ZTR time savings

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lsylvain, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 779

    I have asked this question before a long time ago, but we didn't really get anywhere. I was wondering if anyone has actually measured the time savings from a ZTR versus a Walk-Behind. Granted these are not real life figures and just my estimates of cost and time savings so I would like to hear from people who have justifiable information about time savings and extra costs associated with ztras, or maybe people who run ztrs can post some information about their mower size, cost of maintanance, ect. and some times and square footage of properties and people with w/b's can do the same.

    I am just not seeing the benifit other than being able to sit instead of stand. I mean they weight more, they cost more, they break more, they cost more to fix, they use more gas. I mean a ztr can run about 8.5 mph and a walk behind can get about 6 mpr so at max speeds a 52" ztr can mow 3.5 acres and hour where a 52" w/b can do about 2.6/hour so that sounds like a big difference. However when we reduce that down thats about 2700 square feet a min for the ztr and 2000'/min on the w/b. a 10,000 square foot lot would take 3.7 min ztr and 5 min with the w/b. so I saved 1.3 minutes? Add in the extra 15 seconds it takes to climb onto the ztr buckle up etc and get back out again when finished we are down to 1.05 minutes in savings. At $12.00/ hour labor cost thats only about 25 cents or so in labor savings on a 10,000 ft lot. If you had 200 of these accounts mowed 30 times a year you would save $1,500 a year in labor.

    A one acre lot would take 23 minutes with the W/B and 17 minutes with the ztr so that is a 6 minute savings, or $1.20 in labor. 100 accounts 30 times a year you save $3,600

    a 31 acre lot would take 12 hours with the W/B and 9 hours with the ztr so you save 3 hours and $36.00 in labor. So if you had 5 31 acre jobs mowed 30 times per year to savings on the year would be $5,400 in labor.

    The question comes down to how much time do you really save in real life and in real life how much more gas does the ztr eat and how much more oil, how much more for general maintanance, how long do the tires last, how much more gas do you burn in your truck because of the extra weight? How much "silly" time is wasted trying to get the ztr into someones back yard just so your employee doesn't have to use the w/b or push mower?

    Lets just take gas for example if the ztr has 23 hp and the w/b has 17 hp. lets just assume that gas useage is in proportion with hp (I'm sure it isn't) and lets just assume that you burn 10 gallons in a day with the w/b on the 31 acre jobs. That comes out to about $9.00 a day more in gas for the ztr thats a cost of $1,350 in gas for the year.

    I would really like to get some accurate data so we can look at this. Everyone is always yelling about expenses so lets see if we can figure out if we can save some money.

    REALSLOW LawnSite Senior Member
    from FLORIDA
    Messages: 668

    You have got to have the accounts to justify one. My modified Lesco WB will actually outcut my Super Z on small to medium lawns but on larger properties the Super destroys it bad. A Hustler Super will blow out so much grass you will not believe it. I have a Lesco 52 Hydro modified to pull a Velkie at 9 miles an hour and the Super will cut probably 2 times as much on big properties!
  3. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 739

    I have a backyard where my guy will take the deck off the machine and drive it thru then put the deck back on once inside the gate. We have cut it with a WB and even with the PITA hassle of removing the deck every 10 days and the 10-15 minutes it takes each time (entering and exiting) we still shave 45 minutes off the cutting time.

    The custy refuses to add a bigger gate and its only every 10 days and if I didnt get $165 per cut (no trimming) I would have dropped them long long long ago.
  4. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I have some lawns where the 44" wb finishes as fast or faster than the 48" ztr. Usually it's small lawns where I'm turning a lot. You have to slow so much with the Z that you lose time there, especially on thin turf where damage is possible. But on other lawns the ZTR blows it away.

    You also have to factor in the ability to mow backwards when needed, the quickness of reversing in and out of spots, etc. most ZTR's also have quick height adjustments that allow you to change height "on the fly". It comes in handy here with varying mowing heights, and also allows me to fine tune cuts over crests and other areas where you need to raise the deck slightly to avoid scalping. Most if not all wb's can't do that.

    But most of all, you have to remember that standing on a sulky or walking is a lot harder on the body than sitting. And in my case at least, I have more time than energy anyway.

    I also find that I don't mind making a high speed 2nd pass over a lawn to disperse clumps on the ZTR, but it would be more of a drag doing that wiht the wb.

    If mowing part time, a wb would be fine. Full time, you probably need both types or will have to turn away some types of lawns.

    Also, it's hard to time mowing exactly since conditions can vary week to week. But say you're doing a typical 1/4 acre subdivision home. You might only be mowing for 15-20 min. Say one type does the job 10% faster. You saved 2 minutes. Time is money, but other factors begin to matter more, such as cut quality, turf damage, fatigue, etc. Of course it matters more on bigger props and when doing high volume stuff.
  5. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I am a small operator with a 36" Exmark Viking, w/b, with BullRider sulky. In may I bought a John Deere 717A, 48" ZTR.

    The production difference is not as I had hoped. The difference depends highly on the property. Some are about the same, some are faster, others are slower. Where the property is good terrain (e.g. without any difficult slopes), and there are no difficult places to mow (e.g. narrow necks, pennisulas), the ZTR is about 25% faster. But, out of 40 accounts, I only have 2 or 3 of those. The ones that are slower require using the hand mower to mow places the ZTR will not go, but the w/b will go. If I have the ZTR to mow the more wide open areas of a property, but also have some terrain that it will not mow, requiring use of the hand mower, then any advantage of the ZTR is lost. The moment the hand mower comes off the trailer to finish the missed areas, the advantage of the ZTR is gone, even though it is 12" wider than the w/b.

    Mowing speed is a bit faster on the ZTR for a few properties, but about the same for other properties that are rough.

    Also, another important consideration is obstacle patterns. The w/b is quicker to navigate around trees, playsets, drain grates, ect. The ZTR seems like a tank after using the w/b, and the 717A is a small ZTR.

    I only use my ZTR about half the time. The w/b is used the other half. For me, the ZTR is OK, but clearly not the panacea that is so often portrayed here on LS. Yes, the ZTR is easier on my body in most places (harder on my body on rough ground), but the time savings isn't much. I was hoping to add more customers after getting the ZTR, but that was not the case. I still have the same customer base as with the smaller deck w/b mower.

    Having said that, the John Deere does a much better job of mowing than the Exmark. So, aside from the productivity side, the ZTR is used as often as possible because the mowing results are much better.
  6. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 779

    This is what I kept running into when I was looking at getting a ztr before. I would say on about 90% of my jobs I would still either have to pull the w/b off the trailer to do at least some portion of the property or use the w/b all together. From what I am gathering unless most of your jobs are "perfect" for the ztr you are just going through a lot of extra steps and money just to be able to sit down instead of stand. I would really love it though if we could get some more time and cost data from people.
  7. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    you live in fl and question the benefit of sitting? you are tougher than me, that's for sure. why not consider a 34 or 36" z?
  8. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 779

    lol, I don't operate in FL. I break a sweat walking from my office to my truck which is about 10 feet from the door. I'm on a long break from the industry, we came down here so my wife could be close to her family for awhile and she had a good job offer, we are heading back up to WV as soon as our house sells. I never have had the guts to even try to start mowing down here with the heat. I still have a whole crew's worth of equiptment sitting in the garage.
  9. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    I don't know, I demoed an Exmark 66" Triton with a 27hp Kholer and it seem to blow my w/b's time away! One property that usually takes me 15-20 minutes to mow with a 48" w/b took me less than half that time with that ZTR. My trimmer guy was still in the front when I was done mowing, and usually he's almost done with the back side when I'm finished mowing with the w/b. There is more than just the speed factor at least for me. One is bagging capacity- any w/b will only bag what? 3.5 cubic ft. where as a ZTR even with a dual bagger is double if not triple that number. So to me right there I'm gonna save probably at least 7-10 minutes on an average lawn with walking back and forth emptying the bagger. Thats huge for me time wise because I am p/t with around 50+ weekly accounts to mow and this time of year daylight is becoming scarce after 3pm. But like you, I am having a hard time justifying 10k instead of 5k for a 52" w/b. I am leaning towards a 50" Exmark with a 27hp Kholer and bagger with a stripe kit though.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    From what I've heard and experienced, the Z starts to outrun the Wb on lots an acre or bigger in size, most anything smaller than an acre the Wb is the ticket due to its maneuverability and agility. But yes, once you get towards the acre lot, the Wb starts to drag hard, I know this for a fact, I got several acre+ lots and trying to get more so I can get a Z lol.

    But it is true, the Z is not the best mower out there just because it's a Z, it is a luxury I myself find hard to justify even in my 5th year, I know other Lco's who went 8+ years before ever owning one, it stuns and amazes me how 1st-year Lco's can just splurge off that much cash right off the bat, the Wb is still the best all-around investment IMO while the Z is for those of us who made it that far lol.

    As for deck width, the smallest deck Z I would consider would be wider than my Wb which is a 48"... So really, at least a 60" deck... I mean, I'm not buying the Z to sit on my tail, I'm buying it to get some GRASS cut, grass which I could never cut in such short a time with the 48" fixed deck. But no way would I ever consider a deck smaller than 4 feet wide, it's just not worth it to putt putt around with those small decks, IDK how they do it with those 30-36" mowers, why even bother?

    p.s.: You can't cut every yard with the Z, even the wider deck Wb's cut me out of some but the Z is even worse in this regard, so again it is a luxury and an investment that I can only justify as such.

Share This Page