“With more and more governmental incentives promoting the use of ‘green’ alternatives, we recognize that propane-powered equipment represents a new option in clean and efficient solutions to lawn and grounds care,” Baird adds. “Propane offers the same high-performance benefits of both gasoline and diesel.”
The PERC is finding that landscape contractors who continually seek more cost-effective ways to operate and are looking for a competitive point of differentiation are the ones incorporating propane-fueled mowers into their fleets. Frame says he’s seeing the majority of sales go to landscapers with a bent toward sustainability. Dwyer views the typical contractor as one with a fairly large operation of at least 10 mowers; that’s when an on-site propane tank filling station is more feasible and accruing fuel cost savings have a significant impact on the bottom line.
Down in Austin, TX, Clean Scapes is a large multi-million-dollar commercial maintenance company. Ortiz says crews have experienced gains in productivity. “Due to the size of the propane cylinders, our mowers can run from three to six hours per single fill,” he points out. “Some crews have dual-cylinder mowers, allowing for even longer run times. Naturally, there are variables due to terrain and vegetation. But I can definitely say that crews have longer run times due to using propane.”
Dwyer says propane-fueled mowers, generally speaking, perform on par with their gasoline-powered counterparts. “Unless the mower is engaged in very heavy cutting, it’s hard to tell the difference,” Dwyer says.
Feehan points out that propane availability is an important consideration for the busy landscape contractor. “The established forklift refueling infrastructure is the same business model that is being directly applied to the commercial mower market,” he explains. “There are more than 600,000 propane-fueled forklifts in operation every day, and propane is provided to meet just-in-time inventory as often as needed, either through cylinder exchange or on-site refueling.”
Additionally, PERC’s partnership with states program is a demonstration program offered with state propane gas associations to help end-users offset incremental costs for purchasing propane-fueled equipment, along with supporting safety and training initiatives.
The Commercial Mower Purchase/Placement Data Collection program model encourages increased understanding and support for recently commercialized propane-fueled, off-road equipment such as commercial mowers and aftermarket engine-conversion equipment. A dollar-for-dollar match of up to $2,500 can be accessed via participating state propane gas associations for the purchase of a new propane-fueled mower. Matching funds of up to $1,500 can be secured for conversion of existing commercial mower products. In exchange for funding, the program requires applicants to provide quarterly data reports for one year on the new equipment purchase, including performance characteristics, hours of use, and gallons of propane fuel used.
Propane-Fueled Commercial Mower Manufacturers
According to the Propane Education & Research Council, the following commercial lawn mower manufacturers offer propane-fueled models:
Ariens/Gravely: The Pro-Master 260H LP XDZ zero-turn mower features a 28-hp/992cc Generac LP engine.
Bad Boy: The Propane Series zero-turn mower uses a Briggs & Stratton 895cc/32-hp Vanguard V-twin engine allowing for an 80% emissions reduction.
Cub Cadet Commercial: The Tank S LP zero-turn mower utilizes an 852cc or 999cc Kawasaki engine. The Z-Force S LP features a 726cc Kawasaki FR Series V-twin engine.
Dixie Chopper: The Xcaliber Propane zero-turn mower is fueled by two 40-pound propane cylinders and a 990cc Generac LP engine.
Exmark: The Lazer Z Advantage Series zero-turn mower is powered by a 28-hp Kawasaki V-twin engine. Also available are the Turf Tracer and Turf Tracer HP propane-fueled walk-behind mowers.
Ferris Industries: The IS 3100Z zero-turn mower features an 895cc Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Big Block V-twin engine with vapor-draw fuel tanks.
Husqvarna: The PZ6029PFX zero-turn mower uses a Kawasaki FX Series 29-hp/852cc engine. Optional 33-pound tanks hold about 14 gallons of propane, allowing all-day operation.