Grasshopper diesel mowers balance environmental concerns with power and economics
Oct 12, 2009
MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. – In the ongoing debate surrounding alternative fuels for power equipment, landscape professionals are feeling caught in the middle. Certainly, most fleet operators feel a responsibility to help reduce the carbon footprint left behind by their equipment, as well as to help lessen our nation’s dependence on fossil fuel energy sources. Yet they must also consider the customer expectations, time constraints and tough mowing conditions that make their choice of equipment key to survival in today’s competitive marketplace.
Forced by changing local regulations to consider the use of alternative fuels such as liquid propane (LP) or compressed natural gas (CNG), many professionals are quickly discovering that the use of such fuels requires a sacrifice in terms of power and productivity, as well as in the cost of and access to fuel.
It’s time to take another look at diesel.
Clean, powerful, economical and readily available, today’s diesel is on par with, or superior to, virtually any other commercially viable fuel on the market. And with more than 50% more power gallon-for-gallon than LP or CNG, a diesel mower can complete jobs up to 50% faster than like-powered LP or CNG models.
Not only is diesel fuel more efficient, it’s also less harmful to the environment than LP fuel. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, technological advances and stricter guidelines have made diesel one of the cleanest burning fuels available. Certification results from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) indicate that LP-fueled engines emit dramatically higher levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx, a source of greenhouse gas) and carbon monoxide (CO, an odorless and deadly gas), than comparable diesel engines.
While CNG may seem cleaner-burning initially, it also provides significantly less power than diesel, extending the amount of time it takes to complete tasks. When power output and fuel consumption are considered, the overall emissions of CNG are ultimate¬ly far higher than diesel in completing the same tasks.
The right balance in diesel design.
Efficient use of power is key to reducing consumption and emissions. Diesel delivers significantly more power using less fuel, allowing work to be performed efficiently with reduced consumption. Diesel engines also generate significantly more torque for a higher blade tip speed, even under the most demanding conditions. So operators can power through tough jobs at a faster pace, using less fuel.
“Diesel done right” provides exceptional advantages in fuel economy, performance and long service life. However, an expertly designed, emission-compliant diesel engine is only half the equation. Grasshopper incorporates an advanced SmartFrame™ design that channels power more efficiently to the cutting deck. The result is a smooth, quiet-running, nimble workhorse that is light on turf and heavy on torque.
The liquid-cooled, 3-cylinder MaxTorque™ engines used in Grasshopper models are compatible with B5 diesel, which means that up to 5% of the diesel fuel mix can be from non-petroleum, renewable resources. So not only does it use less fuel, but the fossil-fuel savings are increased by an additional 5% with B5 fuel blends.
Consider the costs: Comparing diesel to LP and CNG.
Successful contractors and fleet operators take into consideration long-term revenues and costs versus short-term “bargains” that result in higher operating costs and lower productivity. This is especially important when considering a change to LP- or CNG-fueled mowing equipment.
Besides the significant savings in fuel already mentioned, additional savings from faster job completion and additional billable hours can have an enormous impact on a contractor’s bottom line. Finishing jobs more rapidly — in some cases up to 50% faster — can add as much as 260 billable hours in a normal mowing season.
In addition, diesel mowers can deliver up to twice the service life of an air-cooled gas engine. And compared to LP or CNG, the differences can be even more significant. While diesel and gasoline are considered somewhat lubricating fuels, LP and CNG are drier fuels that can shorten the life of engine components. Current estimates for normal engine life using LP fuel are less than 1,000 hours.
Given the significant power, emissions and efficiency issues inherent in the use of LP or CNG engines, diesel-powered equipment has never made more sense.
About Grasshopper The Grasshopper Company is a privately held corporation dedicated solely to the design and production of commercial and large-acreage mowing and grounds maintenance equipment. Grasshopper introduced the first zero-turn radius mower with dual swing-out levers in 1969, and other industry firsts include the first diesel-powered zero-turn radius mower in 1983 and the first electric-actuated fold-up mower deck in 2004. Based in Moundridge, Kan., the company distributes its products worldwide and is committed to lean and clean manufacturing practices reducing impact to the environment.