Saturday, May 16, 2009

Neuton 5.2 Review

I got my Neuton a while ago and people asked for a review. Coming back from a week long vacation in the spring was a good challenge for it especially since I didn't cut it right before I left.

The first thing you need to do with the Neuton is to put the battery in. It is recharged outside the lawnmower. I locked the battery in place. They expect the next thing you do is put in the key. They "key" is made so you can keep it out of the reach of children and then they can't start the mower. But really I didn't think that necessary. I keep the key in its slot all the time. When I'm done with the lawn mower I always remove the battery to recharge. If a kid can find the battery (on the other side of the garage) and open the front and insert it, they are quite smart enough to find my key and insert it too. And besides, my kids are college aged. If they want to play with my lawn mower, I say go for it.

To turn the mower on there is a switch on the handle that needs to be turned on to "MOW". Then the handle needs to be held down. The blade starts turning instantly. I've never used a gas mower, but people say it is hard to pull the cord. This is very easy. I even let go of the handle sometimes when I do turns because why waste the motor then? The handle is really easy to hold down. My hands are very weak. I can't open a pickle jar to save my life, but holding the handle down as I mow is pretty easy. I don't get tired. I only include this since some of the reviews that I read said it was hard to do. This concerned me. Maybe if you are used to a gas mower and you have a death like grip on the handle it would be hard, but I haven't been trained to do that. You just have to let go of your gas mower preconceptions.

The grass was tall in spots, over 8" and thick. Very thick. The grass looked splotchy though. The thick areas were intermingled with the thin areas. The grass needed some serious cutting. Previously I had it on a middle height setting, but the grass was now tall enough to raise it up. The lever is really very easy to use. I raised it up to 5, one below the tallest setting that I will use later in the year. Simple.

The mower cut through the grass with no issues whatsoever. Some other reviews I've read said it would stall on them (really?). It never stalled for me of even slowed down much. I might point out that the blade came pretty dull and it was painted black. I sharpened it before I used it, thereby taking off the paint. Maybe they had trouble without this step?

The blade is only 14" wide and you have to overlap the rows a little. This made it take more time than a bigger mower (they do sell one with a 19" blade). I chose this version because I have a chronic shoulder issue. The weight would be a huge issue for me. It is very light. It weighs only 33lbs without the battery and 48 with it according to their specs. This works for me. I'm not sure a heavier lawnmower would. Some people complain that it looks like a cheap plastic device. To a certain extent it does. But the body being plastic makes it lighter. I can lift it if I need to.

My yard is a half acre, but the back yard is mostly in woods and the side yards are driveway and gardens. My biggest section of grass is in the front yard. That grass section is about 4500sqft and took about 50 minutes or so to mow. My backyard is about half that size. The battery didn't die during that time. I'm a little worried when the battery gets older wheather I will have enough charge to do the whole yard at once. They claim the battery lasts 45-60 minutes. Mowing was slow and took me way more than an hour for both back and front.

I didn't have much of an issue with the time spent. I put on my podcasts ("Wait, Wait, Don't tell me" and "PodCastle"). I used my noise canceling headphones and had no trouble hearing my shows. The mower is still noisy, but not nearly the noise of a gas powered machine.

I used the grass catcher attachment so I could collect the clippings and compost them. The grass catcher is small and doesn't hold a lot of clippings. I didn't count but I probably emptied it about five times for my lawn. For a composter it was fine. I spread the clippings on the compost pile. One catcher's worth full of clippings was a nice amount and wouldn't be too much for the grass to clump up. I then covered it with a thin layer of shredded leaves and went back to mowing. Hmm maybe that is why it took me so long to mow.

The lawn looked OK to me, but I'm not a lawn connoisseur. There was an issue with the wheels. They would flatten the lawn down when they went over it. When I came back to mow that section the grass wouldn't be up yet. So I had some lines of taller grass the next day. I'm guessing that happens with any mower, but again, I've never done it before so don't know what to expect. Maybe if the blades had a stronger suction, the grass would be upright as it was getting chopped. Maybe if the grass weren't so tall it wouldn't be an issue.

After I did the lawn, the battery still hadn't died, so I went to my leaf pile. I spread some leaves down on the ground about 4" deep. I put in the mulching plug and ran them over with the mower. It cut through them like butter. The little mower has no issues with dry leaves (which will be good in the fall). Wet leaves don't shred as well. If I put the leaves down too thickly it would slow down. I tried to keep them thin enough so the sound didn't change much when chopping. It worked very well. When I tried the grass catcher to shred leaves it didn't work as well. The leaves where not as well chopped (though probably enough) and occasionally the chute would clog. Grass never clogged my chute, but the leaves could.

After I was done playing with it, I put it away. I took out the battery to recharge. I tipped it over and cleaned off the undercarriage. The mower comes with a tool to help take off the blade. The back of that tool can be used to scrape off the undercarriage gunk.

All in all I like the little mower. It isn't for everyone because of its small size, but for me it fits. The mower came with a 4 year warranty (it was a special with a free extended warranty) and I can return it within six months if I don't like it for some reason. They pay the postage if I go that route, but I really doubt I will. So far it seems fine. If my shoulder can handle pushing it all summer long, I'm keeping it.

Addendum: Our friend Ben asked how I sharpened the blade. They sell a blade sharpener. I figured it only cost $10 so I'd get it. Then I wouldn't need any outside maintenance on my mower. I could do it all myself. The sharpener is a two sided carbide sharpener. Just drag it along the edges of the blade (lots of times) and it is done. It doesn't get it sharp like my kitchen knives are, but I really don't think it needs it. So the sharpening part is easy, but you are supposed to take the lawn mower blade off before you sharpen it. Getting the blade off is slightly tricky, but they give instructions in the owner's manual. Basically it involves shoving a block of wood between the mower and the blade to keep the blade from spinning while you maneuver two different wrenches (one of which they supply) and yank with all your might to get the nut loose. It took me a while to do this maneuver, and I kept wondering if I was going to cut off my hand in the process (they tell you to wear gloves), but I succeeded and still have all my fingers.

Addendum Cost: I was going to put this up too, but forgot when I was writing. The mower costs $399, which seems really expensive to a lot of people. Even if I totally ignore the environmental cost, it is still going to be cheaper than a cheap gas mower. How? Well I don't know how to do tune ups for the lawn mower. I remember that my husband took the gas mower in every year for the sharpening and the tune up. A tune up costs about $80 (I think correct me if I'm wrong). So if my mower lasts 5 years (though it should last longer, but after that I'll have to buy a new battery at $100), it has cost me a total of $399. It needs no maintenance so has no more costs for 5 years. A really cheap gas mower would cost $120 + 4 years of tunes ups (4x$80) = $440. So unless you do your own tune ups, the Neuton (or other rechargables) isn't even the more expensive choice for you wallet. If I add in the environmental damage from highly polluting small engines, a rechargeable is so much better.


  1. Sounds like a great little lawnmower. Thanks for the review.

  2. Thanks, Daphne. Mr. H won't give up his hurkin' big riding mower, but Mrs. H (moi) sure would like a battery powered mower for edges, tight spots and days when I need mulch. I have a feeling I'll be denied, though. I have an inherited electric model in my shed in AZ (no grass, we had a "year of the weeds") that I need to remember to bring back next year! Our gas (push) mower is a granny killer!

  3. That sounds great, Daphne! But I have one request: Since the reason yours worked so beautifully while others complained was probably because you sharpened the blade, would you do a post sometime to tell folks how you sharpen it (and with what)? I'm sure it would be a huge help to current owners, and might encourage folks who are still on the fence to jump! Thanks!!!

  4. Keewee, your welcome.

    Annie's Granny, hehe you can't take a guy away from his favorite tools. My old lawn service used to have those big ride on mowers. They ate holes in my lawn because the guys loved to take the turns fast.

    our friend Ben, I added that on to the bottom of the post. I'm not sure my description will help people decide to sharpen their own blades, but it does tell how I do it.

  5. Sounds like it works really well. I might get one next year after I hear how it does sucking up fall leaves. The home centers here will take your old mower and give you over a hundred dollars in rebates towards the cordless ones. I think your battery should last a long time. Just don't ever run it dry or overcharge.

  6. I have a Neuton 4.1. It is great. I have had it now for 5 years and not a lick of trouble. Easy to use and lightweight. I have changed the blade twice and sharpened it every year. People point out the environmental aspects of it, but I think it is just great that I have no reason to store gas cans or make a trip to the gas station to fill one up and spill gass on the ground or on me.