Cast aluminium, steel and chrome give these mowers a distinct appearance that shouts functionality.
They have a 60cm cutting width for productivity and are IP54 rated so, matched to Pellenc’s new waterproof ULB1500 battery, they can be used in all weathers — and when it is sunny the battery can be charged with the Solerion solar recharging system.
The Rasion Basic and Smart are designed for professional users, are lightweight for one-person lifting and fold to 60x88x62cm, giving a small footprint for storage. Swivel front wheels give spot-on manoeuvrability and excellent cornering, even zero-turn ability, around trees and obstacles.
Griffiths notices. "It took a little getting used to but the ability to turn tightly round shrubs is handy for us," he says. Punchy power, combined with the synchronised dual blades, ensures dense and wet grass is cut finely and the clippings are tightly stashed in the 70-litre catcher.
Watch out though, the bag can weigh more than 10kg when full. Electronic speed setting of the blades on both models adjusts rotation from 3,000 to 5,000rpm and is achieved from a handle-mounted device. Centrally adjusted cutting height will take the cut from 75mm down through six stages to 25mm — manually on the Basic but electronically on the Smart.
Both mowers feature automatic jam clearing of the discharge chute. The Smart ups the game over the Basic. It shares most of the features but has a single-arm handlebar, making catcher removal easier. An LCD control panel on the handlebar gives on-the-go adjustment of blade speed, cutting height and forward speed from 1kph to 5kph. Then there is the grass sensor.
Sat at the front of the mower, the two optical sensors detect the height of the grass and automatically adjust blade speed to suit, optimising energy use. Griffiths reckons it is a hard decision between the two but concludes: "We prefer something that is driven, but I like the fact that the batteries can be used to power a wide range of other kit."
Cutting width 24in (60cm)
Cutting height Six stages, 25-75mm — manual/electronic
Drive push TBC/1-5kph
Blade speed Variable from 3,000 to 5,000rpm — electronic/automatic
Battery 43.2V, 17.4Ah (ULiB700) or 43.2V, 23.2Ah, Li-ion (ULiB1100)
Recharge time 3hrs (ULiB700) and 4hrs (UliB1100) using quick charger
Runtime Approximately 3,600sq m using the ULiB110
Catcher Fabric, 70 litres
Weight 25kg/29kg — excluding batteries
Guaranteed noise level 86dB(A)
Warranty Commercial, three-year
Optional accessories Mulching kit
List price £1,240 + VAT/£1,679 + VAT — both excluding batteries and chargers
Tel Etesia UK — 01295 680120
Allett Liberty 43
Makita Twin 18V LXT
Pellenc Rasion Basic and Smart
Cobra MX46S40V and RM4140V
Etesia Duocut 41 N-ERGY NACTS and 46 N-ERGY PACS
Wolf 72V Li-ion Power 40
Phil Griffiths, head gardener, Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall
Trengwainton Garden, a National Trust property just outside Penzance, is world-famous for its tender exotic species grown outdoors in woodland and five walled gardens, taking advantage of the mild Cornish climate. When we heard that head gardener Phil Griffiths was keen to try out battery mowers, HW turned up with 12 from seven manufacturers.
There is currently great interest in battery powered garden tools and rising demand is driving development. Such equipment has many advantages over petrol models — no need to store petrol, no mess or spills when fuelling up, no fumes, quieter operation and reduced vibration. When a visitor approaches to ask questions, stopping and restarting is as simple as pressing a button. Say bye-bye to those bothersome recoil starts.
On the downside, there is the battery life — although engines have a life too. A greater concern tends to be runtime and the need to recharge. While most brands offer a variety of tools to work off the same battery system, if you have a team of gardeners all needing to use powered kit at the same time, you need to ensure you have enough batteries and chargers, and sufficient access to mains sockets.
On the day of the review the weather was typically Cornish — warm with broken cloud, sunny intervals, threatening showers and more sun.