So, how long will that "perfectly good" lawn mower you've been thinking of replacing for the past 3 summers last you? I've been thinking about that more in the last month or so, because my 12-year-old lawn mower "has issues" but I'm a notorious cheapskate. My first power mower (the same one with "issues") was the cheapest rear-bagger I could find, back when the cheap mowers were under $100 on sale. In recent years, the weird little spring-loaded carburetor can't keep a consistent RPM, but it runs well enough to mow the lawn without stalling (it just sounds like a prop from a 3 Stooges film.) If I buy something new, I'd like it to have a Honda engine and keep it until I'm a grumpy old man paying the neighbor kids to mow the lawn, and you can't get a mower with a Honda engine for $100.
So now I'm torn between spending more than I want for a proven product now, or probably spending WAY more than I want for new tech in a few years. EPA regulations will require cleaner engines on walk-behind mowers in 2011 (the regs tighten for 25+ horsepower equipment in 2010.) So, what do I really need?
For Texas, I have a fairly small lot. I'm not into the big house thing, quality space and location means more to me than square footage. So, electric is an option. I'm not sure what I think of that... the overall technology isn't new (one of my crazy aunts had an electric mower in the early '70s) but some of the new ones are battery-powered. Green tendencies tell me this is a good idea... lower emissions (both total and of course in my neighborhood), quieter, theoretically fewer problems. I've read lots of poor reviews, and don't really know where to find "reliable" lawn equipment reviews. Cords that get in the way, batteries that wear out... but no gas required. The cheap electric string trimmer I bought 15 years ago still works fine, as does the electric blower I bought a year or two after that.
I could buy a new gasoline mower in the next couple of seasons. Now my inner cheapskate is arguing with my inner environmentalist... it would probably run cleaner than my old one but not as clean as one with a catalytic converter after 2011, but it would cost less and if the first few years of lawn equipment with catalytic converters suck as much as the first decade of cars that had them, waiting for a "clean" gas mower might not be a good option.
I have to wonder if I'm subconsciously not deciding because doing nothing is the cheapest option....