Redback 40V Lithium-Ion 16″ Cordless Mower: Product Review
This is by far one of the best cordless Li-Ion battery-operated mowers I’ve tried to date
Available on Amazon
So you’ve decided that your gasoline driven or corded electrical lawn mower just isn’t cutting it (yep, a pun). It’s time to upgrade to a cordless Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) model. But with all the choices where do you turn?
We recently tested the Redback 40V Lithium-Ion 16″ Mower. You may not be familiar with the brand name. I hadn’t heard of them until I attended the 2016 National Hardware show in Las Vegas this past May. They are a newcomer to the US market but have been successfully selling their products in Australia and Europe for years. They offer a wide variety of tools (everything from lawn mowers to chainsaws and string trimmer/edgers to ice augers) that all operate on the same 40V Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery platform.
- Brushless motor
- Cutting Width: 16”
- Cutting Height: Approximately 1” to 3”
- Weight: 34.4 Lbs.
- Speed: 4000 rpm
- Fast fold handle for storage
- Height adjustable handle
- Handle mounted battery fuel gauge
- Ergonomic handle and grips
- Run Time: Approximately 50 minutes for a 4.0Ah (Amp hour) battery
Assembling the Mower
The mower arrived packed in a sturdy cardboard box. It was packaged extremely efficiently to minimize the box size and there was no shipping damage to the unit. Clearly a lot of thought went into keeping the box as small as possible.
With the box open and the parts laid out, I realized that there was going to be some assembly required. It basically came down to attaching the handles to the mower deck and assembling the grass catcher.
I decided to grab the instructions (not a guy thing, the ladies can attest to that) and dig in. The first thing I noticed was the instructions need improvement. For example, there were pictures showing parts that were assembled when in fact they needed to be assembled by me.
I also would have liked to have seen an inch scale along side the metric numbers. I’m still trying to get used to the metric system, but lets face it, the USA is for the most part still operating in inches. Having those numbers available forgoes the need to get out my conversion app on my iPhone.
Lower Handle Assembly
As far as assembly was concerned, the lower handle was easy to attach using the supplied quick-clamping levers.
The important part here was to align a mark on the mower’s handle attachment point with that of the handles’ attachment point. There are two lines, one on each part, that align to give the proper handlebar angle/height.
Upper Handle Assembly
The upper handle uses quick-clamp levers to attach it to the lower handlebars. The only tricky part was installing the expansion spring inside the upper and lower handles and sliding the quick clamp levers through the spring. I’ve found over the years that all equipment assemblies have their quirks and the Redback mower is no different. Did it take a little jiggling to get it aligned? Sure. But this didn’t affect the overall rating of the mower.
Assembling the Grass Catcher
The final assembly was the grass catcher. It came in three parts; two bottom basket pieces and a top with built-in handle.
Assembly was a little tricky. The two bottom pieces took a bit of finesse to snap together. I had to work the lower halves back and forth to get them to seat properly and finally join together. The same was true for the top cover. But I’ve worked with other larger injected molded plastic assemblies (like the grass catcher) before and this is pretty common. Large thin parts often warp over time, particularly if they’ve been in a hot shipping box for a while (although I wouldn’t say the Redback parts were warped).
In the Redback case, this wasn’t of great concern. The pieces still fit together and there was no damage to them in transit to SW Arizona where I live (that hot shipping box issue). It just took some additional time to get everything to fit. But once I did, the grass catcher was perfect.
Overall, I really, really liked the grass catcher. The snap and screw design of the plastic parts made for a very secure enclosure.
Once the grass catcher was assembled, I lifted the discharge flap (a spring loaded door at the back of the mower) and hung the grass catcher on a set of hooks located at the back of the mower.
The fit of both the grass catcher and the mower interface was excellent. Everything lined up perfectly. This was also true of the discharge flap as I lowered it onto the grass catcher. In other words the “fit and finish” was excellent.
Adjusting Handlebar Height
The next thing I did was set the handlebar height to fit my 6’ frame. Redback hit the nail on the head when it came to an elegant design for handlebar height adjustment. There’s a three-position lock at the intersection of the lower and upper handles. By loosening the quick clamp levers, I was able to select one of the three height positions. I then tightened the clamps to the position that best fit me and I was one step closer to mowing.
Charging the Battery
Our test mower came with a 40V 4.0Ah battery and a 5A (Amp) charger (Redback’s EC50). Redback also offers a 2A battery charger.
Chargers and batteries can be purchased in kit form (complete with the mower, battery and charger) or as separate items. Redback offers a wide variety of tools that all operate on the same 40V Li-Ion battery platform so it’s worth buying a couple of batteries to have on hand.
Charging the battery is simple. Just plug in the charger, slide the battery into the battery cradle on the charger, and wait for it to charge. There’s a nice safety feature with the charger and battery that makes it impossible to insert the battery the wrong way.
It takes about 50 minutes for the battery to charge to full capacity.
Cutting Height Adjustment
Before mowing the lawn, I had to set the cutting height. Be sure to do this before installing the battery in the mower. It’s a safety thing.
The mower has 5 height positions, ranging from about 1 to 3 inches (I started out at position 3 – about 2 inches). To adjust the height, grab the large handle in the middle of the mower (it has an excellent grip) and lift or lower as you move the adjustment lever. The mower moves up and down easily when making the height adjustment.
Battery & Safety Key
The final step before I could turn on the mower was to install the 40V 4.0Ah battery.
Lift the clear plastic cover over the battery compartment (it protects the battery and electronics from moisture and debris) and insert the battery into the battery compartment.
Like the battery charger, the mower’s battery compartment is designed only to allow the battery to be installed one way – the correct way. Safety again.
Next, install the safety key. This is a small plastic part that sits just ahead of the battery. The key is on a string (so it won’t get lost) and is inserted in a hole. Its purpose is to prevent the mower from accidental starting. It’s not only an adult safety feature, but is there to protect children as well. And if you have to work on the mower, you’ll have to remove the safety key first and then the battery (never reach under the mower or try to “fix” something without taking out the battery first!).
Starting the Mower
Starting the mower is a two-stage process. First, press the switch interlock (it acts like a safety button) that’s located in the center of the top handle. Then squeeze one of the On/Off switches located on the handle.
Redback’s design of the handle On/Off switches is state-of-the-art. Instead of using a typical bail handle On/Off switch, Redback has chosen to use four independent squeeze buttons to start and stop the mower.
The Redback mower has a completely different handle design than your typical lawn mower. Instead of having a straight or slightly curved horizontal bar, the Redback has two vertical handles and a straight horizontal bar. It reminded me of a “yoke” (a device to help the pilot steer) in an airplane. And its advantages were immediately evident.
The vertical handles made it extremely easy to turn the mower, even with one hand. Because the four On/Off switches are independent from each other, all I had to do is hold onto one switch to keep the mower running. Holding the vertical handles with both hands gave me a place to rest my hands and arms in another position, helping to minimize fatigue. The same can be said when I moved from the vertical handles to the straight (horizontal) handle.
Both handle positions worked well in maintaining control of the mower and the unique design made a huge difference in how comfortable and easy it was to mow.
One thing I noticed though was that the On/Off switches can be a little finicky. If you don’t keep a good grip on at least one switch, the mower will turn off.
I varied the cutting height of the mower and it handled all settings, including the lower cutting heights, with ease. It made clean cuts at all heights (instead of beating the grass to shreds) and left the lawn looking well-manicured.
The grass catcher worked phenomenally, held a lot of material, was easy to carry and dumped well.
I also used the mower without the grass catcher, as a mulching mower. This worked equally as well as with the grass catcher. The grass was so well mulched, I could barely see it on the mowed lawn.
The final product was a neatly cut, well-groomed lawn. The mower exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
With the 40V 4.0Ah battery there was ample power to mow about a 3/4 acre lawn. Even after testing the mower at various cutting heights with and without the grass catcher, I still had power left at the end of the job.
I really liked the battery life meter (LED State of Charge Indicator, as Redback calls it) that’s built into the handlebar just underneath the interlock switch. No other mower that we’ve tested to date has had this feature. So instead of having to open the battery compartment and pressing a battery test button, all I had to do was press the LED State of Charge Indicator and the battery level readout was right in front of me. No bending over or stopping the mower. Awesome!
Redback offers a 36 month warranty on all its 40V line of products. This covers both stand-alone purchases and kit purchases (where the charger and battery are included). The warranty is a pretty standard one that covers against material defects and workmanship. It doesn’t cover consumables, misuse, abuse, loss, theft or unreasonable/outrageous customer requests.
But Redback points out that, “Our customer service team tries to bend over backwards to handle reasonable customer issues. If a customer has an issue, Redback recommends calling them directly and they will try to remedy (within reason) the problem”.
From my perspective, they are clearly trying to set themselves apart as a proactive, customer satisfaction based company. As Redback puts it, “we take it personally”. This is very refreshing in today’s buying environment where customer service is becoming more automated (and sometimes worse) and less personal. Redback is trying to step outside this box.
The batteries are warranted for 36 months as well. But Redback reminds its customers that Lithium-Ion batteries are considered consumables and as such have a limited lifetime warranty.
The batteries only hold 80% of the charge after 500 discharge cycles. That doesn’t mean it’s defective – it’s just wearing out and will need to be replaced eventually.
The batteries are geared toward homeowners and not towards the commercial user, so someone who only has one battery and charges/discharges it every day, multiple times a day might wear out the batteries in just a year. Redback prides itself on customer service though, so they encourage anyone with concerns to contact the customer service department for help.
To reach Redback’s customer service:
- Toll Free: 877-487-8275 (Press “2” at the message to skip straight through to Customer Service)
- Real people are available 7AM-5PM Mountain Time Monday – Friday
The Redback 40V Li-ion 16″ lawn mower is quiet, loaded with safety features, and has several innovative design elements, such as the grip handles and the battery indicator light built into the handlebar. Also noteworthy is the well-designed, easy to use, adjustable handlebar height feature. It’s a fantastic mulching mower, and also has a high capacity grass catcher that holds a lot of material. Battery life is excellent; the mower powered through some pretty high grass on about ¾ of an acre and still had extra run time available – although with only a 16” cutting width you may not want to regularly use it to mow a lawn that size. Overall, it’s by far one of the best cordless Li-Ion battery-operated mowers I’ve tried to date.
Where To Buy
The Redback 40V Li-Ion 16″ Lawn Mower Kit (includes 4.0Ah battery and charger) can be purchased on Amazon (Prime) for $284.99.
Additional 40V Lithium-Ion batteries are also available on Amazon, with prices ranging from $69.99 (2Ah) to $109.99 (4Ah), and can be used in all 40V Redback cordless garden tools.
And now over to you – Have you used a cordless mower? How did it work? Let us know in the comments below!
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