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The best electric lawn mowers of 2021

We tested the most popular electric lawn mowers on the market in 2021. When the grass clippings settled, we decided these are our top picks.

The days of pulling a cord on a lawn mower are over thanks to the electric lawn mower.

No longer tethered by a cord like their primitive predecessors, today's battery-powered models are more powerful than before -- very important when you're trying to keep your yard in tip-top shape year-round. That said, today's battery mower options come in a wide range of prices and capabilities. I found over the course of this testing that there's a huge variation in how well a battery powered lawn mower performs compared with how it's advertised, as well as how well battery mowers performed when compared to a corded electric lawn mower or a gas lawn mower.

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It isn't just raw performance that's critical either. Before splurging on one of these machines, you'll need to consider what types of batteries they use as well. Some mowers rely on batteries that also power popular brands of home power tools. DeWalt, EGO and Ryobi are good examples of this type of cross compatibility. If you already own tools from one of these or similar brands, you may not have to spend extra cash on additional hardware.

Other factors like whether a mower is self-propelled can have a big impact too. That's especially true of big, heavy machines you'd rather not push around unaided. If you're in the market for a push electric lawn mower, you're in luck. I've gathered here a group of the most popular electric mowers I could find. I stuck to push-from-behind models only, which cost anywhere from $250 to $550. I then unpacked, assembled and personally put each unit through its paces. After the grass clippings from my mowing spree settled, these are my favorites.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Anyone that doubts that an electric mower can't rival the power of gas models, hasn't used an EGO. At 62.6 pounds, this machine is one of the biggest and heaviest in my test group. That said, the EGO Power Plus definitely had the most oomph. Whether cutting grass or barreling through low-brush, this mower performed like a tank. Where other lesser mowers stalled, It was simply unstoppable. 

Despite its heft, the EGO Power Plus was a cinch to drive around the yard. I found it fast and stable, too. I also appreciated that I could engage its variable speed engine without having to spin the mower's blade. Other noteworthy features include a wide, 21-inch cutting platform and 56-volt battery that works with EGO's entire line of yard power tools. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Just because a lawn mower isn't self-propelled doesn't mean it's hard to use. Case in point: the Ryobi 16-inch One Plus HP 18-Volt push mower. Even though it's extremely compact and weighs just 34.5 pounds, this tiny machine packs a punch. It stalled less than some of the larger, more powerful mowers in my test group, and the Ryobi's light weight made it simple for me to push.

This machine uses Ryobi's standard 18-volt rechargeable batteries too. They're the same lithium ion power packs that the company uses in its popular line of home power tools. The mower comes with two batteries plus a charger -- in case you don't have one sitting around.

Its 16 inch cutting width, however, is on the narrow side. Still, for those with smaller yards (a quarter of an acre or less) the surprising power of this mower will suit their needs just fine.

Chris Monroe/CNET

While the Hart 40-Volt Cordless Brushlessmower doesn't have the raw cutting power of other electric push machines, it's no slouch either. This mower's blades never stalled during my test trims. It also powered through challenging low-brush without choking.

Despite offering a wide 20-inch cutting width, the 52-pound machine felt relatively light. It isn't self-propelled, so pushing the mower uphill is a challenge. Even so, the mower's low price and solid performance make it compelling to budget shoppers. The pair of 40-volt batteries and charger are compatible with Hart's lineup of power tools to sweeten the deal.

Other mowers I tested

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The Dewalt 21.5 in. 20-Volt MAX.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Dewalt 21.5 in. 20-Volt MAX lithium-ion self-propelled mower

I had high hopes for this Dewalt mower because of its large size, steel chassis and Dewalt's long history of making power tools. Unfortunately, in the field its performance was disappointing. The Dewalt 21.5 in. 20-Volt MAX stalled often due to cut grass becoming caught between the mower blade and frame wall. Adding insult to injury is the mower's relatively high $500 price tag.

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The Ryobi 21-inch 40V brushless, self-propelled mower.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Ryobi 21-inch 40V brushless, self-propelled

Close to the EGO mower in terms of power, speed and cutting ability, the Ryobi 21-inch mower handled our test lawn well. It slowed down a few times, but it recovered quickly and didn't stall once. At the same $549 price tag, the more powerful EGO is the better buy.

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The Kobalt 40-Volt Max brushless 20-inch push cordless electric mower.

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Kobalt 40-Volt Max brushless 20-inch push cordless electric lawn mower 5 Ah

Light for its size, this 56-pound mower isn't self-propelled but it was easy to push. Unfortunately, its underside got clogged a few times during our tests. Its battery also takes some force to push into place.

The Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16-inch cordless lawn mower.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16-inch cordless lawn mower with 4 Ah battery

Compact and lightweight, this model from Greenworks performed well. It didn't stall during my test mows and it was easy to push across the lawn. However, the battery mount inside the mower sits on the top inside edge of its socket. That makes it more awkward to insert compared with other machines.

The Sun Joe 24V-X2-17LM 48-volt 17-inch mulching walk-behind lawn mower.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Sun Joe 24V-X2-17LM 48-volt 17-inch mulching walk-behind lawn mower

This model from Sun Joe may be light and a snap to push. If you walk too quickly the mower can get bogged down with grass trimmings. You also have to slide the machine's batteries into their sockets at an angle which isn't as intuitive as it should be.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Testing the mowers 

To test each lawn mower, I selected one flat area of turf within the lawn of the CNET Smart Home. With all mower batteries fully charged, I set each mower's cutting height to its No. 4 position (higher number means greater cutting height). Next, I used each machine to mow at least four full rows (15 feet) of lawn in both directions, with 180-degree turns between each row.

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Some mowers like the Kobalt here can get bogged down by grass clippings.

Brian Bennett/CNET

I paid close attention to whether mowers stalled, got bogged down, or struggled in any way while cutting. I also ran the same test through a low-brush section on the outer edge of the lawn. This served as a torture test for high-powered models, and a good way to determine which mowers are truly worth your money.

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