California does it again. Whether it’s taking away freedom, costing constituents more money, or hurting small businesses, the golden state never fails to make life harder for the average citizen.

And in this case, it’s all of the above.

Earlier this year, a law banning the purchase of gas-powered yard equipment—i.e. lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers—went into effect. All new lawn-care purchases must be electric.

As with everything electrified these days, the motors are typically more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. The average electric self-propelled mower, for instance, can run a few hundred dollars more than the gas version.

The charge in an electric battery might last only one or two hours before needing a recharge, which could take at least two hours, depending on its size. Mowing a large yard would be exceptionally challenging.

The life span of such a battery might be four or five years, and a new one could cost up to $300 or more. Many homeowners will likely want a spare to ensure they have enough juice to complete their yard. So, claiming that electric tools save money because they don’t require the purchase of gasoline is disingenuous. 

Gas-powered equipment still by far outperforms battery-operated motors, giving the engines more torque and power to cut through thick grass and cover rougher terrain. The electric option is just not quite up to the task, and if pushed too hard, could burn out the motor quickly. Whereas gas motors can survive some tough debris like stones and rocks, such fragments could seriously damage the blades of an electric model.

The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) says that “most of the zero emission equipment is not yet ready to handle the workload of a full workday.” Since the battery life is quite short, each piece of equipment would require multiple batteries just to get through the workday. CLCA members also report a lack of extra batteries as well as sufficient resources to repair zero emission equipment. 

Imagine trying to run a small lawn care business. The transition alone from gas-powered tools to electric will be expensive. Clients’ properties vary greatly in size and scope, and battery-powered machines might not be sufficient to handle the workload. The lack of repair options could also take several pieces of equipment out of commission. Such limitations will decrease overall efficiency and productivity, and ultimately, a company’s bottom line.

Most businesses won’t be able to absorb the costs and will therefore pass them on to customers, cut staff hours, lay off employees, or do a combination of all three. Some small businesses will shut down entirely.

One such business owner had to scale back his crew, cutting it in half from four to two. “I had to try to make up the cost to be able to get the equipment.”

Hooking up more charging to California’s electric grid may also pose a problem. The state has previously requested its residents to refrain from charging during certain times due to potential rolling blackouts and electricity shortages. It is not ready to take on more demand.

What starts in California tends to infiltrate into other states, as if California is a bastion of great policy ideas. Several are already proposing their own bans. Washington state’s is so extreme that violators would face a hefty $10,000 fine and a year-long prison sentence.

But other states are pushing back by creating legislation that prohibits bans on gas-powered equipment. Texas, Florida, and Ohio lead that pack.

There is nothing wrong with having electric lawnmowers and weed whackers on store shelves. But consumers need to be able to decide for themselves which type of tools works best for their needs. Those who run a business should not be forced to use equipment that diminishes the quality of their work or their capacity to complete tasks. 

Once again elected officials are putting politics before consumers and pushing an agenda despite the costs and collateral damage. Bureaucrats are forcing a transition to goods that are not ready for widespread adoption. 

The market—not the government—should be dictating needs through the supply and demand of products and services. Consumer needs ought to come first.

Kristen Walker is a policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit or follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.