This question pops up all the time on online forums and social media, and it’s not really surprising. Ryobi manufactures some seriously inexpensive tools and when you run into something that seems too good to be true – the next natural question is – are Ryobi tools any good?
The answer depends somewhat on how you plan to use these tools. Ryobi tools aren’t up to the rigors of daily professional contractor use – but that’s not really what they’re designed for. Ryobi tools are perfectly adequate for the typical homeowner and DIY use, and can actually work well in a professional setting providing you’re not running the tool all day long.
Let’s take a deeper dive into Ryobi tools, see how well they stack up against other tool brands, and hopefully give you a better idea if these tools would be right for you.
What are Ryobi’s Strengths?
If you’re considering purchasing one or more Ryobi tools, then odds are their low price is what caught your eye in the first place. This shouldn’t be seen as a negative though, as some of their tool prices are so low you’ll need to do a double take!
Ryobi, like many other tool manufacturers, offers tools at several different price points within their brand. They tend to offer a mid-priced option as well as a budget option. If you look at their drill/driver offerings there is a mid-priced One+ 18V drill retailing for $70, as well as a cheaper One + 18V drill that retails for $28.95.
Having a wide array of tools on offer is a major plus, as it means you can find the ideal one for your budget and needs within the battery system you’ve already opted into.
If you compare the cost of Ryobi tools to a premium tool brand like DeWalt or Milwaukee, you will save anywhere from 50% to 60% per tool. Add that up to an entire tool collection, and you’re going to end up with a lot of extra money in your pocket.
A major plus of the Ryobi lineup is their focus on backward compatibility for their battery systems. That means you can use any Ryobi batteries in any of their One+ tool lineup.
That includes using older NiCad batteries in newer One+ tools designed for lithium-ion batteries, which is something I haven’t seen with any other tool manufacturer. They are also committed to maintaining this battery compatibility going forward, so there is no need to worry about your tools or batteries becoming obsolete over time.
You don’t need to keep purchasing new batteries to go with every new tool you purchase, this not only makes things convenient, it will also save you significant money over time.
In fact, I’d be more concerned about your batteries dying or tools breaking down before I’d have any worries about tools/ batteries becoming outdated.
Ryobi tools are sold primarily through the home depot, so you can easily find their entire lineup at any home depot location. They are also sold online through amazon and other retailers to some extent, although the selection may not be as wide as the one available through home depot.
Ryobi has done a fantastic job at steadily increasing its tool selection over time. They are consistently adding new tools all the time, which means you can have confidence buying into their tool system.
As of 2022, their One+ tool lineup has over 250 separate tools, putting them on par with other large tool manufacturers like Milwaukee, DeWalt, and Craftsman.
They also have an impressive array of 40V outdoor lawn and garden tools, including blowers, chainsaws, mowers, trimmers, and snow blowers.
While Ryobi is undoubtedly a budget tool brand, that doesn’t mean they’re only pumping out cheap drills and sanders. The brand benefits tremendously from its parent company TTI’s collective knowledge of continuous innovation and quality improvement.
TTI is the parent company of several other well-known brands including Milwaukee, Empire, Hoover, and Dirt Devil.
They also have a surprising number of unique and innovative tools, including an impressive 80V electric riding mower, a 40V brushless crosscut, a self-propelled mower, and their commitment to constantly improving battery technology.
Ryobi offers a competitive three-year limited warranty on its cordless 18V One+ tools, which is above average for a budget toolmaker. It also offers a 5-year limited warranty on its 40V Lithium-Ion outdoor tools.
This warranty length is more typical for a premium brand like DeWalt or Milwaukee, so this is undoubtedly an area of strength for the Ryobi brand.
What are Ryobi’s Weaknesses?
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies when it comes to Ryobi. While the brand has a strong reputation for producing quality tools, there are some issues that need to be addressed.
Ryobi tools aren’t designed for heavy-duty commercial use, so you can’t expect them to be as durable when put under heavy stress. That said, they are more than durable enough for DIY work, and some pros even swear by them, although that is somewhat rare.
This is immediately noticeable as soon as you pick up a Ryobi tool. They simply aren’t built to the same level of fit and finish as high-end tool brands.
They tend to lack the shock and vibration resistance that premium-brand tools possess, which partly has to do with the fact they’re not built for heavy-duty daily use.
The older and cheaper Ryobi tools tend to feature brushed rather than brushless motors. These tools aren’t appropriate for heavy-duty use, as their brushed motors will burn out if you push them too far.
Newer Ryobi tools tend to feature brushless motors, especially their brushless HP (high performance) tools, which are more geared towards commercial and heavy-duty use.
There have been some complaints about Ryobi battery longevity. Some users report their batteries conking out after just one year – although this may be an outlier.
Ryobi batteries have three-year warranties in most instances, so you have a good deal of coverage even in the case where your battery goes bad.
Where are Ryobi Tools Made?
Ryobi tools are primarily manufactured in China; however, this is the case with nearly every major tool manufacturer, even the so-called premium ones. This is not a reason to discount them in my opinion, as even DeWalt, Milwaukee, and the like manufacture a large percentage of their tools in China and other low-cost countries.
How Do Ryobi Tools Compare to Other Brands?
If you’re wondering how well Ryobi tools stack up against other popular brands – don’t worry – you’re not alone. I’ll briefly compare Ryobi with several popular brands that people often comparison shop with.
Ryobi vs Black & Decker
If you’re looking into acquiring some entry-level tools, odds are you’re taking a look at both Ryobi and Black & Decker. Ryobi and Black & Decker are both similarly positioned in terms of price and target demographic, so there is a lot of overlap between the two brands.
While both brands are similarly priced, the consensus among most users is that Ryobi tools are of superior quality. They also offer 3-year warranties on most tools, whereas Black & Decker offers 2-year warranties on most of their power tools.
Ryobi vs Craftsman
Another two budget-priced tool brands are Ryobi and Craftsman. While they are many similarities between the two brands, Craftsman tends to sell a wider range of hand tools and mechanics tools, whereas Ryobi has a wider selection of power tools and outdoor tools.
Ryobi tends to offer slightly better warranties than Craftsman, with either 3-year or 5-year limited warranties for most power tools. Craftsman offers mostly 3-year limited warranties on power tools, although some feature 1-year or 2-year warranties.
Ryobi vs Ridgid
Ridgid is generally considered a step above Ryobi both in terms of performance and price, but they often get compared as they are both sold primarily through home depot. Both Ridgid and Ryobi are sold under the TTI umbrella, hence they share a lot of similarities.
Generally speaking, Ryobi is targeted toward the homeowner/DIYer, whereas Ridgid targets the tradesman and high-end DIYer. Consequently, Ridgid tools tend to be of higher quality and will hold up better to heavy-duty contractor usage.
When it comes to warranties, Ridgid takes the cake with their limited service agreement on all eligible power tools. This means Ridgid will repair or replace any tool should it break from normal wear and tear. This includes both mechanical and electrical components.
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