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Ryobi 40V Expand-It Review

If you are shopping on a tight budget and don't mind sacrificing some comfort for saving some cash, the Ryobi Expand-It is a good option
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $159 List | $173 at Amazon
Pros:  Relatively inexpensive, exceptionally powerful
Cons:  Loud, throws debris everywhere
Manufacturer:   Ryobi
By David Wise, Michelle Powell, and Jenna Ammerman  ⋅  Sep 4, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 7
  • Weed Eating - 30% 8
  • Ease of Use - 30% 4
  • Battery - 25% 5
  • Noise - 15% 3

Our Verdict

If you are looking to spend the bare minimum on a new cordless string trimmer, then we would recommend you start by checking out the Ryobi 40V Expand-It. This string trimmer is far from our favorite in terms of performance, failing to compare to the premium models completely. However, it's actually a decent product when you take into account that it retails for less than half of what those premium products go for. It has tons of power to cut through the densest patches of weeds but it can be quite uncomfortable to use for long periods of time and is by far one of the noisiest weed eaters we have tested so far. It's a great choice if you are shopping on a tight budget but we would probably recommend spending a bit more to significantly improve your weed eating experience if you can afford it.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $159 List$479 List
$389.00 at Amazon
$230 List
$229.95 at Amazon
$200 List
$178.33 at Amazon
$119 List
$109.00 at Amazon
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Pros Relatively inexpensive, exceptionally powerfulCuts through weeds like a champ, convenient to operate, quietQuiet, lightweight, easy to controlSuper convenient to use, runs on the quieter side, edges cleanlyFantastic at weed eating, easy to use
Cons Loud, throws debris everywherePriceyPricey, short reachGuard gets in the way, so-so battery lifeRequires additional motorized head, decently loud
Bottom Line If you are shopping on a tight budget and don’t mind sacrificing some comfort for saving some cash, the Ryobi Expand-It is a good optionIf you want the best of the best, the XRU09Z should be one of the first options you considerThe 115iL is a fantastic all-around string trimmer that just isn’t quite as comfortable to use as the top productsThe WG191 did quite well in almost all of our tests, falling just a bit short of the top productsThis is a great choice if you already have the EGO POWER+ Power Head
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Rating Categories Ryobi 40V Expand-It Makita XRU09Z 36V Husqvarna 115iL WORX WG191 56V... EGO Power+ STA1500...
Weed Eating (30%)
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Ease Of Use (30%)
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Battery (25%)
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Noise (15%)
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Specs Ryobi 40V Expand-It Makita XRU09Z 36V Husqvarna 115iL WORX WG191 56V... EGO Power+ STA1500...
Line Feed Mechanism bump bump bump button bump
Cutting Path (in.) 13-15 13.75 14 13 15
Shoulder Strap Attachment No Yes No Yes No
Measured Sound Level from 36" Away 105 dBa 88 dBa 95 dBa 88 dBa 104.6 dBa
Measured No-Load Runtime 43 min. 69 min. 92 min. 36 min. 21 min.
Measured Weight 12.063 lb 9.938 lb 10 lb 9 lb 12.375 lb
Nominal Voltage 40 36 40 56 56
Tested Amp-hours 4 5 4 2 2.5

Our Analysis and Test Results

In addition to being a great value on its own merits, the same battery in the Expand-It is compatible with an enormous number of other Ryobi tools, making it an even better value if you are planning on buying another cordless yard or home tool in the near future, as you can buy a bare-tool version and use the battery from this string trimmer in it, saving you even more cash.

Performance Comparison



The Expand-It is a great value when it comes to these products.
The Expand-It is a great value when it comes to these products.

Weed Eating


We based 30% of the Ryobi's final score on its weed eating performance, paying particular attention to how effective it is at clearing weeds and grass, how it handled dense areas of vegetation, and how user-friendly it is for detailed cuts or operating in tight areas. The Expand-It did quite well, earning one of the better scores of the group.


The Ryobi Expand-It has more than enough power to slice through pretty much any plants that we pointed it at, though it would occasionally get a little finicky and hard to control when cutting through dense pockets of thicker stems. We never really found anything that the Ryobi couldn't reduce to shreds. You can cut through tall patches of dense grasses with ease if you started at the top and worked your way down. We were pretty sure the Expand-It would do pretty well with burlier shrubbery with woodier stems as well. However, we didn't really want to test this all that much, as the Ryobi is very prone to flinging debris all over the place — including right back at you while you are using it.

The Ryobi is exceptionally powerful  almost to the point of being overkill.
The Ryobi is exceptionally powerful, almost to the point of being overkill.

In fact, we wished that the Ryobi was a little less powerful on more than one occasion, as it really feels like overkill for typical yard use. This makes it quite hard to work in tight areas and make detail cuts around delicate objects. You can angle the head to easily reach these spaces and the guard hardly ever gets in the way but it's difficult to avoid cutting trenches or damaging breakable items with the Ryobi's raw power.

Ease of Use


For our Ease of Use metric, we rated and scored how comfortable it is to use the Ryobi, how effective its guard is, and how much work it is to dispense more string or replace it with a new roll. These combine to also account for 30% of this string trimmer's final score. Unfortunately, the Expand-It failed to impress, earning a below average score.


The Ryobi Expand-It cordless string trimmer has a bump feed to dispense more line and is one of the easiest and most straightforward to replace the string on. Both lines come off of the same spool and we only had the slightest of difficulties when it came time to reassembling the head of the trimmer.

It isn't too hard to load more line in the Ryobi 40V.
It isn't too hard to load more line in the Ryobi 40V.

This string trimmer is on the heavier side, tipping the scales at a little more than 12 pounds.


Regrettably, we didn't think that the Ryobi is very comfortable to hold. It isn't well-balanced at all, tipping significantly towards the battery end and making it very difficult to hold in one hand. The handle is made of grippy rubber and feels fairly secure to hold even with a loose grip. The shoulder strap does help a bit but something about the way this string trimmer naturally wants to hand just doesn't feel quite right and is more fatiguing to use than other models.

There are definitely more ergonomic trimmers out there compared to the Expand-It.
There are definitely more ergonomic trimmers out there compared to the Expand-It.

However, we did like that you can use the weight of the trimmer to hold down the trigger once it gets going and it is quite easy to hold vertically for detail work or edging.

We appreciated that you can use the weight of the Ryobi to keep the trigger held down once you get it started.
We appreciated that you can use the weight of the Ryobi to keep the trigger held down once you get it started.

We did not like the guard on this string trimmer, finding it to be essentially useless. It's not particularly large and the Ryobi is so powerful that it feels like you are continually being pelted by plant matter while weed eating. The guard occasionally blocks something but more often than not, plants went flying past us.

The guard on this Ryobi trimmer didn't seem to be particularly effective at stopping plants from getting thrown back at you.
The guard on this Ryobi trimmer didn't seem to be particularly effective at stopping plants from getting thrown back at you.

Battery Life


Our next round of tests for the Ryobi focused on its battery system, specifically looking at its no-load runtime and different operating modes available. This cordless trimmer delivered a so-so set of results in this metric, which accounts for 25% of its overall score, putting it roughly in the middle of the group.


The 40-volt battery on this trimmer lasted for 43 minutes before calling it quits when starting with a full charge — slightly above average for these products. However, this will drop down a bit when you are actually cutting weeds with the Ryobi.


This string trimmer only has a single speed setting but we very much wished that it had low-power mode, both for conserving battery life and not destroying delicate objects.

The Expand-It has an average effective runtime.
The Expand-It has an average effective runtime.

Noise


The score for our final metric is based on the amount of noise and the tone generated by each string trimmer while it is in operation, which accounts for the remaining 15% of the final score. The Ryobi Expand-It is, unfortunately, one of the loudest and most obnoxious trimmers to operate, earning it a below-average score.


The Ryobi registered sound levels of 105 decibels (dBa) on our sound meter at a distance of three feet away, which is one of the highest recorded levels from any string trimmer that we have tested so far.


The Ryobi is also exceptionally high-pitched and annoying to be around when in use — definitely enough to disturb neighbors or bystanders.

Value


While the Ryobi has plenty of flaws, it packs quite a punch and has one of the lowest price tags of the group, making it an excellent value.

If you are shopping for a string trimmer on a tight budget  it's hard to go wrong with the Ryobi.
If you are shopping for a string trimmer on a tight budget, it's hard to go wrong with the Ryobi.

Conclusion


If you are shopping for a new string trimmer on the skinniest possible budget, then the Ryobi Expand-It is a solid choice. It has more than enough power to cut through pretty much any plants typically encountered but it is loud, it's far from the most comfortable trimmer to use, and only has a so-so battery life. Despite that, we still would recommend this for the budget-conscious shopper since it is such a great value.


David Wise, Michelle Powell, and Jenna Ammerman