Since 2015—the year I reviewed it—I’ve been cutting our lawn using a Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Push Mower. I still love the silent and precise operation, but I’m less thrilled with the effort required these days. Our grass seems thicker than ever and I’m not getting any younger. And although I have teenagers in the house who theoretically handle lawn cutting duty, they have never clicked with the push reel mower. Probably they don’t want to click. Anyway, two issues converged at the end of spring: I began looking around at powered lawnmowers, and I was starting a construction project and needed to replace some aging batteries for my Ryobi power tools.
I ended up buying a Ryobi 18V One+ 16-inch lawnmower. It was a decent price (MSRP is $299), but that includes a pair of 4.0 Ah Ryobi One+ Lithium batteries, which usually go for around $100. A classic two birds with one stone situation.
I’ve been really happy with the Ryobi mower’s grass cutting capability. It has a 16-inch blade, which is considerably wider than the Neuton battery-powered mower I had years ago. It also has more power, slicing through (and mulching) everything, including sections of incredibly thick grass that have been the norm during a spring and early summer that have been non-stop alternating heavy rain and blazing sun.
A bag is included if you want to keep the clippings instead of mulching them. It also folds for storage and has a carrying handle. If you’re worried about kids, this mower has several safety features. There’s a key that must be inserted for it to start. And with the key in place, you have to both push an ignition button and hold down a handle-mounted lever for the mower to start up. Let go of the lever at any time and it stops.
The novelty factor ran out after the first run, but my kids are back in the lawn cutting game with this mower. It requires far less physical exertion, it’s very maneuverable, and there’s no cross-cutting of problem areas required. The bottom line is it takes them half the time to cut the grass that it used to, and they do a better job of it.
Besides whether it has the power to actually cut the grass effectively, the big question with a battery-powered mower is how long it will last before needing to be recharged. Ryobi estimates the run time with the supplied batteries for this mower at 40 minutes.
I have what is probably an average-sized lot (around 72 feet wide and 140 feet deep), with a house and deck in the middle. With the two supplied batteries—which fit under a clear plastic housing near the front of the mower—the Ryobi mower just cuts the front and back lawns. There’s typically maybe five to 10 minutes of battery left after, which means a few times it has run “dry” with a few strips of grass yet to cut. However… That’s not a concern for me because it uses the same One+ batteries as my power tools, so slapping one of those in the mower is enough to complete the job if needed. Note: although the mower has slots for two batteries, it will happily run on one (for half the duration), so you don’t need to have two spares.
Those One+ batteries have been available for years, and Ryobi makes over 125 One+ tools that are compatible. That means the batteries are easy to find, and they’re inexpensive. It was the high cost of battery replacement and difficulty of even finding one that led me to walk away from my first battery-power mower. That definitely won’t be an issue with the Ryobi mower.
Coming (Almost Full Circle)
When we first moved into this house 16 years ago, I bought a 6.75 HP gas-powered, self-propelled lawnmower. Overkill, really, although it did a nice job. Then it was the Neuton battery mower, but the battery-powered mower tech wasn’t quite ready for prime time. From there it was human-powered push reel mowers—which work well, but when that human power is hard to come by (or reluctant) they are a tougher sell.
Now I’m back to battery-power with the Ryobi 18V One+ 16-inch lawnmower. We’re only a few months into its first season but this one definitely feels like a keeper. It has noticeably more power, a wider cutting area, and far more flexible battery options than my first go at battery-powered mowers a decade ago. So I’m back in the battery lawn mowing game—and this one is good enough that I think it’s safe to say I’ll never own another gas-powered mower.
And if you use Ryobi One+ power tools—with a pair of 4.0 Ah Ryobi One+ Lithium batteries included in the box—it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Keep an eye out at Home Depot, because you may be able to pick it up with additional outdoor tools as part of a combo kit (I paid the Canadian equivalent of the $299 MSRP at Home Depot, but as part of a kit that also included a string trimmer and leaf blower).