Do you have a short driveway? Perhaps you don't get much snow, but you don't feel like shoveling the snow that you do get. Consider electric snow throwers (snow blowers) as an alternative to gas-powered snow blowers.
Pros and Cons of Electric Snow Throwers
With electric, you spend more time on snow blowing, but less on maintenance, starting up the equipment and finding a place to store the unit away later. You'll also spend less money. However, as you'll see below, gas-powered snow blowers have their advantages, so this buying decision is hardly a no-brainer.
Note: The following review, while based loosely on a Yard-Man model, is primarily a general comparison of machines based on how they are powered (gas vs. electricity). If you're looking for an assessment of a specific product, check out my review of the Toro Power Curve Electric Snowblower.
Here's a list of some of the pros and cons of electric vs. gas snowblowers:
- No tune-ups, no gas, and oil to worry about with electric.
- Less noisy than gas-powered snow blowers.
- Their light weight makes them easy to store, easy to use.
- Suitable only for jobs involving short driveways.
- The cord gets in the way -- which is a hazard!
- Less powerful than gas-powered snow blowers.
Features to Consider:
- The Yard-Man model that I tried out (8.5 amp) was lightweight and small, making it maneuverable while you're working and easy to store away after.
- No yanking on a starter cord to try to get your snow thrower to start up. Also less money, noise, pollution.
- Never worry about draining gas after the season, or about trips to the service center for tune-ups.
- But you're limited by the reach of your cord, which should be kept to 100-150 feet....
- Because after 100-150 feet, you're too far from the power source to have sufficient juice....
- Thus in most cases, these snow throwers will be useless for driveways over 100-150 feet in length....
- Electricity and precipitation don't mix. Use common sense. And watch out not to run over the cord!
- The chute clogs if the snow is wet. But this is a problem common to most snow blowers.
- Meant to handle snowfalls of about 6 inches. Not as powerful as gas-powered snow blowers.
More on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric
Electric snow throwers offer a tempting alternative -- but only for some folks. If you have a short driveway and live where it doesn't snow much, then I envy you, because electric snow throwers could be right for you. If your driveway is under 100-150 feet, you don't have to worry about their main limitation: namely, that straying more than 100-150 feet from the power source reduces the juice too much. Of course, the cord gets in the way, a drawback gas-powered snow blowers don't have. Also, make sure you get an extension cord intended for outdoor use. Even then, use common sense in dealing with electricity.
There are always trade-offs when comparing electric equipment to gas-powered counterparts. Here are a few factors to weigh:
- On the plus side, with no gas or oil to worry about, electric snow throwers are maintenance-free.
- Because they're light-weight, almost anyone can handle them.
- The small size virtually eliminates storage problems, a major concern for homeowners with limited space (remember, snowblowers take up garage, basement, or shed space all 12 months of the year).
- However, being less powerful than gas-powered snowblowers, this equipment is meant for snowfalls only up to 6 inches. Heck, where I live (New England), that's just a dusting! To compensate, you can make multiple passes over snowfalls that exceed 6 inches. Or, if this sounds like too much work (and it does, to me), narrow down your search to gas-powered snowblowers.
Want to explore your options further? Read my overview of snow-removal options.