Monday, December 30, 2013

Ryobi One+ Small Yard Quality Products

Back in December, I posted about how nice of a reel mower my Fiskars Stay Sharp was - and I've gotten a huge number of hits to that page coincidentally (link here).  So I wanted to make a mention of how satisfied I am with the cordless Ryobi power tool & lawn products I've purchased since moving to our new home in early October.

For a cordless drill, my basic requirements were simple:
- wanted a solid brand name that would not be going out of business in the next year or two
- needed a 20 to 30 minute minimum battery life, since the jobs I have are not "all day" jobs
- needed a "several hour" or "over-night" recharge capability
- chuckless, since I broke the chuck key on my True Value variable speed 1/4 inch drill that I've had for the last 25 years.
- minimum 1/4 inch capacity, but bigger would be fine too
- something less than $100, that would last at least 5 years, but hopefully closer to 10 or 20 years (I tend to keep my tools)
- compatible with cordless lawn equipment using the same batteries
You see, I tried using my corded 110V drill to turn a stainless steel scouring brush in an attempt to remove calcified deposits on the side of my pool tile, that had built up over the last 2 decades, and I was  deathly afraid of having the plug and/or extension cord drop into the pool and electrocute myself, before Thanksgiving.  So cordless was mandatory and drove the purchase.

I looked at Home Depot (closest to my home), Lowes, and online.  Home Depot appeared to have the widest selection and most in stock.  So after reading multiple reviews, I went with the Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Ion cordless drill.  Keep in mind, I had not bought a power tool since before the Clinton Administration, so it was unexplored territory for me.  When I got my Ryobi drill out of the box, I was delighted.  Not only was it ergonomically comfortable and fit in my hand very well, but it was balanced, powerful, had a built-in magnetic drill bit holder, a built-in bubble level, and had 3 variable speeds and torques to be able to adjust.  Sweet!  I spent 2 days leaning over the edge of the pool grinding off calcium chloride deposits (while wearing a dust mask, to avoid inhaling the dust & ground-off-sealant fumes.

Satisfied with my drill purchase, I looked for a weed wacker.  I consulted my father, whose yard I used to cut as a teenager & college student in Indiana.  We had a junky old Toro corded weed whacker that never really worked right when I was a kid, and the cord was such a pain.  With a pool int he back yard here in CA, a corded device was again counter-indicated, so I read up on the Ryobi weed wacker / edge trimmer combo, and bought it for less than $100.  It works marvelously!  Powerful, precise, well balanced - it is the perfect tool for my small yard with ~200 feet of fence and ~100 feet of sidewalk edging.  And with some practice, it is even possible to NOT throw whacked weeds and plant material into the pool - despite the gardener's previous desecrations.

I wanted to get a cordless leaf blower, but there were none available that had "the punch" necessary for blowing leaves over grassy surfaces.  On the North side of my home, there's a grassy incline that rises a good 5 feet to meet the neighbor's fence.  Not having to rake it, and being able to quickly use gusts of directed air to "push" apple, nectarine, apricot, and guava leaves down the yard would have been ideal. But alas, the cordless Ryobi "hard surface blower" that I got for $70 at Home Depot (without a battery) cannot handle the job.  I was clearly warned, by the packaging label information, the online reviews, and my father's own advice...  but that's fine.  For as small as my yard is, the Ryobi blower is "good enough".  I can blow the pool deck clean, without blowing anything into the pool.  I can "sweep" the patio with directed air, and "push" the leaves and debris away from the pool and towards my garbage cans (including a composting green waste can that the city picks up for free).  And it uses the exact same battery that the weed wacker uses, so I can finish weed wacking & trimming, then pop out the battery, and power the blower.  It would have been nicer if the blower had a HIGH and LOW speed, but single speed is OK, and it works fine on paved / flat surfaces.  It is practically useless on grassy & uneven surfaces - be forewarned.

So if you have a small yard, without a huge amount of trimming to do, the Ryobi weed wackier / edger combination works well.  And the blower - if you get it without a battery & charger - compliments the sister device very well.  My drill came with 2 batteries, and the weed wacker one, so I have 3 batteries and 2 chargers now.  The batteries charge up in "smart chargers" in about an hour - much faster than I expected.

Affordable, good quality.  Not contractor quality, or capable of "running all day", but that's not how I have been using them.

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