Hate mowing the lawn? Consider a robot mower. If you're fairly new to lawn care technology, a robot mower operates in much the same way as a robot vacuum or mop does: using sensors, guidewires, and even satellite technology to avoid obstacles and stay within boundaries, and also allow for scheduling and monitoring via Bluetooth companion apps.
One of the best features of a robot lawn mower is that they're autonomous. Once you set up a schedule, you don't have to worry about being home to mow your lawn; rather, the unit will leave the base station and start cutting the grass all on its own at the designated start time. Another key feature is their small cutting decks, often just eight or nine inches wide, which make them ideal for suburban lawns in particular. The included reels of guidewire also are often just big enough to mark off the edge of a quarter acre to half acre lot, or the same size area of much larger lawns.
Also: The best riding mowers
Additionally, robot mowers are battery-powered, meaning they don't emit any gas, making them a more environmentally-friendly solution to lawn care. Plus, the lack of a gas engine means there's very little maintenance other than changing out batteries and cleaning out dried grass and dirt.
ZDNET researched and tested some of the best robot mowers on the market, and ranked our picks below based on their price, controls, and user-friendliness, among other features. My pick for the best robot mower overall is the Husqvarna 430X, thanks to its excellent ability to mow larger lawns, its GPS theft tracking, and its compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. Read on to help you find the best robot mower for your yard.
The best robot mowers of 2023
- GPS theft tracking
- Mows up to 0.8 acres
- Spiral cut and spot-mow modes
- Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
Husqvarna 430X features: Cutting width: 9.5 inches | Max cutting area: 0.8 acres | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Anti-theft alarm: Yes
Robot mowers are usually meant for much smaller lawns, but the Husqvarna 430X is capable of handling lots up to almost a full acre. The 9.5-inch cutting deck features three blades that mulch clippings into ultra-fine pieces to re-feed your lawn between fertilizer applications. The large rear wheels enable the mower to handle steep inclines. With Bluetooth connectivity and GPS navigation, the 430X lets you schedule mow times, set up remote start points, and even set up profiles for different sections of your yard. This lets you create a custom schedule for a consistent cut across your whole lawn, while remote start points mean that your robot mower isn't limited to where the base station is when you want it to tackle a particular section.
You can even choose between spot mowing and spiral mowing. The spot-mow mode lets you quickly tackle small areas the 430X may have missed or may be growing faster than other sections of your lawn, while the spiral-mow mode provides a consistent cutting pattern. Like its cousin, the Husqvarna 115H, it has a built-in alarm to alert you to would-be thieves and only can be disabled with a personalized PIN. It also offers GPS tracking in case someone does manage to make off with your new mower. Husqvarna also offers interchangeable top covers to either make it easier to see where your 430X is in your yard or to match the rest of your lawn and garden equipment. And if you want truly hands-off lawn care, you can connect the 430X to your Alexa or Google smart speaker for voice-activated controls.
ZDNET's Beth Mauder tested the Husqvarna 430X for a year on her one-acre yard, and said in her review that she was "thoroughly impressed... We never once had to manually mow our lawn this past year."
Read the review: This $2,500 robot lawn mower is so impressive my neighbors come to watch it mow
- Doesn't need guidewires
- Intelligent obstacle avoidance feature
- Exceptional lawn maintenance
- Difficulties sticking to map
EcoFlow Blade features: Cutting width: 10.2 inches | Max cutting area: 1 acre | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Anti-theft alarm: Yes
The EcoFlow Blade is a robot mower that stands out: While it offers the same basics (like a lithium battery and charging dock, three blades to cut the grass, and four heavy-duty wheels), it's the first robot mower that comes with a sweeper kit (for an extra price). It's also one of the few available that doesn't require a boundary wire. Instead, it uses GPS technology to map your yard, no wires required.
ZDNET's Maria Diaz tested the EcoFlow Blade on her yard, and while the setup process required some time, the results were impressive. "The EcoFlow Blade is exceptional at maintaining grassy areas," Diaz wrote in her review. "It never missed spots in the middle of its coverage area and it consistently ran several times a week automatically, keeping our one-half of the yard mowed (lawn stripes and all) without us having to lift a finger."
The Blade includes anti-theft technology, and uses LiDAR and visual sensors to intelligently avoid obstacles (it successfully managed to move around Diaz's toddler). It also features a rain sensor that detects showers or bad weather and either stays docked or returns to the dock to avoid getting stuck in the mud.
Read the review: I tested the Tesla Cybertruck of robot mowers -- and it's better than I expected
- Rain sensors
- Quieter operation
- Affordable price
- No companion app for scheduling
- No anti-theft system
MowRo RM24A features: Cutting width: 9.5 inches | Max cutting area: .25 acres | Connectivity: N/A | Companion app: No | Anti-theft alarm: No
Since robot mowers are such a new technology, they can be quite expensive. Fortunately, the Mowro RM24A is one of the more affordable options on the market, with a price tag that sits comfortably under $1,000. The 9.5-inch cutting deck and 28V battery allow the RM24A to mow yards up to a quarter acre, while the large rear, wheels help it tackle steeper hills and inclines. The brushless motor runs much more quietly than gas mowers and many other battery-powered mowers, which means you can enjoy your deck, patio, or backyard while the RM24A is mowing your lawn.
And it won't annoy the neighbors as it follows its 48-hour mowing schedule; this robot mower automatically mows every two days to keep a consistent cut across your entire lawn. It even has rain sensors to let the mower know it's time to return to the docking station when storms roll in.
- Anti-theft alarm
- GPS tracking
- App for scheduling and maintenance
Husqvarna Automower EPOS features: Cutting width: 9.45 inches | Max cutting area: 2.5 acres | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Anti-theft alarm: Yes
The Husqvarna Automower EPOS offers some of the latest and greatest technology a robot lawnmower can offer -- satellite connectivity. By using a reference station, the EPOS machine doesn't need boundary or guide wires laid for it to know where to mow and where its charging station is located. Instead, it uses an Exact Positioning Operating System (EPOS) to do all of that. The map is adjustable as well and can be easily adapted to include landscaping changes as your lawn evolves over the years.
Featuring an almost 10-inch cutting width, the Auotmower EPOS can mow in a variation of patterns, including neat rows or a crisscross design. You don't have to give up your lawn style for simplicity with this machine. Everything is controlled through an app, meaning this is truly a hands-free experience. Once you set a schedule for your automower, you'll often find yourself forgetting it even exists. And you can rest assured at night knowing the Automower comes equipped with an anti-theft alarm that is only disabled with the personal PIN you create.
Review: I tested a $6,000 automower for four months. Here's why I'm fully invested
- Anti-theft alarm
- 60-minute charge time
- Lift and tilt sensors stop blades
- No GPS theft tracking
Husqvarna 115H features: Cutting width: 8.5 inches | Max cutting area: .25 acres | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Companion app: Yes | Anti-theft alarm: Yes
Since robot mowers run on either interchangeable or integrated batteries, they'll need routine charging for optimal runtimes. Unfortunately, that also means you could get stuck waiting for your mower to charge before it can finish cutting the grass. The Husqvarna 115H has one of the fastest charging times, reaching full battery in just about an hour. You can tackle other outdoor chores like edge trimming and pulling weeds while you wait, and you won't have to schedule mowing over several days to allow for charging times.
The 8.5-inch cutting deck lets the 115H mow up to a quarter acre; and with its lift and tilt sensors, the blades automatically stop if the mower gets picked up. This protects pets, kids, and adults from getting hurt if the mower gets stuck on an object or if it gets flipped over. The integrated anti-theft alarm only can be shut off with a specified PIN number, meaning thieves can't disable the alarm before making off with your robot mower.
Based on ZDNET's hands-on testing, my pick for the best robot mower is the Husqvarna 430X, thanks to its excellent ability to mow larger lawns, its GPS theft tracking, and its compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant.
|Robot mower||Price||Cutting width||Max cutting area|
|Husqvarna 430X||$2,500||9.5 inches||0.8 acres|
|EcoFlow Blade||$2,899||10.2 inches||1 acre|
|Husqvarna EPOS||$5,900||9.45 inches||2.5 acres|
|MowRo RM24A||$899||9.5 inches||0.25 acres|
|Husqvarna 115H||$700||8.5 inches||0.25 acres|
When you've finalized a budget for a new robot mower, you should double-check the size of your lot to further narrow down your search. Different models have different runtimes, cutting deck widths, and varying amounts of included guidewires, so you'll have to thoroughly compare each model you're interested in to find the best match for your lawn.
|Choose this robot mower…||If you want …|
|Husqvarna 430X||A robot mower rated for lawns up to 0.8 acres. The Husqvarna 430X is great for larger suburban lawns.|
|EcoFlow Blade||A robot mower that doesn't require any guidewire, includes an optional sweeper kit, and can mow up to 1 acre.|
|Husqvarna EPOS||A robot lawn mower that can tackle yards up to 2.5 acres and doesn't need boundary or guide wires to get the job done.|
|MowRo RM24A||A more affordable robot mower option. It retails for under $1000, which is about the same as a self-propelled push mower.|
|Husqvarna 115H||A robot mower with a shorter charge time. This robot mower reaches a full charge in as little as 60 minutes.|
To determine the best robot mowers, ZDNET did hands-on testing and research into the top models on the market, and considered the following factors:
- Max yard size: Robot mowers run on an integrated, rechargeable battery. This means that they aren't well-suited for lawns over one acre. Make sure to double-check your robot mower's intended yard size before purchasing.
- Cutting width: Due to the nature of their construction, robot mowers have much, much smaller cutting decks than their riding and even push mower counterparts. However, there are some models with 18 or 20-inch cutting decks, making them great choices for larger suburban lawns.
- Controls: Many robot mowers use a companion app for setting up schedules, sending maintenance reminders, and displaying HUD information like battery life. Some high-end models may even integrate Alexa or other voice controls for hands-free use. All robot mower models also use a guide wire to set up boundaries and mowing paths.
- Price: Because the technology is fairly new, robot mowers tend to be expensive, often ranging from $1,000-$6,000. We considered what you get for the price tag, and included a budget option.
A robot mower is a device that operates in a way similar to a robot vacuum or mop. It uses guidewires to determine boundaries or mowing paths and a base station for charging and often will have a companion app for monitoring battery levels and scheduling mow sessions. Robot mowers work with GPS technology to map your yard to detect narrow paths and objects and to improve its algorithm for more efficient mowing. And just like robot vacuums and mops, a robot mower will run in randomized patterns, so you won't get that clean-line look that you would with a riding or push mower. However, they also will mow much more often, ensuring that every part of your lawn has a consistent cut.
If you're able, you can set up the base station in a secluded area of your lawn to reduce the chances of someone snatching it while it's charging; you also can carry the mower unit itself into your garage or toolshed at night and lock it up. Barring that, many robot mowers have built-in alarms that go off when they are lifted or tilted, deterring hopeful thieves. And if someone does manage to walk off with your robot mower, many also have GPS-assisted tracking so you can let law enforcement know exactly where they went and recover your property.
As with riding and push mowers, you can run them as often as you like. But many manufacturers recommend you set up a schedule to have your robot mower cut the grass every two or three days. This is because a robot mower has a much smaller cutting deck than a riding or push mower, and they move in randomized patterns. Running the robot mower every few days will ensure that every part of your lawn gets attention.
Robot lawn mowers can tackle slopes, thanks to their large wheels with deep treads and their small bodies. To ensure one works well with your lawn, check with the manufacturer about gradients, as newer models can handle inclines up to 35% or in some cases up to 45%.
Since robot mowers are such a new technology, there aren't as many available to buy as their riding or push counterparts. However, I was able to find a couple alternative models that are worth a look:
Best robot mower alternative with a long runtime
Greenworks Optimow 50H
Robot mowers tend to have very short runtimes, but the Greenworks Optimow 50H provides up to 2.5 hours of mowing on a full charge.
Best robot mower alternative for narrow spaces
GARDENA Automatic Robotic Lawn Mower
With AI-precise cutting patterns, tight corners and passages as narrow as 24 inches are cut reliably.
Best robot mower alternative for small lawns
The Robomow RX20 Robotic Lawn Mower is ideal for small lawns up to 1/20 acre (200sq.m).