Back in August, Ryobi launched a new line of 18V One+ HP cordless power tools that were centered around two main characteristics – these new tools featured brushless motors, and they were compact.
At the time, I wrote about the new Ryobi 18V HP compact brushless drill/driver, which looked to be their best drill ever.
Many of the Ryobi 18V HP brushless tools are definitely fitting of their Compact Series description, even with the stem-style battery pack that seems out of place in today’s Li-ion day and age.
Ryobi 18V HP Expansion in 2021
Ryobi has very quickly expanded their line of HP cordless power tools with additional compact tools equipped with brushless motors.
2021 kicked off with quite a few new cordless power tools added to the Ryobi 18V HP product family.
New 18V One+ HP Brushless Tools Products List
- 1/2″ Drill/Driver Kit (PBLDD01K)
- 1/2″ Hammer Drill Kit (PBLHM101K)
- 1/4″ Impact Driver (PBLID01B)
- 4-Mode 1/4″ Impact Driver (PBLID02B)
- 4-Mode 1/2” Impact Wrench (P262)
- 1″ SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer (P223)
- Reciprocating Saw (PBLRS01B)
- 7-1/4″ Circular Saw (PBLCS300B)
- Jig Saw (PBLJS01B)
- Multi-Tool (PBLMT50B)
- 4-1/2″ Angle Grinder/Cut-Off Tool (PBLAG01B)
There are also two new batteries:
- 18V ONE+ 4Ah High Performance Lithium-Ion Battery (PBP004)
- 18V ONE+ 2Ah High Performance Lithium-Ion Battery (PBP003)
I’m still working through details and hands-on assessments, but the progress seemed deserving of a quick couple of words in the meantime.
In our best cordless power tools guide, I mentioned that the HP line of tools might deserve a closer look. That was a bit of a conservative statement. If you’re in the market for DIYer-level cordless power tools, these tools are definitely worth a closer look.
A lot of value-minded pros use Ryobi cordless power tools as well, usually for more specialized and infrequently-used tools.
It’s hard to know what Ryobi is going for here, but one thing that’s for certain is that they’re pushing forward with a different energy than in previous years.
Ryobi updated their compact battery pack. But did they have to?
Why – Increased Competition?
I have been wondering – what, or who, is responsible for the new 18V HP lineup?
Ryobi is certainly facing new competition these days, and with relatively fresh brands. Lowe’s has Kobalt’s 24V Max cordless power tool system, as well as Craftsman’s 20V Max cordless power tool system. Skil’s new 20V Max system has been available at Amazon and is now going to be featured at Lowe’s stores.
Kobalt, Craftsman, and Skil have all launched their cordless systems in recent years, with all three brand’s systems being designed from the ground up.
You also have Harbor Freight joining the mix with new Hercules brushless power tools and the promise of more on the way.
So, Ryobi is facing increased competition, and against newer cordless power tool systems designed around Li-ion tech. Ryobi’s battery interface is dated, but reflects their commitment to users.
Although few other brands match up to Ryobi’s breadth of lineup, their 18V HP initial launch and recent expansion seems to reflect an effort to ensure their continued dominance.
Was this a responsive measure? Pre-emptive? Was this always the plan but finally made possible now that brushless power tool tech has come down in price?
Do Fresh Tool Designs Indicate Shifting Strategies?
Ryobi’s 18V One+ battery pack form factor results in certain design constraints, but the ergonomics of these new tools are definitely quite decent.
For example, while the new compact 1.5Ah battery pack doesn’t seem very different on paper if you’re only looking at dimensional specs, it feels a little more compact. Plus, the redesign allowed for a battery fuel gauge.
The tough part of trying to get to the bottom of this story is that Ryobi’s strategy isn’t clear. Their motivation isn’t obvious. The results aren’t exactly an extension of their past advancements and progress. The 18V HP series is more of a branch of the 18V One+ lineup than a continuation.
This is all very good for users.
To help illustrate what I mean, Ryobi launched a brushless drill/driver more than 4 years ago. They also launched a brushless circular saw, angle grinder, sander, and other tools.
With Ryobi’s initial power tool launches, the focus was on affordable power. There were some compromises, but they brought higher performing tools to the Ryobi 18V platform.
Those tools offered higher performance, greater power, and modern features, but without premium pricing. In my experiences, the tools didn’t have a premium feel either, but their compromises were acceptable.
They gave users brushless options, but the tools lacked some of the refinement other brands’ pricier pro-grade tools offered. But, I considered this to be an acceptable tradeoff.
Here’s the full Ryobi 18V HP series of compact brushless power tools now. Compared to the earlier brushless tools, Ryobi’s HP products don’t fit the same mold. In my experiences, at least so far, you get a more premium experience in comparison.
Where’s the sacrifice here? Where are the compromises? These tools aren’t so much about brute power at more affordable pricing, but about delivering a more balanced experience.
I need more workshop time with these tools before I can fully characterize them.
I can’t place my finder on it, but the new HP tools seem more refined, but that could also be part of the balanced experience and tuned ergonomics. There’s a subtle undertone where these tools feel more serious compared to many previous core-type Ryobi cordless power tools.
Shown here is an image of Ryobi’s 18V One+ and 18V One+ HP cordless jig saws. The HP product doesn’t just have a brushless motor, it has completely different styling and ergonomics.
Ryobi has different pricing and performance tiers for many of their core offerings. But with HP, they seem to break that paradigm. These new HP don’t just have a couple of upgraded features, they are completely different. This doesn’t seem to be an effort by Ryobi to expand outwards, but an effort to expand upwards, and that would be a big deal.
Some of Dewalt’s Atomic series 20V Max cordless power tools are a downwards expansion, seemingly intended to capture the attention of more budget-minded shoppers. Here, you have Ryobi now pushing upwards and into the same space.
Is this a consequence, or the goal, for Ryobi to have created new premium value-system offerings to compete against value-focused pro-system offerings?
If you look outside of the Dewalt Atomic series lineup, consider how popular older brushed motor cordless power tools and combo kits are, especially when they’re aggressively priced during holiday shopping season promotions. Compared to many of those tools, these new Ryobi HP tools have brushless motors, smaller sizes, and in many cases better specs with respect to power and performance. And, there might still be a pricing advantage.
Ryobi Tools’ New President was a Milwaukee Tool VP
There’s also one idea that I cannot quite shake.
Ryobi Tool’s President is Bobby Shaw. Most readers won’t recognize the name, but Shaw was a product manager, group channel manager, and Vice President at Milwaukee Tool.
Bobby Shaw was at Milwaukee Tool for nearly 11 years.
I quickly identified Shaw in Ryobi Tools’ 18V HP launch video in August, and at that time he had already been President at the company for around 10 months (according to his LinkedIn profile).
I can’t tell you anything about Ryobi Tools’ past corporate leadership, or even how it’s organized now. But, I can tell you that this is not an insignificant development.
Although Ryobi Tool and Milwaukee Tool are both part of TTI, they are not jointly operated. I’d say you could think of Ryobi and Milwaukee Tool as you would Pepsi and Gatorade, but quite frankly there’s no way of knowing if the same product team manages both brands’ beverages. What I do know is that there is a disconnect between Milwaukee Tool and Ryobi where the two are effectively completely different companies despite sharing the same parent.
Bobby Shaw isn’t Steven Richman, President at Milwaukee Tool since 2007, but surely Shaw’s philosophy, strategies, and approaches have been inevitably influenced by his experiences at Milwaukee Tool.
Would it be reasonable to think that Shaw has been shaped by some of what worked and didn’t work at Milwaukee Tool?
In no uncertain terms, Milwaukee Tool has grown to be a widely successful company under Richman’s presidency.
It would be unfair to define Shaw solely by his experiences at Milwaukee Tool, but it is fair to assume they are at least a part of him and what he brings to his presidency at Ryobi Tools.
The question here is whether Shaw is a driving force behind Ryobi and the new direction they’re taking with their 18V One+ HP cordless power tools.
Milwaukee Tool announced their first-ever M18 Fuel cordless power tools back in 2011, and the tools launched in 2012. Shaw was a cordless power tools product manager at that time. He was later Vice President of Hand Tools and Storage for 4-1/2 years.
What lessons, culture, or history has been instilled in what Shaw brings to Ryobi Tools, and how does that play into the One+ HP product family?
Additional Context and Influential Factors
Ryobi’s HP line gives users a core selection of compact power tools. The batteries were modernized, and the tools have a more premium yet modest feel.
These tools are somewhat uncharacteristic for the brand, but fitting.
With the 18V HP line only being 6 months old, it’s too soon to identify any trends. But as wrong as it would be to prematurely conclude that Ryobi is redefining their position in the tool industry, we also cannot ignore the strong possibility that these aren’t just a couple of new tools.
Complicating things further, Ryobi is a Home Depot-exclusive tool brand, and so Ryobi’s cordless power tool developments are very strongly influenced by the retailer’s needs and wants. The retailer is Ryobi Tool’s customer. You are not the customer, you are the end user.
Ridgid, adjoined to Ryobi under TTI’s umbrella with respect to cordless power tools developed for and sold at Home Depot, also came out with a 18V SubCompact line of power tools in 2020.
There are so many pieces to this puzzle. New leadership. Industry trends. A grand strategy.
The story needs to be worked out. But, here is where everything comes together. From everything I have seen so far, the only thing that is clear is that these tools were not designed around price. If they were, then Ryobi masked this well.
These aren’t tools for the budget shopper. They’re not for the “maximum bang for the buck” shopper. While not unheard of for the brand, there seem to be inherently different driving forces behind these new tools.
There is a lot of compartmentalizing within the cordless power tool selections at Home Depot these days. Dewalt Atomic. Ridgid SubCompact. And now, Ryobi 18V One+ HP.
Does the One+ HP Compact Series branding describe the tools, or were the tools developed to satisfy the branding?
How big of a role does Home Depot play here? What about Bobby Shaw now at the helm as President of Ryobi Tools? Are these tools designed with Ryobi 18V One+ users in mind, or is increased competition a larger contributing factor than one or two years ago?
I don’t know what to expect from Ryobi Tools after this, but I’m hoping they continue to raise the bar.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with some of their stuff.
I’m… Sorry… are my eyes just sore, or do the One+HP tools seem to look an awful lot more like DeWALT versions? I don’t mean exactly, I mean… General features/ergonomics/offset designs… Locations of function switches and the like… Chucks and Blade Attachment Points…
…They look, at least to my eyes right now (admittedly slightly tired), like they’ve seriously shifted their overall design ethic toward DeWALT, rather than Milwaukee, or Ridgid… I’m not saying if this is good or bad, I’m just checking to see if anyone else sees what I see here?
I mean… Long history of people really liking Ryobi, especially contractors that don’t like their DeWALT tools stolen in the night… (I take that from direct quotes from said contractors talking here on ToolGuyd, it’s not a slight against Ryobi.) So I am not going to magically come up with some excuse why Ryobi is somehow compromising quality, or reputation, or any of that other garbage “Team-Oriented” Trash-Talking here… This is literally seeing if anyone else can see this deliberate design change to closer resemble DeWALT ergonomics and placement?
Much like Lowe’s was working with Chervon for some time to deliver the improved XTR 24V tools to offer even better products, it wouldn’t be surprising if Home Depot worked with Ryobi to deliver an improved ONE+ 18V line in the form of the ONE+HP.
Ryobi also has an interest in keeping up with industry trends and not being perceived as bottom-of-the-barrel in major brand power tools, so details like a charge meter and more compact battery pack plus the overall design update shows they are at least current if not cutting edge.
1. Ryobi has had fuel gauges on their batteries for quite some time. I’ve got a whole stack of Ryobi batteries in the garage with fuel gauges. The article made this seem like a new feature.
I’m very pleased with the Ryobi line for my personal use. It’s a solid choice. The tools have enough power and especially with the newer tools, properly designed safeties and triggers.
I really appreciate that Ryobi didn’t abandon it’s battery form factor when they moved to Li-on chemistry. My shop has spent a great deal of money upgrading to 20v Dewalt just to simplify the hassle of battery management.
I thought the same thing about the battery gauges. All of mine have them…
The smallest batteries (compact batteries) did not have charge gauges prior to the HP battery version, but their larger battery packs all did. So it’s more a new feature to that size of battery pack.
I have non-HP 1.5 amp Ryobi packs with Battery Gauges. Have had these batteries for 4 years at this point
Yes, the 4Ah high capacity battery (and others) had a fuel gauge already. But, this is a new feature on the compact batteries, such as 1.5Ah.
I have *never* seen any Ryobi compact batteries with fuel gauges before this one.
The compact battery was redesigned for HP, and so that’s what I was referring to.
It seems there are now going to be redesigned high capacity batteries, but I haven’t seen those yet.
I have a “Lithium+” (non-HP) 1.5Ah P107 battery from around 2016 that has the fuel gauge.
I have 2 I bought in 2017. 1.5ah compact, NON-HP, with battery gauges. P107 was the model number.
Thanks all, I stand corrected!
Hmm, so here’s the question I have to ask myself – have I simply ignored 1.5Ah batteries before, except for the ones that came with a few purchases?
yeah, but Ryobi is still handing out the non-fuel gauge 1.5 and 2AH batteries on deals where batteries come with tools. I got an 1.5 and 2 without last year.
The all black batteries are the cheap price point kit ones, up to now without gauges. The small ones were often 1.3ah.
I think all the regular ‘silver sided’ packs have had gauges for many years
Stuart, any word on their cordless mini belt sander? https://www.ryobitools.com/power-tools/products/details/18v-one-plus-12-x-18-belt-sander
I’m dying to get one of these but there is very little news on when it will be available again. Thanks
Seems to be available now:
Yep, Ryobi continues to introduce many unique tools – one big reason I’m glad Ryobi is one of my systems.
I also see it in stock right now.
Some tools are in short supply right now, such as the compact glue gun which doesn’t seem to be available anywhere.
If you don’t see the sander in stock, it’s possible it’s sold out or has not yet arrived in your region.
Does anyone know if the batteries runtime improved? I think this is more difficult than just checking the AH rating. As with most things, it’s probably best to just test it and not rely on the specs… Has anyone seen tests? It’d be cool to see a test comparing each brand’s battery systems.
Under what conditions?
Generally, the amp-hour ratings is a reasonable measure of relative runtime.
I can – and occasionally do such testing – but the results are hard to draw any publishable conclusions from.
I used Ryobi as a remodeler mostly because of the unique value from their airstrike nailer. I stocked my toolbox mostly from a coworker who moved up to Ridgid. after a few years of building my collection and changing income brackets I started upgrading to the brushless tools. Then I realized that the Ryobi brushless circular saw at $119 was getting into Milwaukee prices. Ryobi brought me along until I was spending big boy tool budgets and then TTI had another option for me to get into. The bottom of the Milwaukee line is cheaper than the top of Ryobi’s line. This was also about the same point where I went from everything needing to fit in the van to everything needing to fit in the truck, shop, or garage.
My growth through TTI lineups felt natural to me but was so smooth and easy that it must have had a product team collaboration behind it…
Every product is defined by it’s compromises, and for me that is a big part of brands. I feel like both Milwaukee and Ryobi make the compromises I agree with.
I expect a brand to have a similar philosophy behind the compromises in products across their portfolio. I feel like Ryobi and Milwaukee have the same audience in mind except that Milwaukee hits a higher price point with fewer compromises.
Stu – Forbes Asia just had a nice article on TTI, the involvement of the founders son in the day to day operations, Joe Galli (ex DeWalt guy) and product development (some tools revamped every 2 years).
Thanks! Will take a look.
Update: Forbes Link
I’m sure there’s more than one factor at play, but I imagine the competition from Craftsman is a factor too. It was no secret Craftsman was intended to appeal to a much wider audience than Ryobi. E.g. they have extremely budget-friendly options sold alongside pro-level (and pricer) options of the same tools. Seems like Ryobi saw the move and thought they could play in a wider market too.
Just to support the “budget-minded pro” appeal, I’ve got a carpenter working on some stuff at my house right now who has a few Ryobi tools. I spotted the airstrike nailer, the random orbit sander and a mitre saw stand. I must say he is quite talented – I’m impressed with both the precision of his work and how quickly he can get it done (I’d been doing some of the work myself, but it was taking too long – his work makes me look sloppy :P). Those tools don’t seem to be holding him back. I imagine he’s the sort of fellow who would consider some more premium-grade options from Ryobi.
Much like me though, he doesn’t seem to have any brand loyalty. He’s got some Milwaukee fuel tools and a Dewalt tablesaw and drill. We chatted about Porter Cable for awhile after I lent him my 16ga cordless nailer to try (he was under the impression they folded – which seems almost true) and he said he might try Ridgid next because of the warranty on batteries.
For myself as a DIY’er I chose Ryobi as my system. I don’t want to deal with multiple battery/charger brands. So for me the HP lineup is telling me Ryobi is committed to the continued development of the system and it remains viable.
Ryobi is a system that has to live with constraints (stem batteries with BMS boards, primarily DIY, lower cost, a single retail outlet in US/Can). Perhaps designing under constraints can produce results that might have not otherwise happened such as the wide range and diversity of their system.
A single retail outlet, Bunnings, in New Zealand and Australia as well. Maybe Bunnings saw the Home Depot exclusive arrangement and pushed for the same. Or maybe its a Ryobi/TTI strategy to simplify distribution but still reach most of the population with the right partner?
I have a few of the new HP series tools and can confirm that they definitely feel much more refined and “higher end” then their past products.
Not that their previous products were bad, these are just much better.
I got into Ryobi after purchasing the outdoor tools; weed eater, leaf blower, hedge trimmer. Once I had those I just built on to it and now it’s my go-to for any tool without a cord…and now replaces some that I typically always plugged in.
Great value for the DIYer…once I start making money from my tools I may go to Milwaukee…but for now, Ryobi has me covered
It’s good they’ve finally come out with a decent impact wrench. It’s been a big hole in their lineup.
Yes. I noticed it has double the torque rating of the old one. Nice upgrade and only $20 more as of right now. I use the dickens out of the one I have, I think an upgrade is in my future.
I purchased the HP drill & impact driver set back before Christmas, probably around Black Friday. I really like the size of the tools, and the power/performance is as-good or better-than expected. My main complaint is that my drill seems to have some runout or wobble in the chuck. I’m not looking for machine shop precision in a hand tool, but I can’t honestly say I’ve ever noticed this with any other cordless drill before. And I have in the past run some cheap pieces of junk.
Stuart, when you comment that Ryobi is a Home Depot exclusive brand, that would be focusing only on the US, right? Ryobi tools are sold in other countries, where I would guess they are sold by other retailers. If that is accurate, then the global markets must be considered in your analysis as well, not just store strategies and exclusivities among HD, Lowe’s, Menard’s, et al.
Other markets where TTI sells Ryobi 18V cordless power tools, such as Australia, often have a number of non-overlapping products and technologies.
Still, Ryobi 18V products in the USA are extremely and even solely dependent on Home Depot. If Home Depot doesn’t want a Ryobi product, it doesn’t launch in the USA. Same with Ridgid cordless power tools available at Home Depot. That’s likely tied to why certain AEG tools are never released here.
Ryobi 18V HP seems to be tied to TTI North America efforts, and I cannot think of any significant international influences outside of the factors I’ve been considering.
In other words, there are no global factors I am aware of that could have influenced this product line, or at least nothing unrelated to the domestic factors already mentioned.
Did you identify any potential global influences, or are you just looking to ensure I didn’t leave anything out?
See my comment above re Australasian market
Since Ryobi cordless tools (and I assume their corded ones too) are related to other TTL families of products, I’ve always really considered them last gen or older gen Ridgid tools.
I figured there was some stair step marketing and price point design ethos where Red eventually turned orange and orange eventually turned green/blue. Milwaukee to Ridgid to Ryobi. With the idea that – by jove no matter what that battery stem has to stay though. which honestly is a good thing for the consumer
I think their bigger competitor is the Skil 20V family and perhaps craftsman to a lesser degree. I still think craftsman is the analogy to Ridgid. It would be interesting to see how their offerings are positions in other markets though.
Ryobi is having a number of online-only specials for the compact HP tools.
I’ll just highlight one: 6 tools for $399.
One the good side: no useless flashlights! The tools mix is unusual: drill driver, 1/4″ impact driver, 3/8″ impact wrench, right angle drill, 3 3/8″ cutoff tool, and compact reciprocating saw.
On the bad side: two 1.5A-hr batteries, and the new compact charger.
I got into Ryobi as Jay (above) did. I needed a blower and a weedwhacker for the house we just bought. I then have added tools as I found them- a green demolition saw on Craigs that was barely used, an almost complete used blue set that included a standup case, miter saw, circular saw, zip saw, and a flashlight for $60, then a factory rebuilt random orbital sander and an 18 gauge brad nailer. As a serious DIYer and amateur furniture builder, I’ve been satisfied with them all. If I was a professional, maybe not, but the price/tool balance is right on for the weekly user.
I just used the blue circular saw (with a Freud blade) for the first time and was pleasantly satisfied. I look forward to the brushless line coming out so it drives the cost of the brushed tools down on the used market. 🙂
My experience as a contractor has been that the difference between low/mid level tools and pro grade is mainly duty cycle. I primarily have Milwaukee tools, but have used plenty of Ryobi, ridgid, and Kobalt. Yes they typically have lower power overall, but are adequate for for a cut every few minutes, a few screws here and there. If you are ripping board after board, or screwing down a deck, you need pro grade.
My one exception to that is the 18g airstrike nailer, it hasn’t skipped a beat, other than needing to warm up before use if left in the truck in sub 20 degree temps
I’d love to see an updated Quietstrike. While heavy, I really enjoy using mine over a regular impact. And as I was already invested in Ryobi, the $79 price tag was hard to beat. Go brushless, add 3 speeds/assist, and I’d happily pay $99 for the bare tool.
I had gotten into Ryobi almost by accident. these have been showing up at my local thrift store and the fact they are the older blue & gold color people think the battery platform is obsolete. So for practically nothing i got a 5 1/2 circ saw $11, sander $5 & jig saw $8. All work fine, i’m sure the original NiCd batteries went south and people thought they were done. I love having the smaller circ saw for dealing with trim work.
Home Depot had a special i took advantage of , buy the (2) 4ah batteries for $120 and get a free tool. I got the brushless recip saw which is fantastic. I also got a caulk gun & hot glue gun at the Direct Tools outlet.
I already had DeWalt 20v, Milwaukee M12 but i don’t have any reservations about adding another battery platform if you can get reasonable price tools.
Just wanted to add that Ryobi is one of the few manufacturers that have not changed the form factor of their batteries. Those old blue & gold (ok maybe a bit closer to orange) ran on NiCd batteries but they retained the same battery form factor and pin out so i can take the newer LiOn batteries and use them with the older Ryobi tools.
I also forgot to mention i got Ridgid tools as well so i have that platform. Same thing found a bunch of stuff i needed on a special. If i need a cordless tool now (which is limited as i have a lot of stuff) i can look at a variety of platforms and see which has the price point and features i want.
I am currently looking to buy a battery staple gun for stapling agricultural fencing posts Dewalt do one, when is Ryobi bringing out one all my battery tools are Ryobi ,I don’t want to have to buy a Dewalt
I have been converting slowly to the Ryobi stuff, I was a Craftsman C3 user towards the end of their run and loved every one of them, the premium 19.2 stuff was the same as the high end Ryobi stuff, the last gen grinder, the last gen impact, the brushless 1/2 drill, etc. Most people I know that absolutely hated Craftsman, they used the NiCad batteries, I will say, those weren’t good, at all. The last gen Craftsman stuff was harder to find, but they outlasted several Dewalt sets my brother was running at the same time, both the 18v and the new 20v stuff, and he finally got smart and went to the new Milwaukee tools. I’ve found the new Craftsman 20v is low end Dewalt, really low end unfortunately. I have tried getting some of the 19.2 Craftsman stuff, but used now, it’s more than new Milwaukee stuff, that’s too rich for me. I like the post batteries, the handles are shaped just right, a little fatter, but more comfortable for wore out hands. About the only thing that stopped me from buying Ryobi previously, the color, that neon green is brutal, but for tools that work well especially for the price, its worth it. And one thing I’ve found that make your tools last, take care of them, don’t leave them on the jobsite, don’t let your batteries freeze or sit in the sun, I hate buying new tools because of carelessness.