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For those who like a neatly kept lawn but don’t enjoy the regular mowing needed to help it stay healthy and luscious, robotic mowers offer an attractive, hands-free solution.
Fully automated, good for your lawn’s health, and with plenty of safety features built-in, these helpful home robots are becoming increasingly popular amongst garden lovers who like to put their feet up rather than toil in the sun. Customers are now able to choose from a range of models, price-points, and hi-tech features, with an increasing array of companies offering affordable robotic solutions for lawn lovers.
Amidst an expanding automated mower market, Sunseeker has launched their own flagship lawncare robots, the L22 and the L22 Plus, for small and mid-sized backyards.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the functionality and performance of these two models, comparing them to some of their most immediate competition, and trying to work out whether they’re worth your investment.
Who is Sunseeker?
Sunseeker are a robo-tech firm dedicated to bringing automated DIY tools to the homeowner market. They have more than 15 years of manufacturing experience, with a main focus on gardening solutions and lawncare.
Their flagship L22 model has been the recipient of a Retailer’s Choice Award at the 2023 National Hardware Show. The company is also the proud holders of hundreds of design and manufacturing patents relating to their products.
The L22 and L22 Plus automated lawnmowers are currently Sunseeker’s two main offerings to the US market. The L22 is advertised as being designed to service lawn spaces up to 0.3 acres, or 13,000 square feet in size, with the L22 Plus designed to manage twice this size.
The charging system, mowing mechanisms, and essential operational features of each mower are otherwise the same.
Though a few robotic mowers on the market operate solely via motion or video sensors, the Sunseeker models follow the majority of competitors in being guided by a boundary wire system that you install. This boundary wire defines the space within which the mower can roam, as well as guiding the mower back to its charging dock when its battery is low.
The Sunseeker models are built from reinforced, heavy-duty plastic and anti-slip wheels. They are designed to be rugged, durable, and waterproof, capable of withstanding rain, casual knocks, and accidental tumbles should they find themselves on uneven terrain they can’t handle.
Each model is advertised as being able to deal with inclines of up to 20 degrees, though steep hills and significantly bumpy ground could cause them issues.
The mowing mechanism on the L22 and L22 Plus uses three, small, moveable blades attached to a ‘floating’ mowing disc. Each razor-sized blade can be easily replaced and the model comes with spares. The mowing disc can move up and down when the mower encounters bumpy ground, helping to prevent the blades cutting into your lawn and causing unsightly damage to your turf. A simple to use dial on the lid also allows you to adjust the cutting height between 1.6 and 3.2 inches.
As with practically all modern robot mower companies, the design team at Sunseeker know that safety is a primary concern for many gardeners who might be considering an automated machine carrying out potentially hazardous tasks.
The L22 and L22 Plus come with two, front-end, ultrasonic sensors designed to stop the mower from moving forward when it encounters anything above grass height.
There is also an automatic cut-off feature when the mower tilts or is lifted, as well as an emergency stop button on the lid.
Automatic rain sensors will allow the Sunseeker robot to return to its charging dock when it senses the weather taking a turn. You can also set regular mowing schedules as well as other parameters remotely with the Sunseeker mobile app. This can be integrated with smart interactive systems such as Alexa and Google Home, allowing you to stop, start and instruct your mower with voice commands.
There’s no doubt that the L22 and L22 Plus could save you significant time that you would otherwise spend manually mowing the grass. Once you’ve set up your boundary wire, charging dock and mowing schedule, the mower can essentially operate without any further input. Since it’s waterproof, cleaning the robot is as simple as lifting it up and giving it a quick hose down.
Robotic mowers are increasingly coming to be seen as healthy for lawns. Not only do they cut a small amount regularly off grass stems, encouraging more vigorous growth, but the tiny grass cuttings they add back to the lawn can help reintegrate organic matter into the soil, improving soil health as a result.
Where Sunseeker really excels, beyond many other models on the market, is just how quiet and unobtrusive it is. It operates with a lower decibel level than many other mowers, meaning you can quite safely leave it on overnight without fear of disturbing the neighbors. Similarly, the LED light on the front is bright enough to ensure you don’t accidentally trip over it in the dark, but not glaring enough to cause disruptive light pollution.
The floating blade mechanism means that the Sunseeker models are better placed to avoid scraping or cutting into the turf. The easily adjustable cutting-height dial also means that you don’t need to manually alter the cutting height using screwdrivers or other tools.
At just 23 lbs, it’s easy enough to lift and carry these robots if you do wish to transport them manually.
As well as their range of standard safety features, the Sunseeker robots also have a very low ground clearance when it comes to the external chassis and frame. This means that it’s much more difficult for people’s feet to slip beneath the safe outer shell whilst the blades are in motion.
Although it could be described as sleek and muted, some have criticized the Sunseeker chassis design as looking slightly block-based and child-like. It perhaps lacks some of the sophistication of other high-end mowers on the market.
The 8.7 inch cutting width is relatively typical of robotic mowers, but those used to cutting the grass with traditional manual machines may well find it hard to believe that something with such a narrow cutting width is likely to be able to manage a whole lawn. The difference, of course, is that the Sunseeker can be left to get on with the job slowly but steadily. Though it may take several more hours to cover every corner of the grass, it will do so in its own time rather than yours.
Sunseeker are not alone in offering mid-range, automated mowers for a gardening demographic keen to let machines take on mundane tasks. A number of other tech firms and robot manufacturers have designed and marketed their own products for this fast-expanding market.
Husqvarna are a firm offering some of the highest-end tech in the industry, with robot mowers boasting some of the most impressive, modern features, such as boundary wire-free zonal mapping, enhanced AI algorithms, and more. They also tend to command some of the highest prices.
Lawnmaster, on the other hand, cater primarily for the other end of the market. They produce functional, no-frills, automated budget mowers that can be had for as little as $400.
Mammotion may be one of the closest competitors to Sunseeker in terms of price and functionality. Their robot mowers are advertised as having a similar range of features, though tend to cost marginally more than the L22 and L22 Plus.