20 inch high lift mower blade - initial impressions

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I tried out the 20 inch high lift mower blade for the first time with the 20 inch self-propelled steel deck mower. First, I used it to cut the lawn in bagging mode, at cutting height #5, which for the steel deck mower is 3 and 3/8". I like how the grass here looks at the higher cutting heights (#5 and #6), and I've read about the benefits of keeping grass taller (at least here in the northeast), so that's why I chose the cutting height that I did. Here were some observations:
1) I didn't notice any vibration with the high lift blade as others have.
2) In terms of noise level, I think the steel deck mower with the high lift blade is ever so slightly louder than with the standard blade, but I'd say the difference in noise is almost unnoticeable. I was expecting it to be much louder with the high lift blade than with the standard blade based on other people's experience, so I was very pleasantly surprised that the difference in noise was almost nothing. Perhaps on the 21" plastic deck mower there is a bigger difference in noise between the two different blades than there is on the steel deck mower.
3) As far as vacuum power goes, as I mowed, even at such a high cutting height (3 and 3/8 inches), I noticed a HUGE improvement in vacuum suction. It sucked up all the leaf debris sitting on or near the top of the grass, though it didn't suck up smaller tree and leaf debris that had filtered down into the grass and was sitting closer to the level of the soil.
4) I was very pleased with how the grass looked after I cut it in bagging mode. The next time I mow, I plan to try the high lift blade out in mulching mode.
5) After having cut the lawn, I wanted to compare how the high lift blade and the standard blade performed compared to one another when it came to both 1) bagging large quantities of autumn leaves, and 2) mulching large quantities of autumn leaves. Here's how I set it up the experiment:



I decided to use the standard blade on the leaf pile on the left, and the high lift blade on the leaf pile on the right (both in bagging mode, and both at cutting height #5 = 3 and 3/8 inches). After making one pass over both leaf piles, here is how they looked:



As you can see, the high lift blade, while not vacuuming up everything, certainly picked up a lot more leaf material than did the standard blade. Here are some close-up photos of what was left of the leaf piles. The first photo is what the standard blade left, and the second is what the high lift blade left.





Then I lowered the cutting height and went over the leaf piles again. And I continued lowering the cutting height one notch at a time, until I got down to cutting height number 2, which on the steel deck mower is 1 and 9/16". With each successive reduction in cutting height, both blades were picking up more and more leaf matter, but each time the high lift blade was pulling up SIGNIFICANTLY more. Here's what the two leaf piles looked like after going over them at cutting height number 2 = 1 and 9/16 inch. Again, the standard blade leaf pile is on the left, and the high lift blade leaf pile is on the right.



At that point, the high lift blade had pretty much cleaned up everything, while the standard blade, while having pulled up much more than it had at higher cutting heights, had still not pulled up as much as the high lift blade.

In sum, the high lift blade pulled up a lot more leaf matter in bagging mode than did the standard blade.

When it came to mulching large quantities of autumn leaves, the high lift blade pulverized the leaves into much smaller pieces than did the standard blade. For me, this means that if I want to mulch autumn leaves into the lawn rather than remove them (click here for an interesting study recommending this practice: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/dont_swe...), the high lift blade is the way to go.

Here are some photos of how the two blades did with mulching autumn leaves. First, here's how the two leaf piles looked to begin with:



I used the standard blade on the leaf pile to the left, and the high lift blade on the leaf pile to the right, both in mulching mode, at cutting height #5 = 3 and 3/8 inch. After one pass over each pile, here is how they looked:



I did one more pass over each of the leaf piles at cutting height number 4 = 2 and 3/4". Here are the results:



And here are two close-up photos of the leaf piles after having been mowed over at cutting height number 4 in mulching mode. The first is with the standard blade, and the second is with the high lift blade.





As you can see, the high lift blade is chopping the leaves up much more finely than the standard blade in mulch mode.

In sum, I'm VERY happy with the high lift blade so far. It bags and mulches leaves much better than the standard blade. In the future, I want to see how it mulches grass in comparison to the standard blade and I also want to see if it makes for a significant improvement in pulling up bent over or matted down grass (I assume it would if it significantly improves the capacity of the mower to pull up autumn leaves, which it does). If it mulches grass as well or better than the standard blade, I can't see any reason to ever use the standard blade again. Thank you EGO for making the high lift blade! Amber, would you also press the folks at EGO to make the 20 inch high lift blade available to customers in the US, as soon as possible? I had to pay $58 to get it here from the UK. I think a lot of customers would be very happy to use this new blade and not have to pay so much for it (if it were available at Home Depot or Amazon).
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John

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Posted 1 year ago

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Craig E.

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Excellent review! Thanks! Agreed, we need these in the US ASAP!
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Craig E.

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Craig E.

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Ordered!
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John

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I think you're really going to like the high lift blade on the steel deck mower. I look forward to hearing what you think about it.
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Michael G

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John - excellent review. Great you were able to take the time to test both blades in similar operation. I tried the new high lift blade on my 21" mower and didn't like it - I mulch. I'm now thinking mostly due to the enjoyment of how quiet these mowers are. My mower with the standard blade seems to be at the same noise level as a box fan. I did notice I have some late fall leaves that blew into a corner of my yard (ugh from the neighbors lot). Maybe I'll give the high lift blade another shot with mulching leaves.

Mike
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John

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On the steel deck mower, I find that the high-lift blade sucks up leaves much better than the standard blade (if you decide to bag) and chops leaves up much more finely (if you decide to mulch your leaves into the lawn). I'd love to know how the high lift blade does at these tasks on your 21 inch mower.
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Steve Valdes

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Ahh...you kept me in suspense until the very end...I was wondering where you got the 20" high lift blade. Can't wait for its availability here. Great review. Nice to hear that you get better performance mulching too and without much extra noise and vibration which does happen with the 21".
(Edited)
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John

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Thanks Steve. I actually decided to give the steel deck mower a chance based on your suggestion. I was ready to give up on EGO mowers and try a Mean Green mower. But so far I have found the steel deck mower together with the high -lift blade to be a killer combination. I'd say paying the extra money to have the 20 inch high-lift blade shipped from the UK is totally worth it. I'm really grateful for your advice to give the steel deck mower a try.
(Edited)
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Great review, John! Thanks for taking the time to experiment!
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Michael G

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John - I tried a similar test with my LM2102SP but I used mulch mode on height setting 3.


Below are sample piles:



Below is three passes side by side with the standard blade:



Below is same 3 passes with "high-lift" blade:




This is a shot with cut piles, to the right is standard blade and left is "high-lift":



Then I went over the whole area with the standard blade:

closeup:


My conclusion: I'm loving this mower with a sharp standard blade. I bought the "high-lift" blade since ....well I wanted to try to get more lift to dig up the buried in leaves. At least for my lawn and mulching mode I still don't care for the "high -lift" blade. Additionally to poorer mulching performance it is still noisier and at times runs faster.

Have to say this mulched as well if not better on these leaves than my Honda Harmony - which ironically I sold today.

Mike
(Edited)
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John

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Thanks Mike! It does seem that the standard blade is a much better blade for you on the LM 2102SP (it mulches leaves better and is quieter). I wonder what the difference is between the 21 inch self-propelled plastic deck mower and the 20 inch steel deck mower that would account for us having such different experiences with the high-lift blade. I don't know the answer. But in any case, it sounds like you've found your blade.
It also sounds like you've definitely made the switch from gas to electric. I love mowing with an electric mower so much more than gas. There's no way I'd ever go back to gas.
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Bill Menzel

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I have a dual battery (two 7.5ah batteries) self propelled lawn mower and had better results mulching with the standard blade than the high lift blade.  Maybe, it is the power and torque of my lawn mower.
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szwoopp, Champion

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The HL blade is not designed for mulching, so I would say any results to the contrary are probably more the exception than the norm.  It certainly gave inferior mulching results on my lawn than my standard blade which does a pretty good job. The HL blade does provide superior lift and bagging.

The Standard blade is designed as a dual purpose mulch or bag blade.

I wish Ego would develop a super mulch blade for superior mulching.
(Edited)
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Craig E.

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John, any impact on battery life?
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John

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I haven't paid close enough attention to that yet. However, I was still able to mow for over an hour with the high-lift blade on the steel deck mower without running out the battery.
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Joel Correll

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I have a 20" mower from 2013 that I use a high lift blade on. The cutting time with a 4 amp hr battery is the same as the mulch blade as long as you use the bagger. The cutting time goes down drastically if you insert the mulching plug. There is an audible difference when using the high lift blade too. It sounds like a shop vac with the high lift blade compared to a dust buster with the mulching blade. I really like the cut finish with the high lift on my KBG/Tall Fescue/PRG but the clippings do pile up after time.
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Ange Hartshorne

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so does any of this help with getting a low enough cut for those of us in the southern hemisphere?
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Ken, Champion

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Man, I wish Ego sold that blade in the U.S. I can't quite pull the trigger on paying $63+ with shipping from the UK for a lawnmower blade.
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szwoopp, Champion

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Just get a 21" mower and you can solve this problem.  Heck get the dual battery and then you won't have to worry about the HL blade eating up your battery.
;)
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John

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Hi Ken! I think it's totally worth it. I don't think you'll be disappointed in the money you spend. Especially if you're going to be sucking up or mulching leaves.
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Naomi Ali

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Any improvement on overall cut? I love my Ego, this was my 2nd summer on it. But sometimes a very narrow strip of grass will stick up with each pass. I overlap heavily to try to counter this. All I can think is as the wheels press down the grass, the suction is not strong enough to pull them back up in time to be cut. I’ve been cutting grass since I was tall enough, never had this problem before. I had most recently been using a Honda that has two blades and was thinking the two blades were providing the better cut in terms of no random grass sticking up uncut. Thoughts?
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szwoopp, Champion

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Naomi have you sharpened the blade recently?
I overlap the wheel tracks, but have always done this.  Never had any missed strips of uncut grass
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Oregon Mike, Champion

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Lots of thoughts. As already mentioned, keep that blade nice and sharp. It's a necessity with these mowers.
Also, try not to cut more than 1" off of the blades of grass at a time. Shorter than 1" is even better. 
Walk at a fairly leisurely pace. This gives the grass some time to rebound from the wheels pressing down on it. 
Keep the underside of the mower nice and clean. Grass clipping buildup will also affect suction and lift of the grass.
A new one, for me, is to make sure your collection bag is allowing proper airflow. I do this by blowing air from the outside of the bag using my EGO leaf blower. Blow through the material. I set up my blower so it is at the back end of the bag and blows through the material to blow debris out the open front end of the bag. Some also wash their bags but I haven't found it necessary to do that yet. 

One that I'm wanting to experiment with my mower is I notice a lot of air gets blown out the right front of the mower (as looked at when standing at the handles in normal mowing position). I always see a bit of grass/debris blowing out the right front of the mower. I'm going to try making a "skirting" that will rest right on the ground on the left and right sides of the mower to see if that doesn't help with suction. Have to leave the front open, I think, for some airflow into the underside of the mower.
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Naomi Ali

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Thanks all. Oregon Mike, so funny you mentioned walking at a leisurely pace. I never use the propelled feature because I prefer whatever calorie burn I happen to get from pushing it manually, and also because it zips along so fast that I question the quality of the cut. PS since my post, I bought an EGO leaf blower to replace my gas model. Did the leaves last night. Good idea to blow the bag, I’ll do that. I’ll also get my blade sharpened
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Bryan

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I have a new 21 inch High Lift Blade for my 21in SP. I've only used the HL blade twice and yes when bagging the cut is much much better than the standard blade. You still get those occasional random blades but the high lift blade seems to offer a more even cut. For either blades, keeping them sharp is important.

With the Honda (I have one too) I'd only sharpen those blades once a year (sometimes every other year), you'll want to sharpen the EGO blades at least twice a year. I'd recommend sharpening them at a minimum at the beginning of season and mid-season. Having to sharpen the EGO blades more isn't necessarily a flaw as much as some design choices by EGO to provide a lighter blade to the mower for battery longevity (at least that's the running theory here).
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szwoopp, Champion

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Naomi
It is pretty simple process to sharpen the blade yourself, especially with a tool like this

https://www.amazon.com/Smiths-50603-Mower-Blade-Sharpener/dp/B00VTO5N2G/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1...

probably pays for itself with one sharpening

PS I also do not use the SP hoping to burn a few extra calories.
(Edited)