Robotic Mowers Buying Guide
Introduction to Robotic Lawn Mowers
Robotic Lawn Mowers have been around since S Lawrence Bellinger first introduced the MowBot in 1969, however it was only recently in 2020 that Husqvarna brought out the Automower 550 EPOS, the first fully satellite guided Robotic mower that could navigate lawns with an accuracy of 2-3 cms without the use of boundary wires. In the last 3 years many brands have developed their own GPS robotic lawn mowers, most notably in our view has been the recent launch to Stiga’s excellent A range of autonomous robotic lawn mowers. So, what is the big deal about robotic mowers and specifically why is GPS navigation such a step change?
For lawns above 300 m² (1.5 tennis courts) where a self-propelled or sit on lawn mower with a larger cutting deck become necessary a GPS robotic lawn mower has increasingly become a serious alternative with many advantages and here’s why.
Boundary Wired Robotic Lawn Mowers
As it’s name suggests the Robotic Mower is guided by a boundary wire dictating the edge of the area to be mowed. The charging station emits a signal through the boundary wire, so when the robot mower approaches the boundary, it stops and goes back the other way. When the robot is low on battery, it will locate the boundary wire and then follow it to return to the charging station. We recommend burying the wire 5cm deep in the ground by cutting a slit in the ground.
Set Up for a wired guided robotic lawn mower for separated lawn areas:
- One Mower with one charging station with the boundary wire installed in one continuous loop around the garden.
- One Mower with multiple charging stations and separated perimeter areas wired for each charging station.
- Multiple robotic lawn mowers each covering a separated perimeter area.
- Boundary wired robotic lawn mowers are cheaper than GPS guided machines.
- Some gardens have large tree coverage or tall buildings nearby which prevents getting a decent GPS signal.
- Laying boundary wire is more expensive than mapping a lawn with a GPS guided robotic mower.
- Laying a wires for complex lawns with trees, flower beds, ponds and walls or split lawns with driveways or patios is a lot more compilcated and often diffucult to get close to the edge.
- Boundary wires can get damaged buy a digging, building works or even a squirrel. Finding the break requires specialist equipment.
GPS Robotic Lawn Mowers
With the introduction of the GPS navigation there is no longer a need for any wired cables dug into the ground thus making mapping the lawn far simpler and cheaper; complex lawns with trees, ponds, walls are no longer a problem with GPS mapping. Furthermore, many gardens are split by driveways and patios, with GPS mapping your mower can cross a driveway with the blades stationary and re-start on that secondary area. This has opened up more gardens in the UK to the benefits of Robotic mowing than any other.
The rapid development of competition and technology; prices for GPS Robotic mowers have fallen dramatically since their first introduction in 2020. The Stiga Stig-A 1500 starts from £2,499 which is comparable to many perimeter wired Robotic mowers and entry level sit on mowers with a the capacity to cut large lawns of up to 1,500 m² or 0.4 of an acre in a single charge.
Mowing with a robotic mower, you will notice that your lawn is far healthier with fewer yellow patches, weeds and a consistently even cut. This is because Robotic mowers are lighter and have a far smaller cutting circle that is better able to follow the contours of the lawn. Therefore the Mower will not bruise the grass or create a bald patch when they encounter a lump in your lawn. Robotic Mowers have multiple small sharp blades that cut the grass in different directions which prevents the grass from being continually swept in the same direction and allows the grass to grow uniformly upright.
As a Robotic mower is able to cut when it is raining and autonomously whilst you are not around; the increased cutting frequency allows you to maintain a consistently good height of grass which over time improves the thickness and quality of your grass and prevents weeds from getting established. Furthermore, all the nutrients from the grass cuttings go back into your lawn and are not dumped in a pile hidden behind a bush or shed.
Time & Costs Savings
The first and most obvious benefit is that after setting up and mapping your lawn all you have to do it sit back and relax. And your GPS Robotic mower will mow your lawn for you. No longer do you have to go up and down your lawn on a hot summers day. Continually emptying the grass cuttings or clearing blockages are a thing of the past. Furthermore paying for someone to mow your lawn will be a thing of the past. Robotic lawn mowers work autonomously so whatever else you may be doing, rain or shine your lawn will be mown. With a simple to use phone app to control and tell you exactly where and what your mower is doing.
The running costs and maintenance of a Robotic mower are also less. Typically, we estimate that that a ride on Mower costs £600 per annum for servicing and running. A Stiga Robotic Mower costs 7p per hour with annual servicing costs averaging around £100. There is less to go wrong with a Robotic mower so servicing involves no more than software up-dates, sensor checks and replacing the blades. Using an Authorised dealer for servicing will also ensure you get the full warranty period. Providing an authorised dealer sets up the mower and maps your garden the warranty on a Robotic mower is an impressive 4 to 5 years, depending on the brand you buy.
Once your lawns are mapped, the operation of a Robotic Lawn Mower is very simple. Our oldest customer is 93 years young and manages her lawns from the comfort of her deck chair. With the assisstance of the simple to use mobile phone App. Previously her relatives travelled miles to come down and help her mow her lawns or she employed a local lawn care company. Now she proudly shows off her beautiful lawns with no outside help!
Parallel or Random Cutting Explained
With Robotic Mowers there is a lot of talk about the efficient cutting of your lawn. A Robotic mower cuts lawns either in parallel or randomly. A parallel cut goes up and down in parallel lines. However the mower will not follow the same path on different days. For example, it might go north to south on one day and the next day go east west. Therfore the grass is not to brushed down in one direction. And what’s more if the battery needs recharging it will be able to pick up where it left off once fully charged. This is obviously the most efficient type of cut. However, for more complex lawns with trees and ponds a random cut is better and neater.
Public spaces, sports pitches, facilities, businesses and even golf courses
One of the major new markets for GPS Robotic mowers is for professional use. Be they sports fields, public parks, around facilities and even golf courses. Managing large multiple areas, complex lawn designs and obstacles, inclines of up to 70% and wet grass. With the ease of mapping and remote control via mobile phone Apps. They free up hours of labour, improve the quality of grass, reduce carbon footprint. Ultimately Robotic Lawn Mowers are far cheaper to run than a person sat or pushing a mower. For areas that require a close cut such as golf courses or cricket pitches. Husqvarna have a fairway kit with a cutting height of 15mm. With due Stiga to lunch one in the foreseeable future.