Wednesday, April 16, 2008

solaris solar-powered lawnmower

one of the dilemma’s i am running into with the burgeoning range of “earth-friendly” products is the purchasing cycle that i am immersed in - items that have reached the end of their life and need to be replaced such as lawnmowers - and the appearance of products that i would buy for their ability to meet both my needs and those of my planet but which arrive after i have already made my less-friendly purchase.

a case in point is the appearance of the solaris lawn mower.
my old lawnmower - a classic two stroke - literally blew up firing oil and blue smoke with a memorable bang that caught the attention of several of my neighbours who fought their way through the cloud to see if i had survived the event.

needless to say i nipped out later that weekend and bought a newer “more efficient” model. i had thought about buying a hand mower but to be perfectly honest, those things work well on smooth small lawns. i have neither a smooth nor a small lawn and so i opted for a four-stroke machine that uses oil, gasoline and pollutes a bit less than the old beast , but pollutes nevertheless.

how much does it pollute? here are some sobering stats:

•according to the government of canada (one-tonne challenge) a typical gasoline powered lawn mower emits about 48 kilograms of greenhouse gas in one season.

•there are about 8 million gasoline powered lawn mowers sold per year in north america and europe.

•gas-powered lawn mowers are very inefficient, which means that despite their small size they produce a lot of air pollution. in fact, running an old gas-powered lawn mower for one hour can produce as much air pollution as driving a new car 550 kilometers, says the ministry of the environment for canada

•a gasoline-powered lawn mower run for an hour puts out about the same amount of smog-forming emissions as 40 new automobiles run for an hour, says the california environmental protection agency, air resources board.

so the bottom line is that the replacement of every 500 gas mowers with non-gasoline-fueled mowers would spare the air:
•212 pounds of hydrocarbons (smog ingredient)
•1.7 pounds of nitrogen oxides (smog ingredient)
•5.6 pounds of irritating particles
•1,724 pounds of carbon dioxide

so i won’t lie and tell you that i am rushing out to buy this product because i won’t be buying one for a while yet. but i will buy it (or something equivalent) when the purchase cycle comes around again.

as mentioned above, the solaris solar-powered lawnmower has arrived and in fact was just released through home depot just over a week ago . . .

it is not cheap, checking out of the shop at around $570.00 and that’s exclusive of the solar powering station
which you can look at here. the charging station checks out at $250.00. so basically you’re dropping $870 plus tax for a lawnmower which puts it beyond the reach of most people in the market for such a machine. the premise is sound though and i remain optimistic that two things will happen in this area. one, the government will offer a rebate for the purchase of an earth-friendly machine, and two the prices will come down as the technology becomes easier and cheaper to produce.

more detailed information about the solaris lawnmower and associated products can be obtained from the manufacturer.


Ez Blogger said...

I just bought mine today at home depot. $499 and will get the solar charger at a later date.

steven said...

thanks for dropping by and writing. that's a good price as far as i can tell! great stuff ez blogger!

verde_grrrl said...

Important to note that the higher price tag on the solaris is rapidly offset by the gas that it doesn't guzzle. According to the mfr, in 6 yrs, the solaris will save you over $300 in fuel and maintenance costs. That changes the economics of the purchase, especially as fuel prices are not going to drop in the future.

Also, the solaris is built by a company that specializes in high-efficiency brushless DC motors, and was engineered to be a rechargeable machine, unlike other units that are available. The mfr included a compensation in the energy use/battery capacity for a self-propelled feature, which none of the other available rechargeable models have.

So, unlike other mfrs who built a gutless corded mower based on gas-powered technology and then stuck a battery pack on it, the solaris is designed to do the job it was built for. Nice.

I'm ordering mine today. Will pass along a performance review next month.

steven said...

hey verde_grrrl thanks for your comment! the economics of initially expensive "green" items are often quickly offset in the very manner you anticipate your solaris lawnmower will be.
i am a cyclist - i don't drive at all. i am currently trying to rationalize a really lovely (read expensive) bike to myself and the best argument i can come up with is the savings in fuel, maintenance, insurance and then outwards from my own concerns to the larger global impact such a relatively small decision makes. i am looking forward to another comment from you sometime down the line when you have your "performance review" ready!!

Anonymous said...

We have a very large lawn which is not very smooth and also includes a few terraces. We use a riding mower for the largest portion of the lawn and a and a smaller 4 cycle hand mower for trimming around trees and flower beds.
The hand mower was getting a bit temperamental this spring, just about the time Home Depot was offering $100 dollars off some electric mowers is you brought in your old gas mower.
We took advantage of the HD offer and purchased a Solaris 21. It was a mistake. The specs from Linamar state that the unit will run from 45 minutes to 1 hour & 15 minutes and cut between 7,000 & 10,000 square feet of lawn on a set of fully charged batteries, depending on grass conditions. We discovered that a set of fully charged batteries would not power the unit anywhere near long enough to do the amount of trimming we require nor did they seem to last very long. So, I did a little experiment by starting to cut, with a fully charged set of batteries, on a large, flat section of the lawn. The batteries failed after only 15 minutes and, using a measuring wheel, I found they had powered the mower long enough to cut approximately 1,072 square feet of grass, not even close to Linamar's specs. Granted, I used the self propelled drive but, if 15 minutes is its max it simply wouldn't work for our needs. I even considered purchasing a second set of batteries but, Home Depot informed me that they won't be stocking them and they also won't special order them for me.
I called Linamar's Consumer Products Division and was informed that a set of batteries is just under 150 bucks with tax plus shipping. During the course of our conversation and my complaints about battery performance, the rep hung up on me.
That settled it, the mower went back to Home Depot for a full refund. I'm out the old mower that I traded in so I'll replace it with a new 4 cycle and hope the newer models are more efficient.

steven said...

hey anonymous - thanks for your report (and your honesty). a real bummer about the lawnmower's performance and also your experience with linamar. i'm kind of hoping that verde_grrrl gets back to us with her one month progress report so we can read about another person's experience with this product.


Anonymous said...

Bought mine today (19" model, $499 at Home Depot). Guess someone had already charged the batteries at the store since it only took 2-3 hours to charge - mowed my entire lawn with power to spare (60x200 minus house etc). Self propelled feature takes getting used to but great on hills; quiet (sounds like a vacuum), and cuts great. Battery pack area is ugly, but hey its a mower! Only complaint is that you are supposed to remove the batteries after use (and dock them in the charger) but to make sure there is a very irritating beeper that won't go off until batteries are undocked, which means removing the ugly cover again.....

Overall, pleased with it for the first use; time will tell if it lasts.