There’s a good reason that professional landscapers use zero-turn mowers. These machines are the fastest way to cut a lawn. By placing the operator with a clear forward view, and with the ability to both turn and pivot, they can radically reduce your mowing time. If you think you might need one, read on for buying advice and our reviews of the best.
How They Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers (commonly known as lap bars). With engine-powered mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drive the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions-one at each rear wheel. When the operator moves the lap bar forward or back, he or she is directing the transmission to go faster, slower or even turn the opposite way. When one wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels turn at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are returned to the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there is no other braking system on these machines other than what the transmissions provide. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors for driving the rear wheels and for spinning two to three blades inside the mower deck.
See more: Top 10 zero turn mowers
How We Selected
In selecting these mowers, we’ve highlighted a range of the best residential machines based on our previous experience testing zero-turn mowers and countless hours of discussion with dealers, distributors, and manufacturers. We picked models that balance somewhat-accessible price with providing a variety of features. For any of these mowers that we haven’t already tested personally, we’ll update this review with full impressions as we get them in for firsthand testing.
All but two of the mowers we selected are powered by gas engines, in the range of 21 to 24 horsepower. Wherever possible, we note the transmission. In most cases, this a Hydrogear EZT, a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle that has a reputation for durability. Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of metal, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. The advantage of a fabricated deck is that manufacturers can deliver a deck built from thicker steel at a lower cost than they could otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of the deck alone can push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks shown below are sized from 42 to 52 inches. Again, that’s a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of seven miles per hour. Note, however, that cut quality on these machines will decline steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven nftgamef.com to the electric mowers shown below, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.