It might take a little getting used to, but there’s a new way to mow the lawn: the robotic way.
“My son thinks it great,” said Greg Longnecker, regarding the self-propelled, automatic, computer controlled iMow robotic lawn mower from Stihl. “Everyone is enamored with it.”
Longnecker is operations manager at J & I Power Equipment, a Stihl dealer in Olympia, Washington, where the new iMow started mowing the lawn at the store earlier this year, generating similar reactions from customers.
Longnecker is well-versed in the sales pitch. “You can throw your typical idea of lawn mowing out the window,” he said. “You set out the parameters and it just goes out and does it.”
Stihl threw its considerably weight into the category this year, joining brands including Husqvarna, Robomow and Worx. Stihl dealers must complete a three-day training program before they can retail the iMow, and the level of training they achieve helps deliver excellent installation service and service after the sale.
Stihl also brings some innovation to the product itself – for instance, it’s ground breaking steel blade. It also has auto-adjust mowing ability. “Most if not all robotic mowers can be pre-programmed, but the STIHL iMow can make up for lost mowing time later in the week if you choose to delay mowing (e.g. if you’re having a lawn party and want the iMow to be docked or if you choose to not have the iMow run while it’s raining,” said a spokeswoman for the product.
It’s still early in the roll out phase for the iMow. Only about 10 dealers have it on the shelves currently. But according to Longnecker, the idea has legs, it will just take some education.
[See a video of the product in action here.]
The robotic mower is a high-end item. Stihl offers two versions: the RMI 422 P can mow up to a quarter acre, while the RMI 632 P can take on a full acre. The larger version sells for about $2,000, including a docking station. There is an additional cost for Installing a wired routing system (similar to an invisible fence for pets).
The benefits of the iMow, in addition to having a robot mow the lawn, include improved health of the grass. Because the iMow makes frequent passes over the turf, it cuts a small percentage of the grass blade, encouraging healthier, thicker grass.
Longnecker’s bottom line: “It will cut your mowing time down to zero.”