There's nothing like the look, feel and smell of freshly cut grass, but unless you're paying for a professional lawn mowing service then you probably spend hours every week during the summer doing the work yourself.
With tasks across all industries gradually becoming automated and saving us all hours of time and effort, of course, lawn mowing was not one to be left behind.
With the Aussie lawn industry being valued as the second highest in the world after the US at a cool $3 billion, it’s little surprise we’re seeking quicker and easier solutions to get the job done. So, what’s the answer? Well - say hello to the robotic lawn mower.
Why go robotic?
The most obvious answer to this is suggested in the name – no longer spend hours on your lawn, perfecting the length and edges, and ensuring you don’t miss a spot when a machine can do a great job for you. Even the Wall Street Journal put robotic lawn mowers to the test and says every machine achieved almost 100% coverage – better than most human performance, and certainly a lot less effort.
Lawn mowing can be an exhausting task, so perhaps this is the answer you’ve been waiting for. Need a little more convincing? More regular lawn cuts can be beneficial for the grass, ensuring a healthier lawn which is much easier when you don’t have to do it.
Whilst they are more expensive than manual lawn mowers, robotic lawn mowers might work out cheaper than hiring a gardener, if you are just hiring a gardener only to do simple lawn mowing, and they are robust enough to hang on to for years to come. There are also plenty of models out there for all shapes and sizes of lawn to suit yours, and many are fully autonomous with self-charging, so they can be a great investment.
Available for lawns of all sizes and shapes, robot lawn mowers are relatively easy to set up, and as they're powered by rechargeable batteries, they're super quiet, which means you can let them do their thing at any hour of the day without bothering the neighbors. They are still not cheap, and you'll pay more for a model that can handle larger lawns that have steep grades and you'll also pay more for features like rain and anti-theft sensors.
How Robot Lawn Mowers Work
All robot mowers use a battery operated motor with an AC powered base station. The battery pack can last anywhere from 30 minutes for an entry-level model designed for small lawns, up to four-plus hours for a high-end robot mower designed to handle larger lawns.
Robot lawn mowers navigate similarly to robot vacuums using sensors that prevent them from wandering off your propert, the vast majority also need installation of a perimeter wire, with the end of the perimeter wire connected to a terminal on the base station, the wire is laid along the edge of your lawn and held in place using stakes. The other end of the wire goes back to the second terminal of the base station. In additional to charging the mower, the base station provides the wire with an electrical charge. Sensors on the mower use the charged wire to guide it within the boundaries and to return to the base when either the lawn is cut or the battery needs to recharge.
Programming is normally done using an onboard control panel that has On and Off buttons, as well as menus for scheduling cutting times, creating zones, configuring edge cutting settings, setting seasonal timers, and viewing the cutting history. Nearly all robot mowers are very quiet and operate in the 55dB to 60dB range, you can run the quieter models at night, however there are a few models out there that can put out up to 75dB of sound.
Read on to find out which robotic lawn mower is best suited to your lawn size and your budget.
Choosing the robotic lawn mower for you
To find the best robotic mower for your lawn, it’s important to consider a number of key factors:
How big is your lawn?
Of course, you’ll need one that can handle the size! Make sure the model you choose is able to handle the working area capacity, and if you have a large lawn, you may want to consider a model with automatic charging to ensure it doesn’t miss a spot.
How steep is your lawn?
Ensure you choose a model with good capacity for steeper gardens, with decent traction, wheel size, and power. Also consider the terrain – if there are objects across the lawn and bushes, you may want a model with advanced senors for remote object detection.
What’s the shape of your lawn?
If it features a number of narrow areas and sections, a robotic lawn mower with guide wires will work best as they ensure the blade can handle intricate passages.
How safe is your lawn mower?
It’s unlikely a pet or child will come into close contact but it’s still an important consideration. Some models feature a cutting disc with retractable blades, and as they are designed to carry out more regular mows, the cut is generally shallower meaning less chance of serious injury.
The best models on the market
It’s no secret that Australia currently has a limited amount of choice of robotic lawn mowers on the market, but this is set to grow steadily in the future. We’ve taken a look at the current range available to help you find the perfect model for your lawn.
The bargain bot under $1,000
It's still hard to find any robotic lawn mowers in the sub $1,000 price range, well there is a new Australian owned brand looking to change this with a range of mowers that are capable of dealing with small backyards up to 3,600sqm. Their entry level model is the Moebot 800 and is capable of mowing an area up to 800sqm.
- Adjustable cutting height
- 3 blade cutting system
- Bump sensors
- Pick up sensors
- Rain sensor
- In built WIFI and comes with a phone APP
The Moebot 800 is equipped with 3 blades that cut grass into a fine mulch, which makes great fertiliser. This removes the need to pick up any clippings once done. Like all the more expensive models the Moebot 800 automatically recharges when its battery runs low, and then continues working unprompted. You can even set a schedule for it using the smart app. It's ultra quiet and it's the best you can get for under $1,000 (and as good as those a little more expensive too).
The Italian styled robotic lawn mower under $2,000
This robotic lawn mower is state of the art with powerful cutting power, performance, and user-friendly ability. Made with top quality materials and Italian style, it’s an ecological model that mows the lawn for you whilst improving its quality all year with a lusher and eco-friendly lawn. Working to intervals with intermittent recharging to get the whole job done, it has impressive technology that recognises obstacles and adapts to cut thicker and higher grass.
The Ambrogio L60 is the only robot without installation and without perimeter wire. It is ideal for those who want a perfectly mowed lawn, without having to to install perimeter wires. The robot’s ease of use allows it to be put into service immediately and transported to multiple areas and different gardens.
With star-shaped blades, it’s been designed to give an even cut across all types of grass and the traction on the wheels - which are supported by motors and batteries - enable the mower to easily scale slopes of up to 50%, the highest on the market. Complying to international safety standards, it offers blade protection to prevent accidental contact, safety sensors, and a push stop button.
The sensor can detect rain and will return to the charging station to protect the lawn from mowing whilst it’s wet, or you can choose for it to carry on. Additional features include patented sensors, advanced navigation devices, electric power for zero emissions, powerful lithium-ion batteries for longer life, and a hardwearing chassis for maximum performance.
The Ambrogio Robot is available for under $2,000 for the L60 model, this model is suitable for lawns up to 200 metres squared, they have different models with cost increasing dependent on the working area capacity of up to 30,000 metres squared, average working time, and maximum allowable slope to suit your particular lawn.
The Reliable Brand Robotic lawn mower from $1,699
As one of the best known robotic lawnmower brands available in Australia, you’d expect good quality from the Husqvarna Automower and, well - it really delivers. As well as enabling you to barely lift a finger, the Automower has the resilience to cut grass in virtually any weather condition which is perfect for those rainy days when you don’t fancy mowing the lawn. It’s also quieter than most other lawn mowers out there, with a sound level as low as 58dB, meaning you can operate it via its unique app no matter which time of day (or night) works best for you.
Its randomised mowing pattern means it won’t miss a spot of your lawn, and it tackles steep, difficult terrain seamlessly including small objects that it may encounter. The robotic lawnmower works within an electronic fence that’s created by a boundary wire that’s easily installed by your dealer to allow you years of low effort maintenance. When it runs out of battery, it will return to its charging station. For those concerned about theft, it’s protected by a pin code, sounds an alarm if lifted without the pin code, can’t be matched to other charging stations, and is red listed in support if reported stolen.
The Automower is available at a starting price of $1,699 for the automower 305 model, with cost increasing dependent on the working area capacity, typical charging time, remote object detection, and GPS-assisted navigation to suit your particular lawn.
WORX WR140E 20V Landroid Robot Lawn Mower (under $1,800)
Being an established power equipment brand you will pay more for this awarding winning, fully automated robotic lawn mower that claims to cut up to 1,000m2
It's a bit more refined and feature rich than the Moebot 800 and it's perhaps a safer bet for spare parts being available.
- Intuitive layered interface for customized working schedules
- Patented mowing AIA cutting technology ensures it can pass through narrow paths with ease
- APP capable for instant operation and control
- Cut to Edge – Offset 3-blade cutting/mulching System for closer edge cutting
- Innovative electronics allow for mowing on hills and slopes
- Two independent brushless wheel motors
- Rain sensor
- Automatic over the Air Software updates
- WORX 20V PowerShare battery platform - share’s its battery with all WORX 20V cordless tools.
Patented AIA cutting technology ensures it can pass through narrow paths with ease.
Where's the rest?
There are more models avaliable in Australia, but at the time of writing they all seem to be priced much higher than they are in the USA. Undoubtedly, Australia will see a huge increase in the amount of robotic lawn mowers available as more brands continue to release and improve their models.
Once you’ve chosen your perfect robotic lawn mower, take a look at this video on the next steps for installing your machine in order to get started. Happy mowing!