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Last updated on: February 6th, 2020
If you live up North, you’ve likely seen a neighbor haul out their gas powered snow blower to clear the driveway before work. These machines are loud, hard to maneuver, and flat out expensive. Not to mention a detriment to the environment.
When seeking alternatives for a gas guzzler, there are two options. An electric corded machine, which as the name suggests, requires being plugged into an outlet while in use. These are fine for small areas like a deck or walkway next to your house. But the larger your driveway is, the longer the cord you’ll need. Dealing with a cord is a pain and can also be a safety hazard.
The other option is a cordless snow blower. These machines work off a lithium-ion battery pack to power the machine for a duration of time. No extension cords are needed and the batteries recharge between uses.
Are Cordless Snow Blowers Any Good?
This is the first question I see asked whenever I recommend a cordless model to a consumer. My answer is the same, “it depends on what you’re using them for”.
First, advancements in battery technology over the past decade has made not only snow blowers, but other outdoor tools more powerful. They not only can run longer but recharge faster. That battery-powered drill you were using a decade ago has come a long way.
With that said, these battery-powered snow blowers have their limitations. They can’t generate the same torque a large gas-powered combustion engine can. Thus, they are suited for areas that receive light to moderate snowfall totals each year. Don’t expect them to efficiently clear your driveway after a blizzard dumps 2 feet of snow.
For as powerful as gas powered snow blowers can be, they come at a price. They’re incredibly heavy. Most weight close to 200 pounds or more. But with a cordless blower, you’re looking at under 50 pounds. This makes them ideal for Seniors and those with ailments that prevent operating heavy machinery. And with most models having handlebars that fold down, they can be easily stored on a shelf in the garage over the Summer months.
You don’t want to be that neighbor who is up at 6 in the morning waking everyone up with their noisy machine. Cordless snow blowers on the other hand are incredibly quiet. Most sit at around 80 decibels, which is in the range of a full-sized vacuum cleaner. A nice perk for you night owls.
No Messy Maintenance
Electric motors require almost no maintenance. You don’t have to deal with changing the oil, pumping fuel into the carburetor, filling up with gas, or replacing spark plugs. If you’ve dealt with the maintenance of a lawn mower in the past, you know what we mean.
At around $200-$400, they are significantly cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts. So if you’re living in a region that only gets the occasional snow shower, it won’t require a large investment.
Tool makers have been making their cordless batteries compatible with all their products. This means if you own a bunch of Ryobi power tools, you can use that same battery in their cordless snow blower. You can now purchase the machine without the battery at considerable savings (around $100).
Battery-powered tools on average produce half the global warming emissions of gas-powered ones. This gap is growing each year as cleaner sources of energy are added to the grid.
Despite those advances in battery technology we discussed earlier, they still don’t provide the juice you get from a jacked up 250cc engine. That limits what they can be used for. Typically 6-8 inches is the limit at one time, although the higher end models may allow for more. The lack of power also prevents them from working well on wetter snow that is found on the East Coast and lake effect regions. And that pile left for you at the end of the driveway might be an issue.
To keep the cost down on these machines, manufacturers have resorted to using more plastic parts. They are not built to last 20 years like the old Toro your parents had.
Running on a battery means you have a limited source of power. Most batteries give around 20-30 minutes of use between charges. So if you have a long driveway, you may need to keep an extra battery handy or stop halfway through to recharge.
Unfortunately the most popular brands of battery-powered snow blowers don’t have authorized dealers nearby. So if you do run into an issue you can’t fix, it’s not as simple as driving up to the local Toro repair center. Instead, you’ll have to ship the snow blower back (usually at your expense). On the plus side, there aren’t as many moving parts here so repairs tend to be minor.
Who Can Benefit From a Cordless Snow Blower?
- People in regions that receive less than 25 inches of snow a year.
- Homes with wood decks, walkways, and single-car driveways.
- Seniors and those with heart conditions that prevent them from shoveling.
- Homeowners already invested in a brands cordless line of tools.
What are the Best Cordless Snow Blowers on the Market?
For this, we look toward the SnowBlowers.net ranking of the best cordless snow blowers for 2020. Their rankings are decided on by a 14 year veteran of the industry. Factors include performance, handling, and of course price.
Snow Joe iON18SB
The Snow Joe tops many lists around the web and for good reason. Their machines provide good performance, hold up well, and are priced below some lesser competitors. Plus they’re one of the few cordless models to use a steel auger.
If handling is your concern, this is what you’ll want. Easy to handle with one hand and has some terrific throwing power.
This makes the list for it’s incredibly low price. It’s an average performer in the class but does come with two LED headlights for use at night. Earthwise makes cordless lawnmowers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and more that use the same batteries as this snow blower.
The Ryobi name is really all you need to see here to know you’re getting a quality machine. What keeps it down the list is the price. A bit more expensive than the others but if you already own Ryobi battery powered tools, it shoots to the top of the list.
A revamped design has made this Greenworks model one of the best in its class. You have to love the 4-year warranty it comes with too. Only issue is that it’s on the pricier side if you have to buy it with the battery.
A great mix of power and and performance here. Comes close to some of the single-stage gas models on the market. But it is incredibly pricey at $400 before you even include the expensive batteries. At this price you’re likely better off going with a more powerful gas machine. But if you’re doing this for environmental reasons and price is no object, it’s arguably the best in its class.
Cordless snow blowers are no longer the joke of the industry. Their performance has transcended to new heights and they’re starting to catch up to the lower end single-stage gas snow blowers that are available.
If you’re in need of some assistance next Winter, it might be time to seriously contemplate adding one of these machines to your home. Spring is a great time to buy with stores trying to unload extra inventory. But if you must wait, Amazon and other online retailers love to blow these out during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.