2009 Solaris Self-Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review – 3A

Editor’s Note: I had a technology issue arise with the original Part 3 posting in this series. Therefore I have had to republish the article again. As for the comments to the original part 3 article I have added them to this republished article. Apologies for any inconvenience.

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In Part 2 yesterday we reviewed many of the features of the 2009 Solaris lawn mower with the Terra Phase brushless motor.

Today we look at the batteries.

As mentioned previously, the batteries are placed inside the housing in the center of the mower. The battery cover has a simple locking mechanism so it remains closed when you want it closed as shown in the picture below.

As one would expect, the red LED light within the battery charger seen in the lower right area within the picture below indicates charging in progress while a green LED light indicating ‘trickle charging, i.e. batteries are already fully charged and are simply receiving minimal amounts of charge as needed.

solaris battery cover open 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

The batteries are basically the same sealed lead acid batteries (standard in the industry), just in a different housing. The picture below shows the 2008 model’s battery housing on the right vs that for the 2009 Solaris on the left.

solaris 2008 vs 2009 battery housing 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

Immediately one notices that for the 2009 battery the absence of the large handle. That is because the two batteries can be recharged when they remain placed inside the battery tray which is in on top of the center of the mower. Below is a picture of the batteries in place within the battery tray. Notice the green starter key pictured in place for the mower to become operational. When not in use, you would simple pull or push (as indicated by the two sided arrow in the picture below) to loosen the starter key.

solaris 2009 mower battery tray 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

There is no longer the need to take them out of the mower, which is a very nice feature for those who use the optional Solar charging station within say a shed containing the mower or who prefer to recharge the batteries by plugging it into an electrical outlet in the garage when sufficient room to also contain the mower.

solaris on board recharging plug 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

The above picture shows the green starter key having been removed to allow the on-board recharging with the plug from the rapid charger (said to charge the batteries in 4 to 5 hours) being used to recharge the batteries with the provided battery charger which is shown in the picture below.

solaris lawn mower recharging 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

This same approach is used with the optional Solar charging station. Pictured below is the same solar charging adapter we acquired with our 2008 model on the right with the off-board charging cradle which comes with the 2009 Solaris on the left. This off-board charging cradle sits on top of the two batteries to be used when one needs to remove the batteries from the lawn mower to recharge them either by through the optional solar panel or by plugging directly into an electrical outlet.

To continue to the next article in this series, simply select this link to Part 4.

solaris solar charging 2009 Solaris Self Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower Review   3A

Tomorrow, the Terra Phase brushless motor and it’s efficiency.

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Comments

  1. John says:

    Hiya there Dan!

    The review seems to be coming along quite well. Have been following it and enjoying your informative comments.

    I had sent off an-email to the customer support link I found on the Linamar web site (namely info@solarispowerproducts.com) because I gave up after 2 hours of waiting on their 1-866 customer support number on Friday afternoon. Have been waiting for an e-mail response now for 3 days (since Sunday) about several questions I had regarding the location of service depot locations in Canada; as well as other issues I had posted about on your other message thread regarding Solaris products. Hopefully someone from Linamar will respond this week or next?

    Anyway; I decided to take your approach of simply mulching grass rather than bagging it as I have always done in the past. The one thing I noticed is that the 2008 Solaris appears to generate excess mulch debris trailing out of its laft side after a while. That is after the mower gets a fair amount of wet grass build-up on its undercarriage following approximatel 20 to 30 minutes of mulching activity. The problem is easily enough dealt with by backing up an going over the clumps of semi-mulched grass. Was just wondering if you can keep an eye out for that and comment on it as you test the 2009 Solaris.

    Best regards: John M
    Etobicoke, Ontario.

  2. Dan says:

    Hi John,

    I did not notice any excess multh in my front lawn only test on Friday with the 2009 version.

    Then again, it only took around 20 minutes or so, after which is when you indicate the 2008 version tends to not mulch as well.

    I hope to run a full test (i.e. front, side and back lawns) on Thursday / Friday of this week, weather depending and will advise.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  3. Alex says:

    My mower died yesterday; could not start it anymore. Had to return it to Home Depot and I exhange it for a new one (hope this one last longer, ie more than one cut!!!).

  4. David says:

    I own the Solaris 21? SP 2009 model, and find the recharging to be effortless. My only comment that I have is about inserting the key… I’m always getting a spark or two. Is this normal?

  5. Dan says:

    Hi David,

    Many thanks for this and your earlier comments on our 2009 model; much appreciated.

    I didn’t notice a spark the first time but did hear (but didn’t see) it the second time I used the machine (yesterday). I don’t know if it is normal.

    Did you actually see a spark or did you simply hear it?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  6. David says:

    Hi Dan,

    Sometimes I see a spark, but most of the time I hear one.

  7. JohnM says:

    Hello Dan.

    Just thoought I would drop you a quick note that I spoke with Steven at Linamar yesterday and had all the problems with my 2008 Solaris mower squared away and all my questions answered.

    As it turns out any service or parts issues for the 2008 mowers are not handled by repair depots and require owners to contact Linamar Products directly. The 2009 mower issues are the only ones that can be handled by the repair depots.

    Best regards: JohnM Etobicoke, Ontario.

  8. Tyler says:

    I have bought a New 09 brushless etc and it has the onboard charger, is it normal for the light to stay green when it is plugged in, the light is on the charger btw.

  9. Dan says:

    Hi Tyler,

    I believe, yes. When it is fully chaged the light stays green showing it is fully charged

    Dan

  10. cannon_fodder says:

    Dan,

    I’m interested in getting this for my father who is 70 years old. He has a pull-cord gas mower and it can be difficult for him to start. Corded is not an option because of his deep backyard. Care to post your impressions now that you’ve probably used the ’09 model for several weeks?

  11. Dan says:

    Hi ‘Cannon’ :)

    Thanks for visiting our site.

    The down side is that with the batteries the mower is heavier when compared to a corded or gas mower. I’m not at home right now so I cannot put the batteries on a scale to tell you how much they weigh…..perhaps 15 pounds each, but that is a guess at this time.

    This can make it more challenging going around lots of curvy gardens when one might not want to use the self propelled feature.

    However, the self propelled feature, including it’s graduated speed, is great and more than compensates for the heavier weight vs other types of mowers IMO.

    If he has space in the garage for the mower, then the weight of the batteries should not be an issue as he can simply plug the mower into an electrical outlet to recharge them without having to remove them from the mower. This is a really good feature.

    However, if he does not, then it might be a bit tricky as he gets older to take the batteries in and out of the mower. I don’t find it so, but then again I am not in my early 70′s.

    And, the now maintenance of the motor will make life easier for your Father as he doesn’t have to worry about any maintenance other than the usual cleaning of the grass underneath after each mow of the lawn.

    You should go to the nearest Home Depot or other national retailer to check out the mower and it’s batteries for yourself as you know your father’s physical condition and as you know the curviness of his property to make the judgement if the aded weight will or will not be a problem for him.

    I hope this helps,
    Dan

  12. Kathryn Dailey says:

    Thank you for your very detailed reviews. They have been very helpful and fun to read.

    There are very few self-propelled electric mowers available as you point out. Other models include the Greenworks 25092, the Husqvarna Auto Mowers (robotic), the Recharge Electric Riding Mower, the Epic EP21H. I’ve had difficulty obtaining the Ryobi self-propelled unit from Home Depot, and one reviewer writes sadly that production was discontinued several years ago, which would explain the problem.

    The battery type is a more important consideration that it appears from your review, no doubt because the US market has very few alternatives. Range versus performance, battery capacity versus weight, and battery type versus cost challenges every battery-powered mower and car manufacturer. In the UK, the significantly lighter weight, faster charging, charge resilient and eco-friendlier Lithium battery is common. The Bosch Rotak 43Li utilizes two Li batteries, fully charges in an hour, and is extremely popular and well reviewed in the UK. The first Li-powered mower in the US will likely be the Recharge Tools push mower. Because the batteries are significantly lighter weight than lead-acid, it may make the self-propulsion feature less important.

    From an environmental standpoint, it’s important to remember that “achieving a net environmental savings from switching to electric mowers depends on the power plant from where the electricity originates.” Just because we’re not polluting our own yard, doesn’t mean we’re not creating more pollution than other fuel sources in someone elses’.

  13. Dan says:

    Hi Kathryn,

    Thank you for your detailed comment. Yes, Lithium batteries recharge faster and are much lighter. However, as explained to me by the Solaris marketing representative, they are much more costly and would push the selling price of the Solaris out of the range of what they believe consumers are willing to pay.

    As for your environmental comment, I fully agree. Just because one uses a corded or battery (charged via connection to an electrical outlet) does not mean that one is not generating pollutants into the air; when the electricity to the home is provided from a coal burning generation plant, or even a natural gas powered station, they are still indirectly causing pollutants into the air whenevery such electric powered mowers are used. As for nuclear powered electric generating stations, don’t get me started on the risk of their environmental impact.

    Dan

  14. Michael Ireland says:

    Hi! Great little blog/review you have here. I bought the non-self propelled version of this little mower last year and found it has enough power to chew through long grass without much trouble, as long as it’s using the bagging feature. If you try mulching excessively long grass, the mower has trouble – something that a moderately powered gas mower doesn’t have as much trouble with. Otherwise, I love this mower.

    However, here’s my trouble: I charged the batteries for over a day this spring; the indicator LED always showed green, even upon initial charging. However, upon inserting them into the mower with the key, the indicator on the mower beeps repeatedly and is trying to tell me the batteries need recharging.

    Just to be sure, I grabbed my car-battery charger and attempted to use the trickle-charge feature on the batteries one at a time, but even that charger is telling me the batteries have a full charge.

    Finally, it should be noted that I do get the “spark” sound when inserting the key, and I think it’s simply a function of closing the circuit (the device is receiving power even when not running).

    Any thoughts? It’s somewhat inconvenient for me due to travel time to take my mower back to Home Depot, so any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanx!!

    Mike

  15. Dan says:

    Hi Mike,

    I also get the ‘spark’ sound when inserting the lime green key in the 2009 model. Somewhere someone told me or left a comment elsewhere on our site that it is the same as another battery mower, but I cannot for the life of me remember the brand.

    As for your situation, I would contact Linamar Consumer Products directly to get their take. I prefer to go directly to the manufacturer on such things first rather than having to lug my purchase back to the retailer.

    From their web site here is their contact information:

    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-857-1445
    Email: info@linamarconsumerproducts.com

    I could say to tell them that ‘Dan sent ya’ but that would likely not get you anywhere. However, they should remember our site so it couldn’t hurt to mention us in case that gets their attention knowing that you will report back here in a follow-up comment for all to see on what they said.

    At least I would be curious.

    Dan

  16. Michael Ireland says:

    Thanks for the reply … shortly after posting, I decided that I should order another power pack anyway. It will give me the convenience of having a fresh set ready to go all the time. The processing and shipping time is apparently 1-2 weeks.

    I carefully read through the manual (they have a downloadable PDF version which is nice), and took the mower into a dark location to determine the color of the indicator LED that flashes. It’s hard to differentiate the color, but it appears to be the orange LED. According to the manual, this is a start-sequence error and that the solution is to “try again”.

    This leads me to wonder if perhaps there was a problem with on-board electronics. I am sure the fresh batteries will clear that up.

    At any rate, with any luck I will remmeber to post here about my success when the time comes!!

    Mike

  17. Rob Render says:

    I’m wondering if you could send me a picture of the bottom of your 2009 Solaris mower? I have the 2008 21″ Solaris. Although it runs, my battery life is only 12 minutes. Linmar sent me a new set of batteries, but I feel it will just be a repeat performance after a couple of seasons.
    Now I am analyzing the deck design since the 2009 model is so radically different.
    One thing I noticed is how easily the drive belt packs grass clipping into the belt cover. The next thing is the shape of the bottom lip of the deck- it curves OUT, not IN like my Toro gas mower (I had to buy a used Toro mower since my Solaris was getting weaker and weaker).
    I hate to think of my 2008 Solaris as a waste of $500, so I plan to make little adjustments to make it a decent mower again.

    -Rob

  18. Michael Ireland says:

    Hi Rob,

    I will see about getting some pictures to post of the bottom of the mower. Mine is not self-propelled though, so I have no drive belts. Also, they must have modified the design slightly because I do not get any severe build up of grass in the underside, even when mowing long wet grass. On the other hand, something about the bottom of the deck *does* seem to make the grass lay down more than ideally, thereby leaving some of the grass uncut. This necessitates the occasional back-track. Moral of the story? don’t leave your grass grow rediculously long rofl!

    Anyhoo, back to my conundrum. I contacted Linmar about my problem, and they were very quick to try a number of fixes. First, they had me remove the top housing (4 bolts), and check the wires. All was good. I did some other general inspection of the entire length of the wire to ensure there was no short or anything. All was good.

    By this time I had the email addresses of one of the customer service reps, so I let her know the outcome of my findings. They consulted the engineers and the only solution they could think of was that there was something wrong with the motor itself. They couriered me a new motor & starter assembly (after getting the serial number etc). It was super easy to switch out, took me only about 20 minutes.

    During the change-out procedure, I discovered that the pull-cable in the starter assembly on the “old” one was in a stuck position. Upon dissasembly and reassembly of the starter, the cable was returned to the correct position. I finished mounting the “new” motor and starter and fired it up (with both sets of batteries that I now have) and all was good. I then tested the old motor now that the cable was un-stuck and sure as heck, it works. I feel a little bad that I now have 2 perfectly good motors … but at least I know that if I fry one, I have a backup!

    Net result? I am *extremely* happy with Linmar’s service. They were very quick to get back to me, were couteous, and when they couldn’t determine the problem, they just sent me a replacement. Great service for sure.

    -Mike

  19. Sylvia says:

    My husband had purchased the Solaris battery lawn mower 4 years ago in 2009. Just wondering if anyone from this blog had any experience with defective off-board battery charger? I do not see the light on anymore. Is there a way to reset the charger. I think the battery is still in good condition. I sent email to the manufacturer hoping they could explain to me the issue and how to troubleshoot it.

    I went back to Home Depot, they do not carry this brand anymore and they do not have the battery replacement :(

    Thanks

  20. KG says:

    Does anyone know where to find a replacement charger for these batteries? Lost my charger!

  21. Jack says:

    Are 12 volt lead acid batteries still available for the 2008 Solaris model? … The ones with the big handles on top ?? thanks for any info.

    • Dan says:

      Hello Jack,

      I myself am not aware. Perhaps the manufacturer, Linamar, would know?

      Dan

      • STAN says:

        I have been using my Solaris for a few years now and only this year I’ve noticed that the battery casings have developed cracks. Needless to say, the batteries are now defective.
        I was not successful in getting the original type replacement batteries and probably a bit hesitant to do so since there was apparently no way to determine their freshness.
        One of my suppliers supply basically the equivalent battery #SLA12-20 which is identical except it does not have the particular type of post. I will modify the connections and will give you feedback on how these batteries perform.

  22. byron says:

    Has anyone tried using lithium batteries? I made my own set out of two old Bionx lithium bike batteries, so much lighter than lead acid batteries.

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