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New mowers offer more power, more torque at a smaller size

October 11, 2021 -  By

Making more powerful mower engines isn’t about macho posturing, it’s about addressing the landscaping industry’s chronic labor shortages, says Carissa Gingras, senior director of marketing at Briggs & Stratton.

“More power lets you cut more and cut faster with fewer people,” says Gingras, adding that higher-horsepower engines allow larger decks, faster movement and more cutting power — all things that improve efficiency for crews.

Briggs & Stratton and other engine manufacturers have been boosting power while keeping engines the same size for several years, and it’s a trend that experts say should continue.

High-horsepower engines allow landscape pros to complete more work with fewer people. (Photo: Wright Manufacturing)

High-horsepower engines allow landscape pros to complete more work with fewer people. (Photo: Wright Manufacturing)

Boosting productivity

Gary Childress, senior manager at Honda Power Equipment, says increasing horsepower in his company’s mowers in 2018 and 2019 improved cut quality and speed.

“(The mower) is more productive, but it also just had a better feel to it,” Childress says. “It’s just that much easier to knock the grass down.”

Jeff Coad, Briggs & Stratton’s vice president of marketing, says about 25 percent of the engines used in mowers now use electronic fuel injection (EFI), the same basic technology used in most cars and trucks. By regulating fuel use electronically, engines can boost power while using less fuel.

“EFI makes the engine much more efficient. When you couple that with electronic throttle control, you’re controlling the entire fuel and power system,” Coad adds. “You’re talking better performance, better blade-tip speed and higher fuel efficiency. We’ve seen a huge shift into EFI in the past five years.”

Gingras says the downside is that most mower technicians are more familiar with carbureted engines, so switching to EFI models requires training or sending units to dealers for maintenance.

She expects the bulk of the market to stick with carbureted engines for several years, but the trend toward EFI continues, especially with larger equipment such as ride-on and zero-turn mowers.

Coad adds that regulations are also favoring more powerful gasoline engines. Federal emissions rules have made it harder to use small diesel engines in many applications, so mower producers have asked for better gasoline models to replace them.

“The question is how much we can overlap the diesel side on power levels,” Coad says. “We’re doing it at the 40-horsepower level, but we’re at our ceiling. I don’t see us going deep into that diesel power range because we can’t provide that level of power.”

This article is tagged with and posted in 1021, From the Magazine, Mowing+Maintenance
Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's former senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s.

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