To invest in a robotic lawn mower is a big financial venture. At a price point of about $1000 just to start, it’s no wonder you clicked on this article to see what all the fuss was about.
At the same time, however, these can be a real game-changer for people who are short on time, disabled, unable to mow the lawn due to allergies, or simply want to spend more time with their families instead of mowing the grass. And in some climates, where it’s not safe to mow due to the extreme heat, these can keep the lawn looking great.
Let’s take a look at all the aspects of owning a robotic lawnmower, including the good and bad things about it. Taking a fair look at all sides of the coin will give prospective buyers the information they need to make a good, informed decision about buying this device for their home. After all, there’s a lot more that goes into these fantastic devices than you might think – let’s get into it.
Part 1: Are Robotic Lawn Mowers Any Good?
The short answer we are going to give you is yes. These are great little tools.
Why is this?
Well, they actually do what they are programmed to do: cut the grass and make it look excellent while the owner of the robot focuses on other tasks like weed eating, trimming hedges and shrubs, or putting their feet up and watching the mower do its job.
They are able to avoid objects in the yard like kids’ bicycles, soccer balls, and lawn ornaments.
They are usable in the rain. Some models park themselves on their charger when rain is detected, but some will soldier on even when it’s coming down outside.
The cutting they do is neat in the tidy sense of the word. There is no need for the owners of the robot to rake up the mulch and stuff it into bags-often; these robots cut it down to a level that just composts back into the yard. It will not sit on top, turn gold in the sun, and make your yard look less than desirable.
Yes, all of this stuff sounds great, and it really is! But there is much more you need to know. Let’s get into some basics about owning a robotic lawnmower, and the “cons” or drawbacks of owning them, too.
How Do These Robots Work?
If you’re totally new to the robot lawnmower game, try to picture a Roomba or Shark Ion vacuum. You know, those little circular bots that go around the house and vacuum while everybody goes about their business.
You notice these robots turning every which way as they avoid kids, pets, and furniture. Robot lawnmowers are like these vacuums in the sense that they use sensors to see where they are going and avoid collisions.
These are powered by Lithium-Ion batteries in most cases, but you can certainly find models that are juiced up by nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries. The mower will meander back to the charger when it finds it is too low on battery power to continue. So, you certainly don’t have to rescue the bot from the yard if it stops.
This is a huge win over gas-powered mowers-after all, you likely have a story in which you had to drop what you were doing to obtain more gasoline when the push or riding mower ran out.
If you are concerned about emissions in any way, be it for keeping the environment safe or just because you dislike the smell of exhaust, be advised that these robotic mowers release NONE of that stuff into the atmosphere. It’s a real advantage for those of us that live in close quarters or have people in the family who cannot breathe in harmful emissions.
Isn’t It Going To Wander Off?
It’s somewhat humorous to imagine a robot lawnmower casually rolling down the street, aimlessly searching for another patch of grass to attend to. However, many of these bots are packaged with what we call an “invisible fence,” which is actually a special type of wire you install to keep your lawn robot in the correct boundaries.
The wire you get with your bot may or may not be enough for your yard, so we recommend you look into Extreme Consumer Products’ brand of wire. It is universal for all makes and models of robot lawnmowers, and you can buy it in many different lengths. You can set this wire up by hanging it above ground, or by burying it up to 18 inches below the surface.
This is great for keeping your bot in boundaries, but it does present another cost associated with owning the device. For instance, the cheapest spool offered by this brand costs $79, certainly not a small sum for most folks.
Plus, if you have a yard that is fenced in due to having kids or owning dogs, you’re already in luck. The robot will stay right in thanks to the fence.
Isn’t This Robot Going to Mow Down My Flower Beds or Vegetable Garden?
Many gardeners out there worry about their posies getting cut up by the robotic lawnmower, but the use of the wire will keep your bot from going into a zone they are not allowed into.
These robots will also avoid objects they can see. Given that many gardeners like to put wire or even bricks or decorative stones around their flower beds or vegetable gardens, the robot should be safe to use around them. We still recommend the use of wire to make absolutely certain the robot will not ruin your flowers or crops.
Are These Safe For Kids?
The answer is yes-however, it is best with youngsters to err on the side of caution and to avoid letting them play around or tamper with the robot.
A parent’s worst nightmare is harm coming to their child, and too many stories involving kids and lawnmowers have been heard over the years. It’s enough to make any parent fear cutting the grass while their children play in the yard.
However, these mowers are quite safe. These robots will move if they detect an object in front of them, and their blades stop in under 1 second if they are picked up or otherwise interrupted by a collision or tilt.
It is also worth noting that these blades use less energy than traditional mowers, so in the event, somebody was to come into contact with a robot mower’s blade, the injuries would be less severe.
That being said, it’s best to use caution and advise the kids to stay away from the robot lawnmower while it is moving around. You also have to remember that the blades are sharp, and a curious kid might lift it while it’s off to see what’s underneath. This leaves them open to a possible cut.
The bottom line? These are safe for kids to be around, but to be extra sure, just keep them away from it while it is in motion (or off, for that matter).
Part 2: Why Robotic Lawn Mowers May Not Be Any Good
Certainly, we’ve rounded up some strong points for owning a robot lawnmower, including:
- You will have more time to do other things
- They are okay for use around kids (with supervision, of course)
- They don’t release harmful emissions
- They don’t use gasoline
- They don’t wander off
- They turn off when lifted or tilted
- They avoid objects in the yard
- You can prevent them from going places with the use of special wire
However, that does not mean these are perfect. Let’s talk about the stuff to consider when asking, “are robotic lawn mowers any good?”
They Are Expensive
You can get a used lawn mower for under $1000-possibly even a riding lawnmower.
Heck, you might even be able to find one for free that just needs some work. Taking it to a small engine repair shop might cost a few hundred, but hey, it’s a working mower.
This is not so for a robotic lawnmower. For just a basic Robomow Rs622 model, you’re looking at $600. The price goes up from there. A good Husquvarna costs about $1800, a Worx comes in at $1000, and a very advanced Robomow Rs630 comes in at $2500!
These are usually dollar amounts most of us cannot afford unless we save up for a little while, or charge to a credit card (not recommended).
The point? You’re going to have to put in a hefty investment right from the get-go.
You Need Accessories
We already mentioned that wire earlier, which is a huge help to keep the bot where it needs to be, but still quite pricey.
You already dropped $1000 on the bot, and now you have to pay for extra wire? This is kind of painful! Granted, most of these bots come with wire, but you may need more depending on the size of your yard.
You Might Not Be Able To Mow In The Rain
Some of these models will go right along in the rain. Others will go back to their charge port if rain is detected.
This is something of a bother to those of you who want the job done, rain or shine.
You Have To Be a little bit Tech-Savvy
Suppose you have a person in your family who is not able to mow their lawn anymore. Seeing that they are spending heaps of money on paying someone to mow, or they feel bad asking you or another family member to do it, you suggest picking up a robot mower.
Many folks today are great at using tablets and smartphones, but not all. Given that you have to program some of these mowers using such devices, it can be frustrating for a person who doesn’t care to use technology or doesn’t know how to use it.
On another note, you may have to bend down to program the mower to do its job. This can be hard for somebody with severe back problems.
You Still Have To Do Maintenance
Much like you have to maintain your traditional lawnmowers, even robotic lawn mowers still have to be maintained. The tasks are less than a traditional lawnmower, but still do exist. For example, you will have to purchase replacement blades, which vary in cost from model to model.
You will also need to clean the mower by hand-spraying water on it is not good enough to get the grass and debris off of it. This will require you to pick up some shop towels or use old rags as a means of cleaning off the chassis/underside of the lawnmower. It is also recommended to use a coarse bristle brush to get rid of stubborn grass. These present additional costs if you do not own them already.
They Don’t Cut Tall Grass
Your robot mower, no matter how advanced, cannot cut through the super-tall or coarse stuff. There are going to be times you have to go over and give your bot a nudge or even move it yourself because it is stuck on something.
Be prepared to use your robot regularly so that you don’t have to hire somebody to come in with a traditional mower if the grass gets too out of hand.
Do Robotic Lawnmowers work?
Yes, they work by going around the yard in a random pattern, which is good because it prevents wheel indentations.
What is the best robotic lawn mower?
Top brands we’ve seen include Husqvarna, Robomow, and WORX. There are other quality brands, but these are the names we’ve seen most.
How long do robotic mowers last?
With appropriate care and maintenance, you can expect your mower to last ten years or more, give or take. Batteries last 3 to 6 years.
Final thoughts: Are Robotic Lawn Mowers Any Good?
So, are robot lawn mowers any good? Yes, they are. They do a great job of keeping things neat and avoiding places they should not go. It’s a huge comfort to know they shut off when picked up or tilted, too.
That being said, they are a significant investment on the homeowner’s part and require some serious evaluation before buying. Our advice? Tally up the cost of what you’re spending now and compare it to your desired mower.
Could you save some money in the long run? We hope so- good luck!