What’s the best robot mower for your yard? We delve into this very question by giving you the facts so you can make the right decision for your needs. And then we review three of the best robot mowers currently available : Husqvarna 315 / WORX Landroid WG794 / Robomow RS622
For those of who’ve been around long enough, you might remember how automatic pool cleaners changed our lives back in the eighties. Now robotic technology is changing all manner of tasks that used to take up so much of our time. Around the house, so many people are now using robotic vacuum cleaners to suck up the dust and dirt around the home, while we get on with more meaningful things. Well, the lawn should be no different.
Who actually wants to spend hours every weekend cutting the lawn, when you could be putting your feet up, enjoying a cold one and watching the game? Wouldn’t it be great to have all this done for you, even while you sleep? While this sounds fantastic, there’s a good chance that you don’t know much about robotic lawn mowers and wouldn’t know where to begin looking for the right machine for your lawn.
So we’re going to take you through everything you’ll need to know about robotic lawn mowers. You’ll find out how they work and what to look out for. Finally, we’ll take a look at a few models that will help you in your search for the best robot lawn mower.
Video | WORX Landroid Installation
*We discuss the WORX Landroid later in this article.
History of Robotic Lawn Mowers
This might surprise you, but the first robotic lawn mower was patented in 1969. That’s right this is not a typo, back then you could buy the MowBot for a whopping $795! While that may not seem like a lot of money by today’s standards, at the time, you could buy a brand new car for under $2 000. So it was not in a price range that most people would consider affordable. It was able to cut up to 7 000 square feet and worked in much the same way as most modern robot lawn mowers. It was battery powered and made use of a guide wire to find its way around the perimeter of your lawn.
Since then there have been some significant changes. Firstly they have become a lot more affordable, starting from around $1 000, with larger mowers being in the $2 000 – $2 500 range. Sure that’s quite a bit more than the MowBot cost back in ’69, but compare that with the price of a new car that you’ll buy today in relation to what you paid back then and you’ll see that the price has dropped significantly in real terms.
Over time there have been some great innovations like improved batteries that allow them to cut for longer without needing to be recharged. Improved computer technology give today’s robot mowers a wider range of functions and many models can be controlled from your smartphone.
Video | Unbiased Opinion on Robot Lawn Mowers by Consumer Reports
How does a robot lawn mower work?
The main device is a battery powered unit that uses electricity to run the mower blade and driving wheels. The mower has sensors to detect an object in its path, like a bike left on the lawn or even moving obstacles like pets or people. When the mower detects an obstacle it will change direction to avoid it.
A perimeter needs to be set up to define the area that the mower is to work in. Most systems use boundary wires that use a low voltage current to guide the mower. EMF (Electric Magnetic Field) sensors on the mower detect the current in the boundary wire and it will change direction when it comes close to the wire.
Every robot mower has an onboard computer that can be programmed to perform certain tasks. The sophistication of the computer technology used will differ, depending on the manufacturer and model. Some robot mowers will follow a random path, while others can be programmed to follow a specific path.
Most modern mowers can be programmed to return to their docking station to recharge the battery after they’ve finished a cutting cycle. Many also have rain sensors that will send the mower back to the docking station when it begins to rain. Other programmable functions would include timer controls, telling the mower when to cut your lawn and blue tooth or GSM remote control functions.
Robotic lawn mowers have the added advantage in that they mulch lawn clippings as they go. Instead of leaving your lawn covered with shards of grass that need to be collected before they turn brown and leave an unsightly mess, the robotic lawn mower will shred the cuttings into fine particles that get absorbed into the lawn and act as a natural fertilizer.
The cost of a robot mower buys you time to do the things you truly love and free you from the burden and laborious work of cutting your lawn. Ultimately, you have to decide what your time is worth. As I get older I know I value my time more than anything else. It’s something that you never get back. The way I see it, a robot lawn mower is simply a tool to make my life easier.
What to Consider | Robot Lawn Mowers
Foresight is always better than hindsight, so getting a preview of problems that others have encountered before you, will help you to avoid the same complications. So let’s take a look at some common complaints that people have raised about robotic lawn mowers and how to solve them.
Whenever we first experience a new technology, it’s likely that we may run into some obstacles. A robot lawn mower requires some set up before you can start using it, after which it pretty much takes care of itself.
Setting up the boundary and guide wire system is the biggest job and some people have had a few questions about this. Your instruction manual should give all the information that you need, but here are some pointers. Plan out your boundary wire system before you start, depending on the size of the mower, you will need to place the wire a few inches (up to 12″ for larger mowers) from the boundary. Make sure that you place the boundary wire around all areas that will obstruct or damage your mower.
Take your time to do this properly, remember: if you do it right first time around, you’ll have trouble free mowing for a very long time to come. Ideally, you’ll want to bury the boundary and guide wires a few inches below the surface, both for aesthetics and to stop it being dragged by people or pets walking across it, but you can place it above ground.
Traditional Lawn Mower | Cheaper but Requires your Time + Energy
Don’t bury the wire too deep, as the mower may not be able to detect it – use the manufacturer recommendations for this. The guide wire gives the mower a shorter route to get started or when returning to the docking station, so work out where is the best route to accomplish this.
For the rest, mark off all boundaries or areas like ponds in the middle of the lawn completely. If your lawn is bigger than the specified size for the mower that you’re using, you’ll want to divide your lawn into sections, remember that the guide and boundary wires can be joined, though you should do this correctly. The best method is to use ferrules that are crimped to hold the two ends together.
It’s not recommended to twist the ends together, as this can cause resistance that will affect the current in the wire and may come loose over time. If you don’t have ferrules at hand, an electrical connector block will do fine.
If you find the boundary wire instructions to be a little complicated, there’s plenty of online help. There are discussion forums that can help you with frequently asked questions and YouTube tutorial videos. So, when all else fails – Google it.
When it comes to programming your robot lawn mower, the basic functions are relatively easy to follow. If you can operate a cell phone, learning to program your mower is much easier. For more advanced functions you may want to go through your instruction manual more thoroughly or get help from the manufacturer. However, getting started isn’t much of a problem.
If you have a completely flat lawn, you can skip this section. For those of you who have a lawn that runs at an incline or has humps and bumps, it’s important to know that some robotic lawn mowers aren’t cut out for this type of work. The mower runs on electric motors that drive the wheels and use skid track turning. This means that one set of wheels is stopped allowing the outer driving wheels to turn the mower.
When moving up an incline the wheels can spin and not have enough traction to move the mower up the slope. This can also happen when turning on a slope. Likewise, when moving down a slope, the mower may slip.
If your lawn is not flat, be sure to get a robot lawn mower with a good traction control system. Just like with all-wheel-drive cars, a computerized traction control system will control the power to wheels that lose traction.
If you’ve ever watched an automatic pool cleaner at work, you’ve probably gotten really frustrated seeing one spot that the cleaner keeps missing. This is because they move in a random pattern around the pool and have no knowledge of where they’ve been. This is also true of most robot lawn mowers. There have been technological advances, giving the robot lawn mower a memory, but this is not always 100% effective. So there will be times when the mower misses a small area of the lawn.
To get around this, you might opt to go afterward with a brush cutter and clean up the areas where the mower has not completely done its job. Alternatively, you just cut your lawn more frequently, even on a daily basis. Like that negligent pool cleaner, eventually, it will cross that area if it runs for long enough.
Choosing the Best Robot Lawn Mower for your Needs
Size matters. Robot lawn mowers come in various sizes and choosing the right one will depend on the size of your lawn. Take the effort to measure out your lawn and calculate how many square feet you want the mower to cover. If you go too small, you’ll be creating extra work for yourself, as you’ll have to cut the lawn in sections. If you go to big, you’re simply wasting your money.
Durability. Buy something that’s going last and do a good job for a long time. Now you may be thinking, this is easier said than done. How do you know which is the best robot lawn mower? Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve done the research for you. A little further down, we’ve compiled a list of the best robot lawn mowers for 2017. This should give you a great deal of confidence in making your decision.
Usability. You get a whole range of features on modern robotic lawn mowers. Some are pretty important to all users. Firstly you want a rain sensor so that you don’t have to run out when it starts raining to return it the docking station. An automatic docking station return feature is also pretty handy – the machine will park itself when it’s done working for the day.
Another feature that could be important is traction control, depending on the terrain that the mower is going to be working on. When it comes to programmability, it really is a matter of personal choice, some may prefer a basic easy-to-use mower, while others want a lot of high-tech features – you’ll decide which works best for you.
Are Robot Lawn Mowers Worth the Money?
That really depends on how much you enjoy mowing your lawn. I would say for the amount of time it frees up for much better things, a robot lawn mower is well worth the cost. We often wait for the lawn to grow a bit longer than it should before getting around to mowing it, this results in unsightly brown patches all over your lawn.
A robot lawn mower keeps your lawn in perfect condition, cutting as often as you like, without any effort from you. A robotic mower cuts the grass, as opposed to a conventional mower that hacks it, this means that the robot mower is much better for the grass and the fine cuttings are easily absorbed into the soil, fertilizing the lawn as it cuts. They also run incredibly quietly, so you can even program it to cut your lawn at night.
Best Robot Lawn Mower
Now it’s time to look at which are your best options when buying a robot lawn mower.
Worx Landroid | WG794
- Artificial intelligence algorithm: uses artificial intelligence allowing mower to make intricate cuts and navigate narrow passages
- Fully automated mowing system with programmable timer: program to work at your convenience, as little or as much as you need it
- Rain sensor: stops operating when it is raining, and re-starts only when the grass is no longer wet
- Shock sensor system: robot senses obstacles and avoids them
- Automatically returns to charge station: when it feels low in energy, the robotic mower goes back to its station for recharging
- Anti-theft system: uses security pin set by owner and alarms system if outside boundary
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the WORX Landroid WG794.
This is a very affordable compact robotic lawn mower with several sizes to choose from, starting with WG745E for lawns up to 500 square meters, up to WG797E for lawns up to 2,000 square meters. On the larger models, you have the option of WiFi controls.
The Landroid has good climbing capabilities, being able to negotiate a 35% slope. It has an automatic return to the charge station, as well as rain and shock sensors. This means that if it bumps into larger items, like garden furniture, it will back up and change direction.
It is very simple to operate and comes pre-programmed, so once you’ve laid out your boundary and guide wires, it’s ready to get to work. You have a number of user programmable functions like time schedule and some more advanced settings.
The Worx Landroid is a wonderful option that provides good quality and functionality at an incredibly reasonable price.
- Rated voltage : 28V Max*
- No load speed : 2800/min
- Cutting diameter : 7″
- Cutting height : 1.6”- 4.0”
- Cutting height positions : 5
- Charging time : 1.5 hr. approx.
Husqvarna Automower 315 | 967623405
- Automower must be bought with Install Kit or it will not run.
- Powerful performance handles rough terrain, step slopes, large and complex areas, heavy rain and is quiet enough to work at night.
- Delivers silent and emission free operation with a cutting capacity of 1/4 acre, and a perfect cut result.
- 3 Razor Sharp Pivoting Blades rotate to cut grass evenly and clean for a healthy cut each time.
- Thanks to its unique cutting system, Automower works extremely discreet and quiet and just when you want.
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Husqvarna Automower 315.
Husqvarna is a brand that is synonymous with high-quality gardening equipment for decades and they have a range of robot mowers in several sizes. We’re going to take a look at the Husqvarna Automower 315, which is their mid-sized model for lawns up to 1,500 square meters.
One thing you can be sure of is rugged dependability from a brand that is known for this. It’s a powerful machine, capable climbing a gradient of 40%. It has rain sensors, shock sensors and will return to the docking station automatically. Among the many programmable features it has a weather timer, so you can program it to cut the lawn more frequently during the months when your lawn grows the fastest.
Video | Husqvarna Automower Overview
It’s pretty easy to operate. The initial setup involves setting up the boundary and guide wires, charging it up and then setting it to work.
Because of the reputation that comes with a brand like this, you may pay a little more than for some others. The fact is, there’s nothing that beats the peace of mind that comes with buying a product that is known for reliability and service.
Learn more about the Automower 315 on the Husqvarna site.
Robomow RS622 | Best robot mower
- Base Station- Robomow is charged at the Base Station and stays there between operations. Robomow independently departs from the Base Station, cuts the lawn and returns for charging until the next operation.
- Remote Control – Used for cutting small patches of grass that cannot be reached in automatic operation. The Remote Control is available as an accessory (MRK5004B)
- Rain Sensor- Allows the user to choose whether or not Robomow will operate when sensing rain or High humidity.
- Slopes – Robomow can mow areas inside the working area with slopes of up to 36 %
- Multiple zones – Robomow can handle lawns with several zones and mow each one individually.
- Child Lock – This is a safety feature to help prevent children or others not familiar with the safe operation of Robomow from operating it.
- Robomow also comes in a range of sizes and the RS622 is designed to handle lawns of about 2 000 square meters (1/4 acre). It compares favorably with the others, with a gradient capability of 36% and all the same basic sensors.
One thing that many might like about the Robomow, is that the blades come right to the edge of the machine’s base, this means that it cuts closer to the boundary than other robotic mowers. This may be a safety concern for some, as it could be possible to touch the blades when in motion, but this highly unlikely.
It also has remote programmability, using smartphone technology.
Learn more about the Robomow RS622 on the Robomow site.
Conclusion | Best Robot Lawn Mower
All these robot mowers offer many of the same features and come highly recommended. So what’s left for you to decide is what size lawn you want to use it on and how much you’re wanting to spend. Among these models, you’ll find one to suit your needs.