Poulan Pro PR500N21SH review: is it efficient?
The Poulan Pro PR500N21SH does a really great job of maintaining the lawn with its 2-in-1 disposal feature, and is easy to push what with its lightweight design. However, it struggles a bit on dense terrain.
- efficient mulching blade
- relatively quiet engine
- fuel-efficient, easy to start and operate
- unit comes with oil
- lightweight, cost-effective
- capable of mowing on inclines and slopes
- no rear bagging option
- not self-propelling
- only one speed
Poulan Pro has over 70 years of experience to back up their expertise in the industry of power tools. Their brand is known for high performing and enduring products that are innovative yet reasonably priced. They target the mid-level market but are also inclined towards the upmarket with some of their high-end products. Their outdoor power equipment such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and chainsaws provide customers with affordable yet quality tools for yard care.
The reception has been mostly positive for Poulan Pro PR500N21SH, and here is a comprehensive review of the machine’s performance, which you may use as a guide to buying this product.
Performance and Cut Quality
The PR500N21SH is powered by an impressive 500E 140cc Briggs & Stratton engine that is known for being reliable and tough. This translates to heavy-duty performance, albeit its lightweight and basic design. Its work on flat terrain is masterful, and its 11-inch rear wheels enable it to be pushed well on inclines. I am one to be particular about how much effort I use to push a mower, and I can say that for someone lithe, this should not be a problem. This is not self-propelled but there’s no need to worry because its weight is just right for pushing.
This walk-behind mower has four height adjustments, and this enables the product to cut through tough weeds and dense grassy plains. This 5-position height adjuster prevents the machine from scalping the lawn, and it’s really useful for when there are thick, stubborn spots of weed on your yard. This machine can both mulch and side discharge, and though there is no bagging option, I am quite satisfied with how it finely minces the grass clippings with its blade.
What I really like about this machine is that it can cut through wild grass and even small twigs, and treats these without a difference. I like to call this mower semi heavy-duty even if its exterior says otherwise. Don’t be fooled by how light it looks, because it can do a great job once you get the right height adjustment and disposal technology that is right for your yard.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ease of Use
Since this is a gas mower, one main concern to address is its startup. Some machines take so many pulls before it starts. In the case of Poulan Pro, it would always start at the second pull every time, and that’s a definite plus for me. It doesn’t even matter if it comes out of storage for a long period of time. I’ve never had to pull more than twice before the engine spurs to life.
Pushing it is also easy, as I have mentioned. It’s fairly effortless to mow uphill because of its big rear wheels that provide excellent control over any terrain. If there is any downside to this, it’s that the handlebar is quite flimsy for its built. I can’t vouch for its lifespan, but if you are going to use this on a smooth lawn, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
Adjusting the height of the mower might be a bit ambiguous at first since I didn’t know that all the wheels have to be individually adjusted to get an even height. The advantage is that it helps to move quite well on contoured terrain, and combined with the rear wheels, gives nice traction to uphill mowing.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Poulan Pro PR500N21SH has the basic features of a gas mower. Along with its powerful Briggs & Stratton engine, the mower also has a 21-inch deck and is capable of dual disposal options: side discharge and mulching. Yes, there is no bagging option, but for someone like me who uses mulching as a favourite go-to, then having a grass bag chute isn’t a necessary addition.
Looks can be deceiving, and this is true for this product. The rear wheels, cutting deck and the light engine all work harmoniously to give a good mowing over of the lawn. It looks compact and unimpressive, but more than makes up for that with its efficiency.
There are safety features on this product, such as its CARB compliance and a shutoff bar that can be lifted upwards. This is a nice and useful feature for older users. It is also good to note that the B&S engine that I expected to be loud was surprisingly less quiet than normal.
This machine does not have a lot of features unlike its other counterparts, but it still has all the primary characteristics of a reliable lawnmower.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Design-wise, there is nothing extraordinary about the Poulan Pro PR500N21SH. There aren’t any special parts or trademarked technology that comes along with it, but it does pack a punch for its looks. Weighed at only 61 pounds and dimensions of 40.2 x 25.2 x 20.8 inches, this mower did not stand out the first time I took it out the box.
It wasn’t complicated to assemble the unit. The box has instructions to open the end flatly, and then I was able to roll out the mower, no problem. The handle just needed unfolding and tightening. The package comes with a bottle of oil that I poured fully into the chamber; gave it some gas before starting it up. The oil tank is actually placed in a funky position, so you might have to use a flexible funnel to reach it and place the oil accurately. Within 10 minutes I was able to test it on my lawn.
I have mentioned the handle above because it’s well below my expectations for a solid handle that I would have to push around. It felt light on my hand and I am not sure if it would last as long as the machine itself. Maybe it’s also because the handle is not insulated by foam, which is something that I’m used to having in the other mowers I have handled.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Poulan Pro PR500N21SH is valued at around $150, and this is one of the affordable mowers in the market. At this price, you would expect to have only 2-4 height adjustment settings, but this product has five, which adds to its value for money. The brand offers quality products targeted to the mid-range consumer, and this is why their products are well-loved by the masses.
This product is fuel-efficient, but also take note that it works best on small to medium-sized yards. You’d have to opt for bigger and heavy-duty mowers if you are looking to mow an acre on the lawn. Otherwise, this mower should be a good investment that will last for a long time.
Competing brands with similar features and a B&S engine would typically cost more than the Poulan Pro. Therefore, this model is cost-effective and I am satisfied with how inexpensive yet utterly efficient it is.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Grass Collection and Discharge
I have mentioned that the Poulan Pro PR500N21SH has no bagging option, and if you love this disposal method, then this mower is probably not for you. What it has is a 2-in-1 discharging capability, both mulching, and side discharge. Upon arrival, the mulching cover is already attached, making it mulch-ready as soon as you receive this product. To switch to the side discharge, I only needed to manipulate the deflector attachment included in the box. This is very easy to take off or on, so switching disposal options isn’t a hassle.
What I noticed about this product is that it slows down a little when used to mow tall weeds or grasses. However, I didn’t notice any stalling or stopping while powering through a dense lawn. I’ve taken it out on a wet lawn and I’m not surprised to find out that it doesn’t fair nicely on these conditions because the grass clippings were left out in large clumps.
Rating: 3 out of 5
The product is not too heavy that you need to put so much force in pushing it. Actually, it’s on the lighter side and isn’t that bulky, so there is no trouble moving through my lawn. There is no self-propel feature, so you really have to walk behind it and manually push, but even then, I don’t think it’s a huge issue at all.
The big rear wheels that are fully adjustable makes for easier walks and turns along a path. It can be adjusted to match the height of the grass, or to cope up with contours of the lawn. The front wheels are smaller and seem to take the beating, but overall the size and placement of the wheels make the machine decently manoeuvrable. To be on the safe side, set it higher before starting to ensure that the mower hits grass instead of dirt.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
As with any gas mower, you need to put the machine up for maintenance regularly. This includes changing the gasoline and winterizing for when you want to store it during the chilly winter months. The oil and gas need to be drained out prior to storing it for a long period of time. To do this, just start the mower and keep it on until fuel and carburettor lines are hollow.
The spark plug also needs to be replaced regularly, so keep in mind to check if it still works properly before using. To replace, just simply remove the old spark plug and then pour 1 oz. of oil through the cylinder hole and distribute it by carefully tilting the machine. Place the new spark plug after you do this.
Another maintenance-must is to keep the parts clean at all times. The blades may accumulate grass and debris that affects the performance of the mower. Refrain from spraying water through a hose because this might damage important fixtures such as the muffler, air filter, carburettor, and other conductive parts.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
What’s in the box?
The Poulan Pro PR500N21SH package comes with a single unit of the mower with a preassembled engine. The handle is folded into its storing position and thus needs to be unfolded and set into the mowing position if using for the first time. The instruction manual included in the box has the specific instructions to do so, but it shouldn’t be much of a hassle and is a pretty straightforward process.
The unit is complete with all the necessary working parts to start mowing, which includes the adjustable handles, the adjustable wheels, Briggs & Stratton engine and carburettor, oil tank and gas chamber, air filter, muffler, spark plug, rear deflector, and steel cutting blade.
The manufacturers have also included a bottle of oil (around 29ml) that you can pour in before starting the machine. All in all, it should be easy to set up and as soon as you take it out of the box.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How heavy is the mower?
A: The PR500N21SH is weighed at 61 pounds. It is considerably lightweight and compact, given that it has a powerful 500E 140cc Briggs & Stratton engine. Compared to other competing brands with the same features and engine, this is considerably light and easy to manoeuvre.
Q: Is this mower made in the USA?
A: Walk behind mowers of the Poulan Pro brand are made in McRae in Georgia.
Q: Does this mower come with the Briggs 500EX or 500E engine?
A: This model is equipped with the B&S engine labelled 500E, and this is because the 2-in-1 units have the 500E while the 3-in-1 units have the 500EX.
Q: Does this engine have a governor on it?
A: Yes, since this is a single-speed product.