The Best Electric-Start Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

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A self-propelled lawn mower with electric start is your best choice for any extensive yard work. If you’re mowing a sizable lawn and would like to avoid the hassle of a pull start and having to push the machine yourself, you should get one that does it for you. It’s your best option besides a lawn tractor, but for most people a lawn tractor would be too much.

We carefully researched the market, and curated a list of the best electric-start self-propelled lawn mowers right now.

Our top picks

As we selected the best lawn mowers that we wanted to evaluate, we considered a large number of features: Speed settings, capacity, discharging options, cleaning, blade override system, wheels, ergonomics, and build quality. 

These electric-start self-propelled lawn mowers are our top picks:

RatingModel
Best overallHonda HRX217VLA
Best on a budgetLawn-Boy 17734
Best front-wheel driveCraftsman M275
Best battery poweredSnapper XD Cordless

Best overall: Honda HRX217VLA

Honda HRX217VLA gas powered electric start lawn mower
Editor’s choice

Honda HRX217VLA

The Honda HRX217VLA is an unparalleled powerhouse with a strong and durable design. If you want the best performance possible, this lawn mower is top-of-the-line.

Pros

  • Adjustable speed settings.
  • 4-in-1 mowing system.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • Quick-lock handle folds easily after use.
  • Clean cut.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive.
  • Doesn’t always start instantly in cold weather.
  • Clippings may leak if the machine runs too fast.

The 21-inch Honda HRX217VLA lawn mower is self-propelled with electric push start for the best convenience possible. It features an adjustable speed dial, which means that you can either go slow or go fast depending on your needs. The lawn mower is able to go from 0 to 4 mph, which is more than enough for most people.

Honda equipped this lawn mower with a 4-in-1 Versamow System, which basically allows you to slide a button in order to mulch, bag, discharge, or shred the clippings. It can also do a combination of mulching and bagging, if you want to control the amount of grass clippings being added back into the lawn.

Weighing nearly 100 pounds, you’re not going to lift this lawn mower and place it wherever you want. Fortunately it’s self-propelled, but it may require a bit of muscle to flip it over for inspection and cleaning. It’s also relatively expensive, but well worth it according to most buyers.

Best on a budget: Lawn-Boy 17734 Rear-Wheel Drive Lawn Mower

Lawn Boy 17734 self-propelled lawn mower with electric start
Best value

Lawn-Boy 17734 Rear-Wheel Drive Lawn Mower

The Lawn-Boy 17734 is a great self-propelled lawn mower with electric start, and it’s very reasonably priced as well.

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver and easy to use.
  • Relatively lightweight.
  • 3-in-1 cutting system.
  • Cuts very well.
  • Very affordable.

Cons

  • Only one speed setting.
  • Height adjustment lever seems a bit flimsy.
  • Doesn’t do well on hills.
  • A bit heavy to pull back manually.

The Lawn-Boy 17734 electric-start self-propelled lawn mower is our favorite pick within the affordable section. It features a rear-wheel drive which is quite common, and gives you more traction in order to easily mow a straight line. What this also means though, is that it may not work as well for narrow passages where you’ll have to go around obstacles along the way.

In a regular yard with a flat lawn, the Lawn-Boy 17734 lawn mower does a fantastic job. Some buyers had no issues going uphill either, but other buyers mentioned that it may not perform as well on 20-30 degree sloped lawns.

With the 3-in-1 cutting system you can choose between mulching, bagging, or side discharge. This is basically all you need, and as with other features Lawn-Boy keeps it nice and simple.

One thing we missed is an adjustable speed lever. The only way to control the speed is by lowering or raising the handle, but this is not comfortable over a longer stretch. The full speed felt a bit slow too, but this is probably a matter of opinion and taste.

Best front-wheel drive: Craftsman M275

Craftsman M275 red-black lawn mower self-propelled with electric start

Craftsman M275

The Craftsman M275 boasts a front-wheel drive and is very easy to maneuver in narrow spaces and around corners.

Pros

  • Front-wheel drive means better maneuverability.
  • 3-in-1 cutting system.
  • Easy assembly with the instructions manual included.
  • Great cutting heights.

Cons

  • No adjustable speed settings.
  • Handle doesn’t fold easily for storage.
  • A bit heavy.

The Craftsman M275 electric-start self-propelled lawn mower features a front-wheel drive, which means that you can easily tip the mower onto the back wheels to change directions or stop. This isn’t possible with a rear-wheel drive mower, and as such it’s a great choice for small gardens with an abundance of narrow passages and plants that require a bit of maneuvering.

With this lawn mower you get a classic 3-in-1 cutting system that allows you to switch between side discharging, mulching, or bagging. You can choose between six different height adjustments ranging from 1.25 inches to 3.75 inches, which is more than enough options for most people.

Unfortunately this lawn mower doesn’t have adjustable speed settings. Instead you’ll have to raise or lower the handle bar, in order to speed up or slow down your mower. This means that you can’t go at a consistent speed that suits your needs, unless you keep the handle bar in the same position throughout the entire process.

All in all, we think this self-propelled lawn mower is a great choice for a normal-sized garden with narrow spaces and corners that require a good amount of maneuvering.

Best battery-powered: Snapper XD Cordless

Snapper 1687914 battery powered self-propelled lawn mower

Snapper XD Cordless

The Snapper XD Cordless is a self-propelled, battery-powered alternative to gas lawn mowers. Perfect for a small to medium-sized yard.

Pros

  • Very easy to use.
  • Doesn’t require gas or oil to run.
  • Relatively affordable.
  • Surprisingly powerful.
  • Very quiet.
  • Adjustable speed settings.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as gas lawn mowers.
  • Grass clippings tend to clump when mulching.
  • Spare batteries are expensive.

The Snapper XD Cordless is a battery-powered, self-propelled lawn mower. Most buyers love the fact that they don’t have to constantly buy gas and oil for their lawn mower anymore, but instead the batteries are simply recharged after use. This means no more smelly fumes and loud noise while mowing the lawn, instead you can enjoy a breath of fresh air along with the smell of freshly cut grass.

This battery-powered lawn mower is extremely easy to use, and all you have to do is assemble a few parts and charge the batteries. Afterwards, you’re ready to mow your lawn. It’s self-propelled and has an adjustable speed lever, so you can choose whether you want to go slow or fast.

We believe this is the best choice for any small or medium-sized yards, as the battery capacity allows for approximately 45 minutes of use. For a less stubborn lawn you may be able to go for up to 90 minutes, and otherwise you have the option to buy additional battery packs. They’re quite expensive though, but a single battery could increase the run time significantly.

One thing that a few buyers criticized about this lawn mower, is the mulching feature. It doesn’t seem powerful enough to properly cut and distribute the grass clippings, so instead they may end up as clumps in your lawn. It isn’t a big deal though, and you can easily even the clippings out with a simple rake.

All in all, a great choice for those with a small to medium-sized lawn seeking a convenient alternative to gas powered lawn mowers.

Also worth reading: The Best Electric Lawn Mower for Small Yards

Front-wheel vs. rear-wheel vs. all-wheel drive

Self-propelled lawn mowers have their own drive system, which is activated by pressing the handle bar against the handle. Drive systems can have one of following technologies:

  • Front-wheel drive (FWD)
  • Rear-wheel drive (RWD)
  • All-wheel drive (AWD)

For this comparison we’ll focus mainly on the advantages of each drive system.

Front-wheel drive (FWD)

Our recommendation: Use it for flat yards and gardens with lots of obstacles that require great maneuverability.

Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are generally less expensive than other types, and they’re more maneuverable because you can tip the mower onto the back wheels if you want to stop or change the direction. Many people prefer this option rather than having to disengage the drive each time they want to stop or change direction, which could occur rather often in a garden full of trees, flower beds, and bushes.

The biggest disadvantage of front-wheel drive lawn mowers is their capability to go up hills, due to the fact that the front wheels are often small and may not have the same grip as rear-wheel drive lawn mowers have.

If you’re bagging the grass clippings, you’ll also have to empty the bag frequently because it could otherwise make the front wheels rise as it fills up.

Rear-wheel drive (RWD)

Our recommendation: Use it for flat or uneven yards that mostly consist of lawn with less obstacles.

Rear-wheel drive lawn mowers are the preferred choice by most people. It has better traction than front-wheel drive lawn mowers, making it easier to go in a straight line or power up hills. If you collect the grass clippings in the bag, it will add weight to the rear wheels and ultimately result in an even better grip as it fills up.

Generally, rear-wheel drive lawn mowers exist in a wide variety with lots of different features. We recommend this type of lawn mower for most people, but in a garden with lots of obstacles you may want to consider a front-wheel drive lawn mower instead. Otherwise you’ll have to disengage the drive system each time you need to back up or change direction, which can be somewhat inconvenient.

All-wheel drive (AWD)

Our recommendation: Use it for flat, uneven, or hilly yards where a tough lawn mower is needed.

All-wheel drive lawn mowers are the best option for those working with tough terrain. As the name suggests, all wheels are driven by a pulley, which results in better traction than any other drive technology.

Like the rear-wheel drive lawn mower, all-wheel drive models also need to be disengaged if you want to change direction.

According to Consumer Reports, there isn’t really any reason to get an all-wheel drive lawn mower instead of a rear-wheel drive ditto, unless you have a seriously tough and uneven lawn. They weren’t too happy with the cutting performance either, so if you want your lawn to look great a rear-wheel drive lawn mower could very likely be your best bet.

Best features to look for in electric-start self-propelled lawn mowers

You’ve already come so far as to decide that you want your lawn mower to be self-propelled with an electric starter. All you have to do next, is to know and understand what features are useful for your particular needs.

Below is a general buying guide for self-propelled lawn mowers with electric start.

1. Speed settings (set vs. variable)

Most self-propelled lawn mowers have a single speed setting, which means that it goes at a predefined speed once you press the handle bar. The harder you press this handlebar, the more torque is applied to the pulley, making it go up to full speed.

Some self-propelled lawn mowers have adjustable speed settings, which means that you can either go slower or faster at a constant pace without having to manually adjust the handlebar.

For a flat yard with few obstacles a single speed setting will suffice. However, if you have an uneven garden with lots of obstacles you may want to go a little slower by reducing the maximum speed setting.

2. Capacity (cutting width, cutting height, bag)

Generally, gas powered self-propelled lawn mowers have a cutting width of 20-22 inches. This is more than enough for most yards, and with a cutting height usually ranging between 1-4 inches you can choose for yourself how tall you want to keep your lawn.

If you have a lawn bigger than 10,000 square feet, the capacity of your lawn mower plays a big role. You wouldn’t want to spend an entire day mowing the lawn with a tiny machine, but on the other hand a large cutting width means that your lawn mower is bigger and heavier. This could prove less practical for maneuverability and storage, which should always be considered as well.

3. Discharging (mulching vs. bagging vs. side discharge)

Mulching is a great way to keep your lawn healthy, as your lawn mower cuts the grass clippings into small pieces and distributes it evenly over your lawn. It will then sink down to the soil and decompose, which then provides your lawn with a healthy mix of nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. On the other hand, your lawn will look a lot nicer if you collect the clippings in a bag. You can also opt for a lawn mower with a side discharge feature, should you prefer to rake up your clippings afterwards instead of hauling them in a large bag.

4. Cleaning

Most gas powered self-propelled lawn mowers have a hose attachment built into the deck, enabling you to easily flush out any clippings and dirt from underneath the deck. This is necessary in order to maintain your lawn mower and keep it running smoothly throughout the season, and it’s more practical than having to turn it over manually in order to rinse out any residue.

If you’re mowing the lawn more than once a week, proper cleaning features are important. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time and energy cleaning out the dirt, or else your lawn mower could stop working.

The hose attachment point is also known as a wash-out port.

5. Blade override system

For safety reasons, gas powered lawn mowered are designed to shut off whenever you let go of the handlebar. Imagine this: every time you have to pick up a stick, move a ball, or pick anything out of the lawn your mower has to be restarted. This isn’t healthy for your engine, and it may not last as long when it shuts off every few minutes.

Instead, opt for a lawn mower with a blade override system. This allows the engine to keep running while disengaging the blade driver, so you can safely let go of the handlebar without the engine shutting off.

Besides potentially extending the life of your engine, you can also mow your lawn faster. If you have a lot of obstacles in your garden, this is a very practical feature.

6. Wheels

Large, sturdy wheels are a must for every type of yard. This becomes even more important for uneven lawns, where a set of wobbly, small wheels could make the job a living nightmare.

Opt for a set of rugged, sturdy, and large wheels if you want your lawn mower to run smoothly in any terrain. Avoid plastic wheels if possible, as they could easily break and are very hard to repair if damaged.

Some lawn mowers have swivel wheels in front, making it easier to maneuver. However, this may not be the most practical solution for a flat, even lawn with few obstacles.

7. Ergonomics

Electric-start self-propelled lawn mowers are generally very easy to use, as they require less manual efforts.

At the very least we would still recommend going for a model with an adjustable handle, so you can relax your shoulders while steering the lawn mower through the yard. If the handle is too high or low, you’ll put too much strain on your back and/or shoulders and you’ll quickly feel tired.

8. Build quality

Most lawn mowers have weak spots, especially the cheap ones. The more affordable it gets, the more corners have likely been cut during production. For a small to medium-sized yard this may be acceptable, but for a large yard you need durable equipment of a high build quality.

If you want a sturdy, self-propelled lawn mower with a proper electric starter, you’ll have to spend a little extra money. In return, your lawn mower is likely to last for many years.

Weak spots often include buttons, handles, tubes, cables, and connectors. Less visible weak spots could also be a deck made of a thin material, or an inadequate coating that could wear off and expose raw metals to corrosion.