I’ve been mowing my yard with the new Dewalt 2x20V brushless mower since the middle of July and I figured it’s about time I actually reviewed it. My test sample was delayed until the middle of summer, giving me the opportunity to purchase and spend some time with the EGO LM2101 push mower, reviewed here while I waited.
One aspect of this mower that people get confused about is the actual operating voltage — what does 2x20V mean? It means that the two batteries are in series, and so the mower actually runs at 40V Max (36V nominal). This is the same voltage as their 40V mower.
I’ll start out like I usually do, with a rundown of some relevant specs:
- 19″ cut width
- 20″ metal deck
- 1.5″ – 3.4″ cutting height
- Runtime is not specified
- Brushless motor
- Requires two 20V Max batteries
- Mulching, bagging, and rear discharge
- 2 position handle
- Folds for compact storage
- Single-lever 5-position deck height adjustment
- 3 year Warranty
Right now the mower is only sold in one form, as a kit with batteries and a charger. Specifically, it comes with two 5Ah 20V Max (DCB205) batteries, a single bay charger (DCB112), collection bag, mulching plug, and safety key for $399.
Buy Now (Kit via Home Depot)
Interestingly, as I was searching for links, I found a Home Depot page for a Dewalt 2x20V mower with a “bonus” of two 5Ah batteries for $677. What? That’s $277 dollars for two “bonus” batteries? That’s well over what you’d pay if you bought the original mower and just went and purchased 2 additional 5Ah batteries.
I’m wondering if they created this listing to counteract so many of the bad reviews due to poor battery life. It still doesn’t address the batteries heating up so much that you can’t charge them right away, or the 5+ hour recharge time for a pair of 5Ah batteries.
The handle has two mowing positions and one storing position. I was a bit skeptical of the long fixed-length handle at first, as it does take up more vertical space when stored, but I found the solid handle really improves the responsiveness of the mower.
There are two knobs on the side of the mower that you pull and twist one-quarter turn to move the handle.
The metal handle with the metal plate and the positively locking knobs really make the handle feel like a part of the mower deck. The whole assembly is very rigid. The deck responds instantly when you press down on the handle to lift the mower — there is no slop at all. This makes mowing a much more pleasant experience, especially when you are tired.
Speaking of storing position, the mower folds up and rests on the back and takes up very little space. I can fit both the Dewalt and Ego mower in a smaller foot print than my old gas mower.
The mower weighs 26.30 kg, or about 58 pounds with the two 5.0 Ah batteries installed.
The dual battery meters are very visible when you are pushing the lawn mower.
To adjust the height of the mower, there’s a single lever with 5 notches.
Something that surprised me about the mower was the inclusion of a safety key. The mower will not run without the key in place. For the life of me I can’t figure out how this makes the mower any safer. My Ego mower doesn’t have a safety key. I just see this as something that would be frustrating to lose.
If you need to work on the mower safely, you take the batteries out, just like any other battery powered tool.
At the Craftsmen launch I asked one of the mower people why they included the safety key on the Craftsman and Dewalt mowers. He said it was required by law. I asked specifically which law, and I’m still waiting for that response.
It also doesn’t appear to be a theft deterrent, as I found a simple jumper between the terminals will allow the mower to operate normally. Stuart will probably make me put a disclaimer here like: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!
Issues Out of the Box
I was already aware of the handle pinching the cable thanks to Travis over at toolsbydesign on Instagram. And the first time I tried lifting the handle into place, it pinched the wire.
The pinching cable seems like such a small matter, but I know from experience that over time a small issue with the mower’s cables can turn into long term frustrations with the mower. My old Toro had a cable that kept moving around on my and catching on things. No matter how I moved it or strapped it down, eventually it worked it’s way back to where it was in the way. After 8 years with the mower, it drove me crazy.
What’s worse about this pinching cable is that if it’s not fixed, it’s going to fail, and it’s not going to take 8 years. You’ll be lucky if it lasts a season. Plus, Murphy says that it’s going to fail when you are already in a hurry, or are in a bad mood.
My third and final fix was to 3D print a new bracket that holds the cable far enough inside the handle to where it doesn’t want to catch. You can also see the 3D printed ball on the cable, that was my first try. I thought the ball would be thick enough that it would jump out of the way if it got pinched.
I did discover later when I tried bagging that this solution can interfere with the bag. @toolaholic on Instagram came up with a much simpler solution. He simply twisted the wire so that the loop faced away from the joint where it was pinched and held the wire in place with a few wraps of electrical tape. Sorry I don’t have any photos of that fix because it was from a temporary story of his.
Another issue that was pointed out to me by Travis was that the height adjustment lever gets in the way of the handle release knobs if you have the deck height set to 2 or 3. The easiest fix for this is to change the height.
Run Time With Included Batteries
Dewalt does not specify a run time, so here is what they do say:
It is perfect for properties up to 1/4 acre. For optimal performance, the battery-powered lawn mower can be paired with high capacity 20V MAX DEWALT batteries or FLEXVOLT batteries for extended runtime.
I felt is was important to use their own words, because this mower has been widely panned for it’s abysmal run time with the included 5Ah batteries. That’s not the only issue.
Once you have exhausted the 5Ah batteries, they get quite warm. Now 120°F might not be too hot to run in the mower, but they are too hot to charge right away.
When I put the two batteries into a charger, you can see the hot/cold light is on. The charger won’t charge these batteries until they cool down.
That brings us to another issue. I’m charging the batteries on the Portable Power Station because Dewalt only ships a single bay 2A charger (DCB112) with the mower.
This means that it will take at 2.5 hours to charge a single battery. If you bought this kit and weren’t already in the Dewalt 20V Max ecosystem, that means that you’d have to wait at least 5 hours to run this mower after you ran out of juice — and that’s if you remembered to switch batteries on the charger at the 2.5 hour mark.
So how long was I able to mow with the included 5Ah batteries? I don’t have very thick grass and that I mow it every week so I’m not making the mower work very hard. With that in mind I was able to get somewhere around 20- 25 minutes of mowing before the mower would quit.
This amount of time only allowed me to mow about 3500 sq. ft., or about half of my front yard. To finish the yard, I ended up using other Dewalt batteries that I have. Changing the batteries halfway through became frustrating, especially after being spoiled by the the long run time of the EGO LM2101 cordless mower that I reviewed here.
Run Time With 9Ah FlexVolt Batteries
We knew in advance of receiving the mower that people were complaining about the short run time, so we asked Dewalt for two 9.0Ah Flexvolt batteries to test with the mower, but I didn’t receive them until the end of August.
When the 9.0Ah Flexvolt batteries arrived, I charged them up and was able to mow my entire front yard, which is about 6600 sq. ft. Every time I mowed thereafter I was consistently finishing after 40 to 45 minutes with one bar left on both batteries.
There isn’t much left after that one bar though. One day I started mowing my back yard after I finished my front yard, but I only was able to mow a few rows before the 9.0Ah batteries were depleted.
The other bonus was that the Flexvolt batteries did not overheat. Their temperatures never measured over 82°F and I was always able to put the batteries on the charger right away.
Blade vs. Deck Size
On the Dewalt 2x20V mower the blade is 19″ and the deck is 20″.
There seems to be an industry standard in battery powered lawn mowers to use the size of the deck and not the cut width as the size of the mower. Whereas on gas mowers, the cut width is the size of the mower, or at least that was what I thought. To confirm this I went to several stores with my tape measure and measured the blades of every gas mower I could find.
Without exception, the gas mowers used the blade length to describe the size of the mower.
I found that Menards even goes as far as to specify the cut width on the placard in front of their gas mowers. Of course I double checked and measured the blade myself and found it to be 21″. I forgot to check the battery mowers though.
For an electric mower, the Dewalt 2x20V seems a bit on the loud side. While it has no gas engine, I measured 84 dBA at the handle approximately 1 meter away. This is too loud for me to hear my headphones and almost on the threshold of needing hearing protection if you were able to run it all day.
Bagging, Mulching, Rear Discharge
The mower has a mulching plug behind the rear door. It needs to be in place for mulching. Otherwise for bagging and rear discharge, it needs to be removed.
Here’s what the mower looks like with the mulching plug removed.
For rear discharge the mulching plug is removed and the rear door swings down back into place. The grass is actually deflected downward by the rear door onto the rubber rock catcher.
In the above video you can see how the grass and leaves are shooting out onto the rubber rock catcher, but quickly accumulate and start to block the rear discharge.
In the photo above, I had a few more leaves in the mix and it completely plugged the rear discharge.
I usually never bag my grass unless I’m collecting leaves in the spring and fall, but I put the bag on and collected grass for a few rows.
The mower does a pretty good job of throwing the grass to the rear of the bag. This way, it fills from back to front and doesn’t start to block the clippings before the bag is full.
I mulch most of the time and the mower also did a pretty good job of this. I would mow some decently thick grass and there weren’t windrows of grass left over.
As for cut quality, my lawn isn’t very good for determining this. Unless I mow on the lowest setting and scalp my grass, I haven’t used a mower either electric or gas that really does a good job. I think I would need one of those professional models they use to stripe baseball fields before you’d notice any difference.
The Dewalt 2x20V pretty much cut the same as my EGO, and my Toro, and my Lawn Boy before that.
I really like the feel of the mower. The handle is solidly attached to the deck with almost zero slop. This makes the mower respond instantly. This is a huge plus over my EGO LM2101 where there is a ton of slop in the handle.
Despite the smaller 19″ cut width, it really doesn’t take me much longer to cut my yard, so I don’t think that the smaller blades size should scare anybody away.
While I was at Craftsman, I asked about the battery life issues (it’s no secret that Craftsman borrowed from the Dewalt OPE team). I specifically asked why, with having only 28.6% less watt hours available than the Ego 5.0Ah battery, it can only run about half the time. I was given two answers: 56V gives you a bit more efficiency than 40V, and the Dewalt mower is actually geared lower to handle thicker grass.
I think a third reason is the heat buildup. The Flexvolt and EGO batteries are designed for this kind of sustained load and the 5Ah 20V max batteries aren’t.
Despite a few annoying quirks, this is a good mower packaged with inadequate batteries and charger. It’s further puzzling that they marketed the mower as being “perfect for properties up to 1/4 acre,” then only be able to mow about 1/12 of an acre every 5 hours.
I see two solutions to the run time issue. Offer a bare tool at a discount for people that already have a few 9Ah or 12Ah FlexVolt batteries. Or offer the mower with 9Ah Flexvolt batteries and let’s not forget a dual charger like the DCB102 so you don’t have to swap batteries during charging.
Thank you to Dewalt for providing the review sample.