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Is a robot lawn mower worth it?

Let’s face it: Cutting the grass isn’t a seasonal chore that most of us get excited about. Depending on your property and lawn size, you can spend hours pushing your mower up and down slopes, around obstacles, and away from your garden, all while breaking your back and sweating it out on hot summer days.

For those looking to take the toil out of lawn care, a robot lawn mower may sound like an appealing piece of tech. As small as most indoor robot vacs, a robot lawn mower delivers a battery-powered cleaning experience, taking care of your entire lawn in just a few hours. When the cutting is done, or the bot needs a recharge, it will automatically return to its base for re-juicing. A number of robot mowers even come with a companion app that lets you schedule and control your landscaping on the go.

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All that being said, robot lawn mowers are not exactly inexpensive, leading many to reconsider the investment. If you’re hesitant about owning a robotic mower, we’ve put together this explainer to shine some light on the topic. Read on to see if our breakdown edges you a bit closer to a robot mower purchase (or further away).

How does a robot lawn mower work?

The Robomow RS630 on a lawn.

Compact but efficient, robot lawn mowers run off of a rechargeable battery pack. The mower will cut and trim your entire lawn, automatically returning to its AC-powered base when the job is finished or if the mower needs a quick recharge.

Once you’ve unboxed your mower for the first time, a series of sensors will perform an entire scan of your property, storing the saved map to your mower and its companion app (if the mower has one). Most mowers will require you to lay a perimeter fence around your property, ensuring your bot won’t dodge into your neighbor’s yard or into your treasured flowerbed.

Depending on the mower you purchase, the bot may use a single blade, multiple blades, or a rotating disc of fine blades to chop away at your grass. Unlike a hand-pushed or riding mower with bag attachments, the grass clippings themselves are reduced to fine particles that are used to re-seed the soil of your lawn.

Are robot lawn mowers expensive?

Husqvarna 115H Connect on a lawn.

Generally speaking, it’s going to be difficult to find a robot lawn mower for less than $800. With some models rocking $5,000 price points, the initial cost alone may be enough to steer some folks away, but consider the advantages:

As long as you’re not dealing with grass the size of fully-grown corn stalks, your robotic mower will prevent you from ever having to manually cut and trim again. And, if you own a small- to medium-sized piece of property, a lower-cost robot mower may be all you need. Typically, higher-priced bots are equipped with bigger batteries to be able to handle larger lots. Otherwise, your bot will be heading back to its charger too often, prolonging how long it will take to finish a single cut.

Additionally, higher-priced mowers often feature more tech and customization options. Things like onboard rain sensors that automatically return the mower to its home base when precipitation is dictated and/or an intuitive companion app that allows you to set schedules and start/stop the mower remotely will inevitably bolster the price you’re paying.

Also consider the potential long-term savings. For those who don’t mow their own lawns but pay a landscaping team instead, look at it this way: On average, bi-weekly lawn mowing from a third-party team will cost about $45 for the service. If you’re getting your lawn serviced six out of 12 months per year, that’s close to $550. With that math, an average-priced mower (around $1,200) will pay for itself in as little as a single year.

Can a robot lawn mower handle my lawn?

A robotic mower on the grass.

Robot lawn mowers are built to tackle all different types of acreage. You’ll see some of the most rugged bots handling steep 70% grades. Couple this with tough-terrain tires, and you’re talking about a mower that can handle just about anything you throw at it.

On average, you’ll see most robot lawn mowers capable of tackling up to 35% grades. While the moving parts of many mowers are designed to get your bot in and out of the tightest parts of your property, the flatter and less hole-filled your acreage, the better. That’s not to say that the average-priced mower can’t work its way out of a divot in your yard, but a build-up of obstacles like this can slow down your mower considerably. If you can fill in holes and improve your grading, you’ll be in better shape no matter what mower you may purchase.

The verdict

If you’re OK with throwing down some heavy upfront cash and have a decent piece of property that requires a ton of upkeep, a robot lawn mower can more than effectively lighten your workload. Like anything tech-related, there may be an initial learning curve involved and a bit of preliminary elbow grease (laying the perimeter wire around your whole property), but in the end, the benefits will far outweigh the cost. Time is money, right?

In a nutshell: Your friends at Digital Trends give a big thumbs-up to the world of robotic mowing.

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