When is a push mower not really a push mower at all?
For me, it’s when you barely need to push one at all and when the silent operation of an all-electric appliance does the job as easily as the “push mower” of yesteryear.
My concept of a push mower dates back to junior high. That’s when I first started mowing our yard in a suburban home, back when self-propelled motors were not a thing. In recent years, the advent of electric mowers has meant we’ve had to make a few trade-offs. I’ve tested several push mowers that were heavy and not self-propelled, even if they didn’t consume any gas or hurt the environment. The truth is, I felt like I wanted to go back to pistons.
The STIHL RMA 460 V is different. Regarding the STIHL AK series of lithium-ion-powered devices, this is the first self-propelled model, which moves along at a nice pace of up to 2.8 miles per hour. (In case you’re wondering, 3 miles per hour is about a normal walking speed.) You move a level to increase or decrease speed, down to just .6 miles per hour for those touchy spots in your yard where speed is not ideal, and you need to do some fine-tuning.
I had no problem mowing my entire yard (I still live in suburbia) on one charge, and the STIHL RMA 460 V is wide enough, with a 19-inch cutting deck, to make short work of a normal-sized yard. I’m a big fan of electric mowers, although I have family members who swear by gas engines and love to spend an afternoon swapping out oil and a spark plug. None of those maintenance duties exist on an electric push mower. The reason I like these mowers is that I tend to want to just get the job done. This STIHL model is on loan for my review, but the mower I own is fussy and temperamental. It takes a few pulls to get it started.
The STIHL RMA 460 V works for a yard that’s about 2,300 square feet on one charge. If I owned this model, I’d spring for an extra battery and keep one charged and ready. That way, I’d be able to always have a battery ready even if I forget to charge the one in the unit.
What this mower does right, though, is balance the power needed for cutting with the sweet spot of extended battery life. I’ve tested electric mowers that sputter out (figuratively) after about 30 minutes, which is frustrating on a Saturday afternoon when you want to go do other things. I’ve also tested mowers that lasted longer than that but could barely keep up with a weed whacker. With this model, I never felt like I needed to go back to a gas mower for power, and yet I had plenty of battery life.
This is an interesting challenge, by the way. More power means less battery, and more battery usually means less power (because an electric device lasts longer when it is not as capable). The STIHL RMA 460 V strikes the right balance, so hats off to the engineers for that.