Over the past decade, we have seen an increase in snow blowers manufacturers turning their design and engineering skills to producing snow blowers that are powered by electric motors instead of the traditional gasoline engine. At first these machines were more of an oddity or a novelty but as these contraptions have become more main stream, they seem to have carved out a niche for themselves.
Not convinced? Well, I wasn't either until I took a serious look at some of better units available today. When I used to think of electric snow blowers, I had a picture in my head of those cheesy electric snow shovels fitted with a spinning blade that shoots the snow out in front of you – very low-tech. Truth be told, I am still staunchly on the fence about those things and I could be easily convinced in either direction about how effective they are but then I found out about some of the new proper single-stage units being built by the big brand names like Toro and Snow Joe. These machines are the real deal. With some units equipped with up to 15 Ampere motors, the most powerful of the bunch can generate over 1.5 horsepower. Not bad for a tool that takes up about as much room in your garage as a snow shovel!
Electric snow blowers are not going to replace gas powered units for some applications any time soon but there are some situations where these products can be as good as or even better than the gas powered equivalent. Of course, you have to consider the capabilities of each type. You are not going to attempt of conquer a giant rural driveway, covered with 2 feet of snow, with a 13 ampere, 12" wide electric snow blower but, by the same token, you are not going to try to use a 36" wide, 300 pound brute to clear your front steps either. Be realistic about how big your job is before you choose a machine. You might be surprised how more suitable an electric model would be for you. Here are six reasons why you may be better off with an electric snow blower:
The electric units being sold today weigh anywhere between roughly 25 and 35 lbs. (The electric snow shovels are still a whopping 17 lbs.) This is a big plus for anyone who is intimidated by the sheer size and weight of a gas blower. At this weight, the electrics are still heavy enough to push through snow while remaining manageable and light enough to be moved up and down stairs by hand. Compare this with how much gas powered snow blowers weigh (90 to 360 lbs.) and how much larger they are physically.
Asa result of being smaller, electric units take up much less storage space. Not only are the units themselves smaller but other than the power cord, they have no other items that need to be stored. The typical gas snow blower also requires you to store fuel, oil, lubricants and tools. The typical electric snow blower takes up about as much space as a large shovel versus most gas powered units require at least the space of a large appliance like a stove or washer/dryer.
Almost any adult can use an electric snow blowers. It's as easy as using a hairdryer. Simply plug it in and switch it on and start blowing snow. It is that easy. Need to move it from the front laneway to the back deck? No problem. They are light enough to be picked up and moved around with little effort. Try doing that with a 300 pound 2-stage unit.
Everything needs regular upkeep and electric snow blowers are no different except they need much less care than a gas powered unit. There are no fluids to top up or complex mechanical systems to maintain. At the beginning of season, a simple inspection is all you need to do. Be sure to replace any broken parts before use. During the winter months, keep the unit in a dry place and keep it free of dirt, debris and mud. At the end of season simply make sure it is clean and put it in a safe place until you need it next year. If you need replacement parts, make sure to buy them from a reputable service dealer.
Obviously, electric snow blowers are not burning fossil fuels so there is no resulting carbon emission. This is very good for the environment. Also, they use far less fossil based lubricants. One little discussed fact is how quiet these blowers can be. They are so quiet that you could blow snow in the early morning hours without bothering your neighbours.
Considering they do not need fuel, lubricants or expensive maintenance, electric snow blowers can be very inexpensive to operate compared with their gas powered equivalents.
The biggest drawback for this type of unit is more of a limitation than a drawback. Electric snow blowers are intended for lighter duty to medium sized jobs. Currently, electric snow blowers are very basic and stripped down and don't have many features like you'll see on larger gas units. Things like heated hand grips, true powered wheel drive and auto-turn are only a dream. About the only feature you can expect right now would be a headlight. Another universal complaint are the power cords. These tend to freeze and become hardened into odd and difficult to use shapes. Although there are some very respectable battery driven cordless electric snow blowers on the market, these tend to be a little more expensive. My recommendation would be to buy a good quality power cord designed to be flexible at low winter temperatures. Look for a cord with an SJ type jacket.
So, in summary, if you need to clear smaller areas of lighter amounts of snow and you are looking for a snow blower that is easy to handle, stores compactly, requires little maintenance, environmentally friendly and inexpensive to operate then you may want to take a look at buying an electric snow blower.