This model follows on from Black & Decker's hugely popular CM1936 cordless model. In fact there's not actually that many differences between this model and that one. I've already reviewed the CM1936 and I'm a big fan of it. The only real thing that I thought could go against it is the fact that it's fairly heavy (72 lbs). The SPCM1936 addresses that as it is fitted with a self propel system.I was interested to see how the self propel system would impact upon the battery performance on this model. Let's find out what happened when I took this one for a spin. I know it's not a car- it just sounded cool!
Black & Decker SPCM1936 - Specifications
|Manufacturer||Black & Decker|
|Battery||36V Removable Battery|
|Deck Size||19 inches|
|Cutting Modes||3-in-1 - Rear Bagging, Mulching & Discharge|
|Cutting Heights||1.5 - 3.5 inches|
Black & Decker SPCM1936 – Key Features
- Assembly – I was happy to discover on unpacking that the mower is practically assembled already. The only thing I had to do was attach the handle bar using two screws and then charge up the battery. Attaching the handle bar only took me about 10 minutes and the battery charges up really fast – in about an hour so (it comes partially charged already).
- Size and Build – It’s a little bit smaller than the average gas mower but I didn’t really miss that 1 or 2 extra inches to be honest. Other than that the design is fairly compact which I liked. You do have to be prepared for the weight though. At 92 lbs it’s quite a lot heavier than a corded electric mower, and the addition of the self propel system adds an additional 20 lbs onto the weight of the standard model.
- 36 Volt Battery – The battery used on this mower is pretty heavy. It weighs something like 20 lbs which is a pretty significant weight to push and carry around. However it is easy to remove from the unit and charging it is really simple. On a side note I did find out that these batteries can be expensive to replace. They are $150 and you have to bear in mind that at some point you will need to replace it.
- Self Propel – This is the feature that characterises this particular model. The addition of a self propel system makes it easier to handle things like hills and sloped areas. The standard version of this mower weighs 72 lbs, which might be too heavy for some people, so this feature makes the model accessible to more people. The self-propelled system is controlled using the orange lever you’ll see on the handle bar. I found it really easy to use and it will propel you at whatever speed you want to go depending on how far down you hold the lever. Don’t have the lever pressed right down against the handle bar and then complain that it is too fast as this is the maximum speed setting. What I did was gently tapped on the lever to get it to the speed I was comfortable with. I found the mower slows down pretty fast when you take your hand off the lever as the weight of the mower slows it down naturally.
- Cutting Heights – The ability to change the cutting height in a second is priceless. If you’ve got different areas you need to cut and they have varying conditions then this comes in really handy. On some of the older models where you had to manually change the height of each wheel, I often didn’t bother and my grass suffered as a consequence. Your grass doesn’t have to suffer with this one as you’ve got a single lever that changes the height of all of the wheels. It cuts as low as 1.5 inches and as high as 3.5 inches. I think on the high side that’s fine but I would like to see it cutting a little bit lower than 1.5 inches.
- 3-in-1 Cutting System – For a mower of this price I did really expect to see this, but even so it’s still really nice to see it. You can change effortlessly from a mulching to bagging to rear discharge. I’m a huge mulching fan myself as I like anything that’s free and the mulch provides my grass with valuable nutrients without me having to pay. However there are times (especially if I get a bit lazy and let it overgrow a bit) when I do prefer bagging. So the fact that was able to change from mulching to bagging with the simple push of a button was a huge plus in my book.
- Handlebar – To me the handle bar was a nice height and it was comfortable whilst I was using it. Vibration was minimal (I didn’t notice it to be honest) and the handle folds over really well so you can store the mower upright – taking up minimal space wherever you choose to store it.
- Safety Key – If you’ve got young children or animals and safety is of particular concern to you then the safety key is a great feature. Unless this little key is slotted into the machine it’s simply won’t start-up. So if you remove this key after you’ve finished and only put it back in when you need to mow, then there’s no way any possible accidents can happen.
Black & Decker SPCM1936 – How Did It Perform?
- Cutting Ability – For the price I did expect a decent cut with this mower – boy did I get it! The first time I used it I had been away on vacation for a couple of weeks before so the grass had grown longer than usual. I set it to the highest cut setting and it just ploughed right through the grass. I think that the fact that the height settings do cut fairly high on this model is really beneficial when you have longer grass as you can just take it down gradually. I then lowered the setting an inch and a half and made a second pass over the lawn. Again I had no problems and the cut that was left behind was even and clean. In places my grass is a little thicker and whilst it did bog down slightly (but so what… I’ve had gas mowers that cut out in these areas), after pulling it back slightly and going over the same area again it did just fine. The design also lends itself well to cutting along my fence line. The wheels allowed me to get real close and the weight was actually beneficial in helping me keep it straight. I also got the chance to test it out in wet grass and it did just as good. As mentioned before I do like mulching and I tried it out in the mulching mode. It mulched right through my grass, producing very fine clippings that I had to really look closely at to see. On the whole it’s a great performer in terms of cut.
- Grass Collection – The Black & Decker SPCM1936 does a fine job bagging. The clippings were deposited without a problem into the bag and I found the bag very easy to remove and empty.
- Battery Performance –After the battery had been through its charging cycle a few times (these batteries don’t achieve their full capacity until they have been drained and charged up four or five times – so remember that!) I was getting anywhere from 50 to 60 min of run time if I didn’t use the self propel feature. This is actually pretty good in comparison to some other models out there. I don’t really have many areas that I absolutely need to use the self propel in but I did notice that when using the self propel feature the runtime drops to around the 45 minute mark. The only issue I found with the battery is that it is fairly heavy and I think that for some people it could be a problem. There is a solution however because you don’t have to do remove it to charge the battery. You can simply wheel the mower around to your charging point and plug the charger into the handle (where the safety key goes).
- Manoeuvrability – As the model has a self propulsion system you don’t actually have to put that much effort in. As I commented earlier the self propel system is easy-to-use and its variable speed so you can choose a pace that suits your walking pace (just please make sure you don’t hold the bail right to the handle if you don’t want to go at full speed). I don’t have a vast amount of uneven land to contend with but I can imagine this feature would make the mower a lot easier to handle in those situations. A few times I wanted to go backwards and the wheels seemed to lock after using the self propel system. At first this really confused me and it was a bit frustrating but I soon got the hang of it. What you have to do is disengage the self propel before trying to go backwards. This means you have to release the self propel a few inches before you intend to go backwards, as it takes a few inches for the self propel system to disengage. If you’re not that physically strong the standard model (CM1936) would probably be too heavy to push around your yard and this would be a much better option.
- Usability – The learning curve for this lawnmower is fairly short. There’s not a lot you really need to know. To get it started all you need to do is insert the safety key, push the big red button and then pull the dead man’s bar towards the handle. The mower stops in an instant if you release the dead man’s bar and I thought it was really safe to use in general. The cutting height is super easy to change and the amount of noise produced is really low. This is great as it allows you to mow at any time that you want without risking the wrath of your neighbours – in summer this is a huge plus! I also like the fact that you don’t have to worry about refuelling it or storing fuel as that can get messy and annoying. With this you just have to plug in the battery and leave it to do its thing. If you do happen to use it in wet conditions frequently do make sure you clean the underside as I found that grass clippings can build up there and this would gradually affect the performance if you don’t do anything about it.
Black & Decker SPCM1936 – Who Should Buy This Mower?
If you can cut your lawn in an hour or less then this mower comes highly recommended by me. It’s also great on uneven ground too, so if you do happen to have any hills or slopes to contend with then this mower should be a strong contender for you.
Black & Decker SPCM1936 – Who Shouldn’t Buy This Mower?
If your lawn would take longer than an hour to cut then I’d probably go for a different mower. This is because the batteries are fairly pricey (around $150) and the initial cost of the mower is already fairly substantial. That was a lot of information but I think we got everything covered. It’s really important to get a mower that is well suited to your needs.