Should I get a petrol or battery lawn mower?

Clara V.
Clara V.Published on 13 Oct 2021

Petrol lawn mowers have long been a staple in Aussie garden sheds thanks to their high power output and their tried and true ability to just get the job done.

However, in recent years, battery lawn mowers have advanced in technology and are starting to be seen as more practical alternatives to their petrol-powered counterparts.

We go through these two types of push mowers so you can figure out which is better for your garden, just in time for the warmer months.

A close up of a petrol lawn mower.

How do I choose between a petrol and battery mower?

Some people swear by their powerful petrol mower, while others prefer the greener and quieter battery mowers. It’s difficult to determine which is better suited to you right off the bat, as there are pros and cons to both.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the metrics that can help you easily compare different mowers below.

Power

Petrol mowers are preferred by professionals and those with large lawns for their extra power, but not all of us need this kind of power - particularly if we have smaller patches of grass to mow.

Still, if you don’t regularly cut your lawn and only mow it after it’s thick and as high as your knees, then a petrol-powered mower may be better suited for your needs.

Battery mowers typically have a run time of 60 to 90 minutes before you have to charge or swap out the battery, and don’t quite match a petrol mower’s ability to cut through long, dense grass. This makes them better suited to those with small or medium-sized yards.

Accessibility

A petrol mower has the benefit of being ready to go as long as you have fuel handy, while a cordless mower can take up to 2 hours to charge depending on what kind of battery it takes.

You can buy a backup battery if you want to power through your whole lawn in one go, but these can be pretty pricey to purchase.

Sometimes the same battery can be used in multiple power tools from the same manufacturer, letting you take advantage of a whipper snipper or leaf blower that may be gathering dust in your garage.

Ease of use

Petrol mowers require you to pull the starter cord quickly and firmly, and you may have to do this a few times to get the motor going.

This may seem overwhelming for first-time users, but a little practice and elbow grease can get you starting up your lawn mower quickly and easily in no time.

However, those with strength and dexterity limitations may find that this type of mower isn’t practical for them, and opt for battery mowers which have a quick-start motor that lets users get it up and running at the push of a button.

When considering how easy a lawn mower is to use, you should also consider its weight. Battery mowers are typically lighter than petrol mowers due to having less components, but weight can still vary a lot across models.

If you want to test out the manoeuvrability of a lawn mower, try out different models in store, taking into consideration that they’ll be heavier when filled with fuel and can be more fiddlesome when being pushed uphill.

For an even smoother mowing experience, look for a self-propelled mower, such as this HRU216M2 petrol Honda self-propelled lawn mower or this Victa push mower.

Maintenance

A cordless mower wins in this department, needing little to no maintenance aside from wiping down the deck, ensuring that the cutting blade is sharp, and safely storing the battery during the colder months.

Petrol mowers, on the other hand, also require you to change the oil and clean the oil filter. While they still aren’t necessarily difficult to maintain, you do have to take care of them more regularly to ensure they work as they should.

A power tool salesman showing a customer the features of a lawn mower.

Environmental friendliness

A battery-operated lawn mower is definitely a more eco-friendly choice when compared to the fumes and emissions that a petrol mower produces. These fumes will likely have an unpleasant smell too, so they’re not too friendly on sensitive noses.

Noise level

If you’re concerned about noise pollution (maybe you’ve got an irritable neighbour or a baby who’s a light sleeper in your home), then how loud your mower is will likely be a big consideration.

Petrol lawn mowers are generally noisier, but this can vary depending on the model. Some manufacturers will list the level of noise their mowers make in decibels, making it easy to compare the sound across models.

Storage

Cordless lawn mowers are more likely to be able to be folded for easy storage, but check before you buy as this isn’t necessarily a standard feature. Although they’re few and far between, you can also find some petrol mowers that can be stored vertically.

Price

Petrol mowers are the pricier of the two, but you really do get more power the more you pay. You’ll likely need to fork out something between $200 and $2500 for a petrol model, while a battery-powered lawn mower will set you back anywhere between $150 and $1900.

If these wide price ranges weren’t enough of a headache, you’ll have to consider the ongoing costs of a petrol mower too, as you’ll need to buy fuel and oil to get it working.

The bottom line

The decision between a petrol or battery lawn mower often boils down to the size of your lawn and how unruly it usually is when you mow it.

The main advantage a petrol mower has over a battery mower is the level of power they have; with longer run times and larger cutting widths, you can blitz through your lawn by cutting more grass with a single pass.

With that being said, the size of the average Aussie suburban lawn doesn’t often call for this extra power, so have a think about the needs of your lawn before you even start to shop around.

Still unsure?

If you’re still umming and ahing over which lawn mower to buy, then reading reviews of different lawn mowers may help you get an idea of which mowers worked for people with different lawns.

You can also read our Push Mower Buying Guide for more information on what to consider when buying a lawn mower.