Solar Charged Lawn Mower – Solaris, Epic, Utopia – New For 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Curious how this lawn mower is performing in its third year? You can! After reading the rest of this article simply select this link to read Solaris Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review Three Years Later.

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We were among the first, if not the first, to write about the new line of solar charged electric battery lawn mowers from Linamar Consumer Products last year. Heck, we even had to tell one of our local TV stations who then did a major story on this energy conservation home product.

Within the past 10 days, we have received requests from our readers for updated information; in fact, they were the ones who had been telling me major changes were made to the Solaris, Epic and Utopia lines (depending on the retailer from whom you make your purchase).

So, with a little investigation and input from the nice folks at Linamar Consumer Products we can now let you know what we have found out.

As far as background, here is what this solar charged lawn mower looked like last year after we purchased our own and test drove it on our front lawn:

utopia solar charged mower front view 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Solaris, Epic, Utopia   New For 2009

While it was generally available in Canada, it had limited availability in the U.S., within the Boston and Seattle areas through Home Depot outlets.

Ok, so what’s changed?

First, for 2009 availability ‘…will be in a large number of HD stores across the US with fairly even coverage.’ by the end of March.  It is available right now on Amazon.com, just search for Solaris Lawn Mower (too bad I don’t have a reseller’s account for Amazon icon smile Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Solaris, Epic, Utopia   New For 2009 ) and is to be available on HomeDepot.com.

As far as the product.

Here is a picture from one of the Linamar Consumer Products web site (with thanks) showing one of the different versions of this product for 2009:

solaris 2009 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Solaris, Epic, Utopia   New For 2009

Looks a little different, doesn’t it?

One of the aspects which frustrats me with the version I purchased in 2008 was that I never knew how much more time / energy was left on the batteries. There is now an LED Battery Level Indicator on all the models. Notice in the picture above there is the start mechanism over on the fight part way up the handle.

The batteries are now centered together on top of the middle of the mower vs  the rear positioned side-by-side as is the case for my now 1 year old model (see first picture above). This was done in part to provide traction for what is now a front wheel drive self propelled lawn mower. Last year, all of the self propelled product lines were rear wheel drive whereas in 2009 the Solaris is now front wheel drive self propelled while the Epic and Utopica models remain rear wheel drive self propelled.

As I am not going to go out and buy one of these to replace the one I purchased last year; I just don’t have the funds to do that. Therefore, I cannot personally tell you if the moving forward of the batteries reduces the traction of the rear wheeled drive.

What I can tell you is that according to one of my contacts at the company, the two models (front wheel vs rear wheel self propelled) tested with ‘…similar results, so it’s really a matter of personal preference’. As well, another company contact indicated that while the  rear wheel drive models may be better on steep hills ( how much better I personally cannot tell you), the front wheel drive model is said to provide superior maneuverability around trees, bushes and flower beds.

As well, speaking of self propelled, that appears to be an option this year on some models.

The batteries look different to me and to others who have been to the product’s web site. However, I have been assured that the batteries are ‘…exactly the same. They fit into the 2009 model a bit differently, but that’s mostly cosmetic’.

And, speaking of the batteries, the product web site and available on-line manuals now show that there is the option to leave the batteries in the battery station on top of the mower to recharge by simply detaching ‘…the cable from the Off-Board charging cradle and plug directly on the mower.’

Lastly, they have also improved their Users Manual; much more detailed and graphically supported than last years.

The engine? The same brushless electric motor from Terra Phase.

With the same solar charging station, a very environmentally friendly lawn mower that will not generate directly or indirectly polluting emissions into the air while you use it or recharge the batteries.

Solar charged or house electrical outlet charged, the mower is still the quietest I have ever heard for a powered (gas or electric) lawn mower.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions, Cam and Shriap on what’s new in 2009 for the Solaris, Epic and Utopia electric lawn mowers with the optional solar charging station.

To see how our solar charged electric mower performed at the start of its second year with us, simply select this link to our Solaris, Epic, Utopia Lawn Mower – One Year Later article.

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Comments

  1. Megan says:

    I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this yet. I know a lot of people who would be interested in this mower.

  2. Marsha says:

    We just ordered the Epic from Amazon and it shipped out today. We should have it on the 24th. We have had several battery operated mowers over the years and are hoping this one lasts longer than the rest. (With our other mowers, it was difficult to find and install replacement batteries, plus some parts tended to break.) We have ordered the quick charger too since we have a rather large lawn. Thanks for all of the information which helped us with our decision-making process.

  3. Dan says:

    Hi Marsha,

    I quite like the one I purchased last year. I’m glad you found our experiences and articles / pictures helpful.

    If you do need new batteries in the future you should be able to order them from the manufacturer, Linamar Consumer Products directly if they are not on Amazon.com.

    Kind Regards,
    Dan

  4. Len Zaifman says:

    I like the idea of the solaris lawnmower: 2 questions.

    Why is there no CSA approval in Canada?

    Why Lead Acid bateries rather than lighter NiMH or Lithium batteries?

  5. Dan says:

    Len also contacted Linamar Consumer Products with with the same Q’s as above. Here is the response from Steven of their Customer Support team to the both of us and now to visitors of DailyHomeRenoTips.com:

    “We’re using sealed lead-acid batteries because they are fully recyclable (most cities already have SLA programs in place) and simpler for the consumer to eventually replace. They are a reliable technology and have no “memory” as Nimh batteries often do. They are also far less expensive than Li-ion. We will continue to improve our designs as battery technologies develop in future.

    Because our mower operates on a 24V system, that is well below the threshold necessary for CSA approval. All the electrical components, however, have UL approval.

    Dan, you may have had some questions about our “new” 2009 batteries. Rest assured that they differ from last year’s model in appearance only, and can be easily attached to the battery caps on the 2008 mower. We will be able to continue providing 2008-style batteries to our customers who have purchased that model.”

    Dan

  6. George says:

    Hi Dan,

    The comment below, is only for the 2009 model, correct?

    And, speaking of the batteries, the product web site and available on-line manuals now show that there is the option to leave the batteries in the battery station on top of the mower to recharge by simply detaching ‘…the cable from the Off-Board charging cradle and plug directly on the mower.’

    Does this work on the 2008 model as well?

    Thanks.

  7. Dan says:

    Hi George,

    No, it is only for the 2009 version. It’s one of the 2009 improvements.

    Regards,
    Dan

  8. dan warren says:

    what is the price of your self perpelled batery operated lawn mower thanks dan warren

  9. Dan says:

    Hi Dan,

    It is not ‘my’ mower. It is manufactured by Linamar Consumer Products and sold through retailers such as Home Depot.

    You can also purchase it now on Amazon.com.

    Dan

  10. Nissi says:

    Hi Dan:

    Thanks for the great review! Just wondering if the mower you bought has needed repair. Any info about where these mowers can be repaired if something goes wrong? Thanks!

  11. Dan says:

    Hi Nissi,

    Thank you. So far, it has not needed any repair.

    Dan

  12. Steve says:

    Has anyone evaluated the mulching capability?

  13. Steve says:

    Anyone know what Amazon’s return policy is? If I try the mower and don’t like it, can it still be returned?

  14. Dan says:

    Hi Steve,

    I didn’t find it mulched any better or worse than my prior mower.

    As for return policy, I believe that it would not be Amazon’s policy but that of the manufacturer. It should say on the Amazon page listing the product I would think. If not, suggest you email the company’s Customer Service.

    Dan

  15. Sandra Roberts says:

    Can you leave it out in the weather to charge up? What about wintertime?

  16. Dan says:

    Hi Sandra,

    Thank you for visiting our site and for your comment.

    Since one never knows if / when it will rain, I do not recommend leaving the mower, any mower, outside.

    I put our mower back in the shed, taking the batteries out of the battery holder on the machine and place them in the ‘charging station’ which is totally separate from the mower.

    Never leave the batteries out at any time when the temperature will reach freezing as it will damage the batteries / shorten the battery life.

    I hope that helps.

    Dan

  17. Michael says:

    I want to buy one, but it is not looking good.

    Home Depot says it is in their system but marked as Discontinued and Seasonal, whatever that means. In any case, they cant find any of them anywhere.

    Even their online site marks as UNAVAILABLE right now.

    So, the mower is a great idea, but Linamar can’t seem to get their act together and get it sold.

    It would be stupid to buy one from Amazon, and have to pay $100 shipping if you dont like it.

    If it needs repair, who’s gonna fix it for you?? Nobody will even recognize it, let alone know how to fix it.

    How do you get parts?

    Maybe one of these days it will be great, but for now, I will have to avoid it.

  18. Dan says:

    Hi Michael,

    Interesting, and disappointing. I have to admit your experience is nothing like mine with Linamar.

    I’ve contacted the Customer Service area of Linamar Consumer Products directly and asked them to respond. This being a long weekend in Canada, it might not be until middle of next week.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  19. Michael says:

    Nothing wrong with Linamar really.
    They are a Canadian company, and expanding to an entirely new Country is gonna have its share of challenges!

    I asked their customer service about it, and they said end of March. Well, its mid-april, I have a lawn that needs mowing and no Solaris in sight.

    This could be for any number of reasons, so I am not pointing the finger at them necessarily.

    It is just disappointing that I cannot buy one easily and have a warm-fuzzy that I’d be able to get parts, etc. Heck, being able to return it if defective or not liking it without eating 100 dollars would be a start…

  20. Sandra Roberts says:

    I bought one from Amazon. The UPS guy delivered it rolling it off the truck. Didn’t realize I was getting a “base” model, no solar panel, no front wheel drive. It also looked as if the box had been opened and resealed. One battery was hanging around loose in the box. So “buyer beware.” I am charging the battery and waiting to see how it will work.

  21. Dan says:

    Hi Sandra,

    Interesting …. and disappointing.

    Did you contact their customer suport? I send an email off on your behalf asking them to address your concerns. They may want to contact you directly or may do so through a comment to this article (which they have done in the past to this and prior articles on our site).

    Thanks for letting us all know.

    Dan

  22. Michael says:

    Yeah, it IS kind of amusing that the ‘Solaris’ solar-powered lawn mower, has zero solar components with all of their models. You have to get the solar charger for 100 bucks separately.

    That said, the solar thing is a pretty minor consideration… it shouldn’t take much juice to charge the battery. Your main impact is the ‘electric’ vs gas aspect.

  23. Phil says:

    Hi Michael, we have never advertised Solaris or any of our other brands to be a “solar powered lawn mower” but rather a High Performance Cordless Electric Lawnmower”. We offer the solar panel as an optional accessory for those who want to be completely off the grid… hope this helps. Feel free to visit our websites for more information on the mowers.

  24. David says:

    I found this review EXTREMELY useful. The timing couldn’t have been better, as I am about to buy a new mower due to a recent move. I am concerned about how long the mower will work on a single charge (about 16000 sq ft property), but plan on buying a 2nd set of batteries. Thank you for the great review!

  25. Dan says:

    HI David,

    I’m glad you found our experiences useful.

    Our batteries last around an hour, depending on the thinkness of the grass, how much I use the self propelled feature, etc.

    Dan

  26. Mark says:

    Dan (and all), as far as availability I have found the self propelled model of the Solaris at our local Home Depot. From what I could see they had several in stock. I have been researching the electric mower question since late last season and at that that time was looking at the Neuton. I’m glad I waited. Recent Consumers Report had the Black and Decker rated the highest, but they didn’t even have the Solaris. I think this may be due to the newness of the item. I’ve seen a majority of good reviews on the Solaris and I was kind of holding out for a self-propelled unit since our lawn is quite thick and pushing a regular mower is just out of the question. Thanks for your write up Dan, it’s been a help to see more info on these babys.

  27. Dan says:

    Hi Mark,

    I have to admit that I too am a bit baffled why Consumer Reports does not include the Linamar mower. It could be that last year it had very limited distribution in the US (Seattle and Boston areas only) while this year is the first full year of mass distribution (again in the US).

    It is also surprising to me how few electric (corded or battery) lawn mowers include the self-propelled feature; likely because of the additional draw on the power source (which is no issue with the gas-powered lawn mowers ….they just eat more gas).

    For those like Mark, David, Sandra and others who purchased the 2009 units, it would be very interesting to hear back from you on the performance of the redesigned unit, especially noting for those who purchase the self-propelled option how it works now with the engine placed in the middle of the machine……noting of course if your maching’s self-propelled feature is a front-wheel or rear-wheel version.

    Dan

  28. Michael says:

    Mark, glad you found it.

    I checked home depot, and they don’t even have it listed online anymore…

  29. david says:

    I bought the 21″ SP model from Home Depot today. Wow, big and heavy box! Needed to borrow a van to get the mower home. I hope to use it sometime this weekend, and will post an update and impressions.

  30. Dan says:

    Hi David,

    I have lost track of which model has which optionsfrom which retailer.

    Did you purchase a model with the self-propelled option and if yes, is it front or rear wheel drive?

    Thanks and good luck with the ‘test drive’ ;)

    Dan

  31. david says:

    Hi Dan,

    Solaris 21″ self-propelled with front wheel drive. Purchased from Home Depot for $399 (after $100 trade-in promo).

    - David

  32. David says:

    Here are my impressions of the Solaris 21″ self-propelled mower:

    - cut about 60% of a full bag of grass clippings (eager to use and grass wasn’t that long).

    - self-propelled feature was a joy to use. No problems with slipping or a feel of loss of control.

    - I racked a small pile of dead grass, but the mower wouldn’t vacuum it all, left the bottom layer untouched. Also slowed the mower down (and even shut down) while trying to vacuum it. *never had a problem with my corded electric or gas mowers.

    - battery lasted for about 45 minutes (using self-propelled feature all the time). Would imagine worse results when the lawn actually needs cutting.

    - overall impression: satisfied. Will be buying a spare set of batteries.

  33. Dan says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with the 2009 model.

    Dan

  34. Cornelius says:

    I have no experience with the models you’re describing here, but here in Norway (Europe), Bosch have a good battery-lawnmower; the Bosch Rotak 37Li (and 43Li). (Price: around $450 i’d guess)

    These weighs only 14kg, and uses a 36V LiIon battery. They are not self-propelled, but at 14kg, it’s not needed at all.

    The mower covers about 300sq.m. at one charge, and a full charge takes 1hrs.

    Since it has a LiIon batterypack, one have to use the supplied charger, and there’s no solar-kit available. I myself are charging the battery via an inverter connected to my solar-system.

    The batterypack weighs around 1kg, and have a builtin ‘fuel-meter’.

    I’m surprised not to see something like this available in the US.

  35. Dan says:

    Hi Cornelius,

    Thank you for your insights.

    It is always good to know what is available in other countries. It may or may not also be available in North America; I have no idea. I can only write what I know about and have personally used.

    It is also encouraging that you have hooked up the battery to be recharged by your solar system.

    Regards,
    Dan

  36. Patrick says:

    I’m “rolling over” from the 2008 article. I seem to be the only person in the world who is not satisfied with this mower. Those of you who have followed my comments on the other article are familiar with this tale. I bought my first Solaris 22″ SP cordless about two months ago at Home Depot in Lancaster, PA, a one-hour round trip from my home in Harrisburg, PA. Paid about $500., but I was very excited at the prospect of what this mower promised.

    Mower #1 ran for about 20 minutes on its first full charge, then died. Ran about the same on the second full charge. This was on normal Spring grass, not even particularly long or thick. I took it back and exchanged it.

    Mower #2 never got out of the garage. After a full charge, it quit about 10 seconds after starting. Actually, it never got started, since it quit before it reached full rpm. I took it back and exchanged it.

    Mower #3, now sitting in my garage, is probably going back as well. I’m getting between 12 and 20 minutes per full charge. I am really disappointed with how under-powered it is. I have to walk it, slow step-by-step, through any thick grass, and even then it stalls. Forget about using the SP. I would have to mow every day of the week in 20 minute “bursts” in order to get my lawn completely cut. I am completely fed up at this point and, sadly, will probably be shopping for a new gas mower this weekend.

    All through this process, I have been in touch with Linamar customer service. The rep I have been working with was very friendly, but not very helpful. I was basically advised to “take it back.” What kind of customer service is that??!!! For the past week or so, the rep has stopped communicating with me entirely. Today I will be calling the company again. (It is not very convenient to try to call a company that only answers the customer service lines between 8 AM & 5 PM, Monday through Friday, not including all – including Canadian – holidays.)

    I am now ready to chalk this up as a failed experiment. What a shame. I guess the technology just isn’t here yet.

  37. Dan says:

    Hi Patrick,

    That is very disappointing.

    I don’t know what else to say. Hopefully you will purchase at least an electric mower in it’s place vs a gas powered one.

    I tried my 2008 model last weekend for the first time (not solar powered because there still is the rist of the temperature going down below freezing at night) and everything worked fine….started the first time…..mowed the entire lawn on the one charge…..and so on.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Dan

  38. Patrick says:

    I don’t understand, Dan. Could the problem really be the batteries? Is anyone else on this list using the 2009 model?

    I spoke again with Linamar yesterday. The rep asked me to check the batteries with a volt meter both before and after mowing. We’ll see where that gets me.

    FWIW, I am trying so hard to get this mower to work because it is the only electric that is practical for me. I have a lawn that is too big for a corded model, and my back problems will not allow me to use a push electric model. If there is an alternative to gas, I’d be glad to hear of it.

  39. Dan says:

    Hi Patrick,

    They bring up an interesting point. You mentoined that you replaced the mower 3 times….what about the batteries? If you did not replace them perhaps you should have done / do that and see.

    Personally I don’t know of any othe rcordless, electric lawn mower with the self propelled feature. I also from time to time have back issues (as I do right now) and am not in the best of physical conditions (oh for the days back in high school when I was on the varsity football team….best shape of my life!) so the self propelled feature comes in very handy for me as well.

    Dan

  40. Dan says:

    Patrick,

    One more thought.

    If you have not replaced the batteries and since the store is 1 hour away form you and since you have had such poor experiences with their product and since you are making your experiences publically known (i.e. on this site) pershap when you call them you can ask if they might be so gracious to send you a set of batteries free of charge? I’m not saying they will. However, if you don’t ask ….. well, you know.

    Dan

  41. Patrick says:

    Dan – I hope that’s the direction we are headed. They were unwilling to ship me a new mower, but maybe their attitude will be different if they are shipping just the batteries. FYI, the batteries have been new with each new mower.

    And FWIW, I really know what you mean about high school shape. Thanks for your feedback.

    Patrick

  42. Alex says:

    I just bought a 2009 Solaris model (with the slef-propelled option). I was so excited to try it today. However, the batteries only lasted approx. 30min. I did not have them fully charged as per the manufacturer recommendation (12hrs vs 24hrs). To complete my front lawn, I had to call my parents and borrow my parents power pack. My impressions for now: the motor seems to be good, but it kills in very long grass… I have to go more slowly. I have a 6500sq-ft of lawn (including my house and the drive-way). I think the batteries will do the job when fully charged… to be continued. I plan on making myself a Li-Ion power pack to be retro-fit in the mower.

    P.S.: I decided to buy this mower because this site made a great review. Thanks to Dan.

  43. Dan says:

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for visiting our site and for your comments.

    Be careful about modifying the mower, as is the case for any product of any time, as it might void the warranty.

    Dan

  44. Alex says:

    Dan,

    I am aware of this issue, but after 2 years, the warranty will be over anyways.

  45. Patrick says:

    Alex – Please keep us informed. I will be paying particular attention to your experience.

    Patrick

  46. John M says:

    Hello everyone.

    Last year I purchased a Solaris 21 inch self propelled mower from my local Home Depot and tried it out.

    I was initially pleased with its operation, but after a few days of use and further investigation; found it necessary to return the mower for a full refund.

    Although it seemed to have enough power to mow my lawn for approximately 45 to 55 minutes there were a few issues that made me feel unhappy about my purchase.

    Firstly; as the hot days of July and August came around, I found that the Solaris mower could not be raised as high as my old gas powered mower.

    Secondly; I examined the power take-off belt and assembly which drives the self propelled rear wheels and this entire assembly was located on the underside of the mower just above the cutting blades; without any enviromental seals to keep loose grass from entering the assembly. It just seemed like a foolish arrangement causing a maintenance headache in terms of having to clean out grass from the pulley and belt mechanism. This powere take-off could have been better designed with some rubber seals or perhaps relocated on top of the mower away from grass clippings.

    Thirdly was the battery issue. Lead acid batteries may have approximately 100 to 200 charge cyles in their life span whereas Lithium Ion batteries commonly used in some grass trimmers and even some new cordless lawn mowers can last up to 800 charge cycles. I would have prefered the Lithium Ion batteries (even as an option).

    Fourthly; I was concerned about what would happen if service was required for my rather unique Solaris mower and phoned Linamar products to see what their take was on this issue. The Linamar representative advised me that there were no authorized service depots to which I could take my mower and that Linamar would attempt to help me through any problems over the phone and send me any necessary parts if required. That may be fine for me seeing that I am an electronics technician and have a fairly good mechanical aptitude, but it might be a bit more of a challenge to the average consumer. In any case, I would have felt better about simply having a repair shop to which a broken mower could be sent; especially if I felt that the repair procedure was getting a bit too complicated.

    Hope my humble review may be of some use to someone out there.

    Best regards: John M. Etobicke, Ontario.

  47. Dan says:

    Hi John,

    So what mower did you end up purchasing and why?

    As well, you indicate you had the unit only for a few days yet you then go on to speak as if you did have it throughout July and August; perhaps it’s just the grammar / words you used but it sounds inconsistent.

    I will say on the height issue that we have always tended to mow our lawn higher than our neighbours. For our purposes we do not raise or lower the height depending on the season; we leave the height at the second from the heighest setting and it does quite well for us.

    I have no idea if what you say is accurate re the batteries or the construction, what the rep. from Linamar who has posted on this site which takes a different stance on the type of battery is superior …. I’m just a simply home owner writing about my own experiences. I do like how the brushless motor, which to me would be the complicated part of any mower, would need much less maintenace than a brush type of motor.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  48. Hi all,

    First off, thank you everyone for your comments and feedback, we at Linamar, listen closely to what our customers have to say. I will attempt to answer some of the latest questions that have been posted on DailyHomeRenoTips.com lately … (and thanks Dan for answering most of the questions your readers have had so far).

    The biggest question I have heard this year so far is: Why don’t we (and competitors in North America) offer Li-Ion batteries with the mower? This option is something that we are continually investigating. The main issues with Li-Ion are price and reliability. Pretending we had our current mower setup offered with Li-Ion batteries, the retail for this mower would be closer to $800. At that price point, this product would become a very niche player in the lawn mower industry and probably not a viable product for most users. I have had personal experience with the Bosch Rotak 43 unit which was brought up in an earlier comment. The retail on this unit right now in Europe is €499 EU. This would equal close to $700 USD or $822 CAN. For a small 17” mower, I would find it a hard sale in our current market. This is probably why it hasn’t hit CAN/US as our lawns are typically much larger than in Europe. The battery packs on this mower are nice and light but also very small which does not give you a lot of run time… but great for a small lot.
    In terms of the reliability of Li-Ion, there are still issues with the batteries overheating, as I am sure many of you have heard of some laptop companies having recalls on their computers due to the batteries burning up, this is a safety concern that we take very seriously.

    In 2008 when we launched our mower, it was a hit. Many people were really happy with the performance of the mower. As it is found with many consumer products, over time, the design evolves. We made a few changes to the 09 mowers to improve the ergonomics and the ease of use of the mower. To answer the belt question which was posted on a previous comment, we did change the way the belt drives the wheels this year, but I must say that as a user of the 08 system myself, I have never accoutered an issue with the way it has operated. This is how the 08 deck was designed to work.

    As of 09, we now have a repair network in place in both US and CAN. This is great news for everyone! Anyone who has warranty on an 09 unit and needs to get a part replaced, can now go to any of our service dealers and get the mower repaired.

    Some of you have had questions on where to get our mowers. It is found at most big box stores in Canada (Home Depot, Rona and Home Hardware) as well as online (Homedepot.ca). In the US, Home Depot also carries the product as well as Amazon.com and Homedepot.com.

    Hope that answers everyone’s questions,
    Thanks!

    The Linamar Consumer Products Team.

  49. John M says:

    Hello there Dan.

    You are correct. I should have chosen my words more carefully and specified that my purchase of the Solaris mower was made at the end of July or beginning of August during hot weather conditions.

    I agree with you that the brushless DC motor is a vast improvement in long term reliability over older style carbon brush motors. That was one of several reasons why I was attracted to it.

    In terms of the batteries; sealed lead acid chemistry cells on this mower are the same type used on most cars and have an average life span of approximately 4 years, with the proviso that they are properly charged and stored. If you let the lead acid cell discharge too low and leave it discharged too long, it may never be able to attain a full charge again. Also it is extremely important not to let them freeze, etc, etc… otherwise they can be damaged. The self discharge rate of the batteries also increases in very low temperatures as well; hence the warnings to keep them inside your home and charge them up regularly so that they don’t get too low and then refuse to take a full charge.

    With respect to basic Lithium Ion batteries, the Linamar representative made a valid comment. The anode (positive terminal) of this type of battery, could (under extremely hot conditions) catch fire in an explosive manner. The worst case scenario would be to mow your lawn on a hot day allowing the batteries to heat up during a full discharge cycle and then immediately plug them into a charger which would heat them up even more during a charge cycle. Under these type of extreme conditions, a lithium battery could theoretically explode with the positive terminal catching on fire. At least that was the explanation with what happened to some laptop batteries. In any case, there are newer modified Lithium batteries out there now called Lithium Polymer or Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LiPo4) batteries that do not suffer from these problems and are very expensive. As the Linamar representative stated, they would probably drive the overall cost of the mower beyond that of the average consumer. Hopefully though; as manufacturing processes improve, the cost will come down and we might see them adopted at some time.

    With respect to the power take-off mechanism for the self-propulsion of the Solaris mower; I agree with the Linamar rep that no immediate lack of functionality occured from grass flying into the open belt and pulley system; but I can’t help but worry that lonfg term use of the mower might “muck up” the mechanism over time. It just seemed to be something of an avoidable design flaw to me that is also present on the 2009 model as well. Call me a perfectionist if you will, but it probably comes from my background of being a details oriented former technical inspector. Perhaps I’m being too critical, but time will tell I guess.

    Also a comment and question to the Linamar rep; glad to hear that you have a way to have the mowers sent to a repair depot now. Was just wondering if the new 2009 mowers have contact info inside their boxes as to where the authorized repair depots are located?

    Best regards: JohnM Etobicoke, Ontario.

  50. Dan says:

    Hi John,

    I understand now, thank you.

    I can only write what I know about and I certainly can’t write about an technical aspects of machinery of any type as I do not have such a background. I’m just a ‘simple country instructor’, as I often tell my students.

    I’m glad our small little site has spurred such interesting conversation for all to benefit.

    In the very least, hopefully we have caused at a minumum a few people to think more about all types of energy conservation in their home. As well, with what I have learned about gas-powered mowers, I also hope that this series and subsequent discussion has cause at least a few people to take action ans switch to any type of electric-powered lawn mowers.

    If there is a representative out there of a gas-powered lawn mower who had any supportable data that all or some or even one gas-powered lawn mower does not emit polluting emissions into the air that I, my family and everyone else breathes I’d like to hear about it.

    Knowledge is power.

    Dan

  51. John M says:

    Hello again everyone.

    I just thought I would add a bit of info regarding the difference between the old 2008 model and new 2009 model batteries that were discussed earlier in the message thread for this topic.

    After visiting my local Home Depot earlier this evening I was lucky enough to come upon both 2008 and 2009 Solaris mowers. The old 2008 mower appeared to have been a returned unit and the cap on one of its batteries had somehow been removed by someone. Under the cap, I could see the two phillips head screw terminals connecting to the positive and negative sections of the 12 volt battery. From there, wires were connected to a pair of closely spaced (2 inches apart) horizontal thin metal strips within the removed battery cap to form a male type connector which inserted into the mower’s female type power connector.

    This is vastly different from the 2009 batteries which have two cylindrical battery posts about 10 inches apart and very much like a car battery. These battery posts on the 2009 model slide into two spring clips on the main mower after the batteries are slid into a recessed box holder.

    Under no circumstances can you take a 2008 battery and immediately place it into a 2009 mower or visa versa. The only possibility I could see was perhaps taking a 2009 battery; getting some terminal post binders simlar to those used on motorcycle battery cables and wiring the cables into an old battery cap removed from a 2008 battery; such that the 2009 battery could be retro-fitted into a 2008 mower. Not a simple job without the proper parts.

    I was just wondering if Linamar provides a retro-fit kit to adapt 2009 batteries to the 2008 mowers and if the old 2008 battery cap needs to be salvaged by the owner of the 2008 battery or if Linamar provides the 2008 battery cap (with integral moulded male power connector) as part of the retro-fit kit?

    Best regards: John M Etobicoke, Ontario.

  52. Dan says:

    Hi John,

    Your comment on the suitability of the 2008 batteries in the 2009 model contradicts what I was told by Linamar per comment #5 above.

    Interesting.

    As well, John, you beat me to the punch. I meant to close off comments to this article last night, and will do so now, for two reasons:

    1. 50+ comments to a single article is quite a lot for a small independant site such as ours. I thought I could write a follow-up article to which folks could continue to comment so everyone’s comment does not get lost.

    2. Late yesterday I was contacted out-of-the-blue by Linamar Consumer Products who basically, for a variety of reasons (some of which quite frankly made me blush), asked if I would consider writing an indepth review of the 2009 Solaris, similar to our series on the 2008 which most of you indicate you have read already.

    So, today I am out driving to their HQ to pickup the 2009 model for myself. Thank you for supporting our site through your visits and your comments which I am sure was in part was why they contacted me to do this.

    If it is not raining this weekend I will use the 2009 mower and will start to write and publish a new series of articles on my experiences.

    And, yes, I can see for myself if I can use the 2008 batteries in the 2009 model. :)

    So, keep returning back every day or so for another new article about our home renovation, maintenance and energy conservation experiences.

    I have just one Q. What the heck am I going to do with the Linamar mower we already have? If anyone can use the 2008 with an additional mulching blade as well as a second set of batteries, and are in the Toronto area, send me a separate email and we can talk. The solar panel and charging station?

    I’m keeping those to use with the 2009 model.

    Here is the link to the first article in our new series reviewing the 2009 Solaris cordless electric lawn mower with the brushless motor and optional solar charging:

    http://dailyhomerenotips.com/2009/05/11/2009-solaris-self-propelled-electric-lawn-mower-review-1/

    Dan

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