Ego 21″ mower (LM2100SP) 2nd self propel motor failure & repair report

No, this post isn’t an accidental duplicate of this post from last year. Yes, the self propel unit on my 21″ SP Ego lawn mower failed a second time. (This is 9 months after it was replaced under warranty from the first failure, which occurred around month 4 of ownership, so this failed self propel motor lasted twice as long as the first one.)

However,  I’m quite pleased with Ego’s warranty service compared to the last time when I had to take the mower to Home Depot’s service department (who kept it for 5 weeks).

This time when I called Ego’s customer support number, I only had a seven minute hold time before talking to a person, and the customer support representative said that they would send me out a new replacement mower, arriving in 5-10 business days. [I was instructed to remove the serial number sticker and take the defective mower back to home depot “for recycling”.]

I have read many accounts on Ego’s customer web forums of other self propel units failing, so they may have had a bad batch of mowers go out and are now being more pro-active about replacing them. Alternatively, maybe I’m getting a replacement mower shipped out quickly because this is the second issue I’ve had. Regardless, receiving a working replacement in 5-10 days is much better than taking 5 weeks for a repair.   I’m still going to have to push my mower to mow the lawn (and it’s a big lawn, so this is more exercise than I am looking for….) but at least I could use the defective mower as a push mower until the replacement arrived and didn’t have to hire a lawn service while it’s in the shop.

The new mower arrived 11 business days after my phone call (it would have been 10, except UPS had a delivery exception and delayed it over a weekend, which meant I had to push the old mower around one more time.

After using the new mower with its super quiet and silky smooth self propel, I can say that the self propel unit that home depot repaired/replaced had many signs of problems before it finally gave up the ghost. First, it was louder than the mower itself. Second, it didn’t have enough power to fully propel the mower up a slight incline. Third, every time the mower went into overdrive due to thick grass, the self propel would slow down. These issues were either there from the time I got the mower back from Home Depot, or they started and got worse so gradually that I hadn’t taken note of them, but after using the new mower, it became obvious that I should have known my self propel unit was not working the way it was supposed to. On the new mower the self propel has plenty of power to move up a grade at the same speed it moves on flat ground, it makes less noise than the blade mower, and it doesn’t slow down when the blade mower goes into “overdrive” cutting thick grass.

 

Degregation of EGO 7.5 AH lawnmower batteries over time

I purchased a 21″ Self Propelled EGO lawnmower in April of 2017, and although the mower’s manufacture date code was listed as Sep 2016, the 7.5 AH battery (Original Battery) that HD gave me (shipped separately and lost for a week) had a date code of Dec 2014.

I just (July 2018) purchased a second brand new 7.5 AH battery that has a manufactured date code of May 2018 so that I can mow twice as long, and be charging one battery while mowing with the other.

To monitor the performance and lifespan of these (relatively expensive) batteries, I have been periodically testing their capacity by draining them to the same level (when the red light on the mower comes on) and then measuring how many watt/hrs it takes to fully recharge them using a Kill-a-watt meter. In this way, I can compare the original battery (both last year and now) to my new battery.

Here is my data:
Original Battery Aug 2017:  380 watt/hr to recharge
Original Battery July 2018:  330 watt/hr to recharge
New Battery, July 2018: 410 watt/hr to recharge.

I didn’t start keeping track of how much power it took to recharge the original battery until August of 2017, so I don’t know if it was at the 410 level when I originally received it or not. It’s calendar age from the date of manufacture was 2+ years old when I received it in April of 2017, and I estimate it probably lost 7% of its capacity before I started the measurements.

Conclusions:
The original battery has lost approximately 13% of it’s capacity over the last year from the point I started keeping track.
(380-330= 50 / 380 = 0.1315 )

Right now, my brand new battery is 19-20% “better” than my original battery (which is 3+ years old and has been in active use for 15 months).
(410 – 330 = 80 / 410 = 0.1951)

Said another way, my original battery still has 80% of the capacity of a “new” battery after 15 months of use and several years of storage before I purchased it.  (330 / 410 = 0.8048 )

Just for fun, here are two graphs of the data points I have for my original battery over time. The first one shows how the degradation appears to be mostly linear (at least over the last year) but looks scary, because OpenOffice cheated and auto-scaled the vertical axis to only include the data points.

 

This second graph represents the total capacity “under the line” is a better visual representation of reality, as only 13% of the original capacity was lost over this time period (20% when compared to a brand new battery, so the other 7% was likely lost in the years of storage before I received the original battery).

 

 

 

Ego 21″ Self Propelled 56 volt Power plus lawnmower review

Five months ago I purchased an Ego 21″ Self-propelled electric lawnmower (Model LM2100SP), and I have been mostly happy with it despite two failures of the self propel drive unit that were both repaired/replaced under warranty.

I still believe that an EGO mower is the best option if you are going to be buying a cordless electric mower, but there are a lot of caveats you should know about if you are trying to decide between it and a traditional gas model.

Performance and “Range”:
The Ego has comparable performance (cutting power) to a gas mower (and an impressive ability to automatically ramp up the torque if needed), but it can’t compete on range with the energy density of gasoline. My mower came with the largest 7.5 Amp Hour (AH) battery, and I need to re-charge it once (winter) or twice (summer) to mow my 3/5 acre yard in two or three sections. I can usually mow for between 30-60 minutes at a charge depending upon conditions (cutting thick wet grass with a dull blade takes a lot more energy than cutting thin dry grass with a sharp blade).

As an example, I was able to mow this section of my lawn (from the foreground to just past the pine tree to the right of center) on a single charge (until the status light on the mower turned from green to red, leaving just enough power in the battery to use it in the leafblower to clean off the lawnmower and a short sidewalk). The section was 66′ long by 130′ wide, (8,500 sq ft, or just under 1/5 – 0.195 acres ). This was grass that needed mowing (mowed last about 9 days ago) but wasn’t quite overgrown yet. Time wise, this took me around 45 minutes running with the self propel set to maximum speed. As another data point, in the middle of summer, mowing thick overgrown grass, I was able to mow a 5,200 sq ft section ( 130′ x 40′) on a single charge of a new 7.5 AH battery.

With a gas mower you could mow my entire lawn with thick wet grass and a very dull blade and only notice that you needed to re-fill the gas can slightly more frequently. With an electric mower, you learn to keep your blade sharp, and to never mow wet grass (which is good for the lawnmower and your lawn) because it makes a significant difference in your mowers “range”.

My lawn is large, and most homeowners would probably buy a riding mower with a wide deck to mow it, so I don’t mind getting a break between each section. [Electric riding mowers were prohibitively expensive when I purchased my walk-behind Ego.] Recharging the battery takes an hour with the included fast charger, so I can mow one section, recharge while taking a lunch break and then knock out a second section. Usually though, I just mow 1/3 of it each day, so the battery charging speed doesn’t really matter. If you wanted to be able to mow almost continuously, you should buy two batteries so that one can be charging while you are using the other.

Cost:
The mower will cost more up-front than a comparable gas mower, due to the cost of the rechargeable battery (The battery and charger is warranted for 3 years, while the mower itself has a 5 year warranty). If the battery lasts a full 5 years, your total cost of ownership will probably be very similar to a gas mower + fuel and maintenance. However, if you were to purchase a used gas mower, you can save a significant amount of money. Purchasing a used electric mower was not yet a viable option for my lawn, as most used electric mowers on the market still make use of lead acid batteries and do not have the comparable performance to the Ego’s 56 volt lithium battery pack. If you have a very small yard (1/10th acre or less), an older used electric mower may still work for you.

Benefits of electrification

Once you accept that the energy density of a LiIon battery is significantly lower than gas, there are many benefits to an electric mower. First, it costs me about 5 cents to fully charge the battery (15 cents to mow my entire lawn), and I never have to travel to a gas station to purchase fuel. I will have to purchase a new battery at some point in the future. Currently, it is unclear exactly how quickly the battery will degrade over time. I have detected no degradation after the first four months. It is warranted for 3 years, and I hope it will actually last 5-10 years before I need a new one, but only time will tell. New batteries are expensive, but if technology improves and costs reduce over the next five years, I may just buy an electric riding mower once my Ego walk behind is 5 years old and the warranty expires.

Because the mower has no gas or oil, you can turn it to change the blade or fold the handle and stand it upright for storage without worrying about leaks or damage. This is a prime space saving benefit that I feel is one of the main benefits.

Because the motor is electric, starting and stopping the mower is as easy as pushing the start button and pulling the bail bar in.  No more pull starts, or dealing with a dead starter battery on an electric start model.

The mower is MUCH quieter than most gas mowers. Although it makes noise, it is much less disruptive than even a four stroke engine with a good muffler. And of course, you never have to walk through fumes or smoke from an internal combustion engine.

It also comes with headlights. This may sound like a gimmicky feature, but since the electric motor is so quiet, you can mow later in the evening without worrying about annoying your neighbors. Because the headlights are down low shining across your lawn, they do a very good job of highlighting the mowed/not-yet mowed division, making it even easier to overlap your tracks slightly than in the daytime.

Common Gripes

Reading the Ego community forums (after purchasing the mower) I found several common complaints.  First, it can leave  tufts of uncut grass near the edge of the mower, which can mostly be rectified by overlapping your passes a bit extra. So instead of a 21″ deck, you are really getting the performance of a 19-20″ deck. This may be related to the second common complaint, a lack of suction. Some people complain that it doesn’t always lift leaves or grass upwards enough to cut/mulch. Many of these complaints are from people who bag their clippings and want absolutely everything off of the lawn when they are finished. I use it almost exclusively in the mulching configuration, and am happy with it’s mulching performance. Ego does sell a “high-lift” blade that has more “uplift” specifically designed for bagging operation, which does improve the suction, but at the expense of extra energy usage (shorter runtime). I have the high lift blade and can confirm it does a good job increasing “pickup” when bagging, but I was happy enough with the mulching performance with the standard blade that I don’t use the high-lift blade and bag frequently.

Hardware failures

The third, and most concerning complaint I see on the community forums is failures of the hardware, combined with difficulty contacting customer support and a poor dealer network for repairs (of the mower). I have seen many posts by people who have had motor failures, battery failures, and charger failures. Without knowing how many units have been sold overall, I can’t estimate a failure rate, but they are happening often enough to show up in the community forums as a seriously sour note.  [It doesn’t help that EGO, and their system of Home Depot authorized repair centers some issues, keep reading.]

Repair Difficulties

To be clear, EGO stands behind their products and will replace batteries and chargers if they fail by sending out a new unit. However, their call center is very busy, and hold times of over an hour are reported frequently (and bitterly). The best advice seems to be to call early in the morning to reach a real person, and to never expect them to return a voice-mail. I have talked with two different customer support representatives (to register my mower, and to initiate a warranty repair on the self propel motor) and they were always very helpful (once you got through to them.)

If your battery or charger goes out under warranty, they will ship you a new one relatively quickly. However, if a piece of equipment needs repair, instead of outright replacement, you must take it to an authorized repair center. For most people, this will be the closest Home Depot that has a tool rental / repair center. [If you are lucky enough to have a local lawnmower dealer that is an authorized repair site for Ego anywhere near you, DRIVE YOUR MOWER TO THEM INSTEAD.] Unfortunately, the time to repair a piece of equipment at the home depot repair center is 3-4 weeks if they can do the repair in the store, and 6-10 weeks if they have to ship it to the repair depot in Atlanta.  Think about that, two months without your lawn mower!  (You can read about my repair experience at this other post…)

Update:  The self propel unit failed on my mower a second time after 9 more months of ownership, but I was much happier with how Ego handled the failure, as they shipped me a replacement mower so that I was quickly back in business. You can read about the 2nd failure and replacement at this post.

Important Warranty Restrictions

This isn’t a craftsman hand tool where you can buy a broken one at a garage sale and get it replaced. For warranty service, you need to be the original owner, have proof of purchase (if you have not already registered the product), and you MUST have bought the product new, from an Ego certified dealer (Mostly Home Depot, although they do sell on Amazon as well as through some local lawnmower shops.) Note that if you buy an EGO product on Amazon, you MUST make sure that it is “Sold by and shipped from Amazon” to be covered by Ego’s warranty. Many other sellers will sell via the Amazon Marketplace, but they are not Ego authorized dealers, only products purchased directly from Amazon itself are covered by the warranty.

 

Ego 21″ mower (LM2100SP) self propel motor failure & repair report

After four months of ownership, around 40 hours of usage, the self propel motor unit on my Ego 21″ Self-propelled electric lawnmower (Model LM2100SP) failed. Before this failure I was very happy with its performance, and although it was repaired under warranty, the procedure took longer than I think was reasonable.

Ever since I purchased the mower, I have been monitoring the Ego community forums, and I knew that reaching a customer support representative would sometimes take extended hold times, and I had heard that taking a mower to Home Depot for repair could be an extended procedure, so when my self propel motor failed, I was relatively well prepared on how to handle the situation.

August 29th, 2017 – The self propel motor fails. I finish mowing my front lawn pushing the mower by hand (which makes me realize that paying extra for the model with the self propel motor was the right choice.)

August 30th, 2017 Time to call customer support. After re-charging the battery, and letting the mower sit overnight to cool, I tested it again (yep, still no motion) and then called Ego customer support early in the morning (to avoid a long wait on hold.). I only had to wait a few minutes on hold, and then a helpful customer support representative walked me through a few simple questions (yes, my mower blade would turn on and spin, so the battery was good, and the folding handle interlocks were correctly latched, etc…) to verify that the drive motor had actually failed.  After that, she “made a note in my file” and told me to take it to Home Depot.

What I wish she had told me: 1. Home depot will charge you a $20 deposit, just to look at the mower (and you authorize up to $150 worth of repairs upon drop-off). They will refund this deposit to you if the work is covered under warranty (mine was).  2. You can only take the mower to a Home Depot that has a tool rental / repair clinic (call first to check). 3. The Home Depot repair clinic doesn’t have their own EGO batteries for testing, so be sure to leave your battery in the mower. [This makes sense in hindsight, but I was hesitant to leave 7.5 AH battery that costs $400 to replace at HD, so this required me to make a second trip back to HD with the battery a few days later.]

Also, after talking with her I received an email from Ego that stated my “case had been closed” (this is the case associated with the phone call to Ego only…but the wording of the message didn’t inspire confidence.)

Because I had heard horror stories about the Home Depot repair clinic taking a long time to repair EGO mowers, I made sure I called them every week to check on the status of my mower, just to make sure it hadn’t fallen into any cracks. I also posted an update every Monday on the ego customer forums, which may have also helped things behind the scenes.

Sep 18th 2017: They are still checking on the mower, but the HD technician felt that they could repair it locally instead of shipping the mower to Atlanta.

Sep 25th 2017: In progress, waiting on a part which usually takes a week or two (presumably the motor/gearbox unit).

October 2nd 2017: HD is still waiting on the part.  [After this update to the Ego community forum, April from EGO said that they were tracking the shipment and that the part should be arriving at the HD store within a few days.]

October 9th 2017: HD claims to still be waiting on the part.  [I mentioned this on the Ego community forum.]

Finally, on Thursday night (Oct 11th), Home Depot calls me to tell me the mower is ready for pickup. Because the home depot with the repair clinic  is 12 miles away from me, I delay pickup until Saturday.

So, it took Home Depot / Ego about five weeks to get my mower repaired, and this was with me keeping on top of Home Depot and making sure that Ego knew what was happening at each step. Reading several other reports on the ego community forum makes me believe that my experience was actually on the faster side of things, as 8-10 week delays are not unheard of if the mower gets shipped to Atlanta for repairs.  I paid $180 to a lawncare company and took a break from mowing my yard, but there are at least three other options to keep mowing if you find yourself in this situation.

Take advantage of Home Depot’s 90 day return policy

Many others in the Ego forums have bought another Ego lawnmower and used it while theirs was in for repair, returning it under HD’s 90 day return policy once their mower was repaired. I felt that this action would be ethically questionable, but after waiting five weeks for HD to repair my mower, my ethical resolve is beginning to weaken, and should the mower fail again, I will seriously consider this option.

Buy a second mower

I did consider buying a second Ego mower (and keeping it), mostly as a way to purchase a second 7.5 Ah battery (it is almost as cheap to buy the battery and mower together as to buy just the battery, plus you get a “hot spare” mower). Other than the fact that you have to store the 2nd mower, this does have certain advantages. If one mower fails, you can just switch over to using the second mower while the first is in for repair. And, you get the advantage of having twice as many batteries and chargers.  Unfortunately,  at the time Home Depot was not offering the same $50 discount on the mower as when I initially purchased mine, otherwise I may have done this.  [My wife points out the questionable logic of using the failure of a product to justify the purchase of a duplicate of the same product…]

Burn hydrocarbons

Of course, you could also buy a cheap used gas mower and several gallons of gas for less than the $180 that I paid for lawn care service, and probably be able to resell it at almost the same price you paid when finished.

Final Recommendation

Due to the fact that my self propel motor failed after 4 months of ownership, combined with a 5 week repair time, I can’t recommend the EGO electric mower to everyone. At least with a gas mower your options for repair are numerous and much faster. However, if you have decided that you will be going with an electric mower, I still think that the Ego line has the best performance. (I have also posted a review of the mower.) I also own the hand-held leaf blower and chainsaw from their Power+ line, and have been quite happy with them.

Update:
The new self propel unit installed by Home Depot  failed again (after 9 more months of usage) but I’m much happier with how Ego handled the warranty repair (via a direct replacement), which you can read about here.