Craftsman has come out with a new cordless 40-volt dual-blade 20″ cordless push lawn mower for 2014, and we were anxious to put it to the test. The new mower boasts up to 70 minutes of runtime with two batteries and is said to be an efficient mulcher, thanks to its dual-bladed design.
The most interesting feature about the new Craftsman 40V mower is its 2-battery power system. It is only powered by one battery at a time – and can switchover automatically once the first is drained – but the ability to mount two batteries means potentially longer mowing sessions before you have to return the batteries to the charger.
At a street price of only around ~$370 the new Craftsman cordless mower looks like a sure winner.
- Two 10″ blades for “up to 50% better mulching” than single blade mowers
- Kit includes (2) Craftsman 40 volt Li-ion batteries (one 4.0 Ah and one 2.0 Ah).
- Automatic battery switchover powers the mower by the second charged battery after the first is drained
- Up to 70 minutes of runtime with included batteries
- Automatic cutting speed adjustment for best performance and runtime
- 2-in-1 cutting deck allows mulching or rear bag mowing (bag included)
- Weighs only 42 lbs
- 5-position height adjustment using a single lever
- Folding handle for compact storage
Upon receiving the mower I promptly unpacked and prepared to assemble it. To my pleasant surprise it only needed to have the handle unfolded and locked into place. After removing a few pieces of packing materials the mower was ready to go!
Before the first mow, I fully charged both batteries using the included charger. The batteries are inserted into two covered compartments at the top of the mower, and the covers feature LED lights that illuminate to indicate which of the two batteries is currently in use.
I started on a section of lawn that I had mowed with a gas mower just a few days earlier. I hoped to mow the grass a little lower than my first few cuttings of the season, so I set the single lever height adjustment to its 3rd (middle) setting.
The height adjustment moves very smoothly and is a very nice feature to have on a push mower, compared to having to adjust individual levers on each wheel. Speaking of wheels, the Craftsman mower has rather large rear wheels that, combined with the mower’s light weight, make it very easy to maneuver.
To get the mower going, you must press and hold a start button, and then depress the bail/control lever. Release the start button once the cutting blades begin to spin. There is a small instructional graphic near the switch that shows this procedure, but the startup sequence was still not obvious to me until I read the instructions.
For those unused to battery or electric powered mowers, you will be greeted with an eerily quiet-sounding whir. It made me think of a toy airplane or quadcopter.
As I started my first pass, the whir of the blades changed as the mower sensed the grass resistance and automatically adjusted motor speed for performance. The cut quality was certainly nothing to get excited about; many blades of grass looked torn or frayed, which I would either attribute to the new blades not being very sharp, or turning at a lower velocity as the mower adjusted itself.
The cut is still acceptable, and can likely be improved by sharpening the blades, although this shouldn’t be necessary for a brand new product that came straight out of the box.
A little while into my mowing the blades gently spun down before speeding back up. This was accompanied with the battery compartments’ LED lights indicating that the second battery was taking over after the first was depleted. I mistakenly thought that the battery changeover would be seamless, but the mower essentially stops and restarts in the span of a couple of seconds as it switches to the fresh battery.
With renewed vigor the mower sprang to life and I was back to mowing the next few rows. Only a few minutes later, the entire mower stopped and could not be restarted. I checked the batteries, and they were both drained. A look at my watch showed that my mowing session had lasted the grand total of 26 minutes.
The batteries went back to the charger with the hope that battery life would improve after a few charges or once my lawn was under control. My second and third mowing sessions both lasted 36 minutes. I tried to be careful to not to cut the grass as low, but runtime was still far short of the advertised runtime of up to 70 minutes.
On my fourth mowing session, the batteries lasted 50 minutes. This is a great improvement over 26 and 36 minutes, but I am not sure yet if this is due to the batteries improving after the first few charges, or if the mower had to work less, stretching the runtime. I suspect it is the latter and plan to do additional testing to see if battery performance improves any further.
On paper, the Craftsman mower looks sure to beat every other option on the battery-powered mower market. However in real-world use, I’ve so far found that the battery life is quite short and that it has generally required 2 sessions to mow my lawn. In the last test session I was able to completely mow the lawn before the batteries gave out, and plan to continue testing to see if runtime improves further.
The battery charger does not charge quickly: the larger 4.0 ah battery takes about 2 hours and the 2.0 ah takes an hour to fully charge. This usually means that I start mowing the lawn one day and have to finish up another day. Because of the narrow compartments the batteries mount into, and how the latch is designed, it is somewhat difficult to remove the batteries from the mower.
Much of the mower is made from a tough plastic material, making it very light and easy to maneuver around the lawn. Although it helps save space, I found the handle’s folding mechanism to be very clumsy. There are locking levers on four points that need to be adjusted for tension pretty tightly to keep the handle it from feeling floppy and cheap.
Overall, the mower is capable enough to adequately handle smaller lawns and mowing needs, but its runtime performance could be a problem for those looking for a new battery-powered mower than can handle larger lawns.
Buy Now(via Sears)
Model #: 25081
Ease of Use: 4/5
Pictorial diagram on starting mower is unclear, and the batteries are somewhat difficult to remove from covered pockets due to latch design. Overall the mower is still very easy to use.
Build Quality: 3/5
Folding handle and latches are flimsy, battery covers feel very fragile, blades are very thin, mostly-plastic construction leads to some concerns over long-term durability.
Very light, large rear wheels make the mower easy to maneuver.
Cutting Performance: 2/5
Dull blades or variable speed left many “torn” looking blades of grass. Good blades should cleanly cut and not rip/tear grass.
Cutting thick grass dramatically reduces runtime. Longest runtime observed was still more than 25% shorter than claimed runtime of “up to 70 minutes”.
Thank you to Craftsman for providing the review samples unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for editorial and comparison purposes.
Nice mower, but not enough run time for my yard, it would take me the whole weekend.
Upon seeing it, the first thing that came to mind was the Batman’s car from the movie ‘Batman Begins’.
An interesting hack would be to build a mains-powered 40VDC power supply that could be plugged into the battery connector to finish the job if the batteries give out. Hard to say how big a PSU would be needed though given your worst-case experience (26 minutes), might be able to do it with a 15-20A unit. That would give people the best of both worlds. Well, except that they’d have to deal with a cord, of course. (One could perhaps mitigate the cord issues by re-thinking one’s mowing patterns so that the grass furthest away from the power outlet is mowed first under battery power…that way one doesn’t have to drag a cord as far)
That would be a pretty cool project, unfortunately also probably a bit outside of my skill set!
Growing up, we had two different electric powered lawnmowers. This was late 80’s, early 90’s. I think we had a Black and Decker and a Craftsman after the first one died.
The most interesting thing about them was that the handles flipped. So instead of having to spin the mower around like a traditional gas mower, you’d pull a lever and flip the handle so the mower will now push the opposite direction.
By flipping the handle, you didn’t have to worry about cord management, it would ALWAYS be out of your way. Another side effect was the discharge chute always pointed the same direction. So you could choose to mulch the clippings or not, depending on if you were blowing on cut grass or un-cut grass.
I kinda liked ’em, but I never owned one of my own. (shrugs)
We purchased a Homelite 24v cordless mower about six years ago. We have a smallish yard and it does okay. I did have to replaced the batteries a couple of years ago. Should not have stored it in an unheated garage. Over all I like it. It does take all day to charge.
Doesn’t matter how it looks or all the nifty features. The battery life is
all that counts. Gas powered mowers every time in my life. And its not from a lack of trying.
I have an electric mower, a lower end, Black & Decker CM1836 with sealed, non-replaceable, lead acid batteries.
You are experiencing a problem common to electric mowers. When the grass gets high, the mower doesn’t run as long. If I’m lazy and let the lawn go, I’ll end up with an unmowed patch in my backyard that will have to wait until the next day, an I only have a sixth of an acre to mow.
Still, the lightness, relative quiet and nearly zero maintenance of an electric mower means that I’ll never go back to using a gas mower. Plus, electric mowers are far more friendly to the environment. I’ve seen estimates that say up to five percent of all air pollution is generated by gas-powered lawn and yard equipment.
I completely agree that the first time I mowed I probably tried to take off too much at once. I hoped too much for it to perform like a gas mower.
On my second and third mows I intentionally cut a little higher, and was only rewarded with 10 more minutes of battery life. The 4th time was much longer, so I hope to continue testing and see if this is closer to normal. Even so, I thought I was barely cutting on the 4th mow, and it was still 25% shorter than the runtime claims.
Manufacturers spend a lot of time marketing the green and low maintenance advantages of these items. Most of those things are self evident however. They would otherwise convince most buyers if all other variables were the same. The issue has always been and continues to be the power source.
Batteries are not only an issue regarding run time, but also proprietary and generally expensive. That’s assuming by the way that you can continue to purchase or even find them for the life of the mower. These things will continue to get better and better, and gas powered equipment will eventually become old news. That’s at least true as far as non-professional equipment is concerned. In the meantime, batteries haven’t exactly been the great equalizer compared to gas powered products.
If I had a small lawn, I might consider something like this. My experiences with battery equipment however, tells me to stick with gas for now.
I ‘m wondering if the batteries are in fact 36 volts… That is, ten 3.6 volt cells.
Apparently, to keep the cost down, they came up short on battery capacity… at least for my lawn. I won’t consider a lawnmower if there is any chance I can’t fully cut my forgotten grass when I finally feel like it. A spare battery or two would help, but no doubt raise the total cost of the machine.
Presently I have a Lawnboy. My first Lawnboy, which I inherited, lasted over 20 years. The new one is much heavier than the old one due to it being a 4-stroke, and having all the required safety stuff (crap) on it. As I get older, I will need a lighter mower. Hopefully battery power technology progress will equal my own power capacity decline, and my next mower will be an electric… as maybe will a car be sometime in the future.
I think this is just Craftsman version of a Greenworks 40v mower. Lowes also has a Kobalt version of the same mower they released this spring. The only thing that kind of surprised me was Craftsman was using rebranded Ryobi 40v lawn tools before this new model Greenworks version. I hope they make things clear for people that the battery systems are probably in compatible between the two product lines.
The Craftsman and Greenworks 40v dual battery, dual blade models do look very similar. It would be nice if their batteries were interchangeable but I do not know if they are.
Also, in doing research for Jimmie’s question below, I found that the Greenworks and Craftsman mowers share the same part numbers for blades, which I think would further support them being at least very similar.
Why can’t they make the mower run on already existing battery platforms? For example, Craftsman already has a 19.2 volt lithium batter platform. Double them up, and you’d have 38.4 volts to work with. The mower has two batteries, operates on one 40v battery at a time, so I dont see why that wouldnt work. I think it would be a good thing to have as many things using the same batteries as possible.
If one already had a Craftsman drill, driver, saw, etc and batteries & a couple chargers, a mower using the same batteries would be a perfect compliment. It could come as a basic unit with 2 batteries and a double charger (assuming it operated on two batteries). This would be a great addition for one with Craftsman tools, a couple chargers and batteries already. Also offer it with 4 batteries in a deluxe kit, and homeowners could buy bare tools to compliment it, or use batteries/chargers they already have to give it a longer runtime.
I wonder, if it would run 20 minutes on a pair of batteries, and one had a total of 6 batteries, and charging capacity for 4 batteries at one time, if it wouldn’t VA able to run almost continuously?
Ryobi offers a system over in Europe that does exactly what your suggesting.
Why does Europe seem to get the best cordless stuff first?
It does seem to be that way lately they had the Dewalt cordless framing nailer a whole year before it was released in the USA. I think they like it as a place to test the popularity of a tool before the release it in the USA is all I can think of. That Ryobi mower would sell really well in the USA. At this point I think Ryobi is the most popular budget brand tool because of all the tools you can buy just on one battery platform.
Having gone through a Sears riding mower, a Bobcat riding mower, a small Case tractor and finally a Kubota – I was never in the market for an electric corded or cordless mower. While battery powered tools have their place for small lots – for larger properties there is the case to be made for engine-driven mowing. Alternatively, as a society we may someday wise-up and realize that nature really would prefer us to adorn our properties with something more environmentally friendly than a artificially fertilized, crabgrass- and weed-free, well-watered, nicely manicured lawn. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my grass and I’m now happy to say that I’ve reached a point in my life where I pay others to mow the lawns and keep them green and weed-free.
After thinking about this mower for a bit, here are some other questions if you don’t mind answering:
1) The blades are offset front to back. Looks like the left blade cuts maybe 5 inches forward of the right blade. Seems to me this might make it difficult to deal with certain obstacles. Consider mowing between two obstacles (shrubs maybe) where you don’t have room to turn the mower around. So you push the mower in and then pull it back out. Seems like this will leave a 5″ section of grass in front of the right blade untouched?
2) What’s your gut feel for the long-term durability of the plastic chassis?
3) How difficult is it to find replacement mower blades? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 10″ blade in a store aside from perhaps an edger blade.
The blades are offset, but I don’t think it is even by 5″, probably closer to 3-4″. So far in practice it hasn’t been noticeable, though I don’t have many obstacles like that. I can try once the weather drys up here and report back.
The plastic chassis feels kind of cheap, but I actually think it will hold up fine. It keeps the deck lightweight, and I could see it being less affected by weather than a metal deck. However, I think the underside is going to be prone to collecting grass, as I’ve already had to clean it out a few times. The least durable feeling part of the mower feels like the metal handle and latches due to their quick release style, and gradually working themselves loose.
I found the replacement blades (Part Nos: 33308486, and 33307486) on SearsPartsDirect.com, but only one of them is listed as “in-stock” for $14.97. I also found a package of both blades for the Greenworks 40v Dual Blade, Dual Battery model on Amazon for $16.97 (http://www.amazon.com/GreenWorks-29712-Mower-Replacement-20-Inch/dp/B00KA783HK/). The Greenworks part numbers are exactly the same as the Craftsman, which further leads me to believe they are essentially the same mower.
I had a Remington from Sears. Problems each of the two years I had it. They finally gave up and gave me this new Craftsman. Used it first time yesterday. I have a small yard. Two 15 x 15 sections in the front one in the back. Easily finished mine so I also cut my neighbors back yard which is easily more than I have. I didn’t know the blades were off set until I was finished. I noticed no problems in tight spaces. The Remington was steel and weighed a ton. I had a Black and Decker several years ago. It was fine but the battery being built in made getting it close to an outlet difficult and the charging plug was small and difficult. Also had a used Newton. It was ALL plastic and lasted a good long time. Clearly the battery mowers are not for large lawns. But on small to medium they’re great. The manual says that the battery DOES NOT fully charge the first time. Just used it once so we’ll see. Handles seemed fine to me. Once locked in they were quite stiff.
There could be a market for these things if they addressed the single biggest drawback…battery life. For the life of me I don’t understand why they introduce alternative machines which are crippled. Anybody who might have purchased them and talked to a neighbor first probably won’t look at them for another 10 years.
My biggest caution about this mower is that with two very small blades, the tip speed is very low compared to a larger blade. This is safer for toes… and for grass. Slower, lighter, smaller blades lack both the momentum and energy for cutting thick grass.
The technology to create a very efficient electric lawn mower is out there. The problem is the way manufacturing works. IOW, too expensive and not profitable to get a good money return.
Take for example why can’t, let say dewalt, build a lawnmower with a good top of the line motor that has battery ports for 5 3.0Ah/4.0Ah batteries that can work with only two at least connected to two ports?
Again, good quality motors are out there….by quality I mean with good ball bearings, extra long carbon brushes and designed to better dissipate heat (heat kills magnetism). With bearings that can be replaced also the brushes. My true coat plus ll paint sprayer has such a motor…the motor will outlast the piston for sure. At anyrate….
That lawn mower would work great for dewalt tool owner who easily owns quite a few batteries for work. I’m sure it could run for over an hour and with enough torque. But the demand for that would be low and not profitable, just saying the technology is there…it’s just at a stage where there is no demand I guess.
Having said that, I would buy a good quality battery operated mower if I had to mow a small lawn.
How does this compare to the kobalt mower? They look the same and it also comes with a 2 ah and a 4 ah battery.
Hi, we have one of these, and one blade has stopped working. Both batteries are charged, and only 1 red light comes on, any help is appreciated-we can not find a shop that works on these
I picked one up from the curb this week. The right motor was not working. I took it apart and found one of the brushes had come out (the holder came off). I put it back together and it runs like new. However, I didn’t get the charger. And chargers are expensive and hard to find.