Battery powered equipment has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Sceptics have been overcome and lithium-ion now sits among electric and petrol in equal ranking when it comes to choosing machinery.
For professional users, investing in equipment is a big consideration and such an investment needs to factor in future plans and forecasts. It is no surprise, then, that battery power is becoming the power source of choice for professionals.
The benefits of battery powered equipment are endless, particularly when it comes to the commercial sector. These tools are the less noise, fuss and fumes alternative and are tackling their petrol rivals head on.
The benefits of battery include:
- Less vibrations
- Cost saving
- Less noise
- Less disturbance to surroundings
- Safe and easy to use and store
- No fumes or pollution
Safe all-day use
For professional users, perhaps one of the greatest benefits of battery power is reduced vibration, making tools more comfortable to use, particularly when operating for extended periods of time. They are, therefore, rapidly being adopted by landscapers and local authorities in parks, gardens, estates and golf courses, to name just a few.
Extensive use of handheld power tools can cause Hand-Arm-Vibration syndrome (HAV), also known as 'Vibration White Finger' which causes disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints, as well as extreme pain when exposed to cold conditions.
Faced with a rising tide of litigation from sufferers of HAV, white finger and other vibration causing conditions, an increasing number of major groundcare professionals are switching to battery power and shunning traditional petrol engines.
"Contractors have been talking to us in increasing numbers as they accept the fact that battery equipment vibrates at considerably lower levels than many of the petrol alternatives currently on the market. In fact, for most of our tools the vibration levels are under the 2.5m/s2 Exposure Action Value (EAV) limit, and well below the Exposure Limit Value (ELV), allowing for safe all-day use," says Steve Roskell, European marketing director for EGO Power+.
Ultimately, as well as being better for the user and environment, battery products are also good for bank balances and wallets, and offer a cost saving alternative to petrol!
Once the initial investment has been made, the running and maintenance costs are incredibly low. There is no need for regular costly servicing or changing of filters, oil or spark plugs so switching to battery leads to significant savings in the long term - certainly a factor when purchasing equipment for professional teams.
Perhaps the biggest saving is the eradication of costly petrol. With fuel prices ever on the increase, professional users are feeling the financial impact of a constant need for petrol. With battery power, this is not a concern. Research about battery products has found that using a battery powered mower for a month is around the same cost as using a 2-stroke petrol product for just one day!1
A sound judgement
Aside from being more comfortable due to having less vibrations, battery products are also more comfortable for the operator when it comes to volume and protecting their ears. Daily exposure to noisy petrol power can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus, leaving a permanent ringing sensation in the ears. Battery power is much quieter and reduces the risk of potential damage, especially with long-term usage.
Battery products operate at lower noise levels than petrol so disturbances are a thing of the past. When it comes to all day use, and constant exposure to high decibel levels of petrol, battery power which whispers in at 83 decibels, is a welcome reprieve for professionals. To put this in perspective, a food blender is 86 decibels2 whilst a petrol lawnmower is said to be 1063 - just 3db more than an aeroplane flying over at 1000ft4! Experts recommend that ear protection is worn when exposed to 85 decibels so, once again, battery provides the better alternative!
Aside from the health benefits, battery powered products also create a more enjoyable workplace as extended usage of noisy equipment with heavy fumes has been proved to lead to an increase in work-related stress.
Do not disturb
Grounds teams and landscapers that have made the transition to lithium-ion are already reporting positive feedback from those that they work around. Increasing demand on landscapers working in public spaces means that is not always possible to avoid using machinery when other people are around. With its low operating sound and lack of pungent petrol fumes, battery poses the solution to this. It is now possible to work in gardens and sports grounds, near schools, hospitals and libraries, and even in cemeteries, without disturbing the public.
One of the biggest dangers of petrol machinery, particularly for those needing a lot of fuel, is the storage of it. Add to this the need to transport it across grounds for refuelling throughout the day and it is an accident waiting to happen! Again,a problem that is not a consideration with the safe charging and transportation of a battery.
Unlike large, heavy petrol machinery that can often pose an issue when it comes to storage, battery products are easy to store and can be safely folded flat - perfect for grounds teams with lots of equipment but perhaps not the space to store it in. By folding flat and standing vertically, the blades on battery mowers are also easier to clean.
A greener ground
In an age where we are always looking for the greener way to live, lithium-ion powered equipment is again the way forward. Thanks to it producing zero emissions during use, it can deliver petrol matching power without the fuss, fumes and environmental damage.
We all know that petrol is bad for the environment but that is perhaps often overlooked when it comes to grounds maintenance with some thinking it is nothing compared to the pollution from a car. In fact, it is the opposite and it has been found that running a petrol mower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution as eight cars driving at 55mpg for the same amount of time5!
The next step in energy storageLeading brands such as Tesla and Dyson have adopted cordless technology and become pioneers in their fields, matching technology with sleek style and design. It was only a matter of time before this fed down to the grounds maintenance sector and was replicated in units that get the job done but without any hassle or pollution, whilst also looking like a technologically advanced, desirable gadget.
It is clear that lithium-ion is the next step in energy storage. A report from the IHS Markit predicted that there will be a sharp rise in the usage of lithium-ion batteries in the next decade, and that they will become the norm for energy storage. It is estimated that by 2025, 80% of global energy installations will use lithium-ion batteries6. This is supported by Tesla's substantial investment in battery technology which demonstrates that they have no doubt that lithium-ion is the future. Its $5billion Gigafactory aims "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy" and will create batteries for half a million cars per year.
Consumers are more accepting of battery technology; they are realising it is not all just hype and that the products really do back up, and exceed, the claims. One sector that this is particularly true of is the electric bike market which grew 22% in 2016, with a similar increase expected for 2017.
This is particularly true of Europe but the UK is increasingly following suit. In 2016, 1,667,000 electric bikes were sold, with 16% of these being in the UK (second to Germany). This is all part of people seeking greener lifestyles and wanting to reduce pollution and minimalise their carbon footprint whilst also having a quick, easy and efficient solution. Something which resonates loudly in the groundcare and greenkeeping sector.
Traditionally, the landscaping world is not one typically associated with technology as much as other sectors are. However, as a result of developments within battery technology and the wider acceptance of the power of lithium-ion, in the past few years this has rapidly changed.
Grounds team, landscapers and gardeners are adopting the Internet Of Things society and are embracing connectivity. This allows battery manufacturers to record usage trends and monitor customer behaviour, attitudes, decisions, and perhaps most importantly, predict future decisions. Steve Roskell explains: "As manufacturers, we can use this to aid the continuous improvement and development, not only of products but also of our understanding of working environments. Cordless tools are uniquely positioned to be able to support this flow of data, and companies with this industry leading unique battery technology, will be at the forefront of this."
The power source of choice for professionals
Battery technology has significantly evolved with advancements constantly being made in the sector.
It is now widely recognised as the smarter way to power through landscaping tasks, delivering a new level of performance and dependable power.With extensive and impressive run times, and minimal charge times, it offers a reliable power source that is ideal for grounds teams working throughout the day. Add to this the option of having multiple batteries charged and ready to go, and it is easy to see why it is becoming so popular within the commercial sector.
"Innovative battery products offer a host of additional user benefits such as lower noise levels, zero emissions, ease of starting, long run times, and lower running and servicing costs. It is the combination of these, and the virtual elimination of vibrations, that makes battery the power source of choice for professionals. Cordless technology is the future in the wider amenity sector that involves operators using or working with hand-held vibrating machinery; all with the added freedom to work exhaust and emission free," continues Steve.
For more information about lithium-ion battery technology please visit www.egopowerplus.co.uk
1 Based on an average daily use of three litres of post mix fuel per day