When the EcoFlow Blade works, the results are fantastic. My yard looks great, and I didn’t have to spend an hour on a tractor. The Blade is quiet and capable. It’s also cheaply built, suffers from terrible software, and the installation is far from advertised.
I’ve been using the Blade for about two months, and now I have several expectations each time I use it. One, I’ll need to help the Blade sometime during its job by resetting it or moving an obstacle. Two, the mower will not dock properly, and I’ll have to shove it into the charging dock to recharge. Three, it will not mow the tall patches of grass fertilized by my dogs.
Frankly put, I’m disappointed and frustrated with the EcoFlow Blade. With its $2,899 price, I cannot recommend the unit and would highly advise shoppers to look at the much-less expensive Worx mowers or the Husqvarna mowers, which cost the same as the Blade but have been on the market for over ten years.
EcoFlow launched the Blade in Spring 2023, and it’s available for purchase online and through major retailers like Home Depot. But it’s not ready for general consumers, and I’m doubtful it will be ready. The company has shipped a handful of firmware updates that’s improved the Blade’s functionality. Yet fundamental problems remain, from its design to competitive features at its high price point.
My first review unit died after two weeks of use. The motor mount cracked, causing the blade to spin off-kilter and hit the safety housing. A company representative told me it was a pre-production unit. However, the second unit shipped in the same retail packaging as the first, and the second tester has an identical motor mount as the one that broke on the first tester.
Do a quick Google search. I’m not alone in my frustration around the Blade. Countless early adopters cite wireless connection problems, weak construction, and disappointment with the software. I’ve experienced the same issues with the two testers provided by EcoFlow.
At some points over the last month of testing, I’ve been so frustrated with this robot that I’ve considered letting it mow in the street.
EcoFlow got some parts of the Blade correct. The current product is a good starting point; the next version might be worthwhile.
The Blade’s design is lovely and highly functional. It looks like a farm tractor from Halo. The open wheel design starkly contrasts the Roomba-like form factor of other robotic mowers. If the tires get muddy, spray them with a hose. There’s even a large handle in the back to make carrying easier.
The torque is impressive. The rear wheels have huge, knobby tires that allow it to climb hills and power through mud, gravel, and deep grass. It takes a lot to get the Blade stuck.
The mower deck is held in place by two adjustable arms. The blade assembly floats over the grass, and the app slightly raises or lowers the cutting height.
The front wheels are clever. They sit 45 degrees to the body and have unidirectional tires, giving the rear-wheel drive mower a tight turning radius. Even though the mower lacks all-wheel drive, the front tire design and the knobby rear tires provide the necessary traction to tackle nearly any terrain. On one side of my house is a steep hill, and the other features a side that sloops quickly away from the house. Both sides are a challenge to my Club Cadet lawn tractor; the tires always spin on these hills. The EcoFlow Blade scoots along where the tractor slides.
The Blade’s downsides involve its blades. The little razor blades attach to a polycarbonate plate. This plate is connected to the motor. The motor sits in a divot constructed out of thin, cheap metal. A couple of screws hold it in place. The motor is not supported by anything else, and this is the critical flaw.
My first Blade review sample died when the motor mount cracked. How? I’m not sure. But I’m a DIY fixer, so I tore apart the unit with the goal of fixing it. I took off the blade unit. Four bolts hold on it. Next came off the motor mount assembly. It’s made of polycarbonate material and held in place with six hex-head bolts. The motor is held in place at the top of the mount with three or four bolts. This piece was shattered on my review unit. I was unable to remove all of the screws, so I was unable to remove the motor mount from the unit.
It was here I saw the problem. The shiny clean surface of the motor was peaking through a small crack on the motor mount. I wiggled the top of the motor. The crack wiggled open wider. I twisted the top of the motor, which ripped free of its cheap housing (with the top of the mount still attached). It’s easy to see why the mower failed: The motor doesn’t have enough support, and a catastrophic failure is near once the mount starts to fail.
I couldn’t fix it. EcoFlow sent me another unit.
The second review sample is still intact, but it has a different set of problems. This unit will only recharge with my help. The mower fails to fully return to its charging base. The Blade tries hard but doesn’t get far enough into the dock to recharge. This unit also forgets its wifi network credentials and requires a hard reset to connect to the app. The first unit didn’t have these issues.
EcoFlow says installation is easy. It’s not. It’s frustrating and limited by lackluster software.
I may have gone through more Blade installation routines than anyone outside the company. After all, I’m on my second unit and have tried more than a dozen mowing patterns with each. I never want to install another.
The installation sounds great on paper as it uses 4G and GPS to create a mowing area instead of a physical wire used in older robotic mowers.
There are three steps to the installation:
- Create the outside boundary of the yard
- If needed, designate no-mow zones
- If needed, create paths between different mowing zones
To install the Blade, the owner connects the mower to their phone. Using the app, the owner drives the mower around the yard. Controlling the Blade during installation is like pushing a block of ice on a frozen lake. The mower refuses to move in a straight line in manual mode. Occasionally, during setup, the mower will suddenly veer to a side and stop leaving a weird spot on the designated mowing area.
At the time of testing, there was no way to fix or modify the designated area. If the mower accidentally slides into your neighbor’s yard during setup (it will), you’re left with two options: Mow your neighbor’s yard, or delete the entire map and start the mapping from the beginning.
Another weird bug: If two designated mowing areas touch, the software combines them into one area. Said another way, if your front yard mowing area touches the back yard mowing area, the software automatically converts both areas into one gigantic area. This is not ideal as I want to control the two zones independently and not leave a strip of uncut grass between the two zones.
Both of the review units occasionally lost connection with the base unit. It’s unreliable, and I am still trying to determine why the connection drops.
Hit a button in the app or on the unit, and the Blade starts mowing with excitement. The mower travels to the farthest point from the base unit and starts its back-and-forth routine.
Front-facing radar and lidar help with object detection. It avoids poles and landscaping without issue. Dog poop? The Blade runs over it without a second thought.
Strangely, the front sensors also cause the Blade to avoid random weeds and tall grass — like the dark green grass from where my dogs pee. When approaching a wayward dandelion, the Blade stops short, thinks for 30 seconds, and casually sidesteps the weed with a Wall-E-like uninterested demeanor.
I have a typical suburban yard. It’s half an acre, with the house situated in the front half, leaving a short front yard and a large backyard. The size is larger than the recommended area — which in practice means the Blade needs to recharge to finish its job. Typically, it needs to recharge three times to mow the yard. If the mower requires user intervention, the mower will reset and insist on starting from the beginning. There needs to be a way to control where the mower begins or resumes. One side of my yard is mowed daily, and the far side is mowed about twice a week — it just depends if the mower successfully makes it through the yard and recharging cycle.
I’m going to drudge out that overused phrase: hardware is hard. EcoFlow is one of the fastest-growing consumer hardware companies, and its first robotic lawn mower is not worth your time or money.
There’s a thought process in Silicon Valley to ship fast and update often. It works with smartphones and game systems but not with lawn equipment. Consumers have certain expectations and requirements for home appliances like lawn mowers. It needs to be reliable, trustworthy, and hardy. The EcoFlow Blade is none of these things. It’s testy, fickle, and delicate.
The company is constantly pushing new firmware updates to the mower. I lost track of the number of updates EcoFlow has provided. This is a good sign. It shows the product is in active development and will improve over time. Some of my issues with the software will likely be resolved, but the weak and lackluster hardware is stuck.