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Lawn mowers and gardening equipment pollution: Why are ICE engines still legal in California?

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Ulmo, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #1 Ulmo, Mar 10, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
    Blowers, edgers and lawn mowers can put out pollution. It seems like with their tiny engines, they must not have much filtering. Google quickly brings up a comparison that a single lawn mower today puts out as much pollution as 11 cars per same amount of time used. That's 11 hours of driving. When's the last time you drove 11 hours in an ICE? That's one large home lawn's worth of cutting, and you put out more pollution than your normal annual camping trip.

    Yesterday, I was happy to get back from a 564 mile trip, consisting of 7 hours 40 minutes of driving. I did it in an EV. I was happy that almost all of that was solar power or other clean energy.

    Then, while thinking of airing out my room at home by -- get this -- simply opening up the doors and windows, the lawn cutter started up. It is a gas powered model. Not only could I not open up my windows and doors, but the pollution caused by that beast put out more pollution than my entire trip had if I had used an ICE, and more than I saved by using an EV. Needless to say, I was dismayed in multiple ways. Besides talking with the lawn cutter and coming up with a plan to replace it with a battery operated lawn mower, I got to wondering how much impact it has overall.

    I don't trust the EPA. I don't trust government. EPA is one of the worst abusers. But this is supposed to be their purpose for being. Obviously, as a big government (think Democrat, but the Republicans do it too) type of organization, it probably spends more time looking for reasons to still exist as an office rather than solving the actual problems. That explains that their very own document claims that "Gas Mowers represent 5% of U.S. Air Pollution" Cleaner Air: Mowing Emissions and Clean Air Alternatives. A Fact Sheet https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwidksDIk83SAhXlwlQKHTR4CFMQFggaMAA&url=https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/banks.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHO3a_Y9b3BWOfhd9buTYY9NB7Uag&sig2=2p0wkX-lT5M1qS41AFwsfQ&bvm=bv.149397726,d.cGw https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwidksDIk83SAhXlwlQKHTR4CFMQFggiMAE&url=https://www3.epa.gov/ttn/chief/conference/ei21/session10/banks_pres.pdf&usg=AFQjCNH_JHGwYo9dH6dCmhaRtohWDGmyzw&sig2=7QVClScO7m9WD7gdEUxOng&bvm=bv.149397726,d.cGw ... but let's not blame EPA; after all, states rights allows us to do some things, too.

    So, I turn to California, only to find its totally corrupt CARB that put poison in gasoline for years (MTBE -- Why California mandated poison in your tank ), is the go-to organization for dealing with lawn mowers. They only have an incentive program. The prior incentive program for 2016 was, according to CARB, so successful that it was replaced with another incentive program; I'm quoting direction from their website Background Information Regarding the Lawn and Garden Equipment Replacement Project "For future years, CARB staff has shifted cordless zero-emission residential lawn mower replacement projects from AQIP to the Carl Moyer Program in part based on the success of the AQIP LGER Project. Because this equipment is now a Moyer-eligible category, no additional AQIP funding will be provided for cordless zero-emission residential lawn mowers.". I guess in government, it goes without saying that once something is actually successful, it ought to be eliminated, because all of a sudden, the purpose of the office disappears. So, I went to the new program, which had lots of disclaimers like "some districts don't rebate all things". Indeed, my district doesn't have a rebate for lawn mowers. But, let me ask, do we have to have rebates?

    Why can't we just have California legislatures outlaw all new sales of gas powered garden equipment, in total? Affordable cordless and corded lawn mowers, edgers and blowers have just come to market in the last few years, so now is the time to get rid of what is, according to one CARB document, fast going to become a larger polluter in the State of California than automobiles. Before we go hog wild with banishment of new gas powered gardening equipment, I don't want to spread lies: if they aren't that polluting, fine, but let's still ask the question, why is it still legal to sell gas powered gardening equipment (lawn mowers, blowers and trimmers) in California? I think it's beyond time to just stop it already. Forget the incentives.

    While looking for honest numbers, I found this non-government paper: How Much Pollution Do Gasoline-Powered Lawn Mowers Cause? In it, it says lawn mowers are now 18x more efficient than when the 300 mile stat was brought up. Here: "Claim No 4. One mower-hour = 350 miles in a car. Now mowers are back in the toilet. This page even cites a source, a book called Redesigning the American Lawn (Bormann et al, 1993). However, a parenthetical note says, “This information, though valid at the time of publication, is no longer accurate,” and that “based on current calculations,” one mower-hour produces “the amount of pollution emitted by a car driven for approximately 20 miles.”" So, a lie! They called the EPA, and EPA decided to not answer. But, they looked it up and found the new federal regulations for 2012 would make it better: "Things will improve when federal emissions standards for lawn mowers are tightened in 2012. Under the new standards, a push mower may produce as much HC+NOx as a car driven 160 miles".

    So, we have to wait around for a non-existent EPA (that won't even approve Tesla 100D non-performance models for sales even though they are bought, shipped, and paid for Has anyone received a 100D? ) to maybe implement yet more crummy regulations, that as soon as they might work a little, get abandoned, because they have become "successful"? It's time to get rid of EPA and CARB anyway, but to my point: let's just legislatively outlaw all new gas powered gardening equipment sales in California and be done with it, and stop looking East.
     
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  2. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    Okay, you convinced me. Now .... where do I find a decent electric mower?
     
  3. Webeevdrivers

    Webeevdrivers Member

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    Home Depot.
     
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  4. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    Getting people to stop using gas lawn mowing equipment is certainly a worthwhile goal. I'm not sure that this is the ideal approach to it, however - simply outlawing new sales will tend to make a lot of people hold on to older equipment longer or buy used rather than driving them to electric, and does nothing about the large number of gas units in daily service.

    I tend to think what you need is incentives that make the electric solution cheaper instead, along with some sort of education process to persuade people that they can do the job.

    Or maybe just a mass shift to electric robotic lawnmowers. :p
     
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  5. S'toon

    S'toon Knows where his towel is

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  6. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    I got hooked on the Echo cordless series of equipment, including push mower:
    Cordless Lawn Mower | ECHOCordless.com

    All findable at my local Home Depot (and I suspect at yours :)). A benefit of getting several pieces from the same set is that the batteries will be interchangeable. It's quite reasonable to run around mowing the lawn with 2 batteries, and swap them out as they run low for new batteries. I focus on the 4ah batteries over the 2ah batts (they interchange, but of course you get a lot more done with the bigger battery).

    I also have the string trimmer and blower. My own take on them - the string trimmer seems plenty powerful, to even overgunned for what I ever need to do. The blower - I'd like a lot more oomph there, but it's quite usable and I'd much rather be using that than own a gas powered blower and need to deal with all of it's care and feeding.

    I have the chain saw but haven't yet put it to much use - I figure I'll get the hedge trimmer sometime this summer (and then there won't be anything left in the set to get).


    My own interpretation of things is that these ~60v systems are the low end of usable for a larger yard and property (which I'm pegging at an acre or so of yard and garden to maintain). I think that with further development of these sorts of systems, we'll see a lot of the ~60v systems in wide use, and 80v systems for yards that are a bit larger.

    Here's a timely review (2 days old!):
    The Best Electric Lawn Mowers of 2017 | Top Ten Reviews

    There ARE riding cordless mowers. On the upper end of the scale, you see something like this:
    CXR-52/60
    Just $14k for a commercial electric riding mower that's designed to be ridden and run all day long, day after day.
     
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  7. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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  8. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    We just need people like you to buy/use battery powered mowers or make that a requirement for your lawn service. Please do not legislate what even you are willing to do yourself.

    PS I do use a battery powered mower (and blower and chain saw) along with plugin cars and rooftop solar.
     
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  9. Chopr147

    Chopr147 Active Member

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    Gas powered tractor and love it! No plans on changing that. I have found the battery trimmer more powerful than expected. Another benefit is not dealing with gas/oil mixtures, chokes, bad gas clogging filters, noise etc......
    Doesn't California have enough regulations controlling it;s people?
     
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  10. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    could you imagine trying to live in CA without an automobile?
    at this point in time there really isn't a viable for the masses alternative to ICE vehicles.
     
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  11. abasile

    abasile Independent Software Eng.

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    We don't have a lawn, but at some point I may buy a chain saw for firewood, and it would definitely be electric. (There's no shortage of dry wood to burn here in the mountains, and I'm good with using wood as a carbon-neutral source of heat away from urban centers provided it is combusted efficiently in modern wood stoves.)

    However, for commercial gardening and tree services, electric power tools may be a tougher sell. As they need to constantly move from one property to another, charging batteries could be a challenge. Perhaps this could work if they could use their vehicles to fast-charge their batteries, and swap batteries upon arrival at each property. In essence, they'd be using gasoline-powered vehicles as generators, which would still be better in terms of efficiency and air quality. Eventually, in the coming decades, electric trucks should become cost effective for this purpose.
     
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  12. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    After four winters of needing to cut grass each week (in Alaska, the cutter - which is a brush hog - comes out twice a summer), I'm happy to report that the manual reel mower we purchased from Lee Valley (made in Canada) remains a delight to use. I really, truly wish more here owning that 1/4-acre or smaller patch of lawn would consider a manual before even an electric mower.

    For a blower, we use the convertible top of our shop vac which is, of course, electric, and works quite well as a homeowner item. The monster hurricane makers...those, I wonder if an electric model exists - but our is just adequate for the toughest task, which is blowing two medium-large trees' worth of leaves.

    Hedge trimmer: electric. Far more sensible than any gas version.

    Chain saw: I've been able to make do, barely, with naught other than the longest blade on my 18V Makita reciprocating saw ("Sawzall"). Part of the reason is that my Stihl has been out of commission for the past three winters. Regardless, given the choice, I'd use the Makita for cuts up to 6" diam hardwoods and 10" diam softwoods. It's easier re balance, weight, noise and, most crucially, manipulability. My reliance on the Makita as a field tool occurred in Alaska to cut our Xmas trees when I discovered how much less of a hassle it was when plowing through three feet of snow - I did quickly learn that extra batteries were utterly essential in that particular task as one does chew through them in subzero temperatures.

    For me, then, my sole gas-powered tool during our winters is the portable air compressor. That I also would replace with an electric version, but am averse to discarding it and haven't found someone to purchase it (which does not, of course, solve any of its polluting characteristics...).
     
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  13. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #13 Ulmo, Mar 12, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    (Where to find good battery operated lawn mowers)
    Oddly enough, yes. Consumer Reports points to many brands that (while always outdated) have their updated counterparts at big box stores, Home Depot prominent among them. They even have superior selection and pricing to what I was able to find on Amazon. This isn't the first time Home Depot (or its competitors) have done this to items I want or get.
     
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  14. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    Yes. It's one of the few things government should do, though, rather than not. So far, it spurred development of cleaner alternatives; now, that they're here, just one being cheaper isn't enough to make our air cleaner, although it helps.

    Ok, so we should wait for a carbon tax, which I usually find deplorable in implementation? I'm not sure I'm finding other solutions. "My world is clean because I chose it" is not a virtual reality self realization; unfortunately, our air is shared, for better or worse. For something as small as a lawn mower, an outright ban seems practical to me, since it's only one state of 50, and the gas powered companies can make money from the other 49 while they develop competitive electric versions. That's why I wouldn't want the USA fed gov't to ban it now, yet.
     
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  15. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #15 Ulmo, Mar 12, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    The reduction in pollution from using a long-regulated ICE rather than a poorly regulated gas device would be an improvement. It does feel like festering stench of regulation swirling around. But it is what we have.

    I think superior to that, it could be a simple discipline: have a cabinet in the truck with all the batteries charging, and an extension cord (with GFCI) they always plug in to the customer's electric socket made available for that company, to recharge the batteries while they're working. That's a cleaner source of electricity in many areas than an ICE. When they get home at night, they charge up most of the rest of the batteries needing charging for a fresh start the next day, and they try to catch up by charging batteries plugged into customer circuits during the work day.

    Of course, this would be awesome for well to do landscapers (the salesman claims it pays for itself, so a landscaper with enough capital would supposedly save money over the gas alternatives):


    -------


    Those are much more efficient stoves than most suburban fire places. I would love to Google the comparisons. I found one that says medium: Is my wood burning stove really killing me? What happened when I monitored my exposure to pollution but then our government at Wood Smoke and Your Health | Burn Wise | US EPA has absolutely no numbers or comparisons, just another ad for CO alarms. According to Wood Smoke Myths and Facts however wood burning stoves are worse than natural gas heaters by "orders of magnitude" (I can't see a citation of their claim).
     
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  16. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #16 Ulmo, Mar 12, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    The Chevy Bolt just came out, and I'm starting to see a lot of people driving them around when I show up at Chademo sites (that also have CCS which Bolt uses). Many Chevy dealers have many in stock available to buy right now in California; a simple Internet new car buying search will find them. Cars.Com found "1,489 New and Used Chevrolet Bolt EVs for sale" within 500 miles of me right now, 465 within 50 miles, 389 within 30 miles, and a whopping 236 within 10 miles (I could fall over and find them practically), but then again, I'm near Santa Cruz, so that's hardly a fair comparison. Still, 1,489 within 500 miles, so it's not hard to find one that are within range (given a road trip), for someone who really wants one, and really, I'm sure you could find one within a one hour drive at 50 miles. Fresno has 13 within 50 miles, 7 within 10 miles. Not the easiest to find, but available. Bakersfield has 0 within 10 miles, but 5 within 50 miles. Obviously, there's some spots in California where you'll have to do a road trip to get a Bolt EV, but you can get back there: there's CCS (similar to Chademo) all the way up and down CA-99 (check Plugshare.Com). 201 Bolts are available within 10 miles of an LA zip code 90001.

    I tried 500 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, and found 0, so for now, California is the place to buy an EV around me.
     
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  17. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    Looking pretty viable to me....

    Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 11.41.51 AM.png
     
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  18. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    charging stations do not equate into change. while those charging stations are a welcome thing, those units are in place for the few who own evs.
    right now the ev is far from mainstream.
    there aren't enough evs being made to satisfy current demand and if tomorrow ICE cars were banned there would not be enough non ICE vehicles to go around. in addition the vast majority of people are not on the EV bandwagon, they prefer the current ice paradigm.
    I try to be a bit more pragmatic about things and while EVs are gaining popularity, especially in CA, they are but a tiny percentage of cars being built and sold.
     
  19. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    According to distributori prodotti Ikube the cube portion has a distributor contact here in USA.
     
  20. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #20 Ulmo, Mar 12, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    Oh, I see. I am talking about banning ICE lawn mowers, not ICE cars. You confused me at first.

    But, that inspired me to go take a photo of Bolts available to buy right now. Let's see if I can snap the photo and get back in time to edit this message.

    edit:

    Premier (first Bolt in front) $43,510 according to sales person who saw me taking pictures.

    Watsonville Chevy Bolt EV - Google Drive

    Bolt EV Chevy Watsonville (imgur -- not sure if this works)

    I am having trouble uploading directly to TMC.
     

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