Mowing the yard for no energy cost, an experiment

We’ll start with that my costs for mowing have been about $60 a year in gas, oil, and having to fix my lawnmower every three years (carb, broken spark, literally flooded and had to remove water, etc). My estimated energy cost probably in the $30-40 range.

TL;DR – using a bunch of review equipment Paul mows lawn, cuts downed trees using solar power. Prohibitively costly yet fun.

Nashville has been through some rough times the past ten years. We’ve had a 1000-year flood, we had a pipeline break and had no gas for weeks because everyone freaked out with a 85% supply and hoarded every drop, we just had a tornado that shut down quite a bit of the town, there’s the pandemic, then 80+mph straight line winds called a Derecho that did more electrical damage than the tornado did.

So I started looking at ways to keep going without electricity, or gas because when it comes down to it, I expect that enough Nashvillians will freak and hoard any resource to the point it will be unavailable. That’s not all of them or even a lot mind you, but it only takes a couple of dedicated individuals to do things like buy up all the hand sanitizer so that nobody has any.

So I took a couple of things off the grid as I was able. The first being my phones and battery operated Ryobi mower and chainsaw. This is aided by several solar panels that I’ve been given to review.

For the most part the solar panels I’ve accumulated over the years have been capable of charging a cell phone charger battery over the course of a day (which is about two charges of a cell phone generally when you factor in conversion loss.) But since the last round of Nashville crisis I’ve had the Jackery 240 constantly charged via the sun, and discharging into my Ryobi 40v batteries.

Ryobi 20" self propelled battery powered lawn mower

This has taken my mower and chainsaw off of the energy and gas supply chain… as long as it’s sunny, which oddly it isn’t during a natural disaster around here, although usually is by the time you need it.

It takes about a day to charge up nine amps worth of Ryobi 40v batteries using the Jackary 240 and the solar panel they sent. That’s a lawn mowing, and 3-5 small trees worth of street clearing.

The main issue as a house-based solar install is this is not designed for large capacity storage, nor is it designed for permanent install. As such it’s sitting in my bedroom with a solar panel on the roof at the moment charging a battery, charging a battery.

Initial cost on the Jackery setup would be $429.98. Meaning in 10 years if nothing failed I would make my money back from a gas mower/chainsaw fuel expense (of course not including purchase of a battery powered mower/chainsaw/battery.)

Or at going electricity rates I’d make the investment back in… I think my grandkids would make it back… if the Jackery battery never failed.

If I could get more than about 40 watts out of the 60 watt solar panels it would make a pretty great mobile power source as I’d be able to charge directly from the sun as opposed to a battery and then to the charger.

It’s interesting to be able to be off the grid, even slightly using consumer level electronics. Not financially sound, but interesting.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts