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Customer Review

on May 17, 2009
This review is based on the same but differently branded Homelite UT13122 Cordless Mower (sold at Home Depot). My other mowers are an MTD electric and a Brill reel mower. I never own a gasoline-powered mower for the obvious reasons.

OPERATION:
- Push and turn around when necessary. Any problem is behind the mower.

PROS:
- Strong and powerful motor (it cut down 12"+ moist-grass! Haha, it's May 17 and I just did my first mowing of the season here in Virginia)
- Plenty of juice in one charge,
- 1-click removable battery makes it easy to charge the battery off-board/indoor with the included adapter cable and charger -- the same charger works for on-board and off-board charging,
- LED display for battery level is on deck at the rear, very easy to see while pushing the mower,
- Easy on and off; the safety key is secured to the control unit with a lanyard (no need to kneel down and get to the key like the Neuton),
- Dust/water cap for charging plug is included and secured with a lanyard,
- Wide cutting path,
- One-lever height adjustment,
- Maximum cut height is taller than most (haha, I like my lawn taller),
- Complete with bag, side discharger and mulch plug

CONS:
- Battery maintenance is not that simple. Per the manual, the charger is NOT a smart, trickle charger and MUST NOT CHARGE MORE THAN A MAXIMUM OF 24-HR. Yet, the manual and the yellow warning tag also warn that you MUST CHARGE THE BATTERY EVERY 30-DAYS during the off-seasons. Who's going to remember to do this religiously? The 1-click removable battery makes it possible to do charge it indoor, however, the owner must still remember to plug and unplug the the charger to heed the recommendation of no-more than 24-hour and at least once every 30 days. I have a programmable wall timer to take care of this (UPDATE: I am using a third party smart charger instead), but it would be so much nicer if the charger was a smart, trickle charger that can manage on its own. A smart charger circuitry is so easy to manufacture and it would add only a few dollars to the final price (and it would pay off in the long run given not too many owners would heed the warning, and many would end up with dead batteries, giving the product a bad rep).
- The handle is not foldable for quick storage. It's removable with the knob screws, but a foldable handle would make it much easier.

MAINTENANCE TIP:
- Get a programmable timer to help the dumb charger maintain the battery better (see cons above) -- UPDATE: I am using a 24v smart charger)
- Spray the blade and the bottom of the deck (well, all over) with Jigaloo or other similar spray lubricant. It will make it slicker and less grass will stick, keeping it cleaner and easier to blow after every use.
- UPDATE #2: store the battery at a cool place to minimize discharge, and don't let it discharge fully too often and don't leave it discharged too long. Sealed lead acid batteries are happier when they're fully charged (but they're not happy if they're overcharged with bad chargers either).

UPDATE: I opened the battery pack (8 screws) and saw two green, sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries with this printed on them:

6-DZM-20 (12V20AH)
3-Step Charge Method
Step 1: Constant Current Charge: 2.4 - 3.0A
Step 2: Constant Voltage Charge: 14.7 - 14.9V
Step 3: Floating - Constant Floating Voltage is 13.7 - 13.9V. Converting current: 550-600mA.

Note: if you are looking for an aftermarket smart charger, make sure you look for a 24v charger, because the batteries are placed in series (so double the voltage). The charging current can be lower than the spec above; it'll just take a longer to charge. I found mine from batteryspec dot com.

UPDATE #2: I'm still doing some work on perfecting the charger setup. As it is right now, I'm charging the battery pack off-board because it's more convenient and the battery stays cooler in the basement. I'm thinking of either upgrading the charger to either a: 1) 24v Soneil Charger (a reliable deep-cycle charger used for scooters/wheel chair, much more expensive though!), or 2) install a DPDT switch so that, at the flick of a switch, the battery assembly goes from series (24v) to parallel (12v), allowing me to use much cheaper 12v smart chargers (like the touted Battery Minder or Battery Tender Plus, available here at Amazon). With the DPDT switch, I'll set the pack to 12v for charging, and 24v for operation. It will only need a length of wire and a DPDT switch from Radio Shack ($3.99 plus tax, catalog #275-691).

It sounds like a lot of work, but it's a hobby to me and from the negative reviews, the battery (but actually the charger) is the achiles heel of this otherwise excellent mower. I'll post an update.

UPDATE #3 10/2011: Two years later, the battery is still GOING STRONG - 3 green lights.

I've had this setup for two years now. I ended up getting a smart charger capable of outputting 12V 6A (I also use it to condition my car batteries in the summer - yes, summer is when the batteries take the most toll and get weak, and the problem would then surface in the winter). I ran some wiring that switches the battery arrangement from parallel (12v) to serial (factory 24v arrangement). First, cut out a small opening on top, put a DPDT switch and wired it. For charging, I switched it to 12v. For mowing, I switched it to 24v. Works great!! No worries about running on the wrong setting because 12v would be too weak for the mower (yellow/red lights), and the charger would light up the error light if it's incorrectly connected to the 24v.

As mentioned, I leave the mower outside, but keep the battery in the garage where the temperature is less extreme. It is plugged to charger, and I just carry it out to the mower whenever I need to mow. Easy peasy.

The charger is a Schauer CM6A: [...] (sigh, 2 years ago it was about 15 dlr cheaper than the current price).
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