Husqvarna's workhorse completes strong
We're dying to know what the best lawn mowers are, both gas and battery-powered models. Therefore, we introduce 24 different models to see how they perform in various categories. The Husqvarna LC221RH is a rear wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower powered by a Honda GCV 160 engine. It shows the kind of consistent performance we like to see, making for a solid residential option.
- excellent fuel efficiency
- Honda GCV160 engine is easy to start
- relatively quiet
- great value
- Height adjustment lever could be stronger
- Kind of flimsy drive controls (something we often see on home lawn mowers)
We use a variety of tests to reach our conclusions and welcome your comments. But feel free to check out the details for yourself in our best self-propelled lawn mowers article.
We found that the difference between no-load speed and maintenance speed on gas lawn mowers was virtually the same. It turns out that your weekly mowing won't cause any real stress on most quality gas lawn mowers.
In the case of the Husqvarna LC221RH, we noticed that it could produce 3021 RPM with a putter tip speed of 188.6 MPH. This is perfectly acceptable for a gas lawn mower, and you won't have any issues with weekly mowing.
Then we upped the ante and simulated a heavier load on our mower. The Husqvarna LC221RH managed to get down to 2949 RPM (184.1 MPH blade tip speed). Only dropped 4.5 MPH, second only to the Cub Cadet which dropped 4.0 MPH.
All this information is great, but it's still mostly information lab work. How do these numbers translate to actual performance?
We let our grass get too tall and thick for 5 weeks, putting some of the better mowers into deep water. We then guide them through it with a 2.5" cut height and a consistent 2.5 MPH speed. We measured how far each traveled before the blade stopped.
The Husqvarna LC221RH managed 28.5' before the pressure became such that the engine could no longer maintain its power. It's not bad at all, and it actually beats a commercial lawn mower. However, we can definitely tell the difference between the 160 cc engine and the Cub Cadet's 196 cc engine, which makes it closer to 55'.
It's no surprise that Husqvarna's Honda Power Lawn Mowers are capable of cutting almost any residential condition. It can easily handle a weekly pruning and is quite capable of handling several weeks of overgrowth.
We really like the power of gasoline, but one of the things that makes electric lawn mowers so appealing is that they don't require oil or fuel. It's what comes to mind when we have to stop for gas. So how long can you go without stopping?
In light cutting conditions, we found that the Husqvarna LC221RH could run for 93 minutes on a tank of fuel. Traveling at a constant 2.5 MPH, the 21-inch mulch cutting belt mows up to 35,689 square feet on a tank of fuel. In more understandable terms, that's 0.82 acres of grass — pretty much dead even with a Craftsman's M310.
These are ideal conditions, keep in mind that most of the losses 5%–10% are just overlapping our cutting lanes.
Of course, the cut area is part of the equation. We also want to know the actual efficiency of the engine. After all, the fuel is right in your wallet.
The Husqvarna LC221RH has one of the smallest tank sizes at 36 ounces. However, when we ran for this portion of the test with the same 4 ounces of Trufuel we put in each tank, the Husqvarna ran for 10.3 minutes. In terms of engine run time, this is actually the most fuel-efficient of all the gas lawn mowers we tested.
After teasing it out, we can see what this efficiency translates into in a more practical way. Calculated to mow efficiency of 2.91 acres per gallon. It's bested only by the Cub Cadet, which runs slightly less per gallon but has more area for its 23-inch blades.
If you want to go 2.5 MPH in a straight line, Husqvarna's Honda GCV160 engine makes a cool 13.73 MPG.
The Husqvarna LC221RH achieves a very reasonable 89 dB(A). It won't be quieter than any of the battery-powered models we tested, but it's still the quietest-running gas-powered lawn mower in the residential segment of our test. Only Honda's commercial models are quieter, but in a different class.
Given that our gas lawn mowers are considerably heavier than their battery-powered counterparts, we're pleased that all of the gas lawn mowers we tested included self-propelled units.
Some of the designs we've seen are better than others. While Husqvarna's drive control design is very effective, it feels a bit flimsy. Other mowers have this design as well, and in all of these cases we think they can handle the increased rigidity.
The LC221RH is rear-wheel drive and very efficient and powerful. You can control the walking speed by squeezing the drive handle to control the variable speed anywhere between 0-3 MPH.
The Husqvarna, like almost every other air mower we tested, uses a steel deck. We see this as a positive thing, as it's more durable than the poly or plastic decks we've seen on some electric lawn mowers.
Of course, the tradeoff here is that the steel will be much heavier, but since this mower propels itself, we don't care too much.
Height Adjustment and Range
Husqvarna uses a 4-point adjustment system for the LC221RH. This means that when you need to adjust the deck height, you have to go around each wheel to set the height. This is standard on gas lawn mowers, as the weight of the structure creates a weak point for the single point adjustment.
While the system works well, we noticed that the levers are slightly thinner than other mowers and not as strong as other mowers in its class.
It is available in 9 height levels ranging from 0.75" to 4.125". The range here is pretty good and should be able to handle just about any grass species you could possibly handle.
There are two handle positions available. Most lawn mowers come with three, so not much versatility.
This mower allows for mulching, bagging and side discharge of mower clippings. Everything you need for all three options is in the box.
- Integrated deck cleaning
- Automatic Choke System
- fuel shutoff valve
You can pick up a Husqvarna LC221RH for $409.95 from your local Husqvarna dealer. Amazon has them too, but the ones we're seeing so far are more expensive. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
That price, plus the warranty, features, and performance give the LC221RH the second-highest value score of any gas lawn mower we tested, behind only the Craftsman.
the bottom line
If you're in the market for a quality home lawn mower under $400, it's hard to say no to the Husqvarna LC221RH and its Honda engine. Cutting performance and fuel efficiency are excellent. As a bonus, it's really quiet for a petrol model.
There are a few minor weaknesses, but nothing that would make us give up on this model. This is a good choice for lawns up to 3/4 acre or one acre. If your lawn is much larger, just know that the 36 oz tank will force a pit stop for refueling.
- Motor: Honda GCV160
- Displacement: 9.8 cubic inches
- Fuel Tank Volume: .25 Gallons
- Engine Oil Type: Splash
- Engine Cooling: Air
- Drive mode: rear wheel
- Speed: 0-3 mph
- Cutting Width: 21″
- Adjustment: 4 points
- Cutting range: 1″ – 4″
- Wheel Size: 8″ (Front); 11″ (Rear)
- Deck Material: Steel
- Weight: 79.2 lbs
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $409.95 from your local Husqvarna dealer or online
For more information on Husqvarna LC221RH, visit Husqvarna.com.