Power Tools

Ahhh, autumn! The first week or two of September brings us cool weather, with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s. Some of you might not call that temperature range cool, but we do. It’s a fakeout, though. We’ll get back to weeks of blazing hot weather if we don’t have any hurricanes to keep us cool. The real cool weather comes during Fair Week, in October. The real prize of September is that the grass-growing starts to shut down. Yay!

I started mowing season with a tractor and 3 good riding mowers. I have a lot of mowing to do and lots of roots to bend blades and maim decks. I’ve trashed and repaired them all and we are closing the season with 4 good riders and a tractor that will need a lot of TLC. Not sure how that happened that I have more mowers, but the Solar Shed provides better shop facilities than I’ve ever had in the past.


Sometimes I look at the new mowers when I go to Home Depot and lately I have noticed the electrics. Well, that’d be cool if I could charge the mower with solar! Is it cool enough to spend 5 grand? Hmmm. Gas costs have really gone up. Regular gas is a good bit higher over the past year, but the stuff is so bad I have changed over to seriously expensive marine gas. It doesn’t destroy my carburetors and fuel pumps. Or stick valves and bend pushrods. I don’t normally consider engines a problem, but thinking back I spent a lot of time with them this year. An electric motor, especially a Brushless DC or BLDC motor is pretty much maintenance free. I know I have never had to do anything with my electric vehicle and boat motors.


My conscious foes are the decks. Bent or torn decks, Cracked or worn spindles, burnt belts and mauled blades are what I hate, though I am to the point where I can quickly rehab a deck. The electrics have decks, too. Are they sturdy? Do they have belts or are the blades directly on motors? Do I bend a cheap spindle shaft or an expensive motor? I don’t know. My research has not gone that far and I don’t want to fall in love. That just leads to trouble, sometimes.
However, these rechargeable riders do have an endearing feature: a nice, fat battery. Some of the machines are 56v. Technically, that is an advantage, but who does 56 volts??? I noticed that the Ryobi has a 48v battery. Hey, so does my solar power system! Could I do a direct DC charge? I assume it has a lithium battery, so I’d want to check the Battery Management System (BMS) specs before I’d try it, but I make plenty of AC to charge it. My farm vehicles, with lead acid batteries, can charge either way. I did discover on a forum that the 48v battery is actually 4x 12v batteries and they can be charged with the same charger you’d use on a car battery. Or with a car.


Now I will reveal where I am going with this. Find a 48v, 3500 watt inverter (Roberto probably has some) and bolt it on some convenient spot and now your stealth mower is a backup power supply to run a few lights and the microwave. Put a few solar panels out in the backyard to recharge it, or let the alternator on your car recharge it. Maybe you’ll get lucky and not have a hurricane or winter storm or drunk driver knock down your power lines. I guarantee you’ll like having go-anywhere power if you have a large property. I have inverters on my EVs and no longer worry with gas generators to work on the barn, trim tree limbs or build a bridge down by the creek. Yeah, I realize they have all of those new generation power tools, but I don’t have most of them them. Bet most of you don’t, either. And as for the microwave and coffee pot, Milwaukee, DeWalt and Ryobi don’t make them.


Being able to get double duty out of an expensive yard tool adds to the value of the machine. With a little creative thinking you’ll find all sorts of backup power supplies around the place, starting with that 3500 lb. gasoline generator in the driveway. Or is the car in your driveway an EV or Hybrid with an onboard inverter?

–Neal