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Making our neighborhoods quieter with electric technology
May. 21, 2023 6:00 am
On a late April afternoon I was napping in my family’s New Jersey home when I was startled awake. A shrill noise from next door sounded like a magnum strength dentist’s drill. A landscaping crew had just cranked up three gas powered blowers, shattering the neighborhood’s tranquillity. The needle on my cellphone’s decibel meter rose to a level high enough to cause hearing damage.
Noise from mowers, trimmers, chain saws, and blowers trespasses across property lines adding to the din of barking dogs, motorcycles, aircraft, and fireworks. It wakes sleeping babies and forces neighbors indoors.
Fortunately technology offers a way to dampen yard tool decibels. Modern battery powered mowers, blowers, chain saws, and timmers of many brands are effective, easy to use and maintain and are much quieter than gas equivalents.
Several years ago we replaced our gasoline powered outdoor tools with battery counterparts. Here’s what we learned:
They're quiet, powerful and relatively lightweight.
There’s no need to yank an annoying pull cord. Just press a switch and they work.
They are easily maintained and lack the need to change the oil or filters.
They’re inexpensive to operate.
There’s no need to buy or store gas.
When we bought our first battery mower we were concerned that it would lack enough energy in the battery to mow our somewhat large yard or have sufficient power to chew through tall grass. Our new mower soon proved itself by buzzing through thick grass for over 45 minutes before the battery discharged. We’ve found battery powered chain saws and trimmers to be equally effective.
Noise isn’t the only benefit of battery powered outdoor tools. Gas fueled landscaping tools lack pollution control devices found on cars and emit about 5 percent of our nation’s air pollution. They belch out carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and particulates. Operators of these tools catch noise and breath polluted air, which also crosses property lines to bedevil neighbors.
Electric tools aren’t totally environmentally pure. Power plants burn fossil fuel to generate the electricity used to charge batteries, but Iowa’s electricity increasingly comes from wind power and solar energy. Our tools are charged by photovoltaic collectors on our shed roof.
Enjoying the peace of a quiet summer morning is a delightful suburban activity too often shattered by neighbors running noisy gas powered landscaping tools. Electric battery powered counterparts allow homeowners to care for their yards without spewing noise and fumes through the neighborhood.
Rich Patterson has a background in environmental science and forestry and co-owns Winding Pathways, which encourages people to “Create Wondrous Yards.”
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