We're at the Department of the Environment. We do more than facilitate the IPM program. We have a lot of other programming as well, including transportation, clean air, energy conservation and so forth and climate change. And this is kind of an issue that fit into all of the above, including IPM. And, you know, we've been ringing the bell for moving away from the more hazardous pesticides whenever we can, whenever there's a safer alternative that works over the years. And the City has been really, really successful at that. I heard some chuckling there, Paul.
I'm not going to ask. But we have been successful except maybe Paul and it just so happens that the issue of rechargeable landscaping equipment, has also come up in our trainings and in last year's Rec Park training, because of advances in technology, it's a lot easier and more effective and cheaper than it used to be. And so, it seemed like a good time to cover this topic at our TAC meeting. And I discovered that Dorothy had a program that there is a statewide program on this very topic that, has, Dorothy will tell you about it, but it has an equipment trailer. They have a pilot testing of equipment so that various public agencies, I think, in particular can have a chance to try out these things. And, we are in line to get that equipment trailer. We'll talk about that a little bit more afterwards.
But, I'm really happy that Dorothy agreed to come on down and share some of her experiences with this program at the California Air Resources Board. And you know, the goal--we all have the same goal here, which is to move away from fossil fuels, move away from carbon intensive technologies and in California we're really lucky that we have very clean electricity from hydro power and it is easier for us than many other states to do this. So, but here in this room we have a lot of other benefits to moving to electric equipment. So, I'm not going say anymore. I'll turn this over to you, Dorothy and thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. Anyway, I'm going to tell you about what we call small off-road engines at ARB. Small off-road engines are any spark ignited engines rated at 25 horsepower and below. It's mostly a lawn and garden equipment. It's most of the stuff you use except for some of your big ride on mowers might not be in our "SORE" category. But almost everything else you use is. There are a few things that are not lawn and garden equipment in the category of things like generator sometimes fall in there. Ah, yes, success. Excellent. Okay.
So, these are some of the SORE I told you about. We already did this. But the reason we care about SORE at ARB is that in the not too distant future what we call smog forming emissions or things that form ozone. So, these are reactive organic compounds and knocks from SORE are going to surpass those from light duty passenger cars and not too long. This is not because SORE is getting any worse. This is because we've really cleaned up cars and they are so much better. But if we don't start doing something about SORE, it's going to be our main source of air pollution in the not too distant future and so we'd like to change that.
SORE has two sources of emissions. One is the exhaust emissions. These are the ones you guys probably think about a lot. They're the ones that happen when you're actually running the equipment, they are what you're breathing. But even when you just take your equipment and throw it in the shed, at the end of the day, it's still emitting because that gas keeps evaporating from them and they're not very good closed systems. So, you get pretty high evaporative emissions. I don't have the exact numbers, but I think it's about 60/40 exhaust evaporative emissions from this equipment today. So, a big portion of these are coming from evaporative emissions.
And there are health risks associated with running these. And so, we did a study. It's been speculated for a long time that there were health risks, but we didn't have good numbers on what was actually coming off in the breathing zone of the operator. So we did a study, in sort of the middle of last year where we outfitted poor Matt here with a backpack that had a canister in it that would sample and he had a tube over his shoulder in his breathing zone and then he ran a bunch of different lawn and garden equipment to see what he was actually breathing while operating the equipment.
And so this is IR videos. So, this is in the infrared. And so, what you're looking at in this plume here is mostly CO2 and water. But it's a mix of whatever's coming out of there and you can see that it's coming out of the equipment. He's holding onto a string trimmer there and getting right into his face right into his breathing zone. And if we measure what's actually coming off, there are several, carcinogens actually coming off of this. A big one is benzene, which is here in blue and the other one is one-third butadiene. And these are both carcinogens and they are both considered to have no safe level of exposure. Any exposure you have is not good for you. The highest concentrations we saw coming off by far were from the chainsaw. We don't know for sure why that is. We have a couple of guesses. One is that you hold it pretty much in your face, which was not great and then you're not moving with it. And so, there's no way of diluting that plume. You're just holding it in a stationary position most of the time. But you're also getting increased exposures from other equipment as well.
And these concentrations can be translated into an increased cancer risk over a lifetime of use. So, these, increased cancer risks were calculated based on average use time in the State of California, which we have from survey data of landscapers and gardeners and how often they're using the different equipment. And so, we calculate those average use times out across a 25-year career for somebody. And we get these increased cancer risks. And so, what you can see is from the average chainsaw use, you get a really high increase cancer risk of 80 cancers per million workers exposed. You got much lower, but still, present increased cancer risks from other equipment. And the thing about these risks are, is they are additives. So, if you're using a chainsaw sometimes and a leaf blower sometimes and a string trimmer sometimes these risks can be additive. And so, it's not great for anybody and we'd like to really reduce these risks any way we can. And one really easy way to do that is by switching to what we call zero emission equipment or electric equipment. It's going to expose the actual operators to less pollutants as well as the surrounding area. It'll decrease cancer risk. It also lowers exposures to carbon monoxide and noise, which can have health effects.
And so we really want to get zero emission equipment into people's hands and a lot of people tried zero emission equipment maybe 10 or 15 years ago and got burned by it because it was kind of garbage then. What's available today is not garbage. There's some really good stuff available. There are, I think we're now up to 14 brands of what we call "Z" or zero emission equipment that are targeted at landscape professionals. They all come with a commercial warranty and they've all been in use by various commercial groups.
So, one thing we did was we arranged some demo projects, between manufacturers and the landscapers at Capitol Park in Sacramento. And so, they were loaned different brands of equipment over time and got to test them out and see what actually worked for them. They were really hesitant going in. They didn't think they would like electric equipment because they, like many had tried it 10 years ago and it wasn't good enough to do the job they needed. Trying it today they really, found stuff that they liked, and they've started purchasing equipment and using it. So, they've been using electrical equipment about half the time. Sacramento, like here, this time of year, it's hard to do anything because it rains all the time apparently. Or maybe just now. I've only been in California for a year or so. This has been my winter experience in California. Anyway, but they're using the electric equipment a lot of the time. They like it. It can do almost every job they need to do. They still have some ride on mowers that they haven't converted yet that they would like to.
and as a result of this and the fact that we can actually show that this electric equipment works, we've been changing the state policies for actual state maintenance for landscaping and gardening. And so, we have this State Administrative Manual, which governs how different things get done in the state. Because I'm sure you all know, we love bureaucracy. We write everything down and so we've been working with the Department of General Services and Gov ops who do most of the, sort of administering for that sort of stuff and we've changed the language in the administrative manual. It hasn't been finalized yet. It's still with the lawyers, but hopefully that will be finalized soon. And it's going to require them to require landscapers working for the State to use electric equipment first whenever possible. And if they need to use gas equipment for something, they're going to have to get special permission for that. It also puts prioritization for buying electric equipment. Another thing we have available is this website ARB.ca.gov/zee, where we have listings of all the "Z" that's available. We also have lists of things--like landscapers in the area who work exclusively with "Z." And so, this website is split. It's aimed both at residence and at actual professional landscapers. And so, if you go to like the equipment pages, we split out the commercial and residential equipment so that you can find what you actually are looking for and what's relevant for your job.
Another issue with "Z" is that it has a high upfront cost. But it needs to be considered an investment because it is much cheaper to run in the long run or even the medium run. So, here we have some ride on mower comparisons and you can see that the electric ride-on mower is $2,300 or 23,000, sorry, and about 10,000 for a regular gas-powered ride-on mower. These are similar or same cutting deck, similar other characteristics. But the annual operating cost of the electric mowers less than half that of the gas. And this is primarily because you don't have to buy gas. And also, because there was a lot less maintenance, you don't have to change spark plugs or filters and all this stuff. You have to do some of the same maintenance, like sharpen your blades, or change your blades or whatever else is the same on both of them. But it's a lot less maintenance. It's a lot less downtime and it's less than two and a half years to break even on this purchase. Yes.
Is it okay to ask questions?
Yes, of course. Please.
Is that assuming daily use, all-day use?
Yes, that's a great question. This was assuming six hours a day of use. And I will also say this guy comes with a battery bank in it that will run for eight hours at a time and then, so it's set up, so you run it all day and charge it overnight. And the batteries are really what's driving this price. If you only use your mower four hours a day, you can buy this with a smaller battery bank in it and it's a lot cheaper because the batteries are really what's expensive with this equipment.
Chris had asked specifically about string trimmers when we were emailing about me coming out here. And so, I included this as well. When you're talking about smaller handheld equipment, the break-even point is even faster. It's less than two years to break even on this. And again, the prices really being driven by the batteries. I included two batteries here, which would get you over four hours of use in a day if you didn't recharge during the day. But with two batteries you can swap out and charge. So, if you need higher use, you can get it.
And is that six hours a day also?
No. This is assumed at four hours a day. Yeah. Because that's how much you'll get out of the two batteries without recharging in a day.
Well, there isn't a string trimmer up here. I was hoping I could show you one. So, with the biggest of batteries in them, so like the huskies come with a couple of different battery sizes. With biggest battery, I would say it's comparable to slightly lighter. It can vary a lot by brand you pick out. Some of the brands run exclusively off of backpack batteries, which are heavy, but it's on your back so you're not carrying it in your arms. Overall the equipment itself without a battery in it is very light compared to the gas you put a battery in, it's going to be comparable to the gas for the small handheld stuff. Yes?
Most of the 14 brands you listed, are they all interchangeable with different machinery? The batteries outside of the ride-on mower?
Within any one brand? Yes. So, all of these Husky batteries are interchangeable. You can throw them in any of this equipment and they'll work with each other. But Husky batteries won't work with the Stihl equipment. They do that so you are stuck with brand loyalty once you're in it. Yes?
[Electrical vehicles] Production of the battery is very pollution intensive and it actually doesn't compensate for emissions [inaudible], or it takes like 30 years of actually driving the car to make up for it. How does this compare to here?
I don't know details. It's not going to be 30 years because these are little batteries compared to like what you in a car and they're all lithium ion batteries, which are actually, by leaps and bounds, the easiest batteries to recycle. How good we are at recycling them? Hmm? California is better than average, I would say. But they have been shown that they can be actually completely recycled all the metals in them that are actually what operate the battery can be recovered out of a lithium ion battery and reused. So that reduces the pollution from them a lot. I would say it's a thing that's going to get better as we ramp up battery production. But I don't know the details.
It's a great question. I know part of it also has to do with this sort of political or geopolitical element too, right? Yes. Most of it's concentrated in Argentina or the Atacama Desert or something where they get most of the lithium.
I don't actually know that. It's not. Yes. And a lot of the battery recycling happens in China and India and sometimes is not great. Yes?
Unfortunately right now there is nothing in LEAD about this kind of stuff. We're working on that. But it's not in there now. So, somebody works for University of San Francisco or something like that. There is some stuff, colleges are part of what's called the STARS program, the California colleges, where you get rated for various efficiencies and environmental impacts. And this stuff--we're working on putting that in there as well. But it's not there yet.
I'd be surprised if there wasn't an innovation credit or something like that you could get.
That, I don't know anything about.,
Those innovation credits are pretty wide open. It's not the greatest thing. You only get so many of them under LEAD. That's an option for any kind of new, it just has to pass. It has to be a convincing argument.
[inaudible] one or two point at the most and even if it's not the point itself, when you're trying to get other points and some of the other categories are letting them do this as well, so it would be like one point.
Are Your costs assumptions always--usually do you use two batteries per unit?
Per lightweight handheld, battery cost assumptions are much higher for blowers, which are very battery intensive and ride-on mowers obviously are different. For all the small handheld stuff; chainsaws, string trimmer, pole saw, all that sort of stuff, two batteries are fine for most.
We use like four or five batteries per unit per day for them to work.
Okay. Very good.
I mean two would last us just a couple of hours.
Yeah, it depends.
For like continuous, like all day cutting and stuff.
Yeah. There is also a learning curve with electric equipment on learning how to conserve the battery. A lot of people throw on the electric equipment and run it like they did the gas equipment like a blower and they just have it wide open all the time. Electrical equipment is nice because when you let go of the trigger, it's off and it stops using fuel. But it requires a little bit of a mindset switch, which sometimes needs, requires a little learning curve to figure out how to actually get the battery to last as long as possible. But it also depends on what sort of conditions you're working in. If you're cutting down waist high stuff with a string trimmer, you're going to blow through that a lot faster than if you're, you know, edging around a sidewalk kind of stuff. So, it depends a lot on what you're actually doing. Yes?
This is just more of a feedback. [inaudible]
Yeah, I don't know either. But I am in communication with a lot of these manufacturers and I can definitely share any feedback like that, that you guys have about suggestions for improvement. They, a lot of this stuff is still fairly new to the market and so they're looking for feedback from users who have been using it and have experiences like that and know what it will take to make it really sort of stand up to where they are. The other thing, sorry, with your cost comparison, if you're use time goes up. So, if you're using it all day, these were assumed to be partial days. If you're using it all day, it changes the cost comparison anyway because these numbers change. This number in particular will change a lot. So, even if you have to buy more batteries, if you're doing that and using it more, you're still going to break even and about the same amount of time.
I will say so there are no LEAD programs for this right now and actually this program, has expired, but your best bet is to call up your local AQMD and lobby them to get this program going again. They had an exchange program for electric lawn and garden equipment. They funded it with settlement funds that they had available, and they opened it to school districts and municipal agencies, and it was only open to two counties because it was funded with settlement funds that were only available for those counties. But they, they need to know that there is a desire for another program like this. What they offered were basically 50% discounts on the price of electric equipment. If you turned in an equivalent piece of gas powered equipment and they would scrap the gas and you would have the electric at about half the price, which makes those break even points pretty much the day you buy them and then you're just going to save money running that over time.
There are also some cities in California that are moving to "Z." Both Ojai and South Pasadena have moved to all electric landscape maintenance, for their municipal maintenance. They both worked with a group called AGZA or the American Green Zone Alliance on this who, provide consulting about equipment types and help do calculations of cost savings and stuff like that. But they are both very happy with their electric. They get a lot fewer complaints from residents when about operating equipment. They can start operating equipment earlier in the morning without annoying people who live nearby. There are a lot of advantages that they've found.
In Capitol Park they've also found the noise to be a really big advantage because there's a lot of outdoor stuff that happens in Capitol Park, which I imagine is true in a lot of the places you work as well. There are outdoor like tour groups and presentations and stuff and when you run the gas-powered equipment, everyone gets mad at you. But when you're on the electric equipment, nobody really notices. So, Chris mentioned we have this "Z" road show we call it, it's a trailer full of electric equipment. We have, I think, now six different brands of zero emission equipment in there. We have all the big ones, the Husky, the Stihl, Oregon Greenworks, Ecco and I think we have Makita now also. We're targeting primarily public agencies, whether they be colleges, school districts, municipal groups, and we leave equipment with them for a couple of weeks. So, we bring the trailer over and leave it with you for a few weeks. You can try all the equipment that's inside, figure out which brands and which equipment types actually work for you before you actually invest in the equipment.
And so overall, when you convert to "Z", you reduce the operator exposure to toxic air pollution. You get lower noise both for the operator and for people nearby and you are offered an overall cost savings. And if you guys have any further questions, feel free to get in touch with me. This is my email and phone number. We have this arb.ca.gov/z that I showed you earlier. And if you want to know more about SORE and lawn and garden equipment and what comes off of the gas-powered equipment, you can go to the ARB website, search small engines. I also have a couple of copies of some paperwork. There were more of you than I expected, so I don't have enough for everybody, but I have a flyer about the "Z" road show if you're interested in that. But if you're interested in that, you can also just get in touch with me. I have a flyer about the case study work that we did at Capitol Park and what we call our fact sheet, which shows some of the stuff about emissions from SORE. Yes?
All those flyers and everything, all the handouts are all online?
Yes, they are. If you go to the arb.ca.gov/z and scroll right down to the bottom, there are three boxes that actually are those three flyers. Yes?
Also are there any drawbacks, any downsides to this conversion that's being used in [inaudible?
Yeah, sure. So one is that straight up the investment in required in it is a big ask for a lot of people. A lot of colleges have been sort of the first to embrace it both because a lot of them have a lot of money and because they really like to be able to brag that they do things first. Um, but that's for something like that, right. I don't know you are talking about two and a half times the price of the gas mower. That's a big ask for a lot of organizations. And so that's one big drawback. There is, I've heard some feedback that the, particularly for the ride-on mower, it cuts the grass, they told me 80% as well. This was feedback from people who know more than I do about the sort of stuff. And so, you do have to slow down a little if you want as good a cut on the grass.
Though with the savings you get from the operating costs, you sort of make that up. Otherwise. . .
Is that a particular brand or is that across brands?
Well, there are only two brands of electric commercial ride-on mowers available now. Mean Green has been available for a while and that was the one, it was primarily about. Greenworks has released a couple of models, but like a few weeks to a month ago. And so, there was not really any feedback about those yet. For other stuff, it's really the learning curve of figuring out battery maintenance. If you work remotely it gets harder because you can't charge throughout the day. So if you, are an organization where you throw all your equipment in the truck and go out and drive to eight different spots throughout the day and there was no place to plug in at those places you go, that requires some big battery investment upfront. If you work out of a home base where you can go swap out batteries during the day, then you don't have to buy so many because you can have them charging continuously. So, it depends a little on how you work. Yes?
And you have to stay away from water?
That's true of some brands. Some brands are very highly waterproof rated, so the Oregon says you can take a pressure washer to it and you're going to be fine. This differs by brand, but it's true with some of the brands you need to be careful about rain, but some you don't.
Do you have that written down somewhere?
It's on all the manufacturer websites. Yeah. Yes?
So, that will also vary a little by brand, but they're all lithium ion, so none have the memory problems so you can plug them in whenever you want and that doesn't matter if you only train them halfway and plug them in, you're not doing anything to harm the battery. And that will also only count as half a charge. But for most of them I would say the average is 500 full charge cycles brings you down to about 80% battery capacity. The math gets a little complicated depending on how you use them. So, if you're using, if you're just charging a battery once a day in a year, you're not going to lose much capacity in a year. That means after two years they're going to lose about 80. You're going to have about 80% battery capacity.
But how long do they last? I mean if you are running it five hours a day.
Oh, that's going to depend on the equipment it's in. If it's in something like a weed whacker, you're going to get, depends a little on how you run it, but an hour and a half to two hours generally out of a battery. It also depends on what kind of battery you put in it because they come with different battery capacities.
If you are running a weed eater everyday, how long is that battery going to last?
About an hour and a half--during the day you mean or no, no, no--over the lifetime of the equipment? Oh. If you're using that battery once a day, I'd say three to four years. Yes?
So with a ride-on mower will you use more battery going uphill?
Correct. Yes. Though you will gain that back when you come back downhill again. So, yes?
We had batteries that were six years old and they seem to be fine. We don't constantly use them eight hours a day.
That's good to know. Because these have been out for barely more than that. So yeah. But you guys jumped in early. Yeah. So, it's a little hard to know how long things last. Because a lot of this is on the newer side. That's really good to know that you've had them pretty much since the beginning and they're still going. Any other questions? Yes?
[Inaudible . . . but the lawn mower is a Steiner, it has quite a large tank, and granted, the cap is not all that tight fitting. And then here other people in this room [inaudible] I was concerned about that, actually. So, I was surprised to hear that. I didn't know that.
Yeah. The evaporative emissions are high and I will say pouring it back, it's not clear how much you'll gain back by doing that both because you'll get high evaporation as well transferring, but also because the stuff that evaporates isn't the liquid fuel in the tank so much. It's what's coating everything inside. So, you'll--if it's being, if you're emptying it and then storing it for a long time, you'll gain something back by emptying it. But if you're doing this daily, overnight, you're probably not gaining as much back.
And I was just going to be say you should store all the stuff separate from the break room. My Dad had a couple of [inaudible] and said I got to get out of here. I can smell it. [inaudible]
Yes. Yeah. It's good to maintain some separation between the equipment and where you hang out.
Okay, I have a freaky question.
All right, I'm ready.
Has anyone tried the robotic mowers?
Yes, I can tell you all about robotic powers.
The union would hate me for asking.
Yeah, well they might hate you less after my answer though. Robotic mowers are available from a couple of brands now. Most of them will only cover up to about three quarters of an acre using as sort of designed by the manufacturer. So, Husqvarna and Stihl are the main manufacturers of sort of commercial grade robotic mowers right now. There is a company that is well established in Sweden, but it's working on coming to the U.S. that built a system for robotic mower. So, they retrofit the Husqvarna robotic mowers with a bigger battery so that they will run for 10 hours at a time.
And the way they have it set up is that you go out in the morning and lay out your array of robotic mowers wherever needs mowing that day and then you pick them up at the end of the day. This relieves some of the bigger problems we found. So, we demo-ed a couple of robotic mowers at different places around Sacramento, including Capitol Park and Sac State and UC Davis and they all have the same problem, which is overnight they get messed with by people. They all have alarms that'll go off, but they still get messed with by people and then they stop mowing overnight. Also, the ones that are not GPS enabled, tend to land in frat houses eventually. (Laughter)
This should not surprise anyone I guess, but also. But this sort of system where you just put them out during the day relieves a lot of this issue that came up. So, they are available. I would say sort of individual robotic mowers are probably not a replacement for anything. This new system might be the new system also does not require power where you deploy the mower--while individual mowers if you set them up sort of as directed by Husqvarna or Stihl, you have to have power where you actually set up the mower, which was hard to do in some places.
Versus the [inaudible section] the chainsaw seems to be the most stable products. . ., manufactures, et cetera. You want to see all that because you are, hopefully everyone has access to a power station. You're looking at this idea of perpetual power that it's faster to charge the battery than it is to drain it. You can be charging a battery while using a fresh one, it's got a full charge if the other one is dead. All these things you rely on access to power nearby which can become a problem for [inaudible]. But it really is I think something that, you know, it's not a replacement. Now, we wouldn't want our city government to say, you know, that you have to do this now. I don't think we're anywhere near that place, but as a condition. And I've found that some people are using the power equipment in a lot more than they didn't like using the gas. They didn't like the, you know, the difficulty of starting the equipment and now you know, and they're not even thinking necessarily about the benefit to the environment, but just for their own comfort and all those things and they're getting more done. So, like adding that electric tool now people are doing more work. It wasn't just a replacement for gas. Some people just don't like using the stuff and they will only use it when they have to. So, I'm hoping that Chris can arrange for one of the road shows and can really, you know, I think like you're using Milwaukee line? But the Milwaukee battery with that chainsaw won't come anywhere close to what that Husqvarna can do so you have to look at the whole picture. [Inaudible} That was great.
Yeah. And I want to say one thing about remote work also, which is that this is very new and only available in prototype, but there are organizations making landscaping trucks that are outfitted with a bed of batteries. So, what you would do is you come back to your home base at night and plug in the whole truck and it will recharge both to build the in batteries as well as all your equipment, batteries that are plugged in, and then you recharge off that battery bed all day. And so, you can recharge off the truck without recharging off of the truck engine all day. Yes?
Yeah. I mean that depends a little on how you work. Well, it depends entirely on how you work and whether or not you would come out financially ahead. Pollution-wise, your truck is probably cleaner than most of your handheld equipment, but it's still not the greatest way to charge equipment. So, that's my noncommittal answer.