Riding Lawn Mower Batteries: Types, Specifications & Maintenance

by Anna

Riding lawn mowers have become an indispensable tool for maintaining larger lawns efficiently. Central to the operation of these mowers is the battery, which powers the engine’s starting system and, in some models, supports auxiliary functions such as lighting and electronic displays. The type of battery used in a riding lawn mower significantly impacts its performance, longevity, and maintenance requirements. This article delves into the various types of batteries used in riding lawn mowers, their specifications, and best practices for maintenance.


Types of Batteries Used in Riding Lawn Mowers

Riding lawn mowers predominantly use one of three types of batteries: lead-acid batteries, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. Each type has its own advantages and drawbacks, catering to different needs and preferences.


1. Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most traditional and commonly used type in riding lawn mowers. They come in two main forms: flooded lead-acid and sealed lead-acid (SLA).

Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries: These are the conventional type of lead-acid batteries, containing a liquid electrolyte that must be maintained. They are known for their reliability and ability to deliver high cranking power, which is crucial for starting the mower’s engine. However, they require regular maintenance, including checking the electrolyte levels and adding distilled water as needed.

Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries (SLA): SLA batteries, also known as valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries, are maintenance-free. They are sealed and do not require the user to monitor electrolyte levels. They are spill-proof and can be mounted in any position, offering greater flexibility and safety. However, SLA batteries generally have a shorter lifespan compared to their flooded counterparts.

2. Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries

AGM batteries are a subtype of lead-acid batteries that use a specialized glass mat to absorb the electrolyte, making them more durable and efficient than traditional lead-acid batteries. AGM batteries offer several benefits:

Maintenance-Free: Like SLA batteries, AGM batteries do not require regular maintenance.

Longer Lifespan: They tend to last longer than standard lead-acid batteries, providing better value over time.

Higher Performance: AGM batteries can handle more charge-discharge cycles, making them suitable for frequent use.

Spill-Proof: They are also spill-proof and can be installed in various orientations.
Due to these advantages, AGM batteries are becoming increasingly popular for riding lawn mowers, particularly in commercial and heavy-duty applications.

3. Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a more recent addition to the riding lawn mower market. Known for their high energy density and efficiency, these batteries offer several significant advantages:

Lightweight: Lithium-ion batteries are much lighter than lead-acid and AGM batteries, reducing the overall weight of the mower and improving maneuverability.

Longer Lifespan: They have a significantly longer lifespan, often lasting several times longer than lead-acid batteries.

Fast Charging: Lithium-ion batteries charge more quickly, reducing downtime between mowing sessions.

Low Maintenance: They do not require regular maintenance and are less prone to issues such as sulfation.
However, lithium-ion batteries are more expensive upfront, which can be a barrier for some consumers. Despite the higher initial cost, their longevity and performance can justify the investment for many users.

Battery Specifications for Riding Lawn Mowers

When selecting a battery for a riding lawn mower, it is crucial to consider the following specifications:


Most riding lawn mowers use 12-volt batteries, which provide sufficient power to start the engine and run the mower’s electrical systems. Some larger commercial mowers may use 24-volt systems, but these are less common.

Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)

CCA is a measure of a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. It indicates how many amps the battery can deliver at 0°F (-18°C) for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts. A higher CCA rating is essential for reliable starting, especially in colder climates.

Amp-Hour (Ah) Rating

The amp-hour rating indicates the battery’s capacity – the amount of charge it can deliver over time. A higher Ah rating means the battery can provide power for a longer period before needing a recharge. For riding lawn mowers, Ah ratings typically range from 20 to 35 Ah.

Reserve Capacity (RC)

Reserve capacity measures the number of minutes a fully charged battery can deliver 25 amps at 80°F (27°C) before the voltage drops below 10.5 volts. This metric is important for understanding how long the battery can support the mower’s electrical needs if the charging system fails.

Maintenance and Care for Riding Lawn Mower Batteries

Proper maintenance can significantly extend the life of a riding lawn mower battery, regardless of the type. Here are some best practices for battery care:

Regular Cleaning

Keep the battery terminals clean and free of corrosion. Corrosion can impede the flow of electricity and reduce the battery’s efficiency. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the terminals, and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion.


Ensure the battery is regularly charged, especially during periods of inactivity. A battery left discharged for an extended period can suffer from sulfation, a condition where lead sulfate crystals form on the battery’s plates, reducing its capacity and lifespan. Use a smart charger that can maintain the battery at optimal charge levels without overcharging.


If the mower will be stored for an extended period, such as during the winter months, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Charge the battery fully before storage and check its charge periodically, recharging as needed.


Regularly inspect the battery for signs of wear or damage. Look for cracks, leaks, or bulges in the battery casing, and replace the battery if any of these issues are present. For flooded lead-acid batteries, check the electrolyte levels and top up with distilled water if necessary.

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Choosing the right battery for a riding lawn mower involves understanding the different types available, their specifications, and the maintenance they require. Lead-acid batteries, including flooded and SLA types, have been the traditional choice, offering reliability and high starting power. AGM batteries provide a maintenance-free option with improved performance and longevity. Lithium-ion batteries, though more expensive, offer the best performance and lifespan, making them a worthy investment for many users.

Proper maintenance, including regular cleaning, charging, and storage, is essential to maximize the battery’s lifespan and ensure reliable mower operation. By selecting the appropriate battery type and following best practices for care, users can enjoy efficient and hassle-free lawn maintenance with their riding lawn mowers.


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