In this review we are going to take a look at the Ryobi RY40511 40V Brushless Chainsaw. There are several different product numbers for this saw, which buyers may find confusing, so let’s clear that up right away.
The RY40511 is the kit version, which contains the battery and charger. This saw replaces the previous model, the RY40510B. To add to the confusion, there is the RY40502. This is the same saw but doesn’t come as a kit, which means that the battery and charger are not included.
A lot of manufacturers like to claim that their corded battery saws are capable of gas saw performance and Ryobi are no different. The company states that the saws brushless motor produces higher torque and faster chain speed, resulting in better performance and ‘gas-like power’.
Carry on reading to find out if it’s time to safely throw away your gas saw!
Performance and Handling
So, does the RY40511 live up to the ‘gas-like performance’ claims? In a word, the answer in no, but then again not many electric chainsaws do. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have several advantages over the gas saw.
Starting, for example, is simply a case of activating a lockout switch and squeezing the throttle trigger. You will be up and running in seconds without having to worry about mixing gas and oil or pulling cords. There is also a variable trigger speed which means you can control the chain speed depending on the type of cutting you are doing. Stopping the saw is simply a case of releasing the trigger. The lockout button will reset and the chain will come to a halt.
Now you’ve got your saw up and running, what type of jobs is it capable of doing. Essentially, this is a light duty saw which can be used for limbing and pruning branches from trees, felling small trees and bucking fallen trees into smaller lengths.
This saw will work well cutting through logs with a diameter up to around 7-8 inches. Even though it has a fast chain speed, working on more demanding wood than this will drain the battery pretty quickly. This is the case with most saws but is more of an issue with the Ryobi due to the type of battery. (See Motor/Battery Section). Whilst the saw therefore cuts very well, there are some question marks about its staying power.
The saw is reasonably light and user feedback suggests it is a relatively easy saw to handle. It is best for small projects, so if you have a lot of firewood to cut or large trees to take down or buck then this probably isn’t the model for you.
Cutting Equipment – 14 Inch Bar and Chain
The Ryobi is equipped with a 14 inch bar and chain.
The bar is a narrow-kerf reduced kickback variety. The chain is a low kickback type which meets the ANSI B.175.1 standards in this regard.
The chain has a 3/8” pitch, 0.043 gauge and 52 drive links. This is a popular chain and lighter than the 0.05" gauge versions. There is a compromise here in that the chains aren’t quite as strong as the 0.05” gauge but because they are lighter they do help to improve speed, thereby improving cutting performance. Which brings us on to the chain speed. This is measured at 23 meters per second, which is excellent and can certainly match that of many gas powered models. This accounts for the fact that the Ryobi can make short work of modest sized limbs.
Take a look at the video below and see for yourself how well this saw cuts.
Keeping the chain properly tensioned is crucial to prevent it from snapping or slipping the bar. To do this there is a side mounted tensioner, and a scrench tool is provided to help with this. It is simply a case of loosening the bar nuts and turning a screw to either tighten or loosen as required. (A couple of users had trouble locating this tool. It can be found at the back of the saw underneath the user’s trigger hand). As with all chainsaws, the cutting components should be checked on a regular basis and kept properly tensioned. Chains, especially when new, tend to stretch more so it is worth checking more often in the early days.
As well as keeping the cutting components properly taut, they also need to be kept sharp. Full instructions are provided on how to do this but it is a job which must be done properly. If you are not confident about doing it yourself then you should get it done professionally or invest in a new chain. If you are happy to do it yourself then you will need a 5/32 inch round file and holder. Full instructions in the manual are provided on how to do this and you can also find some useful information in our article on this subject.
Finally, a few users mentioned that they couldn’t identify a replacement chain. The Oregon S52 90PX052G will fit this saw.
Design and Construction
The RY40511 is a well balanced, nicely designed saw.
As can be seen in the picture above, the battery is positioned centrally and slots into the powerhead unit just in front of the rear handle. There is a full wrap front handle to help cutting at different angles and just in front of this a hand guard. Unlike many modern day saws, this hand guard does not also act as chain brake. The bar nuts (used for keeping the cover and bar in place) and tensioning screw are both indicated in the picture.
The image above shows the left side of the saw. There is a rubberized rear handle which houses the lockout switch and throttle trigger. The oil cap is positioned on the side of the powerhead unit and just below this is the oil reservoir window.
Brushless Engine and 40V Battery
Let’s start with the positives. The Ryobi has a modern brushless motor. If you don’t know too much about these motors you can read more in our article Chainsaw Motors – Brushed vs Brushless. Briefly, they are much more efficient than traditional brushed motors found in some cheaper saws, providing greater performance. The motor is capable of producing 1.7 nm torque – a small gas saw will generate around 2 NM so this is pretty reasonable.
This model is powered by a 40 volt 1.5 Amp Hour lithium-ion battery. When it comes to batteries, the voltage provides a rough guide to power and the amp hours gives an indication of the runtime. 40 volt batteries are quite common in cordless saws and are in fact middle of the range. In terms of amp hours, 1.5 is really the lowest you are likely to get and this is where the RY40511 falls down. The majority of models have 2 Amp Hour batteries, with the more powerful ones having 4 or 5 AH versions.
So, what does this mean for you? Effectively, you don’t get as much cutting time, and user feedback has highlighted this as the main problem with this product. Depending on the type of wood and intensity of cutting you can get as little as 15 minutes runtime, which means that if you have any major projects to carry out you will need to get an additional battery or do the work in stages. The battery is fade free so it will keep on providing full power right to the end.
The good news is that if you have any other products (such as a lawn mower) in the Ryobi 40 volt range then these batteries will also fit the saw. You can also invest in a 5 amp hour battery which will provide far greater runtime, though this will cost in the region of $130.
When it comes to charging, a full charge will take around an hour. This is reasonably quick but what you would expect from a battery with such a low AH rating.
Chain Oil System
There is an automatic lubrication system on this saw which means all you need to worry about is keeping the oil reservoir topped up. The reservoir has a capacity of 6 oz. (180ml), which is a reasonable size and should last the length of the battery charge. You should keep a close eye on oil levels at all times and this is simple thanks to the reservoir window.
A good quality bar and chain oil should be used and this is added through the cap on the side of the saw. It is usual for bar oil to seep when being stored and the manufacturer recommends that the reservoir is emptied after use.
Note, you should not use dirty or contaminated oil. Also, as with most chainsaw purchases, oil is NOT supplied.
The safety features on the Ryobi include:
• Hand protection against flying debris and chain contact provided by front and rear hand guards.
• Lockout switch to prevent accidental start-up.
• Low kickback cutting components to reduce the likelihood and severity of kickback.
Protective gear and clothing should always be worn. This includes ear and eye protection. The safety features are only a backup – correct use of the saw is the best way to stay out of harm’s way.
This product weighs 10lbs, which is in line with other saws in its class. Most people should find this to be quite manageable.
Included with the purchase are:
• Battery and charger
• Operator’s manual
• Scrench tool
• Scabbard to protect the bar
• Easy to start and use
• Fast cutting speed
• Battery life is poor with the battery supplied
The consumer ratings for this saw are pretty positive and around 80% of people rate the saw as either excellent or good.
Buyers like how easy the saw is to start, its relatively light weight and cutting ability on small jobs.
By far the biggest complaint relates to the disappointing battery life.
You should buy this saw if:
• You want an occasional use saw for small projects.
• You have light cutting tasks around the yard
• You have other tools in Ryobi’s 40V range.
You should not buy this saw if:
• You need a saw to carry out medium/heavy duty work
• You want a battery with a long runtime
Price of Ryobi RY40511 40V Brushless Chainsaw
The saw is currently priced at under $200. This puts it in the same class as other products, such as the Poulan Pro PPB4014 and the GreenWorks 20262. These saws are very similar in many respects so the pricing of the Ryobi seems fair.