Flymo 1200R Review And Guide (After One Year Of Use)
Having owned a Flymo 1200R for over two years now, I feel it offers great performance at a very reasonable price.
This article will outline my experiences with the Flymo 1200R, highlighting the pros and cons and will talk you through all the information you need to get your machine up and running.
Flymo 1200R Review: The Flymo 1200R is the robot mower I recommend for lawns up to 400m². It hits the sweet spot for price and functionality and does an excellent job of cutting my lawn. It requires minimal user input and operates almost silently.
My previous mechanical lawnmower was not that much cheaper to purchase than the Flymo 1200R and there was a fair bit of maintenance involved in keeping it in working order. These add to the expense and hassle of running a traditional petrol powered lawn mower.
Disadvantages Of The Flymo 1200R Robotic Lawn Mower
Do You Need A Robot Lawn Mower At All?
Conventional lawnmowers do an excellent job and there is a huge range of lawn mowers that will suit any size of garden and will cater to all budgets and requirements. Having gained good experience with robot lawn mowers, I feel that they are becoming an increasingly attractive proposition.
Where robot lawn mowers really shine is that they prevent you from having to cut your lawn at all and give you additional free time to do more enjoyable activities. At the same time, you’re able to enjoy a perfectly cut lawn with minimal input.
Robot lawn mowers have come a long way since they first came to the market over 20 years ago. Up until fairly recently, they have been very expensive and quite cumbersome to use. recently, a number of models have come to the market that are much more competitively priced and as the technology has improved, they have become easier to install and use. Read this article on the benefits of robot lawn mowers to learn more.
Basic Information About The Flymo 1200R Robotic Lawn Mower
Here is a very quick video which gives you a close up of the main parts and features of the Flymo 1200R
The Flymo 1200r comes with everything that you need to get started, including a reasonable number of spares. I have listed all the parts that came in the box below.
Contents Of The Box
- 1 x robotic mower
- 1 x charger st ation
- 3 x charging station screws
- 1 x allen key
- 1 x power supply
- 1 x low voltage cable
- 150 m of boundary wire
- 200 boundary wire pegs
- 1 x measurement guage
- 9 replacement blades
- 5 x cable connectors
- 3 x connection terminals
- 1 x alarm decal
- 1 x installation manual
- 1 x quick start manual
- 1 x installation DVD
- 1 x product registration card
After purchasing your robotic lawnmower, I’m sure you will be very keen to get it up and running. The installation process is fairly straightforward but is a little bit time consuming. The supplied instructions are very clear and comprehensive, ensuring that you should have no significant issues during the installation process. You will need a few simple tools to install your robotic lawn mower;
A hammer or mallet (to help put the pegs into the ground)
A pair of combination pliers for cutting the boundary wire and pressing the connectors together.
Polygrip (for pressing the couplers together – although I just made do with the pliers for this)
An edge cutter or straight spade if you wish to bury the boundary wire.
Placement Of The Charging Station
The first job is to identify the most appropriate place for the charging station. This must be placed fairly close to an outside wall socket to power the charging station. The Flymo 1200R comes with a 10m low voltage charging cable, so this does permit some flexibility to put the charging station in a convenient location.
Flymo recommend allowing a minimum of 3 metres of free space in front of the charging station and they also recommend that you should be able to lay a minimum of 1.5 m of boundary wire straight out to the right and left of the charging station. The charging station must also be placed on a level surface and preferably on the lower part of a working area that has a major slope.
Thankfully, I have a number of outside power points and a fairly flat lawn, so I had several options. The charging station must be placed on the grass, not on paving or patio. This meant that I had to run the power cable across a narrow section of path to connect it to the power supply.
This is not a major issue, but it does mean that I have had an unsightly cable running across my path. I have covered this with a cable tidy, to keep it flush with the ground. Ideally, it would be nice to have an external power point that was accessible without crossing a paved area.
An alternate option for me would have been to lift two paving stones and run the power cable underneath, but for now, I am happy with the set up.
The charging station is secured to the ground with three long plastic screws which are very easily inserted into the grass. Once the charging station has been secured, you can connect the low voltage power cable, which has a sturdy and waterproof connector on each end, meaning the cable can be left connected in the vast majority of weathers.
The power supply itself must not be left sitting on the ground, where there is a risk it could be submerged in water during heavy rain. The best solution it to secure it to the wall beside the power supply at a height of approximately 30 cm.
Installation Of The Boundary Wire
The boundary wire must be laid in such a way that the wire forms a loop around the working area. The boundary wire is specially designed to resist dampness from the soil, so either pegging it to the grass or burying it under the soil are equally viable options. The maximum length of the boundary wire is 400 m long, and the mower will most likely not function correctly if your garden requires a longer boundary than this.
I would recommend pegging the boundary wire to the ground first to ensure that the lawnmower functions as intended, before making a later decision to bury in the boundary wire if desired. I would strongly recommend burying being boundary wire as soon as you’re confident that the mower is functioning without issue. This will reduce the risk of the boundary wire being damaged or cut by the robot lawn mower if you set the cutting blade too low.
If you do not decide to bury the boundary wire, the grass will grow over the top of it after 2-3 months, and the wire will disappear from view and no longer be at risk of being cut by the lawn mower. Another significant advantage of burying the boundary wire is if you want to de-thatch or aerate the lawn. If you bury the boundary wire, then you need not worry about damaging the boundary wire when you carry out this maintenance.
If the working area borders on to a flower bed or a small elevation, the boundary wire should be laid approximately 20 cm inside of the working area. This prevents the lawn mower from driving into the flower bed or other obstruction, which might lead to the robotic lawnmower getting stuck. This will result in approximately 12 cm of the lawn not being mowed, but allows the lawnmower to operate smoothly. If the working area borders on a paving area where the robot lawn mower can move onto without any issue, the boundary wire should be laid 5 centimeters from the edge of the path, and this enables the entirety of the grass to be cut.
Here is a video by Flymo which outlines the process of installing the perimeter wire of the Flymo 1200R.
First Start Up
Once you’ve completed the installation of the Flymo 1200R, you can now do the first start up and calibration process, which will only take a few minutes at most. When you first start the robot lawn mower, it will guide you through a number of settings, including language and country selection, current time, date and setting a 4 digit pin code. After doing this you should set the Flymo 1200R in the charging station, press the start button and close the hatch. The Flymo 1200R will then start it’s calibration process by leaving the charging station, following the guide wire to the point where it is connected to the boundary wire, ensuring that it can navigate around your lawn without any issues.
You should then ensure that the Flymo 1200R can find its way back to the charging station without issue. To do this, you should open the hatch of the lawnmower by pressing the stop button, place the robotic lawnmower several metres away from the guide wire, select the home mode on the control panel, then press start and close the hatch. The robot lawnmower will then detect the guide wire and follow it back to the docking station. As long as the mower correctly navigates to the charging station and docks successfully, your new mower is ready for use.
Operation Of The Flymo 1200R
Before your Flymo 1200R starts working, you should adjust a few settings in the control panel. The amount of cutting time that your lawn will need will depend on the size of the lawn and your own preference. The manual has some suggestions for how many days and how many hours per day you should set the lawnmower working for depending on the size of your lawn.
Personally I would recommend setting your lawn mower initially to cut 7 days per week and start the cutting blades at the highest setting. As the days go by you can lower the cutting blade to the desired height to ensure that you achieve the desired look of your lawn. Once you’re happy that the lawnmower is functioning as intended, you can reduce the number of cutting dies and as desired.
While the mower is an operation, it is very quiet and doesn’t distract from the peace and quiet of your garden. It moves at a slow walking pace and randomly zig zags about your garden stopping at the guidewire when it reaches the edge of your lawn, turning around and going in another direction. I would have to say that I really quite enjoy looking out the window and seeing my lawnmower in action every morning, as it reminds me that I no longer have to cut the grass, and I enjoyed seeing a perfectly cut lawn every day. It is also source of fascination for my two small children. My 3 year old daughter has named it Ariel and likes to keep me updated with what it is up to. I think when you name your robot, you know you have a problem!
When out in the garden with my children, I am generally happy for the lawnmower to continue in operation as long as I am supervising them. I am comfortable with the safety features of the lawnmower and know that if one of the children were to upset or try to lift it, it would stop immediately. I will not of course leave the children unsupervised with the lawnmower, as children can be very ingenious and you never know what could happen.
The Flymo 1200R has considerable safety features, to ensure that risk of injury is minimised. It has lift and tilt sensors which cause the mower to stop immediately if it is lifted or reaches a tilt angle which could expose the blades. The blades are also surprisingly far underneath the body of the mower and you would have to reach considerably far under it to come in contact with them. This is reassuring as it reduces the risk of inadvertent contact with the mower causing injury.
The Flymo 1200R also has collision sensors, which mean that whenever the mower bumps into an obstruction, it will stop, back up, turn and move in a different direction. As the mower moves quite slowly, no damage will be caused to either participant in the collision.
Thankfully the Flymo 1200R has several good security settings. It has a time lock, a PIN code, and an alarm. The security settings can be adjusted in the control panel from low, medium and high security settings. All robot lawn mowers have similar security features and all will request a PIN code before the lawnmower is operable. As this is a standard feature, it Is less likely that thieves will target robotic lawn mowers. In the event that your lawnmower is stolen, it will be completely useless to the thieves.
The Flymo 1200R does not have more advanced features that some of the more premium and expensive models have, such as GPS tracking, but this is a sacrifice I can live with as it helps keep the cost down to a reasonable level.
Thankfully, there really isn’t an awful lot of maintenance required with the Flymo 1200R. The manufacturer recommends cleaning the mower every few weeks. This can be done with a brush for the undercarriage, around the wheels and cutting disc, and a damp cloth for the larger areas of plastic. The picture above shows my mower after a month without cleaning. It is important to ensure that the blades move freely as they are meant to be loose and be able to rotate on the mounting screws with ease. Sometimes grass gets caught under the blades, around the mounting screws, so it is a good idea to clean this off with a dry brush.
The treads of the wheels tend to get clogged with grass clippings and mud, particularly in wet or damp weather. This can reduce the grip that the mower has and can reduce it’s performance on steep slopes. I have found that it is difficult to clean the treads with a dry brush alone, so I normally use a garden fork to gently scrape the mud and grass from the treads. This only takes one or two minutes, but is well worth doing.
The manufacturer recommends changing the cutting blades every 4-7 weeks. I think this is much more frequently than necessary, but understand the rationale. The mower is meant to work by slicing the top off the blades of grass, rather than knocking them off, which is generally what the blades of a conventional lawn mower will do. The advantage of this is that it causes less damage to the blades of grass, which is more important with it being cut very frequently.
The blades will dull over time and after 8 weeks or so, they have dulled significantly. However, I have not noticed a major degradation in cutting performance over time with my blades. The picture above shows blades that have been cutting every day for more than 3 months. This is maybe a little too long, and I did change the blades right after this photo, but don’t plan on changing them any more frequently than every 3 months.
It is worth discussing spares at this stage. The Flymo 1200R comes with more than enough perimeter wire for all but the most tricky gardens, and also comes with 9 spare blades, 5 x cable connectors and 3 x connection terminals. Flymo recommend changing the blades every 8 weeks. I think this is much too often and unnecessary. Once or twice per season is fine. If you need to change the route of the boundary wire or if there is a break in your boundary wire, you will need to use the cable connectors to reconnect the wire. This is the same process as when connecting the perimeter wire during set up.
You will most likely need spare blades at some stage and it would probably be advisable to get some extra connectors and perimeter wire to keep at home, as there are few things more frustrating than encounter a problem with your mower and not have a spare available to repair the fault.
Official Flymo spares are very expensive and I would strongly advise you not to purchase them, as it is a total waste of money. The Flymo brand is owned by Husqvarna, one of the giants in the world of robotic lawnmowers. The same blades and connectors are used in quite a number of their robotic lawnmowers. I have purchased compatible spares from Amazon that are identical to the official Flymo spares at considerably less cost.
My advice would be to buy a pack of spare blades, connectors and spare wire and then you can rest easy if your mower encounters any problems. I have outlined the price of official spares below, along with links to suitable spares on Amazon that I use myself. The price will fluctuate a little, but they are usually considerably cheaper than the official spares.
Pack of 9 official Flymo blades = £22.01 ( £2.45 per blade)
Official Flymo connector = £2.50 each (sold individually)
Spare Perimeter Wire
Official Flymo boundary wire (150m) = £101.96 (68p per metre)
Flymo 1200R Review
The Flymo 1200R is an excellent robot lawn mower and is great value in comparison to many other models on the market. For people with a lawn of up to 400sqm, I would struggle to recommend any of the more advanced, or more expensive models, as the Flymo 1200R does everything that is required.
The main negatives for me were the set up, which was somewhat time consuming and the fact that I still have to maintain the edges of my lawn, as the Flymo 1200R will not cut right to the edge of my flower beds.
However, I could not go back to a conventional, manual lawn mower, as the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
I really enjoy the satisfaction of not having to cut my lawn, looking out on a freshly cut lawn every day, and the entertainment of seeing my little robot working away in the garden. I hope this review and guide has provided some useful information and insight into my experience with the Flymo 1200R.
Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V lawn mower review: a lightweight, budget buy
We liked some things about the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V and a hover mower does offer some real advantages over the wheeled variety. However, we found this particular model comes with quite a few trade offs that might be hard to live with, especially against battery-powered competitors.
Flymo 1200R Robot Lawn Mower Unboxing, Installation and First Run
- Lightweight when mowing
- Excellent for lawn edges
- Compact storage
- Safety switch on the handle
- Operation levers on each side of the handle to accommodate both left- and right-handed gardeners
- – Flimsy build quality
- – Limitations of an electrical cord
- – Poor grass collection
- – Difficult to adjust length of cut
Why you can trust Gardeningetc
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Despite offering a number of ‘wheeled’ models, the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V mower is the product that most people probably associate with Flymo. Hover mowers literally ‘float’ on a cushion of air, making them incredibly light and easy to move around as there are no wheels to cause friction with the ground. Flymo’s latest offering, the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V has been designed for small to medium gardens, with a 33cm cutting width and a powerful 1700W motor running on mains electricity.
I tested the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V on a variety of different lawns and came back with somewhat mixed results. While I was happy with the quality of the cut on a variety of different grasses and thought it excelled when it came to lawn edges, I found it blew grass all over the place and a 10m cable is nowhere near as long as you think it’s going to be.
See our best lawn mowers guide for more recommendations when it comes to cutting your grass with ease.
Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V: product specifications
Why you can trust Gardeningetc
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
- Watt: 1,700
- Cutting width: 33cm
- Adjustable height settings: 4
- Cutting height: 1. 3cm
- Grass collection box: 20L
- Power cable length: 10m
- Weight: 8.5kg (grass collection box empty)
- Guarantee: 2 years
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was how complete it looked. The body of the mower fills the box with the handlebar laid on top.
Compared to other models I have tested, there are very few components in addition to the main body of the mower (only 8, including spacer washers). I already knew I wasn’t going to be attaching wheels to this one but it was nice to have something that felt like it would need so little assembly.
Everything felt well packed and the few bits and pieces that did come with it were secured in a clear plastic bag, tucked away in the grass box.
I put the mower together in a very short time and would estimate that the average person will be up and mowing within about 10-15 minutes, even if they have never assembled any type of mower before.
In line with other models, such as the Flymo Easistore 340R, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Everything was presented in the form of easy-to-follow diagrams. The few steps that were involved in putting the mower together were all very straightforward.
However, putting it together is where I found the first problem with build quality. There are two hooks that attach to the metal handlebar to allow you to store the electric cable when the mower is not is use. A good idea in theory!
However, when tightening the hooks, I found that the metal bar was squeezed to such an extent that the paint split. Not a great start and considering the force of pushing the mower is transferred through this apparently quite thin metal bar, I do feel this may be a potential concern in terms of the longevity of the machine.
I stopped tightening before doing any more damage, but this left the cable hook looser than I would have liked.
Before you start mowing the lawn with the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V, you have the option to adjust the height of cut. This is done by turning the mower upside down, removing the blade and adding spacer washers (three are provided) between the motor and the cutting blade.
Adding more spacer washers means a lower blade and therefore a shorter cut. I found this the most complicated part of the set up and would recommend you wear gloves to protect your hands and to do this stage on grass to save scratching the machine.
What is the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V like to use?
The first thing you notice when you start mowing with the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V is how light it is to push. This really is the benefit of a hover mower; it quite literally glides along when you push it. This makes using it easier on your shoulders and wrists if you are mowing over a larger area. It also means that bumps and uneven ground are not a problem.
The Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V also does very well when you reach the edge of the lawn, provided the border or patio are lower than the grass. Simply push it slightly over the boundary and you have short grass right up to your lawn edging without having to worry about wheels going down and grounding the mower (and scalping the grass).
Another plus point is that the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V is a relatively quiet machine with most of the noise coming from the fan that lifts it up. It certainly won’t be loud enough to upset the neighbours on a Sunday afternoon.
It’s not all good news, however, and one big drawback I found was grass collection. Hover mowers never perform brilliantly in this area because the air cushion pushing them up also tends to take some of the grass with it, so some errant blades in the borders are to be expected.
However, I estimated that it collected only half to two thirds of the grass it mowed and sadly the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V left a mess wherever it went. If grass collection is a high priority then I would recommend you avoid a hover mower entirely and go for a STIHL RMA 235, which actually vacuums it up as it goes.
What does make it to the grass box is easy enough to dispose of, although here is where I found another build quality issue. An orange flap (lid) connected to the main body of the mower is supposed to clip to the top of the grass box. I found that the plastic it is made from is so flimsy that it is virtually impossible to connect it on both sides without it springing out of position.
While this does not particularly affect the functionality of the mower, I found this to be very unimpressive. I fully understand the need to to keep weight down on something that hovers, but this seems to be a compromise too far.
I think it is probably fair to say that the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V does not feel like a premium product in any way, but to be fair, the price reflects that.
Flimsy components and scratchy plastics meant that it felt like it was designed to be aimed solely at the budget end of the market. I actually thought that this was a real shame because this mower offers some clever features that feel overshadowed by just a few too many compromises.
Ease of use
Overall, I found the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V fairly easy to use in a variety of different settings. It is light to push when you are mowing and the handles are comfortable to hold, even for prolonged use. When it comes to the edges of the lawn, a hover mower does have clear benefits over a wheeled one.
One area where the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V mower does do well is when you come to pack it away. There are rollers at the front that allow you to push the mower back to the shed. Unfortunately, these only work on completely flat ground and you will still need to lift it up if you have a step, but it is still a big improvement on carrying the mower the entire way.
The handle then folds down and the mower stands on its end. I liked this design because it means that it takes up a very small amount of shed storage or space in the garage. I also liked the way the cable stores on the side of the machine, I was just disappointed the hooks weren’t better.
Robot Lawnmower. Everything you need to know before buying
Sadly, there is no escaping the fact that compared to battery mowers, a mower with an electrical cable is a pain. You have to be aware at all times where the cable is, how much you have left and (crucially!) whether you are in danger of chopping through it. This is probably not an issue for someone who is already using a mower with a cable, but if you are used to using battery power, I am pretty sure this will annoy you.
However, the biggest single drawback of the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V is the grass cut adjustment and it is a very big drawback. Having to turn the mower upside down and then remove the blade with a special tool is both time consuming and irritating. There is also the risk of injury by being that close to sharp blade.
This is in stark contrast to many wheeled machines such as the Mountfield Electress 38Li Kit or the Cobra MX41 that simply have a handle on the side that allows you to select a setting within a few seconds. If you frequently have to change cut length, we would strongly suggest that this is not the machine for you.
I couldn’t find any accessories to go with the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V. However, the main additional feature that anyone who buys this mower will want to consider is an extension cable.
Unless you have a very small garden, ideally with an outdoor power outlet, you are going to find the 10m cable too short. We would urge anyone considering buying this mower to factor in the cost of an extension lead with an RCD, that cuts out if you mow it by mistake, as part of the purchase.
How do we rate the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V overall?
We checked other reviews after we had tried out the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V ourselves, to get some idea of what other people thought of it and found the feedback to be quite mixed. Many users praised the mower for its ease of use and storage. There were also positive Комментарии и мнения владельцев about the value it represented at its price point. This is an opinion that we would be inclined to agree with to a large extent as, compared to a battery powered mower, it is a lot cheaper.
However, there was also quite a bit of criticism about the build quality. A number of people complained that they too found parts of the plastic flimsy. Users also mentioned the grass pickup, or lack thereof, as being a problem. One user even stated that he found it picked up around 20% to 25% as much grass as another mower he had used. I didn’t think it was quite that bad but I was not impressed. There was also some criticism about the weight of the machine. I had mixed feelings about this because while just over 8kg is heavy to some people, others will find it very light. So this point is probably quite subjective, but worth considering depending on how much you feel like lifting.
Amazon showed the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V as having an average 4 out of 5 stars across 500 reviews. I actually thought that 4 out 5 was very much on the generous side. While I did think that it was an easy machine to use and that some of features were clever, the number of build quality issues, compared to other mowers I have tested, meant that I was not prepared to give it any more than 3 stars. If it had been better made, I would have rated it higher.
Overall, I think that the Flymo EasiGlide Plus 330V would be best suited to people with small garden who is looking for a cheap and cheerful mower for light to moderate use. However, anyone with a bigger garden who is looking for something to take on more demanding tasks should look elsewhere. I certainly wouldn’t bet on this mower still being around after even a couple of years of heavy use.
Lawn Mowers (504 items found)
Landscaping can be a challenge, no matter the size of your yard. Luckily, Ace carries a variety of quality lawn mowers for sale to maintain all grassy areas of your lawn. And because yard work is never really finished, finding a durable and reliable lawn mower helps you keep your backyard looking its best all year.
From basic to high-tech, our lawn mowers from name brands come in a range of sizes and models to fit your needs, no matter how much grass you have to mow.
Riding Lawn Mowers
Riding mowers are perfect for large lawns or fields that require heavy-duty maintenance and can cut your lawn maintenance time in half. Riding lawn mowers are more powerful than other grass lawn mower styles, so you can drive at an incline while hauling materials as well.
Look for riding lawn mowers with zero-turn capabilities for greater versatility on the job. A zero turn-radius lets you better maneuver around edges and mow cleaner lines in more fluid motions. Ride in style while you level the lawn, saving time and energy.
Gas Lawn Mowers
Gas lawn mowers pack a lot of power into every job and include riding mowers, push mowers and self-propelled lawn mowers. Push lawn mowers cut through thick grass and, as their name implies, require your strength to push them forward – whereas self-propelled mowers just require you to steer, while the machine does all the hard work. Find gas lawn mowers from leading brands like Craftsman, Ariens and Toro for quality mowing you can trust.
Electric Lawn Mowers
Electric lawn mowers are perfect for households with small- or medium-sized lawns. These mowers are more environmentally friendly than gas lawn mowers as they don’t emit the fumes that gas-powered mowers do, and they run quieter than other types of mowers. With many options available from brands like EGO, STIHL, Craftsman and Toro, electric self-propelled mowers only require you to steer and keep them charged up.
Hand Reel Mowers
Hand reel mowers work best if your lawn is small and doesn’t have many bumps or curves, since these mowers are manually powered. You can go back to the basics with reel mowers, as they require little maintenance and don’t need gas refills or access to power. Plus, as a huge bonus for you and the environment, they don’t emit pollutants, making a low-maintenance and eco-friendly option.
Our mower shop also features multiple types of accessories for lawn mowers like baggers, mulching kits, lawn sweepers, blade sharpeners, replacement wheels and blades, filters and different types of maintenance kits to keep your equipment in working condition for years to come.
Shop Ace for Lawn Mowers Near You
Our selection features mower models from some of the most popular names in the industry, including Craftsman, EGO, Toro and many more. Check out our full range of mowers online or visit your local Ace store to explore the lawn mowers for sale near you. Ask our friendly associates for detailed information about specific lawn mower models and get answers to all your lawn equipment questions.
Need lawn mower accessories to accompany the job? MaxPower, Arnold and other top brands have you covered. For more lawn care advice from the experts, you can read through our lawn mower maintenance tips and tricks and find resources to help you tune up your mower, change the oil and more. We provide everything you need to keep your mower going strong and your lawn looking pristine.
The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023
These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023
When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?
Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.
How Zero-Turn Mowers Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.
When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.
Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.
As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.
Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower
Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.
Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.
In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.
But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.
Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.
How We Select and Test
There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.
We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.