Milwaukee Tool’s M18 Fuel cordless mower – their first ever – was first teased about in August 2021 with early information, and then officially announced in January 2022 with full details.
The new cordless mower, model 2823, is a walk-behind model with 21” blade, steel deck, and self-propelled drive.
For the first time in what felt like years, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun — not to mention the warmth that comes from it — returned to Wisconsin last month
Milwaukee sent over a test sample, and the grass finally grew long enough for me to see how well the mower performed.
Milwaukee M18 Mower Features
Milwaukee says the mower delivers more max torque compared to a 200cc gas mower, and also surpasses those models with “instantaneous throttle response” for both the drive and blade motors, along with the ability to maintain blade speed without bogging down during thicker and more challenging cuts.
The mower runs on a pair of M18 batteries and is optimized for Milwaukee’s 12.0Ah High Output batteries, two of which are included in the kit (2823-22HD) along with a dual-bay simultaneous charger.
A tool-only version is not available at this time.
The mower will fit any of the brand’s M18 batteries, but you’ll probably want to stick to their high capacity battery sizes.
- Variable speed self-propelled drive (0.1-4.0 MPH)
- Full 21-inch cut capacity*
- High lift mode – increases blade speed for superior air flow and better lift
- 3-in-1 grass management – mulch, bag, rear-side discharge
- Front and side LED lights – 180-degree visibility in low light situations
- Single-point height adjustment – easier changes between cutting heights (7 positions; 1-4 inches)
- Requires (2) M18 Li-ion batteries for operation
- 3-year warranty
* The blade that came with my review sample measured almost exactly 21 inches from end-to-end. Some other brands’ cordless mowers are instead advertised according to deck width. A mower with a 21” blade will cut a wider path than one that’s advertised as having a 21” deck size.
What’s in the Box
The 2823-22HD kit comes with:
- Mower (2823-20)
- (2) M18 HD 12.0 batteries (48-11-1812)
- M18 Dual Bay Simultaneous Rapid Charger (48-59-1802)
- Grass Collection Bag
- Rear-side discharge chute
- Mulch Plug
My Journey from Gas to Cordless Mowers
I’ve long been skeptical of battery-powered mowers, but finally took the plunge last spring, after being impressed when a neighbor brought one home. I bought a used Ryobi model to get me through the season, and it was convenient enough that I haven’t used my gas mower since.
Personally, I like the simplicity of a battery-powered mower. Not having to buy gas is a pretty big selling point right now, given the high pricing. A cordless battery-powered mower also means I no longer have to worry about running out of gas or, as I seem to do every year, forget to empty the gas tank before putting the mower away for the winter.
There’s also the benefit of lower maintenance needs – I don’t have to worry about checking or changing the oil, replacing the spark plug, getting a tune-up, or cleaning the carburetor. I also won’t be dislocating my shoulder while trying to pull-start a non-cooperative gas mower, cussing up a storm so loudly the neighbors close their windows.
Speaking of, I was trying to do a sound comparison between the Milwaukee mower and my old gas mower (the Milwaukee is a lot quieter!), and snapped the gas engine pull-start cord with the first yank.
Another benefit is that cordless mowers are fume-free.
Assembling the Milwaukee M18 Mower
Out of the box, the mower required minora little bit of assembly. It was pretty simple and involved little more that connecting a few screws to the handle, finding the appropriate angle for the handle, connecting the bag to the frame, and then attaching the bag.
From an operational standpoint, things couldn’t be easier. To get started, you hold down the bail bar and press the on/off power button. The mower blade will start to spin, and the power button will lock in position. To stop the blade, release the bail bar.
The self-propel function is easily controlled with a paddle at the center of the handle.
Self-Propel Drive Function
The self-propel drive speed can be adjusted with a dial, and the activation paddle also allows for variable speed, up to the maximum speed set by the self-propel speed dial.
The self-propel function can work whether the blade is spinning or not. Its combination of power and speed are no joke; I didn’t realize I had it set to full speed when I engaged the self-propulsion, and nearly took off like a cartoon character as the mower sped into action.
High Lift Mode and LED Light Controls
In the above photo, you can also see the high lift mode activation button, which increases the blade speed for increased air flow and lift. Milwaukee says this will result in better bagging or mulching performance. Below it is the LED activation button. Both are on/off buttons with LED indicator lights.
When I was done, I was pleased to see the clean, even cut left behind. The mower only missed a few blades of grass, and there were hardly any cuttings to be found. This is important to me, because even though cuttings are good for the lawn, they’re not great for a dog with grass allergies who would rather nap on the lawn than on one of the many beds and platforms that have been built for him over the years.
I was impressed, too, with the machine’s “intelligence.” There are some patches of my lawn, especially along the street, that are significantly thicker than others, and the mower automatically adjusted to those patches; speeding up then slowing down without bogging down as my gas mower would.
As with the top-notch build quality, the mower’s performance is exactly what you would expect from Milwaukee.
Testing the Mower with Lower Capacity Batteries
I made a mistake and did not charge the batteries prior to the quick assembly process. Because I have a tendency to be a little impatient when it comes to new toys, I thought I’d grab two batteries out of my arsenal just to get a feel for the machine while the 12.0Ah batteries charged.
For reference, Milwaukee says that when powered by 2x 12.0Ah batteries, the mower can deliver up to 60 minutes of runtime, allowing up to 1/2 acre of cutting when removing 1″ of grass at a 3 MPH self-propelled pace.
I started out with a pair of M18 9.0Ah batteries, which proved more than capable of powering the mower through my small yet challenging front yard, as well as the two curb strips on either side of my corner lot. When I was done, the grass bag was full, and there were very few missed blades or left-behind clumps. Both batteries still showed four full bars.
Since I still had my backyard to mow and the 12.0Ah batteries weren’t fully charged, I decided to see how smaller-capacity batteries would fare, so I popped in a pair of 5.0Ah batteries.
The box does say that it fits ALL M18 batteries.
I didn’t have a large area to mow, but it was the first cut after nearly a month of non-stop rain, and so there was plenty of grass to cut. Even with the XC 5.0Ah batteries, the mower sliced through my lawn with ease and showed three bars of power when I was done.
This showed me that, although you will get the most runtime and best performance when powering the mower with High Output 12.0Ah batteries, it can work with lower capacity batteries in a pinch.
One other thing worth mentioning here: no matter what battery you are using, you won’t have to stop and open the battery compartment to see how much juice is left; there’s a built-in 4-LED battery fuel gauge located right on the back of the mower, so you’ll always know when it’s time to take a break.
Additional Thoughts and Opinions
The 180-degree LED lights are perfect for cutting in low-light situations like early mornings or late evenings. You can see in front of you as well as on either side of the mower, which is a definite help in terms of safety.
Speaking of cutting in the dark, on a whim I tested out the mower’s lights during the recent lunar eclipse, and it was quiet enough that my neighbors one yard over didn’t even realize I was mowing my lawn at 11:30 pm.
Maybe it was just because the blade was brand-spanking-new, but never has my lawn been cut so cleanly, evenly, and completely.
Stuart’s Note: Milwaukee does advertise that their mower delivers “best cut quality.” They also say that the mower’s “higher blade speed and superior air flow delivers increased lift which reduces missed grass blades and clumps for the best cut quality.”
I’ve yet to mow with the mulch plug or rear-side discharge, but the almost complete lack of cuttings left behind was another plus for me.
One of my biggest gripes about any mower I’ve previously used is about how their handles are often too short and at an awkward angle for someone like myself, who stands 6-foot-5. That’s not the case with Milwaukee’s M18 mower, which has an adjustable handle that I could hold out in front of me comfortably and operate with a natural posture. This may seem insignificant to some, but will come in handy for taller users who will be pushing this thing around a lot.
No emissions, no pull start, lower noise, no engine maintenance, no gas hassle. The mower is quick to assemble, easy to use, well-made, and so far it’s done a superb job cutting my grass.
My gas mower is obsolete – good riddance.
I have more testing to do, and based on my experiences thus far, I’m looking forward to it. Any questions or things you want me to look out for?
Pricing & Availability
The mower is available at Milwaukee Tool dealers for $999 to $1,099. Some online dealers offer free shipping, others tack on delivery fees given the shipping size and weight.
(At the time of this posting, Tool Nut has the best price of $999 with free shipping.)
Thank you to Milwaukee Tool for providing the test sample.