When you’ve had it.
When gas prices hit over $4 a gallon I had had it.
You know “it.” That’s the point where your mother had told you and told you to do something, and you still didn’t do it to the point where she lost it and called you by your whole name. You scrambled to do what you were
supposed to do in the first place. “It” is the point where married men buy dinners, flowers, candy and do all the chores on the honey-do list rather than face her wrath.
I was there. My old Subaru had worn out, and I didn’t have the money to replace it, the exorbitant gas cost and the insurance costs/repair costs on top. So I became a bicycle commuter and bus rider. As I handed a $10 bill to the convenience store clerk for 2 gallons of gas and only getting a few pennies back, I had had it.
When I got home I was in a full out foul mood as I filled the gas-guzzling used lawn mower and gas drinking weed eater just to cut grass. As I worked, I decided I had to find another way to do this without being peeved off every time I had to carry gas home (it’s not light and no one gives rides to someone carrying a gas can). I made up my mind that even if I had to cut the grass with scissors, I was NOT going to buy another drop of over priced gas.
Hot, sweaty, covered in grass clippings and chugging water like it was going out of style I hit the computer. I remembered I’d seen a battery powered “cordless” lawn mower at a Black and Decker shop years before when I’d had a power drill cord replaced. Do they still have them, I wondered?
They did. Black and Decker has several models, even one that’s solar charged. On the first of June in 2008 I chose the Black & Decker CMM1200 19-Inch 24-Volt Cordless Electric Mulching Lawn Mower for $399.99 with free shipping and handling. Now its $359 and shipping is still free. That’s a good bargain. I figured with gas prices at the time it would take about 18 months to cover my investment in money saved by not buying gas.
It arrived quickly by UPS and I immediately unpacked it. The instruction manual was easy to read, and within a half hour I had it plugged in to it’s charger. I could hardly wait until the next day, when I would get to use it for the first time. I was so proud of myself. I imagined myself biting my thumb at the oil companies since I would no longer be tied to them and they could take their hands out of my wallet.
I also purchased the Black & Decker 18-Volt Cordless 12-Inch Grasshog String Trimmer/Edger #NST2018 for $98.93 and free shipping. It’s now $104.17 and still has free shipping. I have three batteries for it, and am delighted at its light weight and ease of use. I just wish the batteries held a little more power. At pennies to charge, it still beats gas prices. And there’s no “mile-long” extension cord to lug around, catch my ankle in or accidentally mow over.
The long anticipated time came. I unplugged the lawn mower, inserted and turned the key and pulled the handle. It started without a hitch. Eureka!!! I had found something that worked without pulling on a string until I was sweating and my tongue hung out before I started to mow. I cut the front yard, full of thick Augustine grass like butter. The clippings easily flow into the bag, or I can take the bag off and let the blades mulch them.
The battery lasts about an hour or approximately a third of an acre, depending on the grass length or whether the ground is smooth and level. My yard is none of those things. My grass is so thick it has worn out three 3hp mowers over the years. The 5hp models cost more and drink a lot more gas. I do get about an hour’s worth of mowing from this lawn mower, and in the Texas sunshine that is summer, an hour in the early morning is about all one can safely stand. My neighbors aren’t bothered by noise and I don’t have to wear ear plugs to hear myself think. Several neighbors have come over and given it a turn just to see the new “toy.” They’re saving for their own.
Years ago my right shoulder was broken ending an EMS/Firefighting career. Pushing a lawn mower with a straight bar sets off painful bursitis attacks. In 2006, a truck driver who wasn’t paying attention hit me on my bicycle, breaking my left hand and leaving it with nerve damage. I know how it sounds. However, the bar on the Black and Decker cordless lawn mower has been ergonomically designed. I can use it without the use of my hand brace, and my shoulder is fine all day after using it. Even though the mower is heavy, the bar was easily adjusted to my 5 foot 2 inch frame and I have never had a single problem pushing it anywhere to mow. In fact, I’d say it’s much easier to use than my old gas powered mower.
If I could change one thing about this lawn mower it would be to have the battery accessible to the user so a second could be used the same day to keep mowing. This would be a huge boon to those who mow lawns for a living. A solar charger could charge the batteries for free. I still plug my lawn mower in in the safety of my garage and it charges for pennies. A far cry from lugging home gas cans and the “pain at the pump.”
Not only am I free of high gas prices, I no longer have to play hide-and-seek to find spark plugs, the right 2 cycle engine oil, air filters, etc. No more tune ups. Yippee!
So what happens when the battery will no longer take a charge? All things do eventually wear out. The 24 volt battery on this lawn mower will take approximately 500 charges. Black and Decker already has that covered. The battery can be changed out at an authorized dealer/service center. They also have a recycling program for their batteries, 18 volt and 24 volt alike. I haven’t evaluated the cost yet since my lawn mower is less than a year old.
There are other cordless lawn mowers available on the market; most cost far more than the Black and Decker models. Some have removable batteries; others don’t. It’s nice being able to pass by the gas pumps now, and smile. Not too much, though. There are a lot of drivers out there still paying a mint to fill the tanks of their cars and lawn mowers.
Besides, it’s earth-friendly and in keeping with the “green” theme.