Quesions regarding 21" mower vs 20" steel deck

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I recently purchased the 21" mower and my 90 day trial period is rapidly coming to an end. I'm trying to decide whether to keep it and try the high lift blade or exchange it for the brushless.

Overall it's great. But, like many, I find the suction very lacking. I also don't like how much the deck overhangs the blade on the front end...it's hard to get close to anything. Finally, the handle position is a bit awkward for me. The handle seems very long, but also a little short (low) when it's fully extended. Would be better for me if I could raise it up a bit.

So, the question is...does the steel deck address any of these issues?

I know many are wondering if it has better vacumming power as well as if it mulches better.

Does the blade come closer to the front end? It looks like it does from the photos, but it's really hard to tell and the steel deck versions aren't stocked at my local store.

Are there any additional positions for the handle?

For what it's worth, I'm talking about the non self-propelled versions. My lawn could not be flatter, so I don't feel I need the self-propelled model.
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Stacey

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Posted 2 years ago

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Egocentric

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Unfortunately, I can't answer any of your questions, I have no information on the steel deck mowers, but regarding the comment on the low handle, on the first generation 20 inch mowers with the plastic deck, there are two mowing positions on the handle.  If you have been using the lowest position, you may find the upper position more comfortable.  I am not sure if this is the case on the 21 inch mowers.  
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Blue Angel, Champion

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The 21" mowers have three handle height settings. Unless you are very tall I can't see the highest setting being too low, but is IS a matter of personal preference. From the brushless mower manual:


Three positions, no spec on the height.

As far as mulching/suction goes, there have been a few reports of the HL blade improving the situation on the 21" mowers.

The brushless mowers are so new the reviews are few and far between, but those who have used them have favorable feedback. One of our commercial users, Steve Valdez, seems to think the brushless 20" model is built better and cuts better than the 21". His full review is coming soon.
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Fred Tarnay

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I would get the high lift blade ($22) from EGO or an aftermarket high lift blade from Home Depot. EGO put in a useless wimpy blade because its quieter and meets their noise db numbers. The more lift the more air is moved, the more noise, just like an airplane propeller that gets feathered on landing.
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Steve Valdes

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Here are a few answers to your questions...
The deck overhang on the new model is only 4" blade tip to deck edge compared to 7" for the 21" model.
The handle heights differ somewhat...new model is approx +1.5", +1.5" & +1" (high to low settings) The new blade is 19 3/8" vs 19" for original 20" model and 20 1/4" for the 21".I am going to say that the new 20" is mulching very well and does not leave lines of grass on the left side of the mower like the 21" does.I am not sure if it is mulching better or the same as the original 20' as they are both great. I also find the lift to be fine to this point but we have had drier lawns for the last two weeks (finally) so I am not positive how it will perform with wet grass.Another bonus is that it seems much easier to handle than the 21" SP even though it is only 2 lbs lighter. In your case, the non-SP is even lighter by 5.5 lbs so handling should be a breeze.If I were a light user mowing up to say 5000 s/f of lawn once a week I might just buy the original 20" (5 A/h) and save the $250 ($399 vs $649) if that's an issue. It should stand up to this workload without any problem for many years.But if you want the newer much-improved model then I would go with the new 20" over the 21".I hope that helps. Have a great day!
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Stacey

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THANK YOU! These replies have been incredibly helpful! I just dug out my receipt and will be returning my 21" within the week. Bummer, since I got a great deal of about $400 + tax.

I think I will spring for the brushless non self-propelled. I am a light user. My lawn is probably right around 5000 SF. And don't get me wrong the price tag does sting, but I would rather pay a big more and have the latest technology.

To offset the higher cost, I just might wait on getting the power head with trimmer/edger and instead use the new 15" trimmer that i have sitting in a box in the garage. I don't have a lot to edge, so maybe i will try to edge with it. Seems like people prefer the 15" trimmer to the power head+ trimmer, at lease as far a usability goes.

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback, looking forward to your move extensive review Steve.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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And we'll be looking forward to your review as well, Stacey!

WRT the edger/PH, they are out of stock right now and no word as yet when they'll be back in stock. If the edger can wait you might be better putting it off for a while.
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John

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I'm in the same position as Stacey - trying to figure out if I want to exchange the 21" plastic deck mower for the newer 20" steel deck mower. I've still got about a month before my 90 day return period ends. Steve, here are some questions I'd love to hear back from you on, since you've had some experience with both kinds of mowers.
1) Is there any difference in noise level between the two mowers?
2) You mentioned that you find the lift to be fine on the steel deck mower. Do you find the lift to be improved over the 21" plastic deck mower or the same? Specifically, I'm wondering if the steel deck mower will pull up bent over grass to cut it better than the plastic deck mower, and if you think the steel deck mower might mulch fall leaves better than the plastic deck mower either because of improved lift or improved mulching.
3) If price weren't a factor, would you choose the 21" plastic deck mower with the High Lift blade or would you choose the 20" steel deck mower with the blade that comes with the mower? (I'm also wondering if there's such a thing as a high lift blade that would go on the 20" mower or if that's just for the 21" mower. Perhaps there's no need for such a blade on the 20" steel deck mower if it lifts better.)
Thanks in advance for your help!
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szwoopp, Champion

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There is a 20" HL blade. Not available in US but bloomz posted a U.K. Dealer that will ship it to US
(Edited)
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Steve Valdes

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Hi John,

In answer to your questions...
1) I think the noise level is similar. 
2) I cut an overgrown lawn on Friday that was 6"- 7" high, lush grass that was fairly dry from the heavy rain the previous day. The first cut was down to 4" and then, with a 6 " overlap, I cut it down to 2 3/4" and it looked to be finished nice and even at the time. I didn't feel that the grass stayed tamped down but I will be able to confirm on our next visit on Friday. This shows that there is good lift happening under pretty overgrown conditions even after the first pass. If the grass is wet it would be tough to get good lift results. To me, it seems adequate but I am not able to compare the results with other more powerful gas mowers as I have never used them. I can also say that it picks up debris quite well but will have to wait until leaf season to know how well it performs.
3) Also, whether this is as good, better or worse than the 21" with a high lift blade is to be determined. I do have a 21" high lift blade but I haven't used it yet. I will put it on the mower and give it a try soon. I would choose the new 20" steel deck primarily because it mulches better than the 21" and doesn't produce left side stripes of cut grass.
4) I think the run time is better with the new 20" SP, in the 60 to 70-minute range under medium load conditions.

Cheers!
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John

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Also Steve - Do you notice more run time on a charge with the steel deck as opposed to the 21 inch plastic deck mower?
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Steve Valdes

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 I think the run time is better with the new 20" SP, in the 60 to 70-minute range under medium load conditions.
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John

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Thanks for sharing your experience Steve! After you've used the high-lift blade on the 21 inch mower, would you post your thoughts on that?
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BoiseState

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John or Steve or anyone.
 Which steel version of mower do you own?
 Is the steel mower worth the extra cost?
I just bought the non-SP version and I thought it did a much better cut that the 21" SP. However, this came at a 650 cost. Is the SP steel worth 100 more or is the original good enough. I only mow like once a week.
Thanks for your help.
(Edited)
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JWBozo

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BoiseState,
I own the 20" steel deck mower that came with the 7.5Ah battery.  I selected the SP version and I am glad I did.  Even though my lawn is flat and the mower is easy to push, I do like to "walk behind" better than "push".  It was well worth the extra $100 to me.  I also believe the steel deck is worth the extra cost over the plastic deck.  I returned a 21" plastic deck and replaced it with the steel deck.  I like the looks better, the height adjustment is in a different place and looks/works better.  The steel deck has a side discharge that's really a side discharge.  And the brushless motor is superior to the motor with brushes (if only slightly).  Just my 2 cents.
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John

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I use the self-propelled steel deck version. For me, the self-propelled version of the steel deck mower is well worth the extra $100 because the lawn I mow is hilly and I really appreciate not having to push the mower up the hills.
Like JWBozo, I also returned the 21 inch plastic deck mower (after about two months of use) and bought the steel deck mower. So far, I've only cut twice with the steel deck mower.
But I think the extra money for the steel deck mower as compared to the 21 inch plastic deck mower is well worth it for these reasons:
1) Improved mulching capability over the 21 inch plastic deck mower
I wasn't happy with the way the 21 inch plastic deck mower was mulching grass (it left a trail of clumpy grass clippings along the left side of the mower, which many others users have experienced as well). Steve Valdes, who has had extensive experience with both kinds of mowers, thought that the steel deck mower was a better mulcher than the 21 inch plastic deck mower and didn't suffer from this problem.
So far the steel deck mower has been mulching great for me and has not been leaving a trail of grass clippings on the left side, but I won't know for sure how much of a better mulcher it is until next spring when the grass is really dense again and is growing really fast (which were the only conditions in which I had used the 21 inch plastic deck mower).
2) More efficient and more durable motor than the 21 inch plastic deck motor
I can't say I understand the difference between a brushless motor (which the steel deck mower has) and a brushed motor (the motor which the plastic deck mower has), but brushless motors are supposed to be more durable and more efficient. That it's more efficient means that you get more run time on one battery charge (EGO claims that the 21 inch self-propelled plastic deck mower gives you 60 minutes of run time on one charge on a medium load, whereas the steel deck gives you 75 minutes of run time on one charge).
3) The steel deck mower has a smaller front end than the plastic deck mower, so you can mow more closely to objects.
4) After using the 21 inch plastic deck mower for about a month, I started noticing that the grass was looking very matted down in places. I still don't know why that was happening. It may have been because I wasn't keeping the blade sharp enough or because I was letting the grass get too tall. I was thinking it may also have been because the 21 inch plastic deck mower didn't have enough power to get through really dense grass or enough lift to pull up and cut bent-over grass. I'm really not sure what the explanation is. But I was hoping that the steel deck mower would have more lift and be more powerful than the plastic deck mower and would help me not to have the matted-down-grass-problem. I won't know for sure until next spring when the grass is really dense again whether or not this is so.
5) I think the steel deck mower weighs a little less than the 21 inch plastic deck mower (but I think it's only by a couple pounds).

If you stick with your steel deck motor, I would highly recommend buying the 20 inch high-lift blade and using that over the standard blade.
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Steve Valdes

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I think you should be fine with the non-propelled version if you conditions warrant it. The SP function takes some getting used to because if you disengage at the end of your row rather than 2 seconds before, then you can't back it up because the wheels lock up for a second or two...it's kind of a hassle.
Enjoy your new mower!
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BoiseState

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Thank you all for the comments! Very good information.

Do any of you know if the orignal ($399 right now) left clumpy grass?
I too see the new steel mower is much better than the 21". However I have no experience with the original version. Its the $399 vs $650 question i guess.
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John

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I think Steve Valdes was happy with the mulching capability of the 20 inch plastic deck mowers, but I don't know where in this forum he made that comment. He thought that mower mulched better than that 21 inch plastic deck mower and didn't leave trails of grass clippings along the left-hand side of the mower.
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TheAtomTwister

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Well, I'm sorry EGO, but you didn't win me over with the mower.  I saw the 21 inch push mower trying to cut 2-3 inches off of St Augistine grass and it left too many stringers.  I'm going with the Greenworkss 80V mower.  It is 80V, 1200W+ (their 21inch push mower is 1200W, brushless, 21 inch steel deck, self propelled for around $550 to $560 on Amazon, comes with a 5Ah battery and charger, the battery charges in 72 minutes, it is 360Wh compared to 378Wh for EGO's 7.5Ah pack (which charges in an hour on the rapid charger), so EGO does get slightly better charge time, but there, those are some of the features and specs.  As far as how its build compares to EGO's, it is really built like an electric version of a typical gas mower, I wouldn't say its build quality from a structural standpoint is as good as EGO's, but it's good enough for me.  The real question is the quality of its internals.  I will know in time based on how long they last.
(Edited)
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Blue Angel, Champion

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How sure are you that the Greenworks would do a better job on that St. Augustine lawn?

Also, battery charge times are all just claims until verified. Try taking a hot battery out of a Greenworks tool and let us know how long it takes to charge. ;-)