Kobalt vs Ryobi: What Brand Will Come Out On Top?

Kobalt and Ryobi are two well-known power tool manufacturers. Although each brand has their own individual pros and cons, both are loved for their commitment to quality, tireless innovation, and overall affordability. But which of these two brands is best? Of course, the answer to that varies depending on your personal needs. So, we’re going to spend today comparing these two brands side-by-side to help you make that decision yourself. Here’s your guide to Kobalt vs Ryobi.

Crash Course: Kobalt vs Ryobi

Kobalt and Ryobi both maintain solid reputations. Right off the bat, however, it’s important to note that both brands are better suited for home DIY projects than professional jobsites. This isn’t a slight on either brand – just an acknowledgment of the fact that both Kobalt and Ryobi are often considered “budget” power tools.

There’s no doubt that their products are completely capable and durable. Either brand is more than adequate for homeowners. But a professional tradespeople should consider higher-end (and more expensive) brands like DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita. That said, here are the most important similarities and differences between Kobalt and Ryobi.

Brand History

Kobalt is based out of North America. Although headquartered in the United States, their line of power tools is also widely available across Canada and Mexico. In fact, Kobalt is the house brand for Lowes. The home improvement giant launched the brand in 1998 to compete with the Craftsman house brand at Sears and the Husky house brand at Home Depot. Since then, Kobalt has greatly expanded its line of products to include a wide variety of hand tools and power tools for sale at Lowes stores and online.

Ryobi, on the other hand, is based out of Japan. The Japanese tool manufacturer was launched in 1943, more than 75 years ago, in Hiroshima. In addition to their Japanese operations, the company has maintained a manufacturing facility in the United States since 1985, one of twelve in six different countries.

The Ryobi product line has expanded over time to include a wide range of tools, including hand tools, power tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers, and much more. Ryobi power tools are primarily sold online as well as at Home Depot.

Top Products

Both Kobalt and Ryobi are known best for their power tools. In fact, their power tools are among the best value options for homeowners and DIYers. Kobalt and Ryobi power tools are known for their capability and durability mixed with their affordability, although they’re not the best option for professional tradespeople.

Pros and Cons

The two main benefits of both Kobalt and Ryobi are their affordability and availability.Both brands are easy to find, online and in stores, all across North America. In addition, the majority of their products combine good quality with excellent pricing. The main disadvantage if that the tools aren’t built for professionals.

Both Kobalt and Ryobi build and market their tools towards the DIY crowd – they’re excellent for occasional weekend use but not built to stand up to the rigors of daily use on a professional jobsite. This video from Homesteadonomics shows you a little more about how to buy the best power tools.

Which Brand is Best for You?

All in all, Ryobi is probably the best option for most people. Their tools are slightly better quality and their combo kits are typically better value. The most current product line of Ryobi tools has also been around longer. So, there is more information about them available online. Of course, Kobalt is still an excellent option, especially for home DIYers that do the bulk of their shopping at Lowes.

Tool Showdown

Kobalt and Ryobi both have extensive product lines of tools. Their offerings include a wide range of power tools, hand tools, and air tools for a vast variety of different tasks. To make our tool showdown simple, we decided to compare just one product: the 4-Tool Combo Kit.

One of the most popular packages from both brands, these combo kits each includes a drill/driver, circular saw, LED work light, while the Ryobi tool kit also includes a reciprocating saw. Both combo kits come with batteries and chargers. Here’s how the Kobalt 4-Tool Combo Kit and the Ryobi 4-Tool Combo Kit stack up.

Kobalt 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit

The Kobalt 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit includes three quality tools. The combo kit comes with a power drill (/impact driver), circular saw, and LED light along with batteries and a charger. The two-in-one Kobalt drill/driver is arguably the best of the bunch. It boasts a powerful brushless motor with 500-in-pounds of torque.

The circular saw is another exciting inclusion. However, it’s very important to note that this saw has a 6.5-inch blade – not a 7.25-inch blade like many people expect. Unfortunately, the name of this combo kit is a little misleading. One of the four tools is a two-in-one model while one of the others is an LED light.

What We Like:

  • Intuitive to use
  • Powerful motors
  • Efficient cordless design

What We Don’t Like:

  • Misleading product name/description

Ryobi 4-Tool Super Combo Kit

The Ryobi 4-Tool Super Combo Kit includes four top-notch tools. The combo kits come with a power drill (/impact driver), circular saw, reciprocating saw, and LED light along with batteries and a charger. Right from the get-go the Ryobi combo kit is the better value deal. For roughly the same price, you get everything the Kobalt combo kit offers plus a reciprocating saw.

In fact, we’d recommend this Ryobi 4-tool combo kit simply for that fact that it does contain four tools – a combination drill/driver, a circular saw, and a reciprocating saw. In addition, all of the components are capable and durable with long-lasting batteries and a quick, efficient charger.

What We Like:

  • Quality design
  • Durable construction
  • 4 (or 5) useful tools

What We Don’t Like:

  • Circular saw blade on left side (not right like usual)

These combo kits are great, but if you’re in the market for a specific tool, check out these resources:

Wrap Up

Homeowners and casual DIYers will be more than happy with Kobalt or Ryobi. Both power tool manufacturers make excellent quality products that are completely capable and durable enough to last for years on end. But, as mentioned above, neither of these two brands is a top choice for professionals. Kobalt and Ryobi are both DIY-centric. They’re designed with casual use in mind – and this enables them to charge much less on their products. Comparing the two brands head to head in a DIY showdown, we have to give Ryobi the slight nod.

Not only is Ryobi the best “bang for your buck,” but its product line has been around for a little longer than Kobalt’s new line. Kobalt’s recently revamped product hasn’t been put through the wringer in the same way, so it’s impossible to truly know how their current offering of power tools will stand up in the long run. All in all, both Kobalt and Ryobi are capable, powerful, and will last for years for normal DIY projects.

About Dirk Val

2 thoughts on “Kobalt vs Ryobi: What Brand Will Come Out On Top?”

  1. I have it set Ryobfor years, but recently bought a set of Kobalt tools because of a be ridiculously good deal, and I can tell you that the Kobalt tools are of much better quality than Ryobi. If you don’t believe it, just compair the circular saw, and multi tool from both brands. No comparison.

  2. My most notable ryobi story is of an old ryobi table saw, this was pre-blue and red logo Ryobi, that I inherited and had to fabricate the table and fences myself. bottom line, it worked and even if I had to strap on toothbrushes to clean the threading on the lowering mechanism, it worked.

    My second notable ryobi story is of a cordless weed whacker – the battery died within a couple of months, the warranty people sent a new one which also died within a few months. I wouldn’t try to go cordless with Ryobi anymore.

    hope this helps, I’m about to buy a Ryobi router to band-aid a problem at work, we’ll see what happens!


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