By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Smart is in. Smart, as in smart technology, that is. Robot lawn mowers are the smarties of landscape maintenance. The smart mower trend is just starting and seems to show a future of other garden gadgets that are automatic. What are smart lawn mowers? Once you learn what they are, you may find yourself switching from your existing model.
What are Smart Mowers?
If you have better things to do on your day off than mow the lawn, you might consider getting an automatic lawn mower. These smart machines are part of a growing movement to utilize robotic technology. They take the work out of mowing, giving you more leisure time. However, are they as effective as a human’s mowing job? Just like everything new, there are some kinks to work out of the machinery.
Much like a Roomba vacuum cleaner, robotic lawn mowers do the work for you. They have a charging station, run on batteries, and are extremely quiet. Envision a platoon of inexhaustible elves taking care of the chore of mowing. The machine will run a random pattern which leads to the downside of the smart lawn mower trend. These random patterns aren’t as pleasing to the eye as the careful stripes a human will lay.
If you want the appealing effect of a well-manicured golf course, this machine isn’t for you. If you don’t mind the random patterning and doing a little tidying up with a string trimmer afterward, this may be a good choice. If you want to sit back in your chaise lounge chair and sip a cocktail, this is definitely for you.
How Do Smart Mowers Work?
Smart mowers are almost plug and play technology. However, there is some set up to do initially. You need to run low voltage wire around the areas to be mowed. This is similar to an invisible fence that is set up for a dog. The wires are sensed by the mower, so it knows to stay in the boundary.
You will also need an outdoor outlet to charge the unit. After that, the mower will run itself. You can even program an automatic lawn mower to begin work at a certain time or run it through an app on your smart phone.
Automatic lawn mowers have a host of safety features. This makes sense since the unit operates unsupervised. The blades are small and will pretty much only cut grass. They are also recessed so no unprotected toes can get clipped. If the unit hits an obstruction it will turn away.
When you lift or tilt the mower, the blades will turn off, a handy safety feature if you have inquisitive children. Most mowers also have antitheft devices. Some require a pin code to operate. Others contain GPS to track the mower.
While this is fairly new technology, robot mowers have much to offer but still a few things that could use some tweaking.
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What is a robot lawn mower?
The growing trend of household appliances that take the hassle out of everyday chores has extended to the garden with robot lawn mowers. They work in much the same way as robot vacuum cleaners that clean up messy floors without any input from the owner, but robot mowers take care of your lawn.
With some models capable of 5,000sq m plots or more, robot mowers are a viable alternative to ride-on mowers for anyone with a lot of ground to cover who doesn't want the bother of mowing themselves. They also appeal to anyone wanting a no-fuss way of keeping their garden looking neat and tidy, and to less-able gardeners who may struggle to push around a heavy mower.
You'll need to pay a premium for the luxury of having an robot mower cut the grass while you recline on a Sunday afternoon, though. Robot mowers are expensive, with many costing significantly more than even the priciest conventional mowers.
Best Buy robot lawn mowers - see which robot lawn mowers are really worth paying out for.
How Lawn Mowers Work
Once upon a time, lawns were green country pastures kept trim by the sheep and other animals that grazed them. Today, powerful tractors, robots and even hovercraft keep them neat and tidy, but most have one thing in common -- a rotating blade powered by a motor.
Before the middle of the 20th century, lawn mowers were mostly reel mowers with a cylindrical blade that got all its power from the person pushing it. British engineer Edwin Bunning invented the first one in 1830, and the first lawn mower powered by an internal combustion engine became available in 1902. An electric version became available in 1926.
But a new type of lawn mower emerged after World War II, with the development of suburban housing and the larger lots that came with it. For these new lawns, the push mower just wouldn't cut it.
As small engines became more powerful, a new type of lawn mower that could cut larger and longer swaths of grass became more popular. Instead of cutting grass like scissors cut paper as a reel mower does, the rotary mower spins a horizontal blade around fast enough to cut the grass as it hits it.
The blade sits within a casing called a deck, which keeps the grass and other objects from flying in all directions when struck. Typically, the deck rides on four wheels, with a motor sitting on top of it and a bag attached to it to collect the cut grass.
The basic version of a rotary mower has a handlebar attached to it that the operator stands behind and pushes to make it move forward. Self-propelled versions have a transmission that turn the wheels using the power of the motor. Of course, not everybody wants to walk behind their lawn mower, and some people have lawns large enough that they need something with more power and larger cutting areas. For them, the riding lawn mower is the answer to their lawn care needs.
And if you're looking for something more unique, there are hovercraft lawn mowers that ride on a curtain of air instead of wheels, and robotic lawn mowers that don't need a human operator at all.
Still, these mowers all need the same things to work right -- a motor, a rotating blade, a means of getting around and a way to get rid of the grass clippings. In this article, we'll look into each of those systems and find out what it takes to keep the yard looking good.
No matter how big or complicated, every rotary lawn mower needs a motor to make the blade spin fast enough to cut the blades of grass cleanly.
Most rotary lawn mowers are powered by an internal combustion engine, which runs on either two cycles or four. Two-cycle motors burn a mixture of gasoline and oil, while four-cycle motors burn gasoline and have a separate lubrication system. However, rotary lawn mowers that use electric motors powered by a cord, a rechargeable battery or even solar power are also popular.
Attached to the motor is a throttle, often mounted on the handlebar, which keeps fuel flowing to the motor. To prevent injury, the motor shuts off if the throttle is released. The throttle on some rotary lawn mowers allows adjustment of the motor's speed.
The motor turns a vertical axle that's attached to a large blade, which is usually made of a single piece of steel that lies suspended horizontally a few inches above the ground. The blade typically spins at 3,000 revolutions per minute and slices the grass as it passes over it. Blades can be either straight or curved, but it's the tip of the blade at either end that does all the cutting.
Some blades are specially designed to cut the grass clippings into tiny pieces that can be used in mulch. The deck on a mulching mower is designed to contain the clippings until the mulching blade can shred them. Whether the clippings are mulched or not, they move through the deck into a side- or rear-mounted bag that collects them, or the mower returns them to the ground.
Some mowers are called 2-in-1 mowers and can be used as mulching mowers or as bagging mowers. A 3-in-1 mower allows bagging, mulching or side-discharge of grass clippings.
If the mower is self-propelled, its motor turns a drive shaft connected to a belt or chain. That connects to a gearbox attached to an axle that spins, making the lawn mower's wheels move.
Those are the basics. Next, we'll see how the evolution of rotary lawn mowers has led to a bigger and more powerful species -- the riding mower.
Two-cycle motors are popular for lawn care tools such as trimmers, but four-cycle motors are the norm for lawn mowers. Two-cycle motors are cheap and simple and produce more power for their given size than a four-cycle motor. They also work fine while being held at different angles, which is important for hand-held lawn care tools.
But four-cycle motors produce more torque for their size, which helps you push through taller grass without slowing down the blade. They're also more fuel-efficient, and they don't burn oil and release as much pollution as two-cycle motors.
For small lawns of a quarter-acre or less on a flat surface, a rotary push lawn mower will get the job done. For hilly lawns of up to one-half acre, a self-propelled walk-behind mower will do. But for lawns a half-acre or larger in size, a riding lawn mower can make the task much easier.
Riding mowers come in different sizes and types, with different horsepower engines and blade sizes. One the small end, a riding mower with an engine of about 14 horsepower that can cut up to an acre starts at around $1,000.
For larger lawns, a garden tractor is a heavy-duty version of a riding mower that can pull attachments behind it to plow or disc a garden, as well as cut grass. Equipped with an 18 to 24 horsepower engine, a garden tractor can cost $9,000, but popular varieties cost $2,500 to $4,500. Lawns of 5 acres or more can require a full-size farm tractor to tow a mowing apparatus behind it.
Another type of riding lawn mower is the zero radius mower. Popular for commercial landscaping and professional lawn care, these riding mowers use four-wheel steering to move precisely around trees and other obstacles.
Driving a riding mower can be similar to driving any other motor vehicle. The rider guides the mower while sitting on top of its deck. Some have pedals to control acceleration and braking, and a steering wheel to turn. Others use levers to control throttle and steering.
The engine powers both the wheels and the blade, just like a walk-behind self-propelled mower. But instead of being directly connected to it by an axle, the blade on most riding mowers is powered by a belt connected to the engine. In addition to other controls, the rider can also lower or raise the blade, speed it up or slow it down.
Before investing in a riding lawn mower, think hard about what purpose it'll serve. Most walk-behind rotary mowers cost less than $500, and the most basic riding mower starts at around $1,000 and goes up quickly from there.
There are other costs associated with operating a lawn mower. In the next part, we'll look at some of the safety and maintenance issues that come with keeping a neat lawn.
Because we always want to know how fast something will go, people have been racing riding lawn mowers in the United States since 1992. At 20 races around the country each year, riding lawn mowers chase each other around a course under the banner of the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association. Racers remove the blades and tweak the motors, suspensions and just about everything else for performance. However, the idea got its beginning in England, where the British have been going at it since 1973.
In America, riders must wear a helmet and other safety gear and must be 18 years of age, unless competing in a junior league that's open to riders 10-15 years old. Their mowers must be commercially sold, self-propelled riding mowers that could still do the job they're designed for, but for the racing modifications made to them.
Factors To Keep In Mind While Buying The Best Riding Lawn Mower Under 2000
1. Size Of The Lawn
The size of your lawn is going to play an important role while choosing the best lawnmower. If you have a big-sized lawn at your place, you should go with a lawnmower that has a larger cutting width.
If the cutting width of the lawnmower is larger, you will be able to cover more area in less time, which will save you time and effort while cutting grass. But, if the cutting width isn’t up to the mark according to the size of the lawn, you will need to spend more time on the lawn, which means you will have to put in more effort as well.
On the other hand, if you have a small-sized lawn at your place, or there are obstacles in the way, it would be better to go with a lawnmower having a smaller cutting width. This way, you will be able to cut every tiny patch of grass without putting much effort.
However, if the cutting width of the lawnmower is larger, it will be harder for you to cut tiny patches of grass in the corners. This is why it’s important to choose the right sized lawnmower according to your needs.
2. Turning Radius
The turning radius of the lawnmower is also going to play an important role when you are cutting grass on the lawn. When you reach the corner of your lawn, you will need to turn the mower for the next round.
If you have a large garden at your place, a lawnmower with a higher turning radius will do just fine as you will have plenty of space to turn the mower. However, it won’t prove to be much efficient in a smaller-sized lawn because there will be less space to turn the mower.
This is why it becomes important to be sure about the turning radius of the lawnmower before settling for any option.
3. Comfortable Seat
One of the most important things to look for while buying a riding lawn mower is its seat. Since you are going to sit on it while cutting grass, it is important to have a comfortable seat to sit on.
If the seat of the mower isn’t comfortable, the experience will be tiring for you, and you won’t be able to spend much time out there in the grass. However, if the seat of the mower is comfortable, it will be much easier for you to ride it and get the job done.
You won’t feel tired even if you spend hours on the lawn, and it will prove the efficiency of your work as well. Moreover, a comfortable seat will provide you with a pleasant experience even if there are bumps in the lawn. It will be easier for you to ride it on uneven surfaces.
This is something that is going to play an important role in the long run. So, make sure that you keep this factor in mind while looking for the best riding lawn mower under 2000.
The engine of the lawnmower will also play an important role in the long run. If the engine of the mower is powerful, it will perform much better out there on the lawn. It will be easier for you to cut grass with it, and it will require less effort as well. It will easily clean even the toughest spots in the lawn.
Moreover, it will make things much easier if your lawn is uneven at places. On the other hand, if the engine of the mower isn’t powerful, it will be harder for you to cover the uneven spots in the lawn. Also, it won’t do well if there are bumps in the way.
Furthermore, if the engine of the mower is strong, it will do well irrespective of the size of the lawn, which will make it a better option in the long run. So, you should try to go with a lawnmower having a powerful engine.
5. Quality Of Body Parts
The quality of the body parts of the lawnmower will also play an important role. Quality is something that you should never compromise on, and when it comes to the quality of the body parts of the lawnmower, you should be sure about everything.
Since you are going to ride the mower, it should have a sturdy body that can handle the weight. The quality of the body parts of the mower will have a big role to play in determining its weight capacity. So, if you want to buy the best riding lawn mower under 2000, make sure you don’t compromise on its quality.
Lawnmowers have to perform in rough conditions on the lawn, and this is why it becomes important to go with a durable option. If your lawnmower is durable, you won’t have to invest in a new one in the near future, and this will make it a cost-effective option.
On the other hand, if it isn’t durable, you may have to pay the repair cost, or in the worst case, buy a new one if it gets damaged. The durability of the body parts will also play an important role here.
If the body parts get damaged easily, you will need to replace them from time to time. It won’t prove to be money-efficient at all, and you will end up spending a lot of money.
However, you won’t have to worry about anything like that if you go with a durable riding lawn mower in the first place. So, make sure that you keep this factor in mind while looking for the best riding lawnmower.
7. Reverse Mowing
This is a feature that is available in most of the riding lawnmowers in the market. Still, it is important to look for it because it is an important feature, and can make the job much easier for you. When you are cutting grass in the lawn, it will be much easier for you to cover the trouble spots in your lawn.
If a patch of grass is left uncut, you can simply take the mower in reverse and cut it easily. On the other hand, if the mower doesn’t have this feature, you will need to turn it and come all the way again to cover that uncut patch.
This will make the job much harder, and you will need to invest more time on the lawns well. This is something that you can easily avoid at the time of making the purchase. So, it will be better if you go with a riding lawn mower that has a reverse mowing feature to offer.
The wheels of a lawnmower can play an important role while cutting grass. If the size of the wheels is right, the mower will perform well on uneven ground as well. It will be easier for you to cut grass effectively even if your lawn is uneven at places. Moreover, it will provide the required balance while riding the mower.
On the other hand, if the wheels of the mower are too small, it won’t work efficiently on uneven surfaces. Another important thing to keep in mind is the material used in the wheels of the mower.
If it comes with tubed-tires, you should make sure they are of good quality as there will be a chance of them getting punctured. Tubed-tires can easily get punctured while riding on the lawn if they hit a sharp edge. So, make sure the tires of the mower are made of good quality material and are of the right size according to your needs.
The blade of the mower is one of the most important parts as the entire purpose of using a mower is cutting grass. If the blade of the mower is sharp, it will cut grass more effectively and you will get better results as well. On the other hand, if the blade isn’t sharp, it won’t do well out there on the lawn, and you will have to spend more time. You may need to move it at the same spot more than once to cut the grass.
Furthermore, the quality of the blade will also play an important role in determining its efficiency. The blade of the mower needs to be sturdy because there can be small obstacles in the way while cutting grass.
Small stones or other small things can come in the way while cutting grass, which may damage the blade. However, if the blade is of good quality, it won’t get damaged easily and will work more efficiently as well. So, make sure that you keep this factor in mind while looking for the best riding lawn mower under 2000.
10. Fuel Tank
The fuel tank of the lawnmower is also an important factor to keep in mind. If the capacity of the fuel tank is up to the mark, you won’t have to refill it again and again. It will run for a decent amount of time in a single fill, which will prove beneficial in the long run. On the other hand, if the capacity of the fuel tank isn’t up to the mark, you will need to fill it again and again, which may get frustrating at times.
If the mower runs out of fuel during a run, you will need to stop and refill, which will be time-consuming. Another important thing to keep in mind is the mileage of the mower.
Cutting grass is something that you will need to do from time to time as it grows again. If the mileage of the mower isn’t up to the mark, you will end up spending a lot of money on the fuel. So, make sure the mileage of the riding lawn mower you choose is up to the mark.
Since we are looking for the best riding lawn mower in a fixed budget, it is important to keep the price tag in mind while making the purchase. There are plenty of options under the $2,000 mark, which brings in a lot of flexibility.
You should never compromise on the quality and performance of the lawnmower for money because there are several options in different price ranges to choose from. You can easily grab a riding lawn mower under $2,000 without compromising on the quality and performance.
Moreover, if you spend a decent amount of money on a good quality riding lawn mower, it will last longer. It will prove to be a cost-effective purchase, and you will end up saving maintenance costs as well. So, make sure that you keep this factor in mind while buying a riding lawnmower.
Well, these are the factors that you will need to keep in mind while buying the best riding lawn mower under 2000. If you keep them in mind, you will end up making a smart purchase, which will prove beneficial in the longer run. Moreover, if you know these factors, it will be easier for you to shortlist some options to choose from.
7 Top Traits To Scrutinize While Choosing Best Riding Lawn Mowers
Buying a new product is exciting and can be alluring if it has all the bells and whistles. Riding mowers are a substantial purchase, and so it’s crucial to do a little research. You don’t want to receive an unsuitable mower or face the hassle of returning and exchanging something as colossal, so examine these traits to make an informed purchase.
HP or horsepower of riding mower gives an idea how dominant your engine is. Aside from going fast, it will help you work with right-sized lawn.
Smaller lawns only require 16HP mower. Medium lawns require 20HP, and large or very-large yards require more than 24HP to deal with the area you will cover.
The horsepower distributes fuel and energy to motor components such as the transmission/blades. This is useful for too thick/bushy grass and will make your mowing activities straightforward.
The fuel capacity depicts how much gas is held in the tank. This normally correlates with model size. Purchase a model that has the fuel capacity to satisfactorily tackle your turf. You don’t have to stop the mowing to refuel. Mowers with a little fuel capacity are entirely fine for medium-sized yards mowers with big fuel tank are suited better for hefty properties.
The cut width measures how broad a swath of grass the mower cuts in one pass. Tinier, denser mowers have cut width as small as 30” while larger mowers have cutting deck widths of 50” or more. Consider yard size. If you have smaller property with hard-to-reach corners and impediments, you’ll need to maneuver around, and then a small cutting width is splendid.
But if you contain a large property with a comparatively open layout, a larger model allows you to tackle job effortlessly and swiftly.
The transmission of a mower is something transferring power from engine to wheels, allowing machine to drive forward/reverse. The three available alternatives are manual/automatic/hydrostatic transmissions. Manual transmissions have diverse selectable set speeds. Older models may need you to shift amid speeds by using clutch or stopping. So if you choose manual model, confirm it allows you to effortlessly budge without using a clutch as your grass tractor moves.
Similar to transmission in car, automatic transmission allows controlling speed with gas pedal for easier control over mower or slowing down to drive around blockages. A hydrostatic transmission is similar to automatic. The difference is it uses fluid instead of belts to relocate power from engines to wheels. This fluid-based system brings the smoothest ride and requires least maintenance.
The thought of an unruly mower conjure up images of slapstick stories or cartoons and it’s always imperative to think of while buying heavy machinery. If you can’t control mower, due to extra power or bumpy terrain, you could end up harming the mower and cause injury to yourself.
Traction control is important for ensuring that mowing is pleasant and straightforward while contributing to save fuel and battery power. When cutting in other than dry weather conditions, ensure your wheels properly grip to grass and offer even and acceptable cut. Furthermore, superior traction control helps with turning/reversing, you cover every inch and no part of yard is left untouched.
The bigger the deck size, the shorter the mowing time will be. A mowing deck size of 38” or more is ideal. Once you determine the lawn/property size, choose a fitting lawn mower with preferred deck size. There are various sizes including 42”, 46”, 48”, 54”, 60”, 66” etc. The deck size specs vary across brands.
For instance, for a tiny space of 0.5-1 acre, a 42-inch deck size would be perfect while for yard/garden of 2-3 acres, you will be better off with 48”/54”/60”deck size. The manufacturer will specify the most suitable deck for your definite requirements. If they don’t, make inquiries to verify this information.
Most garden tractors weigh around 600-800lbs. So choose carefully according to your lawn size.