If you're looking for a snow blower that's inexpensive and doesn't take a lot of muscle to move around, consider a top-rated electric thrower. Electric snow blowers are lightweight, easy to handle and require less maintenance than other types of snow blowers. All the current electric models we spotted are single-stage and cost between $100 and $500.
Electric snow blowers are less expensive to operate because they don't require oil, fuel or annual engine service. Most use a power cord, which must be purchased separately. The cost of the cord will vary depending on its quality and length -- figure on $25 to $75 or so. Your extension cord must be heavy-duty (12-gauge or better), rated for outdoor use, and be long enough to reach from the electrical outlet to the furthest point you want to clear with the snow blower -- 100 feet or more is typical, but that can vary up or down depending on your property.
According to expert comparisons, electric machines are suitable for light-duty work but don't match the speed or power of a gas snow blower. They're best for light snowfalls of 6 to 8 inches of powder, or denser snow up to around 4 inches. Anything more, and you are likely to overheat the motor and possibly permanently damage the snow blower.
Experts and owners say the combination of superb handling and performance earns the Toro 1800 Power Curve 38381 (Est. $250) top ratings among electric snow blowers. User-friendly controls, effortless handling and a compact design make it one of the easiest snow blowers to use. The Power Curve 38381 ranks first among electric units in one comparison by an independent reviewer -- though that's somewhat faint praise as this tester is unimpressed by electric snow blowers in general. It's also one of the recommended models among corded electric snow blowers at MovingSnow.com, though there's no indication that Paul Sikkema has tested the model.
Instead, our recommendation is based on user feedback, which is largely very positive. We spotted hundreds of owner reviews spread over a number of sites, and this Toro snow blower generally scores 4 stars or better. As an example, we see around 470 reviews at HomeDepot.com, though some are originally posted on the Toro web site. Be that as it may, the Toro 1800 Power Curve earns a 4.3-star score, with around 89 percent of owners saying that they would recommend it to a friend.
Those posting to SnowBlowersDirect.com like the Toro 38381 even more, and these reviews are all from the site's customers. It earns a near-5-star rating after more than 150 reviews, with 96 percent of users saying that it earns their recommendation. The site's "snow blower expert" Marissa Munoz also recommends this Toro electric snow blower, calling it "The perfect tool for residential use." The largest accumulation of user reviews can be found at Amazon.com -- again, all unique to that site. Here, the Toro earns a 4.2-star rating following more than 600 reviews.
While these user reviews are strong, relatively speaking, not everyone is happy. We spotted some reports of snow throwers that failed on their first or second use, or from people who found even this relatively lightweight snow blower too much of a burden to push around. Others say that that satisfaction comes from understanding the limits of this snow blower and not expecting performance that matches a two-stage gas model (covered in our discussion of gas snow blowers elsewhere in this report).
For a basic, inexpensive electric snow blower, feedback indicates that the Snow Joe SJ620 (Est. $160) is a good pick. We've not seen a professional test of this blower (TopTenReviews.com includes it in its list of top snow blowers, but does not appear to have done any testing), but user reviews are both plentiful and positive. At Amazon.com, around 700 users contribute to an overall rating of 4.2 stars. Other sites have less -- but still substantial feedback -- and users that seem even more pleased. At Walmart.com, the Snow Joe SJ620 earns 4.4-stars and a recommendation from 91 percent of owners, while nearly 80 reviewers at HomeDepot.com grant it a 4.5-star rating, with recommendations from 95 percent.
The Snow Joe SJ620 has a 13.5-amp motor and is rated to move up to 650 pounds of snow per minute and clear a swath of 18-inches wide and up to 10 inches deep per pass. It can throw snow up to 20 feet, and has an adjustable chute that can pivot over 180 degrees to direct the blown snow where you want it. This blower is most effective on light, fluffy snow -- expect the blower to strain if tasked with dealing with more than a few inches of the wet, heavy stuff. Durability is a little bit of a red flag, however. We saw some reports of blowers that failed prematurely, but also comments from owners praising the manufacturer's responsiveness when issues arose.
The Greenworks 26032 (Est. $190) 12 Amp 20" Corded Snow Thrower, which we highlighted in the last edition of this report, is still worth considering. Its lightweight frame makes this snow blower an easy handler, and Greenworks' four-year warranty is the longest in our report. With a 500-pound-per-minute capacity, the Greenworks 26032 isn't as powerful as the Snow Joe SJ620, let alone the Toro 38381; owners say it is best on powder up to 6 inches deep. Expect slower operation and some clogging if you're clearing wet snow. It's not been tested by professionals, but user satisfaction is high at Amazon.com -- with a 4-star rating after more than 1,000 reviews -- and elsewhere.
However, while the 26032 remains available at retail -- for now -- it has been discontinued and replaced with the Greenworks 2600202 (Est. $150) 13 Amp 20" Corded Snow Thrower With Light Kit. The 2600202's snow handling capacity is upped compared to the 26032, to 700 pounds per minute, and it's rated to throw snow up to 20 feet -- though that's a bit optimistic according to the limited number of owner reviews we spotted. Like the model it replaced, it's best for moderate snow falls in the 6 to 7 inch range. It won't handle deep snow very well, nor is it effective on wet snow that's more than a few inches deep. The light kit is a new feature (although it's also available without the lights for about $15 less) and it's handy when clearing snow at night. Reviews are still too scant to make a firm recommendation, but it looks like the Greenworks 2600202 is a worthy yet cheaper successor to the 26032.
Even if an electric snow blower is right-sized for your expected snowfall and property, many find wrangling the long -- often 100 feet or more -- power cord a pain. Among cordless electric snow blowers, we found the best feedback for the Snow Joe iON18SB (Est. $380). The 40 amp-hour lithium-ion battery is rated to give the iON18SB around 40 minutes of run time -- and one professional test found 30 minutes of performance under real-world conditions. That clearly limits usefulness to only smaller urban and suburban properties. It's also not the fastest worker -- rated at a little less than 500 pounds of snow per minute.
That level of performance, along with long recharge times and short throw distances, are enough to earn the Snow Joe iON18SB a pretty dismal rating in the one professional review we've seen -- albeit from a reviewer that gives a thumbs-down to all electric snow blowers, cordless or otherwise. It is recommended by a couple of other experts, including Marissa Munoz at SnowBlowersDirect.com and Grant Morgan at TopTenReviews.com, but the level of hands on testing they do, if any, is unclear.
However, users -- at least those that understand that the Snow Joe isn't the snow blower to buy if you live where foot or more snowfalls are a regular occurrence or on a property with long walkways and driveways to clear -- are a pretty happy bunch. The iON18SB earns a respectable 4.1-star rating after nearly 300 customer reviews at Amazon.com. We note several user reports of the Snow Joe successfully blowing away accumulations of 4 to 6 inches, and occasionally more. The snow blower accumulates fewer reviews at HomeDepot.com -- around 80 at last look -- and a 4.3-star rating, with 89 percent of owners posting there recommending it. User feedback at SnowBlowersDirect.com is similar: a 4.4-star score and recommendations from 87 percent of owners.
Elsewhere in this report: