Wire vs Wireless Robot Lawn Mower Which Is Better?

Wire vs Wireless Robot Lawn Mower Which Is Better?

There are two types of robot lawn mowers on the market today. Robot lawn mowers that come with a boundary wire (wired) or come boundary wireless (non wired). As technology advances, robot mowers are gaining popularity, they are demonstrating increased intelligence and the ability to achieve exceptional results. Several studies show owning a robot lawn mower not only saves time and money in maintaining a lawn but also better results and grass quality. 

There are drawbacks to each model, wired and non wired robot lawnmowers. Boundary wireless robot lawn mowers are relatively new with the testing primarily done in American and European countries with limited testing in New Zealand. Concerns and risks have arisen with the robot mower going outside the designated area and causing damage or harm. 

Wired robot lawn mowers also have downsides due to installation process, which can incur significant call-out expenses and sporadic repairs based on the model purchased.

Despite the downsides associated with installing boundary wire robot lawn mowers, the technology is superior, these robot lawn mowers are trusted and have proven results with years backing these models. The results they deliver are consistent and with proper use are safer than wireless robot lawn mowers

This article aims to address the key differences, which model is better and what to look out for when it comes to buying a wire robot lawn mower.


What Is A Boundary Wire Robot Lawn Mower?

Wired Robot Lawn Mower

Boundary wire also known as perimeter wire enables the robot lawn mower to navigate an area of lawn or field. The boundary wire is made of a thin wire insulated with a PVC sheath to protect it from environmental elements such as rain and sun.

The boundary wire acts as an invisible fence as the charging station emits a small amount of electricity through the wire, creating a magnetic field. The robot mower detects the signal, guiding the robotic mower, preventing it from entering or mowing areas it shouldn’t. The robot mower will stop operating if the boundary wire is severed or the connection is lost. The mower uses sensors and onboard algorithms to stay within the designated mowing area and avoid obstacles, mowing in a systematic pattern to ensure an even and efficient cut. 


How Does A Wired Robot Lawn Mower Operate?

  1. Installation: This involves mapping out and laying the wire around the boundary of the lawn, pegging it down. Depending on the type of robotic mower this might require a specialist which could increase the long term costs of owning a robot lawn mower especially if it needs tweaks and adjustments. 
  2. App connectivity: Connecting the robot lawn mower through the app allows you to customise various settings and mowing schedules. 
  3. Recharging: The robot mower is equipped with sensors that monitor its battery level. When the charge drops below a certain threshold, (predetermined by the manufacturer) the mower navigates its way back to the charging station. 

Boundary Wire Installation And Common Issues To Be Aware Of:

The boundary wire is installed on the surface of the lawn, held down by pegs. Over the coming weeks the wire becomes invisible to the naked eye as it settles into the lawn and grass growth occurs. The boundary wire can also be installed no deeper than 5cm below the surface; however, burying the wire in the initial first couple of weeks could cause tweaking and adjustments to become harder.

It’s important to review the instructions and map out the wire placement before installation to avoid mistakes or having to relay the boundary wire through improper planning. Proper planning reduces the time it takes to install the boundary wire.

The most common issues that occur with wired robot lawn mowers are due to incorrect installation through not reading the instructions. Robot lawn mowers are incredibly simple machines to use especially with ample guides and video tutorials available online. It is vital to make yourself familiar with the instructions and plan the wire placement before installation. 

Common issues that can occur from not reading the instructions are: 

Sharp Corners:

Excessively sharp angles in the wire’s layout can lead to weakening and eventual breaks in the wire as it settles into the lawn.

Distance from the Edge:

If the wire is not the correct distance from the edge the ‘cut to edge’ feature won’t be fully utilised and it may give sub par results. 

Damaging the Wire:

Damage can occur in the insulation of the wire during installation by hitting/striking the wire with a hammer. This can create micro cracks and allow moisture to penetrate the wire and cause damage. 

Peg Insufficiency:

Insufficiently securing the wire with pegs can lead to wire slack, leaving the wire susceptible to being severed by the mower blades. This is at heightened risk during installation as owners usually skip the step of initially mowing their lawn before installation to save time, ( the wire sits on top of long grass as it takes a couple weeks to settle into the lawn) this coupled with setting the mower blade to the lowest height setting can cause the mower to pick up the wire and sever it. 

The wire acts as an electric field signalling the mower where to operate, if the wire is severed the robot mower will stop operating until this has been fixed. 

Tension:

If the wire is under tension while installed it can cause the wire to develop weak points as it settles into the lawn and cause breaks in the wire. To remedy this, leave a little slack while installing the wire but ensure it is secured to the ground with adequate pegs. 

Length:

Not factoring in enough length for “margin or error & adjustments” or sectioning off obstacles such as trees through double looping like below can cause the wire to need extensions or re-laying, it’s important to measure and plan before installation. 

A handy tip the experts use is to set the cutting height a little higher while the wire settles into the lawn, this allows for easy adjustments to be made while the wire is visible and means the robot mower shouldn’t pick up and cut the wire. 

What Is A Wireless Robot Lawn Mower: 

Wireless Luba Robot Mower

A wireless robot lawn mower operates without the need for a physical boundary wire to navigate the lawn or field it’s mowing. Instead of relying on a boundary wire it uses technology such as Vision or GPS to navigate. 

How Does A Wireless Robot Lawn Mower Operate: 

Not all wireless robot mowers are created equal, there are varying types of technology used by wireless robot mowers with varying results delivered. Some use GPS signal, mapping, vision or a combination of these to facilitate navigation.

Reading through the releases this year it appears like 2023 is the year for wireless robot mowers but that simply isn’t true. Below we will explain the technology wireless robot lawn mowers use.

GPS: 

Robot Lawn Mowers use GPS to improve their cutting and deter thefts (wired robot mowers use GPS too). The problem with GPS alone is the accuracy which is limited by atmospheric distortion and signal reflection which makes it accurate only within a few metres. Challenges like signal blockage from trees and buildings can further impact accuracy.

GPS accuracy was overcome by utilising a second receiver, RTK 

RTK: 

Real Time Kinematic technology is guided by GPS or GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). RTK requires two gps receivers to give pinpoint accuracy so that it doesn’t mow through your garden or end up in the pool. 

RTK performs best in wide open areas where the GPS signal can’t be skewed or disrupted  by large buildings, obstacles or trees. RTK allows for mapping of the lawn through GPS data and onboard sensors (depending on the mower) to create an initial map of the lawn including boundaries and obstacles. 

Virtual boundaries can be programmed through the app. 

Considerations For RTK Mowers In New Zealand:

If you’re looking at an RTK mower for your lawn in New Zealand things you need to seriously consider are: 

  • Gardens with trees where the canopy covers more than 15% of the garden.
  • A house more than 5m tall
  • Hedges over 2m tall
  • Walls greater than 5m tall
  • Narrow passages less than 3m wide
  • Multiple lawns with small crossing areas

Lidar: 

Lidar is a method for determining ranges by targeting an object or a surface with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. The Ecoflow blade which is not set to be released in Australia or New Zealand this year uses a combination of RTK and Lidar. 

Vision:

Robot mowers are becoming more sophisticated and some models being tested are not using RTK, instead they are using vision to identify grassy areas to navigate and stay within the area. 

Wireless Robot Lawn Mowers And Common Issues To Be Aware Of:

There is a rush in demand for wireless robot mowers as they are increasing in popularity overseas (especially Europe and America), driven by users seeking to avoid installing a boundary wire. While technological solutions are promising it’s important to remember they pose problems and nothing is risk free or trouble safe. 

Common issues faced with wireless robot mowers come down to their design and compatibility. These mowers are engineered to operate effectively in regions such as America or Europe where building structures, climate and lawn sizes and types are vastly different to New Zealand.

Ecoflow blade, a robot mower that was launched at the start of 2023, generated a lot of anticipation and excitement however, further testing revealed these models are currently not ready for New Zealand or Australian conditions. Further safety, development and enhancements are required for the Ecoflow blade to be suited for the distinct and diverse conditions and challenges the New Zealand environment presents.

Problems With Wireless Robot Lawn Mowers:

Before making a decision to purchase or explore wireless robotic lawnmowers, it’s important to note a couple of problems: 

  • Difficulty in detecting small obstacles or objects 
  • Bumping into walls and obstacles may cause damage to the surroundings or the mower
  • GPS/RTK signal interruption by tall buildings, trees or overcast weather could cause navigational errors causing the mower to miss areas or go outside its designated area. 
  • Pet and Children safety, assessing the safety features are adequate

A factor often overlooked when considering a robot lawn mower in New Zealand is contents insurance, it provides adequate protection against potential risks, accidents and damage that can occur during the operation or ownership of the mower as accidents can happen. This is important to consider whether you purchase a wired or wireless robotic mower but even more essential if you decide to take a gamble on the wireless robot lawnmowers. 

Considering these factors can aid in making an informed decision ensuring both practical and financial aspects are taken into account. As even with safety features, a wireless mower may unintentionally damage property such as hit a fence, damage flower beds, take a dip in the pool or cause other lawn-related mishaps. 

Problems With Wired Robot lawn Mowers:

Wired robot lawn mowers offer several benefits but they aren’t without their challenges. 

Installation:

The complexity and common set-up issues are mentioned above. 

Maintenance:

Depending on the wired model purchased the ongoing maintenance costs might outweigh the benefit of owning a robot lawn mower. For example, Ambrogio which is well-known in Europe is a complicated mower that requires professional installation and follow-up. If there isn’t someone in your area to regularly service the mower it can become very costly or void the warranty.

Worx on the other hand is a mower that delivers exceptional results but caters to the Kiwi can-do attitude, cutting down on ongoing maintenance and large call-out fees.

Limited Yard Changes:

Compared to wireless robot mowers, any yard changes would take planning and effort but it isn’t impossible. Worx has the ability to add on accessories so if your needs change, the robot mower can be upgraded. You are only paying for the features your lawn requires. 

Benefits Of Wired Robot Lawn Mowers: 

Wire robot mowers offer: 

Precision:

Boundary wire robot lawn mowers follow a predefined path set by the boundary wire, ensuring accurate and consistent results. The cut-to-edge feature can be utilised with peace of mind the robot mower won’t end up in the garden or pool. 

Customisable Boundaries:

For small or temporary changes, the boundary wire is customisable and the Worx model can upgrade with the purchase of an “off-limits digital fencing” to section off areas without requiring to double loop the boundary wire. 

Efficient Coverage:

Wired robot mowers are designed to cover the entire mowing area systematically, reducing the likelihood of missed spots or uneven cuts. 

Reduced Manual Labour:

Once the boundary wire is installed, the robot mower operates autonomously

Consistent Schedule:

Wired robot mowers can be programmed to mow at specific times of day or night. 

Reduced Landscape Damage:

Robot lawn mowers are lightweight and distribute their weight evenly, causing less soil compaction and lawn damage compared to traditional mowers. 

Can I set up my boundary wire but put the mower outside of it and let it navigate by bumping into my fence and house? 

Unfortunately, the robot lawn mower needs to detect itself within the boundary wire in order to operate. If the robot mower is outside the boundary wire it will not operate and show an error on the app or screen. 

In conclusion, wired robot lawn mowers or perimeter wire robot mowers have better results than wireless robot lawn mowers. Wireless might perform well on a lawn with few trees or obstacles however, if the signal is blocked there can be un-mowed areas of grass. Wire robot lawn mowers won’t leave un-mowed grass when the perimeter wire is installed correctly. Overall giving satisfactory results and peace of mind the robot lawn mower won’t end up in the pool, garden or on the road.

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