Easy to use and maneuver. The budget-priced Craftsman 88780 omits some of the features common on more expensive models such as a headlight, one-handed operation, power steering and remote chute control. In addition, owners aren't thrilled at having to stop the machine every time they want to adjust the chute.
The 88780 does, however, have a push-button electric starter so you can plug it into an outlet rather than pulling a recoil cord; a recoil start is also included. Reviewers and owners also say it's simple enough to turn and maneuver. A 70-year-old user posts, "No complaints whatsoever! It is so easy to use and saves my old back." Paul Sikkema of MovingSnow.com says you don't really need power steering with this lightweight machine.
Like all single-stage blowers, the Craftsman 88780 is propelled by its auger, which clears snow right down to the surface. Reviewers say it doesn't handle slopes as well as a two-stage model; "has little traction when working on a grade, which could prove dangerous," warns one at Sears.com. The 88780 shouldn't be used on gravel or other loose surfaces because it could pick up and eject that debris out its chute, and Sikkema warns that the auger can easily scratch a wood or composite deck.
The 88780's four-cycle 179cc OHV engine is relatively low-maintenance. Owners aren't required to pre-mix oil and gas, and the blower needs only routine upkeep. Hearing protection is recommended.
Balks at heavy, wet snow. Experts say a single-stage blower like the Craftsman 88780 is best for removing 3 to 6 inches of snow, although some owners report that they've cleared much deeper snowfalls. One writes on Sears.com, "This machine handled 20-plus inches of snow without a problem. It also cleared the end of the driveway, which had significant snow from the street being plowed. The machine has not stopped or gotten clogged even once!"
Owners and experts agree, however, that clearing this much snow takes considerably longer than it would with a two-stage blower. In addition, reviewers say heavy, wet snow tends to slow down the Craftsman 88780. "This last winter here in Ohio we had some very deep snows. And my husband says he wishes we would have bought him the dual-stage snow thrower," says one user. We found a fair number of complaints posted on Sears.com about problems such as backfires, failing to start entirely, or in one case, the frame of the snow blower scraping the ground.
Craftsman doesn't specify how far the 88780 can throw snow, but owners say it has a somewhat short reach, even for a single-stage blower. Regardless, most say they're pleased with its performance.
Low price, but you'll pay in the long run. Based on mostly positive user reviews, the single-stage Craftsman 88780's 21-inch clearing path and 13-inch intake height are more than adequate for clearing sidewalks, single-car driveways and other relatively small, paved surfaces of light to medium snowfalls. A few owners report success using this blower on heavier snowfalls, but the general consensus is that heavy, wet snow and piles left by snowplows tend to bog it down. Some reviewers choose this unit based on its comparatively low price, but one Sears.com poster warns that the cost of ownership -- including replacement of high-wear parts -- adds up quickly and "will effectively cause almost a complete re-purchase on an annual basis."
Excellent The Craftsman 88780 is one of 27 single-stage gas snow blowers evaluated by ConsumerReports.org. It's rated on several aspects of performance and ranked relative to the other blowers in the latest ratings chart. Test results are available only to subscribers.
Review: Snow Blowers Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of September 2012
Very good Nearly 60 owners review the Craftsman 88780 on Sears.com, giving it a score of 4 out of 5 stars. One user says, "Have used it twice in very deep, heavy snow and it is very powerful." However, some complain that parts broke down or had to be replaced after a couple of uses, and that the blower can't clear snow deeper than about 10 inches without slowing down or getting clogged. A few owners don't like having to stop the machine to adjust the chute manually.
Review: Craftsman 21" 179cc Single-Stage Snowblower w/ Electric Start, Contributors to Sears.com, As of September 2012
Good Sikkema says he has spent years working with and on snow blowers. In this older review, he praises the Craftsman 88780 for its newly enlarged intake and auger, but warns it can damage wooden decks or suck up rocks from a gravel driveway, and that it's significantly slower than a two-stage blower.
Review: 2010 Craftsman 21 inch 179 cc SnowThrower Model 88780 Review, Paul Sikkema, Sept. 13, 2010