Updated Black and Decker Codeless Lawn Mower Review

Posted on June 7, 2010  Comments (2)

photo of Black and Decker cordless lawnmower

Update: Less than 2 years old the battery can’t even mow 1/2 of what the old lawn mower battery could mow after it was much older. Unfortunately it seem that even my pessimistic expectations were too high. They managed to provide worse battery product after years of breakthroughs in improving batteries. I would recommend avoiding Black and Decker.

Better options: Toro 20360 e-Cycler 20-Inch 36-Volt Cordless Electric Lawn MowerEarthwise 60120 20-Inch 24-Volt Cordless Electric Lawn Mower

The bag is indeed much better than the old version but it is the only improvement. The other problems I mentioned do indeed continue to annoy as it is used.

My old version of this mower just stopped working and the repair guy said it would cost $250 for a new starter, new battery… So I bought a new one: Black & Decker 19-Inch 24-Volt Cordless Electric Mulching Lawn Mower #CMM1200. He said that the new ones were not as well manufactured. I couldn’t imagine how you could make things worse (it is a simple product and just adopting improvement over the years should be really easy).

But, the starter on this model is horrible. You have to tun this incredibly cheap key in a very poorly designed socket. Fails over 80% of the time. The old model started easily essentially every time. The design was just as you would expect, foolproof. Whatever pointy haired boss approved this design needs to go into another line of work.

The ability of the mower to cope with high grass is very poor – much worse than the previous model. I had a good test at first given the time between my mower breaking and getting the new one. Not often an issue, but still not a good thing.

They had a poor indication of the charge left in the battery previously. They now provide no indication of the charge left. It makes you realize that a poor indication was much better than none.

Battery technology has improved a great deal, and that was one of biggest the weaknesses of the last one. Well they seem to have managed to provide worse battery performance after 5 years of improvement in that technology. Pretty sad.

The bag design is much better than the previous model. You have to assemble it yourself but it is much more sturdy and much better designed – you can replace the fabric and keep the frame. The old model the entire things needed to be replaced if the fabric broke. And given the flimsy design mine broke very early on.

The old model has an extremely cheap hand hold (rubber over the medal to cushion your hands) that broke within months. This one seems to have the same very poor hand holds – that are already breaking.

The new design (again some pointy haired boss decision, I imagine, I sure hope no engineer suggested this) has a flimsy plastic handle that you most hold with 1 hand, or the mower power goes off. The old model had a solid medal bar that either hand could control. This is extremely annoying if you have to maneuver (around bushes, into tight areas…) and don’t have the flexibility to let go with your right hand ever.

The new mower starts shooting grass to the side and even turn off when the bag is less than half full. It seems that the design gets clogged when the bag is half full so that it can take in no more grass. This did not happen on the old mower. I often don’t use the bag but when you do, this is annoying.

Sadly, until some managers leave Toyota and start a company based on the management and engineering principles at Toyota I am not confident any other manufacturer will do any better. It is sad that so many obviously bad engineering decisions can be apparent so quickly and that companies making such decisions actually stay in business.

Electric lawn mowers are definitely preferable for cost, ease of maintenance and environmental reasons to gas mowers. So I will keep using this mower, but it worse than the previous model (the bag seems to be the only improvement), which I find extremely lame. Companies should improve products over time, not go backwards.


2 Responses to “Updated Black and Decker Codeless Lawn Mower Review”

  1. june
    July 15th, 2010 @ 12:14 am

    I love the idea of going cordless and electronic with lawn mowers. In my experience these guys fall apart way too fast. They have a way to go before these are viable for larger yards.

  2. Curious Cat Engineering Blog » Fiskars Cuts+More 5-in-1 Multi-Purpose Scissors
    November 21st, 2010 @ 11:00 am

    These are some well engineering scissors with all sorts of handy features. Fiskars makes some great products…

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