Ryobi Raises the Electric Zero Turn Mower Bar with 54-Inch Deck
The battery-powered ZT race is in full force and several brands are pushing the envelope further. In the process, they’re looking, feeling, and cutting more like gas models. We’ve been using the 54-inch Ryobi electric zero turn mower in place of our gas ZT to see what you can expect.
- Confident cutting, even in overgrowth
- Even cutting
- 54-inch fabricated 10-gauge steel deck
- Low drive and blade speeds to extend runtime in light cutting
- Up to 3 1/2 acres of cutting on one charge (really!)
- 500-pound towing capacity
- Some users may prefer lithium-ion batteries over lead acid
- Power level drops toward the end of the battery capacity
- No bagging option
- Slow charging
Ryobi HP Brushless 54-Inch Electric Zero Turn Mower Performance
On the surface, there are some similarities to Ryobi’s 42-inch zero turn mowers. However, this model gets the HP Brushless designation, promising a whole new level of performance.
We had several areas we wanted to focus on going into this review, starting with how much power the mower has. In our first round of testing, we did a maintenance cut, taking 2 inches off a field of dry bahiagrass and bringing it down to 2 1/2 inches. The power was excellent, cutting confidently and throwing the clippings as far out to the side as our gas mower.
Heading into the weekend, we were hampered by rain and were more than a week overdue for cutting another lawn. With Florida’s heat, the grass was more than a foot tall in some areas. We ran our Ryobi zero turn side-by-side with our residential gas ZT and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was cutting more confidently.
The big difference was when we got to grass high and thick enough to bog the blades down. It was about the same level of height and thickness for both mowers to start bogging, but Ryobi’s lower mass blades slowed more quickly.
As we expected, we were able to slow down our drive speed to allow the blades to keep their RPMs higher and still cut effectively. However, we had to cut a few of the toughest areas twice to get it all and it wasn’t able to distribute the clippings as far.
Even with that caveat, we were impressed with how much cutting power Ryobi’s three brushless motors put into the blades. It clearly exceeds walk-behind models by a wide margin and is on par with our Toro Timecutter and its 24.5 horsepower engine.
With the power question answered, we turned our attention to cut quality. In its stock configuration, side discharge is your only choice. There’s an optional mulching plug you can add, but there’s no bagging option.
Looking across the lawn, the cut from side to side was nice and even, indicating the deck is level. We ran into a few areas where we got some uneven cutting down into drainage areas, but that’s going to be the case with any size ZT you use.
If the deck manages to become uneven, check your tire pressures first. If they’re level, the deck is adjustable to even it out. Overall, we don’t have any complaints when it comes to the evenness of the cut.
With the 115Ah of battery power you have onboard, Ryobi tells us you can expect up to 3 1/2 acres of cutting.
We finally had a good day to set up our runtime test and made the most of it. We started by using our gas ZT to take a field of bahiagrass down to 4 1/2 inches. Then we took 2 inches off the top with our Ryobi ZT. But there’s a caveat—it also had to move the grass we had just cut. This was not an easy cut. In fact, it kept the mower working pretty hard the entire time.
The mower ran for 1 hour, 38 minutes with both the drive and blade speeds set to high. Time for a little math. Averaging 4 MPH (you can go faster, but that includes turns), with 54 inches of cutting nets you 154,915 square feet of cutting—or 3.56 acres. Yeah, you really can mow that much.
When we test noise levels, we test from our operator’s ear so you know whether or not you need hearing protection when you’re mowing. Sitting still, the mower is dead silent even though it’s active. Kicking the blades into low speed, they produce 83 decibels. At high speed, it increases to 87 decibels.
Driving and cutting, the total noise level with the blades at high speed is 89 decibels.
Ryobi HP Brushless 54-Inch Electric Zero Turn Mower Design Notes
54-Inch Fabricated Steel Deck
One of the things that set Ryobi’s ZT apart from the competition is its 54-inch deck. With the decks on EGO and Greenworks’ models stopping at 42 inches, the extra 12 inches is helpful when you have a larger property that you want to finish mowing more efficiently.
The other part of the equation is that it’s a fabricated 10-gauge steel deck that strikes us as a more durable way to go.
Both the drive and blades have high and low speeds to choose from with the simple press of a button. The mower’s top speed is 7 MPH and all of us on the testing team run it at high speed using the lap bars to manage it. Dropping to low speed is helpful if you’re getting used to the controls, but we think most folks will default to high once they’re comfortable.
Dropping the blade speed is helpful for extending runtime when you have to take a little off the top and the grass is dry. However, you get the most confident cutting and best cut quality at high blade speeds.
As long as you have the runtime to complete your lawn, we recommend keeping both the drive and cut levels at high speed.
Ryobi sticks with four sealed lead acid batteries to power this ZT. With other brands turning to lithium-ion, it’s natural to wonder how relevant this older technology is.
For one thing, today’s lead acid batteries aren’t the ones we dealt with a decade ago. They’re more stable and don’t require filling thanks to their sealed designs.
There’s also the cost to keep in mind. The 10Ah batteries in the EGO ZT are $450 each—and you’ll need to buy two extras out of the gate to get the best runtime. When it comes time to replace them, you’re in it for $2700.
On the other hand, you can get quality 115Ah replacements for this mower for less than half that price each and you only need four of them. That’s a lot less out of your pocket when the time comes.
One downside is the charge time. If you run the batteries completely down, the mower needs to charge overnight and there’s no possibility of swapping out another set if you run short of finishing the job. On the plus side, you only need a standard 120V outlet for charging.
Another thing to note is that lead-acid batteries don’t have the same fade-free power lithium-ion ones do. We noticed the power level tapering off as we got to the last 20% of our battery life.
There’s plenty of front-to-back seat adjustment on this mower. All the way back, it’s a little too far for my 6-foot, 2-inch self, so if you’re taller than me, you can still get a comfortable fit.
At 205 pounds, I bottom out the seat springs when I’m on bouncy terrain, though. A tensioning seat would be a nice upgrade down the road.
Then there are the armrests. It doesn’t matter which mower I use, they’re never quite right. I’d love to have height adjustments similar to what an office chair has.
While you should know about those caveats, the seat itself has plenty of padding and is reasonably comfortable even after an hour of straight mowing.
The tow hitch comes in the kit and it just takes two bolts to install it. What’s really impressive is the towing capacity—500 pounds! That’s double what EGO rates their ZT for.
- 2 brushless motors for the drive system
- 3 brushless motors for the blades
- No belts for the drive or blade systems
- Manual deck height adjustment lever (1 1/2 – 4 1/2 inches)
- Two lap bar heights
- LED headlights
- Battery level indicator (5% increments)
- Mechanical foot-engaged parking brake
- 2 covered storage areas
- 2.0A USB charging port
- 2 cup holders
Ryobi HP Brushless 54-Inch Electric Zero Turn Mower Price
You can order this mower at The Home Depot for $4599, which is a few hundred dollars less than EGO and Greenworks. Unlike the previous 42-inch version, there’s only one battery capacity. At 115Ah, it’s more than either of the Ryobi’s other battery-powered riding mowers had.
Ryobi backs this mower with a 3-year warranty.
The Bottom Line
As the next step in battery-powered riding mower technology, Ryobi made some significant steps forward from their previous models. The cutting is more confident, the runtime is longer, and the build is more durable. If you’re looking to leave the noise, emissions, and maintenance of gas engines behind, the Ryobi HP Brushless 54-Inch Electric Zero Turn Mower is a great option for 1 to 3 1/2-acre lawns.
Ryobi HP Brushless 54-Inch Electric Zero Turn Mower Specifications
- Model: Ryobi RY48140
- Battery: 48V 115Ah
- Cutting Area per Charge: Up to 3.5 acres
- Deck Size: 54″
- Cutting Height: 1.5″-4.5″
- Deck Height Adjustments: 12-position manual adjustment
- Charging: Standard 120V outlet
- Max Speed: 7 mph
- Replacement Battery: Leoch Model LDC12-115
- Warranty: 3-year tool warranty and 1-year battery warranty
- Weight: 796 lbs.
- Price: $4599
Learn more about this mower here!