Buying a gas lawn mower for your yard can be an overwhelming task, and there's no shortage of models available to choose between. Chances are that you need to make a decision fast . . . before your grass grows! Finding the best gas lawn mower for you doesn't need to be complicated, especially if you know what you want and how to compare models.
This article will help you find the best gas lawn mower that fits your yard's needs. We'll cover the benefits of why gas lawn mowers are typically your best choice, and factors you should consider when making your buying decision. We'll even show you our top three favorites!
Benefits of a Gas Lawn Mower
There are four main types of lawn mowers: Gas, corded electric, battery powered, and riding lawn mowers. Each has it's benefits and drawbacks, but gas lawn mowers are a popular choice for many homeowners and offer a number of important benefits.
Longer Service Life
A gas lawn mower can have a longer service life if regular maintenance is completed. The key difference between gas powered lawn mowers and electric types is the fact that gas models use a small capacity engine, similar to what you'd find in a gas generator or even a chainsaw.
The internal combustion engine can be reliable, robust, and even last a lifetime, just as long as it gets the right care and maintenance.
Overall, a gas mower does require more maintenance and parts than an electric mower, but the maintenance steps aren't too difficult. The average homeowner would simply need to replace the gas and oil, change or clean a filter, and replace the spark plug every year or two. Or, you could always take your mower in for an annual tune-up service and have a professional do it for you.
Gas lawn mowers have plenty of power. Whether the grass is long or wet, a gas lawn mower can easily get the job done, and the high-torque motor can run for hours.
Most gas-powered lawn mowers have 1-gallon fuel tanks, which should be adequate for a good-sized lawn, but larger mowers have larger tanks that can hold up to 2-gallons.
A typical gas mower is more powerful than its electric equivalent, and it can run at maximum power without putting excess strain on the motor.
Although electric motors can provide exceptional amounts of torque, a lawn mower requires more power at high RPM. With a gas mower, you're less likely to cause damage from running the mower at maximum power. In addition, any intensive clearing work is always better suited to gas lawn mowers.
Not Limited by a Cord or Battery
A corded electric lawn mower is limited to the length of the extension cord, which is typically no further than 150-feet from the outlet. The cord can be cumbersome and could even become a tripping obstacle, or worse, a hazard as you may accidentally run over it when you're mowing.
Battery powered lawn mowers allow you to use an electric mower without the concerns of running an extension cord, however, they're still not as portable as a gas lawn mower. Once your battery pack is out-of-juice, there will be a long charge time before you can finish you're mowing. Even if you purchase multiple battery packs, it can be expensive and inconvenient for a large property.
Since gas lawn mowers aren't tethered by a power cord, they can go virtually anywhere, and because they maintain a constant level of power throughout their gas supply, you'll always have the same amount of power.
For professionals and homeowners with large lawns, a gas mower is more convenient and practical. A quick refill of gas and the mower is back up and running with very little downtime. While electric lawn mowers can be compelling for smaller properties and light domestic use, any heavy work on longer grass or a larger property will alway be easier with a gas mower.
Even though a gas lawn mower is an excellent choice, they do have their weaknesses:
Heavy - Gas mowers almost always outweigh electric mowers. Their engine block is made of iron or aluminum, the chassis is made from steel or iron, and the body is usually made from some type of metal alloy. Each component adds more weight.
Manufacturers have designed self-propelled mowers, and other features to help overcome the added heft. Which allows you to benefit from a more robust mower, without needing to take a break from exhaustion every few minutes.
Loud - Since gas mowers use combustion engines, they are definitely louder than electric mowers. Your neighbor will know when you're mowing your lawn, and it's a good idea to wear ear protection to protect your hearing.
Maintenance - A gas-powered lawn mower may have a longer service life, but it'll also require more maintenance. Regular engine maintenance is a must to keep your mower running at it's best.
Pull Cords - Many gas mowers use a pull cord to fire-up the motor. In some cases, this can make them difficult to start.
Environmentally Unfriendly - The EPA estimates that gas lawn mower emissions make up as much as 5% of the US air pollution. In fact, operating a gas mower for an hour generates the same amount of VOC's (volatile organic compounds) as driving a car 350 miles!
There are two types of gas lawn mowers available: Manual push lawn mowers and self-propelled lawn mowers.
Manual Push Lawn Mowers
With a manual push lawn mower the user provides the power. The motor won't propel the mower forward so you'll definitely be doing the work. But they'll give you plenty of power and efficiency at a budget-friendly price. Here are a few things you should consider:
- If you have a flat yard a push mower could be a good option. But if your yard is on an incline then you may want to think about purchasing a self-propelled lawn mower.
- The size of your yard. If your yard isn't too big you should be fine with a push lawn mower.
- Your physical condition should also be a consideration. You'll be providing the horsepower, so if you're out-of-shape or small in size, operating a manual push lawn mower may give you a bigger workout than you'd like.
- Manual push mowers are less expensive, so if you're on a budget you can still buy an excellent mower at a decent price. You'll just need to provide a little more effort when mowing your lawn.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers
Self-propelled lawn mowers are easy to operate, work well on all types of terrain, and can easily maneuver around obstacles in your yard. In addition, you'll be able to get your lawn mowed faster and with less effort. You won't need to push the mower, you'll simply be able to walk behind and guide it around the yard.
They're available in both single speed and variable speed models:
Single Speed - These mowers use a mid-range speed that works for most individuals and cutting conditions.
Variable Speed - These models are designed to allow the operator more choices. You'll be able to set it to your preferred walking pace and adjust it up and down for specific cutting conditions.
How Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers Work
When the speed control lever is engaged, the mower moves forward without assistance from the operator. Depending on the model and manufacturer, the speed control lever could be an attachment to the handle or a separate lever.
You can find self-propelled mowers in a variety of drive options. Selecting the right option for you depends on your yard and your budget. Here are the three options:
Front Wheel Drive - These models are excellent for flat lawns, and are easy to operate. The operator can simply lift the front wheels off the ground (by tipping the mower backwards) to turn and maneuver the mower.
Rear Wheel Drive - Rear wheel drive mowers are a good choice if you have slopes or hills in your yard. They provide better traction when mowing in a back-and-forth pattern which is the safest method to cut grass on hills (instead of going up-and-down the hill). Also, if you typically use a rear bag to collect your grass clippings, a rear wheel drive mower tends to be more effective. This is because the weight of the bag can lift the front end of the mower as the clipping bag fills.
All Wheel Drive - These mowers offer added traction and better balance which makes them excellent for any type of mowing. Hills, slopes, and wet grass, are all easily handled with an all wheel drive mower. However, maneuverability can be more challenging since you'll need to manually disengage the drive or change speed to turn the mower. In addition, they are more expensive and frequently require more maintenance. Some all wheel drive mowers are designed with the option to use front and/or rear wheel drive, which gives the operator plenty of options.
Gas lawn mowers have more power than electric or battery powered lawn mowers. More power means they're able handle a wider cutting swath.
The wider the cutting swath, the fewer passes you'll need to make when you're mowing your lawn. This is important because it'll not only save you time and energy, but you'll also use less gas so you'll save money.
But it might surprise you that you shouldn't just buy the mower with the largest cutting swath. Mowers with large cutting swaths require a bigger engine, so they're heavier and require more effort and strength to operate.
Finding the right balance between the cutting swath and the amount of effort you'll need to exert is a decision only you can make.
The majority of gas lawn mowers have a cutting swath of 20-inches or more. As a general rule, a cutting swath between 20 to 24-inches is typically a good choice for most home owners.
Cleaning the blades and the inside of the deck after every use increases the service life of your lawn mower. Wash-out ports make this job easier to do. Simply attach a garden hose to the wash-out port and turn on the water, the grass clippings from the inside of the deck and blades will be rinsed away and you'll stay clean and dry.
Wash-out ports are extremely helpful and we highly recommend buying a lawn mower with this feature.
Selecting the Right Engine
A gas lawn mower's engine is the heart of the mower, and selecting the right one is a critical decision. Walk-mower engines range between 140cc to 200cc. The larger the engine the better the mower will cut through tall and wet grass, but it'll also be heavier and more expensive.
Walk-mower engines come in several different styles. The traditional side-valve engine has the valve on the side of the engine block. These are the most basic and least expensive engines available. Overhead valves and overhead cams are designed with the valves and cam in the cylinder head in the same way a car engine is designed.
There is also direct overhead valve which provides better fuel consumption, lower emissions, quieter operations, and less vibration. Although, they are more expensive.
How your lawn mower controls it's drive system affects how easily you'll be able to maneuver the mower around corners and obstacles, as well as your comfort.
Gas lawn mowers have four ways to control their drive system:
Bail - A bail is simply a metal rod that is squeezed against the lawn mower's handle. Bail drive control systems are best suited for mowing areas without many obstacles.
Lever - Press the lever with your thumb. If you need to do a lot of back and forth maneuvering in order to mow around obstacles, then either the lever or handle lever are good choices since they'll stop the mower's drive system.
Handle Lever - Similar to a hand brake on the handle bars of a bike, a handle lever is squeezed against the lawn mowers handle.
Telescoping Handle - Increase the speed by pushing the telescoping handle forward, decrease speed by releasing the pressure.
Handling Grass Clippings
Each lawn mower has a system for handling grass clippings. How a mower manages the grass clippings is often overlooked and it's a critical part of mowing your lawn.
Many lower-end models only offer one way to discharge the grass clippings. In these models, the clippings are discharged through the side of the mower and left on the cut lawn. If this method works for you, they're a good choice, especially since they're typically less expensive than other models.
The majority of mowers are designed with two methods of handling grass clippings. The clippings can be discharged through the side of the mower or bagged on the rear of the mower. Bagged clippings not only leave your freshly mowed grass looking fantastic, but it also allows you to dispose of them where ever you choose without a lot of extra effort.
Higher-end lawn mowers offer a mulching option which mulches the clippings and returns them to the lawn to provide nutrients for the grass and soil. These mowers are frequently called 3-n-1 mowers.
There's plenty to consider when buying a gas lawn mower, but fortunately there are quite a few excellent manufacturers building solid, well-performing mowers. Here's our 3 top choices to help you find the best gas lawn mower for your individual needs:
The Honda HRX217HZA is a self-propelled, rear wheel drive gas lawn mower. It's powerful 200cc engine drives the twin 21-inch blades. And with seven blade height settings to choose between, you can cut your grass been 3/4-inch to 4-inches high.
The 4-in-1 Versamow System allows you the option to not only discharge, bag or mulch your grass clippings, but also to shred your leafs! The HRX217HZA has two other excellent features that sets it above the rest. The Hydrostatic Cruise Control, allows the operator precise control of the mower's speed; and Roto Stop, which stops the blade rotation without killing the engine.
The Honda HRX217HZA has everything you'd ever want in a lawn mower. Honda has long been known for manufacturing some of the best mowers on the market, and this one is no exception. This may be the best gas lawn mower on the market today, and with the proper care it'll last you a very long time.
Troy-Bilt TB490 XP
The Troy-Bilt TB490 XP is a four wheel drive, self-propelled gas lawn mower. It comes with a powerful 190cc Honda GCV series engine that is equipped with an Automatic Choke System (ACS) which will prevent the engine from flooding. The steel 21-inch deck can cut grass at a height between 1.25 to 3.75-inches with six deck positions.
Built with variable speed control and an all wheel drive transmission, the TB490 XP is ready for any terrain. The 11-inch rear and 8-inch front wheels are designed for the most challenging yards, and the all-wheel drive transmission allows for easy adjustments between front, rear and all-wheel drive. Whatever traction you need, this mower is more than capable of delivering.
The TB490 XP has a 3-in-1 deck so you can choose to use either the side discharge, bagging, or mulching method to deal with your grass clippings. The 1.9-bushel grass catcher bag is included.
The Troy-Bilt TB490 XP is our favorite mower on the list. It's built to last, can be operated in 2-wheel front drive, rear drive, or 4-wheel drive, and it's priced at a point that's reachable if you're looking for a high-performing mower that'll last for years. It's easy to operate and is simply one of the best lawn mowers on the market today. If you're willing to make the financial investment, we don't think you'll be disappointed!
The PowerSmart DB2322S is a self-propelled, rear wheel drive gas lawn mower. The 196cc engine has plenty of power to tackle the most challenging lawns. It's compact size and easy maneuverability makes it ideal for smaller yards.
The DB2322S has a durable, deep dome steel deck, a single blade, and cuts a 22-inch swath. There are five height position options ranging from 1.2-inches to 3.5-inches. Uneven and rough lawns are no problem with the 11-1/2 inch rear wheels. This 3-in-1 mower comes equipped to mulch your grass clippings and includes the attachable bag if you prefer to remove your clippings.
The PowerSmart DB2322S has a lot of great things going for it, and it provides good value for the money. Still, it has some concerns, especially with the self-propelled mode. But since the mower was released in 2019 it's still relatively new and hopefully the manufacturer will address the issue. If you're looking for a budget friendly mower that performs well in small yards, the DB2322S is a good choice.
Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API