Are you tired of cutting the grass every week and plan on getting a robotic lawn mower to do the job instead? We've tested several different robot mowers over a whole growing season.
We carried out the test ourselves and tested all of the robot mowers as they are intended to be used in reality. To obtain test results that are as reliable as possible, we tested the robotic lawn mowers for several months on several different types of lawns and in different types of weather. This made it possible to judge longer-term effects and seasonal impact on their cutting ability.
For example, it's often wet in the autumn but dry in high summer. The grass grows mostly at the start of the summer and the lawn is most brittle during the dryness of high summer and the autumn rains. Testing robotic lawnmowers under all these conditions also gives a better overall picture than simply testing them for a couple of weeks in the early summer - something that is common in other robotic lawn mower tests.
In other tests it's also common to use only one grass area to test each model, on which the testing body artificially tries to include all types of difficulty. However, our experience tells us that it's extremely difficult to succeed with this. Primarily because it's so difficult to predict all of the types of difficulties that different lawns present. So we think that the more types of lawn that a robotic lawn mower is tested on, the better.
In our assessment we have focused on the following characteristics:
Performance: How big an area of grass can the robotic lawn mower cope with? How good are the cutting results over the short and long term? How well does it cut long, coarse and wet grass? What about edge cutting?
Effectiveness: How effectively does it work in terms of time and cutting results? How long do you need to spend on the lawn? How often does it have to go out and cut? Can it really cope with the recommended cutting area?
Reliability: How intelligent is it? How reliable is it? How often does it stop and report an error message, and in what situations? How good are the robotic lawn mower's rough terrain-handling abilities? How flexible can the cable laying be for it still to cope? How does the robotic lawn mower avoid wheel tracks along the perimeter wire? How does it cope with narrow passages, sharp corners, areas full of obstacles or secondary areas?
Ease of use: Is the installation quick and straightforward or slow and fiddly? Are there clear instructions, such as detailed illustrations or YouTube videos? How easy is the robotic lawn mower to program? Is the menu system easy to navigate? How does the robotic lawn mower communicate with its owner? What type of information does it give? Can it work without disturbing the neighbours?
Design & build quality: How well designed is the robotic lawn mower? Do the wheels give a good grip while simultaneously being kind to the lawn? How much stress and wear does the construction tolerate? How tough are the blades? Do the blades give a neat cut or do they tear the grass? What guarantee does it have? Are there spare parts? Can the robot lawn mower be used without a guide wire?
Functionality: What settings are available? How much control does the user have of the cutting schedule? Does the robotic lawn mower have an app? Can the product be considered as an automatic lawn mower?
Safety: Does the robotic lawn mower use pivot blades or fixed blades? Does the signal from the boundary wire interfere with other robotic lawnmowers? Could children or pets get at the blades? How much damage do the blades do, for example to forgotten toys? How effective is the theft protection? What happens if you forget the PIN code, or somebody enters the wrong PIN code?
We have pushed each robotic lawn mower to the limits of what it can cope with to see what types of situations and environments it can handle. Each robotic lawn mower has been given a score according to its value for money; in other words how good it is in each area in relation to its price tag. An expensive model thus has higher expectations than a cheaper one, and vice versa. We noted how often, where and why each robotic lawn mower stopped, and what consequences that had on the cutting result.
Very reliable, easy to programme and well designed
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium Recommended max. area: 1000 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium ion Operating time: approx. 70 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 22° (40%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 9 step (manual) Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 9.2 kg Noise level: 60 | Measured mean value: approx. 59 dB Length: 63 mm Width: 51 mm Height: 25 mm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Bluetooth) Accessories included: 9 x blades Miscellaneous: Support for 1 guide cable User manual: PDF
The Husqvarna Automower 310 is our best in test thanks to a winning combination of reliability, functionality and user-friendliness for a reasonable price.
The Automower 310 is great at keeping the grass short both on slopes and in narrow corridors. It's also very quick to install, even for a novice. You don't need to lay the cable in any special formations, or adapt the area to be mowed in any other way. You can pretty much just place the station down on the ground with the guide cable beneath it. You don't need to set the station in a particular direction or anything like that. This gives you great freedom to position it.
The inputs on the back of the charging station are clearly marked. When you've connected the guide cable and perimeter wire, you simply place the robotic lawn mower in the charging station and it's ready to go. You don't even really need to cut the grass before installation – unless it's unusually tall.
The robotic lawn mower is also very easy to programme. Either via the display with the clear and easily navigated menu system, or via your mobile phone.
Unfortunately, the 310 only has Bluetooth connection. We would have liked it to come with Wi-Fi support in the charging station, or a GSM connection. You can buy the latter (Husqvarna Automower Connect) and we recommend you do so, as it significantly increases functionality. For example, you can see where it's mowed on a map, and get notifications from it even when you aren't at home. You also get support for changing the mowing schedule remotely, voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant, and connection to Apple Watch. And it’s this combination that makes it a real test winner.
Once the robotic lawn mower is installed, you can easily adjust the cutting height without needing a tool. Its movement patterns on the lawn mean that the robotic lawn mower doesn’t wear tracks in the grass. However, it can slip a little when running over damp slopes if it has cut grass stuck in its wheels.
In very tall grass, the 310 does a spiral mowing pattern to make sure the area is cut as quickly as possible, although it doesn't use this pattern as often as it perhaps needs to. The overall mowing result is excellent. It’s also so quiet that your neighbours won’t notice it.
When the Automotive 310 returns home to charge, it travels via the guide cable, which is a kind of short cut so the robotic lawn mower can get home more quickly. This means it avoids obstacles on the way home, which are often found around the perimeter wire – for example, if you have dense, low-hanging bushes or very uneven ground along the edges of the lawn.
The Husqvarna Automower 310 succeeds in maintaining the stated surface area of 1000 square metres without problems. As mentioned above, we recommend that you buy the Automower Connect kit, which means you can control the robotic lawn mower at a distance, as this gives a completely different level of convenience. Even without the kit, however, the 310 is a very good buy, because it’s so easy to install, and its excellent terrain-handling abilities and problem solving mean that it almost never gets stuck even on a bumpy lawn with pine cones, fallen fruit etc.
Info: Sorry, unfortunately we can't show all available merchants for the 2021 version right now. The version should however be widely available here. Make sure to ask if the merchants has the 2021 version. Sorry for the mess
Still the king among the better equipped models
Review year: 2021 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 6.4 Ah/18 V Operating time: approx. 135 mins/charge Rec. max. area: 3,200 m² Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 9 step (electronic) Cutting width: 24 cm Weight: 13.2 kg Noise level: Low | Measured average value: approx. 57 dB Length: 72.1 cm Width: 55.8 cm Height: 30.8 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: Perimeter wire and staples can be purchased separately, 9 extra blades User instructions: PDF Video clip: Installation instructions
The Husqvarna Automower 430X is a user-friendly and extremely competent robotic lawn mower with a large range of functions that mean it can cope with most things on its own. It's quite simply one of the most reliable, easy-to-use and good value for money premium robotic lawn mowers on the market.
But there are a few things we feel it's worth commenting on, now we're in 2021. For example, we think Husqvarna should embrace remote updates to the software on all of its premium models – not just on the four-wheel drive 435X. There are budget brands that now have this functionality, so we think such a great mower really should have it too. Particularly as it's gone up almost £500 in price over the last year. Fortunately for Husqvarna, there's still no other competitor that can beat them when it comes to other test areas, but there are a couple getting close.
We also discovered something that seems to be a bug in the weather function that meant the robotic lawn mower went out and mowed in the middle of the night, despite not being scheduled to do so. This kind of bug could have been fixed via remote update of the software – but that's not possible.
You programme your 430X easily, via an app that's one of the easiest to use and most user-friendly on the market. The map on which you can see where the lawn mower has been – and where it is now, in real time – is excellent. As is the fact that you get notifications if your mower gets stuck or is moved without authorisation.
The Automower 430X is a little way ahead of its competitors when it comes to reliability and intelligence. If we look at reliability, Honda are in the same class with Stihl almost there. But when we consider intelligence, Husqvarna are still pretty much alone in being able to deal with complicated gardens efficiently and without forgetting separate garden areas.
We've run the Automower 430X on our very toughest lawns, which have loads of problems, such as complex areas and uneven and loose surfaces.
Even if the 430X struggles in places, it copes much better than any other model. The only thing it has problems with are apples, and it gets stuck on these a few times during the autumn. The 430X can also cope with mowing about twice as big an area as the specification states. Because the 430X is very quiet, it can mow at night without disturbing sensitive neighbours – but you should really avoid doing this for the sake of animals such as hedgehogs. It supports IFTTT, so you can connect it to your smart home and also supports Gardena's Smart Garden system.
Overall, the reliability and capacity of this mower are really striking. The Husqvarna 430X is also an easy to programme, user-friendly robotic lawn mower with lots of intelligent functions such as the guide cable that allows it to take shortcuts.
The Husqvarna Automower 430X is best for anyone with a challenging garden but who nevertheless wants a neatly trimmed lawn without having to make any effort.
Loads of robotic lawn mower for your money
Review year: 2021 Price class: Budget Recommended max. area: 1000 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium-ion 24 V Operating time: approx. 70 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 20° (35%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 5 step (manual) Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 11 kg Noise level: 60 dB Length: 62 cm Width: 50 cm Height: 26 cm Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: No (no display, theft protection via GPS) App support: Yes (GSM+GPS) Accessories included: 100 m cable, 9 cutting blades, 3 extra splice connectors, user manual Miscellaneous: 2-year prepaid SIM card, guide cable (1 pc, optional), automatic updates, IPX5 User manual: In the app, together with a paper copy in the box.
This year, the GreenWorks Optimow 10 takes over the throne of best budget choice. The margin is a very narrow one, because the competition in the budget class is extremely tough, but it’s faster, stronger and has more functions than last year’s winner, so it’s worth spending the extra £100 this robot mower costs.
In the budget class, it’s often the case that you either get a connected robotic lawn mower that tends to get stuck, or a reliable model with few functions and poor (or no) options for connection. So the biggest advantage of the Optimow 10 is that it isn’t best at anything, but instead is very good at everything.
For example, it has everything you currently get in the median price class, such as notifications if it gets stuck, remote programming and a GSM module so you can see where the robot mower is on a map. It also gets automatic updates to the software without you having to do anything. But at the time of writing it doesn’t support voice assistants.
The Optimow 10 has a handy app. The app is essential because the robotic lawn mower itself has no display. There’s just a start button and an indicator showing whether the robot mower is OK or has run into a problem – if you want to know what’s gone wrong, you have to check the app. But this works well once you’ve installed it and got the app running. But if the mower gets stuck before this things become a bit more tricky.
It’s actually a bit frustrating – but at the same time very simple – to install the Optimow 10. The charging station makes it easy to see how everything should be connected and you actually don’t even need a manual for this part. Once everything is connected, you simply put the robot mower in the charging station.
And you probably think that you’d be able to connect it immediately, but you can’t. Instead, it has to sit there charging for a couple of hours while installing software. You don’t actually need to do anything but wait for 2-4 hours, but it’s a bit annoying because you obviously want to finish the installation immediately.
It’s only when the robot mower’s software has finished downloading that you can connect it to the app and only after that can you programme the cutting schedule, start points etc. Of course we’d have preferred it if you could connect it to the app straight away and then be able to complete the programming remotely after the software was updated.
The app structure is OK although it’s a bit messy. A lot of the functions are embedded amongst large blocks of informative text, and there are definitely more attractive and comprehensible interfaces. There is no division into a useful menu system – most things are under Settings and you have to do a fair bit of scrolling. The app also takes quite a long time to reload between the different menu tabs, so perhaps that’s why most things are on one tab.
But there are a few useful functions here that many other budget models lack. For example, you can programme up to 5 start points, so if you have areas that are a long way away or complicated you can run a guide cable there and then say to the robot mower that it should drive X metres to reach the area and mow it, for example 33% of the time. Of course you can also determine the cutting schedule yourself, set rain sensors and change settings for the mower returning to the charging station. But unfortunately it’s lacking more advanced functions such as how far it can run over the cable, edge cutting etc.
Another good thing about this robotic lawn mower is that you can wash it off with a hose if the underside gets coated with grass residues. This is quite uncommon.
The GreenWorks Optimow 10 copes with simple lawns without problems and is even good at accessing areas that are more difficult to reach. For example, it copes pretty well with steep slopes, sparse grass with softer ground, paving, uneven ground etc. Not as well as the very best models, but sufficiently well for us to say it has very good accessibility levels.
It can mow in tough terrain for just over an hour before it has to go back to the charging station and charge for the same time, which is more than acceptable. The cutting width is very good given the price class – most models in this price class are a couple of centimetres narrower. Despite this it can even cope with taller grass. However, you can tell from the motor noise that it’s working quite hard in grass up to about 10 cm tall. It slows and runs more slowly over it – and above this height it often backs away instead. But over time it manages to mow everything. For its price class and cutting width, the performance and results are very good.
The software can be a bit temperamental. For example, on two occasions during the mowing season the cutting schedule deletes itself and on one occasion we have to restart it. But apart from this and a rather sluggish app, you get a lot of robot mower for your money. And also a robot mower with a guide cable – something we’ve previously only found from Husqvarna, Gardena and McCulloch – with all the advantages that brings in the form of being able to create shortcuts to more inaccessible areas and to the charging station, the option of running the perimeter wire around areas where the robot mower couldn’t otherwise have reached because it wouldn’t have been able to get home etc. and the guide cable is essential if you have inaccessible areas or narrow passages, because in these areas the Optimow’s intelligence is a bit lacking. But overall this is a really good robot mower with a bright future.
The king of robotic lawn mowers, with unbeatable functionality and performance
Review year: 2018 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 10.4 Ah/18 V Operating time: approx. 260 min/charge Rec. max. area: v 5000 m² Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 9 step (electronic) Cutting width: 24 cm Weight: 13.9 kg Noise level: Low | Measured average value: approx. 58 dB Length: 72.1 cm Width: 55.8 cm Height: 30.8 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: Automower Connect, ultrasound sensor, headlight, perimeter wire and staples can be purchased separately, 9 pcs extra blades User manual: PDF Video clip:Installation instructions
The Husqvarna Automower 450X is a quiet, strong and reliable premium lawn mower with an unusually high cutting capacity. It can cut for several hours at a time without having to go home and recharge.
When it does go home, or out again, it can run along the perimeter/boundary wire or guide cable. The guide cable is a kind of shortcut you lay across the garden so that the robotic lawn mower can easily find its way out to and back from specific places. In total, it can deal with three different guide wires, which means significant time savings in large, complicated areas.
It can also detect the charging station when it gets closer to it, by means of a built-in antenna. These features facilitate a quick and safe return home.
Doesn't get stuck. However, one of the 450X's foremost strengths is its terrain-handling abilities. It can cope with everything from simple, large and flat lawns with trees and bushes to smaller, multiple lawns which are divided with corridors between. Hollows in the lawn, undergrowth here and there and lots of fallen fruit pose no problem at all.
When it approaches larger obstacles, it reads these with an ultrasound sensor and slows down so that there are no sudden collisions. This reduces the risk of scratches on the otherwise easily scratched bodywork. It also means that it can keep up a higher speed on open areas than would otherwise have been possible.
The 450X can also cope going with steep slopes. It's a little weak at reversing on slopes with gradients above the stated specification, but in general the 450X is very strong. It's only when the slope gets so steep that it's rubbing on the underside of the bodywork that it can't move any further uphill, because it becomes physically impossible.
Keeps you informed
The Automower 450X works very quietly and can even cut the lawn at night. This is when the built-in headlights come in handy, so that you don't trip over the robotic lawn mower in the dark. You can also deactivate these.
The included app is very user-friendly and gives you almost complete control over your 450X wherever you are, provided you have mobile coverage. You can do everything from seeing where the robotic lawn mower is on the lawn in real time to adjusting cutting height and working time at a distance. The app also notifies you if the robotic lawn mower is stolen or gets stuck.
The robotic lawn mower is quite large but can squeeze through quite narrow corridors. For example, 60 cm is no problem.
Overall, this is a reliable, strong robotic lawn mower with lots of functions that's easy to programme both directly and at a distance. It also produces very good cutting results. But it's a luxury machine primarily intended for commercial use, and the price tag reflects this. If we ignore the price, it's quite clearly the best robotic lawn mower on the market.
Reliable and intelligent budget mower with relatively few functions but a good result
Review year: 2020 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 4.5 Ah/29 V Operating time: approx. 65 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 14° (25%) Cutting height: 30-50 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 17 cm Weight: 7 kg Noise level: 57 | Measured average value: approx. 58 dB Length: 59 mm Width: 44 mm Height: 26 mm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 150 m perimeter wire & 200 staples, 3 blades
The McCulloch Rob R600 is our best budget choice for its combination of good terrain-handling abilities, high reliability and easily programmed interface. The first two of these characteristics are the most important ones for a robotic lawn mower, and are unfortunately sub-par on the majority of other budget models, which makes the R600 stand out.
For the budget class, it has unbeatable problem-solving abilities, while also being well-designed and constructed from sturdy materials. Just like many other smaller robotic lawn mowers, the R600 has three wheels, but here the paired wheels are at the front instead of it running with the single wheel at the front as on many other three-wheelers. This also gives it good stability even on more uneven terrain. It can also cope with paving along the perimeter wire without any problem.
The cutting width is narrow, so it works slowly, but it does produce a good result. The battery life is good for the price class, and on average, mows for 60 minutes every other hour during the set working hours. It's also quite quiet when it's out working in the garden so it won't disturb your neighbours.
The R600 maybe simple, but it's reliable and can extract itself from tricky situations that other budget models can't cope with. It has no problems with obstacles on its way home, finding its way out of small, enclosed areas or handling obstacles on the lawn while it mows.
It can only find its way home via the guide cable, not via the perimeter wire. On models intended for large gardens, a guide cable is a good complement to a system, as it's important for the mower to be able to take shortcuts. But on a small, uncomplicated plot, it would often be easier not to have a guide cable, as it becomes something that increases the risk of cable breakage, while the installation also becomes slightly more time-consuming.
Overall, it's useful that it has the option of a guide cable, but we would have preferred it not to be mandatory.
It's very easy to get set up and programme the Rob R600. The display is large and clear. There's a knob on the top to set the cutting height. The knob is protected by a cover and there's also a narrow display beneath it that shows the chosen setting. Otherwise, the functionality is quite pared-down, as is often the case in the budget price class.
McCulloch also include a generous amount of installation material with the mower.
The lawn mower doesn't detect its charging station like many more expensive models. This means in practice that it tends to collide with the station when it's out working. So make sure you anchor the charging station firmly into the ground and carefully conceal the cables.
The R600 is best on small to medium-size lawns – even complicated ones – but without steep slopes and with a relatively even underlying surface.
Intelligent, user-friendly robotic lawn mower that copes with tough terrain
Review year: 2018 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 2.1 Ah/18 V Operating time: approx. 65 min/charge Rec. max. area: 1500 m² Max. gradient: approx. 14° (25%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 9 step (manual) Cutting width: 21 cm Weight: 9.2 kg Noise level: 60 | Measured mean value: approx. 52 dB Length: 63 cm Width: 51 cm Height: 21 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: None App support: Yes (Bluetooth) User manual: PDF **Video clip: ** Installation instructions
The Husqvarna Automower 315 is a very good robotic lawn mower that combines great terrain-handling abilities and high reliability with an easily programmed interface and intelligent solutions for navigation.
For example, the charging station sends out a signal that means that, within a 6-metre radius, the robotic lawn mower senses the station and navigates in from different angles each time. This means that it doesn't cause tracks by the entrance.
The guide cable is also a really great addition. If you have a garden with a complicated shape or multi zone work areas, the guide cable means that the robotic lawn mower can easily find its way out and back again. Instead of travelling along the wire right around the edge of the garden, it can take a shortcut. However, we do notice some track creation along the guide cable which doesn't occur when it runs along the perimeter wire.
Terrain-handling abilities are exemplary and the Automower 315 pretty much never gets stuck. It can also handle steep slopes, obstacles and paving on or around the lawn with ease.
From a reliability viewpoint, in this price class it's absolutely one of the best robotic lawn mowers on the market.
It's also very quiet and very strong. It can be out cutting for quite a long time. The only disadvantage when it comes to tough terrain is that the bodywork easily gets scratched.
The Automower 315 is supplied with app support and the app is very user-friendly. Through this, you can easily change settings such as start points, manual cutting height adjustment and new schedules.
You connect the telephone to the robotic lawn mower via a Bluetooth connection. If you buy the premium version of the lawn mower, the Automower 315X, you also get GPS and connection via the mobile network. Then you can see where the robotic lawn mower is located in real time on a map and change settings wherever you are, provided you have mobile coverage. With the Automower 315, however, you have to be content with changing settings when you're close to the lawn mower. Given the price tag and the app's general excellence, it's still really very good, but perhaps Wi-Fi would have been preferable instead?
The robotic lawn mower is very easy to program even when you're changing the settings directly via the display on the machine body. The display is large and easy to read, and the entire interface is clearly divided up so that even beginners can understand it.
Overall, the Husqvarna Automower 315 is a very good purchase for anyone who wants a reliable and easy to manage robotic lawn mower. It's suitable for everything from simple, landscaped lawns to the uneven, complicated multi zone variants with several different cutting areas. However, the Automower 315 is best value for money on trickier lawns where it can really show what it can do.
Easy-to-use and strong medium class robotic lawn mower
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium class Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 41.25 kWh Operating time: 40 min/charge Rec. max. area: 1700 m² Max. gradient: 21.8° (40 %) Cutting height: 20-60 mm Cutting width: 20 cm Weight: 10 kg Blade type: Fixed blades PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: None App support: Yes User manual: [Manual](https://static.stihl.com/api/BaOnline/Download/0000010295 /00278555.pdf?_gl=11hzhawb_gaMTU4Mzg3NzQ0Ny4xNjAzMDk3NDY1_ga_G8ZD67Y14Z*MTYxMTMxMTYyMy42LjAuMTYxMTMxMTYyOC41NQ..&_ga=2.33263038.1248472034.1611311624-1583877447.1603097465)
The Stihl iMow RMI 422 PC is a strong robotic lawn mower with fixed blades. It's quite noisy compared to other robot mowers in the same price class, but not so much that it’ll disturb you if you're sitting on your patio. The cutting motor is very strong, and the 422 doesn’t give up immediately when it gets stuck.
A few years ago we weren’t happy with how sensitive the 422 PC was to uneven patches of lawn, because it often got stuck and was unable to move. But this year there’s a big difference. The robotic lawn mower copes with uneven areas of lawn easily, and can even mow on a gradient without getting stuck on steeper sections.
Our test unit only got stuck at most once a month. Once this was due to a branch that found its way into the cutting deck, which wasn’t the lawn mower’s fault. But on two other occasions it said it had left the temperature range. It wasn’t particularly warm out, so we don’t know what this was about.
We only had problems with it getting stuck because of poor problem solving ability or difficulties with the underlying surface two or three times, and that’s good. It struggles a bit with paving in combination with nearby lawn. It slips easily and digs itself down into the lawn with its wheels.
The 422 PC also has some problems with construction sturdiness, and occasionally runs off at an angle on gradients. This can cause problems when it’s going back to the charging station on a damp, sloping lawn, because it sometimes runs off course and has to start again. If so, it's often better to keep the mower off the lawn until it’s dried.
The stated maximum cutting area of 1700 m2 feels a bit optimistic. But if you have a lawn around 1000 m2, the mower will be able to keep this well trimmed within a reasonable time.
You can buy Stihl’s robot mowers from certified dealers, and you can normally buy installation help too. But it's easy even if you do it yourself. You connect the robot mower by paring back the cable in the connector on the top. It’s easy to see which end should go where. The construction doesn’t feel particularly modern compared to the closed versions with terminals that many other manufacturers have now adopted. But the cables are protected so once everything’s connected there’s no problem.
The station can only be positioned in one direction. The construction and structure means you end up with an unmown area around the station. Stihl could do better in this regard.
The robotic lawn mower has an easy-to-navigate menu system and the PC model we tested also has an app. Here you can change the schedule, get notifications and so on even if you aren’t close to your iMow. This feels very generous given the price.
The app is easy to use on the whole and has a clear interface divided into several tabs, no lag and plenty of functions. The app also provides information about when it's time to replace blades or if the mower has got stuck.
The Stihl iMow RMI 422 PC feels a bit plasticky in terms of build quality. The chassis feels rather fragile when you pull on it, and the thin, transparent plastic housing that protects the display breaks easily. If it breaks at the attachment, the robot mower will think the stop button is pressed in, which means it will refuse to mow at all.
The wheels are also very smooth and hard, which means that the robotic lawn mower finds it difficult to deal with surfaces other than plain grass.
But other than the fact the build quality of the charging station and the robot mower aren’t on a par with the price, the programming, user-friendliness, built-in technology and reliability are very good. The manufacturer have prioritised what they've spent money on, and produced a keenly priced and reliable robot mower.
Luxury four-wheel drive mower
Review year: 2020 Price class: Premium Recommended max. area: 3500 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium ion Operating time: approx. 100 min/charge Cutting height: 30-70 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 22 cm Noise level: 62 | Measured mean value: approx. 63 dB Length: 63 mm Width: 55 mm Height: 29 mm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes
The Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD is the first four-wheel drive robotic lawn mower. It's been built to deal with extreme gradients, so it should be really good in terms of accessing difficult areas. And we can confirm immediately that it manages fine with gradients. The same applies to pitted and uneven lawns. It doesn't matter what we subject it to, because it can always use front or rear-wheel drive, and also rotate the body via a centre point (the pivot chassis). So it pretty much never gets stuck.
The 435X AWD is large and its weight makes it difficult to carry. Unfortunately, like the other Automower models, it also has a chassis that's relatively easily scratched. The mower is quite powerful, but the front is rather sensitive to thicker weeds and it sometimes backs away from them; however, they get mowed down over time.
The 435X uses ultrasound to identify obstacles and slow down before it collides with them. This allows the mower to maintain a higher speed over open areas.
Just like on other robotic lawn mowers from Husqvarna, installation is really simple. You simply connect the cables to the marked inputs and switch the robotic lawn mower on. You can either programme it via the large, easy-to-use screen, or using an app on your phone. Regardless of which you choose, the interface is straightforward and easy to understand.
The 435X AWD supports smart watches and you can voice control it via Alexa or Google Assistant through your phone or smart speaker. The lawn mower also gets ongoing remote updates, so you don't have to do take it anywhere to get this done.
The result is reasonable, but sometimes it tends to push down some of the grass and drive over it instead of mowing it. On the other hand, the battery life is long and the charging time is short. This makes this robotic lawn mower very efficient on both large open spaces and also more complicated areas.
The 435X AWD is innovative in several ways, but unfortunately also suffers from a number of teething problems. When it was released there were a lot of bugs in the software. Even if the majority of these have now been rectified, it sometimes still has problems with the connection between the lawn mower and the app or with settings not being saved. A wheel for entering the PIN code is fun but unfortunately very impractical as you can easily press it wrong and can't go back.
The overall impression is that the 435X would have benefited from a bit more polishing before it was launched. Particularly given its price class. The 435X AWD is best suited to anyone with a steeply sloping lawn where the 450X will struggle. It's also a lawn mower intended to make the neighbours green with envy.
Reliable for public environments
Review year: 2019 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 10.4 Ah/18 V Operating time: approx. 260 mins/charge Rec. max. area: 5000 m² Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm, 9 step (electronic) Cutting width: 24 cm Weight: 13.9 kg Noise level: Low | Measured average value: approx. 59 dB Length: 72 cm Width: 56 cm Height: 31 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: Automower Connect, 9 extra blades
The Husqvarna Automower 550 stands out from the crowd in that it lacks a display. The idea is that nobody without authorisation should be able to change settings. Instead, it’s completely controlled via an app on your mobile phone. If you have a whole fleet of 550s, you can keep track of them via Husqvarna Fleet Service, which is available for both computers and mobile phones.
In general, it’s very similar to its sibling, the Automower 450X. Pretty much everything we like about that luxury model is here too: The ultrasound sensor makes it possible for the lawn mower to run more quickly over open spaces and slow down when it approaches an obstacle, the GPS navigation that means it cuts evenly all over open spaces and doesn’t forget some areas, and three guide cables so that it can quickly find its way home.
The installation process is easy if you have dealt with robotic lawn mowers before. But if you’re a beginner, it isn’t entirely clear how to get started given that there’s no display. It is more difficult than it is on the 450X, for example. On the other hand, private individuals aren’t the intended target group for the Automower 550.
The mower’s terrain handling capacities are excellent. It can cope with steep slopes, damp grass and uneven lawns. If you have a park-like lawn, you’ll also want it to be able to cope with pine cones, fallen fruit and so on – which it does with confidence. The mower is so reliable that it only gets stuck once during our several month long test period. And even then the circumstances were extreme – a fallen tree it got stuck beneath.
The Automower 550 is very quiet. The wheels stay clean of grass residues and dirt – you simply have to brush them off a few times a month.
Thanks to the very generous battery life, the Automower 550 has an enormous cutting capacity. Even if Husqvarna themselves don’t actually say as much, we estimate its actual maximum capacity as almost a whole hectare. But despite such an impressive cutting capacity, the Automower 550 has a very moderate weight. But it's still quite heavy to carry. To minimise the risk of theft, you can use Fleet Service to see exactly where your robotic lawn mower is at any time, and you get notifications via the app if it leaves its designated area.
This is a fantastically competent robotic lawn mower, but the price tag reflects this. But the Automower 550 is also intended for public environments such as parks. For the average homeowner with a very large lawn (around 5000 m2), the sibling model Automower 450X is a somewhat cheaper alternative. Above all, the 450X has a display, which makes it a bit easy for a private individual to understand.
For park keepers, however, this model is exemplary. As far as we know there are currently no other professional models that perform as well as this in terms of reliability. The commercial interface is also very good.
Review year: 2020 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 3 Ah/26 V Operating time: approx. 60-70 min/charge Rec. max. area: 800 m² Max. gradient: approx. 17° (30%) Cutting height: 20-50 mm (manual) Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 11.4 kg Noise level: 64 | Measured mean value: approx. 61 dB Length: 63 cm Width: 46 cm Height: 21 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Bluetooth) Accessories included: Perimeter wire & staples
The Gardena Smart Sileno Life (750m²) falls into an interesting price class where you can find both robotic lawn mowers that perform really well in a single area, or reasonable mowers that are pretty good at several different aspects. And Gardena's robotic lawn mower belongs to the latter category.
The Smart Sileno Life is easy to programme, but the app doesn't have very many functions. The robotic lawn mower is reliable but not very strong which means it struggles if the lawn has time to grow between cuts. Maintenance is straightforward, because the robotic lawn mower can be rinsed off. On the other hand, you need an additional gateway in your home for it to get Wi-Fi support, which means you have to keep track of yet another gadget. One major advantage with the fact that you can rinse it with a hose is that it's easy to clean if you happen to run over dog poo.
The cutting width is reasonable, so the robotic lawn mower is efficient, but at the same time it sometimes skids on sloping lawns or pushes the grass down rather than cutting it, in which case it has to run over the same patch several areas before the cutting result is acceptable.
Because the Smart Sileno Life is quiet, you can run it at night. And it doesn't matter if it rains while it's running either because the wheels are kind on your lawn even then.
But if you've got a tufty lawn, or one that grows densely, it's important that you set the robotic lawn mower going regularly because it can't deal with very tall or thick grass. And slightly taller grass, or individual weeds, can also mean that it can't find its way back to the charging station. It sometimes backs away from this type of situation as if it was a piece of garden furniture. This means that the Smart Sileno Life has difficulty finding the guide cable (the cable that leads the robotic lawn mower home).
Pine cones, bare soil and fallen fruit are no problem, however. Even if the pivot blades aren't powerful enough to crush the fallen fruit, it's very rare that the robotic lawn mower gets stuck.
Another advantage of the Smart Sileno Life is that it's so easy to install and programme. The display is clear, the interface is easy to navigate and simple to understand, and the range of functions is absolutely fine given the price class.
The Gardena Smart Sileno Life 750 is a reliable and easy-to-use robotic lawn mower that stands up well against the competition. It has disadvantages in the form of a relatively function-poor app and slightly weaker performance compared to the top models in the intermediate class. But it's definitely a good buy because it's still very reliable and easy-to-use. It's perfect for anyone with other Gardena products that they want to combine in a single smartsystem.
Reliable, strong robotic lawn mower in medium price class
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 1.8 Ah/22.2 V Operating time: approx. 40 min/charge Rec. max. area: 1500 m² Max. gradient: 20° (37%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 11.6 kg Noise level: Average Length: 64.5 cm Width: 55 cm Height: 28.7 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 200 m perimeter wire, 200 staples, 9 extra blades App support: No User manual: Quick guides
The Honda Miimo 310 is an easy-to-use and reliable robotic lawn mower in the medium price class, with very good terrain-handling abilities and a reasonable mowing time. It's the terrain-handling abilities that really distinguish the Miimo 310. It copes easily with different types of surface, navigates unhindered through complicated areas and happily trundles over pits and up relatively steep slopes.
When it comes to tall grass, the Miimo 310 is a real star. The taller the grass, the slower it creeps along. It can pretty much stand completely still and cut until the grass reaches the desired length, which almost no other robotic lawn mowers can do. It's only under extreme circumstances that it has to give up and reverse out.
On the few occasions that it managed to get stuck, we discovered that it was prone to digging itself downwards in its attempts to get free, which can damage the lawn. This is a common problem with very strong robotic lawn mowers, so it's worth watching out for.
We clocked the mowing time as around 40 minutes, and after this it has to charge for about as long again before it can go back to work. We'd have preferred to see it mowing for a bit longer given the price, but on the other hand it has no problems keeping the stated recommended maximum area nicely trimmed without having to run for more than a couple of hours on weekdays.
The sound level is OK, but if we were being really fussy we'd say that the sound profile is a bit shrill. Particularly when it runs over pine cones, fallen fruit and so on.
The menu system is very clear and it's easy to change settings. However, the installation could be more straightforward. Cable connectors make it easy to connect the cable, but the space behind is very cramped and the connections aren't positioned in a user-friendly manner. It's not obvious which end of the perimeter wire should be connected to which terminal, and you can't really see what you're doing because of the cramped space.
Despite this minor inconvenience, the installation is still manageable for a beginner. If you find the right connection for the cables and manage to get them in place, the programming is easy.
Unfortunately the Miimo 310 has no app support or GPS – it doesn't even have a Bluetooth connection. Given the price and that many competitors have now introduced this as standard, we feel that the 310 is starting to feel a bit dated.
The Miimo 310 is – mostly – quite intelligent. It gets itself out of all the difficult situations we test it with, such as small, enclosed spaces and obstacles along the route home. However, once it gets near home it slavishly carries out a single movement pattern every time. And this is a bit of an Achilles' heel in terms of intelligence. During the spring, autumn and in rainy summers it can easily create tracks in the lawn right by the entrance. However, the mower produces no problems in the form of tracks along the perimeter wire.
The charging station can only be positioned in line with the perimeter wire, which makes it inflexible. It's also sensitive for how it's positioned. If the angle is off by just a few degrees, the robotic lawn mower can have problems docking. You have to do quite a lot of trial and error before you find a position that works 100% of the time.
When the charging station is correctly positioned, it never has any problems getting in, either when it comes directly towards the opening or from behind so it has to move around the station first.
With everything properly installed and tested, reliability is extremely high. The Miimo 310 almost never gets stuck, it's easy to adjust the cutting height and it always finds its way home. As it can also cope with tall grass with such panache, we can truly recommend this robotic lawn mower for simple, medium hard and difficult lawns of average size.
Keenly priced model for relatively large gardens
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium class Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | 24 V Lithium Operating time: 70 min/charge Rec. Max. area: 2000 m² Max. gradient: 20° (35%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 11 kg Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: No (no display, theft protection via GPS) Length: 62 cm Width: 50 cm Height: 26 cm Accessories included: 300 m cable, 9 blades, 4 extra splice connectors, user manual App support: Yes (GSM+GPS) Miscellaneous: IPX5-classified, FOTA (automatic software updates), GSM subscription for 5 years included User manual: Paper version, and in the app
The Cramer RM2000 is something of a dark horse on the robotic lawn mower market. It’s almost identical to GreenWorks’ budget model in this year's test, but with a more powerful charger that means it can mow a larger area in a shorter time. It also includes more cable and a longer subscription for the GSM connection.
The RM2000 is very reliable. It copes well with uneven surfaces, and rarely gets stuck in tall, damp or sparse grass. It can’t cope with our tough gradient for medium class models, but it manages all of the more normal gradients fine.
The cutting motor is reasonably powerful given the price, but it's not exactly a powerhouse like the ones in the top models in this price class. For example, it reverses fairly quickly out of situations where normally dense grass is more than ten or so centimetres tall. Over time it will mow everything anyway, but it's best to mow the lawn yourself before you start the RM2000 for the season, otherwise it’ll take a while before your grass looks nice.
The lawn mower comes with excellent connection options. You have both GSM (pre-paid for 5 years, after which it costs about £20 a year) and built-in GPS. Generous and user-friendly. This means that, for example, you can see where the robot mower is, you can change settings and get notifications even if you aren't at home. It also provides free, automatic software updates.
The app is OK, but unfortunately the manufacturer mixes up functions with large sections of information. So the functions are spread out and you have to scroll a lot. The information is very good, of course, but there are easier ways to insert it without making the app so cluttered. It also takes rather a long time to load when you start it and when you navigate between the various tabs.
You can set up to five start points and there's a kind of rain sensor, which instead of working from a sensor on the robot keeps track of the weather forecast in your area. This works OK but a rain sensor would have been more reliable. There’s also a frost sensor together with the option of setting a new loop signal.
Given the lawn mower's price these are good functions, but unfortunately rather fewer than we'd have liked. For example, you can't set how long the robot mower should move over the perimeter wire when it turns, you can't set edge cutting, or a spiral mowing pattern either.
The Cramer RM2000 comes with a guide cable. This is an advantage because it otherwise has problems finding its way to separate areas delimited by narrow corridors. Using the guide cable and the option to set start points, you can avoid this problem. The cable also means that it goes home quickly because it doesn't have to run around the entire garden. Other than the difficulties of finding separate areas of lawn on its own (despite the built-in GPS), the robotic lawn mower does a very good job of keeping the lawn short.
The thing that loses the Cramer RM2000 points in this test is actually the price. Given that you don't get a huge number of functions, and a rather slow app, the price just doesn't feel fully justified. There’s a lot of competition in the medium price class, and there are other models with better autonomous problems solving for a lower price. On the other hand, this robotic lawn mower can mow a very large area given its price, and few others can beat it on this point. But it's primarily due to the charger, rather than a large battery, that the cutting time is increased.
That said, this isn't a bad robotic lawn mower. It has a good cutting time, moves smoothly over the lawn and can cope with both bumpy lawns and quite steep slopes.
The fact that the robotic lawn mower has integrated GPS, a GSM connection and also gets around well even in medium difficulty gardens (largely thanks to the guide cable) still makes this robot mower a good buy.
Reliable, easy to program and quite intelligent
Review year: 2019 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 4.5 Ah/29 V Operating time: approx. 65 min/charge Rec. max. area: 1000 m² Max. gradient: approx. 14° (25%) Cutting height: 30-50 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 17 cm Weight: 7 kg Noise level: 57 | Measured average value: approx. 58 dB Length: 59 cm Width: 44 cm Height: 26 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 150 m perimeter wire & 200 staples, 3 blades
The McCulloch ROB R1000 is a reliable, budget class robotic lawn mower intended for medium-sized and relatively simple lawns. Like many budget models, it has few setting options and lacks app support. But more importantly, it’s intelligent and able to cope with challenges that many other budget models fail to overcome.
For example, the R1000 has no problems getting around obstacles on its way home or sparing toys that have been left out on the lawn. Nor are uneven lawns a problem. However, the R1000 does struggle with slopes when the grass is damp, and it often struggles to get a grip and slips about. In the worst case, it causes damage to the lawn. At the same time, the loan doesn’t weigh very much, so when it slips it very rarely causes visible damage. Unfortunately, it has no rain sensor which could have otherwise alleviated the problem by prompting it to seek shelter when the weather is bad.
The cutting width is minimal, given the recommended cutting area. This means that the R1000 has to be out cutting often if it is to cope with the stated 1000 m². The guide cable often reduces the time it takes for the robotic lawn mower to find its way home. But it’s a shame it can’t also go home along the perimeter wire, as the quickest way isn’t always via the guide cable.
The Rob R1000 is quiet and good at coping with normal length grass. It tends to protest in tall grass and try to cut somewhere else. In other words, it doesn’t understand that it needs to creep slowly forwards to graze the grass down before it grows even taller.
One advantage with the McCulloch Rob R1000 is that the package includes insulation material that means you don’t need to buy extra products to get the robotic lawn mower going with each new installation.
The installation process is pretty much the same as for every other robotic lawn mower with the difference that you also have to connect in a guide cable. This is very easy and the connections are clearly marked on the charging station. The programming process is very fast. The interface is clear and it’s very easy to understand the robotic lawn mower’s functions. However, the range of functions is rather minimal.
The R1000’s little sister, the Rob R600, got a slightly higher score in our test. In this size class, the cutting width and operating time are enough for it to be able to keep the lawn in trim without having to be out cutting all day long. But the Rob R1000 needs to be beefed up a bit to be really good at dealing with the manufacturer’s recommended cutting area.
That said, this isn’t a bad robotic lawn mower. It produces a good cutting result, is easy to install and just as easy to program. It’s just a little too basic compared to its competition in this price class.
Reliable, accurate Japanese model for larger lawns
Review year: 2016 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Li | Capacity 3.6 Ah/22.2 V Operating time: approx. 90 mins/charge Rec. max. area: 3000 m² Max. gradient: 24° (45%) **Cutting height:**20-60 mm Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 11.9 k Noise level: Very low Dimensions (WxHxD): 64.5x55x27.5 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 300 m perimeter wire, 300 pcs staples, 9 pcs extra blades
The Japanese manufacturer is a relatively late arrival to the robotic lawn mower industry, despite its well known love of robots. However, in just a few years Honda's premium robotic lawn mower, Miimo, has developed into one of the best on the market. There are two versions – designated 310 and 520 – which are practically identical except for the battery capacity and a couple of software details.
The Honda Miimo feels very Japanese in a number of ways, the most obvious – apart from the name – being the well conceived design. The build quality is very high and shock absorption means that the Miimo is extremely quiet and makes it appear to be floating discreetly above the grass. The noise level is so low that you can actually use it to cut the grass at night.
High levels of safety built in Programming is straightforward as the menu system is relatively easy to navigate, while still having many setting options. The display is illuminated, although unfortunately the keypad is not.
Safety is excellent, with well protected pivot blades and an easily accessible STOP button to prevent injury.
The Miimo is now one of the most reliable robotic lawn mowers on the market and rarely gets stuck even in more difficult gardens. Only the most challenging lawns will give it problems.
Often kind on lawns The cutting result is very even and neat, not least because the Miimo effectively adapts its speed to the resistance it encounters, slowing down for areas such as taller grass.
Installation of the base station has been simplified compared to earlier, but is still unnecessarily complicated. All installation is generally carried out by Honda's authorised dealers.
Suits medium-sized open areas
Review year: 2021 Price class: Premium Recommended max. area: 5000 m2 Battery: Type: Litium-ion Battery energy: 251 Wh Operating time: approx. 150 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 20-60 mm Cutting width: 28 cm Weight: 14 kg Noise level: 59 | Measured mean value: approx. 61 dB Length: 73 cm Width: 54 cm Height: 27 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (GSM+GPS) Accessories included: - Miscellaneous: Alarm, geofence, protective housing around knives, mobile top housing User manual: [RMI 632 PC](https://static.stihl.com/api/BaOnline/Download/0000011978 /00281912.pdf?_gl=11hborvh_gaMTU4Mzg3NzQ0Ny4xNjAzMDk3NDY1_ga_G8ZD67Y14Z*MTYxMDM2NjQzMS40LjEuMTYxMDM2Nzk1My41NQ..&_ga=2.220148121.1612352811.1610366432-1583877447.1603097465)
The Stihl iMOW RMI 632 PC is a connected premium model with a relatively compact design and user-friendly programming.
You programme the lawn mower via a display, or using a mobile phone app. Regardless of which you choose, both are easy to use. The display has a set of shortcut commands that we find useful, such as a command to send the lawn mower out on a mowing run outside the scheduled mowing times.
The iMOW RMI 632 PC has built in GPS so you can follow the robotic lawn mower’s position on a map. As we've mentioned above, the app is easy to use and you get notifications if the lawn mower gets stuck. In the app, you can even name the lawn mower and add an image, which is an entirely unnecessary but quite fun function.
But when it comes to installation, the RMI 632 PC feels a bit old fashioned compared to other lawn mowers in the same price class. You still need to pare back the cable and run it in specific grooves in the station, which means you're locked into a position. You can place many other models’ charging stations on different angles. Nor are they sensitive to sloppy positioning, which this one is. Nor does it mow all the grass around the charging station because of how it's constructed. Instead, you have to run around it with the strimmer.
In terms of both size and performance, the Stihl 632 PC falls somewhere between a premium and medium class model. It's a bit too limited for anyone with a large, open garden, but simultaneously too bulky for smaller lawns. It does its best on relatively open lawns of around 1500-2000 m2.
If the lawn is bigger than 2000 m2 (or has several, more complicated areas), it needs to be out mowing often and for a long time to keep the lawn in check. On our relatively open 3000 m2 test lawn, for example, it had to run several hours every weekday to prevent tufty areas appearing, and this was a problem we hadn't had on the test lawn with other models in the same price class. Given the price and the fact that 5000 m2 is meant to be the maximum area, coping with less than half that feels like a major issue.
Something that would have resolved this problem at least partially is if the software was a bit more sophisticated and implemented more solutions to keep track of separate areas, or areas it hadn't visited for a while. As it stands, it does a reasonable job on this point, but it's far from good enough to cover the stated maximum cutting area in an acceptable time.
But apart from this, this is a competent enough robotic lawn mower. Just a few years ago, this robotic lawn mower was rather poor at accessing tricky or uneven areas, but it's improved a lot in this regard. For example, the 632 PC now copes happily with uneven surfaces. What’s more, it's still just as strong as before, dealing with grass up to 20 cm high without noticeable complaint. If the grass is taller than this you can hear from the motor that it's working harder, but a robotic lawn mower should generally keep the grass well mown so in practice this isn't a problem.
It also has the advantage of being quite low, so it can even get in under normal-height trailers, low hanging branches and so on.
On a handful of occasions during the several month long test period, we get fault codes that mean the lawn mower just comes to a stop. For example that it's left its temperature zone. However, it doesn't run the battery flat, simply switches off and when we find it again we can start it and ask it to go home and charge.
The 632 PC is quite noisy when it’s mowing compared to other models in the same price class. At the same time it's strong and, for instance, has no problems with pine cones, fallen fruit etc.
The Stihl RMI 632 PC is a good robotic lawn mower for relatively open lawns of around 1500-2000 m2. If the price had been a bit lower, it would have been better placed in terms of the competition, but as it stands it's struggling against tough challengers. That said, it isn't a bad robot mower. It isn't bothered by a bit of a gradient or uneven areas in the lawn, and does a much better job on these areas than it did a few years ago. It’s also easy to use even if you aren't technically minded.
Reliable and strong but outdated technology
Review year: 2021 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 5.4 Ah/22.2 V Operating time: 90 min/charge Rec. max. area: 4000 m² Max. gradient: 25° (47 %) Cutting height: 20-60 mm Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 13.8 kg Noise level: 59 dB | Measured mean value: approx. 61 dB Length: 55 cm Width: 30.1 cm Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 9 extra blades App support: Yes (Bluetooth)
The Honda Miimo HRM 3000 hasn’t been updated for a couple of years now, but it’s still a reliable and intelligent robotic lawn mower that can cope with both tall grass and complex lawns with uneven surfaces or steep slopes. It has excellent terrain-handling abilities and is very strong.
In its primary function as a lawnmower, it can cope with everything we ask of it – both tall grass and fallen fruit. It creeps nicely along when the resistance increases due to tall, thick grass, rather than giving up and backing away like many other robotic lawnmowers would have done.
Uneven lawns, slopes and damp grass don’t pose any problem either. The only disadvantage is that if it does happen to get stuck it tends to dig itself into the ground rather than realising what’s happened and switch itself off. And unfortunately this tends to damage the lawn where the wheels have rotated in place.
The Miimo 3000 is amongst the quietest robotic lawn mowers on the market. The only time the noise becomes irritating is if it rattles – which happens sometimes with all of Honda’s robotic lawn mower models. But this isn’t very loud.
The build quality is extremely good. This is a robotic lawn mower that will last for many years – our test sheen has now been running for four seasons without any problems.
Unfortunately, Honda sometimes struggle to keep up with rapid technological developments. Certainly, the HRM 3000 can be controlled via a user-friendly app, but on a robotic lawn mower of this price class we’d now expect more than just a Bluetooth connection. It should be possible to instruct the robot mower from a distance, and there should be safety functions, notifications if it’s got stuck or leaves your lawn etc.
Nor does it have any built-in GPS, which would have been useful in helping the robot mower to find its way to inaccessible areas or so you could see where it was.
In other words, this is essentially a really good robotic lawn mower that unfortunately lacks a number of the refinements we now expect from models in the top segment. There are competitors that give significantly more for your money.
But if you get hold of the HRM 3000 for a very good price and don’t need to keep track of it using your mobile phone, it’s still a good buy. You don’t need to worry about having to run after it all the time, because it copes fine on its own – even in complex environments.
Strong budget lawn mower with a tendency to dig itself into the lawn
Review year: 2021 Price class: budget Recommended max. area: 600 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 2 Ah Operating time: approx. 65 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 19° (35%) Cutting height: 20-50 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 16 cm Weight: 7.8 kg Noise level: 57 dB Measured average value: approx. 55 dB Length: 55 mm Width: 38 mm Height: 23 mm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 150 m perimeter wire & 200 staples, 3 blades
The McCulloch Rob S600 is a simple but efficient robotic lawn mower with its main advantages being reliability and intelligence. It's a competent robotic lawn mower, but isn't so good when it comes to communication and functions.
This is ultimately an updated R600, and it should perform better on gradients. At the same time, it has been pared down in terms of cutting width and battery.
Overall, it's a good budget robotic lawn mower, but it unexpectedly performs less well on gradients than its sibling. Even if it's stronger in some ways than the R600, it has problems in that it sometimes runs over the perimeter wire, coming to a halt half outside the area and digging into the ground with its wheels.
We've tested it on a number of lawns from medium to steep slopes, and it shows the same tendency to get stuck and dig itself into the ground on all of them, damaging the lawn and adjacent flowerbeds in the process. It doesn't happen every day – more like 1-2 times a month – but its sibling, the R600, had no problems with this.
On normal, relatively flat lawns however, it rarely gets stuck. But then again, the R600 doesn't either. So we don't really see any advantages of the S600 over the R600 despite it having benefits on paper.
It has a good mowing time, but the cutting width is rather narrow which means that it covers the lawn slowly. The end result is still acceptable because of the generous mowing time for the price class, but there are competitors for the same price that can mow larger areas.
Unfortunately, it doesn't recognise its charging station and consequently runs into it quite hard, so it's important that you anchor the station well and keep an eye on the cable.
In terms of installation and programming, it's very easy to get started. The robotic lawn mower isn't particularly sensitive when it comes to positioning the charging station. it's also easy to see where the different ends of the perimeter wire and guide cable should be connected. The package includes the perimeter wire and staples.
Unfortunately, you have to run the S600 on a guide cable, as it can't find its way home only using the perimeter wire. Of course the guide cable is an advantage because you can lay out a shortcut for the lawn mower to come home and don't need to worry about difficult conditions in the grass at the edge of the lawn. But we'd have liked to see it being able to choose the perimeter wire instead of the guide cable.
As we've mentioned above, programming via the display is very straightforward. The S600 has few functions and a clear user interface, so it's easy to get started.
The Rob S600 also has app support. Unfortunately only in the form of Bluetooth, so you have to be within about 10 metres of the lawn mower. Competition in the budget class is tough, and a majority of mowers now have better connection options.
There are competing models in the same price class with Wi-Fi support that send notifications to your mobile phone if the lawn mower gets stuck, and there are even a few with GSM. At the time of writing, several of these have rather flaky AI, but not all of them. If we have to choose between reliable and well programmed software or user-friendly functions, we'll take the former. So we still think the S600 is a good buy in the budget class.
A colossus with double blades
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium class Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | 26V Lithium (LiFePO4) Operating time: 60 min/charge Rec. max. area: 3000 m² Max. gradient: 20° (36%) Cutting height: 20-80 mm Cutting width: 56 cm Weight: 20.2 kg Blade type: Fixed blades (2 pcs) PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Bluetooth)
The Robomow RS 615u is an extremely efficient robotic lawn mower in Robomow's Royal series. It’s one of the cheaper models in this robust series, but still falls in the upper medium price class. Its biggest advantage is a very substantial cutting width, thanks to double fixed blades. The robot mower also moves quite quickly over open areas of lawn, which means it mows the lawn very efficiently in terms of time.
However, if you have narrow corridors or several separate smaller areas of lawn where it has to turn a lot and use more complicated movement patterns, it loses a lot of efficiency. This is primarily a robotic lawn mower built for large lawns that must be kept well mown with as short a cutting time as possible. It has absolutely no problems coping with the stated maximum cutting area of 3000 m2 in a reasonable cutting period. It could probably manage a further 1000 m2 of open lawn without having to overdo the schedule.
The Robomow Royal is very noisy when it's out mowing the lawn. Both the wheel motors and cutting deck generate quite a lot of noise, which can disturb you if you’re sitting out on the patio – or upset your neighbours if their patio is close to your boundary.
And given what this robotic lawn mower costs we'd have expected more modern technology inside. The display, interface and installation process are all rather poor. The connection is relatively fiddly compared to the competitors and the station can only be positioned parallel to the cable in one direction. For a start it only has Bluetooth connection, which seems rather mean now almost all robot mowers in this price class have both GPS and GSM so you can keep track of the mower even when you aren’t at home. Overall, this feels old-fashioned or simply rather cheap in technical terms. On the other hand, the app is very good and easy to use.
The software works fine. This tank can cope with most things, and what it can’t do on its own you can simplify in the settings. For example, if it can't find its way through a narrow corridor, you can set up to four start points so it can seek its way out to the relevant area via the perimeter wire.
On two occasions during the season, the Royal runs over the cable and comes to a stop outside the cutting area. The cable is right at the end of a relatively gentle slope, and it causes problems when the robotic lawn mower has to turn around, because it's prone to running over the cable by mistake when it tries to turn and ends up slipping down the slope a little. Most of the time this works fine.
But it's worth noting that the robotic lawn mower weighs quite a lot and so it slips where the lawn is a bit sparse or if it's damp, causing damage to the lawn.
If the RS615u gets stuck, it switches off, saving on battery – so you don't need to carry it back to the charging station like you have to with many other manufacturers’ models.
The Robomow Royal is ideal for anyone with a very large, open lawn. Ideally a relatively flat one, because this poses less risk of it slipping, digging holes with its wheels and damaging the lawn. The installation is rather fiddly, but once you've got the robot mower going and have set up a cutting schedule you're happy with, it just gets on with things, keeping your lawn in trim in a very efficient way.
Great on complicated lawns
Review year: 2021 Price class: Medium class Operating time: 60 min/charge Rec. max. area: 600 m² Max. gradient: 22° (40%) Cutting height: 20-50 mm Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 9.4 kg Length: 57 cm Width: 45 cm Height: 23 cm Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: None, but also sold as a plus kit with cable and staples App support: Yes (Bluetooth)
The Husqvarna Automower 305 is Husqvarna's very smallest robotic lawn mower, with very good problem solving abilities, making it suitable for anyone with a relatively small but complex garden. Perhaps you have lots of different separate areas of lawn, different types of surface, steep slopes etc. If so, this is an excellent choice, because few robotic lawnmowers of this size can cope so well with this type of challenge. It also has a guide cable, so if you have an area the mower tends to miss you can lay a guide cable to lead it straight there.
The insulation is very straightforward. You can position the charging station pretty much anywhere without the Automower 305 struggling to dock, providing the guide cable is straight underneath it. All of the connectors are clearly marked and there are cable connectors so you don’t have to strip the cable. And the connections are protected.
Once you’ve connected everything, you essentially just press start – you don’t need to configure the robot mower for it to start working. But of course you’ll want to set a cutting schedule.
The display is clear and the interface user friendly. It’s an easy, quick process to make the necessary settings.
The Automower 305 has Bluetooth support, which allows you to control everything via Husqvarna's easy-to-use app. Given the fact that many competitors now offer Wi-Fi support – in some cases even with GSM connection and GPS – Bluetooth feels a bit minimal. But this is a much more feature-rich app than, for example, the equivalent for Gardena, who have a robot mower in the same price class.
The Husqvarna Automower 305 is very reliable. For example, it copes easily with an uneven lawn, tall grass, damp grass, paving etc. It does struggle a bit if you have gravel paths separating different areas of lawn from each other, and tends to dig itself into them.
The cutting width of 22 cm is fine and the robot mower works for about 60 minutes at a time. It has no problems mowing the stated area if you give it a couple of hours of cutting time about three days a week. But we think that the price of this robotic lawn mower, combined with the fact that it’s only built to cope with 600 m² and only has Bluetooth connection, makes it less good value for money than a couple of other robot mowers in the lower medium price class – which reduces the score a little.
On the other hand, it’s very reliable, has very good software and problem-solving abilities and good build quality. You can also wash it off using a hose – which is still quite uncommon. And it produces really good mowing results. So if you have a complicated but small garden, this is the obvious choice. But most people will be able to settle for a simpler model, because lawns of this size are generally straightforward and consists of a single area.
A reasonably good robotic lawn mower
Review year: 2020 Price class: Medium Recommended max. area: 500 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity X Ah Operating time: approx. 50 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 20° (36%) Cutting height: 15-60 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 28 cm Weight: 11.1 kg Noise level: X | Measured average value: approx. 62 dB Length: 63 mm Width: 46 mm Height: 21 mm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: Installation material
The Wolf Garten Loopo M1000 is a relatively narrow and heavy robotic lawn mower that cuts simple lawns without problems and does a reasonable job of medium difficulty ones. In terms of price, it stands up very well against its competitors, because it's reasonable at most things without being really poor at anything.
Of course there are competitors that also belong to the lower end of the medium price class and have higher levels of reliability, or better connection options and a bigger range of functions, but none of them are better at both things at the same time. The Loopo M1000 quite simply provides a good enough combination of both areas.
The biggest disadvantage of the Loopo M1000 is the time-consuming installation. On the other hand, you'll hopefully only do this once. The installation is fiddly partly as a result of the charging station, and partly because of the lawn mower's display. If we start with the charging station, we discover that you can't connect the perimeter wire directly to it – instead you need an additional adapter between the two. This in turn requires you to use a screwdriver, and the adapter has no marking showing which end of the cable should go where. So you have a 50% chance of connecting it wrong.
In addition to this, you have the problem that the display and interface on the lawn mower are fiddly. If you buy a Loopo M1000, you'd better avoid doing any programming at all via the built-in display and instead do the whole thing via the app.
Getting started with this robotic lawn mower via the display is tricky to say the least, because of the error codes that are only displayed as combinations of digits, and a confusing interface. If you've also connected the wrong end of the cable into the wrong hole in the adapter, it's really not easy to understand what's gone wrong, because you don't get any clear reply from the lawn mower about what the problem is before you've got the app going.
Once you've got to the point where you've connected the robotic lawn mower to the app, things get a lot more straightforward. The app could have had a more refined interface, but at least it's easy to use and has a reasonable number of functions. Unfortunately, it only works via Bluetooth, so you have to stand within about 10 metres of the lawn mower to be able to communicate with it.
Once you finish the installation, the robotic lawn mower can cope with most things on its own. As we've mentioned above, it has no problems with simple, flat lawns. Nor is it excessively sensitive to pits and unevenness, like some of its competitors. It does get stuck, but only rarely. It copes with gradients well too.
It's weaker on bare soil of the kind you find under coniferous trees where there's only a sparse cover of grass. Here, it tends to get stuck and dig itself into the ground. But overall it does a good job of keeping the grass tidy given the price class.
It mows the lawn relatively efficiently due to its generous cutting width. Unfortunately, you can't set the cutting height without tools.
Nor is the Loopo M1000 flexible when it comes to positioning the charging station – you have to place it along the perimeter wire. Another disadvantage is that it doesn't recognise the station and sometimes runs into it, so you have to anchor it well and conceal the cables properly.
We feel that the Wolf Garten Loopo M1000 is a reasonable robotic lawn mower in the medium class that works best on a relatively open lawn with densely growing grass.
Good performance but fiddly maintenance
Review year: 2020 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium ion (LiFePO4) | Capacity X Ah/26 V Operating time: approx. 45 min/charge Rec. max. area: 500 m² Max. gradient: approx. 20° (36%) Cutting height: 15-60 mm (manual, tool-free) Cutting width: 28 cm Weight: 11.4 kg Length: 63 cm Width: 46 cm Height: 21 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Bluetooth) Accessories included: Perimeter wire & staples
The Cub Cadet XR2 1000 is a heavy but simultaneously narrow and compact robotic lawn mower that handles uneven terrain really well. Hollows, slopes and varying surfaces pose no problems. But it does struggle with sparse lawns, where it tends to dig itself downwards. This kind of grass is often found under coniferous trees, so the XR2 doesn't perform as well in these areas of the garden.
The XR2 1000 has high levels of performance and is strong both when it comes to moving around the garden and when it comes to cutting tall grass. Unfortunately the blades are rather noisy, as fixed knives tend to be.
Unfortunately you have to use tools to set the cutting height, which feels rather old-fashioned given its competitors' solutions.
The XR2 1000's main Achilles' heel is its user-friendliness. The installation process is unnecessarily fiddly, right up to the point at which you succeed in connecting the robotic lawn mower with your mobile phone. And connecting the charging station is far from clear, too. It doesn't say which end of the cable should go in where, and if you connect it up wrong you may not even realise if you haven't already set up access to the app.
The app is relatively easy-to-use and has a reasonable range of functions given the price class. Unfortunately, it only works on Bluetooth, so you have to stand right by the robotic lawn mower to be able to use it.
The XR2 1000 is efficient, as it has a substantial cutting width and a relatively high speed. Unfortunately it tends to run into things without braking, including its own charging station. Two other disadvantages are the fact that the charging station can only be positioned in the direction of the cable, and that the robotic lawn mower sometimes fails to dock.
But in general, the Cub Cadet XR2 1000 has good problem-solving abilities and produces a neat result. Above all, it's efficient. If you've installed and programmed it and set the cutting height, it will cope with easy to medium difficulty lawns rapidly and with a good end result.
Neat garden assistant with a great future
Review year: 2019 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity X Ah/X V Operating time: approx. 65 min/charge Rec. max. area: 250 m² Max. gradient: 25 % Cutting height: 20-50 mm, (manual) Cutting width: 16 cm Weight: X kg Noise level: 59 dB | Measured mean value: approx. 58 dB Length: X cm Width: X cm Height: X cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: Gateway, 150 m perimeter wire, 200 staples, 9 blades App support: Yes (WiFi) User manual: PDF Video clip: Installation instructions
The Gardena Sileno City is a very reliable robotic lawn mower that’s very easy to install and program. As long as the grass is kept short, it pretty much never gets stuck. However, if the grass has grown a few centimetres, it has problems finding its way home. In fact, it's chassis is so sensitive to impacts on the way home that it can even get put off by a primrose plant. If the grass is long around the guide cable (a patented shortcut cable allowing the lawn mower to find its way home), it will have difficulty finding its way before the battery runs out.
But if you've cut the grass thoroughly when you install it – and set it to run often enough that the lawn stays short – you’ll have no problems with reliability. For example, it's good at dealing with pits, damp grass and sloping lawns. It’s also pretty good in terms of strength when it comes to cutting slightly taller grass.
Unfortunately it doesn’t have a spiral cutting function in tall grass, so it isn’t as quick as other robotic lawn mowers at trimming areas with clumps of grass.
The Gardena Sileno City has app support in the form of connection to a router that in turn supports other smart garden gadgets, such as sensors that detect whether the garden needs watering. This is a good idea on paper, but unfortunately the development process hasn’t actually gone very far yet. The range of functions for the robotic lawn mower is very poor – you can essentially only start the machine and set the working area. In the future the system may bring advantages such as all of your intelligent garden gadgets collaborating and communicating without you having to get involved at all – but that remains to be seen.
However, programming via the LCD display on the robotic lawn mower is very simple. The menu system is well designed and clear, the display has good contrast and works even in sunlight.
The Sileno City is suitable for those with a small to medium garden looking for a low price but reliable robotic lawn mower with app support – and ideally someone planning for a smart garden in the future.
Moves well across uneven terrain
Review year: 2019 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 3 Ah/26 V Operating time: approx. 60-70 min/charge Rec. max. area: 800 m² Max. gradient: approx. 20° (36%) Cutting height: 15-60 mm (manual) Cutting width: 28 cm Weight: 11.4 kg Noise level: 64 | Measured average value: approx. 61 dB Length: 63 cm Width: 46 cm Height: 21 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Bluetooth) Accessories included: Perimeter wire & staples
The Robomow RC 308 PRO is a compact robotic lawn mower that has no problems finding its way home or getting out to cut the lawn. It isn’t particularly sensitive to the charging station’s position. And the power cable is unusually long, so you have plenty of opportunities to find a good position for it.
The robotic lawn mower is heavy, which is probably one of the reasons why it easily digs itself into the ground if it gets stuck. But on the other hand, it gets stuck very rarely. It can cope with everything from roots to pine cones, banks and other tricky obstacles. It can even take itself onto a small ledge.
However, one negative point regarding reliability is that the 308 PRO sometimes reverses over the perimeter wire. This happens a couple of times during the season and it just comes to a stop. It doesn’t happen after a steep slope, but on a flat surface and in different places on several different lawns. And always backwards. On one occasion, it goes so far outside the perimeter wire that it cuts off its own charging station’s power cable.
Unfortunately, the installation process is really very fiddly – at least if you do it via the robotic lawn’s built-in display. To begin with, it isn’t entirely clear which end of the wire should go into which hole on the back of the charging station. This means there is a 50% chance that you’ll get an error message.
And if you do get one, it isn’t easy to understand what it means. Partly because the display is very small, but primarily because you only get a cryptic number code. If you’re lucky, you can look up the error code in the manual – but unfortunately quite a few error codes aren’t listed and you have to contact support. In other words, the interface and charging station need to be clarified, not least in terms of programming and troubleshooting.
However, there’s an app and using this makes the ongoing programming much easier. So both we and the manual recommend you do the installation via the app instead.
Once you’ve got the RC308 PRO going, it’s relatively reliable and, as mentioned above, has very good terrain-handling abilities. It solves problems very well, apart from in restricted spaces where it can sometimes have problems finding its way out.
The RC 308 PRO can be out cutting for quite a long time. In combination with the very wide cutting width, it can mow large areas in a relatively short time. It has no problems cutting the stated recommended maximum size of lawn. This means you have plenty of time over to enjoy your lawn when you come home from work.
The robotic lawn mower isn’t the most powerful we’ve tested, and it’s a good idea to avoid trying to cut tall grass with it. But if you let it keep the lawn well trimmed, this won’t pose a problem. It has a reasonable amount of strength given its price class.
The Robomow RC 308 PRO is one of the market’s more competent robotic lawn mowers. It’s complicated for a layman to install compared to several of its competitors. Once installed, however, it’s relatively reliable and has plenty of functions and a long cutting time. So given its price class, it’s good value for money.
Cheap robotic lawn mower for DIY fans
Review year: 2021 Price class: Budget Recommended area: 500 m2 (10 hrs/day 5 days/week) Recommended maximum area: 900 m2 (24 hrs/day 7 days/week) ** Battery:** Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 2 Ah Operating time: approx. 60 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 19° (35%) Cutting height: 30-60 mm, 4 step (manual) Cutting width: 18 cm Weight: 9.1 kg Noise level: 67 dB Length: 56 cm Width: 40 cm Height: 21 cm Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: 100 m perimeter wire, 130 staples, 9 blades Miscellaneous: Lots of options
The Worx Landroid M500 is a relatively compact and heavy robotic lawn mower that's impressive in a number of ways. The things we like in this robotic lawn mower are, for example,how easy you can expand it with options such as GPS, the possibility of removing the battery and using it for other tools from the same manufacturer, and how many functions the robotic lawn mower has. It's clear that enthusiasts have developed this lawn mower.
One practical option we tested is Off Limits. This is a kit with a module for the robotic lawn mower and long magnetic strips that you place on your lawn. The idea is that you use it to temporarily delimit an area you don't want the robotic lawn mower to mow. When the lawn mower touches the magnetic strip with its nose, it backs away instead of moving into the area. This means you don't have to cut the perimeter wire and create “doors” in it.
The magnetic strip is very robust and is clearly visible on the lawn, but as it's only for temporary use that’s not a problem. The kit works extremely well and is a great example of how Worx think about options.
You easily connect the modules by unscrewing a hatch and inserting a cable.
Something else that's great about Worx’s robotic lawn mowers is that you get cost-free updates. The lawn mower is connected via Wi-Fi, so you get notifications about events and can set the cutting schedule even if you're not home.
It has no problems coping with mowing the stated size of lawn, and it supports edge cutting and can also measure how large your lawn is so you get a tailored cutting schedule.
But despite all of these advantages, the score is a lot lower than you'd expect, almost exclusively because of the lawn mower's terrain-handling abilities – or lack of them. Reliability is sub par. We tested the Worx M500 on four different lawns from our “simpler lawns for budget lawn mower” selection. And here we discovered that this robotic lawn mower requires very specific conditions if it’s to cope on its own for a longer period.
For example, it can't handle a soft lawn, nor a mossy lawn or one with tall or damp grass. Damp grass collects underneath it so the lawn mower can't move forwards, while it simply gets stuck in tall grass.
Essentially, you need a dry, well-trimmed lawn that’s firm and has no moss for this lawn mower to cope without problems. Compared with the competitors in the same price class, there's a fair way to go for the Worx M model.
At the same time it’s strong on gradients, and we give it a plus point for this.
But unfortunately the poor reliability means the score is disappointingly low. This robotic lawn mower has many things going for it. It has loads of functions, is easy to expand and is therefore fun for the DIY enthusiast – and kind on your wallet – has a good app and a reasonable display. But as long as it requires such very specific conditions to work, it's hard to recommend it. You rarely test drive a robotic lawn mower or evaluate your lawn before you buy one. You simply expect it to work. And in this case you may well be disappointed.
Mammoth machine with generous cutting width for open areas
Review year: 2020 Price class: Premium Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 6 Ah/26 V Operating time: approx. 90 min/charge Rec. max. area: 3600 m² Max. gradient: approx. 20° (36%) Cutting height: 20-80 mm Cutting width: 56 cm Weight: 20.2 kg Noise level: Medium | Measured average value: approx. 65 dB Length: 73.5 mm Width: 66 mm Height: 31 mm Blade type: 2 fixed blades PIN code protected: Yes User manual: PDF
The Robomow RS635 PRO is an efficient lawn mower for larger areas. It may look a bit old-fashioned, but if you have open spaces that you want to mow quickly, it does its job with great results. However, the area needs to contain no or very few narrow passages.
The RS635 Pro has two fixed blades underneath and a very broad cutting width. It's these together with its speed that make it so efficient. Even on our large lawns of around 3500 m2, it copes with keeping the lawn trimmed without having to be out the whole day.
Given the weight and price class, we'd have preferred to see a slightly longer mowing time per session. But it does still cope with the recommended area, so ultimately this isn’t important.
The Robomow 635 Pro has a substantial build quality. Its fixed blades and sturdy plastic parts can cope with both impacts and careless handling – even though of course you should always handle your robotic lawn mower with care.
The design is in many ways reminiscent of a tank. The hard lines together with the old-fashioned and minimal interface on the gold-coloured display give an outdated impression. Nor is the display particularly user-friendly. It's hard to see what it's showing, and fiddly to programme the lawn mower using it.
On the other hand, you can programme the 635 Pro via an easy-to-use app instead.
Nor is the installation process as a whole very clear. You have to guess which end of the perimeter wire goes in which connection, and it takes a while before the charging station reacts and tells you whether you’ve made the right choice. If you’ve picked the wrong one, you have to use a screwdriver to get the wire out again and change it round. We think it would have been a good idea to look at competitors' solutions in this area.
The terrain-handling abilities are good and we have no problems with it getting stuck under normal conditions. However, the RS 635 PRO isn’t suitable for complicated surfaces with narrow passages and steep slopes as it struggles to cope with them and often gets stuck. But it doesn’t notice if the lawn is a bit bumpy or if it’s been raining – it simply carries on.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the RS 635 PRO is that it sometimes runs outside the work area and comes to a stop. We've previously seen the same problem in other robotic lawn mowers from the same manufacturer, and it doesn't seem to be related to the terrain.
Fortunately it turns off relatively quickly if it runs outside the marked area, which saves on battery life. So you don't need to carry it all the way back to the charging station. You just lift it into the work area and set it going again.
The result is good and the blades last an entire season despite quite a lot of pine cones and roots on some of the test lawns.
If Robomow succeed in stopping the lawn mower from escaping, this is an efficient and relatively fast robotic lawn mower for open spaces. It has enough intelligence to cope with various everyday challenges. It has a tendency to crash into things quite hard, but there are no problems with sensitivity as such. The fact that it’s a bit clumsy and without finesse doesn’t matter if you have a large, open lawn.
Connected robot mower with reasonable accessibility
Review year: 2021 Price class: Budget Recommended max. area: 700 m2 Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 2.5 Ah, 20 V Operating time: 60 min/charge Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 25-55 mm, 5 step (manual) Cutting width: 22 cm Weight: 9.1 kg Noise level: 60 dB Blade type: Pivot PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Wi-Fi) Miscellaneous: Support for 2 base stations User manual: Manual
The Solo by AL-KO Robolinho 700 W is a medium sized and medium price class robotic lawn mower with reasonable terrain-handling abilities that’s relatively easy to operate.
It comes with Wi-Fi support, which is really useful because it means you don't have to be right next to the robot mower to make changes or receive notifications. You can also schedule mowing times easily using the app.
The Robolinho 700 W has a reasonable cutting width and a good speed when it moves over the lawn. However, it doesn’t have a GPS or any software solution that means it can adapt the mowing on its own to avoid areas where it’s been a lot or areas it’s missed mowing. For instance, there’s no spiral mowing function. This is a bit of a shame because if you have several smaller areas of lawn the robotic lawn mower can end up missing bits.
However, you can set up to three start points to ensure that it actually visits hard-to-reach areas. You can also install an extra charging station. So if you realise it's not mowing a particular area as often as another one, you can adjust the programming retrospectively.
Even if the Robolinho 700 W has many good things going for it, it also has negative aspects. One of its biggest disadvantages is the terrain-handling abilities, even though it’s far from the worst in the pack in this regard. To put it briefly, this robot mower is OK at getting into more inaccessible areas. It also has reasonable software.
These aspects don’t get a better verdict because they vary so much depending on the challenge they're facing. For example the mower can cope with tall, thick grass quite well, slowing down nicely and not giving up on the first attempt like some other mowers. But if the grass is damp it easily skids and gets stuck. Uneven areas where the relatively low chassis touch the ground are also a problem, as it often gets stuck.
And sadly when it does get stuck the battery runs down – it doesn’t switch off and save the battery. Even worse is that it doesn’t start to recharge again when you put it back in the charging station until you press Start and enter the PIN code. If you pop out and bring it in at night, it's easy to forget to do this, and then it’ll still be standing there in the charging station, uncharged, the next day.
The Robolinho 700W also has some problems with gradients. Partly because it's a bit underpowered when it needs to reverse on a slope, and partly because the wheels lack a good grip and the construction isn’t sturdy enough. The lawn mower can easily end up standing in the middle of the slope going nowhere, or sliding off course, rotating and mowing as it goes, because it’s unable to stop. Nor can it take itself up slightly steeper gradients because it thinks it’s colliding with an obstacle, despite the fact that we set the value for this in the service menu.
The fact that it’s not particularly sturdy also means that it has problems docking correctly with the charging station if this isn’t entirely level, as it's prone to hitting the plate on an angle and missing the terminal. It’s much more sensitive on this point than many of its competitors, and the construction of the charging station leads to further problems because the robot mower is meant to touch the terminal on the side. The construction results in a number of limitations that other types of charging station don’t suffer from.
At the same time the 700 W is good at finding its way home even in taller grass or weeds, and doesn’t give up at the first attempt. We give it plus points for this stubbornness.
The battery life is pretty good. It runs out of battery in about 40 minutes, and then has to charge for about 50 minutes before it can go out again. This is fairly standard for the price class, even though one or two models stand out.
Under the right circumstances, it’s easy to install the Robolinho 700 W – but equally it can be very fiddly if you're unlucky. You have to place the robotic lawn mower a little way from the charging station and then it has to dock itself before you can start using it. With other robotic lawn mowers, you simply place it in the station and start it, but this one requires a bit of assistance.
Provided the robot mower actually realises it’s reached the charging station and stays there, the installation is simple. But we have to pick it up and lift it back to the starting point about 20 times before it does this because it instead runs out of the charging station and continues around the lawn. However, the problem with it not recognising the charging station isn’t repeated during use, so perhaps this was just one of those things.
Overall the Solo by AL-KO Robolinho 700 W is a really useful garden assistant, on the right lawn. It can deal with simpler problems, is easy to programme both via the app and the display, and tells you if it runs into issues. If it had cost a couple of hundred quid less, it would have got a much higher score. But the price class it’s currently in is tough and there are competitors with higher reliability, better docking and software that’s a bit more sophisticated. That’s not to say it's a bad buy. It’s a perfectly OK robotic lawn mower, under the right circumstances.
Easy to use, with an app for the smaller garden
Review year: 2019 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 7 Ah/12 V Operating time: approx. 90 -120 min/charge Rec. max. area: 200 m² Max. gradient: approx. 8.5° (15%) Cutting height: 15-45 mm (manual) Cutting width: 18 cm Weight: 11.5 kg Noise level: 64 | Measured mean value: approx. 58 dB Length: 53 cm Width: 42 cm Height: 26 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: No (no display, only child protection in button form) Accessories included: Installation material **App support: **Yes (Bluetooth)
The Wolf Garten Loopo S300 is a small, handy, robotic lawn mower that’s easy to install – particularly once you’ve downloaded the app to your telephone. You pretty much only have to connect the perimeter wire and press Go on the mower’s housing. If you get an error code, the station will flash. This is when it’s important that you have the app installed because you can quickly discover what’s gone wrong.
Because it connects via Bluetooth, it’s a relatively quick and easy process to link the mobile and lawn mower. So despite the fact that the Loopo S300 has no display, it’s very easy to get started with. However, one major disadvantage is that you can only choose between allowing it to cut the grass 24 as a day, or having a single start time per day when it cuts for either 30, 60 or 90 minutes. There’s nothing in between where you can set both the start and stop time, which is very limiting.
However, the app is easy to use, if slightly minimalist in terms of functions.
The Loopo S300 isn’t particularly strong. This becomes clear when it struggles even with grass only 10 cm tall – despite its narrow cutting width. If cutting gets too much for it, it switches off the blades and moves forward a bit before continuing to cut. Nor is there any spiral cutting or similar pattern that means it goes directly to places where the grass has grown a bit taller.
The design of the Wolf Garten Loopo S300 is user-friendly, with large buttons and clear symbols. But from a cutting point of view it leaves quite a lot to be desired. The mower has a plastic strip on one end that’s quite deep and low, which means it pushes the grass down. This negatively affects the cutting result, particularly if you have individual tall weeds in the lawn that just bend out of the way. This design also means that the robotic lawn mower gets stuck on uneven terrain.
But it actually also gets stuck even on flat terrain. Initially, it’s only about every third cutting session that this happens, but as it builds up soil and grass between the studs, it goes into a negative spiral. It gets stuck more often, digs itself in and creates still more mess. In damp grass the problem escalates still further and really becomes a pain. So you have to maintain the Loopo S300 quite often.
In damp terrain, it also loses its ability to handle slopes, to an extent, skidding on very minimally sloping terrain as well. And on downhill slopes it instead has a problem slowing down. The relatively high speed on slopes can be a problem if you have an obstacle at the bottom of the slope, which the lawn mower then runs into quite forcibly, or a perimeter wire, which it’s likely to run over and come to a standstill.
When it does get stuck, it switches off before the battery dies completely. This means you can started up again and adjust the position slightly – you don’t have to carry it back to the station and wait for it to charge up again.
And when it doesn’t get stuck, it can cut for quite a long time in one go. In other words, there are quite a lot of positive things about the Loopo S300 – particularly the app support – given its low price. But also quite a lot of negative things. If the manufacturer can stop it getting stuck so easily and come up with better solutions for terrain handling and tall grass, this would be an interesting budget buy. It’s currently most suited to people with flat, very small gardens who are willing to compromise on reliability to get a cheaper price.
Simple model with ongoing updates
Review year: 2020 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium ion | Capacity 2 Ah/20 V Operating time: approx. 35 min/charge Rec. max. area: 500 m² Max. gradient: 35% Cutting height: 2-6 cm (manual) Cutting width: 18 cm Weight: 7.4 kg Noise level: Measured mean value: approx. 47.5 dB Length: 54 cm Width: 40 cm Height: 23 cm Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: No (no display) Accessories included: Installation material App support: Yes (Wi-Fi) User manual: PDF Video clip: Landroid S
The Worx Landroid S500i (WR105SI) is a small, easily programmed robotic lawn mower – once you’ve managed to connect the robotic lawn and the app. The app is one of its biggest strengths. For example, you can measure the size of your lawn, see the weather, check for software updates etc.
Lots of other manufacturers don’t update the software on robotic lawn mowers that have already been sold. Updates are more often provided with the next season’s models. But Worx provide updates for all of their customers on an ongoing basis. We give them a major gold star for this.
Unfortunately, despite this they've still not updated a number of limitations in the lawn mower's problem-solving ability – weaknesses which have been known for many years now: for example, the fact that the robotic lawn mower is unable to drive around obstacles on its way home. Worx is one of the few manufacturers that have no solution for this. Instead, the robot bounces off the obstacle repeatedly until the battery runs out. This is a further disadvantage of the poor problem-solving ability – that the S500i doesn't switch off in such situations. It gets stuck then runs until the battery dies so you have to carry the lawn mower back to the charging station when you find it.
Nor does it have movement patterns to handle patchy tall grass, and the narrow cutting width means it works slowly. The robotic lawn mower also weighs rather a lot for something so small and compact.
But the Wi-Fi connection is a really great addition. By placing the charging station within reach of your wireless network, you can keep track of how the lawn mowing is going. Unlike Bluetooth, you don’t have to be in the immediate vicinity of the robotic lawn mower if you want to change settings or receive error messages.
If the robotic lawn mower gets stuck, you get a notification immediately. It’s fortunate that this function is provided, because the Landroid S tends to get stuck quite often, particularly in more unruly grass. It doesn’t have a strong mowing motor. At the same time, Worx have placed a kind of comb along the long underside to collect debris and grass. Over time this builds up significantly unless you remove it regularly. This means the grass increasingly acts as a brake on the mowing motor, which eventually comes to a stop.
The relatively deep tread patterns on the wheels also fill up with mud and debris, and the more there is, the more often the lawn mower gets stuck – even on relatively flat ground. So you shouldn’t run the Landroid S when it’s been raining or when there’s dew on the grass.
The Worx Landroid S has no display. This means that – if you aren't running the app – you’re stuck with audio signals and an LED to carry out troubleshooting. If you have problems during installation, this can be annoying and complicated. But as soon the app is configured, you get text information providing you everything you could possibly need to know.
The charging station has a simple design, but works without problems on a flat surface. If it’s in a small hollow, the robotic lawn mower can end up slightly too low in relation to the plate inside and won't charge.
The combination of poor problem-solving ability and poor terrain-handling abilities means that you often have to put in quite a lot of work to adapt and adjust both your garden and the mower’s working hours to make sure it keeps running. Nor does the lawn mower have PIN code protection. This means anybody can start it when it’s sitting on the lawn.
These shortcomings are to some extent outweighed by the low price, telephone notifications and the great new app. Provided your garden is a bit smaller than 500 m2, so the Landroid S can keep it neatly trimmed, it's a reasonable buy.
Robotic lawn mower with long operating time but poor terrain handling
Review year: 2018 **Price class:**Medium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 5 Ah/25.9 V Operating time: approx. 120 min/charge Rec. max. area: approx. 1,100 m² Max. gradient: approx. 24° (45%) Cutting height: 25-60 mm Cutting width: 25 cm Weight: 9.8 kg Noise level: Low Width: 430 cm Height: 250 cm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: No App support: Yes (Bluetooth)
The Wiper C XH is a robotic lawn mower with a very long operating time given its price class, together with a strong motor. As long as it doesn't run into obstacles in the terrain, it cuts well and leaves a neat result. The disadvantages of this mower is that it has problems compensating for the extra speed on downward slopes and thus has problems cutting these areas properly.
The bodywork is relatively low. The lower part consists of a rubber part that's intended to bend if it gets stuck on an uneven lawn. In terms of appearance, it looks fine, but from a practical viewpoint it's not very effective. If the C XH's front wheels run into a hollow, it will undoubtedly get stuck. And unfortunately it can rarely get itself back out again, so it just sits and spins its wheels. Many other robotic lawn mowers cope with these hollows as if they didn't exist.
Its terrain-handling abilities are the C XH's biggest shortcoming, because they mean that the long operating time can rarely be exploited. Instead the robot gets stuck and stays there until you rescue it. Here it would have been useful to have an app that informed you when it got stuck, but this function isn't currently provided.
Should always be operated with spiked wheels
However, when we attach spiked wheels it behaves like a completely different lawn mower. The terrain-handling abilities are improved so much that we think these should be provided as standard.
One advantage with the C XH is that it turns itself off in time when it's stuck instead of sitting wasting the battery. So you don't have to put it back in the charging station straight after rescuing it, which is the case with many other lawn mowers.
Very old-fashioned interface
Unfortunately, the Wiper C XH can't be classified as particularly user-friendly, especially given the competition. Connection of the charging station, programming of the robotic lawn mower and cutting height adjustment are all old-fashioned.
Connection is carried out by baring and inserting the wires of the perimeter wire directly into the connection. Nor is it clearly marked which end needs to go in which connection.
Programming takes place via a two-line display, with words that are sometimes abbreviated to fit. Most people will need to get out the manual every time they need to change the settings because the buttons aren't self-explanatory and also have several different functions.
You also have to set the cutting height with a tool instead of a straightforward manual knob or electronic cutting height setting. This feels shame on an otherwise powerful and neat little robotic lawn mower. But when it's out cutting it does a very good job of keeping the lawn in trim. It also resolves problems with obstacles effective, for example if a branch has fallen along the perimeter wire it will take a U-shaped diversion to get home.
The Wiper C XH is best on uncomplicated, very level lawns of medium size.
Neat model for small areas
Review year: 2018 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity X Ah/18 V Operating time: approx. 30 min/charge Rec. max. area: 400 m² Max. gradient: 27% Cutting height: 30-50 mm, 3 step (manual) Cutting width: 19 cm Weight: 7.5 kg Blade type: Fixed User manual: PDF Video clip: Installation instructions
The Bosch Indego 400 Connect is a small, neat robotic lawn mower with a compact docking station that makes it easy to position even in tight spaces.
However, the installation is quite fiddly because the manual leaves a lot to be desired. It's very poorly translated and the installation instructions are unclear even for someone used to installing lawn mowers. The robotic lawn mower itself is also very sensitive. Pretty much everything has to be positioned perfectly to avoid errors during docking or mowing. Even variations so small that they aren't visible with the naked eye can cause the robotic lawn mower to go on strike. This means it can take a long time before the Indego 400 Connect is actually out there mowing.
The software in the robotic lawn mower is also badly translated and buggy. And the tiny display means that menu choices often have to be abbreviated and that it's not always obvious to the user what's going on. This is particularly clear when we ask normal homeowners to try changing parameters under our supervision.
The Indego 400 Connect has a narrow cutting width, but as it's only intended for small lawns the cutting time is still normal. The cutting result is good, with an even, neat lawn as long as your garden doesn't slope.
If it does, the lawn mower tends to slip, particularly in damp grass. It also often misses areas on slopes so you end up with tufts of longer grass there. Where the mowing surface is near a slope, you should place the perimeter wire little way in from it because the robotic lawn mower is otherwise likely to slide over the wire and stop.
The software also seems to have been strangely constructed. The robotic lawn mower often stops during mowing to "update the map". This leads to annoying small interruptions during the very short time it's actually out mowing.
However, it's good at finding its way home and docking when you have set up the charging station perfectly. It looks after itself quite well as long as you don't have to make changes in the software.
Compact and heavy, with an excellent battery life but outdated technology
Review year: 2020 Price class: Medium Battery: Type: Lithium-ion | Capacity 2.5 Ah/29.6 V Operating time: approx. 120 mins/charge Rec. max. area: approx. 1100 m² Max. gradient: approx. 11-24° (20-45%) Cutting height: 25-60 mm Cutting width: 25 cm Weight: 9.8 kg Noise level: Low Width: 43 mm Height: 25 mm Blade type: Fixed PIN code protected: Yes Accessories included: No User manual: PDF
The Stiga Autoclip 225 S is a small and neat – but relatively heavy – robotic lawn mower that can cut for a very long time on one charge. This is also its biggest strength. If it had acceptable terrain-handling abilities and better reliability, the phenomenal mowing time would have been a really good reason to buy this mower. But unfortunately the lawn mower gets stuck pretty much every day. In any case as long as you run it in the standard version.
In practice, it can only run on entirely flat and even (in other words, well laid and well tended) lawns. Here it's strong and has no problems with tall grass. However, it can run away on downhill slopes instead of braking, so it sometimes has problems mowing properly on these areas. But apart from that, on this type of area you get a good result.
It's the terrain-handling abilities that let the 225 S down. It gets stuck pretty much every day on all types of surface. For example, if it happens to end up nose down in a slight hollow in the lawn, it's almost never able to get out again on its own. Most lawns aren't perfectly flat, which means that this robotic lawn mower doesn't really work anywhere.
However, you can buy a set of spiked wheels to attach alongside the normal wheels, and these improve terrain handling dramatically. The difference is so great that the 225 S with spiked wheels is more like an entirely different lawn mower. So we'd have liked these to be included in the standard package.
Despite its spiked wheels, the 225 S struggles to catch up with its competitors because so much of its technology is outdated. Connecting the charging station is hopelessly primitive and could definitely have been made more user-friendly. The same applies to the positioning of the perimeter wire, which is more fiddly than average.
The charging station has to be positioned along the perimeter wire and requires a few metres of open space. This makes positioning the charging station less flexible. Once you've fixed this, however, the 225 S has no problems finding its way home and docking.
The cutting height adjustment is also primitive, requiring you to switch off the mower, turn it upside down and use a tool.
The 225 S also has an old-fashioned and clumsy user interface. The small, two-row display only shows a few words, and you only have a few buttons to navigate it. The buttons also have slightly different functions depending on what it is you want to do. In other words, you're going to have to get the manual out every time you want to change your settings. Programming is time-consuming and complicated.
The options are also extremely limited. For example, you can't set one or more working times per weekday. Instead you have to be satisfied with a maximum of two schedules with a single time interval in each one.
The app makes it possible to remotely control the robotic lawn mower as if it was a radio-controlled car. This is fun, but the practical use is minimal. Nor can you adjust the mowing time or tell it to start cutting.
The Stiga 225 S is best on medium sized lawns that are flat and have a simple shape. Once you've programmed it, and given it spiked wheels, it runs like clockwork. But you're not going to want to change the programming, cutting height or anything else in the installation, because it's simply too time-consuming. Given the price of this robotic lawn mower, there are far too many things that Stiga would need to modernise for us to recommend the Autoclip 225 S.
Sometimes does OK in terms of performance, but many question marks
Review year: 2020 Price class: Budget Battery: Type: Lithium-ion, 4.4 Ah, 29 V Operating time: approx. 150 mins/charge Rec. cutting area: 1500 m2 Max. gradient: approx. 30° Cutting height: 25-65 mm (electronic) Cutting width: 21 cm Noise level: 60 | Measured average value: approx. 59 dB Blade type: Pivoting PIN code protected: Yes App support: Yes (Wi-Fi) Accessories included: 9 x blades Miscellaneous: Brushless motor, rain sensor.
The Lyfco E1800 is something of a dark horse on the robotic lawn mower market. In price terms, it’s in the budget class, but it still has a number of luxury features such as app support, electronic height setting and a brushless motor.
The installation process can be fiddly. You connect the wire into the back of the charging station, and an LED on the top of the station indicates whether or not it has a signal. You have to peel the wire and insert it into the connections, which are unprotected on the back of the unit. However, the station doesn't show you whether you've connected the right end into the right contact, and if you've connected it wrong it can run away or spin uncontrollably. This means there's a big risk that it could injure people, animals or damage things in the garden.
Once it's correctly connected, the Lyfco E1800 has a number of features that you'd normally only find on premium robots, such as a rain sensor, spiral mowing and the possibility of setting six entirely different work areas.
The E1800 keeps up quite a high speed over the lawn, both when it's moving between different places and when it changes course. Combined with the long operating time, this gives it extra points. At the same time, it turns and runs into things at full speed, which risks damaging sensitive furniture and any other items left on the lawn.
Unfortunately, it's rare that it actually manages to cut for very long. Despite sturdy studs on the wheels, the E1800 tends to get stuck quite often. Even on flat lawns it sometimes comes to a stop. And it doesn’t understand that it's got stuck, but continues to spin its wheels, often damaging the lawn. If it's stuck for too long – so that it runs out of battery – you sometimes lose all settings you've entered.
But the Lyfco E1800's worst problem is that it often gets stuck on the way home. It's not clear what causes this, but you only have to give it a light tap on the back end for it to start up again. The fact that you have to keep an eye on it on its way home significantly reduces its reliability score.
When the E1800 is on its way home it sometimes also has a problem getting into the station if it's not on completely flat ground. Once the robotic lawn mower has docked, you can't change settings via the display either, which is frustrating.
But you can use an app to communicate with the robotic lawn mower. You get no instructions about how to connect the app and the robotic lawn mower, but once you've worked this out the app works OK. For example, you can control the E1800 manually, send it out to mow the lawn or set the rain sensor.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that "updates" in the menu refers to the actual robotic lawn mower, but it actually means the version of the mobile app. If you want to update the robotic lawn mower, you have to download new firmware to your computer from a website, and then carry out a number of other steps before the lawn mower itself is updated. Unfortunately you don't get notifications either in the app or on the lawn mower's display when new firmware is released.
This means the Lyfco E1800 stands out both in terms of positive and negative aspects. It currently has a number of bugs and a poor installation process, which mean it gets a low reliability score, so we can't recommend it.
Robotic lawnmowers have existed for more than 20 years, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve really taken off in popularity. This is at least partially due to falling prices, but also because the range of models has grown and robotic lawn mowers generally have improved significantly. Another important factor is probably that many people buy their own robotic lawn mower after seeing that the neighbour's model actually does the job and produces a satisfactory cutting result. This means that robotic lawnmowers spread in clusters, with one area of housing having considerably more than the next. But the trend is clear. The robotisation of lawn mowing is unstoppable. The traditional petrol or electric push lawn mower is still far from extinct, but the robotic lawn mower represents a constantly increasing share of new sales.
It’s hardly surprising that not all robotic lawnmowers are as good, and factors such as performance, efficiency, reliability, functionality and safety vary more than you might think between different models. With a correctly executed installation, the best robotic lawn mowers can get by for several weeks without stoppages, while the worst can have difficulties even finding their way home to charge. The best lawn mowers require little adaptation in terms of cable laying and surface for reliable cutting, while the worst ones have strict requirements in terms of surface, gradient and the design of the area to be cut. The safest robotic lawn mowers are so well designed that it's almost impossible to injure yourself on them, while the worst can constitute a safety hazard for things like feet or inquisitive small fingers. Some models can even escape from their enclosure and play havoc with the neighbour's flowerbeds
Our tests show that more expensive robotic lawn mowers generally perform better than cheaper ones, but that’s not always the case. Nor is it certain that a robotic lawn mower with a good theoretical performance in terms of surface capacity and gradient will live up to this in practice. In other words, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the specifications about how many square metres a robotic lawn mower can cut in theory. What’s much more important is the robotic lawn mower’s reliability and how much perimeter wire is supported by the base station, as these factors are more decisive in determining the cutting area it can cope with. Another factor to take into account is the type of signal used by the robotic lawn mower’s perimeter wire. Some models actually interfere with other robotic lawnmowers, which isn’t exactly desirable for a good relationship with your neighbours.
In our test of robotic lawn mowers, we have tested the market’s foremost models to find out how well they perform. The best robotic lawnmowers perform really well, but you get what you pay for and a model that can cope with a moderately tough to difficult lawn costs about £1500. However, this should be viewed in relation to the most expensive models that cost upwards of £5000. But if you have a flat, uncomplicated and not too large lawn you can get by with a significantly simpler model for around £1000. However, there's a big difference between a budget and premium robotic lawn mower, and a budget model isn't always enough to get the job done.
Because both price and performance vary so significantly between different models, we have divided the test candidates into three different price classes and named the winner in each price class as follows:
Budget: up to £1100 Robotic lawn mowers in this price class should be able to cope with smaller, uncomplicated lawns with a uniform surface. Both problem-solving ability and terrain-handling abilities are normally quite limited.
Medium: approx. £1100-£2000 In this price class you should be able to expect that the robotic lawn mower will be able to cope with relatively tough lawns of around 1000 m². Both the problem-solving ability and terrain-handling abilities should be sufficiently good to deal with the majority of lawns. Unfortunately, many medium priced models can’t cope with this.
Premium: more than £2000 Models in this price class should be able to cope with large, complicated lawns with many obstacles, narrow passages and complex cable laying. They should ideally also be able to cope with steep gradients and troublesome surfaces. Unfortunately a large proportion of premium models fall down on several of these points.
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. This technology is what gives robotic lawn mowers their problem-solving ability.
Just like people, the better they are at solving a variety of problems, the more intelligent robotic lawn mowers are considered to be. Working out how to make a robotic mower more intelligent is an extremely expensive process that involves a great deal of trial and error. For this reason, robotic lawn mowers from companies that have been manufacturing them for a long time tend to have a better AI technology than newcomers, whose models often demonstrate "teething troubles" in terms of problem-solving ability.
In practice, this is because some manufacturers have succeeded in creating more intelligent algorithms than others. An algorithm can be seen as a set of instructions that tell the robotic lawn mower what it should do in a range of different situations.
Probably the major reason to buy a robotic lawn mower is to save time and effort. So it's obvious that you want it to be user-friendly.
To begin with, installation should be simple and straightforward, so that you can easily start using your robotic lawn mower. Some models are easier to install than others, and this difference can be particularly clear if you're doing the entire installation yourself for the first time.
When the installation is complete, the most important aspects that must be user-friendly are the robotic lawn mower's computer and control panel. The interface and menu system should be so intuitive that it's easy to navigate through the different functions. If the control panel has too few buttons, programming becomes time-consuming, while too many buttons can be confusing if the layout isn't sufficiently clear.
Robotic lawn mowers are expensive and complicated products, so it's important they don't break down. The factory guarantee covers the initial period, but after that you have to pay for repairs and maintenance yourself.
In general, a high build quality means a durable robotic lawn mower. To have a long lifespan, the robotic lawn mower should also be impact resistant and not sensitive to external influences. It should therefore be moisture-resistant; in a rainy and damp climate, moisture should be prevented from penetrating the many circuits that make up a robotic lawn mower.
It should also be heat-resistant so that it doesn't overheat from being out in the blazing sun for days on end. The blades should also be robust so that they don't bend or break when they hit hard objects such as stones, roots or forgotten toys.
The design of the robotic lawn mower determines not only how attractive it is but also how reliable and durable it is - and how well it handles rough terrain. Robotic lawn mower designers must constantly manage conflicts between aesthetics, performance, functionality, manufacturing costs and safety.
For example, a bigger cutting width is almost always preferable from a purely technical perspective, as it makes the robotic lawn mower more stable and quicker at cutting the lawn. At the same time it's also more expensive to manufacture such a mower.
A smaller safety buffer around the inside of the housing makes possible a wider cutting width but simultaneously increases the risks of accidents. In the same way, a big red "STOP" button is useful from a safety viewpoint, but from an aesthetic perspective it's nicer if it's a bit less visible.
So in a well-designed robotic lawn mower, all of these factors are taken into account.
Reliability is perhaps the single most important characteristic of a robotic lawn mower. The whole idea of a robotic lawn mower – like all other types of robot – is for it to look after itself and to require as little work from its operator as possible. When the robotic lawn mower has been installed and programmed, it should therefore require minimal effort from its owner. An extremely reliable robotic lawn mower won't necessarily be able to cut the grass everywhere, but at the same time it should never get stuck anywhere either. But of course you also want it to be able to cut the more tricky parts of the garden. In practice, this means that no robotic lawn mower is completely reliable, and that they all sooner or later get helplessly stuck somewhere. However, for the most reliable robotic lawn mowers this happens very rarely, while the least reliable get stuck very often. The characteristics that are most important for reliability are the robotic lawn mower's terrain-handling abilities and its AI.
A robotic lawn mower's terrain-handling is the decisive aspect of its functionality. Partly because it determines where the robotic lawn mower will be able to cut the grass, and partly because it indirectly determines how often the robotic lawn mower will get stuck.
The most common obstacles that we identified in our robotic lawn mower test are:
Lumps and bumps: The simplest lawn for a robotic lawn mower to cut is completely flat. However, this is an ideal that the majority of lawns simply don't meet. Particularly in Sweden, where lawns are often allowed to retain a slightly more wild character. So it's common to encounter lumps and bumps – particularly small ones – which you don't necessarily think about before they cause problems; for example for your robotic lawn mower.
Gradients: Lawns often extend over inclined ground such as slopes, banks etc. Sometimes the gradient is minimal, sometimes it's severe. It's primarily major gradients that cause problems for robotic lawn mowers, even if the slope itself is short. Sloping ground is a challenge for robotic lawn mowers, and the majority of them can cope with a maximum 15° gradient. The best models can cope with 20-25°, which means that they are able to handle the majority of garden gradients.
Obstacles: Obstacles can be found in practically all gardens tend to present the most common type of challenge for robotic lawn mowers. There are many common obstacles, which include trees, fences, fence doors, walls, posts, compost heaps, pots, bushes, roots, paths, patios, flower beds, flagpoles, statues, sandpits, raised vegetable beds, log piles, swings and trampolines. The challenges created by obstacles vary significantly in type and level of difficulty. The most common obstacles are also among the most easily managed and involve hard, uniform objects that stick straight up out of the lawn, such as trees and fences. All robotic lawnmowers should handle these with ease. More difficult obstacles are things like bushes, trampolines and swings if they are attached to the ground with planks. The roots of bushes can trap robotic lawn mowers, while they can easily get stuck in trampoline legs or any planks used to attach swings.
Surface: There are a number of different surfaces that provide major challenges for robotic lawnmowers, such as roots, gravel, loose earth/sand, newly planted grass, leaves, pine cones and clay. These all create a loose and/or slippery surface which it is easy for the robotic lawn mower's small wheels to get stuck in. To handle difficult surfaces efficiently therefore requires sufficiently large wheels with sufficiently effective patterns. Of course the width of the wheels also affects the terrain-handling capacity, but with the right pattern and a machine that's not too heavy the wheels can be kept surprisingly narrow.
Challenging cutting surfaces: There are a number of common cutting surfaces that are particularly demanding for robotic lawn mowers.
Narrow passages/bottlenecks are challenging for a robotic lawn mower as it doesn't have eyes and so can't see in which direction the passage goes. This means that the lawn mower finds it difficult to "find the right way" and instead moves from side to side in the passage. Intelligent robotic lawn mowers have been programmed to avoid this type of situation and to quickly escape. A common trick that many robotic lawn mowers use to guide themselves through narrow passages is to follow the perimeter wire for a certain distance from the base station or to follow a guide cable.
Sharp corners are often a problem as they risk causing the robotic lawn mower to "go off track" and cross the perimeter wire. A safe lawn mower stops by itself when it realises that it has left its "enclosure", but on the other hand it will remain stationary until the owner reactivates it.
Corner areas with lots of obstacles can represent challenges as the lawn mower risks becoming "trapped" if it constantly collides with either the perimeter wire or the obstacles surrounding the corner. To avoid the robotic lawn mower wasting time in a corner therefore requires a sufficiently intelligent robot that can quickly work out an escape route.
Secondary areas are areas that are separate from the primary area but which must also be cut. For example, a house could have two lawns with a secondary smaller lawn in front of a house with a bigger lawn (the primary cutting area) in the back garden. Often the secondary and primary areas are connected by a narrow passage.
Robotic lawn mowers are not intended or designed to cope with long, coarse or wet grass. An overgrown lawn may therefore need to be cut with a conventional lawn mower before it becomes manageable for a robotic lawn mower. This applies particularly to small lawn mowers. Even if the lawn mower manages to force its way through the long grass, it often has to drive over the area several times in order to gradually cut the grass short. The lawn mower's wheels press the grass down each time it passes, which often results in the long grass gradually lying down rather than being cut. This particularly applies to robotic lawn mowers with pivoting blades, which are designed to give if they encounter too much resistance. Long and coarse grass is therefore one of the few areas where fixed blades are preferable to pivoting blades.
Budget: up to £1100 Robotic lawn mowers in this price class should be able to cope with smaller, uncomplicated lawns with a uniform surface. Both problem-solving ability and terrain-handling abilities are normally quite limited.
Medium: approx. £1100-£2000 In this price class you should be able to expect that the robotic lawn mower will be able to cope with relatively tough lawns of around 1000 m². Both the problem-solving ability and terrain-handling abilities should be sufficiently good to deal with the majority of lawns. Unfortunately, many medium priced models can't cope with this.
Premium: more than £2000 Models in this price class should be able to cope with large, complicated lawns with many obstacles, narrow passages and complex cable laying. They should ideally also be able to cope with steep gradients and troublesome surfaces. Unfortunately a large proportion of premium models fall down on several of these points.
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