If you have a beautifully flat lawn up to 400sqm, the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live is worth considering. Grass is cut with impressive precision, and clever features like voice control and smart scheduling really leave you to put your feet up. Set up can be a bit trial-and-error, and it doesn’t like uneven or bumpy ground, but once any initial installation fails are resolved (and lumps flattened), it will tend to your lawn with all the skill and attention of a professional gardener.
Wimpy over uneven ground
Robot mowers are potentially game-changing, so I was excited the try the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower. Robot mowers are often eye-wateringly expensive, and beyond the reach of mere mortals who don’t pay super-tax (because they don’t earn enough I mean, not because they have a Swiss bank account). Which is why Honda’s Miimo Mini range is so exciting.
A decent mower brand, making a robot mower with a very decent warranty for around a grand. Still pricey, admittedly. But if you take into account the hours saved trudging up and down the garden (hours when you could be earning), plus reduced wear and tear on your shoes (ahem), you could quickly recoup your investment.
I tested the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower on a 400 sq m area of our lawn, over three weeks in spring. I avoided any major slopes as the Miimo’s maximum recommended incline is 27%, but included our picnic table and a fence or two to give the little robot a few obstacles to work around.
Keep reading to see how it fared, and check out our best robot lawn mowers guide to see more of our top-rated buys.
Key product specification for the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower
- Lawn size: small-medium (up to 400 sq m)
- Battery: Li-ion 18V 2.5Ah (included)
- Drive type: robot
- Cutting width: 9cm
- Cutting height: 3-5cm
- Charge time: 45 minutes
- Mowing time: 45 minutes
- Smartphone application: Android and iOS
- Weight: 8.1kg
- Warranty: Five years
First impressions of the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower
The Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower looks a lot like our robot vacuum cleaner, on steroids. It’s reassuringly heavy and feels like a solid little unit. It’s designed for smaller domestic gardens, so it doesn’t have that gutsy All Terrain look of its more professional counterparts, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap or unsubstantial.
In the box you’ll get 125m of perimeter wire, 180 pegs and two wire connectors. There’s also an A4-size instruction booklet, cardboard ruler, the docking base and a clip-on cover for the back of the base, once it’s wired in. Finally, there are four plastic screws and a hex key for securing the base down.
This is where, in my opinion, the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower falls short and the reason I only gave it 3.5 stars. Honda is very proud of its 'Easy, four-step setup process'. What it doesn’t explain is that this process is only enforceable after you’ve completed the actual 31-step installation process (yes, I counted).
Like all robot mowers, you have to install perimeter wire, which is not at all how it sounds in Honda’s marketing blurb! Anyway, once I’d recovered from that misconception, I got down to installing the base and perimeter wire, beginning with the former.
There are two options for positioning the base, in a corner or along the edge of the lawn. In both instances you need a good area of unobstructed lawn around the base, at least 150cm in front, 100cm to one side, and either 30cm (for a corner install) or 100cm (for edge install) at the rear. When I took into account the location of our outdoor socket and the length of cable supplied, there was only one possible location for base installation. Unfortunately, that option wasn’t 100% level. I pushed on regardless (a big mistake) and started laying cable.
Pegging down the cable wasn’t hard, mainly because the ground was still soft from winter rain. Honda supply a handy cardboard ruler that makes it easy to peg along at 75cm intervals, keeping 30cm away from fences, bushes and walls etc, and 5cm away from levelled surfaces (like a path). I was done in about 1.5 hours, with slightly sore knees but a good step count on my FitBit!
Next, I had to connect the wires into the base, after a quick Google how to strip wires as I couldn’t find our wire strippers (use a kitchen knife and pliers). Then connect the power, put the back cover on and switch Miimo on at the back.
What it’s like to use the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower
Connecting the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower to the Mii-Monitor App took a few attempts. The screen on the Miimo didn’t reflect the set-up instructions on the App, blah blah blah. If you’ve ever tried to connect a Printer to an App, you’ll know how it goes. Then it randomly decided it would pair after all, and suddenly I was in business. Hzar.
As it was a review product, the Miimo came with a PIN already programmed but the instructions for that stage look pretty simple. The idea of the PIN is the mower is disabled if anyone picks it up, thus deterring thieves. Good idea, but in reality the PIN request pops up with annoying frequency.
Finally, I was ready to press Mow Now and put my feet up. Or so I thought. The Miimo starts with a perimeter run, without cutting, and you need to hang around for the on-screen message when it gets back to the dock and press a button to confirm it is indeed home. Sadly, the 'am I at the dock' message popped up several times, mainly when the Miimo went over a lumpy bit of lawn or around the path, which is clearly not as level as I thought!
Back onto my knees to move the perimeter wire away from the path, using the wire connecting widgets to add in some extra cable. Once it finally found the base, another bomb dropped – it couldn’t mount back into position. Every time it tried, it either couldn’t get onto the base at all or the front didn’t quite line up with the power prongs. Off it would pootle to line up for another go. After consulting the instruction book, I realised the base wasn’t quite level enough, a fact backed up by the built-in level guide accessible via Miimo’s display menu. It was only marginally off so I tried shoving some cardboard under the base and adjusting the screws that secure it down but no dice, it had to be moved.
As Miimo’s power cord didn’t reach to flatter land, I used an outdoor extension lead to relocate the base. Then back on my knees to move the perimeter cord once again. Sigh.
How easy is it to use the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower?
At long last (about four hours later), the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower was ready to mow and this is where it excelled. After a successful perimeter sortie, it started working up and down, then zig-zagging across the lawn. Stopping every 45 minutes to recharge and then go again. The grass needs to be cut reasonably short before Miimo is unleashed but it trimmed away extremely quietly and efficiently until the grass was looking much neater.
A button on the top lets you adjust the cutting height, but I didn’t go too short on the first run as the grass is mulched in and, with children running around, didn’t want cut grass trekked into the house. Instead, I slowly worked it down over the next two days, until the grass was 3cm short.
You can activate the Miimo using the display on the mower itself, the App or Alexa (by connecting via Alexa Skill). I found it easiest to use either Alexa or the mower display as the App kept wigging in and out and would give me 'fake news' with regards to battery power and mapping.
One thing the App was good, or bad, at was sending me notifications. 'Mower tilted too far' and 'Mower is stuck' was the favourites, which was when Miimo randomly decided to break free of the perimeter wire and lurch over the edge of the steps. It never quite plummeted, lemming-style, but it was annoying having to rescue it, re-programme the PIN and start it off again.
However, once I’d identified the exact escape point, and moved the wire, for the third and final time, the suicide attempts stopped. There is also a ‘Place and Mow’ function that is apparently good for mowing under furniture. However, the mower does need to be inside the perimeter wire, so don’t think, like I did, that you can set it going on another area of lawn. Once the Miimo got into a groove and all the early wire/base teething issues were resolved, things got a whole lot easier, and the hassle of set-up soon faded into insignificance. I set the Miimo to mow three times a week and the results were genuinely impressive.
Additional features of the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower
The App comes into its own when setting up a schedule, which you can do manually using the calendar function. Or using the SmartTimer that uses weather forecasts, air temperatures and other such voodoo to create the optimum schedule automatically.
You can also ask the App to adjust the schedule according to grass growth, so it keeps on top of fast-growing periods and chills out when the cutting season is coming to an end. Oh, and you can also build in ‘do not mow’ periods for times when you know you’ll be in the garden. Nobody needs a tiny chomper disturbing their BBQ after all.
How does the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower rate?
The biggest bugbear amongst online user reviews for the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower is the complicated set-up but it’s worth remembering that all robot mowers require the same perimeter wire installation before use. A longer base power cable would help immeasurably though.
There are also a fair few beefs about how wimpy the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower is when it comes across any kind of obstacle – real or imagined – and I did find resetting the PIN every time it thought it had hit an obstruction but actually just found a lump in the ground a bit tedious.
I also spotted a complaint about the fact the battery is not replaceable, so when it eventually wears out the entire mower becomes obsolete – not very eco-friendly. However, Honda does supply a five-year guarantee so presumably the battery is expected to last at least that long.
From my own experiences, I would 100% recommend the Miimo HRM 40 Live with the following caveats: your lawn is millpond flat; your outdoor socket is sufficiently close to the lawn; your paths are completely level with said lawn. If you can tick all three boxes, the Honda Miimo HRM 40 Live lawn mower is the robot for you!
About our review – and reviewer
Linda Clayton has been an interiors journalist for 20 years. Since graduating from Cardiff’s School for Journalism, she's happily writing about the latest trends, product reviews and giving her expert design advice for the likes of Gardeningetc, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Ideal Home and Real Homes ever since.
She currently lives in Devon with her husband and two children, and recently renovated and extended the house. The property was previously a commercial nursery and boasts a half-acre plot, giving her plenty of space to road test the latest lawn mowers, hot tubs and garden tools.
Linda fell for the interiors world soon after graduating Cardiff’s School for Journalism and has been happily writing for the likes of Gardeningetc, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Ideal Home and Real Homes for two decades.
Her current home in Devon was previously a commercial nursery – they grew the plants that garden centres buy. When she arrived in 2016, the half-acre plot boasted three massive polytunnels and a glass greenhouse to rival those at Kew Gardens. They sold the lot, levelled the ground, chucked down some grass seed, then focused on making the inside of the house habitable. This year the garden is back on her radar and she has grand plans to pave and plant out the front garden and around the house (currently resembling a builder’s yard), and possibly 'do something' about the barren field that is her lawn! @lindaclaytonwrites
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