All About Our Automatic Robot Lawn Mower
We have a iMow® for our grass summer and I’m telling you all about it and answering all your questions.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by STIHL.
Folks. Welcome to the future. Today I’m diving into our incredible robot mower from STIHL, iMow®. I wanted to wait a month or so before writing about it to see how it performed in our yard and, guys… we love it. I’m going to share the set up process, some things to consider and finally I’m going to answer all the questions I got from all of you over on my social media channels.
The way the robot mower works is a charging station is plugged in somewhere in your yard (ours is right under our side porch). Our electrician had to install a typical GFCI outlet so that’s on cost to consider. The team from STIHL took a look at our yard on Google Earth and determined a rough perimeter for the iMow® robot lawn mower, but when they arrived we discussed the nuances of our specific yard: playground equipment, garden beds, our dog fence, standing water, etc.
How does the iMow® work?
The way the iMow® works is it moves within the boundary installed by the wires set by the STIHL team. If you’ve ever seen someone install a dog fence or irrigation, it’s similar. There’s a machine the sets the wire an inch or so below ground without really leaving any mark. Where they couldn’t bury the wire, they use clips to hammer it into the ground and the grass quickly grows over it.
The iMow® moves erratically within the perimeter and the magic unicorn dust ensures that it covers the entire property. How? No clue… but it’s an algorithm and it works. Ha! The iMow® lawn mower traces the wires so the blade can’t get flush to some things so once a week we go around with this STIHL battery powered weed whacker.
Features of the Robot Mower
Based on the size of your property, the iMow® will go out and mow for enough hours to cover your whole yard. You can adjust what time during the day it mows and control other settings from the app on your phone. It can detect rain so it knows to go back to its dock (charging station) when the forecast is inclement. It will mow over small toys, but it will bounce right off anything larger. And the minute it’s lifted, the blade stops so it’s pretty child safe in that regard.
The number one question I go was what about the clippings. (It was my first question too!) Because the iMow® is mowing so frequently, it’s cutting a much smaller amount of each blade of grass at a time. The tiny clippings remain in the grass and act as natural compost. I’ve been told that iMow® lawns end up being much more lush after a season so I’m eager to see how things look next year!
Because of how the iMow® robot mower follows the perimeter wire, there are a few corners/ places in our yard where it can’t reach. We use the STIHL self propelled battery powered lawn mower to reach places the iMow® can’t and then go back to get the edges/ borders with the STIHL battery powered weed whacker.
There are a couple different sizes depending upon the size of your property, but you’ll probably spend around $2000-2500 to install this. For us in Connecticut, we were paying our lawn mowers roughly $90 a week between April and October so this will pay for itself in one season. If you’re mowing your own lawn, then I guess it depends on how much your time is worth/ how much your lawn mower cost.
Blades cost about $35 a piece I believe and need to replaced every few hundred mowing hours. I think we’ve replaced ours once. No additional tools are required to change the blade… you just flip the machine over, unscrew the old blade, add the new blade, and tighten it back up.
Does the iMow® give you those nice straight lines?
It does *not* give you those nice straight lines that we see on golf courses or the outfield of Yankee stadium. Sorry! It mows in a random pattern BUT… because it’s always mowing, you truly never see where it’s been and where it has to go. The only time we had a few awkward patches right when we first got it and the lawn was pretty long. Now that it’s been running for a while, the lawn is always cut to the right length.
How will you mow under the jungle gym (and trampoline)?
For things like our jungle gym and the trampoline, we set up a permanent boundary for the iMow®. There is a loop of wire buried around these two objects so we can either mulch there or just go over with a weed whacker each week.
Do you have to pick up dog poop first?
Dog poop! The mower can definitely just go right over… obviously there’s the potential for the blade to get a little ‘dirty’ as a result. That said, in an ideal world we would pick it up first.
Can the iMow® get wet?
Yep. The iMow® robot mower can get wet. It shouldn’t be submerged, but can withstand rain no problem. That said… the app keeps track of weather and will keep the machine docked if rain is in the forecast. It will come out and mow the grass while it’s wet so you can send the machine back to its docking station from the app if you prefer to let the lawn dry for a bit first.
Are there certain lawns that it works better for than others?
We had quite a few ‘obstacles’ to work around on our property. Tree beds, gardens, front/ back yard, playground equipment… so it took a little bit longer to install the wires, but not much. If your lawn has a super steep incline, the iMow´® may not work. And keep in mind that the closest it can get to any perimeter is about 6 inches so there will be some quick edging to do… if your yard as lots and lots of smaller beds and garden borders, that just means more weed whacking/ edging for you to do.
How long does it take to mow the whole lawn?
Honestly? I have no idea. It’s running about 40 hours a week so it’s just always mowing. It took a little more than a week to get to ever last little spot when we first got it (and could therefore see where the long patches of grass were), but since then… I have no idea where it’s been and where it has yet to go.
How long does the battery last?
Again… I don’t know BECAUSE… when the battery needs to be charged, the iMow® goes back to the docking station to charge! It’s like having a super independent kid who comes home, gets a snack and starts on homework right away! My sense is it charges a bit each day, but I also know that it heads back to charge before the battery is fully dead so… the mystery lives one.
Does it detect stray toys?
Yes and no. If it bumps into anything, it immediately redirects and changes course. If it is lifted even a little bit, it immediately stops. BUT… for smaller toys that it can go over, yes… it will chop them up. We’ve lost a tennis ball or two, and I suspect a frisbee might not do so well. It’s been a good excuse to have the kids clear their toys each day actually!
In conclusion… ELawn Mow has been working away for a little more than a month and we have NO complaints. At first the iMow® was getting hung up on the jungle gym, but the team from STIHL came back and set a perimeter around that so now the iMow® just goes around. As a content creator, I’ve been working directly with STIHL, but a typical consumer would work with the nearest dealer who would help with installation and any follow up issues. Our lawn looks great.