BLACK+DECKER 885911499057 60V Max Power Swap Mower
BLACK+DECKER 885911499057 60V Max Power Swap Mower, 20″
Price: CDN$ 549.00
Yard work just got easier
This is my first foray into the world of electric or battery powered lawn mowers. I never bothered with them before simply because I don’t like the idea of a cord and battery powered units seemed far to underpowered.
TL;DR – Very nice battery powered mower with a lot of power even in thick long heavy and wet grass. Easy storage, quick changes between modes of operation, and light weight. Better than expected battery life.
This B&D seems like a good reason to seriously consider changing to battery powered. Before writing this up I wanted to get at least four uses in so that I could get a good feel for how long the battery’s lasted plus get used to how it handles. Considering I have been using the same gas powered mower for the last 8 years I didn’t want to run on a first impression or maybe miss something that didn’t show up on the first use.
This biggest difference, besides not having to put gas in it, is the weight. At first I was a little concerned about how sturdy it would be given that when compared to the gas mower it weights almost nothing. It has some weight but is simply so much lighter than a gas powered mower.
I’ve had other battery powered yard equipment but none of these things have to deal with the load that a mower does when faced with thick tall grass (roughly varying from 3 to 6 inches) that’s still wet from the mornings dew. This is what I was faced with on the mowers first use and it fared better than I expected. The yard doesn’t have that much grass, somewhere around 1200 square feet as we have a big garden instead of lawn, and while I didn’t need to switch batteries the first one was down to one LED out of three by the time I was done. I was also mulching on this run and this ads a little more load since there is always some already cut grass that remains under the deck to be cut several times in addition to the new stuff as you move along.
When I mowed with the rear mounted bag in place I was surprised at how well it packed the bag with cuttings. The impeller (fan) that sits above the blade does a great job of blowing air which aids in moving cuttings into the back of the bag rather than collecting at the front. This means less trips to the composter to empty it. Side discharge works well and the grass is left in a nice little windrow.
The deck height adjustment is smooth and requires very little effort. I was very much impressed at how easily it changed the height on all four wheels. The six positions give enough options for me and in reality I only ever use one anyway.
Because it’s so light manoeuvring around various things like flower planters is a cinch. Even if the whole thing needs to be lifted a little to shimmy around a tight corner this mower is easy to handle due to its overall light weight and long handle.
Three modes of operation:
Switching from catching clippings to mulching or side discharge and back is super simple. B&D has done a great job of making this user friendly and all of the pieces fit together nicely, not too lose and no jamming. It takes no more than about a minute to switch between any of the three modes:
♦ Rear bag on to catch clippings
♦ Rear bag off for mulching, insert plug to prevent clippings from shooting backwards
♦ Rear bag off for side discharge, attach side discharge panel
Storing is made simple with how easily the handle folds down at both the mower and at the half way point, it literally folds back on itself. The bag then nicely sits on top and the whole thing takes up far less room than the gas powered mower even though it cuts a wider swath.
The batteries are great. I’ve seen reviews where people think that the current capacity should be higher, somewhere near 7 amps instead of the 2.5 amps that they are. This is a non-issue. Larger capacity batteries would mean a physically larger battery which would be heavier as well. If the voltage was lower then the current capacity (amps) could be higher but this is a trade off and what we have here works. Voltage is like pressure in a garden hose and current the width of the hose itself allowing for more or less water to pass. For any purpose there is a right combination that works best. For mowing grass a higher voltage and lower current capacity battery works great and I prefer this option as less current flow can, and in this case does, result in less heating. Heat is harmful to anything electric so if the motor stays cooler then it will last longer.
While pushing the mower there are three LED’s for each battery that you can see. This is the fuel gauge and even in bright sunlight they are visible when lit up.
The charger will only handle on battery at a time. Some people have seen this as a disadvantage but I don’t have any issues with this. Charge time will depend on how far the battery is discharged but for me the longest it took per battery was just less than an hour and a half.
B&D claims that the mower has a built in auto sense for delivering power as needed. I did experience what could be called a controlled ramping up of current when in the deeper grass. There was a slowdown in the blade speed whenever the mower encountered deeper grass which was immediately followed by a ramping up of the blades RPM. Progressing back to shorter grass the RPM’s remained fairly constant. If it wasn’t controlled the blade speed would increase when not loaded. This helps to extend battery life and is a useful thing to have.
To start the mower is a three stage affair, it requires using both hands which from a safety stand point is a great idea.
►First the “key” needs to be slipped into the bottom of the control panel. This key is really just a big plastic plug which connects power to the control panel from the battery’s.
►The big orange button on the control panel needs to be pressed and held, then afterwards the dead man’s handle (thin bar located on top of the main handle) is pulled down. This then powers things up. Then release the power button.
►To stop the mower simply let go of the dead man’s handle.
By requiring the dead man’s handle to be pressed down while pressing the start button means you can’t have one hand underneath the machine where bad things will happen once it starts up.
The main handle ends up being fairly long which makes handling what weight there is easy when cornering but this can be a draw back as I found out when in tight quarters, I can’t turn the machine around and mow going back in the other direction and I have to back out a couple of times, in one of the areas between flower beds. There is a lot of adjustment in the handle up and down to make it comfortable for taller or shorter people so use. The quick release clamps make changing height a 30 second process.
Other than the very long handle I really haven’t found any noteworthy negative items yet, even after four outings. That said I’m still wondering how well the plastic motor mounts will work over a period of years and how many years I’ll get out of a set of batteries.