Robotic lawn mowers are creeping their way in to everyday American life. Like the dishwasher, they were really more trouble than they were worth in the beginning. But technological advances have made the robotic lawn mower practical.
Robotic lawn mowers can now mow on a time schedule and return to the charging base all season long without human intervention, this is the breakthrough that makes them truly useful.
An advanced feature on at least one model is the self-programmable mode. As these robotic lawn mowers work they determine the size of the yard and how fast the grass is growing, when they go back to their charging base they calculate the next time they need to come out to keep the grass at the optimal height.
Rain sensors are becoming standard equipment. When it starts to rain or the sprinkler system activates, they return to their charging base. Mowing in the rain was a major complaint for early adopters.
Some robotic lawn mowers even have a wet grass detection system. Rain sensors are a step in the right direction, but it is the wet grass detection system that cures the problem. Heavy or long periods of rain can leave the grass wet and the ground soft for days. Heavier robotic lawn mowers could get stuck and dig trenches losing traction and spinning tires. Keeping bags of sand handy was just considered part of robotic lawn mower ownership.
Light weight lithium ion batteries allow mowers to cut longer and recharge much faster. In fact some can recharge in as little as 4 hours allowing the mower to go out twice a day if needed.
In addition to faster recharge times, lithium ion batteries do not have the ‘memory’ problems associated with lead acid batteries. Basically the memory effect is caused when a battery is not fully discharged on a consistent basis, they remember the shortened life cycle, reducing the useful length of time until the need to recharge.
Robotic lawn mowers have become more reliable too. The addition of thermistors that detect when motors are overheating and less heat sensitive circuit boards and higher quality components extend the life expectancy past 10 years, about the same as a new quality riding lawn mower.
Robotic lawn mowers are now pretty much maintenance free. Changing the blade once a year and winter storage is about all the attention needed on a routine basis.
Robotic lawnmowers are now able to handle yards as small as 1/8 acre up to 5 acres. Depending on the model, they can handle slopes of up to 30 degrees. All major brands of robotic lawn mowers are waterproof and can remain outdoors all mowing season long.
Residential robotic lawn mowers require a perimeter wire similar to an electric dog fence to be laid prior to operating. Laying the wire is a one-time event that will last the life of the mower.
Setting the perimeter wire is probably the scariest part of purchasing a robotic lawn mower. It is not difficult to stake the wire in place. It usually takes about 3 hours for 1,000 ft. of wire. The wire need not be buried as the grass and roots will grow over it in about 2-3 weeks.
If the mower should cross the wire boundary it will immediately stop. So there is no need to worry about it running away or mowing the neighbor’s yard.
Operating the robotic lawn mower is simple, actually easier than programming a VCR. In theory, programming the mowing schedule need only be done at the beginning of the season. The LCD screens have full instructions and are easy to read.
There are quite a number of internet sites that have detailed information about specific features of the different models of robotic lawn mowers. Hopefully this general description will give readers the interest to look into these new appliances.