It may seem odd to say that there are a plethora of lithium-ion lawn mower options on the market. They're not exactly flying cars, but we're using batteries to mow lawns — mow lawns . We profiled most of the major players in our battery powered lawn mower roundup a few years ago. Ryobi has upgraded its models with the Ryobi 40V Brushless Lawn Mower, keeping some of the best features and improving others.
On paper, there are only a few key differences aside from the model number (if you're keeping track, it's the Ryobi RY40180). For starters, you now get one 5.0 amp-hour battery instead of two 2.4's. The price is also down $100 compared to what we tested a few years ago.
Some things are better left alone, and this version of the Ryobi still has a brushless motor and 20-inch deck.
Top 5 Features
Assembly doesn't usually appear on my top 5 features list, but the assembly instructions only include opening the box and taking it out – a huge win. All you need to do is spend a few hours letting the battery charge, set the deck height and decide if you want to plug in the cover or put the bag on it.
This package is very simple to install. You basically put it in place on the back, and it takes about 15 seconds to get it right the first time.
The mulch plug is less intuitive, but it makes sense once you see how it fits.
If you want to have a successful battery powered lawn mower, it's the motor first and you have to go brushless. This is the only way to ensure you're getting enough power while maximizing your runtime. As an added bonus, the electronic control required for brushless motors also allows the mower to run harder in thick grass and back off in thinner ones.
simple height adjustment
Available in a variety of heights, from as low as 1-1/2" to as high as 3-3/4". I prefer to mow at 3 inches to give the grass a chance to get thick enough to kill weeds.
Adjusting the cutting height is easy. One lever moves all four wheels up and down with less effort than I expected. It also locks securely into place — something you should expect, but still something to check before buying.
When we first reviewed the Ego 56V lawn mower, one of its standout features was its ability to fold down to a space-saving size. Ryobi also uses a similar design. The handle retracts down and folds over the top of the mower. From there, just stand it up on the back and place it in the corner of your shed or against a wall. It takes up much less space than a gas lawn mower that cannot stand upright.
The telescoping handle also enables you to lock in a height for almost every user, not just a few preset detents.
One thing to note is that you need to move the height adjustment all the way down for the handle to lock. Higher positions can get in the way. Fortunately, the height adjustment is very simple, so it's only a minor annoyance.
Quiet, maintenance-free operation
One of the attractions of Lithium-ion lawnmowers and other OPEs is the absence of any gas engine issues. No carburetor clogging, no fuel and oil mixing, no emissions, and quieter operation. The Ryobi 40V Brushless Lawn Mower has all the benefits, but perhaps the most surprising thing for new users is how quiet it really is.
I was able to talk to my wife on the phone while mowing the lawn. Not through headphones or earphones, but through phone-to-ear conversations with no ill effects. It's even quieter than vacuuming. Unless, of course, you have a Hoover cordless vacuum.
All of these features are great. But don't say squat if it can't actually mow. Unfortunately, Central Florida is in the midst of a drought, so a lush green lawn is more like an overgrown garden with dormant vegetation. Still, we skipped winter entirely, spent about 4 days in spring, and then went straight into summer mowing season – and that was in March.
In addition to weeds, I have a mix of Bahia and Bermuda grasses in my lawn. The good news is that both recover quickly when it starts to rain, and the bahia grass is especially plentiful. Most lawns don't require much effort from a brushless mower. It just plowed and left a fairly even cut.
The grass gets better around the front due to the shade from the trees, things are a bit thick. The sound of power can be heard as the motor controls drive through the denser grass.
One thing to watch out for with any lawn mower is blade speed. The slower the blade, the more often you'll need to sharpen it to cut effectively, and gas mowers are generally better at maintaining speed. It does feel like the Ryobi 40V brushless mower is a bit slow in the blade speed area, and I had to go through areas where the grass/weeds were tall and soft twice. However, it performs much better in dense regions.
Ryobi claims up to 45 minutes of use on a single charge with their 5.0 amp-hour battery, and I got pretty close at 44:30.
When the battery level drops to one bar, the lawn mower starts to stop working. It restarts immediately after letting go of the lever and starting it up again, which doesn't seem to be a thermal issue (although I wouldn't blame it for it being 95 degrees here already!). It starts at about 38 minutes and becomes very frequent after 42 minutes.
In reality, you're looking at about 40 minutes of runtime before the outage really starts to affect your productivity.
UPDATE: Been using the lawnmower for longer periods of time, and the intermittent shutdowns are definitely not caused by the heat, but rather random. Sometimes it's frequent, other times not so much. But it happens every time I mow. Just restart the mower and you'll be back on track. At this stage it's just an irritant, but it's irritating. The problem seems to be with the microswitch on the right. I'll work on it and come back with another update.
the bottom line
$449 is an attractive price for a 20-inch brushless lawn mower with battery and charger. That performance is good enough for most lawns, and even better when the grass is dense enough to provide the blade with some good resistance.
There are many advantages that offset the disadvantages of this model. The foldable design and price along with easy height adjustment are definitely standouts. I like that you have a cover option – which I mostly use – and bagging, but I'd like to see side discharge too. My only major complaint is that the performance stutters when the battery is dying. However, you will get about 40 minutes of uninterrupted runtime.
The Ryobi 40V Brushless Lawn Mower is good for lawns up to 1/4 acre, unless you plan to buy a second battery. At the end of the day, by going with something like the Ego or the more durable Echo, you can get a higher class in the performance category with better fit and finish, but you'll pay an extra hundred dollars or more to get there.
Ryobi 40V Brushless Lawn Mower Key Features
- Worry-free, one-key start
- 7-position single-point height adjustment
- gas-like power
- Extended runtime with 5.0 AH battery
- Lithium-ion battery non-fading power supply
- Load sensing technology maximizes power and efficiency
- 2-in-1 Covering and Bagging Capabilities
- High Intensity LED Lights
- Onboard storage for second battery
Ryobi 40V Brushless Lawn Mower Specifications
- Model: Rimei RY40180
- Power supply: Ryobi 40V battery pack
- Deck Size: 20″
- Weight: 45 lbs
- Specified run time: 45 minutes
- Test run time: 44:30
- Warranty: 5 years on tool, 3 years on battery
- Price: $449