Alternative-Fuel Mowers Offer Benefits for Grounds Managers
Manufacturers have begun investing heavily in equipment powered by alternative fuels. Among the new product options are propane-powered mowers, hedgers, and skid steers. Propane-powered equipment offers many practical advantages for grounds care.
For starters, propane equipment generates fewer emissions than traditional gasoline-powered machines. Four-cycle, propane-powered engines emit about 50 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline-powered two-cycle engines, which also contribute to noise pollution.
Annual savings from using propane is about 30 percent, and its use produces far fewer particulates. The combustion systems on these engines work differently than standard gasoline-powered engines because they fire more efficiently to reduce emissions, and maintenance costs are lower. As for the return on investment, managers can expect to recover the higher upfront cost of propane equipment in 12-18 months, due to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
Propane engines can be beneficial choices for neighborhood schools, commercial properties surrounded by homes, or other areas with noise-level restrictions. One potential downside to using propane equipment relates to the additives that come pre-mixed, which might not complement four-cycle engines. It is important for operators and mechanics to use the correct fuel mixture.
The typical performance life of a high-quality, commercial mower is five-seven years. When it comes to specification, the old adage, "You get what you pay for" definitely applies here. Managers should always seek the best value, which might not mean the lowest price. The savings will come in the long run.
Better-manufactured, well-maintained mowers — as well as hedgers, trimmers, and blowers — will pay back the higher upfront purchase cost more quickly than specifying a model with the lowest initial cost and cheapest construction. Proper routine maintenance also is vital to the equipment's longevity. It is a simple way to circumvent preventable and costly repairs, and it can greatly extend the machine's performance life.