Jun15

'Solar' mower debuts in park

'Solar' mower debuts in park

This summer mowing in the park is solar-powered. We are using a 20-inch cordless Ryobi lawn mower. The mower is powered by a 40-volt lithium battery. New brushless technology gives the mower “gas-like” power.

The latest addition to the park's solar-powered arsenal of yard care tools, the mower joins the weed whacker and leaf blower.
 
The chargers for the tools' batteries are located in the shelter storage area where they draw electricity from the solar panels located on the back of the shelter. When the panels generate more power than the park needs, excess electricity goes into the Black Hills Energy power lines.
 
BHE pays the park a modest fee for the power, which is applied as a credit to the park’s monthly electric bill. As a result the park’s bill is less than $20 per month.
 
Park Director Ken Steinken chose the mower after reading reviews of cordless mowers. The Ryobi ranked No. 3, but at $299 it was more reasonably priced than the top two mowers.
 
Since the mower was not available locally, Steinken was worried about how much it would cost to ship the mower to Rapid City. But Ryobi sells the mowers online through homedepot.com, which provides free shipping.
 
Although the mower is powerful enough to handle tall grass, its one drawback is that the battery run-time is 45 minutes, which may not be enough for larger lawns. The mower does have an on-board storage slot for an additional battery, which can be purchased separately.
 
Raising money to buy an electric mower was one of the goals of 2016’s year-end Start Strong fund drive. Thanks to those who donated to help buy the mower.