Solar Charged Lawn Mower – Part 5 – Time For The Test Drive

In Part 1 and Part 2 of our series on the new electric battery powered solar charged lawn mower from Linamar Consumer Products, we have reviewed the reasons from an environmental, cost, usage perspective why such a lawn mower makes sense.

We examined in Part 3 and Part 4 the many features of the lawn mower, including the brushless motor, as well as the assembly of the solar charging station. Today we are ready to review our test run of the lawn mower on our own lawn.

utopia solar charged mower without batteries installed Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 Remember, this solar charged lawn mower is sold under the Epic, Solaris and Utopia brand names at currently 3 different national retail chains in North America.

Now, once the batteries were fully charged we removed them from the solar charging station and placed them onto the battery station on the mower.

epic solar charged mower wtih batteries placed in battery station 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 The was followed by loading or placing them at the 90 degree angle into the power receptacle followed by locking them into position by moving the handle of each battery so it was also at a 90 degree angle.

Now, just as the instructions indicated I first pulled the thin black handle bar on the inside of the main handle towards me. This provides the power from the battery station to the motor. But, the motor is not on yet.

epic solar charged mower with batteries locked 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 Sure enough, just like the the sales person told me, within about 10 seconds I started to hear the sharp ‘beeps’ coming from the mower. You see, the batteries are to either be in the solar charging station, optional plug in charging station or in the battery station in the mower. So, every 10 seconds or so if the mower is not ‘on’ and the batteries are in the mower’s battery station, 7 sharp ‘beeps’ will occur to remind you that they are still in the mower. I really like this. I can be forgetful from time to time. icon smile Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

This being the first time using the mower, I then proceeded to use the buttons on the inside of the main handle to position the handle in the most comfortable position for me. This was very easy. What a great idea, an ergonomically designed handle for the lawn mower. And one that my wife and daughter can easily adjust when they use the mower too!

To ‘start’ the mower I simply pushed down the Start button and released. Yes! It started the first time! Of course, I tried this several times just to see and yes, it started every time.

Next, I pushed the thin silver drive handle bar on the outside towards the main handle to engage the self propelled rear wheels and off we go! I was expecting it to be a bit of a chore to hold the handle, the thin silver drive handle bar and the thin black handle bar all at the same time. However, I was again pleasantly surprised how easy it was. And, when I came to the end of the property I simply released the thin silver handle bar and the mower stopped moving forward immediately. Very nice.

solaris solar mower 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 The self propelled feature really took much of the effort out of mowing the lawn. We had never had a self propelled mower previously and the difference was significant. Once I finished the front lawn I would usually be huffing and puffing and sweating (OK, OK….I am not in the same physical shape I was during my high school football playing days, OK? icon smile Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive ) but not with this lawn mower. The self propelled feature is very nice. It does not propel the mower too slow or two fast but at a very comfortable speed.

What about the grass? Well, here are some pictures for you to see for your self. It cut very nicely and I never had to re-mow any portions.

utopia solar charged mower front view 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 

When I was finished, I simply removed the batteries from the battery station on the mower and placed them back into the solar charging station.

solaris solar charged mower side view 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 5   Time For The Test Drive

 What about noise? Well, no question it is much quieter than any gas powered mower. I find the brushless motor on this mower also quieter compared to other electric mowers I have used or used by my neighbours . With our prior electric lawn mower I would have to turn it off in order to hear my wife or neighbour say something to me. I don’t think I will have to do this with this lawn mower to hear them or for them to hear me.

Lastly, the vibration was much less than our previous lawn mower, likely  a result again of the brushless motor which also caused less noise.

None of this was as complicated as I thought. Why didn’t I purchase one sooner? Well, because this is the first year they are available!

We will continue to write more articles about our new solar charged electric lawn mower in the coming weeks.

To continue with the next article in this series on how the new solar charged lawn mower performed in long and thick spring time grass, simply select this link to Part 6.

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Comments

  1. henry says:

    Thanks so much for doing this multi-stage review. We got one too, the 21″ but without the solar panel. I’m dying to try it out. And because it’s so new, you don’t see too many reviews. Did you have any decrease in power toward the end of your mow? Were you able to do both front and back lawns on the same battery power? How big is your lawn?

  2. sean says:

    I have been looking at the 21″ version for the past week but i’m very hesitant to buy it because I used to work at a large retail department store that sold battery operated lawn mowers and they were nothing short of garbage they never worked. But this one seems to be better quality than previous generations of cordless mowers. But before I put down several hundred on this mower I would really like to know how much yard I can cut on a single charge. And at the moment like Henry said in the previous post there aren’t any reviews so I don’t know how well it works.

    anyone out there buy it yet please post your results!!!

  3. bbb says:

    Did the lawn mower come with the solar charger or did it need to be purchased seperately??

  4. henry says:

    Well, I finally had a chance to cut the grass with the 21″. Here are my impressions. My cutting time was about 50 minutes to do both front and back lawns, about 4000 sf. There was no noticeable loss in power. I did hear it slow down a bit when getting to a thick patch, but this was not unlike my old gas mower. I found the self-propelled gear to be too fast for mulching, so it tends to throw clippings out before they could get mulched. So I found myself taking in and out of drive constantly. But it did speed up the time it took to cut both lawns. Overall I was quite impressed with this machine. No more yanking cords, no more inhaling exhaust, no more messy fuel and oil to deal with, and the self-propelled drive makes it easy to go uphill with the added weight of the batteries. Recharging the batteries after that took about 12 hours vs the expected 24 – probably because they hadn’t completely drained. You do have to buy the solar charger separately and I’m thinking of doing so at some point.

  5. Diane Bernardi says:

    I live in illinois and would like to purchase the 21 inch model. Do you know where I can do this?

    Thanks so much for your detailed information.

    Diane Bernardi

  6. henry says:

    The mower is made in Canada by a Canadian company who has just entered the lawnmower market. I don’t think this mower is available in the US yet. You may have to take a trip to the Great White North. I bought mine at Home Depot in Toronto where they gave me a $100 discount for turning in my old gas mower. You can shop online at Home Depot Canada’s web site but I don’t think they ship to the U.S. Note that the solar panel is some $250 more, hence the delay in acquiring it.

  7. Ross says:

    To Diane in Illinois. The Solaris mower is made by Linamar Corp. It is also sold under the brand names Utopia and Epic. You could contact Linamar Consumer Products Ltd. Toll Free: 1-866-857-1445 or
    info@linamarconsumerproducts.com
    and ask where to purchase in Illinois.

  8. Dan says:

    The lawn mower is, as Henry states, sold in Canada as well as in the Boston and Seattle areas of the USA. This is the first year for the product.

    My understanding that next year it will be much more widely available in the USA.

    As well, the solar charging station is sold separate from the mower itself.

    Cheers,

  9. Steve says:

    I bought te 19″ version 3 weeks ago and will be returning it tomorrow. I’ve given it 3 tries at my lawn and today was really the final straw. This mower simply does not have remotely enough power to do my lawn. Even with the mower raised to the highest setting and even though it was only 6 days from the last mowing, I couldn’t mow more than about 5-6″ of my lawn at a time. Even then, I had to go over it 3-4 times to get a relatively even cut. After going over it 3-4 times, I still had to go back with a rake to pick up the vast amount of clippings that it left behind. Of the grass it cut, I’d estimate that only about 25% of it actually made it into the bag. It simply didn’t seem to have the power to push those clippings through the small hole in the back to the bag. My front lawn has roughly 1000 square feet and the battery was nearly completely exhausted by mowing it today due to the number of times I had to go over things. The batteries died soon after moving to my backyard so now it’s in a partially mowed state.

    I was really looking forward to not dealing with gas anymore and to have a much quieter mowing experience. For $500 I thought I should be able to have that. However, the lack of performance has really soiled me on electric mowers and I’ll be buying a nice new gas powered one tomorrow.

  10. Dan says:

    Hi Steve,

    Your experience sounds different from Henry and my experiences.

    I did notice that if the batteries were not fully charged that with very thick grass (2 weeks worth in my case) and with the mulching blade, which per the manufacturer takes more power, I was not able to finish both front and back lawns.

    Just today I mowed our front and back after several days of rain and it finished both just fine because (A) this time I made sure the batteries were fully charged via having both of the green lights on within the solar charging station (whereas before they were not) and (B)I did raise the height to two notches below the highest setting. And, I did not have to remow anything which was different from your experience.

    As well, I have no experience with the bagging as I use the mulch mode.

    Dan

  11. Dennis Gerke says:

    I’m interested in resaling, who would i talk with?

  12. Dan says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Resaling (sic) what? If it is the solar charged mower, I believe they already go through national / international retailers in North America and also provide it now on Amazon.com.

    Youl would need to contact Linamar Consumer Products directly.

    Dan

  13. Soccer Mom says:

    I am an NYer who has relocated to San Antonio, TX. I am not handy as we always had a superintendent. Anyway, I am committed to being green, so I bought this mower (still waiting for it from home depot). But the solar panel has arrived already.

    Should I install the solar panel on my roof. The instructions said to keep it out of inclement weather. Do you guys put away your panels when you’re not charging? Do I need to drill a hole in the roof of my shed to get the batteries to charge inside. Thank you in advance for your detailed advice. I am trying to become handier and greener.

  14. Dan says:

    Hi Soccer Mom :)

    By ‘roof’, I hope you do not mean the roof of your home? Do not do that.

    I wrote about how & were we installed our solar panel for the mower here, with pictures:

    http://dailyhomerenotips.com/2008/04/21/solar-charged-lawn-mower-part-4-installing-the-solar-panel-and-charging-station/

    If you do install it on the roof of your shed, use caulking to seal the hole after the the wire from the solar panel goes through it into the shed to prevent water leaks during rain storms from entering the shed.

    The first year, in the above article, I placed the solar panel flat on top of a small outside storage box.

    However, if we had a hail storm it could have become damaged lying flat like that.

    This year I have installed it still on the top of the storage box but at a 45 degree angle which also will improve the directness of the sun’s rays and thus reduce the recharge time.

    You might want to consider hanging it on the side of your shed, rather than the roof for better protection from hail and heavy rain.

    I hope that helps.

    I will write about our current installation in about 10 days with pictures so you can see.

    Dan

  15. Bill says:

    I purchased a Solaris mower based largely on the detailed review I read here. Unfortunately my experience was not so great. My lawn is about a half acre, so maybe I shouldn’t have even tried, but I did want to go green if practical. I found that I was getting about 28-30 minutes out of the batteries each time I used it. Consequently, I had to recharge 4 times before I was able to finish my lawn and except for the first day, I did NOT use the self propulsion feature in order to save batteries.

    Having a front-wheel drive does not make as much sense to me as a rear-wheel drive. Only time I would really be tempted to engage the driving wheels would be when pushing it up the slope in my yard, in which case rear wheel would have worked better as the weight shifted toward the back.

    Overall, it was really too heavy for my 11 year old to push around unless he had the driving wheels engaged. And with the frequent recharging, it was just not practical for me to keep it. I had no problem returning it to Home Depot.

    I really like the idea, and maybe I just had a bad set of batteries, but am sorry to say that this just didn’t work for me.

  16. Dan says:

    Hi Bill,

    It could have been the batteries or it could have been the connections between the batteries and the engine or it could have been that the batteries were not fully charged even though the indicator may have shown that they were.

    From most of the comments here and on other articles we have written about our experience with this type of lawn mower seem to indicate that the batteries generally do last around a full hour on a full charge.

    However, in reading such comments, how long does it take to mow your 1/2 acre? I have to guess more than a full hour? If that is the case then yes, you would need at least a second set of batteries.

    Dan

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