RYOBI Cordless Self-Propelled Mower with 7.5 Ah Review
The whole world is going electric and cordless. From electric cars to cordless power tools, the ever-increasing power density of batteries is making every job more convenient. Lawnmowers are of course no exception. While cordless electric mowers are not new, the latest crop of them has the power and run time to make them very attractive for homeowners and light commercial uses.
In fact, we’re at the point where you really have to evaluate whether it’s time to jettison the gas, oil, noise, maintenance, and storage bulk of gas-powered mowers. To be sure, if you’re responsible for mowing a golf course, well, it’s not time yet. But if you’re a homeowner, chances are it is.
Of all the disadvantages I just mentioned of gas mowers, perhaps the least well appreciated is their greatly reduced noise. While anyone living in a neighborhood has become accustomed to the sound of a neighbor’s mower, it is disturbing. We just accept it because we have to mow our lawn too. But wouldn’t it be nice if that noise was a thing of the past? In fact, many municipalities and homeowners associations are now adopting noise ordinances, and they will only get more common. For me, it’s enough that I don’t have to hear the din of my own mower.
RYOBI 21-inch 40-volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Self-Propelled Mower
RYOBI’s new 21-inch cordless mower (model number RY401130 with the 7.5 Ah battery) is brushless and runs off of their 40-volt battery platform. It will work with any of the RYOBI 40-volt batteries, but getting it with the 7.5 Ah battery is probably your best bet since all cordless mowers today can benefit from using the longer run times of big batteries. This rear-wheel-drive self-propelled unit is made with a steel deck for durability.
RYOBI Self-Propelled Mower Specifications
· Brushless motor
· Self-propelled with rear-wheel drive
· 7.5 Ah high-capacity battery for extended run time
· Easy-lift lock-and-release bagger for single motion bag removal
· 21 steel deck
· Collapsible handles for compact storage
· Push-button hassle-free starting
· 7-position, single-point height adjustment from 1 in. to 4 in.
· High-intensity LED headlights
· Mulching, bagging and side discharge capability (side discharge accessory sold separately)
· On-board battery storage compartment for easy battery exchange
· Load sensing motor
· 5-year limited warranty, 90-day no-risk satisfaction guarantee
· Compatible with all RYOBI 40-Volt tools, batteries, and chargers
· Backed by a 5-year limited warranty
This mower is light compared to gas mowers. That makes transport and storage easier and means that for those occasions when you don’t want to use the self-propelled drive (such as small back-and-forths around tress, etc.) pushing it requires little effort.
The ergonomics are first-rate. The telescoping handle’s two-stage action is easy and quickly accomplished with levers. The start-up is simple: retract the bail-style deadman that controls the blade, press the start switch, and then squeeze the wheel motor control levers if desired. Accessing the two-bay battery compartment is straightforward (one bay is for the power battery; the other is only for storage of a spare battery). Raising and lowering the deck is effortlessly accomplished with an ergonomic handle. The bag and mulching plug are easily installed or removed. When the bag is full of clippings, it doesn’t adversely affect the mower’s balance. The cruise control speed slider is well within reach when operating the unit. This mower needs no lubrication over its life. Finally, the headlights would make mowing in low light easier, but that’s probably only a consideration if you don’t have nearby neighbors.
Safety Features on the RYOBI Self-Propelled Mower
The safety features on this mower are plentiful. There’s a rear flap that prevents debris from flying into your feet. The handle must be completely raised in order for the unit to function. There is a battery power disconnect key next in the battery compartment. Either the bag or the mulching plug has to be in place in order for the mower to power. (I once thought that my battery had prematurely died with two bars still showing, only to finally realize that the bag wasn’t fully seated in its retention slots.) There’s a tilt sensor that prevents the mower from starting if it’s vertical or tilted more than 45-degrees. Nothing is completely accident-proof of course, but this mower is a far, far safety cry from the mowers I used as a kid mowing my parent’s lawn (for 50 cents a week!)
I used this mower on two different lawns: one well-maintained and plush, the other not well maintained and full of weeds and sandy areas. I also did turns bagging and mulching on both lawns. (I should point out that both lawns weren’t overgrown.) The performance on both was really equal, meaning that the performance on good grass wasn’t harder for the motor than it was cutting scrub. In each case, whether bagging or mulching, the mower sailed along at top cruise speed without bogging down at all. Cut quality (on the nice lawn) was excellent. The load-sensing brushless motor will rev up when it senses a heavier load, such as when cutting high grass.
The bag got fully filled – it got really packed with no bogging down. Whether bagging or mulching on the sandy lawn, the mower didn’t kick up any noticeable dust (the gas mower I’d previously used on this lawn created a veritable Sahara-level dust storm). Both of these things are related to the blade. Like most cordless mowers, this one has a fairly thin, lightweight blade (to reduce the load on the motor and increase runtime); this particular blade also has only ½-inch of lift. That’s a low-lift blade, and you wouldn’t normally think that a low-lift blade would pack a bag as tightly as this one does…but indeed it does. That it does would seem to indicate that some real engineering effort went into this model back at the yellow/green RYOBI mother ship.
On either lawn, and either bagging or mulching, I got 45 minutes of run time on the 7.5 Ah battery, which is right in line with what everyone else reports getting. Recharge time (for the 7.5 AH battery) with the small charger that comes with the package is in the 3 – 3.5-hour range, while the rapid 40-volt charger is 1.5 hours. I hate to have any cordless tool without at least one extra battery. If the battery dies or runs down before you finish the job, you need that spare. You may not need a 7.5 Ah battery spare with this mower—depending on the size of your lawn—and in fact, it works with all RYOBI 40-volt batteries.
There are really only two things I’d change on this mower, and only one of them is realistic at this point. I’d like to see a slightly faster max of self-propelled speed. On pavement, the max speed was about as fast as I could walk, but on grass, it wasn’t quite as fast as I’d like to. The other is that I’d look forward to the day when residential cordless mowers can have 30-, 36-, or even 48-inch blades! That’s not in the cards quite yet, but I for one would invest in more batteries to achieve a shorter overall mow time with the larger cut width.
This mower cost $499.00 and isn’t the only tool in the expanding line of RYOBI 40-volt tools. The current line-up can be seen here. Once you’re invested in the 40-volt platform, there are lots of ways to make your work easier!