Photo: deposit photos.com
Mowing the lawn is one of the latest human tasks to be automated. Robotic lawn mowers can keep the lawn at just the right height on their own. With this gadget, you can schedule when the yard gets mowed and decide how much of the lawn is cut each time. Some of the best robotic lawn mower options are cheaper to run than a gasoline-powered mower, make almost no noise, and produce no planet-warming exhaust emissions. The best part? They work automatically, with no pushing and sweating from you.
To spend your weekends doing something other than cutting your lawn, a robot lawn mower may be a smart, time-saving investment. Read on for some of the top picks and reviews of the best robot lawn mowers.
- BEST OVERALL: Worx WR-150 Robotic Landroid Mower
- RUNNER-UP: Husqvarna Automower 115H Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: MOWRO RM24 Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST SMART TECH: Worx WR143 Robotic Landroid Mower
- BEST FOR STEEP HILLS: Husqvarna Automower 430XH Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR COMPLEX YARDS: Worx WR153 Robotic Landroid Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Husqvarna Automower 450XH Robotic Lawn Mower
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Robot Lawn Mower
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a robotic lawn mower.
Yard size is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best robot lawn mower for you. Ideally, you want a mower that can cut your entire yard on one battery charge. Factors affecting how much yard a robot lawn mower can cut include the run time per battery charge, the mower size, and the speed it travels.
Light-duty or small robot lawn mowers are best for lots up to a quarter of an acre, or about 11,000 square feet. Midsize robot lawn mowers cut up to half an acre, or about 22,000 square feet. Large robot lawn mowers can cut up to 1 acre, or 43,560 square feet.
Power Source and Battery Life
Robot mowers typically use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Depending on the model, a robot lawn mower can run from an hour to about 2.5 hours per battery charge. Batteries typically need 30 minutes to an hour to recharge.
Robot lawn mower batteries tend to last about three years, on average. When they are used up, you can replace them.
Basic robot mowers work on flat yards and slopes of up to 15 percent (1.5 feet of rise per 10 feet of linear distance). If you have a yard with garden beds, boulders, pathways, or steeper slopes, you’ll need a fancier robot lawn mower. Look for one with onboard collision detection systems, programmable GPS, or all-wheel drive to navigate complex yards.
Robot mowers are kept in the yard by a low-voltage electric wire you install at the edges of the lawn. An onboard computer tells the robot mower when to mow and when to recharge. You just program the mowing schedule and set the blade height. The lawn mower does the rest. Many robotic lawn mowers are Bluetooth-capable, so you can program them with an app on your smartphone.
Onboard sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, apps, and compatibility with personal digital assistants allow you to program a robotic mower to keep the grass trimmed. On its programmed mowing schedule, the mower starts and recharges itself, returning to its docking station when it’s finished mowing. Collision sensors and boundary wire sensors keep the mower on the lawn and protect non-grass areas.
Some robotic mowers have a manual mode you set to trim enclosed spaces. In manual mode, the robot mower uses either extra perimeter wire or an onboard collision sensor to stay inbounds. In manual mode, the robot mower can be moved to a secondary location, inside a fenced area of the yard, for example, and it will mow without further programming.
Many robot mowers will send an alert to your smartphone when its blades need to be changed or if the machine is moved off the premises. Mobile apps can also let you operate your robot mower remotely via smartphone or digital assistant.
Robotic mowers are quiet but not silent. They produce an average of 60 decibels, which is about as loud as a human conversation. A gasoline-powered push mower produces 95 decibels of noise or about 50 percent more noise than a robot lawn mower.
Robot lawn mowers are small enough that a thief could carry one away. For that reason, some of them require a personal identification number (PIN) for operation, so if a thief hauls it away, he won’t be able to use it. Others feature alarms, security alerts, and GPS tracking that kicks in if the unit is removed from your yard. Since robot lawn mowers are fairly quiet, people often program them to run at night as a theft deterrent.
Robot lawn mowers have safety features to protect the user and others in its cutting area. The machine moves slowly so pets, children, and other humans can see it coming and get out of the way. Collision sensors slow or redirect the mower as it nears an obstacle. An automatic shut-off kicks in if the machine is lifted, stopping the blades from moving. And the mower has recessed blades mounted away from the edges of the machine to reduce the chance of cutting hands and feet that come too close.
Most robot lawn mowers are built to withstand outdoor conditions during the mowing season. Some robotic mowers can run in the rain, but it is not recommended. Wet grass does not cut as smoothly, and wet conditions can spread fungal diseases to the grass. Some robot lawn mowers have rain sensors that skip a scheduled mowing if it rains. Other robot mowers can have their cutting schedule manually overridden, so you can turn it if rain is in the forecast. Still, others link to a weather app that will turn the mower off for you if the forecast calls for rain.
Docking stations are weatherproof during the mowing season. But extended periods of damp, subfreezing weather shorten the mower’s life span. Store the mower and its docking station indoors in the winter.
Our Top Picks
We reviewed the most popular robotic lawn mowers, measured them against our shopping considerations, and picked some favorites.
The Worx Robotic Landroid Mower can cut up to a half-acre yard, thanks to a two-hour run time per 90-minute battery charge. It can also cut a yard with a 20-degree slope, thanks to a pair of brushless wheel motors that give the robot lawn mower’s wheels extra traction. The Landroid’s 9-inch blade cuts closer to the edges of a yard than many of its competitors. The blade height adjusts from 1.9 to 3.5 inches.
Set a custom mowing schedule via an app on your smartphone and control it on the go. An integrated rain sensor stops the Landroid from cutting if rain starts and sends it back to its charging station.
The Husqvarna Automower can cut a decent-size yard on one charge thanks to its 60-minute run time per 60-minute charge. It features an 8.66-inch cutting and mulching head, and its cutting height adjusts from 2 inches to 3.6 inches, letting you control just how much you trim off your grass. The Automower is rated for use on slopes up to 17 degrees.
It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can control it with your smartphone via an app, which allows you to start it, stop it, and check its status without getting up from your patio chair. The unit has theft protection with a PIN code and alarm system.
The MOWRO RM24 Robotic Lawn Mower is a good choice for people with small yards and small budgets. It’s preprogrammed to mow every two days. You set the mowing start time and lot size, up to a quarter of an acre. Then the MOWRO will mow every 48 hours afterward. It can handle a slope of 30 percent and has a rain sensor that sends it back to the docking station in wet weather. The 9.5-inch, three-blade cutting head adjusts from 1 inch to 2.5 inches in cutting height.
Just say “Alexa, fire up the robot mower,” and your grass will get cut if you’re using the WORX WR143 Robotic Landroid Mower. It can be controlled with a smartphone or Amazon Alexa, so you can mow the lawn without actually setting foot on the lawn. An integrated rain gauge sends the mower back to its charging base in wet weather. The mower can also be programmed to exclude specific areas of the yard. To protect it from thieves, the WR143 has a Find My Landroid GPS cellular module that notifies you if the robot mower is removed from your property and gives you the ability to track it.
The Worx WR143 cuts up to a quarter of an acre, with a run time of 90 minutes and a charge time of 90 minutes.
The Husqvarna Automower 430XH Robotic Lawn Mower can handle a yard with a serious slope—up to 24 percent of slope. The 9.45-inch, three-blade cutting and mulching head adjusts between 2 inches and 3.6 inches in height. The mower can cut about three-quarters of an acre, with a run time of 145 minutes on a 50-minute charge.
Control this robot mower with a smartphone or smartwatch or by using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. It has GPS-assisted navigation that maps the landscape as it mows and LED headlights for night mowing. Security features include a PIN code, alarm, installation lock, and GPS theft-tracking.
The Worx WR153 Robotic Landroid Mower mows up to half an acre, regardless of obstacles like playsets, flower gardens, newly planted grass seeds, or trees. When this mower encounters an obstacle, it automatically redirects and continues mowing. It can be programmed to exclude a specific part of the yard, too. If a fenced area is part of the landscape, simply place the mower inside the fenced area and let it mow in manual mode, no programming required.
The 9-inch, three-blade cutting disc is adjustable in five increments from 1.9 to 3.5 inches in height. The mower works on slopes up to 20 percent and has a run time of 90 minutes on a charge time of 90 minutes.
The Husqvarna Automower 450XH Robotic Lawn Mower can handle a big yard, up to 1.25 acres of moderately rolling terrain. The fast charge time (60 minutes) and long run time (270 minutes) on this mower makes it a great choice for large landscapes. Control it with a smartphone or smartwatch or by voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The mower also features GPS-assisted navigation that maps the landscape as it mows and LED headlights for mowing overnight.
Its 9.45-inch, three-blade cutting and mulching head adjusts between 2 inches and 3.6 inches in height. It can handle slopes up to 24 percent.
FAQs About Your New Robot Lawn Mower
Still not sure how to choose the best robot lawn mower for you? Read on for tips to help you decide.
Q. How does perimeter wire work?
Perimeter wire runs from the charging station, around the edge of the yard, and back to the charging station. It carries a low-voltage electrical signal that keeps the mower inbounds. The wire should be installed at the beginning of each mowing season and taken down for storage in winter. Installation is typically a DIY project, but some sellers offer professional installation.
Q. How often should I use a robotic lawn mower?
Robotic mowers are designed to cut several times per week. When grass is growing really fast, the robot mower should run every day or every other day. When grass grows more slowly, mowing two or three times per week is sufficient.
Q. Can I use a robot lawn mower while it rains?
Some robotic mowers can operate in the rain; others cannot. You will get a cleaner cut and reduce the spread of disease in your lawn by mowing only while the grass is dry.
Q. How long do robot mowers last?
The mower itself lasts 10 years or more. Mower blades last about two months. They cannot be sharpened; they must be replaced. They’re a bit like a disposable razor blade. Rechargeable batteries for robot mowers last about three years on average.