Ryobi 18V ONE+ Power Tools Review

by Kelly R. Smith

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A selection of Ryobi 18V ONE+HP power tools
A selection of Ryobi 18V ONE+HP power tools

There are many tool companies that offer a selection of battery-operated power tools. You can choose between Ryobi, Milwaukee, Porter Cable, Makita, and many others. Now that the battery technology has improved so much (lithium), these tools are more practical. Let’s look at some of the Ryobi 18V ONE+ power tools in their lineup. Their site tells us they offer over 175 different tools in this family. I’ve been using 10 on a regular basis so I’ll focus on them. As an aside, I also use their 40V lawnmower. I also have one of their AM/FM radios that uses the same battery, but that’s not technically a tool, is it?

Ryobi 18V Power Tools

Note that some of these tools come with batteries and chargers and with some it’s just the tool, so the prices reflect that fact.

  • The AirStrike brad nailer. I use this nailer for various woodworking projects and trim installation. Reliable and easy to adjust.
  • 1/2″ drill/driver Kit. Lightweight and features a two-speed gearbox and a 24-position clutch for maximum control. No chuck key required.
  • Reciprocating saw. Their version of the famous Sawzall. For larger jobs I drag out my Makita corded version but this one is ideal for things like tree limbs up to 3″ in diameter.
  • 1/4″ impact driver or 3/8″ impact wrench. It’s handy for those tight jobs. The wrench has an auto mode to prevent over-tightening.
  • Compact brushless cut-off tool. Cuts metal, plastic, drywall, tile, and wire shelving. The base fits flat to the work surface for inhanced cutting accuracy. That’s a nice engineering touch. Cuts at up to 19,500 RPM.
  • 3/8” right angle drill. Ryobi claims this is the industry’s most compact model. It’s also good for those tight situations.
  • Hand-held belt sander. The front pommel handle adjusts to 5 different positions for individual comfort. The tool-free belt-tracking feature makes adjustment on the fly easy.
  • Variable speed jig saw. Very lightweight and portable.
  • Circular saw. Another reason for battery operation. When I was installing baseboards not long ago, I took rough measurements before going to Home Depot. I took my saw with me and dealt with those super long pieces right there in the parking lot (the Tacoma bed doesn’t like 15′ floppy stock.
  • Hand-held router. While I love my router table in the shop, it’s not very convenient to lug around.

Those are the Ryobi 18V ONE+ power tools that I have personal experience with. Overall I’m extremely satisfied. I’ve found them dependable, price-competitive, and offering some innovative features. I like the fact that they have brushless motors. The battery chargers run at a reasonable rate. The batteries are non-fade, meaning that they don’t begin to lag when they are running out of juice.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

2020 National Electrical Code Changes

National Electrical Code
National Electrical Code
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The National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70, is a regionally adoptable standard for the safest installation of electrical wiring and equipment, only in the United States, although of course other countries can follow it if they wish. The NEC is a part of the National Fire Code series published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which is a private trade association. Despite the use of the term “national”, it is not a federal law. It can be adopted as is by any state or municipality or adapted.

The 2020 version of the National Electric Code includes requirement updates in the following four significant areas: firemen’s disconnect, solar power, surge protection, and GFCI protection . To ensure providing the best, safest work possible, become familiar with the official NEC codes mandated by your state. Whether you are a professional or a DIY project person, a knowledge of electrical safety requirements is important.

Emergency Disconnects

  • Must function from outside dwellings
  • Applies to generators and energy storage systems (ESS)
  • Required for all single- and two-family dwellings
  • Must be readily accessible
  • Generators must be marked with one of the following: EMERGENCY DISCONNECT, METER DISCONNECT, NOT SERVICE EQUIPMENT, EMERGENCY DISCONNECT, SERVICE DISCONNECT, or EMERGENCY DISCONNECT, NOT SERVICE EQUIPMENT

Surge Protection

  • Must be part of service equipment or adjacent to it
  • New article (242) includes service lines to dwelling units
  • May be located at each level of downstream distribution as needed
  • As of 2020 applies to: replacements and service upgrades and line side and load side services 

Solar (Applies to California)

  • Solar panels on new construction (California requires solar photovoltaic systems for newly constructed healthcare facilities starting January 1, 2020)
  • Outdoor disconnect required for all energy storage units

Articles Removed from NEC 2017

  • Article 553 Floating Building
  • Article 285 SPDs 1,000V or less
  • Article 280 SPDs over 1,000V
  • Article 328 MV Cable Type MV

New Articles Added

  • Article 800 General Requirements for Communication Systems: consolidates the previous contents of 2017 NEC chapter 8 into one articles and addresses requirements for communication circuits, to include television and radio distribution antennae as well as network powered broadband systems.
  • Article 242 Overvoltage Protection: combines the two articles 280 and 285 and addresses surge protective requirements, devices and arresters.
  • Article 337 Type P Cable: covers 600V Type P cables that are used in industrial and hazardous areas and specifications.
  • Article 311 MV Connectors and Cable: Expands on the deleted article 328 and goes on to address medium voltage conductors and cables, their use, and their specifications.

Look for Updates Every 3 Years

The National Fire Protection Agency continues to publish official updates to the NEC every three years. These updates have run like clockwork since 1897, when the code was first introduced. 2020 NEC is the end result of more than 5,000 public inputs and comments, 18 panels, the annual NFPA meeting, and more than 2,000 revisions. Get ahead of the curve by learning about the 2020 National Electrical Code changes.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How Tiny Houses Meet Building Codes

by Kelly Smith

This article was updated on 08/09/20.

A tiny purple house
A tiny purple house
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Anyone watching TV these days might think tiny houses are a recent innovation, a minimalist invention of the ultra-hip, resource-conserving, save-the-planet, green-living crowd. And while these diminutive abodes do indeed meet many of these goal, history shows that they have been around for some time.

As a matter of fact, these houses were popular at the turn of the 20th century during an American growth phase and in the 21st century when property values were increasing. Today they must meet building code requirements. They are recognized in the 2018 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) in Appendix Q where, because of their size they get several special dispensations. This is how tiny houses meet building codes. This article addresses the dimensional aspect of construction, but if you are building know that the electrical code remains the same as for larger structures.


Loft Requirements

A notable IRC guideline is that we shouldn’t be trying to occupy too small an area. This is defined as saying that a habitable room cannot be less than 70 square feet or less than 7 feet in any cross-sectional dimension. Although the main floor in a tiny home must follow these requirements, the loft above that generally acts as the bedroom is treated somewhat differently. 

Bedroom lofts are allowed to be as small as 35 square feet as long as it has a minimum 5-foot cross-sectional area. To give you a rough idea, this just as bit larger than a queen-size bed. Additionally, the ceiling in these rooms shall be lower than 6 feet, 8 inches, Contrast this height with the standard height in full-sized homes of 8 feet.

Committing the ceiling to be this low in a loft instills the expectation to the owner before they even attempt to climb up. Safety is often linked to expectation in building codes, so when you lessen the safety factor, you need to lessen the expectation of said safety.

Specified is an absolute 36 inch minimum ceiling height for lofts but it only applies to the space which contains the minimum 35 square feet. Even so, there is an exception to the exception and here it is. Loft spaces under a roof/ceiling slope of 6-inch-12 or steeper, this area is permitted to have ceilings at the sloped areas as low as 16 inches above the finished floor.

Requirements for Access to the 
Loft

Since stairs eat up a lot of real estate, especially in a tiny home, they must be designed with this in mind. Usually owners don’t employ standard furniture in their loft so the minimum stairway width allowed is lowered from 36 inches to 17 inches above the handrail and 20 inches below it.

The lowest allowed stairway height of 6 feet 8 inches is permitted to be reduced to 6 feet 2 inches. Because many lofts have to be accessed by crawling, stairs ascending to a loft with a ceiling height less than 6 feet 2 inches may terminate at a landing platform. This is a new tiny home term coined by the IRC. Requirements for a normal landing has to be at least 36 inches deep but a landing platform must be between 18 inches and 22 inches deep.

Guardrail Requirements

The purpose of the minimum guardrail height is to protect a standing person from taking a fall, as you might expect. But since the reduction allowed in tiny house loft-ceiling height, a standard-height guardrail is just overwhelming. With this in mind, guardrails in a tiny home are allowed to be at least one-half of the ceiling height at its highest point.

Requirements for Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings

Thee is no window requirement for secondary emergency egress from a bedroom or loft space, but a so-called opening is. Because there exists a particular egress-window expectation of society, the authors of the tiny home appendix to the IRC felt it sufficient that a roof hatch or skylight would also be sufficient to meet that expectation.

If there is a minimalist residence in your future, now you know how tiny houses meet building codes.


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