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re: Gas or Electric

Tom, et al.--

Maybe someone can do a lifecycle assessment.

I vote for (and use) electric.  Gasoline powered mowers generally have 
inefficient and dirty 2-stroke engines. They do not have catalytic 
converters--one challenge for use of catalytic converters on small engines is 
the high temperature they operate at (i.e., safety hazard for a lawnmower, 
leaf blower, etc.), but the mobile source experts on the list can correct me 
if that's incorrect.  I believe that Honda markets a gasoline lawnmower 
somewhat cleaner than most (maybe 4-stroke engine??).

As to efficiency, a car engine is something like mid to high 20s% 
efficient--I'd bet the typical lawnmower is lower. A typical fossil fuel 
electric plant is something like 33% efficient but you have some transmission 
loss.  On the other hand there's efficiency loss in refining the gasoline and 
motor oil for the gasoline lawnmower too. If some of your electricity is from 
gas turbines (more efficient, cleaner gas or oil fuel), then electric looks 
better.  Ditto if you have some non-fossil (hydro, nuke, PV, wind--at least 
for "conventional" emissions and wastes [yes, hydro and nukes have impacts 
too]) in your generation mix.  

And then you have exposure, the emissions and noise occur where you, your 
family, and neighbors are. 

You're right that the reel mower is the best P2 option--except perhaps 
planting groundcover requiring no mowing.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Rodney Sobin
Innovative Technology Manager
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 10009				629 E.Main St.
Richmond VA 23240-0009		Richmond VA 23219-2429
Tel. 804-698-4382	
Fax 804-698-4264
---------- Original Text ----------

From: "Thomas Vinson" <TVINSON@tnrcc.state.tx.us>, on 01/09/2002 12:14 PM:
To: SMTP@RCHMD.01@Servers[<P2Tech@great-lakes.net>]

Which do you think is better for the environment overall.  A gas mower, or an 
electric mower.  

While I believe it is electric, a colleague of mine believes that the loss in 
efficiency due to transfer means that the electric utility company has to 
burn more fuel to power the mower.  This loss in efficiency could offset the 
benefit of having a controlled emission.

I suppose it also depends on the fuel at the plant, and wether the mower has 
a catalytic converter.  

We both agree a push mower is a great alternative, though neither of us will 
actually get out and use it.   Push mowers also have a "waist" minimization 

Tomas Vinson

Fax: 512/239-3165
Phone: 512/239-3182

Engineering Specialist
TNRCC - Pollution Prevention
PO Box 13087
Austin, Tx 78711-3087