Mains Electric Lawn Mowers and Cordless Battery Powered Mowers are usually started with a power button (after plugging in or putting a battery in) and a bail arm. Usually the button is pressed, then you pull in the bail arm and let the button go.
With Petrol Powered Lawnmowers, there are, generally, two main methods of starting. They are...
Recoil Start - by far the most common way of starting a lawn mower is with a recoil chord. The recoil is a length of strong chord that is wrapped around a spindle or reel attached to the top of the crankshaft. When it is pulled it spins the crankshaft and as the flywheel continues to spin, the engine is cranked into life.
This starting method is also occasionally known as a 'manual start', 'pull start' or sometimes a 'zip start'.
The recoil start traditionally took a lot of muscular effort, as you will know if you own an older model petrol lawn mower, but, in recent years, many manufacturers have worked hard to make the job easier and now they are not that difficult to work with. In addition, there are many trademarked starting systems with trade-names like ‘easy-start’, (Briggs & Stratton) 'quick-start’ 'smart-start' and so on.
The recoil chord was traditionally pulled straight from the engine housing in lawn mowers but is now often mounted at the handle, reducing a lot of the compression that was involved before, making the pull a lot easier as well as removing the need to bend.
It is also mounted on the handles as a safety feature so that you are further away from the blades when you start the mower and can operate the OPC (Operator Presence Control)* more easily.
Electric Start - pretty much as it sounds, an electric start, will replace the recoil for convenience and ease. The electric start is switch, button or sometimes key operated. Electric starts are ideal for those who find the recoil action difficult and they can save some time and effort.
All electric start mowers still include a recoil start in addition to use as a back up.
N.B. It might seem obvious but do make sure there is fuel in the tank and the mower is turned on. You'd be amazed how often this is the problem.
* Don't forget if you let the bail arm (OPC) go , the engine will stop. This is a safety function, so the machine cannot keep going if you have a problem and is deliberate, not a fault!
For more information about starting and a troubleshooting guide, see our Getting Going section