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Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Work?

Our neighbor has a robotic lawn mower – but being old school I’ve not tried one yet myself. The truth is; I’m not really sure how they work and if they work – so let’s do some research…

Robotic lawn mowers work very well in giving you a carpet-like lawn finish. They can self-dock with their electric charging station and use GPS to map out and cut your lawn. Although expensive and not able to cut in lines, they can mow your lawn effectively without you having to lift a finger.

In this article we’re going to consider in greater detail how these robotic mowers work, how long they last – and whether you really need one…

Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Work?

Are Robotic Lawn Mowers Any Good?

Robotic lawn mowers can be a great way of keeping your grass cut. These compact little machines give a great result – and of course, this is achieved with minimal effort on your part.

Because the robotic mower doesn’t cut in rows like a manual one does, you get a more “carpet-like” result, with no gaps or stripes. It cuts little and often to make sure your lawn’s always in good shape, and because it’s more compact than other types of mower, can reach into those tricky small spots with ease.

It’s also good for the grass. Robots tend to have small, razor-sharp blades that give a clean cut: they don’t tear at the grass like some mowers do.

Because they’re lightweight (and don’t have the added pressure from the human pushing them), they don’t squash the lawn, which is better for the grass. The regular cutting also means that weeds don’t get the chance to grow in your lawn before they’re cut back again.

They’re not just for small lawns, and you can get powerful models that work with larger yards (the Landroid L claims to mow lawns of up to half an acre). This is great news if you have a large yard but would struggle to keep on top of the lawn. You can even program your robot to get the job done while you’re at work!

They might freak out the dogs, but kids love watching the robot scurry around the yard. They’re also safer than conventional mowers, which are a leading cause of accidents in the home.

One thing: they are not completely hands-off. You have to programme your robot mower, and you’ll also need to install its perimeter wire (more about these in a moment). As with all mowers, you’ll need to change the blades regularly (some manufacturers recommend every 8 weeks).

How Do Robotic Mowers Work?

These lightweight mowers are very like robotic vacuum cleaners. They are battery powered, and some will even pop on and off their charging stations by themselves. They don’t need gas, and use very little power to charge, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to mow your lawn.

Robot mowers are programmed via their control panel or an app. They then follow their program, whatever the weather. Because they’re quiet, they can even run at night or early in the morning, so they won’t disturb you gardening or relaxing on the lawn.

Robotic mowers are a pretty basic type of robot (sorry if you’re expecting some C3PO-style yard servant here). Because of this, they need a bit of help knowing what is and what isn’t your yard. You’ll need to install a guard wire around the perimeter of your lawn. Robot mowers come with guard wires for you to install.

Safety sensors send the robot into reverse if it hits something, and stop the blades if it’s lifted up. Some of the latest models come with GPS features that give them a great awareness of what’s around them.

How Long Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Last?

The consensus seems to be that your robot lawn mower will last about 10 years. This is provided you care for it well, and have it serviced every year. You’ll also need to replace the blades, at least twice per cutting season.

The battery won’t last as long as the mower, so expect to replace this at least once (probably twice) during your robot mower’s life cycle.

Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Collect The Grass?

Robotic mowers don’t collect the grass. The small and lightweight robots simply don’t have the space or strength to carry around a clippings basket.

However, this is actually a good thing. Grass clippings mulch down into the earth, providing nutrients for your lawn. Many gardeners choose to leave their clippings on the lawn for this reason. Because robotic mowers cut your lawn every few days, there’ll never be massive clumps of clippings, anyway.

The downside of this is that the family is more likely to bring grass cuttings into the house, on their shoes or on their paws. Maybe invest in a robot vacuum cleaner as well…?

Robot Lawn Mower

Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Work in The Rain?

The robot lawn mower really doesn’t mind what the weather is doing and are designed to be robust in all conditions. While we human mowers will look out the window and decide to leave the lawn for another day, the robot will be out there, happily cutting away in the rain.

Once programmed, the robot lawn mower will cut the grass, whatever the weather. It sticks rigidly to its timetable, and nothing will get in its way. So, if there is very heavy rain or strong winds forecast, shut it down and make sure it’s safely stored.

Of course, it won’t operate in snowy or frosty conditions; but as we all stop mowing in the Fall anyway, it’s best to switch it off and bring it indoors after the last cut of the year. 

Some gardeners build small sheds to house the robot and its charging unit, a bit like a dog kennel. This will keep the worst of the weather and any debris off your little robot. Feel free to go overboard when designing your mower garage: take a look at some of these amazing robot mower houses for inspiration. 

Do Robot Lawn Mowers Get Stolen?

Robot lawn mowers are expensive, portable, and stored in the yard: do they get stolen? The answer is, rarely. This is because the manufacturers are aware of the robot mower’s vulnerabilities, so have built in anti-theft features.

All models have some type of pin code that must be entered. After a few failed attempts to type in the pin code, the mower locks. So yes, a thief could take it, but they won’t be able to use it. 

The owner decides how often the pin code needs to be entered, so it’s a case of weighing up convenience versus security. However, the thief would only be able to use the mower until the code was requested, and if they can’t enter it, the machine won’t move. They may get a few days of free mowing, but that’s it.

Many models also come with alarms, which are activated if the mower is lifted without the pin being entered. The top-of-the-range Husqvarna 450x can scream for up to 20 minutes, which is a pretty good deterrent.

Another way to prevent theft is to make sure the charging station can’t be taken. So, the thief now has a mower that can’t be charged, needs a pin code, and is shouting loudly that it’s been picked up. It’s not the most attractive theft proposition. However, if the thief manages to take it, when they realize that they can’t operate it, they’re still unlikely to return it to your yard.

You may be able to trace it. Should your lawn mower be taken, you can let the manufacturer know, and they will blacklist it, making it hard to sell on. If you have a high-end machine with the GPS feature, you can inform the police (don’t go chasing it yourself).

Speak to your home insurer about cover for your mower. On Amazon, most of the current robot mowers will set you back between 700 and a thousand dollars, so you don’t want to pay for a replacement.

Final Thoughts

I personally love mowing the lawn and think it’s great exercise if you do it with a push mower.

However, if you don’t have the time and inclination to do it yourself, then a robot mower may be the answer you’re looking for.

Just be aware though that these things are a serious bit of kit – so this means they’re considerably more expensive than your normal ride on or push mower – even if they do make a good job of your lawn. 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >