Horsepower question

Ready to take the plunge and buy my first lawn tractor, adn I think we have decided on the White Outdoor brand.
My question though, is what exactly is the practical difference between two models where the only discernable benefit is an added 1.0 HP?
For instance, I can get the 42" cut, 17.5 HP White Outdoor for $999. The 42", 18.5 HP model retails for $1,199. This seems to apply to most other models I have looked into as well. (Poulan, Craftsman, etc.)
With all other things being equal, which they appear to be from the specs I have seen, is the 1.0 HP bump really worth an extra $200?
FYI: My lot is a pretty regularly shaped 1.1 acre lot with a dozen or so trees to be manueverd around...
thanks in advance
mike
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Often times there are other differences such as a 'pressure lube' system or brand "B" motor. I'd dig through the details to see.

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is the cost difference also over different brand of engine? the tecumseh engines dont hold up , briggs is a little better, kohler,kawasaki and honda have the best engines. as far as hydro vs gear transmission, the hydros on the cheap tractors dont hold up, so i reccomend gear trans. ..... so id go the extra for a better brand of engine ,or a 2 cylinder over a one cylinder. lucas
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they were slower in climbing, towing and mowing (had to keep the choke/throttle wide open). The 18.l5 and above units will run fine at lower choke settings with enough power to the rear wheels to climb the slopes, tow the equipment, etc..
A 1-hp difference is NOT that much more for your yard. The extra hp is mostly for extra equipment (electric PTO vs. manual), pulling/towing, speed, etc. If you're just cutting grass, the smaller hp mower is fine. But, if you're planning on towing a trailer or other equipment (with 1+ acre, you definitely will want to do that!), get the 18.5 hp machine. You have more options to choose from too.

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Hi Mike -
There is a LOT more to a lawn tractor than horsepower. In fact, if you look at some of the most expensive lawn or garden tractors out there (Deere, Cub Cadet) you'll find that their horsepower ratings are in the high teens or low twenties. Then look at some of the cheaper tractors and you'll regularly see in the low to mid-twenties.
Look for things like:
- whether or not there is an oil filter with pressurized system - "yes" is WAY better.
- single or twin cylinder - twin is better, much quieter, generally more power, smoother.
- frame thickness - smaller number is thicker (i.e., 12 gauge is thinner than 11 gauge). Not necessarily much of an issue with just mowing, but if you look at the link below you'll find some examples of cracked frames on some models.
- hydrostatic transmission is usually better but I noticed that someone replied to you and said that hydro on the less expensive mowers aren't as good. I'm not sure.
- welded frame versus bolted - welded is better, but usually only available on the higher priced mowers.
Don't be fooled by "cast iron" front axle. Most tractors now have them.
Finally it's the transmission that is often what makes the difference. If all you're going to do is mow, than a regular duty transmission is better. Heavier duty, serviceable transmissions will last longer.
Check out this forum, which I've found an excellent source for information. I got a ton of advice before I bought my tractor about a month or so ago.
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/tractor /
You might also check the John Deere and Cub Cadet websites and look at their specs - not necessarily to consider buying, but because there's a lot of info there. When you start diving into the details you'll see the specific things that make a difference. Then you can make a decision based on your needs and budget, whatever brand you go for. One thing that I've found is that you'll usually get what you pay for, so be careful about trying to save too much money. The flip side is true as well, though. Don't get sucked in to buying more than you need. Used might also be an option to consider - I've heard that it's a good time of year to look at the Deeres and Cubs and others at dealers. (I only focus on those two because I just went through the excruciating exercise of researching tractors before pulling the trigger myself. On the forum you'll see a lot of people talking about Husqvarnas and Craftsman too, made by the same company.)
Good luck! Hope this was at least marginally helpful. Let us know what you end up with.
Jeff

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