It’s Not Easy Being Green

We’re so close, and yet so far, from truly rechargeable devices requiring little or no fossil fuel.

In half an hour I’ll be heading to a dealership in Minneapolis to look at (and probably buy) a Neuton rechargeable mower. They’re the first ones that finally have what I need to cut my lawn with no fossil fuel needed: a 19″ swath, removable battery (extras are $99) and a price-point that’s reasonable though a hair on the high side ($479).

I have reservations about the device, though reviews are generally good about their older, smaller models and the battery life, cutting capability and so on. The other reservation is that this purchase is — at a minimum — a five year purchase cycle so I’ll live with this decision for a long time. My first reaction though was “Who the hell is Neuton?” since I’ve always purchased name brand mowers, specifically Toro brand. I’d certainly be more comfortable buying from a major brand, but none of them offer the sweet spot of what I require like the Neuton does and, in fact, Toro no longer makes rechargeables.

Currently I drive a diesel full size car that gets an average of 30mpg if I don’t drive like a crazy man. But what I really covet is a diesel or gas-assist, plug-in hybrid like the new, plug-in capable 2009 Toyota Prius. My lease runs out in November of this year, and there’s no way this model will be shipping since the dealers would already have pre-order ability, which they do not.

The reason for the delay in shipping products that are rechargeable, is the current state of battery technology.  Using plugin hybrid cars as the most visible example, there is tremendous effort underway in the world (Toyota, GM the most visible) to ship a plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and Toyota’s CEO stated last year that Lithium Ion batteries (needed for range and efficiency) wouldn’t be ready and volume shipping across Toyota’s line until 2012. Unfortunately for me and my lease end-date, I’m probably one car cycle away from having a PHEV and will undoubtedly have to buy this off-brand plugin lawnmower.

I’ll say this though, when gasoline hits $5 a gallon (or more, God forbid) then demand will be so high that in November I’ll be lucky to get on a waiting list for the next Prius without paying double the sticker!

UPDATE 5:41pm: I bought the Neuton and the dealership had charged the battery so I tried it out when I got home (and my 13 year old son begged to use it and he did most of the mowing…sure hope THAT excitement lasts!). It works MUCH better than I thought it would and the second battery I purchased means I’ll have zero worries of running out of juice. This is a great little product.

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  1. Tim Lauer on May 3, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Enjoyed the post. I’ve been using a rechargeable Black and Decker for about 5 years and really like not having to deal with having gasoline sitting around my garage. Have you taken a look at this one?

  2. Steve Borsch on May 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I did look at it but haven’t had good past experiences with Black and Decker — specifically with rechargeable stuff– though sounds like yours has been good.

  3. anne on May 12, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Where did you purchase your Neuton in Minneapolis? Thanks!

  4. Steve Borsch on May 12, 2008 at 3:02 pm


    Bought it at Cedar Small Engine on 38th & Cedar. Curiously, they don’t have the Neuton on their web site but the Neuton folks gave me their info, we went over to the dealership, and they had significant inventory of them and have been selling them for some time (with great success and customer satisfaction they said).

    I love it. Can’t let the grass grow too long since I don’t want to bag it (waste hauled away seems counterproductive!) and 1.5 inches of thick, sort of wet grass like I have now is about all you should do without leaving trails of grass around.

    Depending upon the size of your lawn (mine is about 16,000 square feet) I’d heartily recommend two batteries. When they say “45-60 minutes of use” they aren’t kidding and, depending on the grass length, it’s more on the 45 minute side.

    Quick aside: two of my neighbors stopped by and BOTH were going to buy one and have asked if they can give mine a try.

  5. Anne on May 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for the helpful information. I think we’ll try the Neuton too.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.