5 years ago, Ryobi launched its first battery-powered ride-on mower, the RM480E. It featured a lead-acid battery and a 38-inch stamped steel deck. This was followed by a Ryobi RY48ZTR100 48-inch zero-turn mower and ultimately the 54-inch brushless ZT with a fabricated deck. So what’s the big news for today? Ryobi has brought three new lithium-ion battery-powered zero-turn lawn mowers powered by an all-new 80V lithium-ion suitcase-style battery. They also use a new iDrive joystick drive control ( Intelligent Drive).
Three Ryobi 80V zero-turn mowers, three deck sizes
Let’s start with deck models and sizes. Ryobi 80V Zero Turn mowers include 30, 42 and 54 inch decks and feature many innovations.
I-Drive joystick replaces lap bars or steering wheel
Right off the bat, you can’t help but notice that these mowers don’t use a flywheel or drag bars. Instead, Ryobi spent over a year developing a single iDrive joystick that lets you maneuver the mower quickly and easily.
We understand that people generally hate change. However, we gave it a try – in fact, we’ve been using this mower for quite a while…and I have to say the joystick works REALLY great. If you like to play video games, you will feel right at home. If not, Ryobi tweaked the sensitivity and control so we could rip through slaloms, hold straights and even execute 360-degree turns in place without much of a learning curve.
Features of traditional riding mowers
You pull a red button to activate the blades, just like you would with a zero throttle turn. It’s also key-operated, so anyone can’t jump on it and start it.
Deck height is adjustable with a side pull lever from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. You also get LED headlights that are activated by pressing a button under the LCD panel. Finally, a USB port allows you to charge your smartphone or other electronic devices as needed. And, yes, you do get some cup holders.
New Ryobi 80V Suitcase Style Batteries
If you listened carefully, you’ll remember that we said this mower ran on an 80V battery. In fact, it runs on more than one. Each 80V pack looks like a small suitcase and includes 100 individual battery cells. A small LCD screen next to the handle shows you the remaining charge percentage.
The 42-inch and 54-inch models support up to three 80V batteries and four 40V auxiliary batteries. The 30-inch mower supports two 80V batteries and two 40V auxiliary batteries.
Ryobi 80V Lithium-ion batteries and 12Ah 40V batteries
Each Ryobi 80V lithium-ion battery operates at 72 volts nominal and 10Ah (amp-hours). This gives it a capacity of 720 Wh (watt hours). Each 12Ah 40V battery pack produces 432Wh when the nominal voltage of 36V is taken into account.
Do the math and you can fully charge a Z42Li or Z54Li with a 3,888 Wh lithium-ion battery!
- 3 x 80V/720Wh = 2160Wh
- 4 x 40V/432Wh = 1728Wh
Ryobi 80V Tesla Style Wall Fast Charger
Where older lead-acid battery-powered mowers took a long time to recharge, the new 30-, 42-, and 54-inch zero-zero mowers use an external 120V fast charger that you can mount on the wall of your garage or utility room. your discount. It charges these zero-turn mowers in 2, 3 and 4 hours respectively. It’s super fast and yes it charges both 80V and 40V batteries.
Even if you don’t plan on using the 40V ports to extend run time, it might be a good idea to use the fast charger for the rest of your 40V portable power tools.
So, are Ryobi 80V ride-on mowers also 40V? Not really.
So how do Ryobi 80V riding mowers mix 40V and 80V batteries? That’s an excellent question. What they do is prioritize 80V packs to run the mower until those packs run out. After that, the mower can switch to its 40V packs for extra runtime if needed, but with some power reduction.
And lest you think it has to run those 40V batteries in pairs, it doesn’t. Ryobi uses electronics to boost its 40V packs to 80V and provide the necessary voltage. That means you can run each of these mowers on a single 40V battery…which we don’t recommend, by the way.
LCD control panel with blade and drive speed controls
If that wasn’t enough, Ryobi has also updated the control system for these mowers. Now an LCD display allows you to independently configure low, medium and high drive and blade speeds. The screen shows you the remaining runtime and battery life. It also indicates if the vehicle is in Drive mode or if the center-mounted golf cart style parking brake is engaged.
As we mentioned earlier, we have used this mower, as well as several of our media colleagues. The air suspension of the seat of the 42 inch and 54 inch models provides a very comfortable ride. A dial up front lets you adjust your weight, which worked well since I weighed a lot less than one of the gentlemen testing the clipper before I sat in the seat.
Fabricated and stamped steel bridges
Ryobi continued to use a fabricated steel deck on the 54-inch mower, but the 30-inch and 42-inch models use a stamped steel design. The 54-inch mower blades also use a cross-cut design very similar to what you find on their high-end walk-behind mowers. That means you have six blades in the 54-inch model. The result is an extra-fine cut that catches significantly more grass when bagging and leaves finer clippings when mulching.
Which Ryobi 80V Zero Turn Mower Should You Buy?
Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch Riding Mower
Looking at all three models, we can see pretty clear reasons for getting each one. For example, the Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch mower fits through most doorways and presents a great solution for providing a rider that fits where most zero turns can’t. Ryobi even designed the bagging system to completely fit the width of the body so it doesn’t add to the bulk. The side discharge chute is made of rubber and will not damage your shed or doors when you get too close. At $4,000, this mower should provide a solid solution for anyone trying to get a battery-powered zero-turn mower that can tackle properties up to one acre.
Ryobi Z42Li 42-inch Riding Mower
Upgrading to the 42-inch Ryobi Z42Li gets you a great mid-range product with all the same controls and features as the 54-inch, but with a stamped deck and reduced deck size. Retail price of $5,000 gives you double the mowing range, up to 2 acres. You also get an extra 80V battery and two extra 40V battery ports to extend your runtime.
Ryobi Z54Li 54-inch Riding Mower
Finally, the $6,000 flagship Z54Li brings a fabricated 54-inch deck that, combined with the trio of 80V batteries, lets you cut up to 4 acres of grass.
Pricing and Final Thoughts on the Ryobi 80V ZT Lawn Mowers
We have to admit, we’re pretty excited about these mowers, not because we’ve never seen anything like it before, but because manufacturers like Ryobi are starting to move the industry in a new direction. A joystick steering wheel? Air suspension seat? Between the innovative new features and the familiar features we’ve come to expect from gas products, manufacturers are really starting to produce products that require a very small learning curve and tons of benefits for consumers looking to make the transition to battery-powered products.
As for their cost, Ryobi plans to sell the Z30Li, Z42Li, and Z54Li at $4,000, $5,000, and $6,000 respectively. All three mowers are expected to be available in the spring of 2022. While they aren’t cheap, you get plenty of mower and battery capacity for the price. We look forward to doing even more performance testing on these mowers when we have them in-house later this year.
Shared specs for all Ryobi 80V zero-turn riding mowers
- LCD control screen
- Low/medium/high blade speed
- Low/Medium/High drive speed
- Remaining battery and cut-off time
- iDrive Joystick Drive Control
- External wall fast charger
- Plugs into the back of the mower
- 80v and 40v chargers simultaneously
- Power supply: 80 V battery with LCD charge level display
- 40V battery compatibility
- USB charging port
- cup holders
- Golf cart style parking brake
- 1.5″ to 4.5″ deck height
- LED headlights
- Key start
Ryobi Z30Li 80V Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 30 inch stamped steel deck
- Maximum cutting area: 1 acre
- Batteries: 2 x 80V Lithium-ion
- 40V Spare Battery Ports: 2
- Charging time (with fast charger): 2 hours
- Price: $4,000
Ryobi Z42Li 80V Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 42 inch stamped steel deck
- Maximum cutting area: 2 acres
- Batteries: 3 x 80V lithium-ion
- 40V Spare Battery Ports: 4
- Charging time (with fast charger): 3 hours
- Price: $5,000
Ryobi Z54Li 80V Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 54 inch fabricated steel deck
- Maximum cutting area: 4 acres
- Batteries: 3 x 80V lithium-ion
- 40V Spare Battery Ports: 4
- Charging time (with fast charger): 4 hours
- Price: $6,000