Frequently you’ll find Ridgid tools sold in the same stores as Ryobi tools. They’re pricier than Ryobi, but cheaper than tools like DeWalt and Milwaukee. Is Ridgid better than Ryobi? Is Ridgid as good as DeWalt? Let’s dig in.
You won’t find it printed anywhere on the box, but Ryobi, Ridgid, and Milwaukee tools are all made by the same company. Ridgid tools are higher quality than Ryobi, with more power and durability, but a grade below brands like Milwaukee, DeWalt, and Makita.
Is Ridgid better than Ryobi?
If Ridgid, Milwaukee and Ryobi are all made by the same company, that means they’re all the same and we can all buy Ryobi tools and save a lot of money, right?
Nice try, but not really. The markup does tend to be higher on the pricier tools, so the cheapest tool is the best deal if it’s up to the work you’re going to put it through. Techtronic Industries (TTI) makes consumer tools at three different price points, and they cut corners on the Ryobi tools to meet whatever price point they’re trying to hit. Ryobi tools aren’t bad for what they are. But they’re consumer-grade tools, meant for people who use them a few times a month.
A Ryobi drill costs $50. A Ridgid drill costs $70. A Milwaukee costs between $100 and $200, depending on the accessory bundle. They each use functionally similar but incompatible battery systems. The pricier drills have beefier motors in them, along with heavier duty versions of most of the other parts inside.
When you’re drilling with both drills, the Ridgid will feel like it’s doing more of the work for you than the Ryobi.
As you might imagine, midrange tools like Ridgid sell pretty well. Split the difference between the consumer brand and the pro brand, and the Ridgid comes in a little lower than the midpoint.
Ridgid tools aren’t equivalent to DeWalt tools. The equivalent retail brands from Stanley Black and Decker are Craftsman or Porter Cable. DeWalt tools are a step up from that grade, in terms of price and quality.
Advantages of Ridgid tools
Besides having more power and a little bit better reliability than entry-level consumer tools, Ridgid gained a following by having a more generous-than-usual warranty. Most power tools have a limited warranty. Ridgid’s warranty is less limited than most. Register the tool within 90 days, and they’ll replace worn out batteries and provide parts for free, for life.
It’s not like the warranty Sears used to offer on Craftsman hand tools, where you could take any broken Craftsman tool to the nearest Sears and they’d replace it with a new one for free on the spot, no questions asked. If the problem is due to egregious abuse, limitations apply. And I understand they’ve gotten stingier about handing out service on broken tools in recent years. But the warranty is better than the three-year limited warranty you get on Ryobi tools.
TTI and retailers like Home Depot hope that people will look at the $20 price difference between Ridgid and Ryobi and decide that free batteries for life is worth it. They know a large percentage of people will forget to register on time and therefore never collect on the offer.
But yes, between the slight improvement in quality and the offer of free battery replacements, Ridgid isn’t a bad deal.
Advantages of Ryobi tools
So why do I own Ryobi tools instead of Ridgid? Because I needed a cordless weed whacker, and at the time I bought it in 2009 or so, the Ryobi one was the only one on the market. Over time I bought more and more Ryobi yard tools because they used the same battery. And that led to me buying other tools from Ryobi that use the same battery system, including saws, drills, and a nailer. That way I wouldn’t have to keep as many different kinds of batteries and chargers around.
Neither TTI nor Stanley Black and Decker make midrange yard tools. I can’t get Ridgid yard tools. That means I have to go either consumer-grade, or buy the really expensive yard tools from Milwaukee or Dewalt.
I guess offering a range of yard tools in the midrange would make Ridgid too good of a deal, so TTI doesn’t do it. If you want to use the same battery system across all your yard tools and your shop tools, you have to look elsewhere. But you don’t necessarily have to pick low-end or high-end.
Getting Ridgid quality with Ryobi versatility
If you want mid-grade tools with Ryobi’s selection, your best bet is going to be to go with Craftsman. Just keep in mind there are two Craftsman lines, made by different companies. The two aren’t compatible and, ironically, Stanley Black and Decker makes the Craftsman tools sold at Lowe’s and Ace, while TTI usually makes the Craftsman tools sold at Sears. I’m more willing to bet on Stanley Black and Decker still being around in five years than Sears, so I’d go the Lowe’s/Ace route, if it were me.
The Craftsman warranty isn’t as good as Ridgid, so it’s not quite the same. But it’s close, and it’s cheaper than stepping all the way up to Milwaukee or Dewalt.