Average Customer Review:
Cordless electric snow blowers have come a long way in recent years. How long? So long that experts pick one cordless model as the best performing non-gas snow thrower you can buy. That snow blower is the Ego SNT2102 (Est. $600). Gas snow blowers (covered in their own section), especially two-stage throwers, are still more impressive and powerful, but if a single-stage gas snow blower is right for your property, and you would rather not deal with the maintenance issues that gas entails, this cordless model is certainly worth serious consideration -- albeit with some caveats.
Consumer Reports has tested the Ego cordless snow thrower and it's the only electric model -- cordless or corded -- to earn a recommendation from that testing agency. It still lags behind many gas models in terms of speed and snow throwing distance, but clearing and handling are excellent. Pro Tool Reviews also provides a hands-on review. Jonathan Karel challenges the snow thrower by using it to clear a frozen lake of six inches of snow to create a hockey rink -- a job that in the past was done using shovels to clear the "wet, heavy, and somewhat slushy" snow -- and the blower meets that challenge without breaking a sweat. He awards it 4.5 stars, and the Ego is also honored with one of the site's Pro Tools Innovation Awards.
However, not every expert is as impressed. It's tested by Wirecutter, and Doug Mahoney declines to give it a recommendation. He acknowledges that it is a powerful snow clearer but grouses that its design makes it tougher than other snow throwers to maneuver. "Unlike on most single-stage blowers, the Ego's front paddle does not touch the ground and thus does not assist with moving the blower forward," he says, adding "What you're left with is a unit that needs 100 percent manpower to move." After having it on his list of top 20 snow blowers at Moving Snow, Paul Sikkema relegated it to also-ran status after personal testing based on largely the same concerns.
User reviews break the tie, however, and it earns a rating of 4.5 stars based on nearly 475 reviews at Home Depot (the primary retailer for this model), with recommendations from 95 percent of buyers. Sikkema notes some negative user reviews that back his impressions, and Mahoney says that much of the positive feedback from users comes from those that have yet to actually use the machine. However, our recent read of the feedback also found lots and lots of users that were perfectly satisfied with performance based on actual use.
The key to satisfaction seems to lie in keeping this snow blower's limitations in mind. Like every electric snow thrower, it's not suitable for regions where snowfall is regularly measured in feet rather than inches, and it's not suitable for larger properties, or those on a sloped property (where the lack of self-propulsion can be a major negative), but for a typical city, town or suburban plot, it can be a good choice. And if the hassles of dealing with a gas snow blower's maintenance requirements (see the Buying Guide) have been a barrier to getting a snow thrower at all, it can be a terrific one.
This 21-inch snow blower is powered by twin 5.0 Ah (amp hour) Ego Power+ Arc-Lithium lithium-ion batteries (included) and can move up to 1,500 pounds of snow per minute. The snow chute can be adjusted 180 degrees from side to side, and snow can be hurled up to 35 feet away so you have good control over where your just cleared snow will land. The included charger can juice up the batteries in about 40 minutes. This is a medium duty blower with a 13-inch high intake, but is best at clearing depths of 10 inches per pass.
The snow thrower is compatible with all Ego Power+ Arc-Lithium batteries, so if you already have other Ego cordless power equipment, you can use those batteries as well (just keep in mind that run times will be shorter with lower Ah batteries). If you want to go that route, the blower is available as a bare tool (without batteries) as the Ego SNT2100 (Est. $460). At the other end of the spectrum, the snow thrower is also available with two 7.5 Ah lithium-ion batteries as the Ego SNT2103 (Est. $800); that version will provide longer run times between charges, and require longer recharge times (around 60 minutes), but other aspects of performance will remain unchanged.
If your snow blowing needs are more modest, there are some less powerful, and less expensive, snow blowers worth considering. Among those, we found okay feedback for the Snow Joe iON18SB (Est. $280). The 40 Ah lithium-ion battery is rated to give the iON18SB around 40 minutes of run time, though Consumer Reports only found 30 minutes of performance under real-world conditions, a finding that was echoed by Wirecutter. 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. Mahoney notes that "It has three speeds forward and one reverse, all of which are pretty slow."
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 Consumer Reports' eyes, but keep in mind that only the EGO cordless model profiled above passes muster with them among all electric snow blowers. Wirecutter doesn't have the same maneuverability complaints with the Snow Joe as it does with the Ego, but does complain that the machine's ergonomics aren't very good. The positioning of the handles and triggers (used to control the blower) are the issue. "I have fairly strong hands, and even for me this became very tiring after 10 or 15 minutes," Mahoney says
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 -- deliver pretty good feedback, at least compared to other cordless models, save the Ego. The iON18SB earns a 3.8-star rating after more than 630 customer reviews at Amazon. 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 Home Depot -- but still more than 265 at last look -- and a 4.2-star rating, with 87 percent of owners posting there recommending it. User feedback at Snow Blowers Direct is similar and it receives a recommendation from the site's product expert, Robert Valenzano, as well as from 86 percent of the more than 90 owners that rate the snow thrower.
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 corded electric thrower. Corded electric snow blowers are lighter in weight than cordless models because you don't have the extra heft of the battery or batteries to deal with (and that can be surprisingly substantial). They are also lighter in weight than gas snow blowers. Like cordless models, corded electric snow blowers are less expensive to operate than gas models because they don't require oil, fuel or annual engine service.
Handling is good as well, with one exception -- you do need to wrangle a bit with the power cord. The cord, which typically must be purchased separately, will vary in cost 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 be longer or shorter 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 or the Ego cordless model profiled above. 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. $225) top ratings among corded 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 corded electric units in Consumer Reports' testing -- though that's somewhat faint praise as they are very unimpressed by corded electric snow blowers in general.
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 better than any other model in its class. As an example, we see nearly 570 reviews at Home Depot, 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 88 percent of owners saying that they would recommend it to a friend.
Those posting to Snow Blowers Direct also like the Toro 38381, and these reviews are all from the site's customers. It earns roughly a 4.5 star rating after more than 210 reviews, with 91 percent of users saying that it earns their recommendation. The site's "snow blower expert," Robert Valenzano, 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 -- again, all unique to that site. Feedback is a little harder to discern as the blower is lumped together with other Toro electric models (which as a group earn a score of 3.9 stars following more than 2,000 reviews) but nearly 75 percent of owners leaving feedback just for the 38381 grant if 4 or (mostly) 5 stars.
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 that of a two-stage gas model.
This Toro model has an 18-inch clearing path and its 15-amp motor is rated to move up to 700 pounds of snow per minute. It has a rated throw distance of 30 feet. It can clear between two and six inches of snow accumulation per pass.
For a basic, inexpensive electric snow blower, feedback indicates that the Snow Joe SJ620 (Est. $150) is a good pick. We've not seen a hands-on professional test of this blower. User reviews, however, are both plentiful and positive. At Amazon, around 695 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 Home Depot, for example, users grant it a 4.4-star rating, with recommendations from 92 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 it 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.