If you found yourself here, chances are you are trying to decide whether you should commit to Ryobi or Kobalt – two well-known power tool brands.
In this article, I will help you make that decision by looking at the two brands’ histories, product portfolios, as well as manufacturing quality.
A Brief History of Ryobi and Kobalt
Kobalt is a relatively new name in the tool industry. It is a line of hand and power tools owned by the American home improvement chain Lowe’s. It was launched in 1998 and has gained a strong following amongst DIYers and professionals alike.
The brand started manufacturing cordless power tools in 2011.
On a side note, Lowe’s has a corporate campus in Mooresville, North Carolina where it employs over 10,000 employees.
Ryobi, on the other hand, was founded in 1943 in Japan as Ryobi Seisakusho. In 1961 the company began manufacturing offset printing presses and began production of power tools in 1968. The company’s name changed in 1973 to its current one.
The company operates 12 manufacturing facilities across six countries.
In 1985, Ryobi launched production in Shelbyville, Indiana, which to date is it’s only manufacturing location in the United States.
Ryobi power tools are manufactured by Techtronic Industries which is headquartered in Hong Kong. The same company also manufactures tools for Ridgid, Milwaukee, and some of the other major brands.
Ryobi vs. Kobalt: Which Offers Better Quality?
Both Kobalt and Ryobi are reputed for their quality products, although Kobalt is a relatively new brand.
Ryobi has positioned itself as an affordable brand targeting DIYers, homeowners, and enthusiast users. While many professionals use Ryobi tools, some refuse to use it due to their perception of it being a DIY tool brand.
Many of Kobalt’s power tools are made by Chervon, a Chinese OEM, while Kobalt cordless 80-volt outdoor power equipment is made by Sunrise Global/Greenworks Tools. Meanwhile, Ryobi tools are made in one of six countries.
While it is true that Ryobi is more of a consumer brand, it can also be used by pros. Ryobi’s 18V One+ cordless power tool lineup has a decent product selection. The quality is up to the mark, but not as durable as for the renowned Milwaukee brand, for example.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
Kobalt also offers excellent warranties for its power tools.
Handheld power tools and lights are covered under a 5-year tool and 3-year battery limited guarantee. Keep in mind that this guarantee does not cover damage due to abuse, normal wear, improper maintenance, neglect, and unauthorized repair or alteration.
It also doesn’t cover the cost of changing expendable parts and accessories expected to become unusable after a reasonable period of use.
Kobalt power tool accessories come with a satisfaction guarantee, while 24V Max brushless power tools have a 1-year risk free guarantee and a 5-year Tool/3-year battery limited guarantee.
Ryobi has the industry-standard 3-year limited warranty on all power tools. It also has a 90-day exchange policy. To get a Ryobi tool repaired, you will need to return the power tool, properly packaged and postage prepaid, to an Authorized Service Center.
When you request warranty service, you must also present proof of purchase documentation, which includes the date of purchase.
Ryobi will repair any faulty workmanship, and either repair or replace any defective part within 90 days or less.
Ryobi vs. Kobalt: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
Kobalt has a single 18V cordless drill but around 40 24V cordless tools including jigsaws, reciprocating saws, circular saws and impact wrenches and hammer drills. Other than these, Kobalt has blowers, grinders, fans, lights, rotary cutting tools, and combo kits.
The Kobalt product catalog is wider than that of some other tool companies’ but not as large as that of well-established names like Milwaukee.
Ryobi has a large portfolio of 18V ONE+ power tools and accessories with hundreds of power tools such as drills, blowers, foggers, drivers, work lights and more. It also offers plumbing, woodworking, chemical sprayers, vacuums, and gardening equipment.
Ryobi’s 40V product line may not be as extensive as its 18V One+ line, but it includes lawnmowers, pole saws, chain saws, leaf mulchers, and several other gardening related pieces of equipment.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Miter Saws?
Ryobi offers two miter saws, one 10-inch brushless dual bevel sliding miter saw from the 18V One+ product line and one 18V cordless 7-1/4-inch miter saw.
Meanwhile, Kobalt offers six different miter saws including a compact sliding 7-1/4-inch 10-amp single bevel sliding compound miter saw, a 10-inch 15-amp dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, a 12-inch 15-amp dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, a 7-1/4-inch 15-amp dual bevel sliding compound cordless miter saw, 7-1/4-inch 24 volt dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, and a 7-1/4-inch 9-amp single bevel sliding compound miter saw.
Kobalt wins this category for its wider range of options.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Lawn Mowers?
Ryobi offers 8 different mower options, ranging from ones you can ride on to self-propelled mowers to push mowers, with the common feature being that they are all electric.
On the other hand, Kobalt offers 14 push mowers and 5 self-propelled mowers, with a variety of cut widths and cutting ranges. They don’t have any rideable mowers, however. They even have some corded electric mowers.
In this category, Ryobi wins for having three different kinds of mowers, but Kobalt has a bigger variety overall to choose from.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
If you are starting out as a DIYer, woodworker, hobbyist, or just needed some tools for jobs around the house, Ryobi is a great choice. However, don’t go for them if you plan to use them daily to make money.
If you decide to only buy Ryobi products, you’ll find pretty much everything you need for any DIY job you can conceive. Kobalt is a good choice too, especially if you need lots of options to pick from, but for the sheer breadth of catalog options, Ryobi is hard to beat.
Hopefully, the above helped you make a decision between the two relatively entry-level brands, Ryobi and Kobalt.
Before making your purchase decision, though, keep in mind that they are just two of more than a dozen power tool brands on the market. As such, I also recommend reading my guide to the best power tool brands so that you can look at what other options you have.