Is the Ryobi RM480 the right mower for you? Reasons why it may or not be the best choice for you.
Who the Ryobi RM480 mower is for.
- Anyone who wants to “Go Green.” No pollutants when running.
- Anyone who appreciates that batteries are cost-effective and environmentally friendly over gas-powered riding mowers. With an electric riding mower you pay for your “fuel” costs up front so the initial cost with the batteries is more than a gas-powered machine. But the batteries will last 5+ years and the initial cost is easily less than maintaining and fueling a gas-powered lawn tractor. Most states have required battery recycling programs when they do have to be replaced approximately every 5-6 years which makes them environmentally friendly.
- Anyone who does not want to spend $150-$400 every year on the maintenance and service costs a gas engine riding mower requires. No oil changes, no fuel to buy, no replacement filters, no belts to wear out. No, loading it up and hauling it to a repair shop every year.
- No worrying about what fuel to buy and if the fuel will hurt your engine.
- If you have a lot of landscaping features and tight areas to mow around.
- Is a good choice for a city/suburban yard. Ultimately, I recommend this mower for anyone with a 1/3 to one acre city/suburban lawn that has slopes less than 15 degrees. At 4 mph this mower will mow a little over one acre in an hour’s time.
- The Ryobi RM480 is a lot heavier in the rear than a conventional lawn tractor. (The batteries are over the rear axle) Combined with the smaller tires this mower will have excellent traction. If you have areas in your lawn where you have to shift your weight around to get traction this mower will have better traction to go through those areas better.
- If you use your lawn tractor for more than just mowing. My wife uses a riding mower just about everyday but she has not mowed the lawn in over five years. She has many landscape beds and is constantly cleaning, planting, and trimming. She pulls a Cub Cadet Hauler 10 cu. ft. Tow-Behind Dump Cart with couple of bags of dirt, potting soil, fertilizer and a RubberMaid Tote full of her gardening tools. She is constantly moving from one bed to another and down to the compost pile. She loves using an electric rider because she does not have to stop and start a gas engine all the time. Plus they are so quiet to use.
Who the Ryobi RM480 is not for.
- If you have hills steeper than 15 degrees.
- If you have more than 2 acres to mow at one time.
- This is a riding lawn mower designed to mow your lawn regularly. If you let your grass get 12 inches high, if you want to mow your horse pasture, if you want to mow over 4 inches, or if you have areas around your farm that you only mow down the weeds once or twice a year this is not the mower for you.
- If you want to mow as quickly as possible. The 38 inch deck will take about 15-20% longer to mow an acre than the Craftsman 27042 46 inch yard tractor.
- If your lawn is rough or you have rocks, tree roots and debris that you occasionally/accidentally hit with your mower.
- It has smaller wheels than a lawn tractor so it will be very bouncy and jarring ride on a rough lawn. (I just slow down in the rough areas)
- Ryobi recommends that this mower be plugged into the charger when not in use. So you will want a place to store it that has 110v electric or you can get 110v electric to the charger with a 50 ft, 12/14 ga extension cord.
- If you have physical issues with using both feet. The right foot pedal controls the speed. There is cruise for flat ground. You must use your left foot for the brake when going downhill.
- If the initial price is more important than being environmentally friendly. While long-term cost of ownership will be less than a gas-powered rider the initial cost is about $1200 more than mowers of similar size.
The biggest issues you need to be aware of:
I normally don’t discuss the negatives of using a product up front in an article but I want you to be completely aware of what to expect with an electric riding mower. Even though they are fun to drive, environmentally friendly and really quiet, using an electric rider is a slightly different experience than using a gas-powered one – particularly using it on rough ground and going downhill. Personally, I have learned to use them well even though they are slightly different to use.
These issues are not “don’t buy” issues. They are just items you need to be aware of when deciding if this mower is the best for you.
- Controlling Speed using your foot. Driving the Ryobi RM480 is just like driving your car. Put the rider in Forward and then use the accelerator pedal on the right floor board to control your speed and the left pedal to brake. That is fine in a smooth riding car but it’s takes some practice when using an electric rider. At first when you hit a bump in the lawn your right foot will move on the accelerator pedal causing the mower to jerk. This takes practice to operate it smoothly.
- Going Downhill – engine braking. The Ryobi RM480 will pick up speed going down any slope. (freewheel) It can be quite a surprise the first time you go into a ditch with it! It does not have natural engine/transmission braking like your gas-powered riding mower and the regenerative braking is not enough to hold the mower going downhill. What than means is when you go downhill you will have to keep your left foot on the brake. It does have a good rear drum braking system so you can feather the brake as needed. ( I feel the industry will have to rethink electric drives and develop a gearbox that will hold these mowers going downhill with the cruise on)
- Mowing in Reverse. The Ryobi RM480 is capable of mowing in reverse but the procedure to do so is different from your lawn tractor. When you decide to back up with the mower deck running you will push the RMO button on the dash BEFORE you move the F-N-R switch to the reverse (R) position. You have to do this each time you back up. With a little practice this becomes easy to do and you can do it all with your right hand. Just so you know – all the electric riders that have mow in reverse operate this way.
- Small tires and a rough lawn. I have a rough lawn and I’ve been using a Husqvarna rider for years. It has the smaller tires like the Ryobi RM480. I’ve learned where the roughest spots are and slow down when mowing those areas. If you are the type of person who has to mow and get done as quickly as possible you will complain about how rough it rides on an older lawn.
- Built for mowing lawns – not fields and high weeds/grass. This is a fun to use, agile riding mower designed to mow your average in-town or suburban lawn. It is not designed to go out in the field next door and mow weeds and grass 12 inches to 3 feet tall! Tall, thick grasses that have been growing for half the summer will over task the electric motors on the deck and either blow fuses or circuit breakers. In addition the blades are just standard lawn cutting blades and will bend if you hit rocks, tree roots and other debris typically found in those areas that are not mowed often.
Still interested? I want to list the features and specs quickly before I continue.
Basic Features and Specifications:
- Deck size (in.) 38 inch 2-blade deck. Dispersed clippings smoothly and evenly in side-discharge mode.
- Engine power (hp) 48 Volts. (Four 12 volt 75 AH or 100AH deep discharge batteries)
- Engine manufacturer: NA
- Number of cylinders: NA
- Drive type: Electric: A large variable speed electric motor drives a gear reduction inside an aluminum transmission housing. The axles and axle housings are steel.
- Forward speeds: Variable speed electronic
- Cuts in reverse: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Easy mode change: Yes, just remove the mulch cover to side discharge
- Blade change to mulch: No, Mulches well, producing fine clippings with minimal or no clumps.
- Blade change to bag: Yes, The bagger comes with a set of high lift blades
- Washout port: No, Ryobi suggests not using a pressure washer or garden hose to clean the mower.
- Power steering: No, Easy rack & pinion steering
- Warranty: 3 years on mower. One year on batteries. Note: This is the industry standard warranty for batteries.
- If you feel pressure washing your lawn equipment is the only way to keep it clean this is not the riding mower for you. In fact this mower does not have a deck wash system. Why? High pressure water and electrics don’t mix.
- No Deck Wash. The water pressure generated by the spinning blades may be too much for the seals on the electric motors and will ruin them. In fact to be safe, Ryobi does not recommend using water from a garden hose or pressure washer to clean this mower.
Where to buy:
The RM480 is available exclusively at The Home Depot here are the links to read more and buy. I do make a commission from the sale when you use these links.
Ryobi RM480e, 38 inch, 75 AH Cordless Electric Riding Mower Model # RY48110 (about 2 hours run time)
Ryobi RM480ex, 38 inch, 100 AH Cordless Electric Riding Mower Model # RY48111 (about 2.5 hours run time)
Ryobi 38 inch 2 bin soft bagger for RM480e and RM480ex Cordless Electric Riding Mower Model # ACRM001 Note: Bagger comes with bagging blades
Ryobi 38 inch bagging/side discharge blades (2) for RM480e and RM480ex Cordless Electric Riding Mower Model # ACRM003 Note: The bagger comes with bagging blades
Ryobi 38 inch mulching/side discharge blades (2) for RM480e and RM480ex Cordless Electric Riding Mower Model # ACRM002 Note: Mower comes with these blades and a mulching cover.
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