Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Kyle Whitley
The RYOBI RY48ZTR100 or the ZT480E is an electric zero turn mower. This mower is one of the first battery powered zero turns to be offered from RYOBI. This model was powered by 4 SLA (sealed lead acid batteries). We will take a look at an RYOBI ZT480E battery replacement.
Ryobi ZT480E battery replacement is essential for ensuring the optimal performance of your electric riding mower. Over time, the batteries may lose efficiency, limiting your mower’s runtime and eventually requiring a new set.
To determine if it’s time for a battery replacement, monitor the performance of your Ryobi ZT480E and pay attention to any noticeable decrease in run time. It’s important to follow safety precautions and utilize the proper tools to replace the battery successfully and minimize potential damage to your equipment.
When I first owned the mower, I could cut almost 3 acres of grass without recharging. After 100+ hours of runtime on the SLA batteries, I would have to charge the batteries at least three times to cut my yard. It was time for a replacement.
Table of Contents
- 1 Battery Type and Specifications
- 2 Safety Precautions Before Replacement
- 3 Tools Required for Replacement
- 4 Step-by-Step Battery Replacement Process
- 5 Removal of the SLA Batteries
- 5.1 Removing the Battery Tray
- 5.2 Installing the EPOCH 48V Battery Replacement Kit
- 5.3 EPOCH Battery Installation
- 5.3.1 Mounting the Charger and Securing the Batteries
- 5.3.2 Mounting the EPOCH charging Port for the Charger
- 5.3.3 Charging Your Batteries Before Mounting the Battery Tray in the Mower
- 5.3.4 Installing the Battery Meter Guage
- 5.3.5 Reinstall the Battery Tray
- 5.3.6 Connecting the EPOCH batteries to the Mower
- 5.4 Reassembling the Mower
- 5.5 Test the Mower
- 6 Proper Disposal of Old Battery
- 7 The First Cut with EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit
- 8 Pros and Cons of the EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit
- 9 Summing it Up: RYOBI ZT480E Battery Replacement – EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit.
Battery Type and Specifications
The RYOBI ZT480E riding mower is powered by a 100 Ah (Amp-hour) battery system. This system delivered excellent performance and helped cover more yards in less time. Keep in mind that the battery life is important for optimal performance.
When it comes time for a replacement, you have the option to either maintain the same battery type or upgrade it to a higher capacity like I did with the EPOCH 48V Replacement mower kit.
Most RYOBI zero turn mowers are turning to LiFePO4. Some users are using standard SLA replacement batteries from many manufacturers to keep replacement as straightforward as possible.
I didn’t want to replace the aging SLA batteries with more SLA batteries. I wanted to game some performance, decrease overall mower weight, and get more runtime or equivalent runtime to a brand new set of SLA batteries.
The EPOC battery kit met all of those needs. I would be getting LiFePO4 batteries which have good capacity, long runtimes, and many more discharge and recharge cycles than the SLA batteries.
With proper research and attention to specifications, you can ensure a successful battery replacement for your RYOBI ZT480E mower and continue enjoying its reliable performance.
Why I Chose the EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit
So there are almost a limitless amount of LiFePO4 batteries that can be used in RYOBI mowers most of which are sourced from China and are available on Amazon. I went with EPOCH batteries because for one, they are a battery company based in the USA and are local to me in the state of Georgia.
I thought it would be great to support a local business, and having them close to me would be great if I needed support for the batteries. I emailed them the day I installed the batteries on a Sunday and heard back from them the same day. That is some great customer service.
While this kit might have been a little more expensive than buying something from Amazon or AliExpress, I was just more comfortable with this purchase and pleasantly pleased.
Safety Precautions Before Replacement
Before replacing the battery in your RYOBI ZT480E, it’s essential to take safety precautions to protect yourself and your equipment. Always disconnect the charger from the mower before working on the battery, as this will prevent potential electric shocks.
Wearing nitrile gloves and safety glasses is highly recommended, as batteries can release harmful, corrosive chemicals if damaged.
Remember to identify and label all cables and connectors before detaching them. This will help you reconnect everything correctly, ensuring the smooth functioning of your mower after the replacement.
Lastly, consult your RYOBI ZT480E owner’s manual for the specific battery replacement instructions so you’re fully prepared to tackle this task safely and efficiently.
Tools Required for Replacement
Before beginning the battery replacement process on your RYOBI ZT480E mower, gather the necessary tools to ensure a smooth and efficient experience.
Obviously, I went with an SLA replacement with the EPOC batteries, but you could use the standard Leoch batteries.
Next, arm yourself with wrenches, torx bits, needle nose pliers, and ratchets. I would also recommend a drill driver as well. If you have an adapter to allow you to use the ratchets with your drill driver, it will make disassembling the mower body panels and battery connections much easier.
Specifically, you will need the following:
- 13mm socket
- T27 torx bit
These two tools will handle any bolt and screw you need to remove the body panels and the battery tray.
A small amount of dielectric grease for protection against corrosion will also be helpful. Finally, ensure you have a pair of safety glasses and gloves for personal protection during the replacement process.
Once you have these essential tools and equipment, you’re ready to proceed with the RYOBI ZT480E battery replacement. Keep in mind that following the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions is crucial for optimal results and personal safety.
Step-by-Step Battery Replacement Process
I would first like to say there are some great videos on YouTube with explain the removal of the SLA batteries from RYOBI zero turn and battery powered lawn mowers. I would suggest reviewing some of those videos to see the removal process. I specifically looked at the following videos to help with the removal of the batteries.
For the EPOCH battery kit install, I followed this video with steps to remove the SLA batteries and install the new ones.
Removal of the SLA Batteries
To replace the batteries, the batteries must be removed from the mower, which includes the removing body panels, the battery tray, and the batteries themselves.
Removing the Battery Tray
Before removing the batteries, you must lift the mower’s seat and disconnect the battery to the mower connection.
To do this, you will need to lift the seat forward, and you may need to disconnect the mower seat safety connection when you til the mower forward.
Disconnect the battery from the mower by pulling the main connection apart.
There is a small screw securing the female end of the main terminal to the mower. That screw will need to be removed as well.
When removing the screws, bolts, and nuts for the mower body battery tray, I found it easy to store them in the side trays above each wheel.
The next step is to remove the long center bolt for the battery bracket. It is a 13mm bolt. Note this bolt is long so it takes a bit to get it out with a ratchet.
Now it is time to remove the main battery compartment body panels. There are six screws at the back of the mower. These can all be removed with the Torx 27 bit.
One thing to note is that there are spring clips on each of these screws that can easily pop off when removing these screws. I personally had to replace two of these spring clips.
The next step is to remove the hitch to give you access to the battery tray. Two 13mm bolts need to be removed. These bolts have a locking nut at the top, so you will need an adjustable wrench or another 13mm socket to get the bolts loose.
There are two more bolts holding the battery tray. The bolts run through the top of the battery tray down through two spacers. Make sure you save the spacers.
The battery tray can now be removed. I caution you that the battery tray is extremely heavy. These batteries weigh around 270 pounds without the battery tray. You will need something to hold the tray while removing it.
I chose to use a small rolling cart and some stacked 2×8 board. Some folks have used hydraulic jacks or stands. Others have used cinder blocks. However, you get it done. Just be very careful removing the tray.
Now that the tray is removed, you can then start to remove the battery terminal connections. I started by removing the negative wire connections and then made the positive connections.
Two small jumper connections will need to be removed before removing the battery retainer bracket.
Once the batteries have been disconnected, you can move each battery off the tray.
You can now remove the battery spacer bracket when the batteries are removed. The bracket is attached with 13mm bolts.
Installing the EPOCH 48V Battery Replacement Kit
The EPOCH 48V battery replacement kit is an all in one solution for replacing batteries in an RYOBI, SLA equipped mower. The kit comes with:
- 2 EPOCH 48V 30AH LiFePO4 Batteries
- Battery Meter Gauge
- 48V 15A Battery Charger (IPv7 Rated)
- Battery to Battery – CANBUS Communication Cable
- 4AWG Cables for connecting the batteries
- Parallel Busbar
- NOCO AC Port Plug
- Battery Lifting Strap
One of the negatives about the EPOCH batteries is that they will not fit vertically in the RYOBI battery tray. So to mount and secure the batteries and charger, you will want to add some bottom to the battery tray.
I used a piece of pressure-treated plywood that I painted a light gray. Others have used plastic sheeting panels. Regardless of what you use, it will need to be a material you can screw into to mount your battery charger and a small brace to keep the batteries from shifting.
The battery tray measures at 27 3/4″ L x 13 3/4 W
EPOCH Battery Installation
Battery installation was fairly easy. The batteries weigh about a third of what the SLA batteries weigh. So they were much easier to move around.
I positioned the batteries on their sides, butting up against each other to allow for easier cable connections and mounting.
The EPOCH batteries come with good connection instructions; I would suggest following those. As you can see from the photo above, the batteries are connected positive to positive and negative to negative. I also connected the main connector from the older batteries to the positive and negative of each battery to allow for an easier connection back to the mower.
The charger will also need to be connected to a positive and negative terminal on each connection. You might notice my charger is a little different than the one in the YouTube video above, but EPOCH support said this was the charger now being shipped with the kits. I have had no issues with the included charger.
You will want also will want to connect the data comm connections from each battery connecting them. The smaller black cable is included in the kit with the screw-on connections.
Another step you will want to complete before fighting everything down is hooking up the battery meter. It has a connection to both positive on one battery and negative on the other battery. It also connects to the two other data ports.
After all the connections have been made, tighten the bolts on each terminal to the required torque specs.
Mounting the Charger and Securing the Batteries
To secure the battery’s on my “custom” wood tray, I mounted the charger directly behind the batteries, which secured the batteries from moving backward along the tray. The charger mounts with four screws, which weren’t included in my kit, so I hopped over to the local hardware store and picked up a few.
To secure the batteries further to the tray, I ran large zip ties from one end to the other lengthwise and also zipped tied them together with large zip ties running the completely around the two batteries.
To keep the batteries from sliding left to right, I added a small piece of plywood between the two batteries to the battery tray. This was attached with a few more stainless steel wood screws.
I then zipped and tied up all the cables to make a tidy setting and keep the wires from contacting anything inside the mower body.
Mounting the EPOCH charging Port for the Charger
The kit includes a charging port connection to go to the included charger. I decided to mount the charging port next to the factory charging port. You will need a 2″ hole saw to make the hole for the EPOCH charging port.
The charging port connects with the charger via a grounded plug connection. Then you use an extension cord to connect a wall outlet to the charging port. Really it is a much cleaner install than RYOBI’s external charger, which came with a mower from the factory.
The charging port connects to the mower via three screws. It is a pretty clean installation once it is installed.
Charging Your Batteries Before Mounting the Battery Tray in the Mower
I decided to take the extra step to charge my batteries before remounting the battery tray in the mower. I wanted to make sure all of my connections were good, and the batteries were secure.
I didn’t feel the batteries were totally secure on the tray, so I decided to use some lashing straps to mount around the batteries in the center and also length-wise. After adding these straps, I felt the battery was much more secure.
Before charging your batteries, you will need to power on each battery. Each battery has an individual power button, and you need to press the power button. The battery will light up a green light, and it will flash depending on the state of charge.
At this point, I connected an extension cord to the charger port, and the included charger began to power up, and the fan kicked on. The charger flashes while the batteries are being charged and will automatically cut off when fully charged.
Installing the Battery Meter Guage
The battery meter that is included with the EPOCH kit is a direct replacement for the factory RYOBI gauge. You will need to remove the four screws on the instrument cluster on the right side of the mower. These are also all Torx 27 screws.
Once the panel is removed, you need to unplug the factory meter. Then, remove the small bolts holding the meter to the panel using a small adjustable wrench, ratchet, and socket. The factory gauge can then be removed.
Install the EPOCH gauge using the included bracket and nuts in the same location. You will need to leave the panel unattached until you re-install the battery tray and the meter wires from the batteries can reach the new EPOCH meter.
Reinstall the Battery Tray
Reinstalling the battery tray is fairly easy. This tray will weigh a third of what it did when the SLA batteries were installed. You might need a second set of hands to help get the battery tray back up and inside the mower.
Once the tray has been pushed back into the mower, make sure not to let any wires get trapped, pinched, or kinked up while pushing the tray back up into the mower.
When the battery tray is fully pushed into the mower, you can connect the batteries to the battery meter using the supplied connection. The meter should begin to show the state of charge.
Connecting the EPOCH batteries to the Mower
When you have pushed the battery tray forward, you can reattach the batteries to the mower. Connecting the main male plug attached to the batteries to the female plug on the mower. Also, reattach any cables you might have disconnected to remove the battery tray.
I then reattached the seat safety cable to the seat and set it on the mower to see if the mower would power on via the key.
If you hear the click when you turn the key,, you should be able to move the mower. If not, you might want to recheck any unplugged connections.
Turn off the mower, attach a power cord to the charging port, and ensure the meter shows the battery charging. If that is working correctly, you should be able to start reassembling the mower body panels, control panel, battery tray, and instrument panel.
Reassembling the Mower
You will want to reassemble the mower in the opposite way in which you disassembled it.
- Reinstall the instrument panel
- Reinstall the battery tray retainer bolts and spacers
- Reinstall the rear hitch assembly
- Reinstall the rear plastic panels, ensuring not to lose any of the body panels’ spring clip retainers. They tend to fall out easily.
- You can then reinstall the battery tray cover that is under the set.
Test the Mower
When all the panels are back on the mower, you can test the mower functioning correctly. Test the following:
- Test the key function, making sure the mower powers on.
- Test the lights and both the mower speed and blade speed buttons
- Enable the blades and test both blade speeds
- Try moving the more forward and backward using both mower speed settings.
You should notice on the battery meter gauge as you enable the blades and move the mower, the draw-in amps the blades and drive speed have on the EPOCH batteries.
Going for a Test Cut
After verifying everything was working, I went on a little test cut to ensure everything was cutting correctly. The mower was powerful and had more pep when moving around under both speed settings.
After my test cut, I went back and plugged in the mower to top off the charge before I went on my first full cut with the mower.
Proper Disposal of Old Battery
When disposing of your old Ryobi ZT480E battery, do so responsibly. Batteries contain metals and chemicals that can harm the environment if not dealt with properly. Instead of tossing the battery in the trash, opt for recycling to ensure the components are disposed of correctly.
Many recycling companies specialize in handling rechargeable batteries. One such program is Call2Recycle, a nonprofit battery recycling organization partnered with The Home Depot. When you’re ready to recycle your old battery, drop it off at a designated Call2Recycle bin in a participating store.
If you don’t want to recycle the batteries, you can often sell the batteries for scrap at a scrap yard or local battery store. You can also sell the batteries to people who use batteries for solar power. SLA batteries make great power storage for solar setups.
I sold my batteries to a local store for a little cost recovery.
By properly disposing of your old Ryobi ZT480E battery, you contribute to a greener future. Good battery recycling habits help keep harmful chemicals out of streams, landfills, and the environment. Responsible battery disposal is a small step that significantly impacts preserving our planet.
The First Cut with EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit
What can I say? This kit helped with the runtime of the mower. Before replacing the batteries, I had to break up my mowing sessions in three weekly sessions. I had to cut the lawn around my house first, then cut the rest into two sections in two days. It felt like I was constantly mowing.
That is over now. I have a relatively large lawn which is around 2.75 acres of grass. The terrain is rolling and has quite a few obstacles. I had no problem cutting the entire lawn and still had 30% capacity left. I was pleasantly surprised.
After completing the first cut, I went back and removed the top panel on the mower under the seat to ensure I didn’t need to tighten anything down, and everything looked good. The lashing straps were still tight, and the zip ties held everything together.
Pros and Cons of the EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit
So what do I think about the kit overall, I am very pleased with the kit and would recommend it to anyone who wants to replace the SLA batteries in their RYOBI zero turn mowers
- Easy DIY installation
- Everything you need is included in the kit
- Power increase
- Longer mower runtimes
- Lighter weight
- The battery meter is hard to read in direct sunlight
- Batteries need to be mounted horizontally to fit in the mower battery compartment
I don’t have that many complaints. I and pleased with the replacement kit, and I have mowed my lawn several times since I did the installation and haven’t experienced any issues.
Summing it Up: RYOBI ZT480E Battery Replacement – EPOCH Batteries LiFePO4 Replacement Kit.
With the expected lifetime of the batteries, I should never need to replace the batteries in this mower ever again. That is one thing I can get behind for sure. I moved to battery-powered outdoor equipment a few years ago and have never looked back.
The original RYOBI ZT480E is an excellent mower, and I believe its only true fault was using heavy SLA batteries that didn’t last with repeated use. With the EPOCH batteries replacement kit, that one fault has been solved. This kit met all my expectations and is a quick, easy DIY replacement that gets a superior battery in this great mower.
I look forward to many more years using this mower to keep the lawn looking great while no longer using gas, oil, or making a ton of noise while cutting the grass.