It’s official. . . I now proclaim 2014 as the year of cordless outdoor power equipment! While cordless has been on the scene for years, it’s truly coming into its own this year. We’ve seen cordless garden and landscaping gear from Black & Decker, Kobalt, Worx and now, EGO. Many of these products are hitting new levels of power and performance making them a very appealing alternative to gas. As someone with a lot of ties to psychologists (don’t ask), adjusting to the “Ego” name in this product review is taking me some time. Maybe a hyphenated version of E-Go would help me. But, I’m not really here to critique the name or it’s Freudian vibe. Instead, I’ll give you a detailed review on how the 56V EGO Power Plus cordless mower functions, performs and what we liked and didn’t like. Plus, as an added bonus we’ll talk about the 56V EGO Power Plus Blower! Both the mower and blower were provided to HomeFixated for this review.
The Ego Power Plus Mower
This isn’t your grandpa’s mower. Say goodbye to gas cans, fumes, noise, and maintenance hassles of old-school mowers as you embrace a brave new world and a whole new experience in mowing. To fire it up, insert the Star Trek-esque safety key, depress the key, and then pull back on the bar. You’ll be greeted by a slow start whirr reminiscent of a jet engine firing up, only A LOT quieter. So, how’d it stack up to the competition?
I deliberately attacked our lawn with the EGO Power Plus Mower when it had grown a bit bushy. Some tall stems were sprouting in select areas, and there were a few patches of really dense, tall grass. Sad to say, but our lawn has variation that could best be described as ranging from barren wasteland to lush, thick, tropical forest. While any mower can handle the barren wasteland I was impressed by how easily the EGO Power Plus plowed over the thicker/taller stuff. The 56 Volts of power are readily apparent. . . there wasn’t a single point where I felt like the mower was struggling or bogging down at all. Power was impressive.
I’m all about mulching during mowing. People say letting the grass clippings mulch on the grass keeps vital nutrients in the grass. That may be the case, but I mainly do it because I don’t like hassling with the grass catcher. However, if you’re not a lazy mulcher like me, side and rear discharge options are just an accessory adjustment or two away.
I’m a little obsessive about hearing protection and I’ve been known to wear it gardening, and occasionally around my children (something I recommend to other fathers on an as-needed basis). With that said, I didn’t reach for my Sonic Defenders when using the EGO Power Plus Mower. You’ll have no doubt the motor is going with the EGO, but the sound is downright pleasant when compared to the incessant, mind-numbing, mildly-deafening drone that accompanies most of the gas-powered mowers in our ‘hood.
Cutting Height Adjustment
The EGO Power Plus mower sports far and away the best cutting height adjustment system I’ve seen on any mower, not just electric models. Not only does a single handle adjust the cutting height, but it does so near effortlessly. You can choose from five height settings ranging from 1.2″ to 3.5″. The adjustment kicks butt. ‘Nuff said!
At first I thought the idea of headlights on a mower like this seemed ridiculous. I literally laughed. Yet, when did I find myself doing my mow-testing? 7:30 PM of course. In the dark. In fact, much of my past mowing was done when I had a few moments after work. . . often when it was starting to get dark. In the case of my testing, what started off as low-light conditions quickly went to no-light conditions until I fired up the EGO headlights. I expected to feel like I was mowing by candlelight, but was pleasantly surprised by how bright the lights were. While mowing in the dark probably isn’t the safest thing in the world, and likely won’t score you a “Neighbor of the Year Award”, the lights can truly come in handy. The last section of lawn I mowed was in near total darkness, but the headlamps actually let me finish the task and still see what I was mowing. Plus it kept me from mowing the flowers, which my wife tends to frown upon.
56 Volt Runtime
I spent a total of 35 minutes mowing the lawn, which included several stops for photo ops (note to self, having a six year old take photos in the dark via telephoto lens means a lot of blurry pics)! The stops were mostly running, and there were a couple non-running stops of less than a minute each. I had the headlamps on 75% of the time, although I suspect they don’t do much to drain the battery since they’re LEDs. After 35 minutes of near-continuous mowing, the battery was still showing green. I popped it into what has to be one of the world’s fastest chargers and within 5 seconds, the LED indicator on the charger jumped from 25% to 50% charge. Based on that, I would guess I could have mowed for 45-ish minutes, which is right inline with EGO’s “up to a 45 minute cut time” rating. That’s pretty impressive given the power this thing dishes out.
Handles and Stowability
The handles on most mowers seem to be an afterthought, particularly when it comes to stowability. From handles that don’t collapse at all, to those that require thumb screws to loosen a clumsy pivot, most mower handles leave a lot to be desired. I am happy to report the design on the Ego Power Plus Mower handles is smooth and well thought out. A lever on the side effortlessly takes the handle assembly from stowed position to ready for action and vice-versa.
The angle and resulting height of the handle can be adjusted, but unfortunately only to two settings for mowing. I found the the steeper angle setting put the handle too high, but it might be comfortable for some vertically gifted folks (six foot tall+). Once you select the angle of the handle, the portion that you hang on to deploys with the use of two simple, solid clips. The handle has to be both set at your preferred angle and fully deployed for the mower to function. The entire handle assembly is extremely easy to use, and more solid than other handles we’ve used. This isn’t a handle that feels like it’s going to vibrate apart in your hands.
Once you’re done mowing, the handle collapses in a matter of seconds. From there, the Ego Power Plus is actually designed to stow vertically. As someone who covets every square inch of available garage / man-space like it’s holy ground, the compact stowability is a huge plus. Most mowers, even those with folding handles, take up a ridiculous amount of space. With the Ego Power Plus tucked away along a wall, you’ll have plenty of room for your cabinet table saw, pool table or beer can pyramid project.
I’ve seen a lot of battery chargers in my role here at HomeFixated, but none quite like the Ego Power Plus charger. This thing looks like some sort of nuclear generator. The charger charges so wicked-fast, we think it just might be using nuclear fusion. From fully drained to fully charged in about half an hour, this thing is the Usain Bolt of battery chargers. Plus, the docking station makes your garage look like a scene from Star Trek.
There isn’t much to complain about with the Ego Power Plus Mower. My only true gripe is an area where design impacts ergonomics. A long deck and long handle make it tricky to maneuver the mower in tight spaces. I would have liked to have seen the ability to slide the handle shorter. I tried, and as soon as you start to shorten the handle, that cuts power to the mower. . . presumably so you don’t get so close to the mowing deck as to mow your toes. A less long design overall would make the mower more maneuverable, and, more adjustability in handle length and height would have been useful. The only other issue I can come up with is that there’s no real track record with the brand. Ego has a multi-year deal with The Home Depot, so presumably they’ve been vetted by them, but how the mower and batteries hold up over the long run remains to be seen. The good news is that Ego offers a limited 5 year warranty on the mower and a 3 year on the chargers and batteries, which should help set minds more at ease.
The Ego Power Plus Mower has a lot going for it. Insanely speedy battery charges, plenty of power, great adjustability, light weight, fast & easy stowability, wide 20″ cutting swath, and even headlights make this piece of cordless outdoor power equipment a true standout. While many previous and current cordless mowers excel only on postage stamp-sized lawns, the Ego Power Plus mower can hold its own on some pretty good sized greenscapes. Given the blazing 30 minute battery charges, if you have two batteries I’d say you could pretty much mow endlessly, with wait-free battery swaps – by the time you run out of juice, battery two is ready to go. If your yard is so large as to warrant two batteries, keep in mind the units ship with one 4.0 AH battery and one 30 minute charger. A second 4.0 AH battery will set you back another $199. Our advice is to try your yard with one battery first. . . for many typical yards, that’s all you’ll need.
Pricing and Where to Buy
As mentioned earlier, Ego has an exclusive deal with The Home Depot, so for the time being, that’s the only place you’ll find it. The 56 Volt Ego Power Plus 20 Inch Cordless Lawn Mower (with 30 minute charger and 4.0 AH battery) sells for $499. This represents a premium over the 40 Volt Kobalt 20 inch mower we recently used (which sells for $399) and also places it above most other cordless mowers on the market. However, most other cordless mowers come with less power, and lack some of the stellar design and features of the Ego Power Plus. If you have the cash to spend, it’s a mower we definitely feel comfortable recommending.
Bonus – The Ego Power Plus 56v Cordless Blower
I’ll need to start this mini-review off with a disclaimer. You know how whenever you see a commercial for a blower, there’s a guy standing on a vast lawn that’s piled three feet deep with beautiful autumn leaves? Then, they cut to the slo-mo shot of him gracefully lofting hundreds of leaves into the sky before a waterfall of foliage rain down on the earth in a neat pile. Well, that wasn’t shot in our neighborhood, mainly because leaves are a bit of a rarity here in Southern California. Tree is pretty much synonymous with palm tree here, and those just don’t shed a lot of leaves. As a result, I tested the Ego Power Plus blower in two settings: 1) As a typical yard blower mainly handling stray blades of grass, a few leaves and some random yard debris, and 2) In the place of an air compressor and air gun for cleaning off a room and tools covered in a heavy layer of wood dust!
Conventional Yard Debris Testing
Testing this blower on our yard felt a bit like racing a Ferrari on a go-cart track. The Ego Power Plus 56V Lithium Ion Cordless Blower (LB4801), has the equivalent of three speeds. There’s a Low and High setting, as well as a Turbo button that’s like a shot of nitrous in a hot rod. Speed one dishes out 250 CFM, speed two 385 CFM, and turbo mode delivers a cyclone-esque 480 CFM (92 MPH! – which is in the neighborhood of some of the most powerful gas powered mowers). That’s all with the 2.0 AH battery, by the way. Just as you wouldn’t run your hot rod on nitrous non-stop, your runtime will be greatly impacted by your selected speed. Ego estimates 60 minutes in slow, 18 minutes in high and a mere 10 minutes in turbo. Use the force wisely young Jedi! Suffice it to say, the Ego blower (Donald Trump should use this thing!), had absolutely no problem spiffing up our yard’s clippings and debris in no time.
Indoor Dust Clearing
Let’s just start off by saying that this particular usage is not recommended. I was recently wrapping up a hardwood flooring project in our kitchen. After the flooring was finally installed, it was time to sand it smooth and ready to finish with a massive orbital floor sander I rented from my local Home Depot. Like most rental places, if you return the tool dirty, you get dinged with a cleaning fee. Rather than haul out my air compressor and air gun, I thought, why not see how the Ego Power Plus blower handles some extreme dust. The sander was cleaned off muy rapido. I then realized there was a ton of dust still in the kitchen. Throwing caution to the wind, I fired up the blower indoors (with safety glasses along with open doors and windows). There were very few bits of dust that could withstand the gale force winds the Ego was delivering. In fact, I almost blew three heavy clay and ceramic decorative plates right off the wall. We’re talking power to spare here. Our advice – the Ego is too powerful for indoor use, but ideal for whipping your yard into shape.
Batteries and Chargers
It’s worth noting here that most Ego Power Plus tools come with a battery and charger. The mower is the only tool that ships with a 4.0 AH battery and the blazing-fast quick charger we discussed in the mower review. The other tools (including the blower we’re discussing here) ship with a 2.0 AH battery and standard charger (about 40 minutes to charge the 2.0 battery). As of a couple months ago, the product line is also available as bare tools. Keep in mind if you decide to use the 4.0 battery with the blower, you’ll get twice the run time, but you’ll be lugging almost twice the battery weight unnecessarily if you don’t use the full battery anyway. It takes a big yard with a lot of leaves to deplete even the 2.0 battery.
Design and Usability
The Ego blower sports a unique trigger design along with a large flat intake on the bottom of the tool. The safety trigger adds a bit of what I would describe as unnecessary complexity to the tool. Personally, I don’t see much point to a safety switch on something like a blower – the greatest danger I’d typically foresee is the blower accidentally giving a passerby a windblown hairstyle. I’m guessing including the safety keeps Ego’s attorneys happy and/or satisfies some obscure tool safety standards. With all that said, the safety doesn’t really get in the way. The large air intake provides a very stable base to set the tool down on (not while it’s operating of course). A couple loops let you hook up a shoulder strap if you want to (not included), but I found that totally unnecessary given how lightweight the tool is at just over 5 lbs without the battery pack.
The Ego Power Plus Blower has so much power (particularly in Turbo mode), I was tempted to jump on a skateboard and strap it to my back like a jet power pack. Alas, the manual says you shouldn’t use it as a toy. Technically, I’d consider it “transportation” rather than toy use, but I have a feeling Ego won’t feel that way. As with the Ego mower, the blower delivers gasoline-powered performance without all the drawbacks of gas. Whether you’re just trimming up a few clippings, or you’re looking to star in your own foliage-packed blower commercial, the Ego Power Plus 56V is a great buy we don’t believe you’ll be disappointed in. Don’t check your Ego at the door, it’s time to whip that yard into shape!
Pricing and Where to Buy
Like the Ego Power Plus Mower, the blower is available exclusively at the Home Depot. With a 2.0AH battery and regular speed charger, the Ego Power Plus Blower Kit sells for $199. Or, if you’re already invested in the Ego Power Plus line and have a battery and charger, you can pick up the blower only for a paltry $99 (not bad for a jet pack)!