Robotic lawn mower or manual mower? This article tells you the key differences so you can decide.

updated: May 04, 2021

Although conventional lawnmowers have been doing an okay job for years, technology has been progressing. This has given rise to a dizzying profusion of alternatives to the traditional grass mowing machine. Robo-mowers are becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide as more people discover all the benefits of using one of these high-tech devices.

Comparison of two different ways to do the same job of lawn mowing.

There are some significant differences between an old-fashioned push mower and a robotic one. Before you make your buying decision, you need to understand what these differences are:

1. So Much Easier

A robotic lawn mower does all the arduous work of maintaining a healthy lawn for you, with minimal effort on your part. When you own a conventional mower, you’ll need to haul it out each time you need to give your lawn a haircut. It also needs to be diligently cleaned and maintained to keep it in tip-top shape.

A smartphone app which allows to specify lawn mowing schedule for the robotic lawn mower.

With a robotic mower, all this hard work becomes a thing of the past. Once you set yours up, it will work day and night tirelessly with little input from you. Robo-mowers don’t need much maintenance or cleaning and are known for their superior reliability.

You can even do the following things remotely (via a phone app):

  • Adjust cutting height
  • Schedule mowing times
  • Monitor mower performance

2. Simple Installation

A man installing the docking station for the robotic lawn mower.

Some people don’t even want to consider a robotic mower because they figure the initial setup and programming it correctly must be time-intensive. However, I’m here to tell you that although that might have been true once upon a time, it’s no longer the case. It might take a little longer to get a robot mower up and running.

However, it’s still a simple thing to do. Merely select a location for the docking station, and then place a boundary wire around the perimeter of your lawn. Anyone with basic DIY skills can run the perimeter wire around a yard. You can either bury the wire or leave it on top of the ground so the grass can grow over it.

3. Time-Saving

Mowing your lawn the old-fashioned way can be a time-consuming endeavor. If you have limited free time, cutting the grass can eat into this precious resource that you have so little of.

4. Money-Saving

A man with money in his hand.

Although conventional mowers are still cheaper than robot mowers in the short run, you’ll save oodles of cash in the long run. This is especially true if you’re paying a professional landscaper to mow your lawn. Under these circumstances, your robotic mower could pay for itself in as little as one year.

Because robot mowers aren’t as mechanically complex as hydrocarbon-spewing monstrosities, they won’t break down as frequently, saving you money on repair bills. Unlike conventional mowers, they don’t need to be professionally serviced every year.

5. Fertilizes Your Lawn

Robot lawn mowers mulch grass clippings. The tiny grass ends fall towards the soil and quickly decompose, providing your grass blades with life-giving nutrients and moisture.

A robotic lawn mower cutting grass.

This means your grass will not only look nicely cut all the time with a robot lawnmower, but it also will be healthier and less prone to weeds and disease.

Best of all, this natural fertilizer won’t cost you a dime. Robotic mowers also prevent weed formation because they do a little bit of your lawn every day. Grass can thrive despite being cut often, but weeds cannot.

With a robot lawnmower keeping your grass short, your weed infestation will be minimal. With fewer weeds, grass will quickly spread to fill any gaps. This means you won’t have to use as much grass seed to fill in bare patches.

6. Energy Efficient

A man installing the battery into robotic lawn mower.

A manual mower must cut the grass very quickly. Because most people only mow their lawns once every one to two weeks, the mower must have enough power to cut through dense grass. Robot mowers can take their time and can use lower-powered cutting systems to get the job done.

Robotic lawnmowers are also energy-efficient machines that operate with minimal power requirements. Their motors are small but mighty and can get the job done without running up an enormous energy bill. Some models use as little as 20 watts during operation. Robot lawnmowers can even be charged with solar panels, allowing you to power the mower with free electricity.

7. Saves Space

When not in use, robo-mowers remain in a charging station. You need to store traditional mowers in a garage, which takes up space you might not have. Getting rid of your old-fashioned mower can free up space you can use for other things.If you have a humongous rider mower, the situation is even more dire.

A woman and a girl playing together while robot lawn mower doing its job

8. No More Noise

Conventional mowers are ear-shattering monstrosities that can obliterate a neighborhood’s peace and quiet. On the other hand, robot mowers don’t make much noise. You can even have a cup of coffee while reading your local newspaper at a patio table as your robot-mower silently trims your lawn.

9. Reduces Hay Fever Symptoms

Because robot-mowers do all the cutting for you, you won’t be exposed to as many allergens. This means fewer symptoms to deal with. Also, the frequent cutting that robotic mowers do cuts down on pollen production.

10. Much Safer

Underside view on safety features of the robotic lawn mower

Robotic lawn mowers come equipped with a slew of safety features. They’re also smaller and have less power than their traditional counterparts. When you lift or tilt them, the blades stop immediately. The blades are also tucked in underneath the mower, making it exceedingly difficult to hurt yourself.

On the other hand, traditional lawnmowers have a less than stellar safety record. There are thousands of hospitalizations every year due to lawn mower injuries. These injuries include amputation of fingers, hands, toes, and feet. Other injuries are caused by objects like rocks being struck by the blades, which then get thrown out of the grass chute.

11. Less Messy

A barrow full of cutted grass.

Cutting a lawn the old-fashioned way can be a messy job. However, with a robotic lawnmower, clippings are so tiny, your yard won’t be carpeted by lawn debris. This means you won’t be tracking grass cuttings all over your home.

Besides, bringing an old-fashioned lawnmower back and forth from the garage usually involves leaving a trail of dirt and grass clippings which you then must clean up. Also, when you push a manual behemoth, you’re going to end up all dirty and sweaty.

With robot mowers, you won’t have any of these problems. Cleanup is a cinch, too—merely turn your machine upside down every couple of weeks and clean the underside with a stiff brush.

12. No Need to be Home

With traditional mowing machines, the work doesn’t get done if you’re not around. A robotic mower works independently according to the schedule you set. You can run it while you sleep when you’re at work or on vacation.

13. No More Weather Worries

With a conventional mower, a rainy weekend means you won’t be able to cut your grass. Before you get another dry day, your lawn will likely look like the Amazon Basin. You won’t have that worry with a robot-mower because most of them work well in rainy conditions.

14. Less Vulnerable to Theft

A pin code protection feature of the robotic lawn mower.

You might think that robot-mowers are much more vulnerable to theft than conventional ones. However, this isn’t the case because robotic mowers have high-tech safety features that make them practically impervious to theft.

Almost every model requires that you input a pin code to use it every time the unit is disturbed or is stopped unexpectedly. Failure to input the correct pin code results in a loud alarm being sounded. Additionally, many models are uniquely paired to their charging stations. More expensive models have built-in GPS, meaning the mower can be tracked. This information can be passed on to the police.

Final Words

Robotic lawn mowers are fantastic machines that do a high-quality job of cutting your grass. That’s why I recommend that you ditch your manual mower in favor of the convenience of a robotic one. Once you make the switch from a conventional mower to its robotic counterpart, you’ll never want to go back.If you’d like more information on the best robot lawn mowers of 2021, check out our guide.

Stephen A. Hancock
Stephen A. Hancock received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Robotics Track) from University of Utah in 2004. Since then, he’s contributed to numerous articles and has been a consultant for many technical publications and websites..
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