Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

SEP 2017

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Page 33 of 71

34 LC DBM Above In bare tool costs, electric models are about the same or less than gas units. And their energy sources are predicted to decrease in price thanks to the development of sodium ion batteries, which, when compared to lithium ion batteries, are cheaper to make but reported to have, at present, shortcomings that limit their effectiveness to uses where weight and energy density aren't as important. Left This Solar Assisted Mower (S.A.M.) option not only shades the operator, but ener- gy collected from its solar cells is immediately converted to power for use by the pure electric machine. landscape professionals, to do the work in an efficient and effective way without producing harmful carbon emissions," he says. "We are hearing from our clients, particularly from large property manage - ment firms, that it is important to them and their tenants to be environmentally friendly and to do their part to ensure a healthy future for our communities." Looking further down the line, Glueck offered sodium ion technology as having, "very high hopes for the industry." He explained that since lithium is a rare earth element, and a finite mineral, it impacts the cost-effectiveness of battery- operated OPE on a professional level. But with sodium in such abundance, lower battery costs lessens that impact. Glueck asserts that these materials hold on to energy very well, which should increase the capacities of batteries made from them. But currently, the tradeoff is that charge times are longer than, and discharge is not as quick as, lithium ion batteries. "Science is working on those two hur - dles, which are vast, but I see that as the next evolution of bringing battery costs down," he predicts. The process of charging batteries is another area of focus for improvement. Glueck points to EV charging stations, 4000 locations and growing, as an in - frastructure that offers potential for this – for instance replenishing batteries at a station during a lunch break. And increasing the speed to complete a charge will also be a big help. He expects that advancement to likewise come from the automotive industry and then be ad - opted by OPE manufacturers. At present, Tesla's rapid charger boasts a 45-minute charge cycle and there are companies claiming theirs can do it in 15 minutes. Something that Glueck has "been try - ing to push, is a way to charge on-the- go and limit the amount of batteries on the truck." However, a cost analysis he did on using deep-cycle, lead-acid batteries to charge equipment batteries in the field showed that it was almost as expensive as just buying more equipment batteries, which then leads back to the issue of bet - ter battery management and ease of use. Motors are getting smaller, as are the electronic circuit boards that control them, which will facilitate increasing per - formances out of smaller packages. Finally, when asked for a prediction of how long it might be before battery-pow - ered equipment will be the rule instead of the exception in the landscape indus - try, Glueck referenced a German law that mandates that combustion engines will no longer be available for sale in that country starting in 2030. In the end though, it might be the peo - ple that landscapers work for that affect a complete transition. John Chiarella, who as owner of Ultimate Services, a profes - sional grounds management company, has logged about 50 years in the industry (see page 26), admits that though battery- powered equipment isn't quite on par with gas-powered models yet, "Sooner or later customers are not going to want any noise or any pollutants and that probably will be the only way to go." LC DBM PHOTO: GREENWORKS PHOTO: MEAN GREEN MOWERS

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