Electric fans say plug-in lawn mowers edge gas motors in convenience and quiet

The sticker shock is less, too, now that prices compare well to gas mowers

Ben Gratton mows his lawn with his electric mower. Gratton prefers his electric mower because it’s easier to take care of than his gas mower. (Photo by Heidi Reitmeier)

Ben Gratton is the kind of guy who takes his lawn seriously. He mows it all once in one direction and then covers the same territory from precisely a 45-degree angle from the first cut.  

As the Parks Supervisor for the City of Longmont, Gratton takes pride in the 350 acres of parks his crews maintain all year, and he takes equal pride in the 4,000 square feet of his home yard. 

It would be easy to assume that Gratton uses big gas-guzzling machines to maintain his pristine yard, but he does it all  – front and back – on a single charge using his electric lawnmower. And he uses electric because it’s easier. 

“Ultimately I’m a pretty lazy person,” Gratton said, without a hint of sarcasm.

A cool history of coolants

How we keep ourselves and our stuff (like food) cool is a lesson in ingenuity, innovation and a little like Whack-A-Mole. Every time scientists developed the next best thing, it caused problems somewhere else. 

When the scientists started looking at ways to get air colder than a fan, they focused on vapor compression systems. Essentially, this is the air conditioner you have now in your car and in your house. It uses circulating liquid refrigerant to remove heat from a space. 

The first refrigerants were things like ammonia and carbon dioxide, which were effective but, you know, toxic. 

In 1928, Freon was developed. Freon was the trade name for a type of coolant called a chlorofluorocarbon. .