Lawnmowers and Europe go way back, but it looks as if they might soon be having a bit of a falling out.
Recently, the European Union introduced a ban on the import and manufacture of vacuum cleaners above 1600 watts. That’s 200w less than the average British household vacuum. This is set to be restricted to 900w by 2017. The news caused panic buying as the Which? Consumer group stated that a number of their Best Buy vacuums had motor sizes which would exceed the new rule.
This new regulation is part of Europe’s war on emissions, which is designed to cut air pollution. The EU has stated that the inefficient combustion engines of ‘non-road mobile machinery’ are next on the list. That category includes petrol lawnmowers, chainsaws, combine harvesters, barges and more.
It has been suggested that some manufacturers will pull out of the European market rather than undergo extensive redesigns to guarantee compliance. While big manufacturers will usually comply with new standards to maximise market share, niche manufacturers are as likely to give up on Europe as they are to redesign their range.
Many gardening enthusiasts, lawn care lovers and pitch care professionals might be panicking slightly at the news. But that panic may well be misplaced.
Toxic emissions don’t help anyone so the effort to cut them is hugely important. Assuming the lawnmowers become more efficient as well as having reduced emissions, we could see a significant difference to air quality as well as climate change – which means this move will affect everyone.
A well maintained lawnmower should last you for years – so the chances are you will have at least a few years before you even need to consider buying a new machine. If a new legislation does come into place, and if it requires significant redesign, this will give manufacturers lots of time to produce machinery with lower emissions which are still as efficient – if not more so – than our current mowers.
The other point which was bought up in the big vacuum debate of 2014 is that a bigger motor (that is a 2220w vacuum) doesn’t necessary perform any better than its 1600w cousin. Wattage and how ‘powerful’ a machine is are not the same thing. In fact, Sir James Dyson of the rather well known Dyson limited has never produced a vacuum cleaner with a motor greater than 1600w – so none of his products or patents are currently affected. And they still work pretty well, from what we’ve heard.
A less efficient device (whether that’s a lawnmower, a hairdryer, or a vacuum cleaner) will need to be used for longer in order to give the same results as a more efficient device – regardless of how high the emissions are.
With companies constantly working on new innovations like the EcoMow (a robotic lawnmower designed to run on grass clippings), we’re fairly confident that manufacturers mean to stay competitive. And that means maintaining or improving efficiency whilst reducing emissions – potentially year on year.
More efficient machinery with lower emissions is the way all technology is going. Car designers have had to do it, and the results have been incredible – just think about the increased fuel economy of your new car compared with the one you were driving twenty-odd years ago.
Vacuum cleaner packaging produced and distributed from September 1st of this year must now be printed with clear energy labels. These labels show an A to G rating for energy use, cleaning performance on both carpet and hard flooring, and dust emissions. Currently there is no such labelling for lawnmowers. Should the new rules be passed, we can only speculate that this type of labelling system will also be present on lawnmowers, chainsaws, and other ‘non-road mobile machinery’.
Europe has had an impact in the history of lawnmowers before – although the British government played a significant part as well. A decibel limit was bought in across Europe to limit the noise outdoor machinery (including lawnmowers) could produce. Slightly earlier, a German law was introduced which lowered the decibel limited for import and manufacture. As a result, many British manufacturers were no longer able to export their noisy machines to the German market. The Europe wide legislation meant British manufacturers needed to adjust their products, lowing decibel ratings, and therefore were able to take a sell in Germany once more.
Other EU laws which could impact mower users are currently in the pipeline. Perhaps a slightly less beneficial law which is looking as though it might come into place in the coming months is one which forces owners of ride on lawnmowers to take out a motor insurance policy.
If you own a ride on lawnmower used exclusively on private property (and therefore one which is covered by home insurance and which doesn’t have a separate policy), you might soon need to fork up around £100 a year so your equipment is covered under a motor policy.