Ryobi 40V System

If you're tired of smelling like gas every time you mow, battery powered yard tools have come a LONG way.

Ryobi 40V System
Making dumping smelly gas lawn equipment easy

I've used the same Lawnboy lawnmower since I started mowing in the 80s, only ever had basic maintenance, blades, plugs, coils, etc., but all that time it's been a pretty great mower, to be honest. And my yard is so small I only use about 3 gallons of gas a year between the mower and the weeder.  But I was tired of mixing gas, being out of gas at just the wrong moment, needing gas right at the end of the season, smelling like gas, smelling like exhaust.  I'm a very practical guy and did not want to get a new mower when mine was working perfectly fine (minus the coil that will only start when it's between and 50-80F outside, the pull string I've trimmed 3-4 times, the governor that's Jerry-rigged wide open, the throttle that's full-send because the cable is busted) but the old mower was increasingly picky about when it would start (not too cold, not too hot, NEVER after it's been running) and it seemed like every year it got harder to start even it did (although it's debatable if that's the mowers fault or mine).

On Father's Day Home Depot has a great sale on Ryobi products (and randomly other times of the year) so I grabbed a Ryobi 40V 20" push mower in 2022.  The following year, I picked up the Ryobi 40V brushed (cheaper) string trimmer.  Both use the same 40V battery, the mower came with a 6A  battery and the trimmer came with a 4A.

Ryobi 40V Push Mower

The mower is lightweight, quiet, cuts pretty well, and does everything I need it to do.  I had a little "range anxiety" and worried that the mower wouldn't even cut my entire yard in a single charge or would not work well long term, however, since I can mow my entire front and back yard in about 25 minutes this isn't even a concern with this mower.  By looking at how much battery charge remains after numerous mows, I estimate I can mow the yard twice on a single charge of the 40V 6A battery, probably could mow it a third time but there is no point draining the battery that much.  I just charge it every other mow unless the grass was exceptionally thick and it had to work harder.

The mower is exceptionally easy to use; slap the battery in it, pull the safety lever, and push the button.  No fuss.  It works great throwing the grass, bagging the grass, or mulching the grass.  I've always bagged as the old mower just didn't do a good job mulching and left full-sized pieces of grass all over, but this mower does such a good job I haven't used the bag except for the first few mows or during the fall to pick up leaves.  Cleanup after mowing is super easy, I just open a few flaps brush the grass out of it, and put it away.  I've not had any grass stick or build up anywhere on the mower, but I also do not mow when the grass is damp or wet.  The main chassis of the mower is a very durable plastic material which means that it is never going to rust from acidic grass buildup; and no this does not mean it's going to break if you bump it into something or run over a stick or a rock.

The system to raise/lower it also works really well and it adjusts all four wheels at the same time.  It'll go from 1.5" deck height to 4" deck height, and when I measured it, I found it to really be set to those heights.  I wish they had marked the gates where you put the handle for adjusting the deck height but I just took a paint pen and did this myself.  Also, put an F mark for fall mowing (2") and an S for spring mowing (3") so I wouldn't forget.  I have had it bump into my picnic table and adjust itself at least once, so it's a good idea to check it before you mow but it's generally set-and-forget.  The nose of the mower is a little long; mowing up to something will miss about three inches of grass but I am pretty sure that for most modern mowers this is a standard "feature" for safety.  It's fine, I just mow along sideways as possible or I just get it when I get out the trimmer.

If space is at a premium, you can fold the handle in and over the mower and even store the mower on its back vertically (where the catch bag attaches) to save more floor space, however, I just leave mine ready to mow and put a bag over it to keep it clean and dry.

The only time I've been a little disappointed with the mower is mulching leaves in the fall.  It doesn't seem to have quite as much power to pull up the leaves as the old mower did.  That said, if the leaves are dry and loose and I go fairly slow it does a good enough job picking them up.  It'll fill a bag every few minutes so it is picking up quite a bit.  I have water maples and its leaves are pretty small and thin, not sure how well the mower would do with thick and heavy oak leaves but it's been fine, just feels like I have to go a little slower and give it more time.  I hate raking leaves and the mower does a fine job of getting them up for me.  I may "mow the leaves" once a week in the fall once the leaves start falling but I'd rather do that than rake a few times.

One minor annoyance with the mower is I wish its wheels had some amount of give to them, a bit of suspension so as they hit bumps the whole mower wouldn't bounce a little.  My yard is pretty bumpy and uneven and the mower is so light it sometimes bounces along a little.  This said, I've never really noticed any issues with the way it is cutting, it does a a pretty consistent job no matter what.

The one thing on the mower that feels really cheap and most likely to scratch up, break, or fail in some way is the cover on the top of the mower that covers the battery.  Besides keeping grass/dust or potentially rain out of the battery area, this cover is mostly just for aesthetics, but it's a very flimsy soft opaque plastic and I'm always paranoid about pushing the mower under things and banging into it.

Ryobi 40V String Trimmer

I was still using my old gas string trimmer in 2022, but on Father's Day 2023, I got myself the Ryobi string trimmer to accompany the mower.  I picked up the cheaper (brushed) model with the system that can swap the trimmer head out for other tools.  I won't likely ever use that, but I have broken the trimmer down to put it in the car a few times and the ability to do that is really nice as it makes the trimmer half the size.  I can't say too much about the trimmer honestly, it just works.  It feeds string well, loads string exceptionally easily, and has tons of power.  Most of the time I'm modulating the trigger and only giving it maybe 25% power to do typical grass trimming.  Edging I get up maybe closer to 75%, but rarely have I felt I needed 100% for any period of time.  The only minor thing I don't like about the trimmer is it's a little hard to modulate the trigger and with the battery at the very end, it's a little off balance.  I have a trimmer harness and don't have a lot to trim so it's really not a big deal.

What's Next?

Not sure; those are the two tools I use all the time that I wanted to upgrade.  I have a Ryobi corded garden tiller that I really like but have no need to change it out for a cordless model.  I probably should get a blower so I blow my grass trimmings off, but there are lots of other Ryobi tools.  I'm pretty sold on the 40V lineup.  If you have a reasonably small property they'll work great.  I'd say if you currently have a push mower and it takes you around an hour to mow or less these would work great for you.  Most times during the later part of summer when the grass is thinner the mower is only down to 3 of 4 bars and would likely easily get three mows out of a single battery, or around 75 total minutes.  But I don't like discharging lithium batteries much below 40% when I can avoid it, so as mentioned I generally charge every other mow.

I used to dread mowing, but now I don't mind it at all.  The mower always starts, I am never out of gas, and I don't stink afterward.  And since it's lighter than my old mower I am not as hot or worn out as I was with the old mower.

Piccies!

A quick note on the pictures.  This picture of the garden tiller is before its third season, it just looks fresh and shiny because I clean it and oil everything every year so it stays fresh and shiny.  Dirt sitting on the components between uses would likely make everything start rusting.   I take a picture so I remember how to arrange the pieces so they will fit back in the box for storage.

The mowers; dat nose tho.  The mowers here are lined up so the center of the blade on each mower is aligned and you can see how far out the "nose" on the Ryobi goes.  But again I suspect this is not specific to this mower but rather a typical safety "feature".  It is a bit larger than the old mower in length, but height and width are basically the same and if I needed to, the handle folds down very easily.

Quick note about 18V devices

I've heard a few people say they have had issues with battery powered trimmers, mowers, etc in the past, and almost every time I dig into the problem they either had a really no-name brand, or it was an 18V model.  18V models can do the job in light grass with very little to trim/mow, but have nowhere near the runtime or power of the 40V models of tools.  This is all to say; don't think that a tool you had in the past or heard someone said they had issues with will apply with a modern 40V tool.  This applies doubly so if the tool in question was using a Lead Acid battery.

This said; if you just have grass to trim in a small yard, don't think you have to get the 40V model to do it either, modern tools with Lithium Ion batteries have come a long way.  But keep in mind if you want the mower too, you'll want to get both in the 40V variety so they can share batteries.