Commercial and Professional versus Consumer

The jump from homeowner to commercial grade equipment can seem daunting

  • Is it worth the significant increase in cost?
  • Should the average homeowner run commercial grade equipment?
  • When is it worth it?

In this article we will look into when it is a good idea to spend the extra money and purchase commercial equipment, as well as the factors to consider when choosing which dealer to go with.

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The biggest problem with homeowner equipment is the quality of the parts and the amount of abuse that they can take. A homeowner machine could last longer than ten years if it rarely gets used and if the use it does get isn’t heavy or hard on the machine. Then you have outlier machines, ones that last for years, taking any abuse you throw at them. Sometimes you get lucky, the push mowers that I used at a private golf course I worked for were very old, probably from the mid eighties and they were residential mowers. They took an insane amount of abuse, cutting fescue, running on severe slopes, the mowers tipping over and oil getting into the gas and even running over rocks. The thing is, these machines are outliers, your average homeowner machine lasts about two years from normal use, and if it gets abused this life cycle shrinks even more. This short life cycle is even more noticeable with trimmers, blowers, and other equipment with small two stroke engines. Some people have purchased a homeowner trimmer and had them blow up within an hour or two of use. This is why many homeowners now run commercial equipment, despite the increase in price.

Don’t let the word “Commercial” confuse you, commercial quality products are not going to be bulkier, and harder to work with, it’s actually the contrary. Commercial grade products are going to give you less headaches and you will be able to start the job quicker and finish it quicker as well. Commercial simply means professional equipment with dealership support in case anything goes wrong.

So when do you want to upgrade from homeowner equipment to commercial? When is the jump worth it?

To answer that question, you have to ask your self a few questions.

  1. Are you satisfied with the equipment you currently have?
  2. Do you spend a lot of time taking care of your lawn?

If you’ve experienced issues with your current equipment breaking, or not lasting as long as you would like, then you should upgrade to commercial quality. Yes, it will be more expensive but it will last longer and save you from buying new machines every season. A good commercial mower can last upwards of 7 years. That means for 7 years you will not have to buy a new machine, whereas with homeowner brands you might have to buy a new machine every year, which could add to over a thousand dollars in new machines over the time frame of 7 years, making the commercial grade equipment the better investment in the long run.

Another great advantage that commercial grade equipment has, is dealership support and the warranties. When you buy a machine from a reputable dealer, you can count on your machine being properly serviced and often times dealers will offer new customers free tune ups, depending on how expensive of a machine you got. This also means that if you have problems with your machine, or want to trade it in or if you bought it and realized it isn’t what you expected  you are not stuck with a lemon. Dealers are much more generous when it comes to returning faulty product, and if you have an old commercial machine you can always trade it in for a new one to help cut cost.
Contrast this, to big box stores where the policies are stricter, generally once you use it a few times you cannot refund it and if you do you will only get store credit. I believe this factor alone constitutes commercial grade over residential homeowner equipment.

A big plus with commercial equipment is the amount of time that can be cut taking care of your lawn, instead of spending three hours to mow your lawn, it could take two or less with a commercial mower. Making those painful tasks of mowing on a step incline, or slope much easier and providing a nicer cut at the same time. If you find you take more time than you would like maintaining your lawn, then commercial quality might be a good choice for you. You will not only save time but potentially money in the long term.

If you snoop around lawn care forums and ask the members what their worst purchase was, you would see many vouches for homeowner designed equipment, very few people are unsatisfied with commercial grade quality and the ones that are, simply trade in their current product for something better. That’s the great thing about buying commercial equipment, the re-sale value is high. You can buy a new trimmer for 700 dollars and sell it for 400 leaving only a 300 dollar deficit which is about the price of two homeowner trimmers, or one expensive homeowner trimmer.

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Don’t let the words “John Deere” , “Toro” , “Echo” stamped on equipment in Homedepot, or any other big box store fool you. It may say John Deere, but it is not. The components are not John Deere quality, the frames will be weaker, the engines cheaper often being MTD engines instead of a Kawasaki, Honda or one of the commercial grade engines you would find in a Deere and the parts are just not as tough as you would find on a commercial piece of equipment. Many people do not know this, they simply assume because it says John Deere on the mower, that it is going to be a quality machine and generally that is true, unless it came from a big box store and has MTD parts in it instead of the parts a true John Deere has. The hard part about this is some big box stores, or department stores will have say a John Deere with the true parts a John Deere has and it won’t have any MTD parts, but this is hard to tell and it’s much better to go to a dealer where you know you will be spending your hard earned cash on a quality product.

The biggest issue with commercial grade equipment is the price, you will pay about double for commercial compared to homeowner equipment, thankfully with commercial equipment you don’t have to buy new. You can buy a used machine for much less than new and still maintain that commercial quality power, cut and longevity depending how much abuse the machine already has. You can also still have the benefits of dealer support when you buy used too, the parts will be the same, and service will just be like you bought it new, except the warranty might be over. Lot’s of homeowners and new business owners choose to buy used commercial equipment, you lose some longevity but you make up for that in the savings, not only with money but time as well.

The biggest thing with commercial equipment is your dealer support, a good dealership is extremely valuable and before you chose which commercial product you want to buy, make sure the dealer is reputable and the mechanics are good, there will come a time where something will need to be replaced and you don’t want to be stuck with a bad dealership, who takes forever to fix your machine or gives you the run-around saying they cannot fix it and that you will have to buy new. A good dealership is worth more than its weight in gold.

If you took the time to read this article then you’ve probably already thought about upgrading to commercial quality equipment, if you value your time, and don’t mind spending more in the short-term then I would highly suggest you make the jump, it’s a little scary, dealers can be intimidating but if you do the proper research and only do business through a reputable dealer, then the jump will be painless. And soon, the struggles of a homeowner machine will be a thing of the past, and you too will be one those homeowners who swears by buying commercial equipment.