The explosive expansion in the current power tool market has presented consumers a greater selection of power tool companies to choose from than ever before.
However, this large array of brands also means a significant amount of competition between them for a share of the power tool market. This leaves many consumers the task of deciding where to best spend their hard earned money.
By comparing various characteristics of two or more competing brands of power tools, consumers can make a more informed buying decision. The following is a side by side comparison of well known tool companies, Kobalt and Ridgid.
Although Kobalt has not been on the power tool spectrum for as long as Ridgid, they both have become mainstays in the industry itself.
The following is a brief summary of Kobalt and Ridgid’s rise to mainstream popularity.
About Kobalt Tools
As a relative newcomer in the world of tool manufacturers when compared to other major brands, Kobalt is now a household name. Lowe’s home improvement stores wanted to establish their own house brand to compete against Home Depot (Husky) and Sears (Craftsman), so they founded the Kobalt name in 1998.
During the first few years, Kobalt tools were made by J.H. Williams Manufacturing, which had been in operation for over a century. With a suggestion of a collaboration with the Lowe’s company, J.H Williams was sought out by them. This cooperation blossomed until 2002, when J.H Williams became an associate of Snap-On Tools.
After Snap-On’s acquisition of J.H. Williams, the production of Kobalt Tools for Lowe’s was taken over by Danaher, which was based in Washington, D.C. Danaher also produced tools for other well-known tool brands including the high end Matco. Until 2011, Danaher continued to produce Kobalt.
Several manufacturers have been used to create Kobalt’s various lines. J.S. Products, a company based in Las Vegas, has assumed production of almost all Kobalt hand tools, with the exception of screwdrivers, which are now produced by Great Neck.
In addition, Kobalt has its own line of battery-operated power tools. Chervon Tools is based in China and makes the majority of these products. This is the same company that makes power tools for EGO and SKIL.
With the financial troubles that Sears has had, Craftsman tools have also become a mainstay at Lowe’s. This interestingly makes Craftsman and Kobalt compete directly against one another in the same store.
That said, the popularity of Kobalt tools is such that you can now purchase them at a variety of outlets including Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, and Amazon.
See Also: Kobalt vs Craftsman Tools
About Ridgid Tools
The story of the Ridgid tool company begins almost 100 years ago with the design of a new universal pipe wrench. In 1923, Ridgid Tool Company was founded in Elyria, Ohio by Carl Ignwer Sr. Over the next few years, Ridgid continued to grow its product listings including several premium pipework and plumbing tools.
The Ridgid 400 Portable Power Drive, Ridgid’s first power tool, was introduced to the public in the late 1940s. The Power Drive saved both effort and time for tradesmen by expediting the process of threading pipe. Although further refinement took place, this tool lived on in Ridgid’s lineup for years.
The 1960s saw Ridgid merging with well-known Emerson Electric, expanding its face in the market. Shortly thereafter, Ridgid acquired the Kollman Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, thus expanding their product lines into the portable drain cleaning market.
The Ridgid line continued to grow quickly during the 1990s by offering new and innovative portable pipe tools, including cutters, threaders, and pipe crimpers. In 2003, Ridgid tools joined the ranks of other major tool companies by releasing its own line of battery-operated portable power tools. The Ridgid line of power tools became best known for its portable drills and specialty impact drivers.
Recently, Ridgid has merged its lines of pipework specific products and battery-operated products, releasing new and innovative designs to conquer the toughest jobs on the worksite.
See Also: Ridgid vs Ryobi
Many consumers put a lot of stock into the country of origin of their purchases. This is no different in the world of power tools. The production practice of a tool company can be as much an influencer in one’s buying decision of a tool, as can value or quality.
The following is a breakdown of Kobalt and Ridgid’s current production practices.
Where Are Kobalt Tools Made?
Chervon Tools in China produces the majority of Kobalt’s power tools.
Today, J.S Products Inc., which is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, manufactures Kobalt hand tools. Despite its American origin, the majority of J.S Products’ actual manufacturing facilities are based in Taiwan and China.
See Also: Kobalt vs EGO
Where Are Ridgid Tools Made?
Although Ridgid tools are manufactured in both China and the United State, its home is still headquartered in Elyria, Ohio. While the majority of the Ridgid brand of hand tools are still produced in the United States, the bulk of their power tools are manufactured overseas.
Techtronic Industries (TTI) manufactures the majority of Ridgid’s power tools, such as those manufactured exclusively for Home Depot. This is the same parent company that owns or manages many other premium power tool brands, such as Ryobi and Milwaukee.
See Also: Ridgid vs Makita Tools
Kobalt and Ridgid both strive to fulfill the needs of consumers, thereby offering comprehensive lines of premium power tools. In fact, both of these manufacturers have plenty to offer the average consumer.
The following is a general overview of Kobalt and Ridgid’s product portfolios.
Kobalt’s range of tools has long been recognized for its excellent value. The convenience and flexibility of their drivers and sockets, as well as the variety of sets containing them, are all regarded to be of good quality.
The Kobalt brand has become quite popular, even though its tools are relatively inexpensive. Interestingly enough, Lowe’s has begun to decrease their inventory of manual hand tools in favor of battery-operated lawn and garden equipment from Kobalt, such as string trimmers and leaf blowers.
Kobalt sells a variety of 24V brushless power tools that are quite popular. These tools have been a staple in the company’s line and continue to be best sellers. While quality drills and impact drivers were originally Kobalt’s primary focus in the 24V category, their range has grown to include additional options such as various saws.
Even though Kobalt is most recognized for the tools mentioned above, it has also established a name for itself in the field of garage organization. Kobalt not only provides storage units for your garage, but it also creates tool chests, tool cabinets, and even truck toolboxes.
2003 saw Ridgid first advancing into the power tool market when the company released its initial line of battery-powered tools. Today, this line has expanded significantly, though not to the same degree as that of many other top-tier power tool manufacturers.
Ridgid is best known for its line of 18V brushless portable power tools. This line is most recognized for its line of drills and heavy-duty impact drivers of every size. Ridgid still offers the mainstay products that most consumers desire even though its lineup of portable power tools is not as extensive as some manufacturers’ product catalogs.
Ridgid has also begun offering a sub-compact line of cordless power tools, which are roughly half the size of their larger counterparts. These compact power tools are essential for the dedicated craftsman, who is sometimes forced into working within rather tight confines. Amazingly, these tools also retain the same 18V rating as the company’s larger alternatives.
Although to this day, the company is perhaps best known for its production of premium pipe wrenches, from where it all began, Ridgid has greatly expanded its lineup over the years.
Aside from its various power tool offerings, Ridgid also manufactures and markets a wide array of corded power tools and specialty hand tools.
Kobalt and Ridgid work hard to stay abreast of the latest trends in power tool design and production, making them innovators in the tool market. The following are several of Kobalt and Ridgid’s most renowned technical innovations.
24V Brushless Motors
The newest claim to fame for Kobalt is the use of its FLEX 24V brushless technology in its tools. This design has allowed tools to charge 50% faster while outputting 20% more power. Impact wrenches, drills, and saws are just a few of the power tools produced by Kobalt that employ this technology.
When pushed to perform the most difficult tasks, several of Kobalt’s power tools have begun to earn a reputation for strength. The brand’s 1/4″ impact driver, which is capable of generating up to 1,800 in-lb of torque, is a good example. While a surprise to many, impact drivers from Kobalt can tackle jobs that put other brands to shame.
Most Kobalt power tools have variable-speed triggers, which provide considerably more control than a regular trigger would. These variable speed triggers allow the user to regulate the motor of the tool using finger pressure. As a result, working on finely detailed tasks is now a possibility.
Hyper Octane Batteries
Complete power tool control is placed at your fingertips with Ridgid’s Hyper Octane Batteries. These Bluetooth compatible batteries allow users to track a tool’s battery life from any location.
Any tool equipped with Hyper Octane Batteries can also be tracked, making it easier to know the status of every tool on a job site.
Compact Pipe-Tool Tech
Ridgid’s new compact pipe tool technology is a must-have for any plumber or homeowner who regularly finds himself working on pipes within tight confines. There is perhaps no better brand of power tool to suit your needs than Ridgid.
Ridgid produces a full line of battery-powered, compact pipe tools, for use in those situations that need smaller than usual tools.
RP 350 Press Tool
The Ridgid 350 Press Tool features a brushless motor that is capable of over 100,000 press cycles and gives access to hard to reach locations with a 360-degree swivel.
The Ridgid 350 Press Tool requires no scheduled maintenance. This upgraded tool features 12 LED lights to illuminate even the darkest workspaces and 4 color-coded LED panels that provide critical tool information.
Warranty and Service
When buying tools of any nature, a major factor is always the manufacturer’s customer service and warranty. In fact, a tool is of little value, if not covered by a solid warranty that works as hard as you do.
Below are the most critical details surrounding Kobalt and Ridgid’s warranty policies.
Kobalt offers a one-year “Risk Free” warranty on most of its power tools. You may return a product under this policy and receive a replacement or complete refund if you are dissatisfied with it within one year after buying it.
The company is recognized for providing outstanding customer service, as evidenced by their 5-year limited warranty on the majority of its handheld power tools. This warranty applies to defects as a result of faulty material or workmanship. Damage caused by regular use and tear, abuse, or attempted repair by third parties is not covered.
Kobalt power tool batteries are covered by a 3-year warranty. If a batter pack fails during the first three years of ownership, Lowe’s will replace it if you bring it in to any of its stores.
Other specific warranty coverage is as follows:
- Outdoor equipment: 5-year warranty
- Hand tools: Lifetime hassle-free warranty
- Garage and tool storage/organization: 3 to 5-year warranty
- Mechanics tools: Lifetime hassle-free warranty
Ridgid backs its line of battery-operated power tools with a 3-year limited warranty policy. By just contacting Ridgid, claims of defects in materials due to material or workmanship will be covered at no cost to the consumer.
Ridgid Tool Company also offers a lifetime service agreement, besides their 3-year limited warranty, which provides specific coverage for any power tool, for as long as it remains in the possession of its original owner. This warranty policy also covers the failure of Ridgid battery chargers and packs.
It must be noted that the service agreement only applies to those Ridgid power tools purchased through Home Depot. This service agreement also must be applied for within 90-days of the original purchase.
Ridgid carries other additional warranties on specific items such as:
- 3-year limited warranty on generators, pressure washers, and gas-powered air compressors
- Limited Lifetime warranty on concrete and masonry hand tools
- Full lifetime warranty on wet/dry vacs
- 3-5 years limited warranty on Ridgid pumps
Kobalt vs Ridgid: And The Winner Is…
In today’s market, it is difficult to assume that one could go wrong when purchasing from either Kobalt or Ridgid. However, there can only be one winner in our side-by-side brand comparison. With this in mind, we feel that Ridgid is deserving of our “best of the best” honors.
Ridgid offers a sizable selection of power tools, all of which are known to be of better than average build quality. Additionally, Ridgid’s customer service is on par with any of the top brands in the industry, thus providing consumers with additional piece of mind. This, in itself, is worthy of ample consideration.
One must also consider the fact that Kobalt power tools are becoming somewhat harder to find, especially now that they share shelf space with the likes of Craftsman, and other assorted power tool brands. This leads one to question Kobalt’s long-term future, thus giving Ridgid the additional edge.