What is the best robot lawn mower?Chris Harrison
Nearly all customers ask us: what is the best robot lawn mower? It is usually the first question they ask. They are baffled by the number of robot lawn mowers on the market and they all appear the same! The usual research done is an extensive trawl of the internet. But, all manufacturers seem to claim that their particular robotic product is the best, and it becomes quite difficult to know what to believe. Generally what follows is a unfortunate belief in a particular product based on misinformed forum posts or meaningless reviews. At mRobot, we like to keep up to date with what is posted online about robotic mowing, and we often see articles and posts that contain information that is completely wrong and misleading.
The answer to the question is highly dependent on the size and nature of your garden, and your own individual requirements for reliability and functionality.
Survey your garden first.
Before you can establish what is the best robot lawn mower for your needs, you must survey your garden. It is essential that the robot mower you purchase is capable of handling its hazards and complexities. You must estimate the overall size of the grass area. Most importantly, the overall perimeter length must be established. There are many robot mowers that simply cannot cope with anything above an average sized suburban garden.
You will have include any hazards that require the perimeter to loop around. Many obstacles act as a barrier which the robot can bounce off, but some do not. Tree roots, overhanging foliage, and garden ponds, for example, need “looping”. This additional cable loop must be added to the total perimeter measurement. If the total is in excess of the limit for the machine, there are consequences. You will have an installation that suffers from constant loss of signal strength and resulting stoppages.
Do you have slopes and are the edges of the lawn sloping. This can be a deal breaker for many brands. Currently there are no robots that can successfully stop and turn on steep slopes other than the new Husqvarna 4 wheel drive Automower 435x
What features do you need?
What is the best robot lawn mower? This could depend on the many features that are available. Some are essential for more complex gardens. Do you have more than one lawn? Maybe they are connected by a narrow corridor. In this case you will need to consider a robot mower with a guide wire capability. This feature allows you to program the mower to travel to start cutting in more remote parts of the garden. Just as important, the ability to get back to the charging station quickly is vital in larger gardens. Once again, a guide wire will ensure this. The only range of machines that have this is the Husqvarna Automower . They invented the idea, and patented it.
Quality and reliability.
What is the best robot lawn mower? It goes without saying that you don’t want to buy something that either does not work, or lasts until the guarantee runs out and not much longer. The retail world is awash with poor quality products from the Far east. They usually copy the market leading brands as cheaply as possible. Throw in a snappy name, and a bit of marketing and the product gets sold massively through every website on the internet, usually as cheaply as possible. There will be no after sales department to deal with problems, and the typical business strategy will be to avoid answering the phone and offer no spare parts, but concede a few refunds when unavoidable. The whole experience is generally stressful for the customer and very disappointing.
By contrast, long established garden machinery companies such as Stihl and Husqvarna have a proven track record. They produce machines that are built to last and we recommend them to all customers. If properly serviced, we know that they are up to the workload of mowing every day, without fail. Every season we are contacted by desperate customers who have experienced a breakdown – usually due to lack of servicing. Losing the mower, even for a couple of weeks, is a calamity. The grass grows very fast when you haven’t got a mower. This is something you will definitely want to avoid.
Servicing and repair
All machines have wearing components and regular routine servicing is essential to inspect, measure and replace the worn or time expired parts. The pioneers in diagnostic servicing are Husqvarna, They have some brilliant diagnostic software programs that can replicate the Automower’s working situation, and test everything while it runs. All Automowers can be plugged in to our diagnostic servicing bench and this thorough functional test carried out. This will identify failing components that can we replaced before breakdown occurs in service. If this preventive maintenance is not done in wintertime – the robot will fail at the height of the season.
The cheaper brands will not have this. They run until breakdown, and then you have to look for a repair. Most internet sites will have options for you and you will be referred to the manufacturer, in China! We sometimes get these robots through our door for repair. We seldom do the work because spares and diagnostic software are not available.
Make sure you purchase a machine that can be serviced and with good UK spares availability. Fully equipped servicing workshops are essential.
There are phone apps that work well, and those that drive you mad. Have a look at the available apps. You will can download before buying and see for yourself. If an app doesn’t work well, you will soon see this on the developer website. The complaints say it all.
The Automower connect app will give the user almost complete control over the Automowers in the “X” range. Customers love it because you’re in touch with the mower anywhere in the world. Buy a Husqvarna Automower and you can literally be mowing the lawn while sitting on the beach
Be very wary of reviews. Many are solicited from customers well before they find out how good, or bad, the product is. Some are completely fraudulent and others written by idiots. It is a growing problem with ecommerce in general, but extremely damaging when misinforming about an expensive and highly technical product. At mRobot we have real knowledge of the product, from installation, to many years later. We install, service and repair so we know what works, what fails and much more. We know what is the best robot lawn mower because of this experience.