Robomower RL850 RoboMower (STC80850) Reviews
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Robomower RL850 RoboMower (STC80850)

2 ratings (1 Epinions review)
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Welcome to not mowing but will it last?

Jun 19, 2008 (Updated May 31, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Not having to mow. Not taking allergy medication before mowing

Cons:Not very durable. May last only 3 years at most. Batteries fail each year

The Bottom Line: Wait a few years to see if they improve. Battery trouble and possilble issues each year.

Make sure you read all of this review before making your decision. Anyone can buy a new car, toy, or appliance and be happy the first few weeks. It's the time factor that you need in making an intelligent decision about a product. Just how long does it last. That's why I try to make sure I update my review throughout the life of the product.

My Starting Opinion:
I have had my robomower for 3 weeks now and I love it. No more taking allergy medication before mowing for me. You put it in a dry place, let it charge and then set it out on its own. It took a good 2 days to install and it includes everything to get you running. The kit includes 200 stakes, charger, 500 feet of wire (if you need more you can use 14 guage - 500 feet - $20 from hardware store), signal unit and two signal unit connectors.

It's controlled by the installation of the wire around the perimeter of your yard. The mower will only run inside the wire. You can also break your yard into sections and put it in that section, moving it from each section when it finishes. The wire can be buried or installed with the small stakes included. Once you install the wire you connect the signal unit to the two ends of the wire from the perimeter to a small unit that sends a signal around the wire. Once the wire is installed you simply use the hand unit that looks like a ninetendo controller to drive the mower to it's starting position. Starting the mower is even easier, just press the "Go" button on the top of the unit. The mower will start by cutting around the perimeter of your yard following the wire. Then it will stay inside the wire and go back and forth cutting the grass. It makes a shape like a bunch of W's connected (WWWWWWW) when it cuts.

As you can see from the picture it looks like a little toy space ship. Little toy!? Don't let this fool you. This thing weighs in at a little over 100 pounds and it has some torque to go with it. If you have holes in your yard you may have to fill them in, but they will have to be pretty deep before the mower will get stuck. The wheels are adjustable and the higher setting does make it easier for it to pull out of tough situations. I was worried that my yard might be a little steep, but the mower really surprised me. The cut was clean and my lawn has never looked better. The neighbors are trying to keep up with me now.

As I mentioned, it has a small removable control that looks like a Nintendo game controller that you can use to drive it around your yard. I did find the controls to be a bit sluggish and if you are not careful you will find yourself pressing on the controller pretty hard. This may lead to unusual wear on the control and I could see myself taking it in for a repair.

I guess you may be wondering what this thing uses to cut. Well, there are three tungsten blades that make a low humming noise, but it's so low that you can carry on a conversation while it passes you in the yard. I had one neighbor comment that it was great that it was so quiet. I have put robo out late at night before to cut until 1a.m. The neighbors didn't even know that I had it out. So far it's cut the yard nicely. Although I imagine that you will have to buy a set of blades every year. I'll update this on the price later.

The first couple of weeks I had to put the mower out almost everyday for the whole week so it could get all the grass cut. It has to run over the tall grass a couple of times, but it eventually got it all. I do wish they would put a sensor on the mower so it knows when it hits a clump of tall grass and would cut in a square or circle for a few minutes.

I would also recommend robo owners to put their mower out at least once a week. I noticed that the dandelions, which are usually a pretty tough weed, were only cut if they were less than 4 inches tall. Dandelions will grow pretty fast and can be 7 inches in no time.

I also had a little trouble with the charging mechanism. It has an LCD window on the controller that tells you when the unit is fully charged. I put the unit on charge and checked it again after 24 hours, it was still telling me that it was charging. I checked with the manufacturer. They told me that it was known to happen and that it could be considered fully charged after 24 hours. After I unplugged the mower it showed on the controller that the battery was full, but the mower did not run the full 4 hours. Since my grass was completely cut I let it charge over the weekend. This time when I checked it the Ready indicator was showing in the window.

If you do not like mowing your yard, get a robomower. I would recommend it to anyone. You may want to hurry since they are discontinuing the 800 series. The new 850 & 1000 are almost double the price, but they do charge themselves which makes not mowing even better.

June 24, 2004 -- Well into mowing season in NC.
The mower is doing great, although I have noticed a few sqeaks as it's running. I put it out every other day and let it run. I have noticed it being a little sluggish in thick bermuda grass, but I would have trouble pushing a mower through that stuff myself.

I also found out that you can replace the controller. It seems here is a small cover inside the controller tray that is removable. The controller plugs into the unit with a small plug that looks like a phone jack. Now I can replace it if needed.

The only other thing that I've noticed is that the charge time is around 36 hours instead of 24. The charger that comes with the mower is a trickle charge and doesn't put out much power. There is a fast charger but I don't think it's worth it.

Sept 16, 2004 - Hope this isn't a sign of the future
Had to take the mower in for service. There is a sensor on the front wheel that detects if the front of the mower has been lifted. Mine is saying that the front wheel is off the ground when it is not. I just talked to the repairman the other day. He tells me that he put a new front wheel sensor in and it wasn't the problem after all. Now he is replacing the main motherboard. It's been 2 weeks now so my grass is getting pretty high with all the rain we have been having. I hope this is just a fluke of my luck. I would hold off on buying one until you see how my story ends. I'll post an update when I get the mower back. I only have a couple more weeks of mowing.

October 1, 2004
Just got off the phone with the rep from friendly. He is telling me that the part for my mower should be here by next Wed. Today is Friday. They knew at the first of the week that the main board was bad. It looks like it's going to be a month before they can get my mower fixed. I understand that they are working with the local shop to make sure I get the part even though the shop should be going through their parent company. I also understand that it would have taken longer had it not been from Robomower company stepping in.

Final words: It's a good tool, but you better hope it doesn't break down. If it does it will take you a month to get it back depending on your area. Do your homework. Ask how long repairs should take. Also, my riding mower broke down once after 15 years of service. That was when I decided to buy a Robomower. I used to think that I wanted to sell Robomower's, but now I'm having my doubts. I will not sell a product that I feel will not give someone good service and they will get excellent service from the company.

My status on this product has gone from 5 stars down to 3 stars, those stars include the service you get from the company. I will always consider that in my reviews.

Service after the purchase always counts as part of the product.

October 7, 2004
Finally got the robomower back. Lesson learned here. Make sure you know how long repairs will take. I did have a couple of issues after I got the mower back. Seems the repairman didn't reset the calibration settings so the mower would start in calibration mode. I talked with him over the phone and he talked me through the system settings. I had to play around with it a little while to get it to set the directional settings. Once it locked in it was fine. I let the mower cut for about 3 hours. The grass was rather high, so it took a while for it to cut. It's probably going to take a week for it to get all the high grass now.

November 14, 2004
It's the end of the cutting season. I'm letting Robomower cut to test out the repairs. I've had it charging for a ouople of weeks. The last cutting seemed to do okay, but the mower would only run about 2 hours. Before the repair it would run for 3.5 to 4 hours. Also, the problem with the repairs seems to be with the shop where I bought the mower. I've been communicating with the home office and they are determined to make me happy. I told the representative there about my reduced battery time. He told me that if the time falls below 2 hours he would replace the battery. I'll keep this updated on the progress. If things work out I wouldn't mind buying their new mower that charges itself.

April 20, 2005
It's a new cutting season and Robo is doing great. The battery trouble that I had has been rectified. the manufacturer sent me a new battery after my time dropped to 1 1/2 hrs of cutting time. I took it into the shop with the battery and the repair was done in 3 days. Beats the heck out of waiting for the shop to order the parts. I have noticed some difference in mower. I noticed the first charging session that it only took 24 hrs to charge. then the next sesssion I unplugged it and then plugged it back in the "Keep Charging" changed to "Ready" right after I plugged it in. The mower only ran for 2 1/2 hrs. This time I let it charge for 48 hrs and didn't unplug it until it had "Ready" on it's own. I'm hoping it will run the full 3 to 4 hrs. I have new blades that were $58 if I remember correctly. I kept the old blades and may see if they can be sharpened.

July 25, 2005
Looks like I'm having trouble with the battery again. I don't know if it was the shop repair that is causing the batteries to run low or if it is the batteries. I found a reputable dealer on the internet that seems to work good with people and he has a fast turn around on repairs. I may see if I can send him the mower for repair. Looks like this is starting to get a little out of hand, but at least it is still under warranty.

August, 4 2005
I have my mower back and it looks like it will do okay. I still can't get the full 4 hours of charge like it use to do. After I got the mower back it ran for 3 1/2 hours, but the time started to drop going down to 2 1/2 hours. They won't replace the batteries until it goes below 1 1/2 hours cutting time. I'm starting to think that the mower isn't all it's cut out to be. If I can get my five years out of it then it will have paid for itself. I will keep this updated.

Feb 2006
It is starting to get close to cutting season and I've dropped the guy that I got the new batteries from a line. From my understanding Friendly robotics made a mistake in telling people to keep the mower on charge all winter. That's what caused the charge to drop. I didn't have mine on charge all winter and didn't charge it until a day or so before I needed to start cutting. It's a good thing that their are a couple of kids in the neighborhood that will be looking for some summer work cutting grass. It looks like my robomower will be in the shop again.

May 30, 2006
Here we are in may and I'm in full swing of grass cutting. The batteries won't last but 1 /1/2 hours. I have sent an email to the internet robomower sales and I will see if they will replace the batteries since they have a 1 year warranty. I would like to know if anyone else has experienced the drop in battery time on their mower. I will keep this updated.

I will also be changing my ratings on the mower as I really don't think they are ready for prime time. It is starting to look like an expensive car that is in the shop all the time. It's good when it works.

December 2006
I believe this is it. My mower went out on me about August. The front wheel sensor is bad "AGAIN". They replaced the batteries, but then something else goes wrong. Seems like the distibutors are drying up as well. The distributor that replaced my batteries is going out of business. I bought a front wheel sensor from him and will be putting my robomower on E-bay for a deep discount. Watch for it and you can get a good deal.

April 2007
I sent an email today to offer Friendly Robotics a chance to buy the mower back for $75. They said they have no need for it. I guess they read my review. Don't make the same mistake that I did and end up with a money pit. I'm going next weekend to get my new X300 John Deere riding mower. Check out my reviews and you will see it posted.

My Final opinion:
Robomower is a good concept, but I don't want to put out $750 dollars every 3 or 4 years. the newer one has less trouble, but it is double the price. It would have to last 10 years to pay for itself. I may revisit getting a new one in about 15 years, but for now I'm done. The last mower I owned was a Craftsman from sears. It ran for 15 years with no trouble.

The store that sold RoboMowers in my area went out of business.  They can be special ordered in some stores now.  You better buy the extended warranty.  You will need it.

Recommend this product? No

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