Riding lawnmowers are an excellent piece of equipment to own, especially if you have a large yard. But, it’s also like a car in a way. So, you have to stay on top of things like spark plugs, oil changes and batteries. If you don’t, your fine machinery will succumb to an early grave.
So how long do riding mower batteries last? On average, most riding lawnmowers will either have a 12-volt or six-volt battery. These will last about four or five years. After that, you’ll quickly notice that it no longer holds its charge as well as it once did.
How Does a Battery Work in a Riding Lawn Mower?
The battery in a riding lawn mower looks and operates very much the same as what you find in a car. This is what powers the crank engine in the mower and the recharging system keeps it powered throughout the time you use it.
The recharging system comprises a voltage regulator and an alternator. If you have a new battery and you notice there are problems with power distribution in the equipment, chances are either of these components are failing. This means you have to get the mower repaired.
Are There Different Types of Batteries for a Riding Mower?
There are two general types of batteries available for riding lawnmowers. These are lead-acid and lithium-ion. Lead-acid batteries have been the standard for decades. They’re reliable but they can’t go to full capacity once discharged. Lithium-ion batteries are newer and it transfers charges to the engine rather than discharging.
Lithium-ion batteries operate on the principle of charging the battery so that energy transfers from positive to negative electrodes. This works in reverse while the battery discharges. Whereas lead-acid batteries use about two volts per cell, lithium-ions will use up to four volts per cell.
How Long Can You Expect a Battery to Last in a Riding Mower?
Riding lawnmower batteries don’t last longer than four or five years. After that, there will be a noticeable decrease in power. Even when you’re not using the machine, the battery should hold the charge for at least three, if not four, weeks.
But, once age begins setting in after use, this charge will decrease and it won’t hold. When you notice the charge holding for only a week or two, it’s time to replace it. While you can put it on a charger to give the battery a boost, this will only work a few times.
How Can You Prolong the Life of a Riding Mower Battery?
To ensure you get the most out of the battery sitting in your riding lawnmower, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. The most important thing is to only use the battery when it’s fully charged. Don’t operate it at 50% full because this will strain and drain its power.
Regular Maintenance Charging
In the case that your battery contains flooded lead-acid. This means the battery will require a regular charging cycle. If not, it will begin to crystallize and lose its ability to hold a charge. Therefore, you should keep a maintenance charger handy. This will keep it fresh and in working order.
In the case you have a lithium-ion battery, you shouldn’t need to charge this in the same way. But, you will have to do regular maintenance all the same. However, this kind of battery can tolerate more drainage before you experience problems than with a lead-acid one.
Check It Regularly for Corrosion
Then, you want to check it every so often for corrosion on the terminals. According to NAPA Auto Parts, you should prevent this build up by removing any amount you see with a wire brush or special terminal cleaner. You can also seal it with some anti-corrosion gel.
Corrosion comes from the metal connecting the terminals combined with regular exposure to air and moisture. If you have a heavy buildup, you can use a can of coca cola along with the wire brush. The soda will eat it away perfectly.
For Batteries with Water
Some lawnmower batteries will have water inside. You will have to maintain, check and fill it regularly. Always use distilled water to fill your battery. There should be a removable cap clearly labeled for water.
Whenever you do replace the battery, make sure you get the right size. It should fit securely and snugly in its compartment. If the battery is too big it won’t work the way you want it to. When it’s too small, it will bounce around while you use it. This increases the chances of it disconnecting while using the mower.
During those moments you’re inspecting the battery, ensure the terminal connections are tight and connecting right. Loose connections will force the battery to act as if it’s dying or faulty. Plus, it also results in low-charge rates and corrosion.
Remove the Battery for Winter
When mowing season ends, remove the battery from the mower. This will retain the charge and keep the battery in good working order. It shouldn’t sit in the machine throughout the winter months. It will just drain and be difficult to start up when spring comes around.
Be Mindful about Where You Store the Battery
Also, even when you store it away from the mower in winter, understand that various temperatures will impact the battery. So, it’s important you store the battery at room temperature because cold will adversely affect the lifespan of the battery. Sometimes, the battery will stop working altogether.
What’s more, don’t store the battery in a place with high moisture levels. This will also impact the battery’s lifespan. Therefore, don’t keep your battery in the basement and only put it in the garage if it’s temperature controlled.
Ensure you keep the battery away from chemicals, cleaning solutions or other substances. Not only does this increase the chances of explosion but some things can drain the battery of its power.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.