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The Best Hybrid Mowers for Green Gardeners: Electric Reel Mowers

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By Jeffrey

Want to green your lawn care process, but feel like the cons outweigh the pros of both electric rotary push mowers and reel mowers?

Ivy at Shakyard and another reader named Indie both feel this way. In fact, Indie brought up a great question about it on a post I wrote about reel mowers.

She says,

“We bought a reel mower recently and it won’t cut some of the weeds. Since our “lawn” is almost entirely weeds, this is a problem. Any ideas? We plan to reseed the lawn, probably in the Fall, but in the meantime our lawn looks cruddy.”

Have you ever heard that complaint? Or, even worse, found yourself in the same boat?

An electric reel mower may be the answer to your green lawn care prayers.

If you’re considering a reel mower, what you should know is that many reel mowers are not rated to cut tall weeds or thicker varieties of common grasses — like Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda.

Where regular reel mowers fail is where the electric reel mower powers through.

No, literally.

It seems to me that there are only 2 real options when it comes to buying an electric reel mower:

Brill Razorcut Accu 38

razorcut-accu-.jpgAt first glance, the Brill Accu 38 electric push reel mower seems like it would be the way to go.

Here are the specs:

  • 24V cordless electric motor
  • Multipurpose 24-volt NiCad PowerAccu battery
  • Mows up to 2,500 sq. ft. on a full charge (30 minutes), battery gives approximately 500 charging cycles
  • Weighs 29 pounds (no need for self-propulsion with the light weight of this cordless electric lawn mower, as it is lighter than even most unpowered reel mowers!)
  • Flame hardened non-contact blade system outlasts any other reel push mower and rarely needs sharpening
  • Sealed, maintenance free ball bearings
  • Cordless electric mower operates as standard manual push mower as well

Did you catch that last one?

Yeah, if your battery dies, this mower is the only electric reel mower that can be used equally well as a regular push mower once the battery juice is used up.

David Temple from People Powered Machines told me via email that the Brill Accu 38 is not recommended for Bermuda grass — but Zoysia and St. Augustine should be fine when it’s being used as a POWERED reel mower.

Here’s a video review of the Brill Razorcut Accu 38:

Sunlawn EM-2

The Sunlawn EM-2 electric push reel mower

Even though the Brill Razorcut Accu 38 seems to be a smidge better of a choice, it doesn’t appear to be by much.

Here’s what the EM-2’s specs look like:

  • Weight: 35.2 pounds
  • Cutting width: 16 inches
  • Cutting height: .4 to 2.25 inches, easily adjustable
  • Contact-free blade design for exceptional ease of pushing
  • Precision ground, flame hardened, bearing mounted blades
  • Expected reel mower blade life without sharpening: 7 to 10 years
  • Uses two 12V 7Ah SLA batteries, which are commonly available (approximately 300 charges and will power the mower for 75 minutes each)
  • It takes 6 hours to fully recharge

Wired Magazine reviewed the EM-2 electric push reel mower against 3 other electric push mowers and found it to be the best of all 4. Even though it officially cuts up to 2.25 inches high, their review said it plowed down 4 inches!

It’s also really important to note that the Sunlawn EM-2 is the ONLY electric reel mower I’ve found that is rated to cut the hardy (and annoying) Bermuda grass.

So Which One Is The Best Electric Reel Mower?

The Sunlawn EM-2 has 7 blades, the Brill Razorcut Accu has 5.

The EM-2 can only be used as a powered reel mower, the Razorcut Accu can be used as either powered or manual.

The EM-2 is alleged to have a choking problem — although it’s probably being caused by walking too fast, mowing grass that’s too tall, or mowing at too low of a height.

Here is the video:

If you’ve tried a reel mower without much success, would you consider trying an electric powered reel mower?

If you’re considering a reel mower for the first time, do you think it’s worth spending a little extra to have the comfort of the extra power from the electric motor?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts…