Important tips to know before you make the switch to battery

March 20, 2023 -  By
Experts say battery-powered handheld equipment has come a long way since the early days of the technology. (Photo: Echo)

Experts say battery-powered handheld equipment has come a long way since the early days of the technology. (Photo: Echo)

Landscape professionals still have plenty of questions about handheld battery-powered equipment and mowers, even as adoption becomes more widespread.

Jack Easterly, product manager for Husqvarna; Jason Wilk, senior product manager for Echo; and Nick Suchoza, senior director of design for Greenworks, share answers to the questions you need to ask before committing to battery-powered equipment.

Start small

After years of relying on gas-powered equipment, the switch to battery power might feel daunting. 

Easterly recommends doing your research and starting small once you’ve decided on a manufacturer’s battery and charging platform. He says anything more than a few tools can lock you into a brand with a potentially significant cost associated with switching. 

“Unless you want to make a big change to a different brand with different chargers and batteries, I would be careful when you pick one platform or brand,” he says. “(If you use multiple platforms), you might not know which charger is compatible with which, you don’t have compatible batteries for those chargers and so on.”

To avoid the confusion of switching, Wilk says it’s crucial to research what tools each brand offers to ensure it has everything you need.

“For example, if you’re a contractor who offers tree care in addition to your other services, you want to make sure that the manufacturer you choose has the tools you need for tree care,” he says.

Don’t underestimate

The No. 1 barrier to entry Suchoza hears from pros is “range anxiety,” or the question, “Can the tool provide consistent power for the task I’m using it for?” That fear, he says, is becoming more unfounded as battery-powered equipment continues to evolve.

“Everyone wants something more powerful than what they already have,” he says. “I think we’re finally there (with battery-powered equipment). You won’t be disappointed; you’ll probably be surprised at the money you’ll save in the long run.”

Battery-powered equipment also can help increase productivity, Suchoza says, with fewer stops at gas stations and quicker starting procedures.

“Productivity is more than just run time,” Suchoza says. “For a stop at a gas station, who knows how long the crew will be inside buying food, gassing up the truck and filling up gas cans. It’s time lost.”

Charging infrastructure

Easterly says another barrier that may keep professionals from making the switch to battery power is infrastructure.

“We hear from a lot of people that they’ve reached a certain point where their infrastructure can’t support anymore (tools),” he says. “If you look at the difficulty in electrification, it’s an exponential chart. The bigger the company, the more batteries it’ll need to operate.”

Retrofitting current assets, like enclosed trailers, for battery-powered equipment is one solution Easterly offers. He says multi-battery and overnight charging solutions that companies like Husqvarna offer are ways for pros to maximize their existing infrastructure.

“Landscapers aren’t paid to charge batteries during the day,” he says. “So we try to take advantage of that time window where they’re not out in the field, so the battery has enough energy to perform the job.”

Get the whole picture

Wilk says it’s essential to view the whole picture before deciding on a single platform. Evaluating battery-powered equipment isn’t as simple as looking for the highest voltage, he says. It comes down to how the equipment uses the volts.

“There’s a lot of marketing information when it comes to performance and runtimes,” he says. “Professionals are wading through a lot of this new technology trying to find out what it does or means. We’ve been doing a lot with our dealers trying to educate end users.”

Wilk, Suchoza and Easterly agree that the best way to cut through the marketing lingo is to visit a local dealer and get hands-on experience with the machines.

Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

Comments are currently closed.