The Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower (2019)

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From previous experience (nine years commercial lawn care) and research, I ranked my top 7 self-propelled lawn mowers which include both gas and electric models.

It was a no-brainer selecting the Honda HRX series as the best self-propelled lawn mower for 2019.

Although I have tried numerous other models during my time, the Honda was still a cut (no pun intended) above the rest.

Other mowers have lots of awesome features but what kept me coming back to the Honda was its ease of starting, power and reliability.

A good mower and weed eater combination is a super useful combination in the garden and will save time and money if the right selection is made.

See my buying guide below for gas powered weed eaters to complete your duo.

 

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Big Gav's Best Overall

Honda's powerful and easy to start engine, combined with a solid rear wheel drive and feature set, place the Honda HRX217K5VKA as the best of the best self-propelled lawn mowers

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Big Gav's Best Value Option

A smaller budget doesn't mean you have to go back to a "push" mower. The Troy-Bilt TB370  is good value for money even with a few trade-offs to the more expensive models.

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Big Gav's Best Electric Cordless Option

Battery powered mowers are no longer the gimmicky toys they used to be. The EGO 21" 56-Volt   provides a viable alternative to gas mowers and it is self-propelled.

Comparison Chart

COMPARISON
CHART
 PRICESIZE
CC
BLADE
WIDTH
(INCHES)
CUT
GRASS
BAG
(BUSHELS)
No
OF
CUTTING POSITIONS
ENGINE
NOISE
LEVEL
MINIMUM
CUTTING
HEIGHT
(INCHES)
MAXIMUM
CUTTING
HEIGHT
(INCHES)
FRONT/REAR
OR ALL
WHEEL
DRIVE
MULCHING
OPTION
ELECTRIC
START
TOTAL
WEIGHT
POUNDS
WARRANTY
Honda HRX217K5VKA $599.00190212.5798.23/44VARIABLE REAR WHEELYESNo905
Troy-Bilt TB370 $563.21149212.5697.71.253.75REARYESYes722YEAR FULL + 3YEAR ENGINE START GUARANTEE
Lawn-Boy 17734 $359.25163211.96N/A1.253.75REARYESNO923 YEAR LIMITED ENGINE WARRANTY
Snapper Ninja$699.0019021Bag
Optional
6N/A1.254REARYESNo82.53
Honda HRR216VYA Price not available160212.4698.51.1254REARYESNO843
EGO 21" 56-Volt $399.0056
Volt
2126N/A1.54REARYESYES655
Ryobi 20 in. 40-Volt Self Propelled MowerNo products found.40
Volt
20N/A7N/A41.54REARYESYES685
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Best of The Best Honda HRX

The Honda HRX217K5VKA is the premium end of Honda's domestic mower range.

I never bothered buying into the commercial range during my lawn care business because the domestic product was more than adequate for commercial work and it came in at a better price.

Whilst this mower has lots of good features, it's the engine that was its greatest asset for me.

There is no fun in having a mower with lots of great features but the engine is difficult to start or unreliable.

Keep the air filter clean and the engine serviced regularly and you have a mower that will last a long time.

I went through 3 in nine years of constant work, so for regular domestic mowing you could get 15+ years with good care. 

A good indicator of how well the engines are is the 5-year warranty Honda give with these mowers.

The second greatest feature I always liked with the Honda's was their mulching ability.

The HRX is excellent in this area with its multiple cutting blades that really chop up the grass.

If you are new to mulching, instead of catching the grass, the catching shoot is covered up and the grass gets chopped up into fine particles in the mower deck and then filters down back into the lawn to compost away and provide beneficial nutrients to the lawn.

This is a gas lawn mower worthy of consideration.

Available at Amazon

Pros

Excellent engine with power to match

Good size clipping bag

Very good at mulching

Cons

Expensive

Heavy to move when not running

Not ideal for cutting and catching in wet condtions

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Best Value Troy - Built TB370

Not everyone has the budget for a top of the range Honda. This doesn't mean you can't get a good self-propelled mower with a smaller budget. If you have a decent size yard, then the Troy-Built TB370 is still a good option for a self-propelled vs a push mower. 

Like all things when comparing to a more expensive option, there are trade-offs. The engine capacity is smaller at 163cc but this is still fine particularly if you regularly mow your lawn. The cutting deck is right up with there with all other comparable models at 21 inches (0.53 m). Some folk prefer separate height for wheel adjustment, but I prefer the single adjustment that the Troy-Built has. 

One feature I always liked on other models that the Honda didn't have was large rear wheels. I found the larger wheels made it easier to pivot on sharp turns and generally make it easier to maneuver. The smaller lawn clipping bag is not a huge issue as wetter grass can be really heavy to lift with the larger bags. Plus, if you are mulching then the bag capacity is not an issue.

Available at Amazon

Pros

Excellent value for a self-propelled                 

Good size clipping bag                                 

Will mulch as well as catch

Cons

Engine not as powerful as other rivals

Warranty is OK but not class leading

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Best Mulching Mower Snapper Ninja RP2185020 / 7800981

The main objective of the Snapper Ninja is to mulch grass rather than catch it. I personally am a big fan of mulching as it keeps the nutrients in the existing grass to promote better future growth. This mower is well-designed for mulching and has a unique cutting blade with six cutting edges.

In addition to the blades it also has a powerful 190cc Briggs and Stratton professional series engine that has the power to really chop up the grass into fine pieces. I also like the big rear wheels which can assist in taller grass and maneuverability.

All these features combine to create a machine particularly suitable for mulching.

More information can be found on the Snapper Ninja website.

Available at Amazon

Pros

Excellent engine with good power                  

Good size clipping bag                                   

Very good at mulching 

Cons

Limited flexibility when you dont want to mulch

Catching bag optional (additional cost)

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Best Cordless Self Propelled Mower - EGO 21"

Electric powered lawn mowers have come a long way and are now real considerations for a low noise and maintenance option.

Part of the improvement in this segment has been due to better battery performance which allows these mowers to mow longer and have more sustained power.

The design of these machines makes them ideal for small yards. The EGO 21"cordless mower has excellent power output with its battery rated at 56 volts.

This mower is a realistic alternative to a gas powered engine particularly when you a looking at small to medium size yards. (1/4 - 1/2 acre)

The obvious limitation is how long you can mow before the battery runs out. The manufacturer states up to 60mins of run time with a 7.5ah battery.

Available at Amazon

Pros

A solid gas engine alternative

No engine maintenance issues to worry about

Low noise 

Cons

Battery duration

Expensive when you add on the cost of the battery and charger when purchasing

 

Considerations When Purchasing A Self-Propelled Mower

Gas or Electric Powered?

For small to medium size yards, I think an electric cordless mower is a real gas alternative to think about. No fuel to worry about, no engine maintenance, and significantly reduced noise, what's not to like?

Rear, front or all wheel drive?

From previous experience the rear wheel drive combination worked really well and I had no problems with hilly or rough terrain. If it was really wet then the rear wheel drive would slip a little but who really mows in the wet?

I like the concept of all wheel drive but I think it is overkill and I'm dubious about the long term durability of having all wheels driving. A bit like the additional costs associated with an all wheel drive car. I had 3 Hondas with the rear wheel drive and one out of the 3 had the rear drive unit malfunction once and I got if fixed and it was never an issue.

Self Propelled Mower Features

One of the main considerations you need to make when looking at a self-propelled mower is the self driving system. They vary between manufacturers and it is important to note that it can take a while to get used to a mower pushing itself if you are used to doing the pushing. Often they have set speeds, or they can also be variable. I personally like the set speeds but some folk prefer to adjust the speed themselves.

An electric starter on gas models can be useful but if you have ever had to pull start a Honda you know they require very little effort and personally, an electric starter is just something else to wrong and I prefer the cord pull.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a self propelled lawn mower?
    • A self-propelled lawn mower uses its engine to drive either the rear or front wheels (or both) to propel the mower along without the operator needing to push. The operator controls the speed usually off the main handlebars and to make the mower go forward or reverse when required.
  • Can you push a self-propelled mower?
    • Self propelled mowers can generally be pushed, however they are usually much heavier than a traditional push mower due to the extra weight in their drive trains and larger physical size.
  • How long does a self-propelled mower last?
    • Depending on how well they are looked after a self-propelled mower should last 10+years. Honda has a 5-year warranty on their HRX series which indicates their confidence in the longevity of their product.

Self Propelled Lawn Mower Safety

Self Drive Systems Can Be Dangerous

If you have never used a self-propelled lawn mower, they can be a little strange at first. Most of us have grown up having to "push" the mower so it can take a little time adjusting to the mowing moving on its own.

Some machines use variable speed others have set speeds. The older models would keep going if you weren't hanging on. These days the safety features don't allow a mower to run without engagement with a human.

Always turn the engine off when inspecting underneath.

It can be tempting to look underneath the mower whilst running if it seems something is caught in the blades. The safety features on modern mowers make it hard to look underneath while the blades are spinning but all the same turn the engine off and check safely.

Mowers are noisy

Most gas powered mowers are pushing upwards of 100 decibels, this is damaging to your ears when not protected for prolonged periods. Eight hours of 100 decibels will damage your ears. Wearing some form of hearing protection is a no-brainer. The Decibel Defense ear muffs provide a high level of noise protection at a reasonable price. Ear plugs are another option to consider.

The Wash Up On Self Propelled Mowers

Self propelled mowers make lawn mowing easier and less fatiguing.

Decided if you need a self propelled mower, a small lawn might only need a push mower or an electric version.

Self propelling systems vary in the way they work, decide what works best for your needs.

Finally, always wear hearing protection when using a gas engine.