Product Review: Ryobi Expand-It 10amp Electric Power Head
I've been looking in to an expandable garden/landscape maintenance tool that I can use for trimming, edging, roto tilling and pruning. There are several different manufacturers making expandable systems, and most have interchangeable attachments that can be used with other systems. One such system is the Home Depot's Ryobi branded Expand-It line of garden tools. The Expand-It line offers three different power head options: a 10amp electric, a 28cc 2-cycle and a 30cc 4-cycle. I opted for the electric power head as my needs are not hard core and the price is good. Attachments from Ryobi include a straight shaft line trimmer, an edger, a blower, tiller, pruner, hedge trimmer and brush cutter. Manufacturers such as Homelite and Toro also offer sinilar universal fit attachments that will work with the Ryobi system.
My first attachment purchase was the Ryobi Cultivator Attachment. The 10amp power head has just enough juice to get this attachment going, though attempting to use the tiller head in anything but soft loose soil is a difficult exercise, as the power is not there to really dig in and break up wet clay or anything that may be hard packed. I found that I had to loosen the soil with a shovel first before I was able to get acceptable results. In some of my existing planting beds, I had no problem at all, and the combination of the 10amp head and the cultivator worked great when mixing peat moss and manure in to the soft soil. (It is possible that the cultivator attachment would work better in combination with the 2 or 4-cycle power head.)
Using the Expand-It 10amp power head with the straight shaft trimmer attachment and the edger attachment works very well. Often with an electric power head you end up with an unbalanced tool, depending on the attachment, which makes work difficult. With the trimmer and edger attachments, the tool remains fairly well balanced and there is enough power to take care of generic trimming and edging needs.
I found that after about an hour of near continuous use, the tool became fairly warm, but not hot. Electric motors can generate quite a bit of heat from continuous use. It was good to see this one did not. the one issue I had was with the electrical cord itself. The pigtail off the back of the power head is very short. Too short to tie an extension cord to it, and there is no place to clip your extension cord to the power head to prevent separation. I use a heavy duty 12-gauge outdoor cord and it was prone to coming loose. This was more of a bother than anything else, especially when I was using the cultivator. I ended up using a cord keeper style clip that kept the male and female cords ends together.
Expect to pay about $60 for the 10amp head. The attachments range from $35 for the curve shaft trimmer up to $100 for the pruner. The electric head is not recommended for use with the brush cutter attachment or the hedge trimmer. I found that for my purposes, the electric head works very well. I am never too far from a power source, so having to use two or three extension cords is not an issue. My trimming and edging needs are light duty, as are my seasonal cultivating needs and this head fills the requirements. For a large landscape, or one where electrical power is not convenient, the gas heads are the way to go. But if you can manage to save on $4 per gallon gas, you will do well with this system.