I have a deep love of robots. From R2D2 to the Terminator, to the HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I’ve always held a fascination for these programmable machines. Robots that can take on both personality and independent thinking for themselves are just plain cool…unless they rise up to take over. In any case, the idea of reviewing a Husqvarna Automower began with a trip to Brussels last year and saw the Husqvarna RAMUS concept hedge trimmer.
When an opportunity popped up to review the Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower, I jumped. It doesn’t beep at me (unless it’s angry), and I have yet to see it rebel at my human authority—so far, so good.
The goal of this review is two-fold. I want to explain the advantages of an automatic lawnmower, and I want to talk about this particular model. Until you grasp the former, however, you’ll never appreciate the latter.
Why Use the Husqvarna Automower 315 Robotic Lawn Mower
Anybody can mow the lawn on a schedule—some of us even find it therapeutic. The thing is, the average lawn (at least here in Florida) gets mowed once a week. That gives you a few days of the lawn looking decent before it starts to get “shaggy”. By the time it’s due for another cut it can be downright ugly. Summer rains don’t help.
A robotic lawn mower not only mows your grass automatically—it does it every day. That means that your lawn looks freshly mowed every day, not just on Saturday. For anyone who loves a well-manicured lawn, this is an amazing concept—one you’ve likely never experienced. Europeans are used to this. In fact, Husqvarna has been investing in technology like this for around 20 years. Hopefully, the United States is ready to take the plunge.
Other Advantages to a Husqvarna Robotic Mower
The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower makes almost no noise. Its 58 dB SPL rating is actually a deceptive number. The mower only makes noise when it encounters grass that still needs cutting. Since it can run up to 7 days a week, there’s not a lot of sustained cutting going on. That means the mower spends most of its time driving over your lawn, not cutting tall grass. When it does cut, the unique carbon steel blades make very little noise. Imagine using an electric razor on your face every 3 hours—it’s something like that.
The Husqvarna Automower 315 also cuts the grass so frequently that the clippings are tiny, so there’s no need for raking. There’s no need for a mulching blade—you get the same result. Husqvarna says the small clippings actually serve to fertilize the soil. You can also run the IPX4 outdoor-rated Husqvarna Automower in any weather, so your lawn can be maintained come rain or shine. That’s good news for those of us in Florida…especially in the summer. The 315 Automower even handles slopes up to 35% (think 15-20º) and optional hardware upgrades the wheels when needed. The 430X and 450X handle even steeper terrain.
But what if it hits a tree? Aside from the defined cutting areas, which we’ll go into later, the Husqvarna Automowers have object avoidance. If the Automower 315 bumps into an obstacle it will simply stop and redirect itself. It can run over something that passes under the bumper of the housing, but anything taller than that will trigger the mower to change directions. The 450X even has remote object detection—avoiding objects even before it runs into them.
But now we’re getting into features, so let me switch gears.
Husqvarna Automower 315 Robotic Lawn Mower Features
One of the best features of the Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower is that you can define your lawn boundaries (and more than one if needed). Laying out a green boundary wire carries a particular voltage the Husqvarna Automower can “read”. When it hits the boundary wire it acts just like it hit any other physical boundary: it stops and redirects. More than that, though, this lets you define exactly where you want the mower, so that it avoids bumping into trees, shrubs, walkways, in-ground pools, and more. You can connect areas intuitively, and even use the wire to mark off trees or centrally-located spaces.
We spoke about the Automower 315 running 7 days a week. I set mine up for 6 days a week, allowing my kids some time on Saturday to not have to worry about sending the mower to its “home” should they decide to play in the yard. On the days that it runs, it’s going from 8am to 4PM. It could just as easily be running from 8PM to 2am. It really is that quiet.
The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower automatically recharges itself when it hits 15% of remaining charge. It has a combination of methods it uses to find the charing station. The first is that it roams around until it picks up the base station signal. The second is that it roams until it finds the central guide wire that leads directly to the base station. The third method uses the nearest boundary wire that you run from the base around the perimeter of your mowing area to give the mower another sure way to guide itself home.
Automower 315 Programmable LCD Panel
The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower has a handy onboard LCD control panel for configuring the settings. With this, your robot mower does what you tell it—unlike the HAL 9000. You can pretty much “set and forget” the Automower 315, and it will mow and charge without any further input. I operated it for weeks like this and never had to do a thing.
Pressing the Stop button and opening the cover lets you access the mower settings. When you first boot up the mower (there’s a rocker switch that cuts power to the main unit) it lets you choose a 4-digit PIN. Anytime you lift or interrupt the mower you’ll need to enter the PIN.
Once your PIN is set you can adjust the mowing time via the Timer function. You can choose any number of hours per day to have the Husqvarna 315 mow, but they recommend a daily formula based on square footage. The Husqvarna robotic lawnmower covers about 730 sq. ft. per hour. For my back yard, which is a small 1900 sq. ft., the Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawnmower should mow around three hours per day. We schedule it to operate for an eight hour window each day in the summer. That gives us the run-time we need including the necessary recharging times.
There’s a cool Weather Timer function which lets the Husqvarna Automower 315 automatically adjust its mowing times based on how quickly your lawn grows. This is a great feature to have during the rainy season in Florida. The Automower 315 robotic lawnmower will mow more frequently in the summer than it does in the spring. When the grass slows down, the Automower 315 will automatically spend less time on your lawn.
To use the Weather Timer feature optimally, you basically want to let the mower run whenever it wants. You only block out the times you want it to definitely remain parked. The weather timer can then adjust accordingly. It normally takes at least a few days for the mower to get a good idea of the mowing needs of your lawn.
How Long Does It Run?
Believe it or not, that’s actually the wrong question. The Husqvarna Automower 315 runs all the time during its scheduled period and automatically recharges as needed. That’s why the time you schedule it to run may be quite a bit longer than the time it needs to actually cut your lawn. In terms of how long it goes before recharging, the Husqvarna Automower 315 will cut for around an hour or so before it will seek out the charging station. The official run-time is 70 minutes. Once docked, it will recharge within 60 minutes. Then it just heads back out.
The battery is replaceable, but is located within the chassis and doesn’t come off for recharging like a cordless drill. The internal battery resembles the inside of a lithium-ion slim pack. While it might be cool to see Husqvarna up the size of the pack, it’s really not necessary since the Automower can cut continuously as-is. It uses only 25 watts while cutting, and the charger consumes only 1.3 amps. If you want to compare it to an electric mower, it consumes 10 kWh/month for a working area of 0.4 acres (16,000 sq ft.). In my jurisdiction that would run me around $10/year!
Navigating the Terrain
The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawnmower has a lot of options that give it even more capability to handle rough terrain. Out of the box, however, it can handle slopes up to 35% or more (at least when it’s dry out). For anywhere you need the mower to stop and turn, however, slopes shouldn’t exceed 15%.
There is definitely an art to setting up the boundary and guide wires correctly and to optimize the cutting pattern of the Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower. That’s where an installer comes in. Using one of Husqvarna’s certified installers is a no-brainer as they’ll ensure everything is properly installed. Plus, it’s good to have a source for eventual long-term maintenance and repair for your investment. We had Orin from Robotic Mowers, a professional Husqvarna Automower dealer do our install, and it went very smoothly. He also educated me about the Automower 315 along the way. In return I grilled him on features and performance.
But Won’t Somebody Steal It?
Maybe, but they’d be stealing a fancy brick. The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower has a couple of handy security features. First, you’ve got an anti-theft system that fires up an alarm every time the mower is picked up. If you don’t enter the correct PIN code it keeps going until the battery runs out. Secondly, the Automower 315 is coded to the base station, so you can’t just steal a mower and use it with another base station you get off eBay. You’ll have to take it to an installer or dealer, and that’s where the serial number—registered to you—will cause some problems.
Aside from that, the mower is useless without a properly installed system. It won’t operate without the boundary wires in place. Cut those, and the mower won’t run. All-in-all there’s a good chance your mower will be quite safe.
Using the Husqvarna Automower 315 Robotic Mower
As I mentioned, a professional installer took care of the entire setup. That’s definitely the way to go, but I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of observing. The primary process was to unpack the system, locate the charging base, stake out the perimeter, and run power to the charging station. The Automower 315 Installer Kit comes with a spool of boundary wire, the charging station, ground stakes, connectors, and the power supply and cables. Knowing how the guide wire and boundary wire works is essential, but it’s a closed loop system that’s not difficult to understand or work with. Dealers looking to add the new Husqvarna Automakers to their repertoire won’t have a very steep learning curve.
It’s easy to check the loop signal for the boundary wire for a correct connection. There’s an indicator lamp on the charging station with the following color indicators:
- Solid green light = good signals
- Flashing green light = the loop system is turned off and the robotic lawnmower is in ECO mode
- Blue flashing light = interruption in the boundary loop, no signal
- Flashing red light = interruption in the charging station’s antenna plate (dealer fix required)
- Solid blue light = weak signal (the boundary loop may be too long or there may be corrosion)
- Solid red light = fault in the circuit board in the charging station (dealer fix required)
We set up the backyard in a configuration that covered the largely rectangular main area as well as a small connected side area. Since access to the side area was a rather wide 7 feet, there was no need to “lead” the Automower 315 there with the Guide wire. Instead, we ran the Guide wire diagonally across the main area of the backyard to the base station—making it an easy target.
Unusual Cutting Blades
The blade system on the Husqvarna Automower 315 lawn mower is worth noting due to its unique design. A central hub spins, and three blades are attached at the end . They simply fly out from the centrifugal force. These carbon steel blades are very much akin to thick double-sided razor blades. They need to be changed every three months, but the kit comes with enough replacement blades (9) for an entire year of use. The cutting swath is a thin 8.7 inches, and the blades barely stick out a 1/4-inch, but that’s all it takes to keep your lawn perfectly maintained with a consistent mowing schedule.
Husqvarna Automower 315 Specs
- Battery: Li-ion
- Charging time: 60 min
- Typical mow time on one charge: 70 min
- Working area capacity (±20) 0.37 acre
- Power consumption (during cutting): 25 W
- LCD with 19-button keypad
- Integrated handle
- PIN code with security alarm
- Installation lock
- Time lock
- Lift & tilt sensors
- Extra blades: 9 pcs
- Charging system Automatic
- Maximum incline at boundary wire: 15 %
- Cutting width: 8.7 in
- Cut height, max: 2.4 in
- Cutting height, min: 0.8 in
- Color: Granite Grey
- Weight: 19.8 lbs
- Dimensions (in.): 9.8 H x 24.8 L x 20.1 H
Available Automower Models
Husqvarna Automower 315
- Working area capacity (±20): 0.37 acre
- Typical charging time: 60 min
- Sound level Measured 58 dB(A)
- Weather timer
- Sound level: 59 dB(A) SPL
- Price: $1,599.95 MSRP
Husqvarna Automower 430X
- Working area capacity (±20): 0.8 acre
- Typical charging time: 65 min
- Sound level: 57 dB(A) SPL
- GPS-assisted navigation
- Weather timer
- Price: $2,699.99 MSRP
Husqvarna Automower 450X
- Working area capacity (±20) 1.25 acre
- Typical charging time: 75 min
- Sound level: 58 dB(A) SPL
- GPS-assisted navigation
- Automower Connect
- Price: $3,499.95 MSRP
The older $2,400 Husqvarna Automower 220 AC uses a NiMH battery and the three newest lithium-ion models above have taken the spotlight.
The Husqvarna Automower 315 robotic lawn mower isn’t designed to cut tall grass. It’s designed to maintain a lawn and make it look like it’s just been mowed—all the time. It doesn’t need the torque or strength of a traditional mower. The blades are as efficient as the electric motor which drives them. It’s this low energy design which lets you operate the mower for an entire year at less than $25 in operating costs. If you love the environment, that plus the lack of emissions should excite you. The cost is something that will be a factor of how much you hate mowing your lawn. It’s also the only way to get that manicured look all the time—without having your lawn guys walking your property every day. For many, this is going to be a great solution. Me? I just like the idea of robots that do my work for me…
For more information, please check out the Husqvarna website.