Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray
In the world of power tools, several brands do tend to stand out over and above the majority, with Ryobi and DeWalt being two prime examples of this. But while it can be easy for people to state they prefer a specific brand over the other, thanks to it simply being more visible, what happens when you compare too well-loved brands?
That’s what I’m planning on doing right here. I’m taking two huge names in Ryobi and DeWalt and checking out the difference between them and which brand stands out.
I know some people may wonder why you would bother with comparing two names, as so many people have a personal preference. Well, I have several reasons.
The main reason is the clear difference between the two companies regarding their approach to power tools. As a result of their approach, they also target two slightly different markets, but I accept there’s a huge overlap between them.
That’s why it’s just fantastic to compare two brands that are similar in some ways but so different in others.
But the best place to start is the origins of each company.
The Origins of Ryobi
Ryobi is a Japanese company, and it’s often viewed as one of the new kids on the block. However, the company behind it was actually first launched way back in 1943.
But they didn’t start off making power tools. That didn’t come until 1968, but even then, it was something that remained only in Japan.
It wasn’t until the 2000s that Ryobi decided to make the push out of Japan and start selling its range of power tools to other countries. That is where the mistake of thinking Ryobi is a new company comes into play.
The truth is that this company has experience in developing and manufacturing power tools going back decades. By mistakenly believing they are new to the game, people could very well make a decision based on that error alone as to whether or not they will go ahead and purchase from the brand.
The Parent Companies Behind Ryobi
The Ryobi tools we are familiar with in the United States and other western countries actually refer to Ryobi Power Tools and Ryobi Outdoor Power Equipment. Both of these brands are really owned by another company called Techtonic Industries.
Techtonic Industries is a huge name, but it’s one most people are not familiar with. They own various other brands within their company, with names such as Milwaukee, VAX, Hoover US, and Dirt Devil just a few of those brands.
Overall, Ryobi has the backing of one of the biggest companies in the industry, so it’s perhaps no surprise they can push out their marketing and get their name out there.
The Origins of DeWalt
Founded by Raymond DeWalt back in 1924, this brand is viewed by many as being well-established and one of the major players in the power tool industry. While that is undoubtedly the case, they weren’t always focused on producing tools for woodworking.
Instead, this company spent the war years manufacturing tools specifically for war. However, after the war, they rebranded themselves as DeWalt Incorporated in 1947 and resumed production and development of tools for home use.
Thanks to their growth and expansion, it perhaps came as no surprise when Black & Decker decided to buy the company in 1960. They still own it today, and it has certainly developed into a huge brand with a massive yearly turnover.
The Parent Company Behind DeWalt
As I said, Black & Decker bought DeWalt in 1960, which means this brand sits alongside various other huge names owned by the parent company.
Brands such as Porter-Cable and Stanley are just two of the names, but you are undoubtedly looking at a company that produces billions in sales every single year.
Ryobi manufactures both corded and cordless tools. However, I accept that it’s the cordless tools that they are perhaps most famous for.
Their approach to cordless tools in 2008 became a game-changer for the company within the industry. They were the first company to successfully take a lithium-ion battery and design it so that it could be used with their range of cordless tools.
This was something that even DeWalt had previously tried to do before failing spectacularly at it. However, Ryobi came along with the idea you only had to buy one battery, and you then had the opportunity to power all of their cordless tools.
It changed how people looked at cordless power tools and made brands such as DeWalt sit up and notice them.
It’s perhaps no surprise to hear that Ryobi manufactures tools at various locations around the world, but that also includes a plant in the United States. They design, test, and build in the United States, with most of the power tools available in the country actually being made in the US.
However, it can often be the case that individual parts or components may have been produced elsewhere before being shipped to the US.
Number of Tools
Ryobi does have an extensive list of tools available to customers, and most are linked to their 18V ONE+ line. Within that line, you have over 250 different tools available, and then they have around another 40 or so tools in their 40V line.
I am impressed by the number of tools they have, and they seek to cover all bases regarding the range.
Ryobi does design and produces accessories connected to their tools, but it’s certainly not the mainstay of their business. Their primary focus remains on the production of the tools themselves rather than add-ons.
However, they offer a range of blades and bits to accompany their saws or drills. So, you won’t find yourself simply stuck with the one blade when you purchase their circular saw, for example. But it’s fair to say you also should not anticipate the number of accessories to reach such numbers that you don’t know where to even begin.
In my opinion, what Ryobi has managed to do is cross over into various markets with the one range.
By creating a range whereby you can use the one battery to power literally hundreds of different tools, they make it more inexpensive to go ahead and buy just the base tool. That helps draw in people who see that it costs little to get a Ryobi drill compared to a DeWalt or Milwaukee drill, which can be several times the price.
Why You Should Purchase Ryobi Tools
Purchasing a Ryobi tool will bring with it many indisputable advantages, the first being that this brand is very affordable.
Ryobi has gone out of its way to ensure its tools are placed at the budget end of the market, and yet they have also sought to not forego the quality of their tools either. However, this is the brand for you if you want a fantastic power tool without breaking the bank.
But that’s not the only reason.
The quality of Ryobi products far exceeds the price you pay. It gets to the point where I wonder how they can produce such a fantastic tool and keep the cost as low as they do. It just doesn’t make sense.
But for me, the main reason you should consider purchasing Ryobi tools is the battery. Their interchangeable battery is one of the best out there, and the fact it can power over 200 different tools is impressive.
Also, they have kept everything light, so you don’t feel as if you are carrying around a heavy-duty tool when all you want to do is to complete those small, simple tasks.
DeWalt makes no bones about the fact that different components of their tools will be manufactured in various locations around the world. However, while that used to be their primary approach to manufacturing, they have invested heavily in production within the United States in the last decade.
That does mean more parts and tools are now made in the United States. Yet you may still see power tools with the DeWalt brand name, which also clearly states they contain components manufactured elsewhere.
Number of Tools
As you would expect, DeWalt does have an extensive range of tools available for you to buy. Their 20V MAX line has more than 200 tools, but they now have their FlexVolt range. However, that range is clearly smaller in size, but they are closing in on a total of 50 tools using that particular technology.
DeWalt has the most accessories of the two brands, so you have a number of blades, bits, and other accessories to choose from. This focus on accessories and add-ons is partly because DeWalt does target the professional or serious DIY’er. That does partly explain why they have so many accessories. They simply know what their market wants and needs from their tools and don’t want them to go elsewhere.
The market that DeWalt targets is very obvious. They go big for the professional market, where there’s a need for more heavy-duty tools. They also target the hobbyist who is serious about their projects.
In addition, that means they design their tools to have more torque and power than you would expect from the likes of Ryobi. That’s entirely due to their understanding of the expected requirements from their market, which needs that additional power and torque to complete their task.
Why You Should Purchase DeWalt Tools
As with Ryobi, I feel that several reasons exist as to why you would want to purchase DeWalt tools.
First, they are tough. If you are a professional or carry out various projects in all sorts of situations and conditions, then DeWalt tools are designed to stand up to those extremes. I feel they sometimes work better in those conditions, as you know they will not let you down.
Also, I feel they perform better. However, that does depend on what you want from your power tools in the first place.
DeWalt tools will come with more power and torque, so you can push the tool’s limits and certainly outperform Ryobi in various situations. Also, keep in mind they come with either 18V or 20V batteries so that you can blast through projects along with that increased torque.
But I want to mention another reason, and I feel it’s important from a safety perspective.
With the increase in power and torque, it’s good to know that DeWalt includes an anti-rotation clutch system. What that does is it reduces the odds of a sudden torque reaction, and if that does happen, it will stop the tool.
That means you always maintain absolute control, and I think it’s a fantastic feature.
Ryobi Vs. DeWalt – Their Reputation
Before I delve into key areas such as cost and warranty options, you might want to know more about the reputation of both brands.
Both brands certainly have a strong reputation for quality tools in their own right. However, we are talking about them having a good reputation within their own market.
Remember that DeWalt focuses on professionals while Ryobi seeks to dominate the consumer market with the weekend DIY’er.
Both names are viewed in a positive light within their own field. Ryobi doesn’t really deal in products focused more on the trade, so they dial back on features and avoid offering products or features that the market would want.
But the one thing I can categorically state with both brands is you will get your hands on a well-made quality tool that should meet your expectations. Really, it comes down to you understanding what a tool is capable of rather than anything else.
Ryobi Vs. DeWalt – Cost of Tools
So let’s go back to something pretty important, in my opinion, the cost. I’ve spent so much time checking out the tools available by both brands, and I can only come to one conclusion.
Ryobi tools cost a fraction compared to DeWalt.
I’m not talking about there only being a slight difference in the cost. I’m talking about a significant difference between the two: it becomes an easy choice if your decision is based almost entirely on budget.
At times, Ryobi tools can cost less than half the price of the equivalent DeWalt tool, and that’s a considerable saving. Also, it’s not as if Ryobi tools are only half as good as DeWalt. That’s just not true at all.
But why are they so inexpensive in comparison?
It’s all to do with that target market, as I said before. Ryobi targets people who won’t be using power tools all the time and where they don’t require heavy-duty tools with as much power or torque as possible.
In addition, DeWalt tends to produce more of a heavy-duty battery for their pro users. That also pushes the price up while Ryobi does sell their tools minus the battery, so you also save money in that respect.
But ultimately, it comes down to the expectations of the tool, which then directly relates to the tools and their capabilities.
If you are sitting there wondering about the price difference, then here’s an example.
One of the entry-level Ryobi drills will cost you around $180 for one with a brushless motor. The equivalent with DeWalt will cost about $370, so almost $200 of a difference.
But as I said, the DeWalt drill will come with more torque and an increase in power, while its overall capabilities will be superior.
Ryobi Vs. DeWalt – Warranty
Whenever I’m looking at purchasing a new power tool, I always look at the warranty. That’s not because I expect the tool to fail, but I always feel it’s best to be cautious about these things.
What I find is that Ryobi typically offers a 3-year warranty on their tools. This is pretty standard, but at least you do get that protection. Also, if you purchase one of their 40V tools, you receive a 5-year warranty.
DeWalt, on the other hand, offers a 3-year limited warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee. There is also the option for a 1-year free service with their tools.
I feel that the warranties reflect their market. Professionals will look at the free service for the tools and prefer that option, thanks to the amount of work they will carry out with them.
Honestly, they are both pretty good in their own right with this, and there’s little to complain about when it comes to warranty.
How to Choose Between Dewalt and Ryobi
I could spend time going through different tools and how they compare, but instead, I want to give you some tips on what you should look at when deciding which brand to perhaps purchase.
First, I recommend you look at how often you will use the tool and also the circumstances in which you will use it. If you are working in a trade, then it’s an easy decision to make. However, the same applies if you only use a power tool on a rare occasion.
Your budget is another area to think about. Remember, DeWalt products can be double the price of Ryobi, so if you only intend to use a power tool sporadically, is it worth paying double the price?
That comes down to your personal preference, but I would certainly spend time looking at the price of the tool and whether or not I can justify the cost in line with how I will use it and how often.
While both brands now offer fantastic batteries, I want you to consider several areas.
First, does the battery drive enough power for you to then be able to complete your task? Next, will the battery life be enough for you to finish your project without needing to charge it?
Honestly, both brands have good batteries, so it’s a case of looking at usage to help you decide.
The main thing though has to be whether or not the tool has the capability of completing the task. Everything comes together, from the power to the torque to getting the correct accessories and so much more.
That is why I always stress the need to understand your project to ensure you get the best tool. Don’t allow your project to suffer because you did things the other way around.
Ryobi and DeWalt produce excellent power tools in their own right, but deciding which one is best is tough.
For me, I do love the array of tools Ryobi has at their disposal, and they are certainly the brand you think of when it comes to an interchangeable battery. However, if you think of a tool for more heavy-duty use, then it’s DeWalt that you would tend to lean toward.
And that’s the problem when choosing between brands. You need to know what you personally expect from a tool to then help you determine which one is best. Also, have expectations regarding price and what they can then do.