Best Electric Snow Blower
For years, the only option available to homeowners who needed a snow blower to keep their driveway and sidewalks clear of snow during the winter was a gas powered one. And while these snow blowers certainly did – and still do – their share of heavy lifting, they have their drawbacks, as anyone who owns one knows full well. Gas powered snow blowers are noisy machines that produce a high volume of fumes and other emissions.
These machines, and other small gas powered yard devices, are responsible for a large proportion of the total carbon emissions being pumped into the atmosphere each year in the United States. And we all know that this is becoming a serious concern due to the effects carbon emissions are having on the global climate and weather patterns worldwide.
Gas powered snow blowers have a lot of complicated working parts that need periodic maintenance in order to keep them running well. Then there is the complication of having to deal with messy oil and smelly gas cans. And woe to the person who forgot to keep gas on hand for their snow blower should an unexpected storm front move in. Short of siphoning some from your car’s tank, you do not have many options for running the snow blower, and you may find yourself digging out the driveway by hand while your gas powered snow blower sits idle and useless in the garage.
More recently, the advent and increasing availability of electric snow blowers has allowed homeowners to make all of the problems associated with gas powered snow blowers a thing of the past. With an electric snow blower, you never have to worry about having extra gas on hand: as long as there is an outlet available, you will be able to plug it in and get to work any time you need to. Gone are the days of priming the engine and struggling to pull a heavy recoil starter cord. And electric snow blowers produce zero emissions at the point of use, so you will be taking a big step towards reducing your family’s carbon footprint.
For a long time, electric snow blower technology was still lagging far behind what gas powered snow blowers could offer, but in recent years electric snow blowers have really caught up. The best electric snow blower is out there, and it can offer a wide clearance and high snow cut depth that will allow you to clear out your driveway far more quickly than you ever could by hand. These quiet, powerful machines offer everything you need for winter snow duty.
But with so many options available, it can be a difficult task to figure out which model is really the best one for you. Fortunately there are a few characteristics that the best electric snow blowers should all have. By searching based on these characteristics, you can narrow down your search considerably, and you will be able to quickly and correctly assess whether or not a particular model really does have what it takes to be considered the best electric snow blower.
1. Best Electric Snow Blower Characteristics
1a. Widest Clearance
The primary characteristic that any machine is going to have to have if it wants to be included in the short list for the best electric snow blower is an extra wide clearance. When you are out clearing your driveway in the middle of the winter, cold temperatures and blustering wind are going to make conditions unpleasant at the very least and downright dangerous under the worst circumstances. The less time you wind up having to spend clearing the driveway, the better. And what you need to make sure you can get back indoors quickly is a snow blower with an extra wide clearance.
That is because the clearance width determines how many passes you will have to make to clear the whole driveway. And fewer passes translate directly to less time spent out there in the cold and snow. The difference a few inches can make on a clearance width are really quite dramatic: an electric snow blower with a twenty inch clearance width is going to be able to clear the driveway more than 25 percent faster than one with a 16 inch clearance can. If you have a long driveway, those extra four inches will add up more quickly than you might think.
You read that right, too: these days there are electric snow blowers available on the market that have clearances of twenty inches, and sometimes even more. This puts them on the same level as a lot of single stage gas powered snow blowers, and that is really quite a feat of engineering. You do not have to rely on environmentally unfriendly means to get the driveway cleared quickly anymore – you can switch to electric and still get the job done as efficiently as ever.
So the first thing that should be on your list for deciding whether or not the machine you are looking at can even be considered to be one of the best electric snow blowers out there is an extra wide clearance width. Without that, there is almost no point to buying a snow blower at all, because it won’t save you a lot of time over a shovel. If possible, narrow down your list to a few electric snow blowers with clearances of at least eighteen inches, and preferably twenty or more. There is every reason to expect snow blowers with this kind of clearance to be in your price range.
1b. Highest Intake
In order to make sure you are prepared for anything, even the very worst snow storms that will dump a lot of snow in your area quickly, you want to make sure that your electric snow blower has an extra high snow cut depth. There is really no use to having a snow blower in your garage if it is only able to deal with the lightest accumulations – what happens when the occasional blizzard hits, and you have snow fall of ten inches or more?
When you do not have the best electric snow blower in your garage, and your snow cut depth is too short, you will have two options. You can either clear snow two or three times while it is accumulating to keep it from getting too deep for your snow blower or you can use a shovel to take the top four or five inches down to a level that is manageable. Neither of these options is very attractive, and the second one pretty much negates the whole purpose of investing in a snow blower in the first place. So it is obvious why the second characteristic of the best electric snow bower is an extra high snow cut depth.
And just like with clearance widths, the snow cut depths on electric snow blowers are catching up to those available on gas powered single stage snow blowers as well. Electric snow blowers with snow cut depth of ten and twelve inches are becoming more and more common. This is the kind of intake height I want on a single stage snow blower, and you should, too – especially if your goal is to find the best one.
So let’s take another look at that short list, and cross of any electric snow blower that does not have a snow cut depth of at least ten inches. Twelve is even better. That will allow you to be ready for snow storms that dump up to a foot of snow. While these kinds of serious winter storms are usually pretty rare events in many regions of the country, I always say that it is better to be ready for anything than to be caught unprepared. You want to have an electric snow blower you can rely on with confidence no matter what kind of serious weather Old Man Winter brings your way. And with a high snow cut depth, you can be.
1c. Quality Materials
Your short list of the best electric snow blowers should now have eliminated any machines that do not have extra wide clearances and ultra high snow cut depths. That gets rid of any snow blowers that will not be able to clear your driveway quickly and efficiently and stand up to whatever kind of heavy accumulation you should have to expect, even in the deepest winter months. But that clearance width and snow cut depth are not going to be good for a whole lot if the snow blower is not made out of the kind of quality materials that can hold up to serious work and tough jobs.
Your snow blower is going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting – if you live in a region that gets consistent snow fall, you will be using it a lot – so you want to make sure it’s tough enough and has the right stuff for long term work. That means that its various components should be made out of the highest quality materials, from the top of the handle all the way down to the base of the auger. In a word, what you need for the best electric snow blower is steel.
For some reason, plenty of snow blower manufacturers think that it is acceptable to make their machines using a lot of plastic components, but it is not. Some of them even make the augers out of composite plastic materials. Obviously it saves them manufacturing costs, but it also means that their machines are not high quality and will not hold up over the long term. The auger is the part of the machine that does all of the work, and there is no reason why it should not be made of heavy duty steel. On single stage snow blowers like these, the auger is making contact with the surface of the ground, so there is the risk that you might occasionally ding it on an object you can’t see under the snow.
When that happens, you do not want a plastic auger, you want a steel one. You also want the auger housing and the body of the snow blower to be made of steel. Stamped steel is perfectly acceptable, but welded steel is better. Make sure the wheels are big and tough, even if they are made of composite plastic. And all of the fittings on the machine should be high quality metal bolts.
1d. Overall Capacity
Wide clearance and high snow cut depth are not the only characteristics that are going to determine what kind of performance you are going to get from your electric snow blower. They are good metrics, and you should absolutely start with them, and make sure the snow blower has quality parts and materials. But if you really want to get down to the science of what makes one snow blower better than the others – and if you are looking for the best electric snow blower, you should – then you are going to have to consider the machine’s capacity to move snow.
That is because snow is not a uniform thing that always falls the same way. Some storms bring icy sleeting snow, and others have big, fat, wet snowflakes. The snow that accumulates from one storm to the next is going to have wildly variable characteristics, and a snow blower will have to be ready for anything. A cubic foot of snow can have very different water amounts and density, and that will affect how much it weighs. So the best metric for figuring out whether a snow blower can really perform under any conditions is not just clearance width and snow cut depth, but also the machine’s overall clearing capacity.
Overall clearance capacity will tell you how many pounds of snow an electric snow blower can clear per minute. You want a machine that can at the very least clear 500 pounds per minute. But that is the absolute minimum, and the best electric snow blowers are going to have overall clearance capacities that are much higher than that. Once you start finding machines with clearance capacities of 700 pounds per minute or more, you know you are in the neighborhood of the best electric snow blowers.
Higher overall clearance capacity means that the snow blower will not get bogged down when it is being used to clear wetter, heavier snow as easily as it otherwise would be. If the snow is a bit slushy, a machine with a high overall clearance capacity will not have any problems moving it, whereas one with a low clearance capacity would. In addition to high pounds per minute, make sure you are finding a machine that has a high throw distance. It should be at least twenty feet, but the best electric snow blowers will have throw distances of 25 feet or more.
1e. Other Considerations
By now you should have a very short list indeed. There are not many electric snow blowers that will be able to lay claim to widest clearances, high snow cut depths, solid manufacturing and quality materials, and be able to throw snow 25 feet or more at a rate of more than 700 pounds per minute. At this point your list really does have a few of the best electric snow blowers out there. But which one is the best? Two or three snow blowers that have the same product specs in the above categories can seem to be more or less identical. But this is the point where it comes down to little details and design notes that will separate the good electric snow blowers from the truly great ones.
What do I mean? Well, for starters, the snow blower should be ergonomically designed. You want the handle to be designed so that you do not strain your back or shoulders while you are maneuvering it up and down the driveway. The controls should be easy to use and fairly intuitive. There is no reason you should have to be pushing the snow blower, engaging the auger and steering without it being fairly easy to do all three at once.
Accessories are also an important way to separate the best electric snow blowers from the rest. I always like to have a snow blower that has a headlight, so that if I am clearing the driveway after dusk or early in the morning before the sun is up, I can see what I am doing. Halogen headlights are great, although LED headlights will have a much longer life. The best electric snow blowers will have a crank for changing the direction of the snow chute so you do not have to come around to the front of the machine to do it. And the snow chute will have a rotation of at least 180 degrees.
Safety features are also an important part of a great electric snow blower. You obviously do not want small children playing with it and potentially injuring themselves, so be sure to get a machine that has a childproof starter mechanism. Make sure the snow blower is not so big or heavy that it will be difficult to use or find adequate storage space for it. If you apply all of the characteristics described here to your list, you should wind up with the best electric snow blowers money can buy.
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