Ryobi power tools that we know in the United States and much of the English speaking world are sold by the Hong Kong based company Techtronic Industries Co., Ltd. Ryobi in much of Asia is sold by the Kyocera Group out of Japan. The Ryobi power tool brand was started by Ryobi Seisakusho Co., Ltd. (株式会社菱備製作所), now called Ryobi Limited (リョービ株式会社), also out of Japan. Recently, Ryobi Limited has broken off its consumer power tools into these two different concerns, distancing itself mostly if not entirely from this market. This article focuses on what we have available here in the United States.
Ryobi is sold almost exclusively out of Home Depot here and is prominently displayed at most locations. The brand includes everything from traditional power tools to electric lawn mowers and other power equipment. The focus here is specifically on the tools that a wood worker is likely to use. Ryobi has two highly marketable characteristics: low cost and high battery compatibility. Over 100 different tools sold from Ryobi use the same battery system. Battery costs is one of the primary drivers in the cost of cordless power tools and is the reason why many tradesman stick with a particular brand.
The natural question you will have is when you see the enormous price difference between Ryobi and a mainline brand like Dewalt is why is Ryobi cheaper? There are both clearly measurable reasons and more subjective reasons why Ryobi is cheaper almost all the time. The first reason is often the most obvious, you are not getting the same thing for the same amount of money! This can include offering smaller or fewer batteries and less powerful tools than their mainline competitors. Secondly, the materials used are often cheaper. Instead of metal bodies, you will find more plastic. The plastic parts feel cheaper and lighter than what you find on other brands. Thirdly, you will find that they are not as feature rich. The guides and mechanisms will be simpler and less efficient to use. Finally, you will not get the state of the art with Ryobi. Dewalt and Milwaukee compete fiercely to be the highest performance tools in their segment. Each brand competes to have the newest technology and innovations. Ryobi does not try to have the state of the art, instead waiting until features are common in industry before adapting them to their tools. This is a big part of why Ryobi is cheaper: much lower product development costs.
Who should buy Ryobi? I have seen everyone from homeowners to professional tradesman using their tools. In general almost anyone could find Ryobi to be the best choice. Choosing Ryobi depends on a variety of factors that are largely independent of profession. A professional carpenter may find Ryobi to be an excellent choice for his needs whereas a homeowner could find a Milwaukee to be a far better choice. Each person is going to have different factors. For professionals that will be working out in the field, Ryobi is a relatively uncommon choice. However, there are circumstances where it makes a lot of sense. Ryobi tools are powerful enough nowadays to meet the demands of many professionals. Only recently have batteries become good enough where this is the case. Ryobi tools are far less likely to be stolen or misplaced as they are not as valuable as other choices. Further, because they are not as common in professional circles the desire to steal their batteries is lower. Homeowners who have infrequent needs for tools and typically do not place heavy demands on them will also find Ryobi to be great. They are inexpensive, reliable, and do the job. There are many tools like their fans and battery packs that are very economical for people who are looking for a specific needs outside the context of construction.
Why shouldn’t you buy Ryobi? If you are a heavy user of a tool, or in a rough environment, you may find that the Ryobi performance difference is too big of a detriment. If you are doing demanding tasks with your tools you will value every bit of performance and battery life you can get. Additionally, the lackluster features on Ryobi tools means that certain tasks will be more difficult and have a lower chance of success than the more capable mainline tools. Superior guides, motors, and power make work less demanding on the user and improve the likely quality of the finished product. There is a reason why many tradesman buy expensive tools. Although some of it is for bragging rights, for commonly used tools there can be meaningful improvements in the finished product and the quality of life of the tradesman.
Hopefully this article has provided some insight as to the Ryobi tool brand here in the United States. Ryobi sells a wide range of high quality tools but they compete in a different segment than Dewalt or other mainline brands. Understanding these differences allows you to make an informed decision about which is going to be better for your uses either around your home or in your work.