2009 Solaris Self-Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review – 1

Editor’s Note: Curious how this lawn mower is performing in 2011, 3 years later? 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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Last year we were the first (or at least among the first) to write about the new collection of lawn mowers from Linamar Consumer Products which were sold under the Solaris, Epic and Utopia brand names in the United States (on a limited basis) and Canada. You can use this link to view our complete listing of articles within that series.

What first attracted us to this new lawn mower was its Terra Phase brushless motor, battery operation (so I don’t keep chewing the electric cord as per my prior electric mowers), self-propelled feature and its optional Solar charging station. Once we had the machine and learned more about it we were even more glad we made the purchase. As well as, of course, the important fact that it did not use a gas-powered engine which typically requires more maintenance and is of course not environmentally friendly compared to an electric engine.

This year we wrote (from a far, if you will) about the changes we could tell with the 2009 model. This article, titled Solar Charged Mower – Solaris, Epic, Utopia – New for 2009, has been our most popular article ever in terms of comments … more than 50.

Late last week I was approached by Linamar Consumer Product asking if I would like to receive a 2009 Solaris and provide a similar series of articles as we had done last year on our personal experiences. Would you say no? Sweet. icon smile 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   1

If any other consumer lawn mower manufacturers wish to give us one of their 2009 models to similarly test and write about our experiences with their product well, just send me an email … except for gas-powered lawn mowers, that is; there is no need for a consumer to purchase a gas-powered mower to pollute the air we breathe. There, you now know my bias going in.

So, this is the first in a series of articles we will be publishing every day this week on the 2009 Solaris 21-inch front-wheel self-propelled electric lawn mower with the brushless motor. We thank Linamar Consumer Products for their offer and confirm to you what we said to them; specifically, as we did last year when we purchased our 2008 lawn mower, if there are features or performance issues we do not like we will not hesitate to say so. At the end of the day, if one does not maintain one’s integrity what does one end up actually achieving?

So, let’s get started. The first several articles in this series will focus on the machine itself and my experiences with it. Later in this series I will do a compare / contrast between the 2008 version and this 2009 model (although some comparison to the 2008 model throughout all articles will be unavoidable).

My wife and youngest daughter were off on vacation in the Big Apple when I received the call from Phil Maurion of Linamar Consumer Products. They drove down in our family mini-van, leaving me with our now 7+ year old Saturn L100. As I was already off from work last week I made the almost 2 hour drive to their headquarters in Guelph, Ontario to meet Phil and pick up the unit.

Did they give me a special unit to which they had applied more quality control tests than they would do for any mower? No. How do I know? I’ll tell and show you how I know in the next day or two.

Now one of the concerns I had was whether I would be able to put the mower into our small little car. 

solaris packaging 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   1

As you can see above, the standard shipping box is quite large. The picture was taken in the parking lot of their headquarters. 

solaris lawn mower in car 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   1

It did, however fit, with the handle positions over the mower, in the back of our car with the back seats folded down plus a little room to spare. In the above picture the two batteries can be seen on the floor of the back seat.

So, here is what it looks like out of the car. 

2009 solaris lawn mower 1 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   1

The motor is centered in the middle of the lawn mower body. It comes with side discharge, rear discharge & bagging attachment, and mulching options. We have always mulched our grass clippings and will continue to do so.

This model has the front wheel drive self-propelled feature. I am not aware of any type of lawn mower, other than those with polluting gas-powered engines, which have the self-propelled feature (front or rear wheel drive). To me, this is one of the significant product differentiators: a lawn mower with the self-propelled feature which does not generate polluting emissions into the air. If you do know of any other electric lawn mower, corded or battery operated, which is self-propelled, please drop me a line as I would be very interested to know. 

front wheel drive solaris lawn mower 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   1

Tomorrow, more features of the 2009 Solaris self-propelled electric lawn mower.

To continue to the next article in this series, simply select this link to Part 2 of our 2009 Solaris self-propelled cordless electric lawn mower review.

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Comments

  1. David says:

    What a pleasant surprise! Congratulations on the new mower, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on the new model.

    As mentioned in the previous article, I purchased this mower (2009 21″ SP Solaris) a few weeks ago. I had to smile when I read your comments about getting the mower home in your Saturn… I also have a Saturn and didn’t think it would fit so I borrowed a mini-van. The box weighed a lot, but 2 people can easily load it into a minivan (with the middle seats removed).

    I’ll try to post relevant comments to your article in hopes of helping others.

  2. Dan says:

    Hi David,

    :)

    Small world.

    Yes, please do share your experiences so others (and myself) can benefit.

    Dan

  3. howard says:

    HI All I had a problem with my 2008 Solaris and call the help line they are sending me out a new charger today and they will send me new batteries when they get new shipment…now that is service!!!!

  4. Dan says:

    Hi Howard,

    Very nice.

    As you may have read from comments to other related articles there seems to be inconsistency in the customer service experience being received from some of our site’s readers.

    Nice to hear about your experience. Perhaps it is a sign of a renewed focus on Linamar Consumer Products part towards customer service.

    Dan

  5. Barb says:

    I am looking at buying a new (yes, NEW) 2008 model Solaris 19″ self-propelled mower – I am aware of the design changes made for 2009/10, but I don’t believe that any of them are of concern to me (I prefer rear-wheel drive and my lawn is not large enough that I require a charge indicator. I want to make sure that I get all the components: mower (obviously), rear bagger, blade, batteries(2), charging station, operator’s manual – is there anything I haven’t thought of?

  6. Dan says:

    Hi Barb,

    The only thing I can think of is that the independent service centers Linamar (the manufaturer) established to provide service to the 2009 models last year may not provide service for 2008 models; at least that is what one or two readers of our site have indicated.

    Other than that I think you have it covered.

    Dan

  7. Susan says:

    Thanks for the very helpful review.
    I bought mine second hand and unfortunately it did not have a manual so your review including pictures were very helpful.

  8. Dan says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am very glad our review of our experiences with the lawn mower helped.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  9. Ryan says:

    Hey Dan. I am in need of a 2008 Solaris Lawn mower, working or not…if not more than one. Linimar is unhelpfull. Perhaps you know of anyone? My e-mail to anyone reading is rexstiff@hotmail.com.

  10. Dan says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Inquiring minds are curious why more than one? :)

    I sold my 2008 mower last spring when I received the 2009 model.

    I’ll leave the comment up in case someone reads this and wants to get in touch with you.

    Good Luck!
    Dan

  11. Aaron says:

    I’ve got one of the newer 2009 models, as you review in this article. I’ve had it for probably a little over a year now, and the battery life this spring is abysmal, mostly due to the fact that I may have lost power to the charger I had plugged into the mower over the winter. I corrected the problem when I noticed it, but I’ve also charged the batteries in the mower numerous times since the power loss, and they still appear to hold only 30% of their prior charge. I am looking at getting another set of batteries, but I thought what some other users have been thinking – there must be a Li-ion or Lithium Polymer battery available for this mower by this time.

    Has either Linamar or an aftermarket battery manufacturer come up with something viable to replace the heavy lead-acid batteries yet? If not, I might have to task my buddy, who has spent years tinkering with new power storage designs, to help me fit Li-ion cells and a controller into the same form factor as the current 2x12V lead acid setup. Does anyone know if the factory charger will successfully charge a Li-ion battery?

    I’ve recently bought a set of Makita 18V Li-ion tools, and the light weight of the batteries, the long life, power (torque), and quick recharging are great benefits. I wish I could just drop the 18V batteries onto an adapter in the mower’s battery bay & use them, but a true drop-in solution would be better. Earlier reports warned of positive terminal heat build up under heavy battery/motor load if a Li-ion battery were to be used in the mower, but my Makita tools can be run until the battery is dead if need be, and there is no fire or arcing. Has battery technology finally caught up?

    Thanks, Dan, for a great resource – I read your reviews & comments before purchasing mine, as well.

  12. Charles Day says:

    I also think it would be a good idea for Linamar to offer an adapter kit that would include Lithium Ion batteries, which would help lighten the machine, diminishing the tracks the mower makes in finer, softer grass, and presumably improving the run time and performance of the machine. The only other aspect of the mower I would like to see is a higher blade rotation speed in order to help pull longer grass straight up and thus cut fine grass better. Otherwise, it is a pretty well built mower that is good quality.

  13. Dan says:

    Hi Charles,

    I like all of those ideas.

    The last time Linamar commented on not using Lithium batteries they indicated that it would drive the price point much higher and allow for less peeople to afford to own it.

    I have to wonder what is next for the nower. They have made no changes in two years and this year I cannot find it in any Home Depot ads or in my local Home Depot store.

    Such signs are typical of, I hate to say it, a product line in its last season / year before it is pulled from the market.

    We will just have to wait and see.

    Dan

  14. Aaron says:

    The whole battery issue could be solved by offering the upgraded batteries as an optional kit to either be packaged with the mower when ordering new, or as a kit to be ordered separately after the fact. Here is my most recent response from Linamar regarding the battery question:

    “My engineering department is looking at emerging battery technologies as you suggest, but any solutions are still in the planning stages. I’ll cast your vote for NiMH at out next R&D meeting.”

    I had recommended either Li-Ion or NiMH battery options, and he seemed to favor the NiMH, possibly for its lower cost, but still a good list of advantages over a SLA battery.

  15. richard says:

    DO NOT BUY
    Mine the battery is dead and impossible to find replacement
    2 years!!
    And I was never satisfy by the cut

  16. Margit Rosenke says:

    I traded a good Murphy for the Solaris and had nothing but problems. The batteries were dead before a year was up. It did not cut if there was any dew on the grass which in British Columbia is most of the time. The service depot had closed and I limped along in frustration. A new set of batteries were sent and they also died before the year was up. Home Depot stopped carrying after one year because too many problems were experienced. Today I am returning this lemon to Home Depot who have kindly offered a replacement or a partial refund. After building a ramp I managed to push it into mt Aveo but that left me with a sore hip replacement as well as a sore rotor cuff. My bicepts definitely build up over the years from having to remove and lift those heavy batteries before and after each frustrated effort to try to mow my lawn. I also got a snarky reply when I contacted their customer service looking for a local depot. Good luck to them! I’m off in the drizzle on the hunt for a solution to this nightmare I endured for several years now! Cheers everyone – 68 year Senior Citizen

  17. Bob Canada says:

    Got my 19 inch self propelled in 2008. No; it is not as powerful as my top of the line Lawn Boy. It has, however served us well as a back up. I’m just now ordering a new battery after 5 years. I hope to get another 5 years. Down south here in the Memphis area bermuda grass is very aggressive and twice a week is a must. I have a 10000 sq ft yard and the Solaris was used as a back up or at least to keep the smaller parts cut regularly. They say not to sharpen the blade. If you balance it carefully while you sharping what’s the big whoop? No other blade but the factory issued worked well and it must be tightened carefully. (not too tight not to loose)

    PS are all those with battery problems……..I’ll bet you left the battery in freezing weather. Once is too much.

  18. wayne in bc says:

    Fifth year and still working great. I removed the batteries at the end of the season and left them on the trickle charge over the winter for the first four years. This past winter, I left the mover outside, under my sundeck with no charger. Connected the charger for approx. 48 hours prior to the first cut this year and no problems. I like the mower.

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