As debates rage over fossil fuel alternatives, ethanol-blended gas continues to take space in outdoor machine use such as chainsaws and lawn mowers. However, ethanol-based fuels pose a risk to your machines. From overheating to complete malfunctioning, there’s no better time to look at the benefits of ethanol-free gas for your lawn mower.
Ethanol-based fuels have plenty of downsides.
- They go bad fast
- They deteriorate lawn mower parts
- They offer less output per unit of measurement.
These downsides are solid ground to make a switch to ethanol-free gas for your lawn mower.
We explore the benefits and differences between ethanol-based fuels and ethanol-free alternatives and why making the switch is important.
What is ethanol free gas?
Ethanol-free gas is the gasoline that doesn’t have ethanol added to it. As a fossil fuel, it has slowly lost favor amongst policy makers. They are pushing for a switch to its alternative, ethanol-blended gas, for its reduced toxic emissions.
However, more recent research proves that large-scale production of ethanol-based gasoline from corn and soybean also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This has brought ethanol-free gas back to favor amongst many.
Also, ethanol-free gas also enhances the operational life of small engines used in small power tools like lawn mowers. Longer machine lifespan has increased the commercial and environmental appeal of ethanol-free gas.
Can I use ethanol gas in my lawn mower?
It’s safe to use ethanol gas that contains no more than 10% ethanol in small engines such as the four-stroke engines normally used in lawn mowers. Still, there are other upsides to using ethanol gas.
- Ethanol gas has less toxic omissions.
Ethanol-free fuel emits more toxic compounds into the environment compared to ethanol-blended gasoline.
- Using Ethanol gas lowers dependence on foreign oil.
Ethanol-blended fuel contains 10% ethanol. Your lawn mower uses less fuel, especially if you look at long-term usage. It reduces the country’s dependence on foreign fuel if a significant percentage of American engine owners use ethanol-infused gas.
- Ethanol-blended gas costs less than ethanol-free gas.
Ethanol-mixed gasoline costs 10-15 cents less per gallon compared to ethanol-free gas. Additionally, ethanol-blended gas is easier to find as most gas stations prefer to stock ethanol-blended gas over non-ethanol gasoline.
- Ethanol-blended gas is great for high-compression engines
Engine developers have favored a high-compression design that requires mixed fuels such as ethanol-blended gasoline. Ethanol gas has a higher octane rating than pure gasoline, thus can withstand high compression ratios without stressing the engine like pure gasoline would during pre-ignition.
Note: Avoid using ethanol gas containing more than 10% ethanol in small engines such as lawn mower engines. The high ethanol content in fuel increases the likelihood of such small engines overheating. It’s also responsible for the corrosion of parts.
Importance of Using Ethanol Free Gas
Ethanol-free gas in lawn mowers offers more mileage, enhances the lifespan of the engine, has a longer shelf life than ethanol-based gasoline, and reduces dependence on crops for ethanol production.
Even better, non-ethanol gasoline is better for small engines like those used in mowers compared to ethanol-based fuels as they reduce the likelihood of overheating. Below are more advantages of ethanol-free gas.
Ethanol-free gas is energy efficient
Non-ethanol gas offers better fuel efficiency as it has a higher energy content than ethanol gas. Energy-rich ethanol-free gas generates more power when combusted, allowing you to cover more lawn mileage on a single full tank than you would with ethanol-mixed gasoline.
Using ethanol-free fuel for your gas-powered lawn-mower reduces your energy usage by up to 3%. Still, the lower cost per gallon of ethanol-mixed gasoline gives it an edge over ethanol-free gas.
Ethanol-free gas increases the engine’s lifespan
Ethanol-mixed fuels were initially not part of the design considerations in older small engine models. Those smaller engines featured rubber and plastic parts that would break down upon long-term exposure to ethanol-blended gas, but stay functional when pure gasoline was used.
Ethanol-blended gasoline produced water as a by-product. The ethanol and water combination is terrible for lubrication and will wreck the lawn mower’s internal parts.
Has a Longer Shelf Life
The ethanol content in ethanol-blended gas is vulnerable to evaporation and decay by oxidation. Therefore, Ethanol-blended doesn’t last beyond three months. Comparatively, ethanol-free gas has a six-month shelf life under proper storage conditions.
Better Engine Performance
Pure gasoline only soaks up 300 ppm of water while ethanol-based gas with 10% ethanol absorbs 5000 ppm before the formation of free water. Hence, ethanol-free gas absorbs up to 50 times less water than E10 ethanol-blended gasoline. Ethanol-free gas is, therefore, less likely to cause engine damage or negatively affect the engine performance.
Note: Replace the gasoline before using the lawn mower if ethanol-blended gasoline has been in your mower’s fuel tank for more than three weeks.
Reduces dependence on Ethanol Crops
Ethanol is derived from crops like corn. The increasing popularity of ethanol-mixed fuels has led to a price hike of these crops. The pressure on the corn industry will reduce If more people use pure gasoline and there’ll be less independence on crop production for fuel.
Some lawn mower companies like Husqvarna warn their small engines can’t handle fuel with high ethanol content such as E15 gasoline. Their warranty doesn’t extend to engine damage caused by such fuels. You risk voiding your warranty by using ethanol-blended gas,
Side effects of ethanol in small engines
The side effects of ethanol in small engines include corrosion and breakdown of parts, reduced mileage, and eventually total engine failure.
- Ethanol corrodes small engine parts
Ethanol attracts water to form a corrosive mix that damages parts of the fuel system during phase separation. Ethanol gas also raises vapor pressure, potentially leading to carburetor vapor lock.
- Ethanol dissolves plastic and rubber
Ethanol will slowly break any rubber and plastic components inside the fuel system. It makes them brittle and potentially leads to startup problems later.
- Ethanol shortens fuel lifespan
Ethanol-blended gasoline decays faster due to the high oxygen content in the fuel. As the fuel decomposes, it forms a sludge buildup on the carburetor. Eventually, you experience startup failures when you power up the machine.
Note: An unpleasant, sour smell is a sign of ethanol-mix gas gone bad. Prevent ethanol-based fuel from going bad using an ethanol fuel stabilizer.
- Ethanol-laced gas gives you less mileage
Ethanol-infused gas gives you less mileage since the ethanol reduces the level of free energy. As a result, energy efficiency is negatively affected.
What does E0 and E10 gas mean?
E0 refers to ethanol-free gas, while E10 refers to fuel that has been blended with 10% ethanol, with the remaining 90% being gasoline. Another common label is E15, which denotes fuel that contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline.
Note: You’re better off using E0 and E10 fuels for the small engines used in lawn mowers. Avoid using E15 gas as it’ll likely trigger overheating of the engine.
E10 fuels are government-approved for use on small engines. However, we don’t recommend it. Avoid storing your lawn mower with E10 gas in the tank. You’ll be risking serious damage to your engine as the E10 will break down rubber fuel lines and gum up the carburetor.
Most of the gas sold in the USA is ethanol-blended gas (E10 and E15), as the government continues to support reduced dependence on foreign energy. However, you can still find E0 gas for your mower at a handful of gas stations and fuel supply stores. Online research can help you find ethanol-free gas suppliers in your area.
i. U.S. Energy Information Administration: How much ethanol is in gasoline, and how does it affect fuel economy?
ii. U.S Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center: Ethanol Vehicle Emissions