The Bottom Line
- 5-Horsepower / 4-Cycle engine (power wasn't sacrificed to build a green machine).
- Sturdy, overall.
- Runs on propane gas, a clean and green alternative fuel.
- Carburetor doesn't gum up, as with gasoline, meaning fewer engine problems....
- Plus propane lawn mowers start up quicker next spring and require no choking to start.
- Grass catcher could be easier to insert and remove.
- Wheel height doesn't adjust high enough.
- If dipstick were a darker color, it might be easier to get an oil reading.
- Quick Fix handles are plastic (I'd prefer metal).
- Propane will be an inconvenient fuel source for some.
- Run time listed as 1+ hour (my yard is small, so I didn't come close to emptying the propane tank).
- 8-inch front wheels, 11-inch rear wheels, 20-inch cutting swath, 1.7-bushel grass collection capacity for grass-catcher bag.
- Propane tank empty? How far will you have to drive to buy another? Might be best to stock up.
- Although the canister is supposedly recyclable, my town refused to take it. So did Home Depot and Lowe's....
- You can probably find some place that recycles them, but that means extra work for you.
- Quick Fix handles (clamps) used to join the upper and lower handles; you can unclamp them to make room for mower in car....
- But Quick Fix handles are plastic (not metal). Concerns over durability would dissuade me from using them extensively.
- Propane lawn mowers will be attractive to 2 types of buyers (although these aren't mutually exclusive)....
- 1. Those seeking a machine that's clean to work with and/or environmentally friendly....
- 2. Those tired of gasoline-powered lawn mowers, due to unreliable start-up.
Guide Review - Propane Lawn Mower Review: Lehr Eco Mower
Lehr's LM 139SP is a propane lawn mower. Propane is touted as an alternative fuel that reduces emissions. Many prefer propane for environmental reasons. It is also cleaner to work with than gas: for example, you don't have to worry about spilling gas on your grass.
Clean and green it may be, but for some, propane is also less convenient than gasoline. When the propane tank on your machine empties, there's no running down to the corner gas station for a quick refill. Instead, you'll have to find a store that sells the 16.4-oz. propane canisters.
Lowe's and Home Depot carry these propane canisters. I had a better shopping experience at the latter. The first time I went to Lowe's for one, I had to get an employee to fill the propane canister for me, which involved a considerable wait (the second time I checked at Lowe's, they did have already-filled tanks on the shelf). At Home Depot, full propane canisters were available right off the shelf.
Reader, Lawrence mentioned the MacCoupler E-Z Propane Filler, which allows you to refill a 1-lb. propane tank from a larger one (e.g., the type you hook up to a grill). Problem is, the label on the BernzOmatic propane tanks instructs the user never to refill them (nor will Home Depot or Lowe's refill them for you). In some areas, it may even be illegal to refill them.
If there isn't a store handy to you that sells propane canisters, a better tack to take is to stock up on the canisters whenever you have a chance (if you have a safe place in which to store them).
The SP in the model name means it's self-propelled (the NP model is not). For a small yard, I would recommend the NP. The self-propulsion of the SP is strong -- too strong for tight spots you have to mow. Sure, you can toggle between manual and self-propelled modes: You hold a bar ("drive lever") against the handle to engage self-propulsion and let it go to disengage -- just as releasing the "brake lever" (a separate bar) turns off the machine. But when mowing in a tight spot, my fear is that I wouldn't remember soon enough to disengage self-propulsion, causing me to run over or into an object that I wish to avoid.
The bag doesn't come pre-assembled, and the assembly won't be especially intuitive for novices. If you've never assembled one, you'll want to consult the sheet of paper (separate from the manual) that tells you how. Getting the bag on and off this machine is also relatively difficult.
For some reason, it's really tough to get an accurate oil reading from the silver dipstick. Maybe it needs to be a darker color. "Full" is considered 16.9 fluid oz., if you'd rather just measure it out, instead (which the average person isn't going to do), but I wish this Lehr product had a dipstick that worked properly.
These drawbacks are more than counteracted by ease of start-up, especially that dreaded first start-up of spring. For those comparing "green" products, this propane lawn mower has more power than cordless electric mowers.