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Everything you wanted to know about mowing robots

Actually, everything I wanted to know. And I looked for answers in the simplest way possible - I installed one in my garden.

Of course, I did it safely - by borrowing one of the most interesting and advanced equipment of this type on the market, the Husqvarna Automower 315X. At the same time I can say one thing - even if it was not just tests, and I would just spontaneously buy such a device, I would absolutely not regret it.

But about this in another text. Now let's deal with what this robot does for me, how it does it, where it does it, how it knows what, where and how to do it, how quickly the effects appear and where to start.

Where to start, or how much do I have to mow?

In total, my whole plot is about 900 m2. The whole, however, is not a lawn - quick calculations show that there is approx. 400 m2 for regular mowing.

The Automower 315X, which came to me for testing, is therefore solidly oversized. Its working capacity is up to 1,600 m2 (+/- 20%), but from what I learned from the installer, this is not a problem. Much bigger problem may be matching mowing robot butt. I was advised that if I wanted to bring my own Husqvarna mowing robot to my garden after the tests (and that's my plan), the Automower 305 will be able to handle it calmly.

Anyway, a short visit to the producer's website quickly showed that even if one day I move to a house with a much larger garden (and I have a plan too), I won't have to give up my habit of automatically mowing the lawn. Automower models such as 430X offer a working capacity of 3200 m2, while 450X or professional 550 - even 5000 m2.

And what does the garden look like, or how does it work in more difficult terrain?

Usually, when we think about mowing works, we have a picture of a garden close to a golf course. Straight edges, flat surface, large width and no major obstacles.

Well, my garden ... absolutely does not resemble that. First of all, in its central point there is a quite densely planted pond. The border of the lawn is also quite smooth - it was set years ago with the thought that nothing would be from the ruler.

If that wasn't enough, the garden surface is very uneven (including a sharp slope - Automower 315X handles slopes up to 40 percent, Husqvarna Automower AWD robot versions will handle and 70 percent). Not enough yet? The shape does not resemble a rectangle at all - rather the letter L, but only on the assumption that we want to assign a regular outline to it at all costs. And, in addition, the lawn has two tree trunks that have been cut down but have never been dug up.

In addition, there are a few fairly narrow (up to 1.5 m, often much less) passages, as well as places where I just didn't want the mower to enter.

In short - it was definitely not an easy area. Anyway, for this reason, I never somehow seriously started buying a cutting robot. He can't do well in such conditions, can he?

I was very wrong, but I will talk about that in a moment.

So you don't have to design the garden from the beginning for the robot to make sense?

No, you definitely don't need to. Although, of course, there are a few details that are much easier to consider at the stage of gardening, and which will make the entire mowing effect better.

And how long does it take to assemble the robot in such a complex area?

Surprisingly short. I was prepared for the fact that I would have to offer water / coffee / tea to the installer all day, but the whole process - from arrival to starting the mower - took only a few hours. And this is mainly because it was not enough that I stood and watched the installation, I asked a lot of questions over and over again.

What does the installation process look like?

The whole thing is all about placing the boundary wire in the garden - this is the most fun with it, because it is he who shows the mower robot where to drive and where it should not.

The options for its installation are two. If we do not want to disturb our garden in any way, we can opt for wires laid on the ground and attached to it. According to the manufacturer, they cease to be visible after a few weeks.

However, I decided on the second option, i.e. placing the wires a few centimeters below the surface of the earth. Reason? I have a fairly active dog and I am almost absolutely sure that at some point he would come up with the idea to do something with such a wire. I don't have to worry about anything - including that during other garden works I will be able to damage this cord.

Of course, you can install the cable yourself, but ... well - it requires a lot of knowledge, as well as experience, especially for more complex gardens. For example, the cable cannot be bent so that its two fragments are close together, because it will cause that the mower will not see such a border. We should also remember to what extent the mower robot can mow outside the designated border (in my case up to 35 cm, option to change from the application level) to optimize the mowing process and thus not be condemned to the necessity of adding border fragments.

So while the procedure itself is quite easy, the know-how is not so obvious. If it wasn't for the fact that I have already laid out and buried the cable as part of the test, then after such a presentation I would probably decide to visit an expert and order installation from him. The more that it has the right machine for it - if I had to bury this cable myself, I would probably give up halfway.

And yes, I have everything done ready, and after a few days I was no longer able to show the robot interested mower neighbor, where this wire is dug at all. There was no sign of him.

And the only wire that is in the garden?

No. In addition to the boundary wire, there is also a guide wire or leads. They play - in a simplification - the role of an additional navigator of the mower, making it easier, among others he will get to more distant parts of the garden to start mowing there, and also to return to the base.

How it's working? In my case, the cable is one and it comes directly from the charging station. When the robotic lawnmower realizes that its battery energy is running low, it starts (it's one of several options, about the rest in a moment) to search for the guide wire. When he finds him, he sticks to him and heads to the base without losing time. Therefore, it is important to know how to mount the guide wire to minimize the time of searching for a docking station - after all, we do not want the cutting robot to waste the time spent mowing on searching for the base.

The fact that my cable is installed as it should be demonstrated by the fact that, according to statistics from the application, as much as 98 percent. the mowing robot has just spent time mowing, and only by 2 percent. he was looking for a way to the dock.

What else is the supply cord useful for? Among others to lead the robot to the most distant corners of the garden, so that it began work there. It works on a fairly simple principle - we give him the distance to travel along the cable, and he overcomes this route and begins his activities. Such points - in the case of larger and more complex gardens - we can, moreover, define several.

Did you have to prepare the garden somehow? Something to provide?

Nothing big and nothing serious. As for the tasks that I should have done before installing the robot, they were limited to cleaning the lawn of twigs and stones, as well as pre-cutting the grass. I did the second one a little too early, as a result of which the robot had to fight quite high grass at the beginning.

And here quite important information - yes, the Husqvarna mowing robot, at least the Automower 315X I tested, copes not only with perfectly equally cut grass, which it needs only minimal care. However - as the installer warned me - the best results will be seen after a few days, when dealing with too lush vegetation. And this is what I confirm, although ... the first mowing looked really good, and then it was only better. But keep in mind that this is not the equivalent of a petrol mower that will cut anything and everywhere.

In addition, the only thing I had to provide was access to electricity, which is the most ordinary outlet. A big plus for how the plug is prepared - they do not have to worry about the risk that during the rain it would be worth disconnecting the whole set, because water can get into the socket.

The plug is the only one - we don't need a separate power supply for the guide wire and boundary wire. Both are powered directly from the base station. If we activate Eco mode, the power supply to the cables will be disconnected while the mowing robot is idle, and then started at the start of its operation.

That's right - this base station. What exactly is it?

A robot house. At the same time, the term house is not my idea and an exaggerated diminutive - so this device is described, among others in the application.

Leaving the name to itself, however, the base station is the place where the robot returns to charge during its working time and where it stays for a period when it is not mowing. So there is no fear that e.g. a child running on the lawn will trip over a resting robot - he always returns to his base.

How does it do The first method was already described - it is the guide wire. However, the robot can also go home in two other ways. The first is the signal from the base station (range up to several meters) - the mower catches it and follows it to the station by the simplest possible route. However, if it fails to hit the guide wire or the base station signal, it will start traveling on the boundary wire. At the same time, it is a rather emergency option, because it is the longest way and I have never seen my robot come back in this way. In contrast, most of the cheap models on the market only use this option, thus wasting a lot of time that they could spend on mowing.

All right, robot charged, docked, how to start it and what happens next?

There are three options - we can give him a schedule within which he will work, we can start it manually from the application level, and we can also start it manually from the control console, hidden under the robot flap.

For obvious reasons I decided on this first mode. I set up the phone so that the mowing starts every day of the week at five in the morning ...

At five o'clock in the morning?! Daily?!

Yes. And this is the first giant plus of this device - it is almost completely silent. To the extent that when he drives up to the window at 5am, I don't know about it. I learn about it only from the map in the application, when I get up a few hours later.

I have not heard a single complaint from my neighbors, and the plot is quite narrow and if something could be heard - I would probably have had a difficult conversation behind me. Anyway, let the discretion of the Automower 315X robot be best evidenced by the fact that one day I came home and decided to look at what my lawn looks like. An empty base station appeared to my eyes and there was no mower in sight. There was also no sound that would indicate that it is working. So I was relieved to see her when she was leaving from a nearby tree. Just a few meters from me. Yes, almost completely silently.

And it mows just like it vacuums an automatic vacuum cleaner, right?

No. And that was the biggest surprise for me.

Everyone knows more or less how an automatic vacuum cleaner works - it maps / scans the room, and then begins the ride at the passage to cover the entire surface as accurately as possible. So I was convinced that since it makes sense in vacuum cleaners, it also makes sense here.

Well, no - the mowing robot driving exactly the same route every day would be actually not only useless, but also harmful to our lawn. He would leave paths away, lay down the grass and cut it on one side only - it would not look good.

The mowing robots work largely randomly, which may look quite comical to an outside observer. The robot moves into one place, then does not continue its work along the ruler , but goes somewhere else. Then he returns to the area, on a completely non-straight line and ... again goes to another part of the lawn. Here it will go a little, it will go a little bit - nothing similar to what a vacuum cleaner does. Nothing similar to driving a hand mower when mowing it yourself.

And although it may seem strange, after a few days of installation I can confirm one thing - it works and it works shockingly well. Despite the chaotic construction of my garden and lawn, where grass is definitely not growing, it is difficult for me to find places that would be mowed unevenly. I can't see any missed areas either. So although initially my lawn resembled a random, neglected meadow, now (!) Much closer to the carpet effect. Anyway, these are not my words, but the words of family members who saw the effects before and after. And a neighbor who has the same problem as me - he doesn't want to mow the lawn, but he wants to have a nice lawn, so as soon as he saw such a job with me, he came to ask about everything that was possible.

At the same time, the Automower 315X model I have tested has the additional simplicity when it comes to the precision of mowing the whole garden. It is equipped with a GPS module, thanks to which it can map information about which parts of the garden have been mowed and which are not yet. At the same time, during the tests I intend to switch to mowing mode without GPS to see which method is more effective.

Interestingly, you can also buy a GPS receiver for the Automower 305 model, which I plan to buy - after purchase, as a separate module.

GPS? In a mowing robot? For what?

I have already given the first reason - potentially more accurate mowing, but I will still test it. Much more important in this case for me is the second use of this add-on.

The advantage of the Automower series is that they are small, they can work in the rain, they can stay outside most of the year and generally do not have to worry about them (although service is recommended once a year - as with everything). This creates a natural minus - such a mower works even when we are not at home. In my case, it is also placed so that when you get to the base station, you can see it from street level. And the compact size may tempt someone to just lift it up, tear out the base station and escape.

And here comes the series of security systems. First of all - we can configure the robot so that any interaction with it forces the introduction of a four-digit PIN code. Will we stop the robot? An alarm sounds (and it's really loud) and we'll get a notification. Someone pick it up? Also alarm and notification.

In the case of models with GPS, we can additionally track our loss, which should definitely make it easier to find. Although the thief will not enjoy the new equipment for too long - a PIN is required to activate any functions. You can recover it by contacting Husqvarna headquarters, but without proof of purchase, you won't be able to do anything.

Is the alarm working? Definitely yes - while I was going to the mountains, my wife decided that she would turn off the job. So it ended in a double stress - first, when I received a notification about such an activity, and then when the wife herself called, demanding (accompanied by an alarm siren) that I give her the robot PIN.

Okay, how is the safety when mowing?

Here you can highlight several separate issues.

The first may be the safety of animals and children on the lawn when mowing. And if someone or something will not actually lie flat on the lawn, the chances of any injury are virtually zero. The blades are carefully built-in and it is difficult to get hurt by accident. And even if the children decide to pick up the robot, it will simply turn off and will not pose a threat.

I spent hours with Automower 315X and my dog, and nothing happened. Initially, the dog barked at the robot from top to bottom, but his interest ended there.

Anyway, you can solve it in a simple way - e.g. by setting the mowing at a very early time, if (like me) you work from home and want to have mowed in the morning . If someone works outside the home, they can easily set the mowing in the middle of the day. Night driving is even more effective because the Automower 315X robot is equipped with LED headlights - of course, they are mainly used so that during night out in the garden do not accidentally enter the working robot, but they look great.

The safety of the robot itself, the mowing blades and the lawn, is a separate matter.

In this first issue, we can sleep peacefully. The robot is water resistant, does not stick when mowing wet grass, and, for example, knows when to not charge from the docking station due to too low temperature (below 3 degrees Celsius).

The mowing system, in turn, is equipped with a safety mechanism in the form of retractable blades when they hit an obstacle. So instead of blunting on sticks and stones, they will simply hide under the disk for this short time. Anyway, a big plus for the simplicity of changing blades - when we see that they no longer cut as well as at the beginning, all we need is a repair kit and a screwdriver.

And the lawn itself? First of all, the Automower 315X robot has such well-designed wheels that even when driving after heavy rainfall I did not see the slightest damage. On the other hand, the wheels are so off-road that I have not encountered a situation where the robot would bury itself anywhere in the garden.

And so he drives and rides these few hours every day ...

Not necessarily! It's not like Automower 315X leaves the base and drives for the specified time with exactly the same intensity , and then returns to the base and does the same the next day.

First of all, we are dealing with a function called Weather sensor . However, it is not an option to monitor whether it is sunny or rainy, but whether the grass in our garden grows so that it makes sense to mow it. How it's working? The robot simply monitors the power that is needed for mowing, and then - in simplified terms - compares it with the current average. If the new result is lower, so the blades just thresh the air, after some time it returns to the base so as not to waste electricity and resumes work according to the next schedule schedule.

There is also the opposite situation - when the robot goes to a place where energy consumption is extremely high, i.e. for some reason there is a lot more grass. Solution? The so-called. spiral cutting mode, in which the robot, well, will drive in a spiral to cut the place of outstanding abundance as efficiently and accurately as possible.

And what happens to the grass then? Need to collect it?

No. Absolutely not - it should be scattered on the lawn to additionally fertilize the soil. There is no raking or laying the grass - these cut residues are so fine when mowed that they are not even visible.

And the last question - what can it be combined with?

This is, of course, first and foremost a question from me, because I am in favor of all household appliances being connected to others.

Fortunately, the answer is quite simple - Husqvarna mowing robots that support Automower Connect can be connected to most of the most popular home automation and remote control systems. The list supports, among others Google Home, IFTTT and Alexa. From what I've seen, there are also Fibaro plugs as well as integration with watering systems. In addition, the API is still open, so we can place information from the mower in absolutely any application, if we feel like it.

But I will deal with the topic of application and integration separately in the next text.

And in a while I will share my impressions from prolonged use.

At the same time, I know one thing for sure - unless I treated cutting robots as expensive toys until recently, now I can't imagine that after the tests I could be without my private automatic mower . The more that having always cut grass, I can easily take care of other, much nicer garden work ...

The text was created in cooperation with the Husqvarna brand.

Everything you wanted to know about mowing robots


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