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Is Ryobi a Home Depot brand? It depends

Is Ryobi a Home Depot brand? Not exactly. Ryobi is a Japanese manufacturing conglomerate. They introduced a line of power tools in 1968. In 2000, they sold their international tool operations to TTI and licensed their name to them. They retained the rights to make and sell Ryobi tools in Japan. They sold the Japanese tool business to Kyocera in 2018.

In North America, Home Depot and TTI have an exclusive agreement to sell Ryobi branded tools at retail only at Home Depot. The situation is different in other parts of the world.

The de facto Home Depot brand

This 1990s Ryobi drill predates TTI and its agreement with Home Depot

This Ryobi drill dates to the 1990s, before TTI bought Ryobi’s tool business and signed an exclusive with Home Depot.

Home Depot has an exclusive agreement with TTI to sell both the Ryobi and Ridgid brands of tools. But both Ryobi and Ridgid are brand names owned by someone else and licensed to TTI. So one could argue Home Depot has an exclusive only on those brand names when it comes to tools. One could also argue the effect ends up being about the same.

This agreement is the entire reason Hart power tools exist. Walmart wanted something comparable to Ryobi to sell alongside Black and Decker, so TTI dusted off that brand for the purpose. The Ryobi and Hart lines have incompatible battery systems and a different color scheme, but are otherwise very similar.

Ryobi is intended to be a consumer grade power tool line to compete with Black and Decker. The two main selling points for Ryobi are the large number of tools in their lineup and their battery system. The batteries have a dated appearance, but that’s the selling point. They haven’t changed their battery system since the 1996.

So if you find an old Ryobi cordless tool secondhand and the battery is dead, you can still get a battery for it.

Now, some of Ryobi’s batteries leave something to be desired, so I have some tips on Ryobi batteries. The short version is don’t buy their cheapest low end batteries. Buy knockoffs from eBay instead. They won’t be any worse, and they cost a third as much.

I’ve had good luck with their high capacity batteries.

As for the tools, they are fine for household use. I started out with their 18v string trimmer the same year it was introduced, probably sometime around 2008. It still works fine. The battery it came with was underpowered and only lasted a year or two, but when I bought a high-capacity battery for it, it’s been fine ever since.

The North American loophole

There is a loophole in the exclusivity agreement. Home Depot sells refurbished Ryobi tools online, but they aren’t the only one to do so. You can also buy refurbished Ryobi tools from Direct Tools Outlet and from Amazon.

But the argument whether Ryobi is a Home Depot brand really comes down to semantics.

1 thought on “Is Ryobi a Home Depot brand? It depends”

  1. The funny thing about Ryobi tools is that they are “good enough” most of the time. I am primarily using the DeWalt 20v line of tools because I do use tools semi-professionally but they lack some specific tools I wish were available.

    I was stuck, a few years back, after Porter-Cable abandoned their 18v line, with no direct upgrade method like DeWalt provided, so I started searching, for months, as to what tool platform I could standardize on with the highest satisfaction. No one power tool manufacturer had everything I wanted but using that adapter, I could get what I wanted out of the DeWalt and Ryobi lines, all powered by the same battery. Thanks to the free-market, I am able to use my DeWalt batteries, on my hand-full of Ryobi tools using this thing called the “Badapter.” I am now standardized on one battery platform which has served me well for almost 4 years now.

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