Robotic lawn mowers save you valuable time, protect you from sweating in the sun, and provide you with grass you can be proud of.
Everything seems perfect, but there is a big flaw. Robotic lawn mowers come with a hefty price tag. We evaluate what the future looks like for robotic lawnmowers in 2024, asking whether they’re up to the task and whether homeowners should be spending their money.
Robotic Lawn Mowers: Price is a constraint
Unlike their counterparts, robot vacuums, robotic lawn mowers can’t compete on price, making them more difficult to access. In comparison, our best budget robot vacuum – the iLife V3s pro – was featured on our site Best robot vacuum buying guide It comes in at less than $80. In contrast, an entry-level robotic lawn mower will set you back around $1,500.
A robot vacuum cleaner can be considered an impulse purchase, while a robotic lawnmower needs more thought. And if you think an entry-level robotic lawnmower is too expensive, a top-of-the-line model with GPS tracking will set you back $6,000. It’s a high price to pay for a clean lawn, and one that would easily cover the cost of a lawn mower.
When you split the price, it’s cheaper to call a lawn maintenance service to do the job for you. Paying $40 per week over 26 weeks would cost $1,040, less than the entry-level model. However, if you choose an economical mower, you will still make a return within a couple of seasons.
Buy or rent
At a high cost, one option is to rent a robotic lawn mower from a company like Otomo – Giving you the option to try before you buy.
Lack of competition
After testing several Tom’s Manual robotic lawnmowers, including Husqvarna Automower 450XH EPOSSenior Editor John Velasco believes the high price is partly due to a lack of competition. Husqvarna is the dominant brand in the market, with few other companies making a mark, apart from Ambrogio, Worx and Robomow.
So, while other manufacturers are trying to catch up, prices will remain high due to lack of competition. But as more companies enter the market, we expect costs to become more competitive and affordable. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out in 2024.
Robotic Lawn Mowers: Corded or Cordless?
Robotic lawn mowers have traditionally struggled to recognize objects, bumping into garden furniture or falling onto flower beds. Defining boundaries and obstacles has been a problem.
Having tested his first robotic lawn mower five years ago, John says it has improved dramatically, especially in terms of maneuverability. The latest robotic lawnmowers now feature GPS technology, eliminating the task of determining your limits using timely sensors.
Although the wireless units mean you won’t have to monitor borders, they come at a premium price. If your yard is shaded by trees or objects that would interfere with the GPS’s line of sight, you may be better off using a wired unit.
Corded robotic lawnmowers require a circumferential cord to operate. You can install this yourself, by placing the wires close to the ground, but you will find the wires quickly become covered in grass. An alternative is to ask a professional to set up the boundary wires for you. They will insert them into the ground 3 to 4 inches deep.
Just like a robot vacuum, corded mowers move around a specific space and use sensors to stop and redirect them when they hit an object. However, they move randomly, rather than wireless units mowing in straight lines. If you like a chart or a chessboard Pattern on your lawnyou will need to invest in a cordless mower.
So, apart from how the limits are discovered, how do the two mowers differ? The difference is the system connects to your phone through Bluetooth or the more expensive versions connect through cellular service and are equipped with GPS mapping technology.
What about edges?
You will never be left completely without any work to do. Robotic lawn mowers may cut grass but they don’t trim the edges of your lawn to get that perfect finish. The blades on the mower are positioned away from the casing, and even though the mower will reach the limits, the blades will fall a little short. John Velasco says he trims the edges of his garden every two weeks to keep it looking neat.
Can a robotic lawn mower handle steep slopes?
If your lawn has steep slopes, you may find that a goat lawn mower is a better option than a robotic lawn mower. Most robotic lawn mowers, especially if they have a powerful motor, can handle slopes of 35%.
But what about those bumps and grooves? If you’re in the market for a neat lawn, you’ve probably already filled in any tricky grooves to create a flat surface, and your mower won’t need to negotiate any awkward holes. However, if you have a playful dog who likes to bury bones, it’s best to choose a model with four-wheel drive, as it will handle holes better than a two-wheeled model.
Some robotic lawn mowers can also be programmed to avoid any difficult areas, although this feature will again add to the price.
Are the batteries up to the task?
Battery capacity may be an issue if you have a large garden. If so, the best option is to choose a robotic lawnmower with a large battery capacity. This will save the mower having to return to the base station to recharge during each cut. If your lawn is small to medium sized, a low-cost mower will suffice.
What happens to grass clippings?
Robotic lawn mowers are designed to mow the lawn every one or two days, thus cutting only a small patch of grass. In fact, the snippets are so short that you won’t even notice them. This soft material is left as mulch to nourish the soil, providing you with a healthy lawn, while eliminating the task of cutting the grass.
The future of robotic lawnmowers in 2024: forecasts
Robotic lawn mowers have evolved over the past few years, but the cost is still high. New models are now capable of mowing more complex yards and have additional features that enable you to control and track your mower remotely, and some even have technology to shelter from the rain.
Investing in a robotic lawn mower is great if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t want to spend a few hours each week mowing the lawn. However, if you have a small yard and can mow your lawn effortlessly, save your money and stick with a manual or electric lawnmower. You’ll be able to pick one up for a fraction of the cost.