Want A Clean-Cut Lawn? A Robot Mower Might Not Be For You

Image courtesy of Consumer Reports on YouTube

While your inner child might thrill at the idea of having robots do stuff around the home, if you want to save a bunch of money and have a lawn with that clean-cut, green look, you could be better off sticking with a self-propelled lawnmower instead of the robotic kind.

Much like one of those robotic vacuum cleaners that cats love to ride on, at first glance it looks like a robotic mower would be just the thing for someone who wants to sit back and relax while a device does the hard work. But it’s not quite a “set it and forget it” situation with these somewhat pricy robo-mowers, as our esteemed colleagues at Consumer Reports found out when they recently tested a few models.

One of the big considerations shoppers will have to take into account is the price of robotic mowers — the four models Consumer Reports tested this summer ran from $1,000 to $2,400. That’s in comparison to the $400 price tag on a self-propelled Honda model that Consumer Reports has rated highly.

There’s also the question of installation time: you need to first set a perimeter wire for the robot mowers, driving a stake about every 18 inches into the ground to set boundaries, and then install the docking station and program the mower. All of that setting up can take several hours.

And once it’s going, there’s no guarantee the battery-powered mowers will keep going all by themselves, as they can get stuck on uneven surfaces on your lawn and need human hands to free them.

Another advantage of self-propelled mowers that shoppers should consider is the clean, even cut and straight lines Consumer Reports testers got with the self-propelled model. The robo mowers wander randomly, clipping the grass as they go, which results in an even cut, but a less smooth surface. That rougher cut can cause stress to the grass, drying it out and making it more susceptible to disease.

Check out the video from Consumer Reports below for more information on how robo mowers stack up to traditional self-propelled models: