LawnBott Spyder LB1200 Lawn Mower Review
A robotic lawn mower review
his is an in-depth review of the final release LawnBott Sypder LB1200. The LawnBott LB1200 is a simple but revolutionary robotic lawn mower that does not require perimeter wire. This robotic lawn mower has been on the market since 2009 in Europe (as the Ambrogio L50) with overwhelming success.
If your lawn is compatible with the Spyder, mowing your lawn with this robotic mower is advertised as being simple as taking it out of the box, charging it, placing it in the lawn and hitting the mow button.
This LawnBott review will cover how smooth the process really is, complete with field test and real world challenges. Last updated on July 1, 2012.
The LawnBott Spyder uses a clever way of determining what to cut. It utilizes six sensors that hang below the level of the blade to “feel” the grass. As it moves, these sensors determine if they are in contact with living grass (foliage) or not. Anything that is not living or no contact will cause the mower to stop and go in another direction. It also relies on bumping or pushing obstacles in the lawn rather than perimeter wire. A bump into your house, trees, toys, hedges, lawn borders, walls and other obstacles will send this mower in another direction without the need for perimeter wire.
The shipping box of the Spyder is tiny compared to other robotic lawn mower boxes. The box itself is about 21 x 21 x 13 inches and weighs about 24 pounds. The LawnBott Spyder LB1200 ships with:
- The LawnBott Spyder robotic lawn mower
- Battery charger & power supply
- Mowing height spacer kit
- LawnBott user manual
- LawnBotts.com exclusive USB cable
The LawnBott Spyder was designed with simplicity in mind. The outer appearance of this robotic lawn mower resembles a spider... hence the name. The sleek curves and Italian design ensures you will not mistake it for anything else but a LawnBott.
- LawnBott Spyder dimensions: 19.2 inches wide, 19.2 inches long and 10.6 inches high
- LawnBott Spyder weight: 24 pounds
The US version of the LawnBott LB1200 is bigger than the European version (Ambrogio L50.) The wide rear axle in our version makes room for large wheels. The low cut wheels in the US allow it to mow the lawn from 1.8 to 2.8 inches high. The high cut larger wheels are available for maximum cutting height of 3.6 inches. This Spyder cuts 0.5 inch higher than the flagship LawnBott LB3510 and 1.1 inch higher than the rest of the models.
In line with simplicity is the absence of a LCD screen or a user interface for that matter. There are only 2 buttons: the power button and the start/stop button. If you are into deep user menus and options, this probably is not the best robot for you. This lawn mower uses lights around the buttons to communicate to you, which are explained very well in the user manual.
The LawnBott Spyder is rain proof just like the other LawnBott models but it does not have a rain sensor.
The Spyder has two handles in which the mower to reacts to when touched. This is explained more in the safety part of this review. The LawnBott Spyder is by far the easiest robotic lawn mower to carry around.
This particular LawnBott robotic lawn mower has to be charged indoors or in an area unexposed to rain or direct sun like a covered porch or deck. The big screws on the two rear wheels are charging contacts. Simply snap on the red contact to the red indicated wheel and the black to the black indicated wheel. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to fully charge. The lithium battery is the same one used for the other LawnBott models. The lithium battery is a big advantage when compared to the other robotic lawn mowers for small lawns.
In order to adjust the blade height on the LawnBott Spyder lawn mower, you will need a phillips head screw driver. The mower ships at the highest setting and can be adjusted by adding up to three spacers that are included. Simply add a spacer or any combination of spacers to achieve the desired cutting height. This is a clever way to adjust the height, but I would have preferred a tool-free method. Nonetheless adjusting the blade height can be done in about 5 minutes.
The LawnBott Sypder probably has the fewest moving parts of any robotic lawn mower on the market. The inside is designed as simple as the outside. There are not many things that can go wrong.
A - Two wheel motors
B - Main Board
C - Mowing Motor
D - 4 x 4 wheel drive system
E - Grass sensors
F - Lithium Battery
Spyder Field Test and Mowing Quality Review
The technology behind the LawnBott Spyder is without no doubt impressive. But what good is a fancy robotic lawn mower if it cannot mow the lawn? Read on to see how this lawn mower actually mows in the real world environment.
Before I can let the LawnBott LB1200 loose in the yard on its own, it needed to establish trust. A traditional lawn mower has not set foot (or wheel) in our yard since 2001. But my robotic lawn mower and the ones we test all depend on a perimeter wire signal of some kind, which I know can be trusted. The night before running the Spyder for first time I had nightmares of this $1,200 robotic lawn mower plunging off the side of our 20 foot drop. Needless to say, I had some doubts that I needed to put aside.
After charging the lawn mower, I gave the grass sensors a quick test by putting the robot on the concrete drive way and pressing the “start” button. The LawnBott Spyder moved about 20 inches forward, then 20 inches backward then stopped with an error (flashing lights) indicating no grass detected. Perfect!
Next, I wanted to make sure the robot lawn mower would not mow our flowerbed. I placed it directly in front of the flowerbed and started it. I could not resist standing directly over it. The mower rolled forward about 12 inches and backwards about the same distance to feel the grass. Once it detected that it was on grass, it fired up the blade (tense moment) and off it went headed towards our flowers. The edging around our flowerbed ranges from 2.5 - 3 inches high, which is just low enough for the mower to climb! However, immediately upon climbing the edging it stopped and reversed. The LawnBott Spyder considers a sudden angle change a good reason to immediately stop and go in another direction. I agree.
Obstacle detection on the LawnBott Spyder works differently than other LawnBott models, the Robomowers and all other robotic lawn mowers for that matter. Most robotic lawn mowers depend on either a moving shell or a bumper that triggers the sensors inside. The LawnBott Spyder, on the other hand, relies on wheel feedback for determining when it is in contact with a solid object. This of course means the lawn mower gently “pushes” an object before acknowledging it needs to stop. It seems as though this will be less reliable or dramatically slower than the bump “switch” sensor method, but to my surprise the LawnBott Spyder will only push for 1 to 2 seconds before it realizes it has bumped something. I found this very acceptable and impressive... who needs bumper sensors anymore?
The final “trustworthiness” test is to see if the pine straw that separates our lawn from a 20 foot drop of death would be enough to send the mower in another direction. Upon approaching the pine straw, the mower immediately acknowledges there is no living matter and changed directions. In fact, the sensors worked without fail and it didn’t take very long to earn my trust.
One observation: the mower needs about 10 inches of “grace” space. This means 3 inches of mulch then a drop off will not work. I suggest 12 inches for peace of mind, but 10 inches are required.
To be honest, this is not the first time I have seen this robotic lawn mower in operation... I had the opportunity to see the beta version about 2 years ago and again about 1 year ago. But it was the first time seeing it operate without an engineer nearby.
Once trust was established, I let it run freely in the yard without me standing directly over it. After about a couple hours, I can clearly tell that large sections of my yard started to look really good. This robotic lawn mower averages about 5.5 to 6 hours per run with new batteries. It is estimated that the lithium batteries will last about 5 year before needing to be replaced.
Without a barrier, the LawnBott Spyder LB1200 will not know the difference between your lawn and your neighbors. Therefore, if you have neighboring lawns, you will need to use some creativity to make barrier of some sort if you choose this mower. Some examples include lawn borders, bricks or stone borders, a row of flowers surrounded in mulch and etc.
The LawnBott Spyder will allow itself to drive about 9 inches beyond the grass line before it stops. This allows the mower to completely mow all the way up to the edge of the lawn, which is great for sidewalks and driveways. But unfortunately most curbs are about 4 - 6 inches wide. The LawnBott Spyder will tip over and fall off the curb if it is less than 10 inches long, which most curbs are. However, curbing with gradual drop-offs are okay.
Robotic lawn mowers are designed to maintain a “just cut” appearance by mowing often. I could go into why this is healthier for your lawn but I will skip it this time. Robot lawn mowers are not designed to plow through high grass, but we tested it for review purposes. I prepared a section of the lawn just for this test. The area was about 1,000 sq ft in total. The lawn was allowed to grow about 6 inches high. I adjusted the LawnBott Spyder’s mowing height to the lowest setting for this challenge.
The results: while mowing thick grass, the blade of the lawn mower will automatically increase speed/power. LawnBott calls this blade modulation. The Spyder sends the right amount of current to the motor on an as-needed basis to conserve power. Overall it did a good job at handling the area. However, when the mower reached a particularly thick clump of lawn, it choked down - but then the Spyder did something REALLY neat. Rather than give up, the Spyder reversed about 2 feet, which placed it directly over lawn it already cut. Next, it revved the blade up to top speed then surged straight forward in the same spot to have at it again. Second time is a charm! It repeated this aggressive approach several times on the thicker sections of high grass until it successfully mowed and mulched the area. This was fun to watch!
The LawnBott Spyder successfully completed the entire high grass area without any errors; it did not stop (or give up) nor did it need my assistance. Once completed, I was very impressed at how well it mulched the high grass. The yard looked excellent!
As with most robotic lawn mowers, it is not recommended to allow the lawn to grow over 4 inches high. I would say the same for the LawnBott Spyder. However, if the lawn does get high, it is recommended to adjust the blade to the highest setting and then gradually lower the height.
If you have a lawn or sections of your lawn that are lower than about 1.7 inches (2.5 inches for high cut model), the grass sensors simply may not reach down far enough to “feel” the grass. As a result, it will avoid these areas. Living Grass: Mow - No Grass: No Mow.
The LawnBott Spyder will only mow living plant matter - that has moisture inside the foliage. Therefore, if your lawn is dormant or is about come out of dormancy, you will notice the Spyder changing directions frequently (searching for living grass) and ultimately not mowing on the more dormant sections of the yard. The same applies to very dry lawns. If the lawn is extremely dry (in an unhealthy way), you may need to water it before mowing.
The mowing pattern of the LawnBott LB1200 Spyder is different than the other LawnBotts. Though it’s still random in nature, it turns several inches after it has reversed. It also seems to take fewer sharp turns and assumes more of a curved ‘V’ pattern cut at times. Robomower owners are familiar with a different ‘V’ pattern and for smaller lawns a ‘V’ pattern can be quite effective and give the illusion that the lawn is being cut faster. From experience, a ‘V’ pattern or a random pattern works great. The only disadvantage of the ‘V’ pattern is that it is not effective for larger lawns, which of course the Spyder is not for anyway.
We found that the less sharp turns helped the Spyder find very narrow areas of the lawn more quickly than some of the higher end robot mowers. This is a good advantage for small lawns with tight areas in between hedges and etc.
The LawnBott Spyder has tilt sensors that shut the mower off when lifted. Also, the handles work similar to how touch lamps work. Touching one handle will stop the blade. Touch both handles (to pick it up) and the wheels will stop. Put it back down and it will start up and mow again if it’s on grass. The 6 black sensors that hang lower than the blade serve as a guard to protect feet and fingers from the blade.
As with all lawn mowers, you would exercise caution when operating; including but not limited to not allowing young children to play in the yard while the robotic lawn mower is operation. Pets and animals will normally avoid the mower once they realize it is not another animal.
Conclusions and Final Thoughts
- No perimeter wire needed (No wires and pegs to buy!)
- Mow quality is excellent (on par with the LawnBott LB3510)
- Very quiet operation - can mow at night
- Lithium battery technology
- Small, compact design only weighs 24 pounds
- Great at finding narrow areas
- 4 Wheel drive
- For small yards only: 5,500 sq ft or less
- Self-docking not an option
- Needs a barrier or non-living matter between connecting lawns
- Will not mow dormant lawns
We found the LawnBott Spyder LB1200 extremely easy to use... almost unbelievably easy. This robotic lawn mower has a lot of personality and class. Out of the 8 years I have used robotic lawn mowers, I never named any of them until now. This one is named Spydee. My wife even insists on taking Spydee out to mow.
The cut quality is up to par with the top end LawnBott LB3510. The $1,199 price point for a lithium powered robotic lawn mower that requires no perimeter wire creates a huge draw to this mower. The fact that it actually works as advertised should seal the deal for most potential buyers.
If your lawn is compatible and you do not mind taking the mower outside and pressing a button once or twice a week, the LawnBott Spyder is in my opinion the best option by far for small lawns.
The biggest drawback to this robot lawn mower is that it cannot tell the difference between your lawn and your neighbors. Therefore, if your lawn is connected to your neighbors, it will require a small degree creativity to create a divider. Perhaps a lawn border is the best solution. Another drawback is curbing with sharp drop-offs. (Gradual drop-offs are okay.) The LawnBott Spyder requires at least 10 inches of “grace” space to stop. Otherwise, it will drive off the curb and shut off.
This mower is by far the best non-docking automatic lawn mower option for small lawns. It is portable and simple enough to throw in the trunk and take it to mow your friends’ or family’s lawns while you spend time together.
If you have any questions, comments or would like to purchase the LawnBott Spyder robotic lawn mower, please feel free to contact us. Why buy from us?
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