I'm on the hill about this mower...AKA how to mow slopes

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This conversation has been merged. Please reference the main conversation: How does this mower perform on hilly ground? I have 1/3 acre lot with some of it at a 20 degree slope.

I have a very large yard and it's almost all hill.
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Posted 5 years ago

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Blue Angel, Champion

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Roger, you touch on some good points regarding mower choice.  I too researched the Ryobi lineup before jumping into the Ego platform and I just happened to be at Home Depot looking at both mowers parked side by side this evening.  Here's my point of view:

1. Yes, the Ryobi is $100 cheaper.  It also appears to be built $100 cheaper.  The handle is the same two-piece u-shape thin steel bar as most other cheap mowers.  It does fold up, but the clasps and clamps are difficult to use, and as far as I can tell the Ryobi is not designed to be stored in an upright position... a major disadvantage.

I have not used the Ryobi, so I'm not sure if the safety interlock in the handle may be easier to use or not, it seems it may be, but the one on the Ego doesn't bother me at all.  In my opinion, saving $100 on a mower today will mean absolutely nothing to me three years down the road when I'm still struggling with the poor handle design, or having to store it under my deck instead of the garage since it just takes up too much space.

2. Yes batteries deplete with time.  The Ryobi mower uses two of their high capacity 40V 2.4Ah batteries, not the smaller ones:


These batteries cost US$129/each, but they just happen to be on sale right now for US$99:


The Ryobi 40V 2.4Ah batteries are advertised as 96 Watt/Hour capacity (40V x 2.4Ah = 96Wh).  Since there are two included with the mower, total capacity is 192Wh.

The Ego mower battery is 56V and 4Ah, giving it a capacity of 224Wh, 17% more capacity than both Ryobi batteries put together.  It sells for US$199.99 at regular price.

At regular price the Ryobi 40V 2.4Ah batteries cost US$1.34/Wh, and on sale they cost US$1.03/Wh.  At regular price the Ego 56V 4Ah battery costs US$0.89.Wh.  Advantage: Ego

3. Yes the Ryobi stores both batteries on board, which is handy only because they are of such limited capacity.  The Ego battery gives you over twice the storage in one package.  Maybe the Ryobi is a couple pounds lighter to push around with only a single pack, but then you have to walk back to the garage to swap packs if one can't finish the job.

This brings me to charge time.  You would think the Ryobi would have an advantage, allowing you to mow with one battery while charging the other, right?  That would be true if it didn't take 90 minutes to charge a battery!  Charging the first battery while using the second one would leave you waiting an hour and ten minutes for the first one to finish charging, assuming each battery lasts about 20 minutes of cutting.

This also assumes the Ryobi batteries are not too hot to take a charge right after using them.  I strongly suspect they would need a cool down period between a ~20 minute depletion and charging.  This is where the Ego system REALLY shines.  Their packs are designed as an open concept with lots of surface area for cooling, as well as vents to allow cooling air to be drawn through the pack by the charger's fan.

On top of this, each cell in an Ego pack is individually wrapped in a phase-change material sleeve.  Phase-change material is very popular in demanding cooling applications, and as far as I can tell Ego is the first power tool product line anywhere to incorporate this technology into its packs, let alone as an individual cell wrap.

In my opinion, this advantage is VERY POORLY MARKETED by Ego, covering it up in a forgettable moniker called "Keep-Cool Technology".  That term fails to explain the significant advantage of their design, and in fact none of Ego's North American sales literature that I've come across (and I've LOOKED for it) explains this in any detail.  I found a video posted by an Australian Ego retailer that explains it a bit better:


4. Yes, 40V is enough to get the job done.  No argument there.  BUT, for a given amount of cutting power drawn by the tool, the current required from the battery varies proportional to the voltage of the system.  Higher voltage systems generally operate more efficiently, and in the case of batteries the less current you draw from each cell the less thermal load you put on it and the longer it will last (in theory anyway).

Going back to what you said about battery longevity, generally speaking battery cells which are used at lower power levels will last longer.  Battery cells which are kept cooler while in use will last longer.  Battery cells which are kept cooler while charging will last longer.  All else remaining equal, I would expect an Ego pack to outlast a Ryobi pack for all these reasons.

5. Based on reviews on The Home Depot's US site, the Ryobi mower is rated at 4.1 stars after 36 reviews, and the Ego mower is rated at 4.5 stars after 615 reviews.  Slight advantage to Ego there.

Regarding battery maintenance, it seems you have overlooked one of the Ego pack's best features: long term storage mode.  If you leave the pack un-used for a 30 day period the pack will enter a maintenance mode where it self-discharges to 30% capacity for long term storage.  This ensures the cells are not compromised by sitting at 100% charge for long periods, which is a real concern for people who are not into babysitting their equipment.  Some folks are knowledgeable and can maintain their packs manually, Ego does this automatically.

I've bought a large assortment of Makita 18V cordless tools since 2008, and the reason I settled on Makita was their superior battery technology and fan cooled charging.  I first considered the Ryobi mower and 40V lineup, but then I started reading up on the Ego 56V line and was very impressed.  The tools are absolutely solid (I own the mower, blower and had the 12" string trimmer, waiting for a bare tool available in Canada), but in my opinion their greatest strength by FAR is the battery pack design and charger system. It takes everything I like about the Makita tools I find to be superior and adds to that with a much more thorough approach to thermal management as well as an automatic long term storage strategy.

Consider that I can use the small Ego 2Ah battery (from the trimmer) in the mower, and when I'm done depleting it from a fully charged state to low voltage cut-off in about 20 minutes, the battery is not even remotely warm to the touch, not even in the center of the U-shaped pack.  This is true despite the pack sitting in the mower's sealed battery compartment with no air circulation and no fan cooling.  That is the advantage of the superior pack design and the phase-change cell wraps.

My 18V 3Ah Makita batteries are nice and warm to the touch if you use them hard enough to deplete them in 20 minutes, so warm in fact that the charger's fan needs to cool them for several minutes before charging will begin.  My original Makita batteries were still going strong last year when I sold them, six years old, with a few tools that I had since upgraded.  I have no doubt my Ego packs will still be going strong six years from now.