Gary Horton | Progress gets a boost with electric lawn mowers
There has been a bit of political hubbub over California’s new electric gardening equipment law, Assembly Bill 1346, known as the SORE Act (Small off-road motors). The law, signed at the end of 2021 by Governor Gavin Newsom, restricts the sale of most gasoline-powered garden equipment after January 1, 2024 and gas generators by January 1, 2028. January 1, 2024.
The right shouts, âthe government is going too far in our private choicesâ. “Another job killer in Sacramento!” Meanwhile, the far left would take our lawns and give us stones for the front yards! In between is this progressive and sensible bill.
I am writing this column from a position of unique experience. I own the third largest private landscaping company in California. We employ 1,100 people in commercial landscaping and construction and in our fleet of hundreds of trucks, we have to have 500 mowers and thousands of weedkillers, blowers, chainsaws and everything else powered by these gases and noisy, odious and smoky polluting oil mix two-stroke engines! I can’t wait to get rid of them all, and in truth we have already started …
Landscapers and homeowners only use small gasoline powered equipment because that is what is available and is what has long worked for these specific types of jobs. And we’ll all keep using these loud, polluting things – until something better comes along. And finally, it is. Embrace the era of efficient battery-powered gardening and construction tools!
Homeowners and professionals have long enjoyed the benefits of drills, saws, sanders, vacuums, and all kinds of battery-powered household tools. The battery revolution has moved outside. It’s a simple, logical extension of everything else battery-powered, and it would be quite strange if gardening equipment didn’t follow suit. The switch to battery-powered gardening tools is just a technical advance. And the SORE Law, AB 1346, gives a boost to progress, like the laws that promoted LED lights and electric cars.
I can’t wait to see this change because it’s what our customers want. No one is happy with the shrill cries of the blowers and weed eaters outside their windows and all along the block. Otherwise, quiet neighborhoods feel like weekend war zones with the constant screams of those damn two-stroke engines. And the fumes are floating all around with that foul smell of oil and two-stroke burnt gas – we know the fumes must be terrible to our lungs. The truth is, all of these little gardening equipment combined together emit more pollution than passenger cars in California!
In the past, we have suffered from these noisy and dirty tools because that was only what was available. Now that is changing.
Our company already has routes fully equipped with electrical equipment for the maintenance of banks and centers for the elderly – areas where the noise of gasoline engines is particularly undesirable. All these customers hear when we are on their property is a quiet âwhooshâ of rotating blades of quiet motors. Customers and owners alike really prefer the quiet and cleanliness of the electric garden equipment.
Giant companies like Stihl and Husqvarna are already selling commercially viable battery-powered gardening equipment. Lawn mowers, weedkillers, blowers, everything. True, today this equipment costs more than gasoline equivalents. And the batteries only last half a working day. But electrical equipment is much more reliable and eliminates costly refueling, maintenance, repairs and breakdowns. Important to commercial businesses, drum equipment is much safer for the hearing, lungs, and our common environment. As more and more manufacturers prepare, by 2024 electric gardening equipment will be competitive in price and performance and even better. You cannot stop the progress. All those questions about costs and short maintenance intervals? All false.
There is nothing new about laws requiring positive change like this. The AQMD has banned smoky old diesel trucks and you are no longer stuck following a bounding truck on the 405. We have banned lead in gasoline and eliminated a terribly dangerous pollutant. Giving up the obnoxiously noisy and highly polluting gasoline-powered garden equipment is just one more big step towards cleaner air and a better quality of life in our neighborhoods, for all of us.
Corded drills were quickly replaced by more convenient battery-powered hand tools. Super efficient LEDs are here to stay, as few want to go back to hot, inefficient, burning incandescent bulbs forever. This time, say goodbye to the screaming blowers and mowers!
A first business rule is to give customers what they want. And everyone prefers loud, smoky, obnoxiously piercing devices. This is because businesses that switch to electricity first will quickly reap business, as HOAs and estates demand the peace and quiet of fully electric outdoor gardening equipment.
As a large employer, I look forward to the increased safety of battery powered equipment. As a for-profit business, I look forward to losing all gas, oil, and repair costs associated with using anything that runs on gasoline.
Is AB1346 government abuse? No. California is just California – embracing an obvious future. As you laze your Saturday mornings undisturbed, sipping your coffee or tea, you’ll quickly appreciate hearing the birds and bees instead of those constant cries that currently spoil your otherwise peaceful outdoor experience.
AB1346 makes perfect sense to me.
âFull Speed ââto Port! By Gary Horton has appeared on The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Signal or its editorial board.