Propane for the Weed Eater? And the Lawn Mower, too

The BobCat Predator-Pro: zero-turning and propane-powered. (image: alternativefuellawncare.com)

The lawn care season may be months away, but in Chicago there will be plenty of talk of dandelions and Weed Eaters today. The Mid-American Horticultural Trade Show has begun, and at booth #2428, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is peddling the alternative fuel to an industry.

Propane for the Weed Eater? Yes, and PERC sees propane fitting several other “ground maintenance” tools. More than a dozen lawnmower manufacturers offer propane models. (Including a Bad Boy-brand mower that, according to its motto, is “running cleaner, greener and still cutting meaner.”) At least one manufacturer also puts out a leaf blower, fueled by a one-pound tank.

The pitch for running your garden shed on LPG should sound familiar to anyone who’s heard the advantages of putting the stuff in on-road vehicles. Propane-power is considered greener, with substantially lower output of carbon monoxide and greenhouse emissions than gasoline-power. Propane also offers long-term savings, through typically lower costs than gasoline and a list of alternative fuel tax credits and incentives. (Though the up-front cost of propane-powered appliances is often higher.) And a seamier source of savings that has also been put forward: Theft is almost non-existent, compared with gasoline, which can disappear in the tank of an employee’s car.

“Propane mowers are a right-here, right-now option for reducing costs and emissions in the lawn and turf maintenance business,” a PERC vice-president said in a press release.

In addition, running the mower on propane solves one of the challenges facing LPG-powered vehicles: Filling up on the road. Given the limited number of propane fueling stations, autogas fleets have to monitor where they travel or risk running out far from a supply site. But no one’s driving a mower too far from the garage. (Unless they’re this guy, who drove his mower from Texas to Florida, after getting hit with the country-song trifecta: losing his wife, dog, and pick-up truck in a single day. Amazing story, by the way.)

PERC has a standing webpage about propane-powered lawn-care gadgets, with a list of lawn mower-makers and a basic rundown on their benefits. Read it here.