Ryobi 48V HP 54″ Zero-Turn Mower Review
Ryobi 48V HP 54″ Model RY48140 Zero-Turn Electric Mower Review
Editors Note: This mower is a significant investment for users so we tested two separate units with two different editors. Wes reviewed one and is the primary editor on this review. Todd Fratzel, Editor-in-Chief, also reviewed and unit and contributed to this article. It is out hope that the perspective from two users and a full Summer of operation will give readers a great perspective on this mower.
54" Zero Turn Electric Riding Mower
Model number: RY48140
Power source: 48V Battery System
Weight: 796 Lbs.
This tool review will offer an initial impressions look at the Ryobi 48V HP zero-turn mower. The abbreviate version is; if Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights designed a Power-Wheels that also cut grass, you would end up with the Ryobi 48V HP mower. Hell yeah!
- Deck Size: 54″
- Weight: 796 Lbs.
- Cutting Height: 1.5″-4.5″
- Deck Height Positions: 12
- Deck Construction: Fabricated/ Welded Steel
- Battery System: 48V 115 Ah
- Charging: 120V Outlet
- Cutting Area Per Charge: Up to 3.5 Acres
- Replacement Batteries: Leoch Model LDC12-115
- Warranty: 3 Year Tool / 1 Year Battery
Unboxing the Ryobi RY48140
The mower was dropped shipped to my home for the review process. It comes packaged in a metal shipping crate and requires some basic assembly. Primarily the handlebars and seat. This is easily done with the provided hand tools, but an impact wrench and socket set greatly speed up the process.
The battery storage area is located under the seat. A total of four 12V batteries are used to power the mower. The batteries are connected in series with each other to provide the 115 Ah system. The batteries are lead-acid Leoch Model LDC12-115 that are commonly found in golf carts. Replacements can easily be found on Amazon as well as with power equipment shops. The battery cables must be connected during the assembly process.
There are a total of three electric motor housings on the deck assembly. Each housing has a twist-lock cable connection located on the top. This design is similar to the Ryobi 40V auger. The individual motors also resemble and sound similar to the Ryobi auger and walk-behind mowers.
The Testing Process
The last year has changed the lawn care and property maintenance world forever and my house was no exception. My home is situated on 2.3 acres that I cleared and leveled over the last few years. The lawn is maintained with a 54″ gas-powered zero-turn however, the Ryobi took over this task upon arrival. In addition, my wife has taken over the responsibility of cutting the grass. It became a welcome escape for her while working from home for the majority of the last year. The majority of the feedback on the performance of the Ryobi 48V HP zero turn will come from her firsthand experience.
Perspective such as this is applicable now more than ever. Especially when considering the number of homeowners who discovered the joys of lawn care over the last year.
Standout Features of the Ryobi 48V HP Zero-Turn
Fabricated Steel Mower Deck
The 54″ cutting deck on the Ryobi is made from 10 gauge welded steel. This is an extremely desirable feature of the mower because it adds strength and durability to the machine. The majority of homeowner machines have stamped steel decks which are far more prone to bending and damage. The Ryobi deck can easily be leveled. There is a simple process for this outlined in the manual.
Cup Holders and Storage
There is an unbelievable amount of storage on this mower. The left side features two deep cup holders as well as a storage compartment with a spring-loaded lid. The right side features an additional storage compartment with a spring-loaded lid. These compartments are large enough for big phones and other devices. Or to pack a lunch.
These are features that I typically don’t pay much attention to. Usually, my phone goes in my pocket, and music is played on a Bluetooth headset. But my wife was a huge fan of this option. She reminded me that women’s pants or leggings typically don’t have pockets. Which I never would have thought of on my own. My leggings are strictly for yoga.
USB Charging Capability
A single USB charging port is located on the right console. This port provides 1A output and has a spring-loaded cover. A nice bonus feature, although I have not found a need to use it. On the other hand, Todd found it very useful as he lives in a rural area and his phone is roaming while mowing and it was handy charging as he mowed.
Manual Parking Brake
There is a large manual brake pedal on the center of the deck. This brake works well for slowing the machine down on hills or for sudden quick stops. The brake latches into place to serve as a parking brake as well. The parking brake engages and disengages easily using the toe area of the foot.
Easy to Use Control Panel
All of the controls on the Ryobi RY48140 are simple and intuitive to use. The mower deck PTO control is a large upward pull knob. This design is consistent with the manual of operations for traditional mowers. Individual push buttons control the LED light bar, as well as lower-speed drive and cut modes. The large circular battery gauge clearly displays the charge level of the mower.
Fast and Easy Deck Height Adjustment
The Ryobi deck height is adjusted with a large manual lever. The lever is easy to reach and move while seated. There are a total of twelve cutting height positions that range from 1.5″ to 4.5″. There is a plastic “Auto Stop Plug” that Ryobi includes as well. This plug is inserted at a preferred deck height and acts as a quick reference point. Adjusting the deck is extremely easy although I find myself guessing the height occasionally due to a lack of labeling on some of the detents.
The Ryobi Wants to Go Fast
With a top speed of 7 MPH during travel or cutting, the Ryobi 48V HP mower is built for speed. There is a separate brushless electric motor attached to each rear wheel. While 7 MPH may not be the fastest mower on the market, the responsiveness and on-demand torque of the Ryobi 48V HP give the operator an experience that is unmatched. The power and speed are instantaneous from the second the controls are moved. There is zero lag or delay. This experience shocked me at first, but I grew to immediately love it. Similar to the first time sitting in an electric car and experiencing the break-force torque when putting the pedal to the floor.
However, this on-demand speed is somewhat of a hindrance to the Ryobi too. If not careful, it is extremely easy to whip the mower from side to side during tight turns, similar to over-steering in a skid-steer machine. Over-steering with the Ryobi will cause burnout spots in your lawn damaging the grass. The low-speed setting on the mower will limit the top speed to 5 MPH and reduce the possibility of this. The low-speed option is also recommended for slopes, tight spaces, and inexperienced users.
Ryobi 48V HP Cutting Performance
The quality of cut produced by the Ryobi 54″ zero-turn is excellent during ideal mowing conditions. The three factory OEM blades are sharp and efficient. While the quality of cut may not be up to standard with elite golf courses, it was more than acceptable on my very average grass. As I mentioned before, the ability of the operator to control the speed of the machine will be a huge factor in determining cut quality. In the picture below, grass that was pushed over instead of cut can be seen. This is common at first when learning to adjust the mowing speed for the density of the grass. The blade speed won’t match the drive speed in demanding cuts without operator adjustment.
The side discharge chute on the cutting deck does a great job at broadcasting the clippings and keeping the deck cleared. A bagging attachment is available separate from Ryobi.
King of the Hill?
Steep hills and zero-turns are not a great pairing. Unfortunately, zero-turn mowers are inherently prone to flipping over on steep grades due to their design. The Ryobi is no exception to this issue. Due to the weight distribution and operator positioning of the 48V HP, there is a true risk of tipping backward if attacking a hill head-on. A controlled downhill cut is a much safer tactic. I discuss the weight distribution further, later on in this article.
Controlling the mower on the downhill also presents some issues. The mower wants to move forward once it gains momentum. As an operator, I was forced to pull backward on the control levers aggressively to slow the mower down. At this time, it often experienced a strange glitch in the control system. While pulling all the way backwards in the controls, the drive system would shudder and continue moving forward. The controls would need to be brought back to a neutral position to be reset and then pulled backwards again. This process often caused the wheels to lose traction and spin out or lock up and slide causing burnouts in the grass.
This issue only occurred during downhill cutting on steep grades. One of the best parts about what we do is the ability to discuss issues with manufacturers. The Tool Box Buzz crew brought our concerns to Ryobi and met with their project management team. They shared with us that the steering issue is likely the result of a built-in fail safe to preserve the battery system. They informed us that they are working on an improvement to fix this issue.
When climbing steep slopes the mower seems to lack sufficient power. This is odd at first because the mower itself can churn through some incredibly thick grass. When we inquired about why the mower struggled up slopes we were told it’s a balancing act between power demand (amp draw) on the batteries and keeping the batteries in a safe zone. Below is an image in Todd’s yard showing approximately the steepest slope he could drive up. That slope is roughly 30 degrees and while the mower was able to climb it, it was definitely at the top of it’s range. We suspect newer versions of this type of mower will greatly benefit from upgrading to Li-Ion batteries instead of the lead core ones being used in this version.
Ryobi 54″ Zero-Turn Battery Run-Time
The elephant in the room is how long does the battery last? Well, that’s complicated. According to Ryobi, the 48V HP zero-turn will cut up to 3.5 Acres on a single charge. This capability is possible thanks to the huge 115 Ah battery system I mentioned earlier. I am unclear how Ryobi determined or calculated this number, but I am unable to replicate the testing exactly. Instead, I can share my real-world experiences with the battery system’s performance.
My lot is 2.3 total acres. The majority of it has been cleared and leveled with a lawn planted. Under regularly maintained conditions, I am able to cut the full lawn, including backyard hills, sides of the driveway, etc… approximately 1.75 times on a full charge. However, we experienced a week and a half of rain and the grass grew in some areas between 8-10″ tall. In conditions such as these, the batteries were completely depleted after 1:23:23 of continuous cutting.
I also experienced somewhat compromised performance cutting with a partially charged battery. Starting at 40% charged, cutting a week’s worth of regular growth, the battery dropped to 5% charge in 32:46. At 5% battery life the cutting deck automatically shuts off to maintain enough power to get the mower back to an outlet. Cutting in the lower cut speed mode will conserve power, but without consciously adjusting the speed as well this mode will lead to more missed areas of cutting.
Todd’s yard is 1.33 acres and not very flat. In fact, most of it has some slopes to it. He was able to mow the entire yard on approximately 85% of the battery charge leaving just around 15% battery life at the end of mowing.
48V HP Battery Charging
The large battery inverter that Ryobi includes to charge the 48V HP system features 60 Hz of output. The charging port is located on the rear of the mower, behind the seat. Charge time is stated as “overnight” and that has proven true in my experience. When completely depleted, the batteries will require between 10-12 hours to fully charge.
Price and Availability
The Ryobi RY48140 is available now as a Home Depot exclusive. At the time of writing this article, the 54″ mower retails for $4,999.00. That is a serious price tag, but this is a serious piece of outdoor power equipment. The optional bagger assembly costs an additional $349.00. Even at base pricing, the Ryobi is in the same price range as an entry-level commercial gas-powered zero-turn. The Ryobi warranty covers the mower for three years and the batteries for one year.
Is the high price tag worth it? I can’t answer that in a general blanket statement. This mower is the future. That $5K is buying the end-user a front-row seat to the future of lawn care and OPE. The ease of maintenance, zero emissions, incredible performance capability, and unbelievably quiet operation will all make that initial expense easier to justify in my opinion.
To purchase the Ryobi 48V HP zero-turn mower directly from Home Depot, follow the Buy Now button below.
Room for Improvement With the Ryobi 48V HP
As much as I enjoyed using the Ryobi during testing, there were several issues I discovered that I feel warrant discussion. The first being the overall size and balance of the mower. All four batteries are located in a storage compartment under the seat. This shortens the wheelbase of the mower, however, it concentrates the majority of the weight and bulk of the machine to the same area as the seat. This places the operator higher up in the area and results in a pretty rough ride. My wife constantly described the Ryobi as “bouncy”. It is excellent and smooth while riding over flat ground, however, it hits dips and divots hard.
At 796 pounds, the Ryobi is heavier than my 52″ gas mower. In spite of that, the Ryobi still feels top-heavy and awkward at times. Particularly on steep slopes or inclines. I felt the Ryobi slide more when dialing back the speed downhill.
The handlebar construction is also a shortcoming. The control bars mount via two bolts that allow for some adjustability and pivoting for individual users. The extra room for adjustment also means that the handlebars can experience unwanted movement should the bolts become loose. This happened to me several times when cutting and compromised my ability to control the mower properly.
It became enough of a reoccurring issue that I have to check the bolts for tightness before taking the machine out. The issue occurs regardless of the use of thread locking compound. I would happily sacrifice adjustability for solidly securing handlebars. Ryobi told us they are addressing this issue in future releases.
Overall Impressions of the Ryobi RY48140
Ryobi has always maintained a stronghold in the battery OPE market with its 18V and 40V offerings. However, this new 48V HP 54″ zero-turn mower is a quantum leap forward for the future of battery lawn care. Even now after having logged hours of use between my wife and I, I am still amazed every time I flip the power switch and take off.
I failed to mention how quiet this machine is overall. While cutting, the decibel output measures just under 80 decibels at the ear. A reduction of noise like this enhances the enjoyment of using the mower exponentially. It becomes almost meditative cutting the grass while enjoying a podcast or music and not blowing out my eardrums trying to hear the media over the motor.
When considering the quiet engine noise, speed, and power, along with reduced emissions and maintenance, I think it is clear why I believe the Ryobi to be the future of lawn care. While this machine is not designed or built for commercial use, it will serve the demanding homeowner or landowner exceptionally well.
The initial investment is steep, but the benefits are so great that I would highly recommend taking the plunge if you are considering upgrading your own lawn care capabilities. In the meantime, I plan to continue to run the Ryobi as a direct comparison to my Scag 52″ Liberty Z zero-turn. I will follow up on this review with a comparison article when finished.
Ryobi 48V HP 54″ Zero-Turn Mower Video Review
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