You might have seen lawn mowers advertised as “brushless”, and noticed that they’re often more expensive than other models.
But what does that actually mean, how is it different from a conventional mower, and what are the advantages?
Read on to find out their advantages, and how to determine if investing in a brushless lawn mower is right for you.
What is a brushless lawn mower?
Brushless lawn mowers are lawn mowers that use brushless DC motors, a more advanced technology than standard motors which increases tool lifespan, efficiency, and reliability, but comes at a higher cost. A brushless lawn mower is an investment – you’ll pay more for a tool that will last you longer and save you money in the long run.
What does “brushless” mean in a lawn mower?
The term “brushless” refers to the internal workings of the lawn mower’s motor. You might come across other kinds of power tools that have brushless models available – drills or saws, for example. Brushless motors generally have the same advantages and disadvantages regardless of the specific tool they’re being used in.
All types of motors work using the same basic principles. They contain regular permanent magnets and electromagnets. When an electric current is applied, the electromagnets become active, and one set of magnets can be moved by the other. To create a circular motion, a stationary set of magnets around the outer edge of the motor interacts with a spinning magnet on the shaft, pulling it towards a point on the outer edge and then pushing it away as it continues around the circle.
In a traditional brushed motor, the spinning shaft contains the electromagnet. The connection to the battery is made by brushes made of thin copper wire that move around with the shaft, repeatedly making contact with two stationary electrical contacts on the motor housing. In a brushless motor, the positions are reversed: the electromagnets are stationary along the outside of the motor, and the permanent magnet spins with the motor shaft. The primary benefit of this arrangement is that it eliminates the need for any electrical connection to the moving parts of the motor.
Are brushless lawn mowers better?
They won’t actually cut grass any better or worse than a standard battery mower, but brushless mowers deliver better efficiency, reliability, and longevity. Their only disadvantages are in price and ease of repair, Let’s explore the differences between further.
Also if you plan to Start a Lawn mowing business, a cordless brushless lawn mower can be a great starting point for that! Read more about How much you can make Mowing lawns and How much to Charge for mowing lawns.
Brushed vs brushless lawn mowers
Eliminating that electrical connection to the spinning motor shaft has a few benefits. Hard metal brushes spinning around in a metal motor housing create friction, heat, noise, and sparks. Friction reduces the efficiency of any moving part, especially one rotating thousands of times per minute, since it is constantly working to slow the motor shaft down. The heat produced by that friction, over prolonged use, can cause damage to the motor or the rest of the tool. The added noise of the brushes constantly scraping against the metal housing can make a tool less comfortable to work with, especially for long periods. The sparks generated by constant metal-on-metal scraping, while generally not dangerous if a motor has been designed and built properly, contribute to long-term wear on the interior of the motor.
A brushless design eliminates all of these problems. However, it introduces its own complications. Brushed motors are electrically very simple, and take advantage of their own circular motion to control the way electricity is flowing through the spinning magnet. In a brushless motor, it is the stationary magnets around the edge which need to be controlled, and this has to be done through complex electronic circuits. This means that brushless motors are more expensive to build and to repair.
What are the advantages of a brushless lawn mower?
In practice, the primary benefit of any brushless tool is increased tool lifespan. Brushless motors are often rated for five to ten times the usable life of their brushed counterparts. Although you’re unlikely to find any lawn mower described as “quiet”, the reduced noise output might make mowing your lawn a slightly more comfortable experience as well. Brushless motors are also more energy-efficient, since they don’t have a constant source of internal friction they need to expend power to overcome. That makes them better for the environment and for your energy bill, and means they’ll last a bit longer on a charge, assuming the same battery capacity. However, you will pay a price premium for these advantages.
Are brushless lawn mowers any good? How do different brands compare?
Brushless motor technology is now quite mature, and most reputable tool brands produce good quality brushless mowers with dependable and powerful motors. Brushless motors can be every bit as fast and strong as their conventional brushed counterparts, so you won’t find using your mower any more difficult. Here’s a quick rundown of the offerings from some well-known brands.
Makita’s “DLM” mower series contains several brushless offerings, from the small DLM460Z to the large DLM533Z. All have excellent reviews, and the DLM462Z is particularly popular, with its slightly higher cutting height and power compared to the 460. Compared to other companies, Makita stands out for its wide range of mower sizes, offering something for every lawn.
Ryobi makes two brushless mower models, the RY18LMX40A and RY18LMX37A. They are not as powerful as the Makita offerings, and reviewers note that cutting thick, tall grass can be a problem, but they are more than capable of handling most typical lawns. The two models are very similar, differing only in the width of the cutting area and the size of the equipped grass catcher bag. Both are compatible with Ryobi’s handy One+ lithium-ion batteries, so if you already have a Ryobi One+ tool, you’ll find the batteries and charger interchangeable.
Three of Ego’s six new electric mower offerings for 2020 are brushless, which signals the company’s faith in their brushless motor technology. All of Ego’s brushless mowers are larger and more expensive than the Ryobi models, so if you have a smaller lawn or limited storage space in your garden shed, these might not be for you. However, if you have a lot of grass to cut, Ego’s brushless mowers have lots of power and excellent reviews. Do your muscles a favour and skip the LM2024E, the only one of the line that isn’t self-propelled; the LM2024E-SP, on the other hand, is a great balance between power, battery life, and ease of use.
Toro’s offerings are similar to Ego’s – all their brushless mowers are large, high-power, high-capacity units. They use 60V batteries, almost twice the 36 volts used by Makita and Ryobi, and user reviews criticize resulting high cost and weight of the batteries for no added runtime; however, the higher voltage does mean these mowers are more powerful, so they might be what you need if your lawn tends to grow thick and fast (or you have a habit of letting it go longer than it should between mowings). The MAX SMARTSTOW 20367 is the best-reviewed of the lot.
Kobalt makes two brushless lawn mowers, the 40-volt KMP 5040 and the 80-volt KMP 6080. The 6080 has one of the longest runtimes on a single charge of any battery mower on the market, at up to 80 minutes; the 5040’s lacklustre half-hour runtime, in contrast, has been criticised by reviewers. The 6080 complements its long runtime with a wide cutting area, making it ideal for large lawns.
Greenworks makes a number of brushless mowers, including the fully automated Optimow – think a Roomba for your lawn – something to consider if your ideal experience of lawn maintenance is relaxing with a book on the patio while a robot does the work for you. If you’re not quite ready to join the robot revolution just yet, consider the GD48LM46SP, a smaller 48-volt unit users laud for its value for money, or the larger 60-volt GD60LM51SP if you have a large lawn.
What should I look for when buying a brushless lawn mower
As when making any serious investment in a new tool, look for products with positive reviews from both professional reviewers and ordinary customers. Choose a product from a reputable manufacturer, ideally one that’s been producing brushless mowers for a while and shows some confidence in the technology – a company with a line of ten brushed mowers and just one brushless unit is more likely to be experimenting with something new.
Consider your needs carefully, and choose a mower that’s a good size for both your lawn and your available storage. If you have a big lawn but not much space for storing a mower, consider one of Toro’s offerings, which are specifically designed to fold up for easy storage. Consider rated battery life as well – the difference between a 35 minute runtime and a 45 minute runtime might not sound like much, but depending on your lawn, it might make the difference between being able to complete the job on a single charge or needing to stop in the middle for a couple of hours to recharge your battery.
Cost is obviously a factor, and you’ll need to consider the cost of batteries as well. Almost all brushless motors use lithium-ion batteries, which have similar advantages to brushless motors: compared to conventional lead-acid batteries, they’re safer, longer-lasting, and more efficient, but you’ll pay more. If you already have tools with compatible batteries from the same manufacturer, the ability to use your existing batteries in a new mower might well save you over a hundred dollars.
Read More: How Much Horsepower Does a Lawn Mower Need
What are the best brushless mowers you can buy?
As is so often the case, “best” comes down to what’s best for your particular circumstances.
If you have a very large lawn and can afford to spend a bit more to make mowing it easier, nothing beats the Kobalt KMP 6080’s runtime. You’ll be able to cut up to a full acre on a single charge.
If you’re looking for something inexpensive to handle small jobs, the Ryobi RY18LMX37A is one of the best value brushless mowers around, and because Ryobi’s One+ battery ecosystem extends across every kind of tool they sell, you’re more likely to be able to save on batteries here than with other companies.
For a good balance of performance and dependability, the Greenworks GD60LM51SP is one of the highest rated mowers in our list, and comes in around the middle of the pack in terms of pricing.