Green Fleet

Fueling Options for Mowers

June 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

At A Glance:

Fuel options for mowers include:

  • Gasoline, with lower acquisition and fuel costs than diesel
  • Diesel, considered more durable than gasoline models
  • Hybrid, which is becoming more popular in the government sector
  • Propane, which emits less harmful emissions
  • Biodiesel, a new option
  • CNG, a domestic fuel
  • Electric, which emits no harmful emissions during operation

The Kubota ZP330 liquid-cooled propane-powered engine delivers eco-friendly performance with reduced CO2 emissions compared to gasoline and diesel. Photo courtesy of Kubota
The Kubota ZP330 liquid-cooled propane-powered engine delivers eco-friendly performance with reduced CO2 emissions compared to gasoline and diesel. Photo courtesy of Kubota

As fueling options for passenger vehicles become more numerous — and more popular — these choices have expanded to off-road vehicles, too. That includes a resource many government fleets rely on — mowers.

Fueling options for mowers range from traditional gas and diesel, to biodiesel, propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), hybrid, and electric, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The fuel options available for mowers depend on the size and type of mower.

Here’s what you can expect from various fueling types and how can make the right choice for your fleet.

Gasoline Vs. Diesel

Fleets looking to power mowers with traditional fuels like gasoline or diesel will find the two fuels often go head-to-head when it comes to the plusses and minuses of each.

“Each fueling option has its own unique combination of benefits and drawbacks,” said Rachel Luken, product manager for Jacobsen. “Gasoline, for example, is easily available but has a higher operating expense and is consumed faster than diesel. Diesel, on the other hand, requires a slightly higher initial investment for both fuel and machines, but diesel engines are more fuel efficient, last longer, and are more durable.”

“As a rule of thumb, gas engines are 25-30% less fuel efficient than similar diesel mowers,” Kevin Conry, marketing manager at Toro, added. With benefits and drawbacks related to both options, he said the choice between gas and diesel comes down to the individual needs of a fleet.

Grasshopper Model 321D-48 features a 48-inch deck with zero-turn maneuverability for tight-quarters mowing applications. Photo courtesy of Grasshopper
Grasshopper Model 321D-48 features a 48-inch deck with zero-turn maneuverability for tight-quarters mowing applications. Photo courtesy of Grasshopper

Mike Simmon, marketing coordinator, Grasshopper, reminds fleets that diesel fuel is cleaner than it has ever been in the past. Simmon said diesel engines are more efficient as well, which leads to decreased fuel use. “According to field tests conducted by Grasshopper and end users, Grasshopper MaxTorque Clean Diesel mowers consume less than half the fuel compared to similar-sized gasoline and propane mowers, and can complete demanding jobs — such as mowing overgrown or heavy, wet grass — up to 50% faster,” he said. “Even though diesel fuel costs more per gallon than other fuel types, reducing fuel consumption reduces the cost of fuel over time and eases budgets that are weighed down by high fuel costs.”

Simmon also said availability and special fuel handling should also be taken into consideration. “The benefits of gasoline and diesel options are that both fuels are readily available and integrate well into existing fleets,” he said. “They do not require any special handling certifications, and on-site storage does not require specialized infrastructure investments.”

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