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Shopping for a new robot mower can be a bit overwhelming. Between the new emerging technology and the new brands popping up, it seems like there’s always a new choice.
One of those newer brands is Kowoll. Not long ago Kowoll released their entry-level robot mower and now they are accepting pre-orders for their next generation of mower that incorporates newer navigation methods.
Below, we’ll look at both of these mowers from Kowoll so you can decide if either one is the right choice for you.
Who Is Kowoll?
Kowoll is a very new company having only launched in 2022. They are currently running an Indiegogo campaign for their latest mower. The company is based in China and all of its manufacturing takes place in China as well.
Although being a new company is not always a detriment, we have heard some complaints from customers who have had a hard time sourcing replacement parts. This could just be growing pains as the company ramps up production or it could be indicative of an issue. Either way, it’s something to always be aware of with Kickstarter or Indiegogo-type start-ups.
The Kowoll Kolmower M18EX
This is Kowoll’s first mower and it’s also their entry-level model. There isn’t much fancy here but that’s the whole point. It comes in at just under $800 and uses a perimeter guide wire for navigation.
This segment of the robot mower market has started to become saturated and there are all kinds of mowers in this category. Some are good, but there are also plenty of lower-quality models starting to come out.
With the M18EX, you can tell it is a first-iteration design. This includes the included app which has a few bugs here and there. To be fair, the company is releasing a lot of updates, both for the app and for the mower’s firmware.
So Kowol is definitely looking to improve its products, which is nice to see, especially with a newer company that is trying to build its reputation.
Setting Up the M18EX
Since the M18EX uses a traditional guide wire, the setup is exactly what you would expect. You will need to lay the guide wire around the perimeter of your yard and then use the supplied staples to secure it.
The included wires, staples, and connectors were all included and we had no issue with this part of the installation.
Once set up, the mower is ready to make its first trip around your lawn. We initially had trouble pairing the mower with the app. It simply wouldn’t pair. We later discovered that the firmware on the mower was several versions behind the latest version.
After updating everything via a computer, the mower and the app paired up without an issue and we were able to start mowing.
The one advantage of the M18EX is that it does cut in straight lines. Most entry-level guide wire mowers move about in a random pattern.
On the downside, the mower did have some pathing issues and would occasionally become stuck even though there was no obstacle. The mower would have to be reset manually or via the app to get it going again.
Overall, the performance of the M18EX was lacking in some areas when compared to other more well-known brands in this price range. The one standout feature was the straight-line mowing option. But issues with the app and pathing made it somewhat unreliable considering the price.
Kowoll Kolmower M28E
The M28E is Kowoll’s latest mower and its flagship model for homeowners. After a somewhat lackluster performance from the M18EX, we were curious to see what this new and improved model had to offer.
To start, this is a complete redesign and incorporates all new technology. The M28E uses a LiDAR SLAM-based navigation system. LiDAR SLAM stands for Light Detection and Ranging – Simultaneous Localization and Mapping.
This technology requires no guide wire and instead uses a type of computer vision. The mower emits a laser that is reflected back to the mower, which builds a 3D map of its surroundings. This 3D map is continually updated and the mower uses this to see the world around it.
The mower also incorporates RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) signals as a type of backup navigation. It’s an interesting use of this hybrid technology as most mowers only use a vision system or RTK for navigation.
The benefit of combining them is that this mower should work well in virtually any environment. Both LiDAR SLAM and RTK have their pros and cons, so combining them improves the chances the mower will work flawlessly in most environments.
Setting Up The Kolmower M28E
Using the latest app version from Kowoll, the setup of the M28E was straightforward. We didn’t use RTK in this test, so we relied strictly on the LiDAR SLAM system.
To start the setup, we controlled the mower via the app to set up the boundary areas.
Next, we set up several exclusion zones in the app. Those worked perfectly and we had no issue with the app or setting up the zones when configuring the M28E.
With LiDAR SLAM systems like the M28E, once you set up the boundaries and any exclusion areas, you’re ready to mow.
Kolmower M28E Performance
The initial performance of the M28E was far superior to the M18EX. We had no issues with pathing or navigation in our testing. The mower moved at about the same speed as other mowers in this category, so larger lawns will take more than one session to complete.
One thing we did notice is the Kolmower M28E left more of an uncut edge than some other mowers. The M28E has edge-to-edge blades, but we did notice it was leaving a slight gap around the lawn. It was only a few centimeters but if we were to do the setup again, we would likely compensate for this to try to get it closer to the edge.
They may also be able to fix this in a firmware upgrade.
Other than that issue, performance was good and definitely an improvement over the M18EX.
Kowoll Kolmower M28E Overall Review
The M28E is part of an Indiegogo campaign. You can currently preorder a production model for $1599. Production units are expected to ship in March of 2024.
Since this is an Indiegogo product, it involves some risk, including the possibility of the units not shipping at all. However, if you’re looking at this mower, you likely are already aware of that.
One issue that concerns us with this mower is the LiDAR SLAM tower. It is retractable and extends from the top of the mower when it is in use. While this looks very cool, we are concerned about longevity. Kowell claims it is sealed and waterproof, but we are worried about dirt and debris getting inside and causing issues.
We had no issues with the retractable tower in our brief test, but it’s still something to consider.
Overall, the navigation performed well and the mower worked as advertised. The mix of RTK and LiDAR SLAM makes this an interesting mower. Generally, people avoid RTK mowers because you simply don’t know if they’ll work on your property until you try to set them up.
With this mower, you can try both onboard systems and see which one works best on your specific lawn and environment. We like that degree of flexibility and commend Kowoll for this bit of innovation.
If you’re comfortable with the risks of Indiegogo, the M28E looks like it’s fulfilling its promise and a big step up from the M18EX. However, always do your due diligence before backing any of these crowdfunded mowers. They can be exciting, but they also carry a risk, so do as much research as possible before committing your hard-earned money.