Side Discharge Chute Design

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  • Updated 10 months ago
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Whomever designed the side discharge chute should be spanked and have his or her birthday taken away.  Seriously.  This is a FANTASTIC mower....I love everything ELSE about it.  But the discharge chute fails for a couple of very simple reasons:

1. The rotation of the blade throws the clippings out slightly to the left (I confirmed this by both looking at the design and wedging a piece of wood to keep the rear cover open while operating the mower).  The chute design, however, makes the grass clippings do more than a 90 degree turn to exit to the right.  If they had gone out the left side, that angle would have been less, and that would have solved some of the problem.

2.  Also, the design of the chute is slightly funnel-shaped.  This causes the clippings to compact on their way out, which leads to clogs.  Again, running the mower with the rear cover open confirmed that the mower has the power to chuck the clippings out (I suspect it works fine with the bag on it for this reason), but when you make the clippings follow a sharp corner AND constrict the flow as it exits, you're asking for clogs.  Anyone who knows anything about flow dynamics would see that you either want the final exit to be the same size as where the grass exits the deck, or perhaps even flare slightly bigger.

3.  I'm not sure that having the bottom of the chute open is the best design.  Having the clippings experience the friction from the grass below may not help them clear the chute.  I get it, the idea is that by having it open they can fall down and out, but in practice that doesn't seem to work. Perhaps it was shaved to try to solve the constant dislodging problems others have mentioned when turning the mower...?

I wasn't even cutting that much off my grass...maybe 2-3 inches.  And while no, it wasn't bone dry, it wasn't soaked, either.  Just some late morning moisture.  Once I wedged the rear door open, I never had a clog.  I did have to walk along the right side of it so as not to get covered in clippings, but thankfully I bought the self-propelled model, so that wasn't an issue.  I will say that having only used my mower once, I did not have any issue with the chute falling off like others have said.  That was not my problem.   But literally, I had to clear that chute every row of my lawn (maybe 100 feet at the most).

I'm going to experiment with different chute designs to try to fix this one flaw.  I may try mulching instead, but once the chute clogged, I could hear the motor kick up to the highest speed to deal with the surplus clippings under the deck, so I'm not sure that would solve it.  I guess I can also try bagging, but I'd be happier if I can solve this chute-clogging issue.  If by chance I do, I will post pictures of the successful design.
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TedL

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Posted 1 year ago

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Jacob, Champion

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Yeah. I agree its a joke. But why would you side discharge anyways? It should be illegal cuz flying debris and its just not a good idea. Mulch your grass... problem solved.

Again yeah.. its a terrible design. Totally agree there.
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TedL

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The 21-inch self-propelled with the 7.5 AH battery
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(a)Typical Engineer

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If it's any consolation Ego was consistent in their (poor) design of the side discharge chute between the 20" (gen 1) and 21" (gen 2).  Hopefully the 20" brushless SIDE-DISCHARGE works better; at least it is a different design, and based on a proven design (pretty much every other gas mower out there today).
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TedL

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Given the price differential, there should be ZERO issues with the brushless model...
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(a)Typical Engineer

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Absolutely no guarantee of that! =)
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TheAtomTwister

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Side discharging leaves a much cleaner cut and it cleanly cuts tall grass.  I disagree about illegality of side discharging, that I believe is why regulations on blade tip speed that I heard from this forum about were passed.  Just don't side discharge on a lawn that is near an asphalt street or a lawn that has rocks in it (which I would outright refuse to mow)
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Blue Angel, Champion

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I can't disagree, Ted. Though I've never used the side discharge attachment with my 20" mower, complaints about the discharge chute clogging are not new. Not everyone has issues with it, but many people cutting damp or wet grass do.

Your description of the problem sounds reasonable.. The one thing I was thinking about as I read your post was the direction that clippings are traditionally discharged from a mower. Usually clippings are discharged to the right, so I can imagine many people being disappointed with a mower that discharged to the opposite side, which would require them to mow in the opposite direction if cutting outside-in on a large area.

Having said that I agree that having a chute that works properly would be more important than having a chute that discharges to the side you're used to. However, being a clean sheet design, if Ego were really serious about the side discharge performance they could have simply designed the mower to spin the opposite direction. :-)

To follow up on your comment, yes these mowers bag grass very well. I have a small yard and have been bagging for a while with no complaints.
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(a)Typical Engineer

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Agreed on the analysis; my conclusion was to mulch instead.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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For me mulching worked pretty good, however I typically cut less than 2 inches off the top of my grass. I try to cut a little more often than once a week maybe once every five days or so.

Northern lawn, cutting at height four or five on the 20 inch mower, equivalent to 3 1/2 inches.

As you probably already know, the more you cut at once the harder it is for the mower to mulch, so your mileage may vary. :-)
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TedL

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If I were home during the week, I would...
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Jacob, Champion

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Oh...... hm... sorry bud...
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Egocentric

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I have little experience with the mower but the side discharge was really lame.  I found the grass collected in the discharge chute, got to some critical size, and then blew out in a big clump.  Bagging and mulching worked very well.  I never mulched before and I was amazed.  Try it, you will like it.  I don't have enough experience to comment on how high the grass can be for mulching.    
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(a)Typical Engineer

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In this review, I bagged at height #3 (so as not to mulch weed heads), then mulched at height #1.  Probably removed 1-2" (definitely closer to 2" on the smaller side, 2nd set of pics):
https://community.egopowerplus.com/ego/topics/learning-to-l-e-a-r-n-or-teaching-an-old-dog-new-trick...
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Karen Crosby

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When is EGO going to get smart and hire some of these commenters that obviously could help them design the absolute best mower on the planet with their input? If all the mistakes in design were fixed it'd sell much more as we all would tell everyone about them.
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Egocentric

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Excellent point on satisfying some of the people all of the time.  I remember that quite well from work. We would lay out a facility in a certain fashion and half the techs thought it was wonderful and other half were traumatized.  Things as insignificant as screen color on control displays could create the biggest fuss.  If you changed it, then some one else would moan.   

It is easy and fun to engineer something when you don't have the responsibility for making it work well, efficient, safe, and still turn a profit.  

For the most part, I think Ego products have been well thought out and designed.  
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TedL

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There is a big difference between second-guessing decisions made in real time (in this case a football game) after that moment is passed and pointing out poor design decisions made on a product that somehow still made it to market.  Too many companies these days have adopted the approach first introduced by software companies - get the product 80% (or often less) complete and get it out there...then let your users be your beta testers.  The side discharge chute works poorly.  Any even half-rigorous product testing would have revealed the issues if simply looking at the design hadn't hinted at them.

You speak of having to run a company, making sure your products are safe and still turning a profit.  You're correct, when it comes to these concerns, I have no "skin in the game" as they say.  But that still doesn't excuse poor design and little-to-no actual product testing.  Maybe they figured few people will use that accessory (though they do offer one free so...???) and it wasn't worth spending any more time on.  The cost of a few more prototypes amortized over the number of mowers sold (especially with reviews from people, like me, who would love to praise EVERYTHING about this mower) would likely be pennies.

You are correct that you can't please all the people all the time, but what was the trade off they chose instead making the side discharge chute actually work?  What would they have had to give up?   More time before going to market?  A tenth of a percentage point on the bottom line?

Where your statement fails is the comparison of decisions made in real time during a game and decisions made in the product development life cycle.  Those two scenarios are not even remotely the same
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Ken, Champion

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Frankly, I think Ego shouldn't have even made side discharge an option on its composite-deck mowers. Virtually no one uses the feature. I see no benefit to blasting clippings out of the side into big piles when they can just be cut up and dropped in place.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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+1 Ken

I have a feeling the side discharge may have been added as an 11th hour decision in order to market the mowers as "3-in-1" instead of 2 like most of their competition. If that's the case the real question should be, "How many of the people complaining about the side discharge performance would have NOT bought the mower if that wasn't a feature?"

I'm not trying to downplay the issue, just trying to put it into perspective. If someone would have bought it anyway as a "2-in-1", well, I'm not sure why you're complaining. If someone says they needed a side discharge option and that's the main reason they bought the Ego over the 2-in-1 competition, well THEY have a pretty legit complaint.

Personally, I think if you offer a feature it should work well. If it compromises the product then it shouldn't be offered. In this case it seems as though these should have been sold as 2-in-1 mowers. Or, as I suggested before, the blade direction could have been reversed so the side discharge chute had a nice straight shot out the back, with no sharp turns to slow the grass clippings on their way out.

Or as someone else suggested, just discharge to the left instead... but then all those people used to discharging to the right would fuss over the change to their mowing technique. Did someone say you can't please everyone? :-)
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Egocentric

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Ted, you are absolutely right, if Ego is going to offer the chute it should work well.  I stand corrected and I also apologize for my commentary being not only wrong but insensitive to a valid issue that you brought up.   Please accept my apologies for my hasty and ill thought comments.   
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(a)Typical Engineer

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I chuckled when I saw that the status of this thread is "NOT A PROBLEM"... well, hopefully that was a mistake, and it really ought to be "IN PROGRESS".  The only mower that this is potentially not a problem for is the Gen 3 side discharge metal base; Gen 1 and Gen 2 absolutely are a problem.
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Datamaniac

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I've had the Ego 20" for a year now and I really do like the mower except for a couple of small adjustments that would move it from just ok to perfect. Number one you have to extend the handles full length which is far too long for a short woman to get any leverage behind it making it quite labor intensive to mow even a small 50 x 30 area. Second I absolutely agree the discharge is poorly designed. I also prop up the back with a bungie cord and let the grass shoot straight out or else it clogs up and requires very frequent stops to unplug. Let's face it, here in HOU you get a lot of rain anymore thanks to the spraying of the chem trails and the grass insists on growing tall even if it's damp. No choice but to mow on damp grass. Those two adjustments would make all the difference in a great product vs a good product. Still love it anyways tho it causes me a pain every weekend, I still don't have to worry about oil and gas etc and get my lawn done in less than an hour complete with weeding sweeping and blowing. Thanks Ego.
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Stu Shutts

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I tried putting it on with Liquid Nails, popped off on the 3rd turn.
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Portia Holliday

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I have ONLY used the side discharge. I see why it's not sent with the mower and you have to request it. I always have to stop and turn the mower completely up so that I can push the grass down. Gravity is my friend unlike the side shoot.
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Carl R. Moore, Jr.

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I have always side discharged because of higher thick Bermuda grass and my deck setting on low. I like to mow nearly to the dirt, so I generate piles of grass. You just can't harm or kill out healthy Bermuda. I wanted/needed the side discharge feature. Guess what? With my 21" SP, the mulching feature works excellent on dry grass and I am a mulcher man from now on. I do wish the deck cut a little lower but really, I'm 100% satisfied with my purchase's. I bought the 15" foldable string trimmer too. I am a newbie here, but I'm luvin my EGO products. Next purchase will be the max power hand held blower-(bare tool). Thanks EGO!
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szwoopp, Champion

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Carl - good to hear about your positive results with the mower.  Thanks for sharing.