Propane Lawn Mower Review: Lehr Eco Mower

Impressive, Except for Canister Availability

Propane operated mower made by Lehr called the Eco Mower.
The Lehr Eco Mower runs on propane. David Beaulieu

It is not just about cleanliness and the environment when it comes to rating Lehr's eco-friendly mower. The Eco Mower is also a solid choice in terms of power. But what most grabs one's attention is the fact that you will not have to worry that this propane lawn mower will start up come next spring, after sitting around all winter. Once you come to that point in the evaluation process -- as a lawn mower consumer -- it is just a matter of deciding between batteries, electrical cords or propane as your power source of choice.

Good Points and Bad Points

The pros of this product include the following points:

  • 5-Horsepower / 4-Cycle engine (meaning that operating power was not sacrificed to build a green machine).
  • Sturdy, overall.
  • Runs on propane gas, a clean and green alternative fuel.
  • Carburetor does not gum up, as with gasoline, meaning there will be fewer engine problems.
  • Plus propane lawn mowers start up quicker next spring and require no choking to start.

But there are also some cons, such as:

  • Grass catcher could be easier to insert and remove.
  • Wheel height does not adjust high enough.
  • If the dipstick were a darker color, it might be easier to get an oil reading.
  • Quick Fix handles are plastic (some might prefer metal).
  • Propane will be an inconvenient fuel source for some.

Product Description

  • Run time is listed as 1+ hour (in a small yard, you will not 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? It might be best to stock up.
  • Although the canister is supposedly recyclable, some towns refuse to take them. So do some Home Depot and Lowe's stores.
  • 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 the mower in your car.
  • But the Quick Fix handles are plastic (not metal). Concerns over durability would dissuade one from using them extensively.
  • Propane lawn mowers will be attractive to two types of buyers (although these are not mutually exclusive):
  • 1. Those seeking a machine that is clean to work with and/or environmentally friendly.
  • 2. Those tired of gasoline-powered lawn mowers, due to unreliable start-up.

Review: Lehr's Eco Mower, a Propane Lawn Mower

Lehr's LM 139SP is a propane lawn mower. Propane is touted as an alternative fuel that reduces emissions. Many prefer a mower that operates on propane for environmental reasons. It is also cleaner to work with than gas. For example, you do not 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 is no running down to the corner gas station for a quick refill. Instead, you will have to find a store that sells the 16.4-oz. propane canisters required to operate this machine.

Lowe's and Home Depot carry these propane canisters.

This reviewer had a better shopping experience at the latter. The first time he went to Lowe's for one, he had to get an employee to fill the propane canister for him, which involved a considerable wait (the second time that he checked at Lowe's, however, 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 (for example, the type that you hook up to a barbecue 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 is not 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 is self-propelled (the NP model is not). For a small yard, the NP is better. The self-propulsion of the SP is strong -- too strong for tight spots that 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, you might not remember soon enough to disengage self-propulsion, causing you to run over or into an object that you wish to avoid.

The bag does not come pre-assembled, and the assembly will not be especially intuitive for novices. If you have never assembled one, you will want to consult the sheet of paper (separate from the manual) that comes in the packing that tells you how. Getting the bag on and off this machine is also relatively difficult.

For some reason, it is 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 would rather just measure it out, instead (which the average person is not going to do), but one has a right to expect that this Lehr product would have 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 battery-powered mowers.

Disclosure: A review sample was provided by the manufacturer, which was returned after the review was complete. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.