Robot lawn mowers are probably not super high on your "need to buy" list, but that doesn't mean they can't be top of the "things you'd love to buy." They are a luxury purchase, but having been testing various models for the last couple of months, I have to say, I'm absolutely sold on owning one, despite their particularly high price tags.
All summer, robot lawn mowers have been keeping my grass looking absolutely marvellous. I started with the Segway Navimow H1500E (thank you for your service Navimow), but that has since been replaced by the king of robot lawn mowers - Husqvarna. Think of robot lawn mowers and Husqvarna is a brand that will no doubt come to mind. The company has a range of different models on offer, but unless you have a very large lawn or very specific requirements, the smaller models in the portfolio will more than serve domestic use. One of the smallest in the range is the Automower Aspire R4, and it's great.
Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 might be the smallest in the company's range but this is a mighty robotic lawn mower. It delivers superb grass cutting performance, super simple operation and packs in plenty of smart features that offer an enhanced experience.
- Lovely discreet design
- Excellent cutting performance
- Range of smart features
- Simple operation
- No obstacle detection
- Lengthy initial setup
- Manual cutting height adjustment
Robotic lawn mowers have come a long way over the last few years, and while they still aren't as sophisticated as the likes of their robot vacuum cleaner cousins, they are smarter than they might first seem. Where the Segway Navimow H1500E uses GPS to map your garden however, the Husqvarna Aspire R4 still relies on good old-fashioned boundary wire, guiding your mower around your garden using an electrical current.
There are pros and cons to this method. The cons are that it is quite laborious to set up initially. There is an excellent video on Husqvarna's YouTube channel that offers step-by-step directions for setup, but depending on the size of your garden, you'll need to set aside a couple of hours to get the Automower Aspire R4 up and running. It took me three hours initially.
The boundary wire is placed around the perimeter of your garden, as well as around any obstacles, such as a pond or a climbing frame for example, and you'll need to knock in the plastic pegs every few centimetres to get the wire as close to the ground as you can. You could also use a spade to dig a mini trench around the perimeter of your garden to drop the wire slightly into the ground, and that's something I highly advise you do. It will take longer of course, but there is much less chance of the boundary wire being cut by the blades of the mower, or an animal pulling it up - both have happened to me on a number of occasions, so I have several extra connectors holding the boundary wire together around my garden.
Along with the boundary wire, you also have to hook up a guide wire that connects to the boundary wire and runs through the middle of your garden - or via a clear route - to help the Aspire R4 get back to its charging base. Again, you can dig this into the ground, which I would recommend as having a wire run through the garden might not be something you want.
Once you've set up the boundary wire and the guide wire, you'll connect the Aspire R4 to the Automower app. This part of the setup takes a matter of minutes. Your Aspire R4 will automatically show up under 'Available Mowers'. Once connected, and you've set the time and date on the mower, you will be able to set a schedule, as well as set up a range of smart features - more on those in a second.
Overall, the initial setup for the Automower Aspire R4 does take longer than the Segway Navimow's GPS mapping system that uses a phone, but the boundary wire method is more reliable overall in my experience. You never have to worry about the Aspire R4 going anywhere it shouldn't go as it physically can't go beyond the electrical current perimeter set by the boundary wire - or not further than you allow anyway. For the first couple of weeks, expect to have to fix the boundary wire with connectors when it splits, but eventually, the Aspire R4 will do its thing without you having to do much at all.
An inconspicuous design
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 is one of the smallest robotic lawn mowers in the company's offering, as I mentioned, and with that comes a very cute design and one that's perfect for both average-sized gardens and bigger ones too. It's small, sophisticated and importantly, discreet, so it doesn't attract too much attention when it's parked.
In some countries, robot lawn mowers are more common. Where my family live in Sweden for example, there are Husqvarna robot lawn mowers on most lawns. In the UK, they are less common so when in action, they do get people stopping and staring.
Still, the Automower Aspire R4 is a great size - smaller than the Husqvarna Automower 305 and a lot smaller than the Segway Navimow H1500E. There's a grey and orange colour scheme - which is quite common for robotic lawn mowers - and so it blends nicely into a garden setup. On the rear is a hole for the charging pins to slot into place, while the front has the Husqvarna logo proudly positioned in the centre.
Two larger wheels are at the front, both with Husqvarna logos in their centre, along with a smaller wheel at the rear. The blades sit in the centre at the bottom, and they offer four cutting heights, which you need to adjust manually rather than in the Automower app so make sure you pick right. I have my Aspire R4 set at two, which gives me short grass but not too short that it cuts the boundary wire, which the first setting did when I tried that.
Also on the bottom are two specifically-designed holes that allow the Aspire R4 to be hung up when not in use. You can either hang it independently on your garage or shed wall, or you can use the Husqvarna Aspire Storage system, which allows you to hang other Husqvarna products like a strimmer on a neat and tidy rail.
Elsewhere, there's not a great deal more to say about the Aspire R4. There is no fancy display or anything on top of the Aspire R4, but you also don't need it as it can be controlled via the Automower app. You'll find a large Stop button for when you need to stop the Aspire R4 instantly, and there are also a couple of manual buttons, including Start, Lawn Coverage, Mow and Park. These buttons have a small number in their top right corners too - worth mentioning as it is how you enter the pin code.
A plethora of smart features
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 has a lot more than what meets the eye in terms of features. Many of these come in the form of the Automower Connect app due to the lack of on-device screen as I mentioned, and they include basic features like setting a schedule to more advanced features like setting up Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Yes, you can ask Alexa to mow your lawn with the Aspire R4 if you set it up.
In terms of basic functions, you can alter how many centimetres past the boundary wire the Aspire R4 will mow for example, turn on Frost Guard that will delay mowing if frost is detected and turn on the weather timer so the Aspire R4 automatically adjusts its timers based on how much the lawn grows. There's also a feature called Spiral Cutting that changes the movement pattern of the blades when longer grass is detected to cut faster.
Elsewhere, there are a number of operational options, such as changing the starting point distance from the base. Mine is set for 60 centimetres, but you could choose to have your Aspire R4 begin mowing almost immediately when it leaves the charging base if you so wish. You can also use the Lawn Coverage function if you want to steer your Aspire R4 to remote parts of your lawn and those covered by different guide wires in order to make sure your entire lawn is mowed. I mentioned that the cutting height has to be done manually rather than in the app and that's the one feature I'd love to have seen moved into the app - the Segway Navimow allows you to do this remotely.
However, there are several very smart features on board the Aspire R4. I mentioned Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration previously - which is super simple to set up - but there is also IFTTT integration. For those that don't know, IFTTT stands for If This Then That. If allows you to set certain parameters to then make something else happen. For example, you can link the Aspire R4 up to your Google Calendar and if you have "Garden Party" or another key word you choose in your calendar, the Aspire R4 won't mow until the party is over. You can also use IFTTT to stop your mower mowing at night to protect nocturnal wildlife, and connect it to a weather app, so it knows not to mow if heavy rain or frost is expected in your area. You can even get the Aspire R4 to email your neighbour if it runs into problem.
Elsewhere, scheduling is one of the main features of a robot lawn mower and the one you'll want to make sure you set up straight away. It's this feature that keeps your lawn looking immaculate without very little input from you once the schedule is done. I've set my Aspire R4 to mow between 08:00AM and 12:00PM in the morning and 16:00PM and 18:00PM in the evening every day, though it is worth mentioning that it doesn't continuously mow for 6 hours a day - more on that in a second. I have also turned the Frost Guard feature on now, which sees the sensors inside the Aspire R4 monitor the temperature outside and pause mowing if the temperature drops below 5-degrees Celsius - something worth doing for the winter when grass grows slower.
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 is excellent when it comes to performance, and it's very quiet too (59dB) so no one nearby will get annoyed if you send it to work at 06:00AM. You'll only hear a quiet hum when it's in action, as well as the slicing of the grass, so you'd have to be next to it to hear it.
I had a couple of teething issues for the first two weeks when I set it up initially - mainly where I hadn't knocked some elements of the boundary wire into the ground enough and so it was either dug up by an animal or the mower itself got a little chop happy. It's also had the odd connection issue, with the Bluetooth connection occasionally dropping. When this has happened, a press on and off of the power button on the Aspire R4 itself and re-entering the pin has sorted this. It's worth noting that if the connection drops, you won't be able to access some features in the app, so you'll need to restart. The Aspire R4 has no obstacle detection, so it will run into anything in its way - including my Amazon delivery driver (yes really) - and pets too. It also can't see pet waste so that will be getting cut alongside the grass if its on it, as well as any toys or objects left on your lawn.
In terms of cutting performance however, the Automower Aspire R4 is exceptional. It navigates my front garden brilliantly, from the multiple bushes surrounding the perimeter to the flower beds and the path in the centre. There are some narrow areas too, and it gets around these no problem, whilst also handling the uneven surfaces. The lawn has looked immaculate since the Aspire R4 was put into action, and it's had multiple comments from the neighbours too. You still need a strimmer to get to the corners and the placing of the boundary wire may take a bit of trial and error to get it right - or the distance you choose to let the Aspire R4 go past the boundary wire - but once you get that right, this is an exceptional robot lawn mower.
Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4
- Cutting Width
- 550 x 330 x 220mm, 5.9kg
- Noise Level
Husqvarna says the Automower Aspire R4 will cover 400m2 of lawn and an incline of 25 per cent. My lawn is flat and certainly not 400m2, but I've mentioned it nonetheless as it's important to note that even if you do have a fairly substantial garden, it is possible the Aspire R4 will still be more than adequate. The Aspire R4's battery offers around an hour of cutting time before it returns to its base to recharge, so while I have mine set for four hours in the morning, it will only be cutting for around half of that. It won't leave the base again until its 100 per cent charged. This also applies if you want to get it to mow your garden in the middle of the afternoon, but it's at 50 per cent. It won't be budging off that base until it hits 100 per cent on the dot. It will then return to its charging dock during mowing when it drops to a certain percentage and only restart again when it has been fully topped up.
Last but not least, I recommend cleaning the Aspire R4 every few weeks, especially if it has been raining and the ground is soft. The mud and grass cuttings build up on the wheels and dust and dry mud can also get into the charging hole and onto the metal pins which can cause charging issues. To avoid these, a quick hose down every couple of weeks will have it looking as good as new in a matter of minutes.
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 might be the smallest in the company's range, but this is a mighty robotic lawn mower. It delivers superb grass cutting performance, super simple operation and it's so good at what it does, you'll pretty much forget it's even there.
The initial setup is a little laborious, I'd love to be able to change the cutting length from the app rather than manually and some obstacle detection would be great. That's really all there is to complain about though. There are a range of smart features that deliver an enhanced experience from this robotic lawn mower, the design is lovely, and the overall performance is genuinely excellent.
The Husqvarna Automower Aspire R4 might not be the cheapest purchase you'll ever make, but for what it delivers and the time it saves you, I can say for sure that it won't be a purchase you'll regret.