How to Find the Right Lawn Mower Engine Size
With all the talk about lawn mower speed, efficiency and deck size, an important consideration often gets left out of the conversation – engine size. Whether you're mowing a tiny square of grass with a push mower, or cutting a whole football field with a zero-turn mower, having the right engine for the job ensures that you can get it done quickly and effectively.
Engine size and power are measured a few different ways, and you're likely to see several different terms thrown around. Since not all engine companies describe their engines the same way, it's important to know those terms and what they mean. Some of the most common engine terminology you're likely to see includes horsepower, torque and displacement.
- Horsepower is a measurement of power, or the rate at which work is done. One horsepower is equivalent to 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute (the power needed to move 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute) which is, in fact, roughly the pulling strength of one horse. The engine power of lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers is commonly expressed in horsepower.
- Torque is a measurement of the twisting force that causes rotation. A good example is the force produced by an engine to spin a lawn mower blade around its axis. The engine power of walk-behind lawn mowers is most commonly expressed as torque because these lawn mowers have small, simple engines that perform only one function: rotating the blade.
- Engine displacement is the combined swept volume of the pistons inside the cylinders of an engine – essentially the internal size of an engine – usually measured in cubic centimeters. If you see an engine referred to as a 340cc engine, that figure refers to its displacement. Although the power of an engine is arguably more important than physical size, you will usually see a correlation between higher displacement and greater horsepower.
Engine Size and Mower Type
When thinking about the size and power that you need from your engine, keep in mind that, while bigger may be better in many situations, that isn't always the case. Just as a small engine would struggle to mow a massive yard, a large engine has far more power (and is more costly) than is needed to mow a small patch of grass.
The main advantages of larger engines are speed and power. Larger engines also have the ability to cut thicker grass without bogging down or stalling, and they are often better able to handle hilly terrain. Generally speaking, each type of lawn mower has a certain engine size range that makes it well suited to different conditions.
- Walk-behind mowers, not surprisingly, have the smallest engines in the lawn mower world. They typically range from 2.5 to 4 horsepower, though some self-propelled walk-behinds may have up to 7 horsepower. These small engines are generally sufficient for small lawns, but if you have more than 1/4-acre to mow, you'll probably want to look into a lawn tractor or zero-turn lawn mower.
- Lawn tractors generally have engines ranging from 10 to 20 horsepower, greater power being a necessity of their size and weight. This extra horsepower also makes them better able to handle mowing on rolling terrain and cutting thicker grass.
- Zero-turn mowers are available in a wide range of sizes, from small residential models to huge commercial mowers. As a result, engine size is equally varied, ranging from 10 all the way up to more than 30 horsepower. These powerful engines are part of what makes zero-turn mowers so fast and efficient. However, with such a great range of options, it's still important to carefully select the right zero-turn mower – and the right engine – for your lawn.
Zero-Turn Mower Engines
One factor to consider when buying a zero-turn lawn mower is that the manufacturer of the mower itself is likely not the maker of the engine. Hustler mowers, for example, include engines made by Briggs & Stratton, Kohler and Kawasaki – all trusted brands with a great track record of making quality engines. You will often find yourself with various engine options, even on the same make and model of a lawn mower.
Zero-turns also offer a great range of engine sizes, from small residential zero-turns like the Hustler Dash, with a 10.5 horsepower, 344cc Briggs & Stratton PowerBuilt engine, all the way up to heavy-duty commercial zero-turns like the Super Z, with a Kawasaki FX1000 engine up to 35 horsepower and 999cc. There's a mower for every lawn.
Want to learn more about finding a lawn mower with a great engine? Contact us today to locate a Hustler retailer near you.