Electric Lawn Mower vs Petrol: What’s Best For You?

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
January 9, 2024
Electric vs Petrol lawn mower cover

We’re tackling a common dilemma many Australian gardeners face: choosing between electric and petrol lawn mowers. This guide will illuminate the key differences, helping you make an informed decision tailored to your garden’s needs. 

Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or new to the world of lawn care, understanding these options is crucial for maintaining a healthy, vibrant yard. 

So, let’s embark on this journey to discover which mower type best suits your gardening style and environment!

Key differences between electric and petrol mowers

The choice between electric and petrol lawn mowers is pivotal in the quest to keep our gardens pristine. When it comes to electric lawn mowers, here’s what you need to know:

  • Powered by electricity: These mowers run on either direct power through a cord or rechargeable batteries.
  • Quiet and clean: They operate quietly, making them neighbourhood-friendly, and emit no direct pollutants.
  • Ease of use: Typically lighter, they offer effortless manoeuvrability.
  • Maintenance simplicity: With no oil or fuel to manage, they’re a low-maintenance option.

Meanwhile, petrol lawn mowers run a little differently: 

  • Fuel-driven engines: These mowers are equipped with robust petrol engines that are ready for extensive use.
  • Unmatched strength: Ideal for larger, tougher terrains, they bring unmatched power to lawn care.
  • Freedom of movement: Their cordless nature allows unrestricted mobility across vast spaces.
  • Considerations: They require regular refuelling and engine maintenance and are generally noisier with emissions.

Our gardens’ choice hinges on the balance between power and environmental consideration. Electric mowers are a nod to quiet, sustainable care, while petrol mowers remain the go-to for expansive, challenging landscapes.

Benefits and limitations: Petrol vs electric mowers

Now we understand the difference between petrol and electric lawn mowers, let’s break down some pros and cons to help develop our knowledge:

Electric mowers:

Using an electric lawn mower on grass

  • Pro: Eco-friendly with zero direct emissions.
  • Pro: Quieter operation, less disruptive in residential areas.
  • Pro: Lower ongoing costs and minimal maintenance.
  • Pro: Lightweight and easier to manoeuvre.
  • Con: Less power, not ideal for large or tough terrains.
  • Con: Battery life limits usage time (for cordless models).
  • Con: Corded models restrict mobility.

Petrol mowers:

Mowing grass with petrol lawn mower

  • Pro: More powerful, suitable for larger and tougher lawns.
  • Pro: Greater mobility, not restricted by a power cord.
  • Pro: Longer lifespan with proper maintenance.
  • Con: Higher emissions, less environmentally friendly.
  • Con: Louder operation.
  • Con: Requires more maintenance and has higher running costs.

Addressing myths and misconceptions

  1. Myth: Electric mowers aren’t powerful. While traditionally less powerful than petrol mowers, modern electric models are efficient and suitable for most standard lawns.
  2. Myth: Petrol mowers are too difficult to maintain. Regular maintenance can be straightforward if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

In sum, electric mowers are ideal for smaller, quieter environments and are more cost-effective in the long run. In contrast, petrol mowers offer robust performance for larger, more demanding lawns.

Electric vs petrol mower: Head-to-head comparison

When choosing between electric and petrol lawn mowers, each has unique advantages tailored to different gardening needs. Here’s a concise comparison to help you decide:

Factor Electric Mower Petrol Mower Considerations
Power Output Generally lower Higher Electric for regular maintenance, petrol for tough terrains
Suitability Small to medium lawns Large, rugged lawns Match mower to lawn size and grass type
Performance Efficient for standard lawns Robust for challenging tasks Consider the typical lawn conditions
Environmental Impact Eco-friendly, no emissions Higher emissions Electric for eco-conscious gardeners
Noise Level Quieter operation Louder Electric for noise-sensitive areas
Maintenance Low maintenance Requires regular upkeep Consider time and effort for care
Cost Lower initial and ongoing costs Higher initial, maintenance costs Budget for long-term expenses
Durability Good, but less than petrol Generally more durable Assess long-term usage and needs


Below, we’ll detail these factors to help you determine what’s best for you! 

Power and performance

In the realm of lawn mowing, power and performance are crucial. Let’s compare how electric and petrol mowers fare in these aspects.

Electric mowers:

  • Power output: Generally lower compared to petrol mowers. Ideal for regular lawn maintenance rather than heavy-duty tasks.
  • Suitability: Best for smaller lawns and fine to medium grass types. They excel in maintaining neat, suburban gardens.
  • Real-world performance: Electric mowers handle everyday lawn care with ease. However, they might struggle with thick, overgrown grass or uneven terrain.

Petrol mowers:

  • Power output: Higher, offering robust performance even in demanding conditions.
  • Suitability: Perfect for larger lawns or tougher grass types. Their power makes them suitable for diverse Australian landscapes, from manicured lawns to rugged, grassy expanses.
  • Real-world performance: Petrol mowers are the workhorses of lawn care, easily tackling long grass and dense vegetation. They’re the preferred choice for extensive, more challenging mowing tasks.

In summary, electric mowers are your go-to for regular, lighter tasks. In contrast, petrol mowers stand out in demanding, large-scale scenarios.

Environmental considerations: Emissions and sustainability

At Yard Work, we’re not just about keeping lawns tidy but also keenly aware of our environmental footprint. Here’s how electric and petrol lawn mowers stack up environmentally.

Electric mowers:

  • Lower emissions: They produce no direct emissions, making them a cleaner environmental choice.
  • Carbon footprint: Operating on electricity, their carbon footprint depends on the source of the power grid. Renewable energy sources can further reduce this impact.
  • Sustainability: Electric mowers are a step towards sustainable lawn care, especially as battery technology and renewable energy sources advance.

Petrol mowers:

  • Higher emissions: Emit exhaust fumes, contributing to air pollution and carbon emissions.
  • Carbon footprint: Generally higher due to petrol combustion (see here for types of petrol that mowers use).
  • Sustainability challenges: While less eco-friendly, advancements like more efficient engines and cleaner fuels are improving their environmental impact.

In essence, electric mowers lead to environmental friendliness. Still, ongoing technological advancements are gradually reducing the ecological impact of petrol mowers.

Usability and user experience

In lawn care, usability and user experience are as important as the cut of the grass. Here’s how electric and petrol mowers compare in these aspects.

Electric mowers:

  • Ease of use: Known for their simplicity, electric mowers often start with just a button push, offering a hassle-free experience.
  • Handling and manoeuvrability: Generally lighter, they are easier to navigate around tight corners and small spaces, perfect for manicured lawns with intricate landscaping.
  • Noise levels: They operate quietly, significantly reducing noise pollution and enhancing user comfort, especially in residential areas.

Petrol mowers:

  • Ease of use: They may require more effort to start (pull-start mechanism) and can be heavier to manoeuvre.
  • Handling and manoeuvrability: Their robust build is suited for rough terrains and larger areas, though this can make them less agile in tight spaces.
  • Noise levels: Typically louder, petrol mowers can be more disruptive, which is a consideration in noise-sensitive environments.

In summary, electric mowers offer ease and quiet operation, ideal for smaller, intricate gardens. In contrast, petrol mowers provide the power needed for larger, tougher landscapes, albeit with more noise and effort.


In our pursuit of the perfect lawn, safety should never be compromised. Let’s assess electric and petrol lawn mowers’ health risks and safety features.

Electric mowers:

  • Health risks: Lower risk of burns or fuel-related accidents, as they don’t use petrol. However, corded models pose a tripping hazard and risk of electric shock if not used properly.
  • Safety features: Often equipped with automatic shut-off mechanisms when the handle is released. Cordless models eliminate the risk of cutting the cord and generally have lower vibration levels, reducing user fatigue.

Petrol mowers:

  • Health risks: Higher due to the handling of petrol, with risks of fuel spills and fumes. They also tend to vibrate more, which can lead to user fatigue over prolonged use.
  • Safety features: Commonly include blade brakes to stop the blade quickly when the mower is turned off. Some models have a protective shield over the hot engine parts to minimise burn risks.

In terms of safety, electric mowers generally offer a safer user experience, especially for those new to lawn mowing, with their straightforward operation and reduced risk of fuel-related accidents.

Maintenance, durability, and longevity

Maintaining a lawn mower is key to its performance and lifespan. Here’s how electric and petrol mowers compare in terms of maintenance, durability, and longevity.

Electric mowers:

  • Maintenance requirements: Generally low maintenance. Key tasks include battery care for cordless models, blade sharpening, and regular cleaning.
  • Durability and lifespan: Often have a shorter lifespan than petrol models, especially the batteries in cordless versions. However, fewer moving parts make them less prone to mechanical issues.
  • Maintenance tips: Store batteries properly, keep the mower clean, and sharpen the blades regularly to extend its life.

Petrol mowers:

  • Maintenance requirements: Higher maintenance, needing regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug maintenance.
  • Durability and lifespan: Typically more durable, especially in demanding environments. With proper care, they can last many years.
  • Maintenance tips: Regular engine checks, timely oil changes, and keeping the mower clean and dry will significantly extend its lifespan.

While electric mowers win in ease of maintenance, petrol mowers, with their robust build, can last longer, especially when well-maintained.

Cost considerations: Initial investment vs ongoing expenses

When investing in a lawn mower, it’s crucial to consider both the initial cost and long-term expenses. 

Here’s a breakdown for electric and petrol mowers.

Electric mowers:

  • Initial investment: Generally less expensive than petrol models. Cordless versions can be pricier due to battery technology.
  • Ongoing expenses: Minimal. Electricity costs for charging are relatively low, and there’s no need for petrol or oil.
  • Long-term financial implications: Replacement batteries can be a significant expense for cordless models. However, lower maintenance costs can balance this out over time.

Petrol mowers:

  • Initial investment: Typically higher, reflecting their robust construction and power.
  • Ongoing expenses: Regular costs include petrol, oil, and maintenance parts like spark plugs and filters.
  • Long-term financial implications: Maintenance and fuel can add up, but their longer lifespan can provide value over many years.

Ultimately, we recommend considering your lawn size and type to determine the mower best fits your needs. Ensure you factor in maintenance and fuel costs for petrol mowers or battery replacement for electric models. Remember that a higher initial cost can mean lower long-term expenses and vice versa.

In summary, electric mowers offer lower upfront and ongoing costs, while petrol mowers can be a long-term investment despite higher initial and maintenance costs.

Petrol ride on mower on grass

So, what is the best lawn mower to buy?

As we’ve explored, electric and petrol lawn mowers have unique strengths and challenges. The best choice? Well, it hinges on your specific lawn needs and personal preferences.

If you’re tending to a smaller yard or are keen on an eco-friendly option, an electric mower is your ally. They’re quieter, easier to handle, and kinder to the environment. Perfect for a peaceful Sunday morning trim without disturbing the neighbours. If you want to check out some products in the market, see our guide on the best electric lawn mowers, robot lawn mowers, or battery-powered cordless mowers!

On the flip side, a petrol mower is your go-to if you’ve got a sprawling lawn that laughs in the face of lesser mowers, or if you’re dealing with tough, unruly grass. Yes, they require a bit more TLC in maintenance, but they pack the punch needed to tackle larger tasks.

Here’s our inside tip: Think about your physical comfort. If lugging around a heavy machine isn’t your cup of tea, the lighter electric mowers might be more up your alley.

Ultimately, it’s about balancing power, convenience, environmental impact, and your budget. Whether you choose the whisper-quiet electric route or the robust petrol path, ensure it aligns with your garden’s needs and personal lawn care style.


Whether you opt for an electric or petrol lawn mower, the key is matching it with your garden’s needs and personal preferences. Each type offers unique benefits, and understanding these can lead to a more enjoyable and effective gardening experience. 

Happy gardening, and may your lawns always be lush and well-kept!

Additional resources and further reading


How do weather conditions affect the performance of electric and petrol lawn mowers?

The performance of both electric and petrol lawn mowers can vary with weather conditions. Petrol mowers generally handle wet conditions better than electric models, which may have limitations due to electrical safety concerns. However, extreme conditions like heavy rain or snow are not ideal for lawn mowers. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific weather-related advice.

Are there any innovations in lawn mower technology on the horizon?

The future of lawn mower technology is exciting, with potential advancements like AI integration for precision mowing, enhanced battery life for electric models, and more efficient engines for petrol mowers. Innovations may also focus on eco-friendly solutions, such as solar-powered mowers or advanced emission control in petrol models.

Should I be concerned about the noise level of my lawn mower in a residential area?

Yes, noise levels are an important consideration, especially in residential areas. Electric lawn mowers generally operate more quietly than petrol models, making them a considerate choice in neighbourhoods where noise pollution is a concern. If you opt for a petrol mower, look for models with noise reduction features and try to mow during midday hours when the disturbance is less likely to be an issue for your neighbours.

For more information on mowing noise levels, check out our guides on State Government regulations around power tools:

What are the storage and space requirements for mowers?

The storage space required for a lawn mower depends on its size and design. Electric mowers often have a more compact design. They can sometimes be folded for storage, making them suitable for smaller spaces. Petrol mowers, on the other hand, typically require more room due to their larger size and need for ventilation. It’s important to store mowers in a dry, secure place to protect them from weather elements and potential theft. Additionally, petrol mowers should be stored away from any heat sources due to flammability concerns.