Our test grounds located in North Garden, Virginia are the ideal location to test various robot mower brands and models. Here we have flat ground as well as rolling hills, open space as well as obstacles, and different grass types. The varied terrain allows us to review robot mowers strengths and weaknesses and pass the word on to you. So here’s our pick for overall best robot mower for 2023.
The Inside Line on Robot Mowers
If you have a very large area of grass you need to maintain or just don’t want to be stuck outside all day behind a lawnmower, you might want to consider using a robot mower.
While more common in Europe, robot mowers are growing in popularity in the United States and other countries. However there is a lot more to these autonomous machines than meets the eye.
How Do Robot Mowers Work?
Robot mowers have been available since the mid 1990s, but they have come a long way since they were first released. It is now expected that by 2023, the industry will surpass sales of $3 billion worldwide.
Until recently, most mowers worked with the use of a boundary wire installed around the perimeter of the grass that sends signals to the machine so it is able to stay within the selected area. But now more brands and models also offer GPS guidance to ensure the machine stays on course and that you get the manicured lawn you desire.
The mowers are also programmed to return to their charging station when they need more power or have completed their task. Some models also feature rain sensors that command the mower to cease cutting and go back to the station if conditions become too wet.
Most mowers also have safety features that will retract blades and change direction if they come across an obstacle such as yard tools or even a child’s toy left out on the lawn. Some manufacturers have taken safety issues further by using pivoting blades instead of fixed ones. These blades rotate on a disc and have less power, allowing small animals to escape without serious injury if they are trapped underneath.
Some manufacturers are looking into “mustaches” and similar additions that operate like a small broom attached to the front of the mower to push things out of the way. Robot mowers are mulchers and don’t carry around the clipped grass. Instead they trim it into small pieces and leave it behind, so there is no need to empty a catcher.
As for security of use, many mowers require a pin code to operate as well as having GPS tracking. Plus they are keyed to their unique charging stations, so if someone does steal it, it won’t work with another station. You can also track down the machine with the GPS to see where it has gone.
Each brand will be a bit different and have diverse features and grass cutting time will vary. It will depend on battery size and engine power as well as the area and grade of the lawn.
There are limitations on grass length the mower will cut. If it is too long, you will need to trim it down before unleashing your robot mower. This will keep the mower from having issues with overgrown grass, which can run down the battery or damage the blades or machinery.
Maintenance is relatively simple for robot mowers as long as they aren’t subjected to terrain issues such as mud or small rocks. You will need to regularly check and clean the underside of the mower in order to ensure the best possible operation.
Depending on the mower you purchase, you may or may not be able to install the boundary wire yourself.
Most vendors offer online assistance in the way of videos and tutorials as well as written instructions, with the equipment and tools to assist in the installation. Depending on the size of your lawn, this can take several hours.
There are a number of manufacturers who require that a certified dealer complete the installation. If this is the case, you can expect additional fees. Make sure to inquire about this before any purchase.
While the boundary wire does carry a very small electrical charge, it is safe for pets and children. You can keep the wire above ground or bury it to a pre-determined depth so it’s out of sight.
What Mowers Can And Cant Do
As for the actual landscape, most mowers can easily handle terrain slopes up to 20 degrees, while more expensive models can handle up to 75 degree slopes.
Husqvarna boasts a mower that can handle extreme slopes of up to 70 degrees, but it carries a price tag of about $5,500 and will not be available in the United States until 2020.
You may need to do some additional grounds keeping on the edges near the installed wire boundary, as the machine might not go right up against the border.
Some models will allow you to control the mower using an app on your phone while others will even use Amazon Alexa voice commands or other smart home devices to start and end your lawn maintenance.
How Much Do Robot Mowers Cost?
The price for a robot mower is going to vary based on the features you desire including durability, battery life and performance.
If you are looking for something very simple, you can find models for under $1000. But if you want something at the high end, you can expect to pay $3,000 or more.
Maintenance is also a cost to consider. Some models allow you to do most of the work yourself, while more advanced or larger models may require you to take it to a certified mechanic for service or repair.
Find The Model For You
There are many brands and models available depending on the size of your lawn, the type of terrain and the weather in your area. There’s even robot mowers made especially for professional landscapers.
Of all the brands, Husqvarna manufactures some of the most well-known and hardest working mowers. Their 315X model is well regarded for its mobile app interface and excellent cutting ability and has a battery life of about 70 minutes.
However, the 315X requires professional installation and does not have a rain sensor. You can expect to spend about $2,000 for the machine plus installation cost. But there is a Husqvarna rebate offer that will save you $100.
At the other end of the price spectrum is the Worx Landroid M that costs about $900. Worx promotes its easy programming and built-in rain sensor. However it does not provide wireless or mobile app connectivity.
The perfect starter model, the Landroid M is great for smaller lawns and is a simple, quiet machine for your use.
Also in the sub $1,000 range is the Robomow RX12. While it doesn’t allow for a smartphone interface or come with a rain sensor, it’s an affordable entry-level model. The RX12 also allows you to change out dull blades or faulty parts without sending it into the shop for professional repair.
The RX12 is limited to a grass area of 1/20 of an acre and will not handle slopes over nine degrees. But at a price point of around $600, it’s a great entry model.
Brand new to the mower market is the Mammotion Luba. With a price under $3000, this machine is wireless, can mow up to 1.25 acres, and can handle slopes up to 75%. These features make it one of the best values for the money.
Th one question we get asked more than any other is if robot mowers are worth the cost? If you have a large grass area or yard, a robot mower might be just what you are looking for. They are even able to handle hilly yards now much better than ever.
These days you can easily find an entry-level mower that will keep your grass well manicured. If you find that your grass is more difficult terrain, you may need to spend more on your mower, but you can still get the job done and relax as your robot friend does the work for you.