5 years ago, Ryobi released their first battery powered riding lawn mower, the RM480E. It runs on lead-acid batteries and a 38-inch stamped steel deck. It was followed by the Ryobi RY48ZTR100 48-inch zero-turn mower and finally the 54-inch brushless ZT with mounted decks. So what's the big news today? Ryobi brings three new lithium-ion battery powered zero-turn ride-on mowers powered by a new 80V lithium-ion suitcase-style battery. They also use the new iDrive (Intelligent Drive) joystick drive controls.
Three Ryobi 80V Zero-Turn Mowers, Three Deck Sizes
Let's start with the model and deck dimensions. The Ryobi 80V Zero Turn Mower includes 30", 42" and 54" decks and is packed with innovative features.
I-Drive joystick replaces lap stick or steering wheel
Right off the bat you can't help but notice that these mowers use neither a steering wheel nor a knee bar. Instead, Ryobi spent over a year developing an iDrive joystick that lets you steer the mower quickly and easily.
We get it – people generally hate change. However, we gave it a try – in fact, we've been riding this mower for a while… and I have to say, the joystick works really well. If you enjoy playing video games, you will feel right at home. If you haven't already, the Ryobi dialed in the sensitivity and control so we were able to slalom, hold a straight line, and even execute 360-degree turns on the spot without much of a learning curve.
Traditional riding lawn mower features
You pull up a red knob to activate the blades – just like you would zero with gas. It's also keyed, so not just anyone can jump on it and start it.
Deck height is adjustable from 1.5 to 4.5 inches using side tie rods. You also get LED headlights, which are activated by simply pressing a button below the LCD panel. Finally, a USB port lets you charge your smartphone or other electronics as needed. And, yes, you have several cup holders.
New Suitcase Style Ryobi 80V Battery Pack
If you listen closely, you'll remember that we said this mower runs on an 80V battery. Actually, it runs more than one. Each 80V battery pack is like a small suitcase and contains 100 individual battery cells. A small LCD screen next to the handle shows the percentage of battery remaining.
The 42-inch and 54-inch models support up to three 80V batteries and four 40V auxiliary batteries. The 30-inch mower supports two 80V batteries and two 40V auxiliary batteries.
Ryobi 80V Li-ion battery pack and 12Ah 40V battery specs
Each Ryobi 80V Li-Ion battery pack operates at 72 volts and is rated at 10Ah (ampere hours). This gives it a capacity of 720 Wh (watt hours). Each 12Ah 40V battery pack produces 432 Wh after taking into account the 36V nominal voltage.
Do the math, and you can fully load a Z42Li or Z54Li with 3,888 Wh of Li-Ion battery power!
- 3 x 80 Volts/720 Wh = 2160 Wh
- 4 x 40V/432Wh = 1728Wh
Ryobi's Tesla-Style Wall Mount 80V Fast Charger
Whereas older lead-acid battery powered mowers take a long time to charge, the new 30, 42 and 54 inch Zero Turns use a 120V external fast charger that you can mount to your garage or shed wall. It charges these zero turn mowers in 2, 3 and 4 hours respectively. It's very fast – yes, it charges both the 80V battery and the 40V battery at the same time.
Even if you don't plan to use the 40V port for extended runtime, it might make sense to use a fast charger for the rest of your handheld 40V power tools.
So is the Ryobi 80V riding lawn mower also 40V? Not really.
So how does the Ryobi 80V riding lawn mower mix 40V and 80V batteries? This is a great question. While the lawn mowers operate preferentially from the 80V battery pack, they use any additional 40V battery packs to increase run time.
Lest you think it needs to operate those 40V batteries in pairs – it doesn't. Ryobi uses electronics to boost its 40V battery pack to 80V and provide the required voltage. This means you can extend run time by simply adding a 40V battery.
LCD control panel with blade and drive speed controls
If that wasn't enough, Ryobi has also updated the control system for these mowers. You can now independently configure low, medium and high drive and blade speeds through the LCD screen. The screen shows the remaining runtime and battery life. It also shows if the vehicle is in motion or if the center-mounted golf cart-style parking brake is engaged.
As we mentioned before, we ride this mower, as do several of our media colleagues. The air-suspended seat on the 42-inch and 54-inch models provides a very comfortable ride. The dial on the front allows you to adjust it for your body weight–works well, as I'm much lighter than a gentleman who was testing the lawnmower before I sat in the seat.
Fabricated and stamped steel decks
Ryobi continues to use the fabricated steel deck on the 54" mower, but the 30" and 42" models use a stamped steel design. The blades on the 54" also feature a cross-cut design very similar to what you see on their premium walk-behind mowers. That means you have six blades in the 54-inch model. The result is an ultra-fine cut that grabs more grass during bagging and leaves finer grass clippings when mulching.
Ryobi 80V HP Electric ZT Riding Lawn Mower with Bagging Options
Ryobi plans to offer several bagging systems and release them with the mower. Notably, they include a "Bagger Boost" system. Bagger Boost is available for the 80V HP 30″ Lithium Zero Turn Riding On Mower and the 80V HP 42″ Lithium Zero Turn Riding On Mower:
- 30” ZTR Bagger Boost Model: ACRM018
- 42” ZTR Bagger Boost Model: ACRM026
The Bagger Boost button is located on the control panel of the 30" and 42" ZTR. With the push of a button, the Bagger Boost sends a powerful gust of 700 CFM into the bagger chute. This helps clear clogs and grass. This saves you from having to stop mowing and manually clear the chute.
The Ryobi Bagger Boost bagger will be sold separately online as an accessory. You can also purchase a bagger option without the Bagger Boost feature. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but should be closer in spring 2022 when these products launch online at Home Depot.
Which Ryobi 80V Ride-On Zero-Turn Mower Should You Buy?
Ryobi Z30Li 30-Inch Riding Lawn Mower
When looking at all three models, we can see some very clear reasons for getting each. For example, the Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch lawn mower fits through most gates and provides a great solution for getting riders into places most zero-turns can't get to. Ryobi even designed the bagging system to fit exactly the width of the body so it doesn't expand the footprint. The side grass chute is made of rubber so it won't damage your shed or gate if you get too close. Priced at $4,000, this mower should provide a solid solution for anyone looking for a battery-powered zero-turn mower that can handle up to an acre.
Ryobi Z42Li 42-Inch Riding Lawn Mower
Step up to the 42-inch Ryobi Z42Li and you get a great mid-ranger with all the same great controls and features as the 54-inch, but with stamped panels and a reduced panel size. The $5,000 retail price doubles your mowing area—up to 2 acres. You also get an additional 80V battery and two additional 40V battery ports to extend your run time.
Ryobi Z54Li 54-Inch Riding Lawn Mower
Finally, the $6,000 flagship Z54Li features a 54-inch fabricated deck that, combined with three 80V batteries, gives you up to 4 acres of mowing area.
Ryobi 80V ZT Lawn Mower Pricing and Final Thoughts
We have to admit, we're a little excited about these lawn mowers—not because we've never seen anything like this before, but because manufacturers like Ryobi are starting to push the industry in new directions. Joystick steering wheel? Air suspension seat? Between the innovative new features and the familiarity we've come to expect from natural gas products, manufacturers are really starting to produce products that require a very small learning curve and deliver massive benefits to consumers looking to transition to battery-powered products.
As for their prices, Ryobi plans to sell the Z30Li, Z42Li, and Z54Li for $4,999, $5,999, and $6,999, respectively. You can pre-order all three Ryobi zero-turn mowers now. While it's expensive, you get a lot of mower and battery capacity. We look forward to performing more performance tests on these mowers in-house later this year.
Shared specs for all Ryobi 80V zero-turn ride-on mowers
- LCD control panel
- Low/Medium/High Blade Speed
- Low/Medium/High Drive Speed
- Remaining power and shortening time
- iDrive joystick drive control
- Plug-in fast charger
- Inserts into the rear of the mower
- Charge 80v and 40v at the same time
- Power supply: 80V battery pack with LCD power display
- 40V battery compatibility
- USB charging port
- cup holder
- Golf Cart Parking Brake
- 1.5″ to 4.5″ deck height
- LED headlight
- key start
Ryobi Z30Li 80V Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Specifications
- 30" stamped steel deck
- Maximum cutting area: 1 acre
- Batteries: 2 x 80V Li-ion batteries
- Spare 40V battery interface: 2
- Charging time (with fast charger): 2 hours
- Price: $4,999
Z42Li Ryobi 80V Zero-Turn Ride-On Mower Specifications
- 42" stamped steel deck
- Maximum felling area: 2 acres
- Batteries: 3 x 80V Li-ion batteries
- Spare 40V battery interface: 4
- Charging time (with fast charger): 3 hours
- Price: $5,999
Ryobi Z54Li 80V Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Specifications
- 54" Fabricated Steel Deck
- Maximum cutting area: 4 acres
- Batteries: 3 x 80V Li-ion batteries
- Spare 40V battery interface: 4
- Charging time (with fast charger): 4 hours
- Price: $6,999