Traditional gas-powered lawn care equipment has been used in the United States since 1919 when the first internal combustion gas engine lawn mowers were brought over from England. But with internal combustion comes harmful pollutants that have contributed negatively to a range of both environmental and public health problems. Today, the availability of electric lawn mowers provides homeowners with a sustainable alternative that doesn't produce any tailpipe emissions or noise.
California is at the forefront of promoting zero-emission lawn care through rebate and incentive programs aimed at improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and supporting the transition to a clean energy economy. These programs provide grants and rebates to replace gas-powered equipment with electric models for both homeowners and professional landscapers, contributing to a healthier ecosystem and long-term cost savings.
The Environmental Imperative
Air Pollution Concerns
Gas-powered lawn equipment such as mowers, blowers, and trimmers account for a major source of air pollution in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gas-powered lawn equipment emitted 68,500 tons of smog-forming nitrous oxides and 20,700 tons of particulate matter (PM10) in 2011. In addition, over 20 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) was released into the atmosphere. The EPA reports that these pollutants can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and premature death.
Compared to passenger cars, gas-powered lawn equipment is far more inefficient and polluting in nature. A 2011 study showed that a gas-powered leaf blower emits nearly 300 times the amount of air pollutants (non-methane hydrocarbons) as a pickup truck and between 13.5 times and 23 times the amount of CO2. Another study conducted in 2001 found that using a gas-powered lawn mower for one hour produces the same environmental impact as driving an internal combustion engine passenger vehicle for 100 miles.
Environmental Benefits of Electric Mowers
By contrast, electric lawn mowers provide a cleaner and quieter alternative to gas-powered mowers through the use of either corded or battery-powered models. Electric mowers don't produce any air pollutants as they don't burn fuel or oil, and they significantly reduce noise pollution. Traditional gas-powered mowers can produce noise levels of up to 90 decibels, which can cause hearing damage, stress, and annoyance, as well as negatively affect nearby wildlife. Electric mowers operate at around 75 decibels, which is below the accepted threshold for potential harm.
Statewide Incentive Programs
California has implemented various incentive programs to encourage homeowners and professional landscapers to use electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission landscaping equipment. The purpose of these programs is to reduce air pollution, emissions, and noise pollution generated by gas-powered lawn equipment, and their incentives include rebates, vouchers, exchanges, and discounts for both residential and commercial customers who purchase or replace their gas-powered equipment with electric models.
These incentives are funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), local air districts, utilities, and individual municipalities, and aim to support the transition to a clean energy economy and improve the quality of life for Californians.
Key State Programs
A key state program that supports the adoption of electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission landscaping equipment is California's Carl Moyer Program. This program provides grants to professional landscapers and public agencies to replace old and dirty diesel engines with cleaner technologies. It's overseen by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and implemented by local air districts across the state.
Other statewide initiatives include the Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project (CORE), which offers point-of-sale vouchers to small business landscape professionals when purchasing discounted electric equipment. There was also a tax credit bill proposed by California Rep. Lou Correa in 2023 that, if passed, would allow landscapers and gardeners to claim 40% of the costs of buying electric lawn care equipment. Initiatives like these seek to help landscapers and gardeners make the transition to electric equipment and reduce the environmental and social impacts of gas-powered lawn equipment.
In-Depth Analysis of Specific Programs
South Coast AQMD Program
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) offers a year-round Electric Lawn Mower Rebate program for residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The aim is to reduce air pollution, emissions, and noise pollution by providing rebates for new, battery-electric mower purchases. To be eligible for the program, you must reside within the SCAQMD’s jurisdiction, purchase a new electric mower from a list of approved models, and scrap your old gas mower at a participating recycling center.
If you live in one of the counties mentioned, here's how you can take advantage of the program:
- Fill out an online application form and print the Dismantler Verification Form.
- Purchase an electric mower offered by an approved manufacturer from a retailer of your choice and keep the receipt.
- Take your old gas mower and the Dismantler Verification Form to a designated recycling center and have them sign your form.
- Go back into your online application and upload a copy of your signed Dismantler Verification Form and purchase receipt, then provide an e-signature and submit.
- Receive a rebate check in the mail within 8 to 10 weeks.
The maximum rebate amounts vary depending on the purchase price of the new electric mower and the type of old gas mower, and adhere to the following:
- $150 for a new electric mower priced up to $250 and an old gas mower with a 2-stroke engine.
- $200 for a new electric mower priced between $251 and $400 and an old gas mower with a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine.
- $250 for a new electric mower priced at $401 or more and an old gas mower with a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine.
Valley Air District's Program
The Valley Air District offers the Clean Green Yard Machines Residential Rebate Program for residents of Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin Valley, Stanislaus, Tulare, and the Valley Air Basin portion of Kern counties, and applies to the purchase of new electric lawn mowers or other eligible equipment.
There are two options for rebates:
- Option 1: Purchase a new electric lawn mower and destroy an old gas mower at a participating dismantler. The rebate amount is based on the purchase price of the new mower and ranges from $100 to $250. Residents of selected AB617 communities can receive enhanced incentives of up to $500 for this option.
- Option 2: Purchase new electric lawn care equipment without trading in old equipment. The rebate amount is $25 or $50 depending on the purchase price of the new equipment (blowers are not eligible for this option). The rebate process involves filling out an online application form, submitting a receipt or invoice for the new equipment, and mailing a voucher and a copy of a driver’s license or utility bill to the Valley Air District.
Local City Initiatives
Some local municipalities in California offer their own electric lawn mower rebate programs that align with the regional initiatives of the South Coast AQMD and the Valley Air District. For example, like the SCAQMD, the City of Irvine provides a year-round Electric Lawn Mower Rebate Program for its residents who purchase a new electric mower and scrap their old gas mower at a participating recycling center. The program offers up to $250 in rebates depending on the purchase price of the new mower and the type of the old mower. The application process is similar to the South Coast AQMD program and requires filling out an online form, mailing a voucher and a receipt, and receiving a check in the mail.
Eligibility and Application Requirements
Your eligibility for electric lawn mower rebate and incentive programs in California can vary depending on the type of program and your location. There are often two types of programs; residential and professional. Residential programs are designed for homeowners who want to replace their gas-powered mowers with electric mowers for personal use. Professional programs are designed for professional landscapers, gardeners, and maintenance companies who want to upgrade their commercial equipment to electric models. Some programs, including the Carl Moyer Program, offer incentives for both homeowners and professionals.
Geographic eligibility depends on the jurisdiction of the local air districts that administer the programs. Each air district has its own rules and requirements, and some air districts may not offer any incentives at all. It's a good idea to check out the website of your local air district to see if you're eligible and what programs are available in your area.
In order to qualify for incentive programs in California, the electric mower you purchase must meet certain requirements. The most common requirement is that it must be battery-powered and zero-emission, meaning that it doesn't produce any tailpipe emissions or noise. Some programs will accept corded electric mowers, but they may offer lower rebate amounts compared to cordless models. There may be other exclusions as well, including:
- The mower cannot be used, previously owned, or factory reconditioned.
- The mower cannot be part of a bundled package with other equipment or accessories.
- The mower must have a minimum one-year manufacturer warranty.
- The mower must be a push or self-propelled mower specified for residential use. Robotic mowers may be eligible and are typically reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Most rebate application requirements will request similar information (basic personal information, mailing address, etc.) as well as details regarding the new equipment you purchase. To ensure you meet the criteria for a rebate, be sure to follow the steps carefully. The basic steps to follow include:
- Check the eligibility criteria and the mower requirements for the program of your choice.
- Purchase a new electric mower from a retailer of your choice and keep the receipt or invoice as proof of purchase.
- If required, take your old gas mower to a participating recycling center and receive a voucher (often a Dismantler Verification Form or similar) as proof of destruction.
- Fill out an online application form on the program's website and submit it, or print the confirmation page and mail all required documentation to the program address.
- Receive a rebate check in the mail within 8 to 10 weeks.
Benefits for Landscaping Businesses
Landscaping businesses in California can benefit from various programs that offer incentives for purchasing electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission landscaping equipment. These programs can help landscapers reduce their operating costs, improve their environmental performance, and comply with the state’s ban on new gas-powered equipment by 2024.
The Carl Moyer Program, Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project (CORE), and the proposed Electric Landscaping Equipment Rebate can all have a positive impact on the business operations of landscapers as they can lower their fuel and maintenance expenses, increase their productivity and efficiency, and enhance their reputation and customer satisfaction. Electric equipment can also reduce noise pollution, which can improve the working conditions of landscapers and the quality of life for all of their clients and neighbors.
In addition to rebate programs, switching to electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission lawn and garden equipment can have long-term financial benefits for landscaping businesses. Gas-powered machines consume gas and oil and require more frequent repairs, while electric models don't use any fuel and require very little maintenance. Electric equipment can also lower the operating expenses associated with noise pollution, such as hearing protection and noise permits (as well as eliminate pesky noise complaints).
Environmental branding and marketing advantages further provide landscaping businesses with an opportunity to capitalize on going green. Environmental branding means creating a positive image and reputation for a business based on environmental values and practices. By using electric equipment, landscaping businesses can demonstrate their commitment to reducing air pollution, emissions, and noise pollution, and appeal to the growing market of environmentally conscious customers in the state. This helps immensely with differentiating from local competition and works to improve the business's credibility and trustworthiness.
Geographic Scope and Local Variations
California has several county-specific programs that offer rebates and incentives for electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission landscaping equipment. Some of the major counties and their programs include:
- Los Angeles County: The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) offers a year-round Electric Lawn Mower Rebate program for residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The program provides up to $250 in rebates for the purchase of new electric mowers and the scrapping of old gas mowers at a participating recycling center.
- San Diego County: The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (SDCAPCD) offers a seasonal Electric Lawn Mower Rebate program for residents of San Diego County. The program provides up to $150 in rebates for the purchase of new electric mowers and the disposal of old gas mowers at a designated drop-off location.
- San Joaquin Valley: The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) offers the Clean Green Yard Machines Residential Rebate Program for residents of Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and the Valley Air Basin portion of Kern counties. The program offers up to $250 in rebates for the purchase of new electric mowers and the destruction of old gas mowers at a participating dismantler. There are also $25 or $50 rebates for the purchase of new electric lawn care equipment without trading in old equipment.
- Santa Barbara County: The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (SBCAPCD) offers the Electric Lawn Mower Rebate Program for residents of Santa Barbara County. The program offers up to $150 in rebates for the purchase of new electric mowers and the recycling of old gas mowers at a participating retailer.
- Ventura County: The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD) offers the Electric Lawn Mower Rebate Program for residents of Ventura County. The program offers up to $150 in rebates for the purchase of new electric mowers and the surrender of old gas mowers at a participating retailer.
The rebate amounts and eligibility criteria for electric lawn mower programs in California vary depending on the region and the local air district that administers the program—some may offer more or less based on what decisions have been made in a particular geographical area. The types of eligible mowers and the requirements for scrapping old gas mowers may also differ among the various programs. Check with your county and local municipality to see which programs, rebate amounts, and requirements you'd need to follow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why should I switch to an electric lawn mower?
You should switch to an electric lawn mower because it can reduce air pollution, emissions, noise pollution, and operating costs compared to a gas-powered mower. Electric mowers are also easier to maintain, maneuver, and operate than gas-powered mowers.
How do I determine if I'm eligible for a rebate?
You can determine your eligibility by checking the website of your local air district or city. Each program has specific eligibility criteria and availability depending on your location and the type of mower you want to purchase or replace.
What are the general requirements for rebate programs?
Typically, you're required to purchase a new, battery-powered, zero-emission electric mower from a list of approved models and you'll need to scrap your old gas mower at a participating recycling center. Some programs may also accept corded electric mowers or other electric lawn care equipment, but they may offer lower rebate amounts or have different product requirements.
Are there any special incentives for businesses?
Landscapers and gardeners who want to upgrade their commercial equipment to electric models may be eligible for grants, vouchers, and tax credits from the state and local governments, which can help reduce the initial purchase costs and increase the return on investment.
Go Electric With Greenworks
Electric lawn mowers and other zero-emission equipment represent the future of lawn and garden care in California and nationwide. With various incentive programs to help you minimize the cost of upgrading, making the switch to electric will not only provide you with cleaner solutions, but peace of mind knowing that you're contributing to a healthy environment.
Greenworks Tools perform without the mess, fumes, vibrations, and noise of gas-powered tools, and are tough enough to help you tackle property maintenance with ease. Shop our California collection today and access superior innovation and power with Greenworks lawn and garden tools.
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