Electric Powered Snow Blowers – Toy Or Tool?

With all the snow in the East last year, snow blowers of all makes took a jump in popularity, but probably no group as much as the electric-powered snow blower. They certainly have some advantages over the gas models in terms of weight, cost, ease of use, and storage (especially the smaller machines). They are…

With all the snow in the East last year, snow blowers of all makes took a jump in popularity, but probably no group as much as the electric-powered snow blower. They certainly have some advantages over the gas models in terms of weight, cost, ease of use, and storage (especially the smaller machines). They are perfectly suited for those borderline areas that usually get light and intermittent snowfalls.

I rank electric-powered snow blowers into two general categories: (1) the very small ultra-light units that are used to clear off stairs, decks, patios, and small walkways, and (2) the machines that are competitive with single- stage gas models.

The Ultra-lights

These machines are lightweight; weighing from about 12.5 lbs to around 20 lbs. They are often referred to as “electric shovels.” They clear a swath of from 12 to 15 inches, in snow no deeper that 4 or 5 inches (many people do use these units to clear snow much deeper). They are easy to store and can hang on a hook on the wall of a garage. These are the perfect units for stairs and small decks and patios, or short walkways. The prices on these ultra-lights run from around $ 90 to about $ 150.

I was thinking it might be a good idea to have one of these units around in addition to a larger snow blower for the larger areas.

Comparable Single-Stage Machines

These electric-powered snow throwers have larger motors – up to 15 amps – and can cut a swath up to 19 inches in 12 inches of snow. They have all the features of the larger gas single-stage models, like: directional discharge chutes, ergonomically designed handles, larger wheels, heavy body (although not near as heavy as the gas models), good discharge distance, and the like.

And of course, they do not require gas or oil, and there will never be the frustrating experience of yanking on a starter cord trying to start a temporary gas engine in below zero weather. The obvious advantage over comparable gas models is that there are no oil changes, or expensive tune-ups.

Of course the comparable disadvantage of this size electric blower is that it takes up about as much storage space as gas models, plus there is an electrical cord that seems to get in the way fairly often. Prices for this larger electric machine can run up to around $ 300.

Going Cordless

The behemoth of the group is interestingly a cordless model. It has two batteries in a battery pack with a run time of 45 to 60 minutes on a single charge. It is the Ariens Amp 24 two-stage blower. This machine cuts a swath of 24 inches in 20-inch deep snow. Obviously, it has been designed for heavy-duty snow clearing. It has 6 urges forward and 2 in reverse. This machine has all the advantages of electric models, plus the workhorse capacity of the larger two-stage gas models. Unfortunately, this machine costs around $ 1,600, and is out of reach for many people.

On the down side, this unit also requires more storage space and the repair cost can be quite high, especially when the batteries give out and have to be replaced. No one knows yet how much current is used to charge the batteries, but they do have to be plugged in all the time to keep a trickle charge on them. I'm not sure cordless snow blowers are the wave of the future quite yet.

Toy or Tool?

Well, in my opinion, the electric-powered snow blower is definitely a tool, even if some of them look like toys. But, like all tools, they need to be used in areas they were designed for. I know, I know; many people tell me about the mountainous snowdrifts they tackle with their small snow blowers – and they definitely do a job … but I think the job could be done easier with the right tool for the right job.