Ryobi 40V HP Outdoor Power Equipment Review
Ryobi 40V HP Outdoor Power Equipment (Models RY401150, RY40290, & RY40440)
Spring is here! That means sunshine, warmer weather, and most importantly getting outside to enjoy them more often. It also means re-dedicating time for yard work though. So this year I got the chance to get the yard looking great while testing out the new Ryobi 40V HP Outdoor Power Equipment. I used Ryobi’s 40V-series 21″ crosscut mower, carbon-fiber shaft string trimmer, and backpack blower on my initial spring yard cleanup. The new 40V HP line-up reportedly offers increases in power, ergonomics, and overall runtime. And I had plenty of lawn, overgrown weeds and shrubs, and decaying leaves to put them to the test. Now let’s get to the key highlights, notes and takeaways from the experience.
21″ Crosscut Self-Propelled Mower |
Ryobi’s 21″ 40V HP self-propelled mower is a fully-featured mower comparable on nearly every level with its gas-fed ancestors. I was skeptical that a battery mower platform work has the power, and especially runtime to handle my 3/4ish acre yard in a single charge. My lawn size is a pretty decent testbed not only because of size (anything larger would start getting into riding mower territory) but also because of multiple spots with protruding roots, crushed-rock edges, and soil rippling near my leach field. Let’s start with the Specifications and Features for the RY401550
Specifications & Features
- Cutting Height: 1.5 – 4 in.
- Deck Size: 21 in.
- Height Adjustments: 7-Positions, single-side
- Functions: Side-discharge, Bagging, or Mulching
- Estimated Run time: 70 Mins (2x 6Ah batteries)
- Weight 75 lbs
- Cross-cut, dual-blade design
- One-touch folding handle
- Removable bag & Mulching plug
- Brushless Motor
- Variable-speed self-propelled adjustability
- Automatic LED light
- Dual battery mounting w/ single battery selection switch
Overall Power & Performance
The RY401150 40V mower has very good power which was something I was concerned about moving to a battery-based mower. Aside from being significantly quieter than a gas-guzzling mower, I didn’t notice any drop-off in performance. I would say the overall performance was better. Why? Because of the reliability of a battery vs. gas platform. With the RY401150 there was never a question of how many pulls to get it going? or do I need to clean the carbs? or did I winterize it correctly when I stored it in the unheated shed? This is the case for any battery-based mower though. Where the RY401150 really sets itself apart is its simple high-torque performance and unique dual-bladed design which excels at mulching (my go-to cutting set-up)! I had my 11-year-old test it out and he handled the RY401150 with no problems.
I also appreciated the dual-battery design of the RY401150 40V mower. You load 2x 40V batteries into the motor housing and use a large switch to select which battery to run off of. When the battery is dead you flip the switch to use up the other one. It’s a very user-friendly design. It also eliminates the need to stop cutting to do a battery swap out in the middle of the yard. It made me feel better about the battery drain of the constantly running (and usually not helpful) LED light. But I guess if you like to (or are forced to) night cut then it would be a nice feature.
Adjustable Self-Propelled Design
The RY401150 also features an adjustable self-propelled design. It’s pretty straightforward to operate and has 2 advantages. First, it allows you to match the cutting speed to the shape of the lawn. Rough or long lawn? drop the cutting speed down. Trying to mow before the light runs out (more on the LED in a bit)? crank the speed up to max. Second, it also allows you to conserve battery life by lowering the self-propelled speed. It’s not a huge battery saver but gives you increased functionality so I thought it was worth a mention.
Crosscut Blade Design
I had never used a dual-bladed, cross-cut set-up before. I’ve used a side-by-side dual-bladed deck before on a zero-turn mower plenty of times. This is a different beast. It has 2 advantages that were obvious pretty quickly. First, it offers increased lift of the cut grass. Then once lifted, it optimized the movement of the cut grass. What is that movement? It depends on which mode you are going for. If you have the mulching plugin then it recirculates the clippings so they get repeatedly cut and mulch the grass. It worked awesome for this purpose. With the chute mounted it’s supposed to optimize the side exit of the grass. It did, but not any better or more distinctly than a standard blade set-up in my opinion. It’s also supposed to help in the bagging mode. Again, I didn’t see a huge advantage here over standard set-ups. Overall though it is a great feature just for the mulching performance!
Final Thoughts | RY401150
The RY401150 40V mower is a top-of-the-line cordless mower. And it’s Ryobi’s flagship self-propelled mower for a reason. It is expensive compared to their other self=propelled mowers but you get what you pay for. And for the great battery life, power, and mulching capability of this mower, I’d say it’s worth the investment. The fact that it comes with 2x 6Ah 40V batteries (which are usually $179 each) means you are essentially getting the mower for 63% off. That’s a pretty hefty discount. And a good baseline to build an outdoor tool arsenal around if you haven’t already committed to another manufacturer lineup.
Carbon Fiber Attachment-Capable String Trimmer | RY40290
While a mower may be my most used outdoor tool, a string trimmer is probably my favorite. I love the clean look of a freshly trimmed house and landscaping. It can also be one of the most frustrating. In my experience, string trimmers are notorious for choke issues or trouble starting due to carburetor problems. I didn’t make the switch to a battery platform before because I was suspect about equivalent power and tank vs charge longevity. The RY40290 made me feel foolish for waiting to make the leap!
Specifications & Features
- Includes: Trimmer (40V) + 4Ah Battery (1x) + Charger
- Cutting Line: 0.080″ or 0.095″ diameter
- Shaft: Straight
- Max Cutting Diameter: 15″
- Weight: 11.6 lbs
- Attachment-capable with EXPAND-IT add-ons
- Carbon Fiber shaft
- Bump Feed head
- Variable-speed trigger
- 4x Faster charging
- Brushless Motor
Carbon Fiber Shaft & Attachment System
I was really excited about the carbon fiber shaft on the string trimmer. The carbon fiber shaft decreases the overall trimmer weight. It will also likely last longer than a steel shaft since it won’t rust.
I was disappointed because the detent button to hold it in place didn’t recess into the locking hole all the way. And the rivet that holds it in place slightly catches on the receiving tube increasing the wear on the joining connection. This was the single fault I found in the attachment and I list it as minor because the locking lever still holds the shaft very securely in place. I had no issues using the trimmer and loved most other design features it included.
The high/Low power options are especially nice to give the tradeoff between extended battery life and increased power. I found that the low setting was sufficient for the vast majority of trimming I needed to do. I also liked the optional 15″ vs 17″ string length. The set screws to make the adjustment required a torq bit but it was an easy swap. The best feature though is the easy-load, bump feed trimmer head. Bump feed heads are the universal standard but the RY40290 has an integrated one-way load and easy alignment system that was very user-friendly. The entire head also comes off the head base making string loading even easier.
Brush Cutting Attachment
I have a ton of thornbushes behind my house. I also have a bunch of vines growing up the trunks and branches of my otherwise healthy oak trees. This is a problem. Over time the vines and weeds will eventually choke out and kill the Oaks leaving them at risk to fall down in one of Cape Cod’s many gale-like winter or spring storms. So naturally, I out the brush cutting attachment to use right off the bat. And I took a lot of joy in cutting back these pesky plants.
The brush cutter worked as expected. I did make one modification though; I used my angle grinder to sharpen the leading edges of the brush cutting blade. Once done, the cutter head worked like a champ. The motor supplied ample power to cut for 45+ minutes on a single 5Ah battery. In fact, the weight was so well balanced, that my 10-year-old son used it for 30 minutes without issue.
Pole Saw Attachment
Now that the weeds were down, I needed to take down a few lower limbs killed by the aforementioned vines. I hooked up the pole saw attachment in about 90 seconds and topped it off with oil and had it mounted. Then I started cutting limbs comfortable up to about 11 ft. (the saw says 12 ft max).
The gripping paws and freshly sharpened blade tore through 4-5″ limbs with ease. I found that little forward pressure was required. The saw wasn’t overly ‘thirsty’ and I didn’t need to refill the bar and chain oil reservoir after about 30 minutes of consistent cutting. I appreciated the angle of the blade as this made it easier to get a downward pressure while cutting and let gravity help me with little extra effort. 40V of power was more than sufficient for any limbs I needed to cut and my 4Ah battery lasted about 35 mins of constant cutting. Not bad!
There was one knock on the pole saw attachment though. When the extension was attached with both sections, the saw blade twisted after 5-7 minutes of use. I attribute this to 2 factors. First, the locking knob on the second extension length is poorly designed. Ryobi should consider using the same locking knob system as on the main section, which is superb. Second, the detent button is insufficient to hold the correct angle of the second extension. After about 20 minutes of intermittend cutting the saw head had twisted about 20 degrees and was not ergonomically-friendly anymore.
Final Thoughts | RY40290
The RY40290 was my favorite tool tested. No comparison. I loved the ease of swapping out the attachments and the range of uses for this tool system. The locking mechanism to secure the attachments was rock solid. I also appreciated the hanging caps that came with every tool. The only issue I had was with the locking button on the carbon fiber string trimmer attachment. The button seemed to permanently stay semi-depressed and didn’t really lock into place when attached. Because of the locking knob though, this wasn’t an issue during use. The small rivet also protruded a bit and caught on the receiving shaft during connection. I am curious to see if this causes increased wear over time and shortens that string trimmer shaft operational life but suspect I won’t know until after a couple of seasons of use. Again, overall this is my favorite tool, performed exceptionally well, and seemed designed with every detail in mind. Kudos to Ryobi!
625 CFM Backpack Blower | RY40440
The RY40440 is a great backpack blower. It delivers high-end and adjustable power in a compact 40V battery-powered unit. I put it to use on one of the toughest tasks I could find; cleaning up last fall’s compacted and wet leaves. I knew if it could handle that then fresh-cut grass or newly fallen leaves didn’t stand a chance. Overall it performed very well.
Specifications & Features
- Includes: Blower (40V) + 5Ah battery (1x) + Charger
- Noise Level: 59 Decibels
- CFM: 625
- MPH: 145
- Throttle” Variable speed
- Weight: 21.1 lbs
- Run Time: 1 or 2 batteries (30/ or 60 mins)
- Dual active battery ports
- Up to 30 mins of runtime on 1x battery
- Optional 2nd battery port
- Variable-speed trigger + Turbo button
- Brushless motor
Power & Performance
There were a few features that I especially appreciated on this blower. First was the design feature allowing me to load 2 batteries at the same time. I was skeptical that a backpack blower would last long enough to finish the job I had in mind. With 2x batteries loaded I had enough juice and then some. after about 30 minutes of blowing I used up a single 4AH battery and barely touched the second. I also enjoyed the turbo boost option. It let me get to ground level without it. It was also on a convenient 2-minute timer but that I could shut it off with an extra click of the button.
Ergonomic Design and Adjustability
The second area I focused on with the RY40440 was comfort. This is a critical feature of any tool I have to wear, especially for potentially extended times. I appreciated that there were ample adjustments I could make with the straps on this blower. You can tighten from the bottom or the top (for changing the height-on-back). There is also an option to connect them at my chest level.
There are a few improvements I would like to see Ryobi consider with the RY40440 though. First, then need to add a thicker, padded waist strap. This would get much of the weight and tension off the operator’s shoulders and transfer it to the legs. Second, Ryobi should add thicker padding to the back. Maybe even some cooling gel padding. After about 20 minutes of use, the plastic behind the thin padding was wearing on my back. The last point to note, and this is something I don’t often comment on, was the challenge of assembling the RY40440. I am a pretty savvy user and I still struggled to force the blower tube connections together. It took an extreme amount of force to get them connected properly. This isn’t all bad as they are extremely secure now but I foresee many DIY homeowners with less experience struggling with this aspect.
Final Thoughts | RY40440
The power and performance of the Ryobi40440 are great and I’m glad I have it for serious clean-up jobs. The set-up and long-term comfort leave some to be desired. The fixes to make this a top-notch backpack blower seem easy. I would still not hesitate to recommend this blower to anyone already owning tools in Ryobi’s 40V line-up though. If they didn’t this probably won’t be the 40V tool to sell them on it though. At least not yet…
Final Thoughts | Ryobi 40V HP Outdoor Power Equipment
The Ryobi 40V outdoor power equipment series is a well-designed and easy-to-use set of tools. They provided all the power and capability I was hoping for in a 40V set of tools. They have some great features that make them convenient, durable, and comfortable. I think new users will be surprised by the overall power they provide. The batteries are rugged and heavy. This is great for overall battery life but does add weight to some already sturdy tools. Luckily 2 of them offer the operator the ability to load with single or dual batteries. These tools also look nice. That’s certainly not my top consideration but it still counts for something. Overall I was pleased with this suite of tools and look forward to using them for seasons to come!
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