Top 3 Types of Lawn Mower Engines

types of lawn mower engines

Whether you only have a tiny patch of grass or acres of lawn, you need the right mower that gets the job done.

It’s not just about getting a mower for your lawn, it’s also about knowing how to operate the mower and what makes it tick.

One of the things that make a lawn mower tick is its engine. The type of engine your lawn mower has can make a difference in the power it delivers.

Whether you already own a mower or you’re about to get one, this article explains in detail the types of lawn mower engines available on the market.

Basic Engine Terms You Should Know

Before I jump right into the types of lawn mower engines available, let’s go through some basic engine terms that you should know. You might be familiar with all these terms if you own a car, generator, or bike. But if you don’t own any of these, then you should read carefully.

Understanding these terms will help you to make the right shopping decision when picking a mower for your lawn.

Related: Best Commercial Lawn Mower Brands


Horsepower is literally the power given when a horse pulls a load. But in mechanical terms, it means the rate at which work is done.

In lawn mower engines, the higher the horsepower the more power the engine will deliver, and the more work the lawn mower can do. This is why heavy-duty lawn mowers like zero turn mowers have horsepower ratings of 13HP to 30HP while walk-behind lawn mowers have lower ratings below 13HP.

Cubic Centimeters (cc)

Cubic centimeters or cc (as it is usually displayed) refers to volumetric measurements of engine cylinders. The value is directly proportional to the horsepower of the engine. This means that the higher the horsepower of the engine the higher its cc and vice versa. Also, the higher the cc the more power the engine delivers.

Other Engine Terms

The following are other engine terms to take note of even though they may not affect your buying decision.

  • Piston
  • Crankshaft
  • Spark plug
  • Valve
  • Cylinders

Related: Best Mower for 7 Acres

Types of Lawn Mower Engines

1. Two-Cylinder Engines

As the name implies, a two-cylinder piston engine is a twin-straight engine that has its two cylinders arranged side by side. This type of engine is also known as a two-stroke engine. It is given this name because it completes one power cycle with up and down movements (two strokes) of the piston during one crankshaft revolution.

Two-cylinder engines often require a pre-mixing of fuel oil at an accurate ratio to help lubricate the engine during combustion. This engine could deliver a clean trim on your lawn but they are less eco-friendly and efficient.

Furthermore, this engine doesn’t offer much power for bigger lawns and you can only find them in small mowers.

Advantages of Two-Cylinder Mower Engines

  • Two-cylinder mowers are the least expensive options on the market. They cost way less than other types, so you could save a lot by investing in them
  • They are lighter and easier to store than most other residential lawn mowers
  • They can handle small lawns with ease
  • Perfect for working at an angle or trimming grass on slopes

Disadvantages of Two-Cylinder Mower Engines

  • The engines require constant maintenance
  • They are louder than other types of residential lawn mowers
  • They don’t provide the most even trim
  • Not suitable for large lawns

Types of Mowers With Two-Cylinder Engines

  • Gas push mowers
  • Self-propelled mowers
  • Hover mowers

2. Four-Cylinder Engines

Four-cylinder engines are more powerful. That’s majorly why they’re found in riding lawn mowers made for commercial use. These engines come with higher horsepower ratings and cc ratings.

You can find zero-turn mowers with up to 24HP and 747cc perfect for mowing a lawn of 7 acres or more. These heavy-duty mowers are powered by four-cylinder engines that have long and efficient combustion power.

In this type of engine, all four cylinders are mounted in a straight line along the crankcase. A four-cylinder engine goes through four strokes to complete one operating cycle. These piston strokes are known as intake, compression, power, and exhaust.

There are many distinctions between the four-cylinder engine and the two-cylinder engine, and it goes beyond the number of engines they both have. First, four-cylinder engines are more eco-friendly as they minimize internal combustion engine emissions. They are also heavier and do not require a pre-mixing of fuel and oil as with two-cylinder engines.

The best thing about them is that they offer even trims, more power, and require less maintenance. 

Advantages of Four-Cylinder Engine Mowers

  • They offer more power and are suitable for commercial lawn mowing
  • They use less fuel and oil during mowing — making them more economical

Disadvantages of Four-Cylinder Engine Mowers

  • They are more expensive than two-cylinder engine mowers (sometimes triple the price)
  • They are heavier and more difficult to store
  • Due to their weight and size, they can be difficult to maneuver on the lawn. Using zero turn mowers, however, solves this problem

Types of Mowers With Four-Cylinder Engines

3. Electrical Engines

Presently, the market is flooded with tons of models of battery-powered mowers all offering great promises. These mowers are usually walk-behind mowers and they’re only good enough for small lawns of less than 2 acres.

These mowers are mostly cheaper than two-cylinder engine mowers. But the cheap price doesn’t make for an efficient mower.

Being powered by batteries instead of gas and fuel oil doesn’t allow them to provide enough power to plow through harsh foliage. Also, the battery could run down quickly during use.

If you’re using the corded type, you might be limited as you would not be able to reach all areas of your lawn due to the cord length.

The best thing about these types of mowers is that they are cost-effective. You won’t have to worry about purchasing gas and oil every time.

Advantages of Electric Engine Mowers

  • Quieter than gasoline-powered engines
  • Cheaper in the long run
  • Require less maintenance. Although, the battery would need to be replaced every five to seven years

Disadvantages of Electric Engine Mowers

  • Not suitable for mowing rough grass and foliage
  • Not suitable for large lawns
  • Corded mowers have a limited range of operation
  • Cordless mowers could run out of charge quickly

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Top 3 Types of Lawn Mower Engines
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