Husqvarna LE 221R 40-Volt Self Propelled 21-inch Mower Review
Battery technology has come a long way in recent years. Newer advancements in the field have yielded fast cars, more powerful power tools, and as is the case here, cordless outdoor power equipment. Husqvarna has taken those advancements in battery tech and dropped them into a 21″ self-propelled walk-behind mower for the masses. The Husqvarna LE 221R features a lightweight body, ergonomic and sensible controls, and rear-wheel drive. And, just like every other piece of battery-powered equipment, Husqvarna’s new mower touts smoke-free operation with zero direct emissions.
It’s a pretty compelling package, all things considered. But, is it time to make the jump from gas to “green”? Does its battery provide enough power and runtime to fit a homeowner’s needs? What about the professional landscaper? Further, is it worth the cash you’ll invariably have to cough up to make that jump?
Husqvarna LE 221R Features
We’re starting to see more and more dual battery-powered mowers hit the market, and the LE 221R falls into this new camp. Two 40V (40-volt Max, 36-volt Nominal) batteries power the Husqvarna LE 221R and feed a central 900W motor. From there, power transfers to both the 11″ rear wheels and the cutting blade.
Let’s start with the batteries and the bay they nestle into. Husqvarna positioned the battery bay where the engine would sit on a traditional mower. The mower runs on either one or two 40V batteries, and once one battery drains, the LE 221R automatically and seamlessly switches from one to the other.
Husqvarna includes two 40V batteries and a fast charger with the LE 221R kit. Batteries recharge in about an hour and a half.
Great Read: Mow Like a Pro
In an effort to keep users from accidentally hacking off toes and fingers, Husqvarna includes a few standard safety features. You’ll find the first one in the aforementioned battery bay. You can have both batteries plugged in, but you’ll need to switch the Safety Key to the “On” position before the mower will start to draw power from the batteries.
While the self-propulsion on the Husqvarna LE 221R can be engaged without too much fuss, actually engaging the blades takes an extra step. The spring-loaded upper handle, or Motor Brake Handle, engages the blade…but only after the start inhibitor switch is pushed out of the way. This ensures that you only start the blade if you mean to. We don’t see this feature on a ton of mowers, but it does make the mower safer to operate. Plus, it saves some battery power for when you really need it.
For added safety, the Husqvarna LE 221R also includes a solid blade brake. Releasing the motor brake handle will stop the blade within one second. Additionally, releasing the drive bail will turn off the self-propulsion instantly.
At this point, we’re used to seeing cordless tools come with a “turbo” setting that gives the tool a bit of extra “umph” in those high-demand situations. The Husqvarna LE 221R kind of takes that idea, but moves it into a different direction. Rather than featuring a turbo button. Husqvarna places a “SavE” button on the control panel, which puts the mower into a battery-saving mode. This allows the mower to “decide for itself” how much power it should allocate to the blade.
It works like this: if the mower finds itself in the wet, thick, or tall grass, it pushes out the max RPM. If the mower doesn’t feel much resistance, it slows down the blade speed for maximum energy efficiency.
I wasn’t aware of this feature the first time I used the Husqvarna LE 221R. Should I have read the manual before diving headfirst into using the new mower? Perhaps, but who has the time? At any rate, for my first pass, I prematurely used both batteries before the lawn was completely mowed!
After figuring out that this feature existed, I ran the LE 221R through my small and compartmentalized patches of Zoysia grass. Bagging the clippings, this job generally takes me about 40 minutes with a traditional mower. With the Husqvarna model, the same job took the same amount of time. With the SavE feature enabled, the batteries not only lasted through the whole job, I still had 75% of battery life left on the second one.
Eventually, I took the mower to a thick, high-pile St. Augustine lawn. The SavE setting yielded 45 minutes of solid tall, thick grass cutting while using the self-propel function the whole time. I’m not sure that it makes a difference, but for what it’s worth, I used the mower’s discharge chute on this lawn.
Control Panel and Speed Settings
The control panel is located on the main handle and includes an on/off button, speed control, two battery life indicators, and the energy-saving SavE button. Simple LED lights indicate in green next to each feature of the control panel.
Drive speed ranges from 1.86 mph to a top speed of 2.8 mph. I’ll tell you straight here: I wish the LE 221R had a bit more hustle. I found myself frustrated at times, as I wanted to walk faster than what this mower is able to move. For comparison, EGO’s self-propelled mower can reach a top speed of 3.6 mph. This can, at times, feel a little too brisk, but I’m certain I’d rather have more speed than not enough.
This feature might not be unique to the Husqvarna LE 221R, but it still seems worth mentioning. With this mower, I have the option of bagging my clippings, mulching, or attaching a side discharge chute. In all these cases, the clippings are very fine, and the LE 221R leaves my lawn looking even and tidy.
What’s Good And What Could Use Some Work
The Husqvarna LE 221R certainly has a lot going for it. The controls are simple to use, and they feel similar to the traditional gas models that you’re likely used to. The build quality looks durable and solid. At 67.5 lbs, this mower feels nimble and maneuverable. And, ultimately, the quality of the cut is on-point, provided you’re not running it through a wildly overgrown lawn (though, to be fair, gas powers can struggle here as well).
However, there are points worth critiquing here as well. For one, I’d like to see Husqvarna do a bit better with the mower’s top speed. While I have no desire to jog along behind the mower, I feel like my natural stride gets inhibited by the slow top end. An extra mph here would go a long way.
I would also say that the power and range of this mower will keep this mower relegated to the homeowner’s sphere of existence, and even then, you’ll want something that lasts longer for yards bigger than half an acre. The batteries just aren’t there yet for the LE 221R to be considered on a Pro level.
Finally, the price will prohibit some folks from going green here. At $599 for the kit, it’s priced just a bit higher than I’d like. While switching to cordless is rarely cheap, comparably specced models usually run about a hundred bucks less.
All that said, if you have a small to medium sized yard, the Husqvarna LE 221R could be a great fit for you. It’s efficient, it’s easy to maneuver, and it’s incredibly quiet. Plus, without gas or oil changes, it’s likely that the only maintenance in your foreseeable future will revolve around sharpening your blade.
- Fuel Type: Electric (40V Battery)
- Drive: Variable speed Rear-Wheel
- Speed: From 1.86 mph to 2.8 mph
- Weight: 67.5 lbs
- Wheel height: Front 8″, Rear 11″
- Wheelbase: 22.44”
- Deck Construction: Steel
- Cutting Heights 0.98″ – 2.95″ in about 0.33” increments
- Width / Cutting Deck: 20″
- Blade: 20”
- MSRP: $599