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Old 05-07-2013, 03:10 PM   #21
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1/4 acre of actual grass is 20 minutes with a cheap push mower. I've got 1/4 acre total, including house and driveway, front yard is 4 minutes, back yard is closer to 10 minutes. I would have absolutely nowhere to put a riding mower, as my 2-car garage actually houses 2 cars.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:19 PM   #22
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push reel mower is sucksauce unless you live on a golf course and mow every 3 days.

I borrow a neighbors beat down black and decker (every frigging house has one on my block, seriously, there were 5 of them on my street and my street is 7 houses).

It works well with a cord reel and aside from a lack of power when dealing with extremely long grass, it's been fine. he got it free. can't argue with that price.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:36 PM   #23
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Having used a reel mower throughout my childhood, there are a few "features" to be aware of when considering one.

- type of grass

Thick St. Augustine grass would be a no-go for most reel mowers. Thinner, weaker grass should be no issue. But there's also:

- frequency of mowing

You'll have to stay on top of it with a reel mower. Forget being able to fudge it a bit, you'd better be on schedule or you're going to be hating life and/or having to borrow a push mower to mow down the bush that the reel mower can't handle so you can try again next week.

- dampness?

Just like with a push mower, damp grass is a chore for reel mowers. Only instead of the engine bogging down and powering through, it's you supplying the added grunt.

- PT

This can be good or bad, depending on the individual. You will exert yourself more with a reel mower, and it will take longer to get the job done.

But... you can throw in your earbuds and "work out" in relative quiet compared with a push mower. You also won't have to buy gas or oil, or ever worry about it not starting, etc. Of course, these little bonuses don't really make it the convenient choice.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:53 PM   #24
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I'm beginning to think that a reel mower is out of the question. I do like to get up and mow early, and the dew on the grass might make the reel more than I want to deal with.

So in regards to the electric type, what amperage is considered "enough?" They seem to range from 12-30 amps, but obviously get far more expensive the further up the line you go.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:03 PM   #25
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I would imagine amperage in an electric lawnmower is probably like RAM for a computer: Buy as much as you can afford. Multiply amps by voltage to get watts, which is a much more useable number for your purpose of comparison. Remember, watts is the same type of measurement as horsepower. I would take a 20 Amp x 40 Volt lawnmower any day over a 25 amps x 24 volt lawnmower.

Cutting width should also be a consideration, I'm going to suggest that you don't want a 12 amp x 12 volt = 144 watt motor turning a 20" blade.

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Old 05-07-2013, 04:41 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kotomile View Post
- dampness?

Just like with a push mower, damp grass is a chore for reel mowers. Only instead of the engine bogging down and powering through, it's you supplying the added grunt.
Forget "grunt"... reel mowers require traction to get the reel spinning. If you're slipping over wet grass, you aint cuttin nothin.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:02 PM   #27
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I like my real mower. Kubota B2100. Handles a 5' bush hog with no issues even on steep, rocky slopes. Rocks, bricks, limbs, what passes for trees in W. TX . . . history!! It's fun to buy diesel too. Helps me compensate for driving a Miata.

LOL at reel mower.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:16 PM   #28
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Back in 2003 or so, I bought a house in Maineville, OH. Typical small suburban lot, average-sized front and back yards.

I also wanted something quiet and fume-free. I did a bunch of research and purchased some specific reel mower that was supposed to be extremely well-made and reliable. When I received it, it did in fact appear to be finely crafted and of high quality, but at least on the grass I had in that neck of the woods, it just didn't work for ****.

I then purchased an electric mower, and absolutely loved it. Can't recall with certainty the brand, I suspect it was a Black & Decker. (It was orange, I do remember that.) It was also corded, as battery-powered mowers weren't quite up to snuff back then. Had plenty of power to get the job done, and cable management was no problem at all. My years of working as a grip for televised football games made it obvious that, before you begin, you need to lay out the cord in a simple criss-cross pattern, arranged such that as you move away from it, you will always be pulling new cord away from the bundle without ever crossing over (It's possible that an over-under figure 8 lay might have also worked, but those do sometimes tangle unless you have a grip specifically working the coil itself.)

If you can even still find them, I'd suggest buying a corded electric. A well-built one should outlast two or three gas-powered mowers (of similar price), whereas with a battery-powered mower, you'll run into a problem five or ten years down the road (depending on the battery chemistry) where it's no longer operating up to snuff, and replacement packs have long since been discontinued.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:27 PM   #29
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black and decker lawn hog.



You can probably find a half dozen on craigslist for $50 and under.. which honestly you can haggle lower. blade chips, wobbly wheels, you name it defects that you don't even care about become negotiating points.

parts are readily available cheap.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:52 PM   #30
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Quote:
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black and decker lawn hog.
Yup, that looks like the exact one I had. Very well-built, fairly quiet (not totally silent, but the movement of the air by the blade made more noise than the motor, by far), powerful enough that it rarely got bogged down (it's not like a gas engine where you have to re-crank it after it stalls,) and very light-weight and easy to maneuver.

Funny thing is that it attracted quite a lot of attention from the neighbors, most of whom had never seen one before (these were pretty much brand new back then.) And I even made converts out of a couple of them.

When I sold the place a couple of years later, the lady who bought it was extremely insistent that "you're leaving the mower with the house, right?"
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:09 PM   #31
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A high percentage of my clients are what you would call green. One of them had a reel mower, and for kicks and giggles, I took it for a whorl.

One of the things I noticed is that it would not make a clean cut in one pass. I presume it was the fact that the reel is not geared fast enough compared to a gas powered reel. However, I was not cutting the usual fine bladed grass that reel mowers are typically designed for. I have no idea how big a difference that makes.

Either way you slice it, there is no way in hell I would be using a reel on a regular basis considering the other mowing options out there.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:29 PM   #32
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I too used one of those same B&D electrics at our old rental house around the same time period (03-04) back when we lived in the city. The thing worked surprisingly well!
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:46 PM   #33
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Pictures of mine.

Batteries.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:08 PM   #34
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(Batteries. )
Huh. Those look like standard 12v SLAs.

What sort of run time do you get out of it, and how's the performance? Given that my only basis for comparison is the one B&D I used to have (rated 12A @ 120V = 1.4kW), I'm trying to envision what appears to be 24v @ something around 30Ah (720 Wh total capacity).

On the plus side, that battery pack is very easily replaceable with any off-the-shelf SLA that's even close to physically fitting in the same sized hole.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:40 PM   #35
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Default Took the easy way out.

Well, I went to Menard's this evening to look at mowers. I tried a few reel types, and just from feeling them on nice smooth floors, I don't think that's what I'm looking for. I wound up picking up an MTD 3-way with a Briggs & Straton motor. They didn't have a very good selection of electric mowers, but I need to get the lawn mowed tomorrow before the rain comes (Wife's orders.) I'm still going to keep an eye out for a good electric one on Craigslist though.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:49 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Huh. Those look like standard 12v SLAs.

What sort of run time do you get out of it, and how's the performance? Given that my only basis for comparison is the one B&D I used to have (rated 12A @ 120V = 1.4kW), I'm trying to envision what appears to be 24v @ something around 30Ah (720 Wh total capacity).

On the plus side, that battery pack is very easily replaceable with any off-the-shelf SLA that's even close to physically fitting in the same sized hole.
It has a 30a fuse. I'm pretty sure they've been replaced. I got 2 hours out of them easily with no dieing or slowing down.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:42 PM   #37
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It has a 30a fuse. I'm pretty sure they've been replaced. I got 2 hours out of them easily with no dieing or slowing down.
Do those deep cycle well?
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:15 PM   #38
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It has a 30a fuse. I'm pretty sure they've been replaced. I got 2 hours out of them easily with no dieing or slowing down.
Interesting.

If it's fused at 30A, then it's probably running about half that in normal operation. And if those batteries are in fact 30Ah (I'm guessing based on their physical size) than that would mean 0.5C, which would be the two hour rate. (coincidence?)

This would put it at 360 watts, or about 30% as much HP as my bicycle.

That's pretty cool. I must admit that I never even tried a battery mower when I got mine, I just figured they'd be **** (again, this was 10 years ago) and went corded.



Quote:
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Do those deep cycle well?
SLA (Sealed Lead-Acid) batteries of that type, as a broad generalization, tend to be better optimized for deep-discharge application than their automotive cousins, simply as a factor of their intended application (motorized wheelchairs, emergency lighting, UPSes, etc. This is mostly a factor of the mechanical construction of the battery (plate thickness relative to surface area).

Lead-acid batteries in general are less well-suited to deep-discharge applications than nickel- and lithium-based systems, however they do enjoy the benefits of a relative graceful degradation curve and an extremely low price. It's hard to rate the lifetime of an SLA battery simply because its capacity diminishes so linearly (unlike lithium batteries, whose capacity remains fairly flat for several hundred cycles and then quickly starts to plummet.) Typically, batteries like the ones shown are rated for 200-300 full cycles. And replacing them is cheap and easy. If I've correctly guessed the size, then you can find replacement units from any battery wholesaler for around $70-90 each.

I'm not sure what kind of charger that mower came with, but this is one area in which the life of SLA batteries can be greatly effected. Within the e-bike community, some folks are still dedicated to SLA, and report achieving vastly better-than-rated lifespan by the use of fancy de-sulfating pulse chargers. But even without that, you can improve things by using a simple microprocessor-controlled charger which actually follows an "ideal" charging profile, rather than just a float-style charger (often nothing more than a transformer and a couple of diodes.) Some info on SLA charging here: Charging Information For Lead Acid Batteries
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:00 PM   #39
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Quote:
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Forget "grunt"... reel mowers require traction to get the reel spinning. If you're slipping over wet grass, you aint cuttin nothin.
This is also true.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:41 PM   #40
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I was always under the impression that reel mowers were for those 3' "lawns" between the sidewalk and curb, and that's it.


Interestingly enough, the above picture is of faux grass, apparently it's expensive to keep grass green in Southern California summers.
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