When it comes to lawn mowers, there are so many terms that manufacturers and customers use that it can sometimes be confusing as to which means what. This is my attempt to distinguish the various vernacular used. By the time you finish reading this, you should know exactly what each term means.
Electric and Gas Lawn Mowers
First of all, you have the 2 basic types of lawn mowers as defined by its power source: electric and gas. This is pretty self-explanatory. When you see product descriptions, almost all of them will have either the word “electric” or “gas” in the title. On those rare occasions where these words are not used, an easy way to tell whether a lawn mower is gas or electric is to see what other terms are used. If you see “Briggs & Stratton” in the product description, you’ll know that you’re looking at a gas mower because “Briggs & Stratton” is the popular brand name of the engine used to run gas mowers. On the other hand, if you see terms like “volt” or “cordless” in the name, then you’re dealing with an electric lawn mower.
Self-propelled vs Push mower
A push lawn mower is exactly what the name suggests: you have to manually “push” the mower. Whereas in a self-propelled lawn mower, the lawn mower has a transmission that drives itself without you having to manually push the mower. With a self-propelled lawn mower, you basically only have to steer the mower. For example, the very popular Snapper self-propelled lawn mower has variable speed adjustments that will allow the mower to move to the operator’s pace with speeds up to 4.2 miles per hour! Both gas and electric mowers come in “push” and “self-propelled” models.
What About a Reel Mower?
A reel mower is the most basic of mowers. It is powered purely by you. There’s no gas engine or battery system to help you. This is also the most environmentally-friendly option for the eco-minded. You can check out the most popular Push Reel Lawn Mower currently on the market. Oh, did I mention that this is a great workout tool?
Cordless, Battery-Operated, and Corded Lawn Mowers
The above terms all refer to electric mowers. Corded lawn mowers have to be connected to an electrical outlet using an extension cord at all times, while “cordless” ones don’t. The terms “Cordless” and “Battery-Operated” can be used interchangeably. Cordless mowers can be operated without a cord because it runs on battery. While it’s convenient to not have to deal with an extension cord, a battery adds a lot of weight. For example, the Black & Decker SCM1936 cordless lawn mower weighs 26 lbs. more than the BLACK+DECKER MM2000 corded lawn mower (see also: breakdown of features for electric lawn mowers). Finally, there are 2 kinds of battery-operated mowers: ones that have removable batteries and ones where batteries cannot be removed (you can read more about the pros and cons of removable batteries in my review of the Black & Decker SCM1936 cordless mower.