means it can cut your lawn in less time than a normal lawn mower. It comes with mulch, collection and side discharge functions, so in other words you can collect leaves to grind up the grass as soon as it's cut. This makes it a very versatile lawn mower. Nor do you need a separate attachment for the mulching. You simply select the function using a control. It also has a safety function that means it doesn't eject stones or other hard objects towards you. However, the drive on the Toro Recycler 55 AD is a little unusual. Instead of the normal solution with a safety bar that you pull against the handle, you have to push the handle forwards to make it go. In a large open area this is very convenient. But in areas with lots of obstacles it's more of a problem. Normally you lift the lawn mower a little when you want to turn it or go around obstacles on the lawn. But if you do that with this lawn mower you end up applying more throttle, because you inevitably push the handle forwards. It's also very sluggish at going backwards. This means that complicated gardens immediately become much more difficult to mow than they would normally be. But on large open areas it's both comfortable and convenient.
The Recycler 55 AD has a function called Quickwash which you'll appreciate if you're a fan of keeping your garden machinery clean. In practice this means that you can attach a hose when it's time to clean the lawn mower. The nozzle then sprays water out underneath the machine. And this works OK, although you still need to help out with the cleaning. However, the collector isn't as easy to clean as it's made of fabric, although it does save space when not in use as it folds down flat. From underneath, the Recycler 55 AD doesn't look like a normal lawn mower. The underneath isn't fully cast; instead it's equipped with a plate between the blades and the front. Branches and other items tend to get stuck in this. At one point we damaged the plate when a branch got stuck around it, and we had to remove it and knock it back into shape. Another weakness is the cutting height setting, which requires you to adjust it using a control on each wheel. There are more user-friendly solutions available today. On the positive side, it's easy to start and delivers a really good result. It copes well with wet and tall grass, provided you reduce the speed a little. If it had been a bit more user-friendly, it would have had a considerably higher score.
Good to know about lawn mowers
Different types of lawn mower:
Cabled electric lawn mowers
Pros and cons:
+ Very low energy costs
+ Economical and inexpensive maintenance due to the electric motor
+ Relatively low noise levels
+ No exhaust fumes
+ Good for the environment and health
+ Often low weight
- Generally a less powerful motor than a petrol lawn mower
- The power lead can be seen as being a nuisance and “in the way” during mowing
- The power led restricts the distance than you can move from the power outlet
- Electric lawn mowers often have a narrower cutting width than petrol mowers
Battery (cordless) electric lawn mowers
Pros and cons:
+ Relatively low noise levels
+ Often easy to manoeuvre
+ No exhaust fumes
+ Often relatively low energy costs
+ Good for the environment and health
+ Often low weight
- Less powerful motor than on a petrol lawn mower
- Operating time is often limited
- Charging time can be long
- Often have a narrower cutting width than a petrol lawn mower
- Battery can be expensive to replace when at then end of its life
Robot lawn mowers
Pros and cons:
+ You don’t have to mow the lawn yourself
+ Very low energy costs
Robot lawn mowers
+ Generally charge themselves in the charging station when the battery starts to run low
+ The lawn is usually very well -maintained and attractive when it is mowed little and often
+ Can usually be programmed to self-start
+ Can often be programmed to remain under a roof when it rains
+ Low noise levels
- Relatively high purchase price
- Do not cope with grass that is too high
- The lawn needs to be fairly even and not slope too much
- Each mowing usually takes longer than a traditional lawn mower
- Long and frequent mowings can irritate neighbours who are sensitive to noise who are disturbed by the low-level but long-term noise
Petrol lawn mowers
The petrol lawn mower is the traditional type of lawn mower and is till the most common type of lawn mower. Even though the petrol lawn mower has essentially not changed that much since the 1960s, it is still the best choice in many situations. For example, if the lawn is large, with tall grass, a hilly terrain and there are a lot of roots and stones, the petrol lawn mower is general the preference. This is because petrol lawn mowers with their powerful internal combustion engines are still superior to electric lawn mowers as regards power, speed and durability. However, the price that is paid for this power is exhaust fumes, vibrations and noise. Petrol lawn mowers are of course the type of mower that make the most noise. Furthermore, an internal combustion engine generally requires more maintenance and an electric motor due to the large number of moving parts of an internal combustion engine.
Pros and cons:
+ Have the most powerful motors that cope with the toughest resistance
+ Can mow longer on a tank of fuel
- High level of noise
- Relatively a lot of maintenance
- Relatively expensive fuel
- Unhealthy and harmful exhaust fumes
- Greater vibration levels
- High machine weight
- Can be seen as awkward on small areas with lots of obstacles
The majority of battery lawn mowers are today powered by so-called “lithium batteries” (often termed Li-Ion or Lithium-Ion batteries), which are the same type of batteries that are used in laptops and mobile phones, for example. Lithium batteries are able to store a lot of energy compared with traditional batteries and this is why we can now operate such energy-hungry machinery such as lawn mowers using batteries. Unfortunately lithium batteries are expensive and only hold a limited number of discharges. Then the large number of cells within the battery die off one by one and the battery capacity gradually deteriorates. The lithium battery of a battery lawn mower therefore needs to be replaced after several years, which costs a good deal of money. You should also have an extra battery for optimum reliability.
If you spend several thousand on a lawn mower you also want it to be durable and to be usable for several years. A lawn mower is often subjected to considerable forces during mowing that result in major stresses. It is therefore important that it is designed in order to cope with long-term and extensive wear and tear if it is to have a sufficiently long service life. Depending on the type of lawn mower you have the maintenance requirement will vary considerably. Petrol lawn mowers generally require the most maintenance. Partly because an internal combustion engine with its large number of moving parts will break down more readily than an electric motor and partly because an internal combustion engine is able to develop greater power and with the development of greater power comes greater stresses on the equipment.
Lawn mowers must have stable and durable wheels that are easy to remove. Also it is preferable for the rear wheels to be large as this makes the mower easier to manoeuvre. Front-wheel drive is preferable to rear-wheel drive since lawn mowers with front-wheel drive are easier to manoeuvre.
The cutting width differs considerable between different lawn mowers and is generally between 30-55 cm depending on model. Less expensive lawn mowers generally have a smaller cutting width whilst more expensive ones have larger cutting widths. The greater the cutting width, the faster the lawn mower mows since its blades reach further and therefore cover a larger area. However, the greater the cutting width, the more powerful the lawn mower motor needs to be. For the more grass that it needs to mow in a single session, the more resistance there will be.
The cutting height of lawn mowers varies but is usually above a minimum height of 20 mm and below a maximum height of 80 mm. Actually for most people’s needs a minimum height of 40 mm is sufficient since a lawn should not be cut any shorter than this. This is because such a closely-cropped lawn is more sensitive to wear and drying out and is therefore not suitable for the majority of lawn owners. Restrictions on the cutting height are therefore generally not a problem for a lawn mower. The only lawns that should be cut shorter than 40 mm are so-called “ornamental lawns”, which are not to be walked on and only exist for their aesthetic value. These lawns must in contrast to normal lawns (which are in technical terms called “functional lawns”) are maintained very carefully and are watered regularly and abundantly. A very low cutting height will also cause more wear to the cutting unit and increase the risk of the blade being damaged by stones, roots, etc., especially if the lawn is not sufficiently even.
The noise level of a lawn mower is often perceived as being more or less of a problem by both the person carrying out the mowing and those in the vicinity. Besides being a nuisance, the noise from a lawn mower can be immediately harmful. The risk of hearing damage depends on how high the sound level is and on how long a person has been exposed to the noise. The Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) therefore uses the benchmark “Total daily noise exposure level” for its guidelines value. However, in general it can be said that the risk of hearing damage occurs at 85 dB(A) (decibel, A weight) for most people. Sensitivity does, however, vary from person to person, and if you are unlucky you can sustain hearing damage at a figure of 75-80 dB(A). This means that you should be wearing hearing protection when mowing the lawn. The only exception is when using robot lawn mowers since the noise that they generate lies far below the limit values of the Swedish Work Environment Authority.
The sound level differs considerably between the different types of lawn mower. Unsurprisingly petrol lawn mowers with their internal combustion engines generate the highest values with sound levels of up to 100dB(A). Electric lawn mowers with their electric motors usually generate significantly less noise with levels down to 90 dB(A). The quietest are robot lawn mowers with noise level of around 60 dB(A), not least due to the fact that they mow the lawn so often that the grass does not have time to become long. What is important to observe is that the decibel scale is logarithmic, which, for example, means that a noise level of 100 dB(A) is 10 times as intense as a noise level of 90 dB(A).
The manoeuvrability of a lawn mower determines how easy it is to control. The different types of lawn mower have fairly large differences as regards manoeuvrability. The smallest and lightest lawn mowers tend to have the best manoeuvrability, which in practice almost always means electric lawn mowers. There are also electric lawn mowers that run on grid electricity connected to a power outlet with a power cord, just like a vacuum cleaner. This unavoidably involves some bother as the power cord has to be constantly moved in order not to get in the way of the mower. Something that naturally has an adverse effect on manoeuvrability. On the other hand, petrol lawn mowers and relatively heavy and awkward, which makes them less manoeuvrable. This means that generally petrol lawn mowers are more suitable for larger lawns since manoeuvrability is less important for this type of mowing.
Mulching means that the blades of the lawn mower cut the blade of grass several times at different levels so that it becomes very short and therefore easier to decompose. Mulching often makes the collection of grass after mowing superfluous. It also returns water and nutrients from the cut grass to the lawn. Remember that when employing the mulching technique that no more than approx. 30 % of the length of the blade of grass should be cut. In addition, the grass should not be too long as the lawn mower will have difficulty in grinding down all of the grass.
A side discharge (also called a “side exhaust”) means that the lawn mower has an exhaust on the side where the cut grass can be discharged. A side discharge is of principal use when the grass is very high and the lawn mower does not manage to grind down the grass, so-called “mulching”.
A lawn mower with its sharp blades and powerful motor would pose a real threat to life it had not been safely designed. Luckily, modern lawn mowers are safe, sometimes even so safe that overactive safety features can cause irritation. All of the lawn mowers in our test satisfy the European standard for mechanical safety.
Perhaps the most important safety feature is the so-called “dead man’s handle”, which means that a control on the handle is held in during the whole of the mowing process. When the handle is released the control is also released and the lawn mower stops automatically. The equivalent to this found on the robot lawn mower is a safety feature that turns the robot lawn mower off automatically should anybody lift it.
You of course have a reliable lawn mower that always delivers and never goes wrong. At the same time a lawn mower is subject to very strong forces and is often pushed to the very limit of what it can deal with. It is therefore not strange that it is relatively common for the motor to stall during mowing. However, the bar will have been set high for a good lawn mower and if the instructions for its use are followed it should be reliable. A lawn mower should also be easy to start and anybody who has had experience of a traditional petrol lawn mower will certainly remember how irritating this can be. In order to reduce the risk of this many petrol lawn mowers today have an electronic start function.
A grass catcher is a container that is fitted to the lawn mower in order to collect the cut grass. The grass catcher is then removed and then emptied into a compost heap where it produces excellent humus.
A spacious grass catcher of course has the advantage of not needing to be emptied as often. A practical feature is a window t the top of the grass catcher or a light indicator so that you know when it is almost time to empty it.
Vibrating equipment and tools such as lawn mowers can cause injuries to the hands and arms, which is due to the nerves in the hands and arms being damaged by the vibrations. The risk of injury depends on how strong the vibrations are and how long a person is exposed to the vibrations. There are a number of symptoms, but it is usually tingling, pins and needles and impaired or loss of feeling in the fingers, hands and/or arms. The damage is most often temporary for those who only expose themselves to vibrations sporadically, for example, when mowing the lawn for a few hours a week. However, some people are more sensitive than others and if unlucky even moderate vibrations for relatively short periods of time can give rise to permanent damage. Because of this, it is of course desirable for the vibrations caused by lawn mowers to be as weak as possible. The vibrations from a lawn mower are usually measured at the control handles are stated in m/s². In order to ascertain when damage can arise, the Swedish Work Environment Authority has specified limit values depending on how long you should be exposed to vibrations, depending on the strength of the vibrations. For the lowest risk class, these are 8 hours at vibrations of 2.0 m/s², 5 hours at 2.5 m/s² and 1 hour at 5.0 m/s². Generally, petrol lawn mowers with their powerful internal combustion engines vibrate the most while electric lawn mowers vibrate less. A robot lawn mower is of course the best choice for anybody who wishes to avoid vibrations.