I love outdoor power tools but growing up I didn’t learn to keep anything with a petrol engine running in good order for very long. I was however really into electrical gadgets and for that matter I still am.
I persevered with petrol whiper-snippers (line trimmers), lawnmowers and leaf blowers however because I found electrical gardening tools, especially the cordless variety, poor alternatives. So I was really excited when I heard about Ryobi’s 36v Lithium Battery range. The brushless motor versions especially are comparable in grunt to their petrol cousins but without the noise, maintenance and emissions. Australia has a way to go on the renewable energy front but my gut tells me it is better to use electric engines and hybrids over the oil and petrol models.
The geek in me loves the fact that with a couple of the 36V lithium batteries I can swap them in and out of the tools as I go around the garden. The long life 36V batteries are the key to the ranges’ success and grunt. I have two, a 2.6Ah pack and one of the newer 5Ah packs. Both charge exceptionally fast and hold their charge for ages. I can go out to the shed and grab a battery that hasn’t been used or charged for months and off I go. They are pleasingly heavy so you know they mean business. Don’t worry about their weight during use though as each tool has them in a balanced position to counteract that. There is also a button on the front that lights up a charge remaining indicator.
I recommend having two batteries at the very least. Especially if like me you lend your tools out a lot and need to keep using other ones. My friends and I now own most of the range and like to help each other out.
The full range covers (* means I have and will eventually review):
- leaf blower *
- pole pruner
- hedge trimmer*
- brushless chainsaw*
- leaf vacuum
- lawn mower
- lawn edger
- line trimmer*
Review 2: 36V Brushless Chainsaw
This is my favourite in the 36V range and the first chainsaw I have owned. It is amazing how often it gets used by my mates and I. They laugh at first and don’t believe it is powerful enough until they use it :).
From the Ryobi website: ‘Its powerful brushless motor produces high torque and chain speeds of 21 m/sec, meaning you can achieve better results, faster. Our chainsaw’s 356-mm cutting capacity also ensures you can perform large cuts with ease’.
I have used petrol chainsaws before and the 36V brushless chainsaw feels as powerful as a small petrol model eg 30cc but without the weight, kickback, fumes and ‘the always on’ characteristics. I love how it starts every time and comes to a stop as soon as you release the trigger.
Putting it together is a snap:
- Put the chain guide onto the main part of the unit.
- Put the chain on the guide and around the sprocket. The guide has a picture to help you get the direction of the chain’s teeth right.
- Turn the chain tensioner wheel now to remove most of the slack out of the chain. It moves the guide away from the sprocket to achieve this tension.
- Put the sprocket cover on and tighten the knob (inner black ring).
- Adjust the tensioner ring (outer grey ring) to get the correct tension on the chain.
In this video you can see the chainsaw make short work (full time was around 4 minutes) of a peach tree that I was removing. I like how light and balanced the chainsaw is, allowing you to achieve the cutting angle you want without feeling like you are wrestling the sharp bitey part. I also love how you can hang the unit on a tree branch if you need to clear vegetation away. At the end of the 4 minutes I cut the limbs down further so I could keep them for smoking meat in my Weber. I still had a full battery so I used the 36V Blower to clean the area up and blow down the outer skin of the chainsaw.
Note: This is not a chainsaw usage tutorial, I am no expert. I keep everyone well away from the area when using this product until the job is done and the battery is removed. I was wearing safety glasses but should also have had long sleeves, gloves and head protection. I urge you to make good use of the chain brake too.
I don’t use the chainsaw every week so I am a bit pedantic with the strip down and storage of it. I bet you don’t need to be this careful as the product can take a beating.
Look at the gunk though:
Here is what I do:
- Break down the unit.
- Rinse the sprocket cover, chain and guide bar.
- Re-lubricate them and store them in oily rags.
- Use a clean cloth, a small screwdriver and sometimes compressed air to clean the main part of the unit.
- Remove any bar oil left for reuse later.
Review 1: 36V Blower
When my wife and I moved into our current house we realised that lots of trees means lots of leaves. Even the neighbours’ trees like to get in on the act. So I ditched the broom for my first tool in the 36v lithium range, the leaf blower. Ryobi makes two versions and I have the ‘entry’ level product. I am glad because the more powerful model would probably shift the bricks :).
From Ryobi’s website, the stats:
- 250km/h air velocity
- Variable speed control
- Lightweight and sturdy design
- Comfortable one handed grip
This product really delivers. It is perfectly balanced like they say and easily shifts mounds of wet frangipani and flowering plum leaves, lawn trimmings and sand. The trigger speed control gives you control when you get into the nooks and crannies and when you are making piles of leaves. I got mine from Bunnings and it has never given me one spot of bother. Maintenance is a breeze, I simply brush it down (especially around the air intakes) and hang it on a hook in the shed.