The robotic lawn mower gives consumers an opportunity to escape yard work forever. Improved technology makes the robotic lawn mower a better choice for the overall health of your lawn, as well as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional emissions-producing lawn mowers. Robotic lawn mowers are still fairly new to the consumer market, and learning about them for the first time can be confusing. Pronto’s Robotic Lawn Mower Buying Guide will show you what’s out there and help you find a robotic lawn mower of your very own.
Robotic lawn mower blades rotate at 5,800 RPM, more than twice as fast as traditional lawn mowers, providing for more efficient mulching and a smooth, beautifully manicured lawn. Because robotic lawn mowers don’t mow in straight lines, the changing angle of the cuts provides for a more even trim and a healthy lawn, but they don’t handle hilly yards well.
Robotic lawn mowers use wires that are set up around the edge of the lawn to determine their perimeter. Setting the wires in cut grass will hide them from your view
Robotic lawn mowers come with a host of safety features, making them safer than traditional lawn mowers. Bumpers surrounding the perimeter of the robotic lawn mower cause it to stop and change direction when it encounters an obstacle. Built-in tilt controls and lift sensors stop the blades from rotating, preventing any accidental property damage or injuries.
Robotic lawn mowers are significantly more environmentally friendly than gas lawn mowers, with no emissions and a small appetite for power. Charging the battery takes approximately 24 hours, and a fully charged battery can mow up to 5,000 square feet. Look for a Ni-MH or Lithium-ion battery to avoid long-term charging problems.
To ensure maximum performance, clean the mower blades every three to five mows. Replace the lawn mower blades every three years to ensure the grass is still getting a clean cut. Depending on the type of battery and frequency of use, expect to replace the robotic lawn mower’s battery every four or five years.
A condition common in older, lead-acid rechargeable batteries, where chemicals would become inert over time, reducing the usable life of the battery.
Also known as a base or station, this is a unit where a robotic lawn mower lives when its not in use. The dock is plugged into a wall outlet, allowing the robotic lawn mower to recharge its batteries.
Robotic lawn mowers with this feature shred cut grass into tiny particles and deposit them on the lawn. This restores nutrients to the lawn and eliminates the need to bag grass clippings.
Lithium-ion, a new type of rechargeable battery that is lightweight and resists developing a charge memory.
Nickel Metal Hydrice, a newer type of rechargeable battery that does not develop charge memory over time.
The established area within which a robotic lawn mower does its work. Robotic lawn mowers use a special wire that they detect to establish this perimeter.
Revolutions Per Minute, the speed of a lawn mower’s blade rotation. Robotic lawn mower blades spin at 5,800 RPM, resulting in very fine cuts.
Not only can a robotic lawn mower mow, but it can mow better than a regular gas or electric lawn mower. Unlike most traditional consumer lawn mower blades, which rotate at approximately 2,000-2,500 RPM, robotic lawn mower blades are twice as fast, rotating at 5,800 RPM. The practical result of this high-speed lawn mowing action is a smooth, manicured look.
Robotic lawn mowers mulch the grass, and the high cutting speed results in very fine cuttings. The mulched grass remains on the lawn to give the yard much-needed nutrients that provide for the long-term health of your lawn.
On the downside, robotic lawn mowers circulate around your lawn in predetermined algorithmic patterns, which won’t produce the crisp diagonal lines preferred by some homeowners. However, lawn care experts recommend that homeowners cut grass from different angles to ensure health and even growth, so the robotic lawn mower provides the added benefit of avoiding unnaturally straight cuts. Most robotic lawn mowers also provide manual controls, so if you have a tricky section of the yard or simply want to move it to a different area, you can take manual control of the lawn mower and adjust it.
If your yard has a steep slope, you may run into trouble with your robotic lawn mower. Experts and consumer reviewers alike agree that robotic lawn mowers are not well equipped to handle hilly areas.
Believe it or not, robotic lawn mower developers have designed equipment that knows how to respect the property line. Robotic lawn mowers come complete with kits to set up a perimeter for your new lawn mower. These kits consist of a thin wire that tells the robotic lawn mower where the property line or sidewalk is located, and small pegs to hold the wire in place around the edge of the lawn. When the robotic lawn mower reaches the wire, it changes direction and continues mowing.
For a prettier yard, cut the lawn short before installing the wire. When the grass grows, it will hide the wire. You’ll never see that wire again, but the robotic lawn mower still knows that it’s there. Robotic lawn mowers that use GPS and lasers for perimeter programming are in development, but that technology is not yet available to consumers.
Even if you have decorations, trees, or children and pets, the robotic lawn mower is a safe alternative to a traditional lawn mower. Developers have equipped robotic lawn mowers with a number of safety measures to prevent accidental misuse or destruction of property.
All robotic lawn mowers are equipped with bumper panels around the entire perimeter of the machine that cause the lawn mower to stop and change direction if it encounters an obstacle. It won’t plow over your lawn gnome; when the robotic mower bumps into it, it will go around. If a robotic lawn mower encounters anything that causes it to lift or begin to tip, the blades stop spinning immediately. If a curious child or dog tries to pick up the robotic lawn mower, the blades lock and the mower shuts off.
Depending on the model, robotic lawn mowers come equipped with child-lock features, anti-theft alarms, rain detectors and even programmable settings that tell it to run at a specific time every day, or once a week. Because robotic lawn mowers are so quiet, you can even program them to run at night.
Another feature that many people love about robotic lawn mowers is that they are battery operated. Robotic lawn mowers are much more environmentally friendly than traditional gas-operated lawn mowers. Some gas mowers are comparable in emissions to SUVs, while a robotic lawn mower takes about the same amount of power as a light bulb and produces no emissions.
Most robotic lawn mowers return to their docking stations automatically to recharge after mowing. Recharging the battery takes approximately 24 hours. If you have a particularly large yard, you may need to run the robotic lawn mower twice to cover the whole property, as a single battery charge powers a robotic lawn mower for approximately 5,000 square feet of mowing.
If you have a very large yard, consider getting a second battery to swap out during mowing so that the robotic lawn mower can complete the job. Look for NiMh and Lithium-ion batteries that are less likely to develop charging memory than lead-acid batteries.
Keeping your lawn mower blades in good condition is the key to having a beautiful, well-manicured lawn. To maintain good performance, it’s a good idea to clean the lawn mower blades every three to five uses, roughly the same as a traditional lawn mower.
You’ll need to replace the robotic lawn mower’s blades every three years to ensure that your grass is getting a clean cut.
Depending on the type of battery and whether your robotic lawn mower sees year-round use, you will have to replace the battery every four or five years. Compare that to traditional lawn mower maintenance: you have to service gas mowers every year, burn gasoline and oil to operate them and replace blades on a similar schedule. Robotic lawn mowers cost less to operate, and the ongoing maintenance costs are lower than those of traditional lawn mowers.