Once you have purchased an electric vehicle—in my case a used 2015 Nissan Leaf—and installed solar panels—in my case a total of 24 panels for a nameplate capacity of ~7.5 kWh—you are left with a question: how do I further decarbonize my household?
If you live in a single family home in the United States there are a surprising number of places where fossil fuels are being used on a daily basis. Most home owners do not really consider these sources of carbon emissions.
Consider the lawn. Anyone with an inkling of environmental conscience understands that the turf grass monoculture that dominates our landscape is essentially a hellscape of inappropriate plants, harmful chemicals, and energy intensive maintenance.
In my household we have abandoned the chemicals and I am ripping out sections of turf grass as often as I can in order for it to be replaced with perennials suited for my region. However, I am left with some amount of turf grass and social expectation that this grass be mowed on a semi-regular basis.
Trust me, I have pushed the bounds of both social expectations and legal ramifications over the years by allowing parts of my lawn to go weeks without seeing the spinning blade of a lawn mower.
Nonetheless, I am bound to some degree to maintain a well-manicured lawn. As a good suburban homeowner I spent the last nine years mowing my lawn with a traditional gas powered push mower. I dutifully filled it up with a small amount of ethanol free gasoline every few weeks and spent about an hour clipping my grass down to the maximum height setting.
Thankfully, a series of mechanical mishaps aligned with my desire to rid myself of this pollution spewing beast. How much pollution does a mower release, you ask? It depends upon the source and methodology, but according the EPA lawn mowing accounts for up to 5% of the United State’s total air pollution. Not to mention the millions of gallons of gasoline that are spilled filling mowers. Add in the oil required for four stroke engines and you have a lot of fossil fuels being consumed to keep our lawns high and tight.
Now, I could have rolled old school with a reel mower as someone will surely point out. I would also ask that person if they have ever mowed more than a few hundred square feet with one of these contraptions. Seriously, another eco-minded neighbor bought one and every household with an interest tried it once. Reel mowers are the Zima of lawn care. You try it once and never think about it again.
Strolling the aisles of my local Home Depot—an activity one is likely to engage in when waiting for your child to complete soccer practice—I noticed a clearance sticker on a Ryobi cordless electric mower. Now was the time to jump on the electric lawn mowing bandwagon.
For less than the cost online of a regular push mower—battery electric or ice—I took home a battery electric self-propelled mower. The 40V mower came with a single 5-amp hour battery. If I believe the online reviews this battery should provide about 45 minutes to 1 hour of cutting depending upon usage. We shall see.
Additionally, I purchased an extra battery online. The cool thing about the 40V Ryobi tool line is that with such a large installed base there is a healthy aftermarket in third party batteries. I was able to get a compatible battery rated at 6-amp hours for less than $80. With two batteries I should have more than enough capacity to complete mowing my lawn. Again, we shall see.
For the first time in forever I am looking forward to the beginning of lawn care season if only to see how the electric revolution applies. The march toward a deeper level of decarbonization carries on.