YardForce 120vRX Lithium-Ion 22″ Self-Propelled 3-in-1 Mower: Product Review
A high-quality cordless mower that will cut a ½ acre lawn on just one charge.
Available on Amazon
The Yard Force 120vRX Lithium-Ion 22″ Cordless Lawn Mower is a self-propelled mower powered by a 120V Li-ion battery. I’m not a stranger to Yard Force products.
I liked both of those products so much that I jumped at the chance to try out their new battery-powered mower.
- Weight: Approximately 90 lbs. (weight without grass bag or batteries)
- Starting system: Push button quick start
- Motor: 120V DC brushless
- Power: 120vRX lithium-ion battery (2 batteries and 1 charger included)
- Battery capacity: 5 Ah /300 watt hour
- Charger: 4 amp fast charge (1 charger included)
- Charge Time: Each battery charges from drained to full in around 25 minutes
- Run / Charge time: Used together, the 2 batteries run around 100-110 minutes
- Cutting height: Adjustable, 7-position
- Grass Bag: 5-gallon rear-mounted bag
- Mulching: Yes
- Side Discharge: Yes
- Self-propelled: Yes
- Features: Steel deck
- Storage: Folding handles so the unit stores flat when not in use
When I was a kid, a microwave oven-sized box fell off the back of a pickup truck driving several yards in front of us. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. The box bounced, went airborne, and tumbled several times before it settled on the side of the road just as my dad swerved and regained control of our copper-colored 1972 Pontiac Catalina station wagon.
Anyway, the Yard Force box in my driveway arrived in about the same condition as that box I saw bouncing out of the pickup truck 45 years before. When I tried to move the box, I learned why: the thing was heavy. Perhaps a few of the folks who moved it rolled it end-over-end for exercise.
I mention the condition of the box not to rip on the delivery but to praise how the unit was packed and insulated against shock. The mower arrived safe and sound even if the box looked like a spent piñata.
SETTING IT UP
Before reading the Operator’s Manual, I charged both batteries. While the box included 2 batteries and only 1 charger, I had an additional charger from having tested the Yard Force 120vRX lithium ion battery blower. Bonus!
If you’ve ever used a lithium-ion battery and charger before, you know the drill. The charger plugs into a standard wall outlet. You can even mount the charger on a wall to get it up and out of the way. The battery then slides on the rails of the charger until it clicks into place.
When both the RED and GREEN light remain on, the battery is fully charged. Be warned that a fan in your battery charger engages while the battery charges. This is normal.
I remember buying a radio-controlled 4×4 toy several years ago. It came with rechargeable batteries. And I remember that those batteries took what seemed like hours to charge…and minutes to discharge.
Fortunately, things have changed with the new generation of lithium-ion batteries like those used by Yard Force. Both batteries were completely charged in less than 25 minutes. Impressive.
While the batteries charged, I looked at the heavy object in front of me and wondered how I would dead-lift the unit from the snug box. Fortunately, down below the grass clipping bag and side-discharge chute sat the owner’s manual. And even more surprising is that I sat down and read it. That’s where I found my answer. “Open carton completely by cutting each corner [of the box] from top to bottom.”
Whew! That saved me a trip to the chiropractor.
After removing the bag, side-discharge chute, owner’s manual, batteries, and charger, I straightened and fastened the handle into position.
In the unlocked position, the fasteners allow you to fold the handle to minimize floor space for storage in the off seasons.
You can adjust the handle into 3 positions. For my height and arm length, I found the middle notch perfect. Simply insert the pin into the notch to try out different positions. Once you find what feels most comfortable, lock the fasteners in place.
I loved the fact that there were no screws or wrenches to mess with. Locking the handle in place can be done with one hand.
Grass Clipping Options
Next, you have a couple of options to pick from when it comes to what happens with your grass clippings: you can mulch them, use the side-discharge to blow them out to the right of the mower, or you can bag them. Let me tick through those setup options for each so you get a feel for how easy it is to switch between options.
The unit comes with the hard, molded plastic mulch plug attachment inserted. That means that if you wish to mulch your grass clippings, you don’t have to do anything.
Side Discharge Option
Setting up the side-discharge option requires three easy steps. First, remove the hard plastic mulch plug. Second, lift up the side-discharge cover. Third, hook the hard plastic discharge chute under the metal pins that are attached to the mowing deck. You’re done!
Setting up the grass bag to collect clippings is just as simple. First, lift up the rear safety flap and remove the hard plastic mulch plug (if it’s inserted) from the rear of the unit. Second, lift up the side-discharge cover and remove the side-discharge chute (if attached). Finally, align the metal hooks on the grass bag with the attached metal pins under the rear safety flap and release over the slots. That’s it. You are ready to mow 18.5 gallons worth of grass clippings before emptying the bag.
SAFETY (FOR YOU AND THE UNIT)
As always, you should wear safety glasses (like these from Wiley-X), hearing protection, and close-toed shoes when operating any sort of power equipment. An errant pinecone or sugar gum ball can put out an eye or leave a dent in your body. On that note, taking the time to pick up fallen sticks, branches, and similar objects can provide you with extra protection from injury while also keeping the unit from a nicked or damaged blade.
START YOUR ENGINES (OR BRUSHLESS MOTORS)
Once both batteries are charged, slide them into the battery slots on the top of the mower. Listen for the click to know that you have them securely in place.
Next, set the cutting height adjustment that suits your tastes. I selected 3” to test how I liked the height of the grass. Like a haircut, you can always take off more, but you can’t put it back once it’s gone.
I experimented with the various cutting heights. At 1.5”, I scalped my lawn…not exactly the look I was going for. Raising the unit up to 4”, the unit passed over without reaching the top of my grass. I liked the lever because it’s very easy to use and find the right height for your lawn.
Unlike some other mowers on which you have to grab the deck and pull upward to get the height adjustment lever to actually raise the deck, the deck on the Yard Force 120vRX Lithium-Ion 22” Cordless Lawn Mower raises simply by moving the lever.
Before attempting to start the motor, let me mention an extra safety feature on the mower. Inside the battery slots is a Safety Key. To prevent unauthorized use of your mower, remove the key. It won’t start or run without it. I wish one of my kids would make an “unauthorized” use of my mower to cut our grass. Sadly, I believe this is one feature I don’t need.
Finally, starting the motor is utter simplicity. On the right side of the handle you’ll find two buttons: a power button and an orange safety button.
Once the power light turns green, press and hold the large orange button located directly below the POWER button. Now squeeze the blade STOP/START lever (the safety bar) towards the handle until the motor engages.
Once it starts, release the orange safety button. As long as you hold in the blade STOP/START lever, the blades will spin and you’re ready to cut!
To engage the self-propelled drive, hold in the self-propelled lever switch.
Finally, you can adjust the speed of the self-propelled drive at any time by sliding the self-propelled speed adjustment lever on your left on the handle up or down. According to the specs, the self-propelled mode has 5 speeds; the top speed claims to move the mower 2.5 mph.
BUT CAN THE YARDFORCE Mower CUT?
So you can get an idea of what my yard is like, let me describe the size and shape of my yard. I mow about ½ acre every week, more in the late spring and early summer when the rain makes it grow like bamboo. In that ½ acre, I have a couple of large straight flats and more than a few curved landscaped and treed areas that look like kidney beans.
Second, I should say a word about my grass. In the case of my yard, grass refers to anything green that happens to grow. I have a few feet of fescue that usually burns out by early May. The rest is an assortment of crabgrass, Bermuda grass, clover and various weeds. I’ve decided that making the most out of life does not involve trying to have a perfect Kentucky Blue Grass, manicured lawn. Just to look good for the neighbors, I do a little weed-n-feed once each season, but it’s really just me going through the motions.
I tried all of the 3-in-1 options on the Yard Force mower: mulching, side-discharging, and bagging.
Full disclosure: my experience with mulching mowers comes from two units: a $119 hardware store purchase 10 years ago and a $2500 riding mower purchased last year. With that as my experience, I started my test mowing where my lawn looked the tallest and greenest just to see if it could mulch thick grass.
The quality of cut exceeded my expectations. Each pass gave a precision cut, regardless of the type of grass-like greenery it mowed. While some of the thickest areas left a small amount of clippings in its wake, most of the mulch disappeared into the lawn. Nicely done!
Oh, and the Yard Force’s cut proved vastly superior to the results I get with my more costly gas-operated riding mower.
To be honest, I’m not sure why I would want this feature. But heck, I’d rather have it and not use it than want it and not have it. Following the simple steps outlined early, I removed the plastic mulch plug from the under the rear safety flap and installed the side-discharge chute.
The side discharge chute neatly pushed clippings out of the right side of the mower and well away from my feet.
Recently, I read an article about what you can do with grass clippings. I learned that clippings can be used for feeding cattle, making compost, and mulching inside raised garden-beds. You can even make a dye from grass clippings to color Easter eggs. One article suggested using clippings to brew a green grass tea. Apparently, the person writing that article doesn’t have dogs.
I digress. The point is that having a bagging option is a good thing. As a result of the option, my pepper plants now have a nice layer of dried clippings helping to hold in a little moisture.
To convert the side-discharge option to the bagging option involves removing the side-chute and installing the bag (outlined earlier). It clips into place and is nearly fool-proof.
At the rear of the bag is a grass bag indicator to let you know if the bag is full or not. When the motor is running, the flap will open to indicate the bag is not full.
Keep your eye on that flap. When the bag is full, the flap closes shut, letting you know to empty the bag.
I liked the bagger more than I thought because it left the lawn looking really clean. And as a bonus, I had a tidy pile of mulch to use in my raised beds. For those not needing grass clippings, the bag allows you to easily collect your mulch to take to a recycling center or to your curb for lawn waste pick up. No raking needed.
As far as the self-propelled feature, it worked like a charm. It took me a while to master letting go of the switch lever when making 1800 turns, but in no time I drove that machine like a veteran of the NASCAR circuit. Since I’m a fast walker, I cranked it up to the top speed. I wouldn’t have wanted to go any faster. Even at the highest speed, the blades cut like magic.
A nice feature is that the wheels can be powered separately from the mower blades. So when you’ve finished mowing the lawn you can drive the mower back to the garage without sending debris flying in all directions as the blades keep spinning.
[Editor’s Note: We inspected this mower recently at the National Hardware Show where a company rep gave us a demonstration of the power of the unit. He stood on top of the mower and engaged the self-propelled feature (not the blades) to drive himself around the show floor. This is NOT something you should try at home!! But it does give you a good idea of how powerful the drive motor is.]
While the operator’s manual doesn’t say much about this feature, it’s designed to increase or decrease the RPMs of the blade when it senses a change in the mowing load. In tall, thick grass, it automatically increases power; when the grass is lower, it reduces power. This translates into two things:
- no need to adjust a throttle when the load need changes, and
- increased battery efficiency since you don’t have to run at a higher RPM when the grass is shorter.
When mowing, you can actually hear the RPMs crank up when hitting a thick patch of grass (or weeds, depending on your “lawn”).
Battery Run Time
I tested the batteries for 3 full cycles. Run-time ranged from 102 to 109 minutes for those cycles. Granted, this is using two batteries. While the unit can run on one battery (so you can charge one while still running the mower), using 2 charged batteries extends the run-time. With two batteries, the unit will drain one battery and then switch to the charged one, which allowed me to mow ½ acre without recharging! And that’s even with the bag attached.
So how do you know when one battery is drained? The red LED light on the handle will flash and the unit stops. When that happens, release the blade Stop/Start lever, and the power supply automatically switches over to the other battery pack. Doing so will make the LED power light turn green. Then simply hold in the orange safety and start the unit normally.
If you have a bigger yard, this would be a good time to remove the drained battery and place it back on the charger. That will give you more nonstop mowing time.
To check the battery level while mowing, release the blade Stop/Start lever and open the battery compartment. Depress the orange battery icon to find how much charge you have remaining.
YES, I LIKED THE YARD FORCE MOWER!
If you’re in the market for a new 3-in-1 mower using the latest battery technology that provides a fantastic cut, here are some general thoughts on why this might be for you—
- Quality made. I’ve owned tools ranging from nearly-disposable to highly-refined. I would put this one on the side of the best I’ve used. Quality control seems to be a priority with Yard Force, and every attachment and part functioned flawlessly.
- Self-propelled. If you can combine some exercise while mowing your lawn, it’s a win-win. This feature lets the mower do all the work while your role is to make sure it stays on course.
- Maneuverability. With rear tires coming in at 12” and front tires at 8”, turning the unit is easier than any mower I remember using. Even with a weight of nearly 100 lbs., a small amount of force on the handle elevates the front wheel off the ground for making precise, nearly surgical cuts where I want them.
- 3-in-1 options. I like having the 3-in-1 option of what to do with the grass clippings. Likely, I’ll mulch or bag each time I mow, but options are good.
- Easy start. Push start, hold in the safety, and engage the blade start lever. To stop, let go of the start lever. No yanking cords, futzing with a choke or flooding the unit.
- Battery power/run-time. Run-time in my tests ranged from 102 to 109 minutes, allowing me to mow ½ acre without recharging.
- Battery charge time. The included charger took drained batteries to full in less than 30 minutes. That means more time mowing, less time waiting for batteries to charge.
- Green. No gasoline, pre-mix ratios, fumes, or intolerably loud noise. It’s quieter than any gas-powered alternative, and it doesn’t use fossil fuels.
- Torque-Sense Technology. This battery-power saving feature contributes to a nice, clean cut in nearly any situation.
In a perfect world, here’s what I would change about the Yard Force mower—
- Cost. Sticker-shock might scare some people away. Two neighbors stopped by to talk mowers after I finished cutting the grass. Both had recently purchased other nationally-known branded mowers for less. Both hated the mowers they bought. You get what you pay for; I’m hoping that the cost of this unit means that I can expect years of trouble-free use.
Yard Force must have confidence in this mower lasting a while because it comes with a great warranty. They offer a 5-year limited warranty on lawn mower only, 3 years on battery pack and charger, and 90 days on accessories such as blade, side discharge chute, etc. (all based on defects in materials and workmanship).
This is a high-quality, precision tool that cuts beautifully at all heights (even if your “lawn” is more weed than grass). Although it’s heavy, the self-propelled feature takes the weight off and the larger rear wheels make it easily maneuverable.
I love this mower, and I plan to make room for it in my tool shed!
Where to Buy It
Yard Force tools aren’t all that easy to find in retail stores so your best bet is to purchase it online. I’d look at Amazon first.
While it may look a little pricey at first glance, you definitely get what you pay for with this mower. The woman across the street pays a landscaping service $75 each week to cut her ½ acre yard. Cutting my own grass with the mower fewer than 12 times covers what I would spend on those recurring mowing costs.
Last update on 2020-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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