Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R

Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R

Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R

PRO’s: totally automatic, keeps grass manicured, can cope with slopes

CON’s: initial installation takes a while

VERDICT: it’s like a sheep that eats your grass and not your flowers

OUR RATING ★★★★★ 

TODAYS BEST PRICE: £699.00 from Amazon

If you’re the kind of person that loves a neatly manicured lawn but doesn’t want to cut it yourself then the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R could be just want you need.  So is it a gimmick or something every busy home should have ?

We first saw a robotic lawnmower at Epcot in Florida sometime in the mid-1990’s.  At the time they were gimmicks and, being powered by an array of solar cells on their top surface, something that wouldn’t really work well here with our rather variable climate.

But recent developments in battery technology thanks to the computer and phone industries have meant that lightweight, high capacity rechargeable batteries are now available which make battery powered lawnmowers entirely feasible.  In fact, our recommended electric lawnmower for large gardens is a cordless Bosch Rotak 43 LI Ergoflex which really gives petrol powered lawn mowers a real run for their money.

But throw in a little more technology and it’s perfectly possible to make a lawnmower that controls itself.  The Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R is designed for large gardens up to 500 square metres in size which makes this a direct competitor with large petrol lawn mowers but as it costs nearly twice the price is it a serious alternative ?

We think it does – by the time you’ve bought a large electric lawn mower, have paid for fuel for the growing season, paid for an annual mower service and then factored in all your time spent cutting the grass, perhaps a couple of hours a week for six months of the year, then you’ll potentially have invested the same as the cost of buying a robotic mower by the end of the second year of ownership.

But that’s all academic if they just don’t work.  So does the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R really cut the mustard, er, grass ?

How the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R works

On the underside of the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R, nestled between the two drive wheels, is cutting disc which carries three small but very sharp blades which gives an effective cutting width of 17 cm (7 inches).  Because these are safely tucked away well under the body, the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R can be left roaming around the garden even with children and pets in it.  The only thing you’ll need to ensure are that larger items like dog and childrens’ toys aren’t left on the ground as it could get tangled in them.

The cutting height can be adjusted between 20 mm and 50 mm by turning a large easy to grip knob under the top flap on the mower body.

The Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R works by heading off in a random direction until it either detects a wire which marks the boundary or bumps into an object.  If it senses the boundary wire it’ll turn in a random direction and will then cut the grass in that direction until it sense the boundary again or bumps into an object.  If the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R senses an object it’ll reverse a short distance and will then turn in a random direction.  Because of this pattern of motion, it won’t leave stripes but it is also won’t miss any part of your lawn.

The mower will do this for around 60 minutes or so before returning to its charging station where it’ll stay for around 90 minutes to fully recharge.  It’ll then head off on it’s next adventure, cutting the grass as it goes.

Does it really work ?

We’re suckers for gadgets and already own an iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner so imagine our delight when, after spending nearly two hours installing the boundary wire and setting up the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R, it trundled off its charging station and actually began to cut the grass.

But it was only a couple of days later that we could actually see that it was working because the grass was no longer than it was when we set it up having only cut the grass a few days before with a petrol lawn mower.  A week later and the grass was exactly the same length as when it started work.  And the following week.

And that’s the point – it’s like having a robotic sheep that keeps the grass down but doesn’t eat your flowers.

The initial installation is straight-forward but time-consuming but it only needs to be done once and full instructions are included in the box both as a printed manual and on a DVD.

Installing the charging station

The first step is to site the charging station that the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R needs to return too periodically.  This needs to be on the grass and will need at least two metres of clear grass in front of it so that the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R can get a good run-up to it and about the same on either side to ensure that it’ll cut the grass correctly.

We placed ours on the lawn edge nearest the garage and used a power socket in the garage, with the transformer on the windowsill to provide power through an open window.  There’s a total of 10 metres of cable between the wall plug, the transformer and the charging station but the low voltage cable has large plugs on either end so you can’t drill a small hole in a wall and thread it through which is a shame.

Instead, for a permanent installation, you’ll need an outdoor electrical socket near where the charging station is to be located but you can always get one fitted once you’ve fine-tuned the setup.  That’s what we’d do anyway.

Once we’d got the charging station in position we popped the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R onto it so that it began charging before we started the task of laying out the boundary wire.

Boundary and guide wire installation

The boundary wire needs to be laid in a loop around the perimeter of the area that you want the robotic mower to cut.  This is a straightforward job but only needs to be done once which is a relief as it’s fairly time-consuming although smaller gardens with simpler layouts will take less time.  The Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R comes supplied with a 150 metre reel of wire although extra wire is available should you need it.

The process involves laying the cable a short distance inside the edge of the area that you want to cut.  For flower beds you’ll need to lay the cable 20 cm from the edge of flower beds, 30 cm from the edges of walls and ponds and 5 cm from paths and patios – thankfully a handy ruler is supplied in the box to help with this process.

As you work your way along the perimeter, the cable is pegged down using the supplied plastic pegs which sit flush to the ground.  After a few days watching the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R in use we did have to tweak a few areas where it wasn’t quite cutting to the very edge.  A better solution is to use a spade to cut a slit 5-10 cm deep into which the cable is dropped.

If there are any objects in the middle of your lawn such as trees with exposed roots or woody shrubs that the mower could get caught on then the boundary cable needs to run out to these, around them and then back along the same line to the perimeter.

Once laid, the two ends need to be connected to the respective sides of the charging station and a guide wire needs to be laid from the front to the boundary wire.  This is the wire that guides the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R back to its base station either when the batteries are low or when its cutting time is up.  The mower can be programmed only to cut between certain hours and on certain days – we left ours on the default settings though.

In our garden the route back from the boundary to the charging station involved a bit of a climb so we zig-zagged the guide wire to make it easier on the mower.  This wire then needs to be connected to the charging station and the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R is ready for business.

Adding an additional lawn

If you have two separate lawns then the second one will need to be wired up in the same way and connected to the main loop.  When it’s time to cut the other lawn the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R needs to be switched to manual mode and carried to it – it only weighs 8 kg so this is easy – and left to run until the battery goes flat.  Then it needs to be carried back to the charging station and switched back to automatic mode so that it continue its work.

Safety features

And should it get lifted off the ground or tilted over then it’ll automatically shut down for safety.  If someone decides to try and steal it then as soon as it’s picked up an alarm will sound.  If they do make off with it then they’ll need to enter a user-defined PIN number and, should the product be registered with Flymo and subsequently reported stolen, they will also be denied any product support.

Verdict

We’re very, very impressed.  We planned ahead and cut the grass with a petrol lawnmower before installing the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R and it maintained the grass at the same level for the following three weeks all by itself without any interference from us apart from quickly checking the cutting blades for damage once every few days.

At not far short of a thousand pounds, the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R does seem expensive but it depends on how you value your time.  If you’re like us and would rather be cycling, kayaking, walking, mountain biking or camping at the weekends then you’ll love the Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R because you’ll return from your adventures to find the lawn neatly manicured.

But factor in the fact that there’s no petrol, no emissions, very little noise and no expensive annual service and the maths does start to add up.  If we had the money to spend on one of these, we’d spend it which is why we’re giving it five stars !

Todays Latest Prices for Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R

Stockist Catalogue Product Name Price  
Amazon Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R £699.00 Visit Store
KeenGardener.co.uk Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R £729.99 Visit Store
B and Q Not in stock when last checked
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GreenFingers.com Not in stock when last checked
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Machine Mart Not in stock when last checked
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Tooled Up Not in stock when last checked
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