Propane power may be the solution for your mower fleet

February 15, 2023 -  By
Experts say propane burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel. It also helps limit noise. (Photo: Propane Education and Research Council)

Experts say propane burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel. It also helps limit noise. (Photo: Propane Education and Research Council)

There’s no shortage of fueling options for today’s mowers. Ken Dykstra, product strategy manager for Kawasaki Engines, and Mike Newland, director of agriculture business development with the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) walk landscape professionals through the ins and outs of using propane in their operations.

LM: What do pros need to think about to select the right engine/power for their operation? 

KD: It’s all about productivity. In the case of commercial mowers, the maximum cut speed to get the jobs done quickly — no matter how thick, tall or wet the grass is — is key. This requires power, lots of power. The next top concern should be reliability, so you have minimum downtime due to repairs. And rounding out the top three, in my mind, is doing regular maintenance on your equipment. Cutting corners on maintenance might help your short game but definitely not your long game. If you want to make a good, profitable living mowing lawns, think long game.

MN: If you’re going into a purchase of equipment that you know is going to be converted to propane, maybe a look at the different engine package options from (your equipment) supplier to make sure that the (propane conversion) kits are available. 95 percent of the engines available today will have a corresponding kit to convert those to propane.

LM: Are there any misconceptions landscape pros have about propane-powered engines? 

KD: For many years, I’ve traveled the country doing engine tear-down classes for Kawasaki and would often hear misplaced concerns/anxiety about the pressurized propane tanks on a commercial ZTR. Those propane tanks are far more robust than any gasoline tank and don’t have to vent like a gas/diesel tank have to. It just takes education and familiarity with propane to show it’s safe on a commercial mower.

MN: Propane does burn cleaner than gasoline, especially diesel. Not only will you be using clean fuel, but you’ll also have less maintenance cost. The fuel burns quietly in our equipment. From a fuel economy standpoint, I think we’ll be on par with a gasoline-type fuel system. There is a little bit of upfront cost in making that conversion from a gasoline engine over to a propane engine. You are saving significant dollars on every hour of runtime that you’re burning propane versus gasoline today. Even though you may have upfront costs in converting that engine from an ROI standpoint, it’s going to save you and your business considerable money. I know a number of commercial landscape professionals citing (propane) in their bids today and highlighting that they are on clean fuel and they continue to be very successful in their bidding process.

LM: For pros considering propane, what are the storage and fueling considerations pros should think about?

KD: Landscapers must be aware of local ordinances for the storage and transportation of propane tanks. Check with your local propane distributor and they should be able to guide you through it. They usually know the ins and outs to help you avoid tickets on the road when transporting your mowers with propane tanks on them.

There are two kinds of propane tanks: forklifts use liquid propane to run the engine, while a commercial mower engine runs on gaseous (vapor) propane like a barbecue grill. The propane company you work with knows this and should fit you up correctly, but double-check the tank, (and) don’t assume.

MN: If you don’t have any propane-powered equipment today and you’re looking at switching, I think the first call you’d want to make is to a propane supplier. The supplier will determine your usage and then deliver a storage cage, which houses all cylinders, both full and empty. Those folks will just continually trade those empties for full ones.

Once you get into the swing of not having to stop at a fuel station, it becomes very simple — you’re just literally throwing an extra cylinder on your trailer or truck for the day. And when you do need fuel, you’ve got that cylinder ready to go, and you’re just making a quick two-minute change out and you’re back and up and running. It’s a tried-and-true process, and there’s a number of folks having great success with that fueling option today. 

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

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