Dear Jim: I would like something more convenient than my noisy, hard-to-start gasoline lawn mower. I am considering a rechargeable cordless one or even a robot mower. Will these new mowers push up my electric bills much?—Al R.
Dear Al: You will barely notice the increase in your electric bills from recharging the mowers. Over the entire summer, it costs only about $20 to $30 for the electricity to recharge the batteries. Operating a typical gasoline lawn mower, with regular maintenance, costs about $50 to $60 per year.
I have a 1/3-acre lot and I have used cordless lawn mowers for many years. When my legs are too old to push the mower, I will consider a gasoline one. Actually, I will use an automatic robot mower and watch it cut from my hammock.
The advantages of cordless mowers are many. First, they cut very quietly. I can talk on my cordless telephone while I mow. This is also a plus if you like to cut grass early in the morning or later at night when it is cooler. Second, a cordless mower always starts and requires no maintenance. Just sharpen the blade each year and you are good to go. Third, they do not create any air pollution while you cut. Even the best new overhead valve (OHV) gasoline mower engines still produce a substantial amount of pollution.
Cordless mowers are available in 12-volt, 24-volt and 36-volt models. The 36-volt models can cut a large lawn (up to 1/2 acre) between recharges, but they are heavier with the third battery. Although it takes about 24 hours to fully recharge them, they reach 70% power in four hours to use it again.
The newest designs of rechargeable robot mowers work very well. These have computer brains so that they stop at a perimeter sensing wire that you lay around the edge of your yard. The technology works in a similar fashion to an invisible dog fence. Sensors in a bumper make them turn if they hit a tree.
There are two basic designs of robot mowers. The simplest one looks somewhat like a regular mower without a handle. It has a remote control to drive it out into your yard. Once out there, it will run for about two hours, crisscrossing the lawn until it is all cut. It has three small rotary blades.
Other more sophisticated designs sense when the batteries are running low and go to a recharging station automatically. Once you put one out in the yard, you seldom have to even think about it. This design uses a tiny blade that nips at the grass continuously so it always looks just cut.
If you prefer a self-propelled gasoline mower, select one with an OHV 4-stroke or a low-maintenance 2-stroke engine. The most convenient models have a gearbox that automatically adjusts to whatever speed you are walking.
Write for (instantly download - www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 416 - buyer's guide of rechargeable cordless and gasoline walk-behind and robot mowers listing speeds, OHV's, horsepower, cutting path, weight, cutting height and mowing tips. Please include $3 and a business-size SASE. James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Dear Jim: My water heater is fairly old, but it does not leak. I was told that the anode rod will prolong the life of the water heater. Does an anode rod really help how does it stop corrosion in the tank? — Ron M.
Dear Ron: All new water heaters come with an anode rod. This is a mineral rod that hangs down from the top of the tank. It is a sacrificial piece that gradually corrodes away itself, thereby protecting the tank. They do eventually corrode or dissolve into the water to the point that they should be replaced. If you turn off the water heater and drain the water from the plumbing, you can remove the old one and slip in a new one.