by Linda Abu-Shalback, Associate Editor, APPLIANCE Magazine
As emissions standards evolve, lawn and garden equipment OEMs are counting on engine manufacturers to help keep their products compliant with the standards. In turn, engine manufacturers are saying that they're up to the challenge.
Up To The Challenge Of Lowering Emissions
"We now have a complete family of engines that achieve the Environmental Protection Agency's 2006 nationwide small engine emissions requirements - 4 years ahead of schedule," Stephen Ditter, Tecumseh's manager of Product Development told APPLIANCE magazine.
Tecumseh reportedly created the first L-head engine in the industry to meet the current California Air Resources Board (CARB) Tier II Requirements with a 6.75 hp model with the company's LEAP™ technology (low emission, advanced performance). For 2002, Tecumseh added five models from 4.5-6.5 hp. "Our engines with LEAP technology produce 70-percent fewer emissions than similar engines did just 10 years ago," Mr. Ditter added.
Honda's engines also meet all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the more stringent CARB requirements. Honda's GX25's mini four-stroke engine has reportedly achieved a top-class rating under the EPA's stringent Phase 2 emissions regulations and are said to be fuel-efficient and have reduced oil consumption. Weighing 2.78 kg (6.1 lb), the 360-degree inclinable GX25 is also said to be the lightest and most compact engine of its kind, reportedly making it an ideal power source for handheld power equipment.
Kohler Co.'s (Kohler, WI, U.S.) new Aegis 29 hp horizontal shaft engines use electronic fuel injection systems to control fuel usage, reducing emissions and using fuel efficiently, the company said. Electronic fuel injection can also help achieve peak power and torque, improve startability in all temperatures, and allow for optimum throttle response, according to the company.
And who says lawn mower motors can only be used for the mowers? The PowerLink™ System from Briggs & Stratton (Milwaukee, WI, U.S.) offers advanced power inverter technology that is capable of producing 1,000 W of continuous power, and up to 1,500 W of surge capacity. This means customers can access power to run a variety of electrical tools and other appliances where outlets are not available. It can also serve as a temporary emergency back-up to run equipment when a primary power source goes out. "It provides flexibility and security without the need for additional maintenance and storage space," said Rick Zeckmeister, Briggs & Stratton director of North American consumer marketing.
Alternative Lawn & Garden Power
Fuel costs shooting upward and growing emissions concerns have also driven manufacturers to give consumers alternative power methods.
"It's time people wake up and take steps to help the environment," said Paul F. Rogers, sales manager of Electric Tractor Corporation (Ontario, Canada). The company recently introduced its multi-purpose Electric Ox™, an electric multi-purpose vehicle which can mow, tow, sweep, grade, and act as a snow thrower with attachments that can reportedly be changed in less than 2 min. In addition to having zero emissions, according to Mr. Rogers, the electric motor means the tractor operates more quietly. "People have told us that their single biggest concern is noise," Mr. Rogers said. According to the company, the noise has been measured at 72 dB at the driver's ear when the mower is on the grass, while many lawn mowers operate at 90 or more dB. The Electric Ox is available in 36 V and 48 V models.
Sunlawn Imports Inc. (Fort Collins, CO) has also introduced a mower that is said to be quieter and emissions free. The Brill ASM380 Accu Mower is a walking mower that is powered by a 24 V rechargeable nickel cadmium battery. It can reportedly mow 3,000 sq ft (278.7 sq m) on one charge, and the battery can be used to power other Brill outdoor products. "We pride ourselves on being green-friendly," said Jim Yedinak, partner with the company. Sunlawn also markets the Brill Luxus 38 mower, which features absolutely no motor, another way to go for emission-free mowing. The lightweight reel mower, operates simply by being pushed. "Everyday people can use these products," Mr. Yedinak said.
Whether a consumer's focus is on the environment, sound, or fuel economy when choosing lawn and garden equipment, they will find they currently have many "powerful" alternatives, and that more will evolve as these issues grow in importance in the years to come.