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This Worx model shows a strong understanding of what the average buyer needs from a reliable robot mower. First, they need a reasonable price: Many people interested in a mower bot won’t want to spend thousands of dollars on one, especially if they aren’t sure how exactly it’s going to perform on their lawn. Second, buyers are looking for bots that can handle relatively small spaces very tidily. The WR140 fits well with these needs, a sub-$1,000 mower that’s designed to do a really good job on lawns around one-quarter of an acre or less.
The mower is designed to follow a schedule based on the information you provide about your lawn on the app, cutting in light layers that don’t need to be emptied out or collected — you can still adjust the cutting height if necessary. The “cut to edge” design helps the blades mow as close to the lawn edges as possible so you don’t get those annoying stragglers by the flowerbeds, and there’s a handy alert feature that sends you a notification if your mower leaves the lawn space, which indicates a performance issue or simply that someone is stealing it (every good mower bot should have this feature).
At 20V it’s not the most powerful bot designed, but it does have the features a modern lawn owner needs, including automatic recharge for the battery and the ability to climb 20-degree hills. The sensors will keep it from colliding with anything surprising, and you can also surround specific items with magnetic strips included so the bot will avoid that area. All in all, it’s a great mower bot to start with.
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We tested out the Robomow RS630 a few years ago and it’s still one of the premier robotic lawnmowers — although the price is a bit steep. However, for larger and more complex yards, you’re going to need a bit more lawnmower than the Worx above.
The Robomow RS630 handles yards up to three-quarters of an acre and sloped yards up to 20 degrees, making this unit ideal for most yard types. It also has a rain sensor to prevent mowing during inclement weather and automatic recharging when the mower runs low on power.
With an operational decibel range of up to 78dB, the RS630 is certainly louder than the Husqvarna Automower 450X (our next recommendation), but it’s significantly quieter than your average riding lawnmower.
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Husqvarna Automower 450X
Husqvarna’s Automower 450X covers the most turf — up to 1.25 acres. While other models on this list incorporate softer lines and warmer, matte color schemes, the Automower 450X has more of a glossy, RoboCop 2 build and looks downright menacing in your front yard.
Like the other models, you’ll need to “fence” off the perimeter of your yard as well as garden patches before you mow (or rather it mows) for the first time. That said, you can also adjust the map of your yard via the app to mark additional zones to avoid. This is necessary for ditches or more rugged areas where the mower might struggle for adequate traction.
You can schedule the mow times over the course of a given month, allowing the model to trim as regularly or minimally as desired. Regular mowings minimize clippings, resulting in a cleaner-looking yard. But perhaps its best feature is its quiet operation.
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Honda Miimo HRM520
It’s really no surprise that Honda — the company that brought us Asimo — was one of the pioneering robotic lawn-care manufacturers. Overall, the Miimo HRM520 is one of our favorite offerings on the market, with its 0.75-acre mowing capability and an impressive slope mowing capability of up to 25 degrees.
The HRM520’s app allows you to adjust the cutting height, start or stop the unit, and also manage a calendar, all from your smartphone. This model also uses an innovative “continuous cutting system” where the machine trims your lawn about an inch multiple times a week. Honda says th
is promotes better growth and overall yard health versus much less infrequent and larger cuts.
These regular trimmings also adjust as grass growth increases or decreases seasonally, and its cutting patterns adjust appropriately when it detects denser patches of grass for more even cuts. Three panoramic sensors allow the unit to detect and avoid obstacles around the yard.
Have a smaller yard, but still want these great features? Opt for the HRM310 instead, which cuts yards up to 0.37 acres.
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Husqvarna’s smart 315X comes offers quick automatic cutting for yards a little under a half an acre, and can handle slopes up to 22 degrees and grass up 2.4 inches tall. It can run for about 70 minutes on one battery charge, too! The accompanying app will help you control the mower, but we also like the large LCD panel for more manual controls and adjustments. But the feature that most sets this bot apart is the voice command technology: It’s compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, making it the ideal choice if you really like yelling at your lawnmower. Specifically, voice commands can make the 315X start, pause, stop, park, run for a specific amount of time, and more — pretty handy!
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Taking the summer off from lawn mowing sounds attractive to many people. Can you blame them? Mowing is hard work. They might hire a kid or a lawn service to do it, or they may opt for a more technological solution: the robot mower. These small battery-powered buggies go almost as unobtrusively about their work as a goat. Unlike a goat, however, a robot mower can cut grass in the middle of the night. They cut and recut the lawn in a more-or-less random pattern, guided by nothing more than a low-power signal carried along a perimeter wire buried in the lawn.
Technological overkill you say? Not necessarily. There are many time-starved households today, from military personnel to long-haul truck drivers to business people who are gone most of the week. The last thing they want is to deal with their lawn on their precious and short-lived weekend. And for many, a robotic mower will have paid for itself after the first season of use.
Take a look at some helpful buying advice below, then scroll farther for in-depth reviews of the best robot lawn mowers.Robot Lawn Mower
Best Selling Robot Lawn Mower Generally these mowers travel a random pattern over your lawn (Bosch offers a mower in Europe that cuts a regular pattern) but there are some models that you can be programmed to cut a spiral, a V-shaped pattern or to cut the border area first, then move out into the lawn proper. This reduces trimming. That last point is an important one. A robot mower can make a reasonably close cut, but you still need to trim, as you would with any mower.
Think of a robotic mower as a large trimmer. Unlike a walk mower that swings a single, large steel blade driven by a gas engine, a robotic mower spins smaller cutting heads with fold-away steel blades. If the blade strikes a fixed object left in the grass, the impact causes the blade to fold back into the head. The blade has only enough rigidity to remove a fraction of an inch from the tip of the grass as the mower passes over, causing the mower to take just a little off the top, less than a mower that can remove a third of the grass height per pass. This head configuration also enables these mowers to cut very low to the ground—with some models capable of as low a cut as ¾ of an inch to suit some low-growing southern species, like Zoysia.
Should You Buy One?
Robot mowers are best suited to small, simple yards, that are relatively smooth and flat. Yards with more complex geometry require you to lay more ground wire, and the more wire you lay, the more you increase the likelihood of a break from somebody digging in the yard or a tunneling rodent chomping through the wire. Although Husqvarna makes an all-wheel-drive mower (the 435 X) capable of climbing steep slopes and handling more rugged conditions, it doesn’t take much to bog down the average robot. A low or soggy area, pine cones, fallen fruit and nuts, and branches have all been known to either stop these machines in their tracks or create enough drag once trapped under the mower that it impairs progress.
Also, homeowners can get lulled into a sense of complacency with these machines. As the mower uncomplainingly goes about its work, week in and week out, you may forget that the underside of the mower needs to be cleaned. And its blades need to be sharpened or replaced. These mowers don’t have the luxury of excessive power that a gas-engine model has. An incremental decrease in the mower’s cutting ability from either a dirty undercarriage or dull blades will have an outsized effect on the cut quality and efficiency.
Still, their strengths are obvious. These machines are safe, unobtrusive, and, after setup, require little input from you. Even its maintenance is simple and straightforward. Its most important attribute is that while it’s cutting the lawn, you can be playing with your kids in the pool or traveling somewhere on vacation. A robotic mower can cut during business hours, when the neighborhood is quiet and relatively empty. That leaves nothing but blissful silence during the weekends. To those of us who have spent many sweaty hours walking or driving a mower over acres of turf, the attraction is undeniable.
How We Selected These Mowers
The mowers here represent a cross-section of the market, with nearly every manufacturer making an appearance. We picked a range: tiny ones suited for the smallest possible yard to commercial tanks large enough to trim a football field or the sweeping lawns surrounding a university building. We relied on our own experience mowing lawns and took into account specs like the mowing area, battery life, and height settings.
Robot Lawn Mower
Best Selling Robot Lawn Mower
Bot Mower Basics
We’ve been examining robot mowers and the trend toward them for the last 20 years (since the September 2000 issue, to be precise). At the time, Contributing Editor Rebecca Day asked whether robots would take over lawn mowing altogether. That’s an interesting question. Although the vast majority of the tens of millions of mowers sold in this country every year are still machines that you need to push or drive, many other homeowners are turning to robot mowers to handle the job.
At the dawn of robotic mowing, there were essentially two players in the business. One was Husqvarna, still the industry leader with more machines and technology than any other company, and the other was Friendly Robotics (now Robomow). Today there are at least half a dozen or so other companies building these machines. Among the contenders for your bot mowing dollar are such other well-known brands as Honda and Echo.
Regardless of who makes the machine, all robot mower share basic design attributes. First, they consist of a plastic chassis on which are mounted mowing heads, drive motors and wheels, and sophisticated electronics that detect speed and direction, tilt front to back and side to side, and detect obstacles. After purchase, the homeowner or a dealer buries a perimeter wire in the lawn. That wire leads back to the charging station, which is plugged into a 120-volt exterior outlet. The charging station contains a signal generator that sends a low-power signal out on the wire. The mower’s receiver picks up the signal so the machine knows when to stop, turn around, and head off in another direction. When its battery nears the point of being depleted, the mower heads back to the station for a top off. Normally this takes three to four hours. Most work this way, but not all—the Worx mower has removable batteries, using the same as other power tools. This feature enables the Worx to cut nearly indefinitely. It’s the exception to the rule, however.
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