In many ways, a snow blower is like a lawnmower for snow. Just as your grass accumulates to a point where you simply have to go over it with a lawnmower, you take out the snow blower when the snow has reached a certain point. Just as with a lawn mower, you can buy snow blowers with different sorts of fuel: a gas-propelled snow blower or a battery-powered snow blower. In this blog post, we’ll look at three different models of a snow blower that can get your driveway all cleared up, even in the most dreadful winter conditions.
Not only will you learn a lot about snow blowers as we discuss each model, but we conclude the post with a buyer’s guide that tells you what to look for in a snow blower and a clear recommendation on which snow blower best fits your needs and budget. On top of that, we answer the most common questions people have about snow blowers, so you have all the information to make an informed buying decision in one place.
How a battery-powered snow blower works
We’ve made the comparison before, and we’ll make it one last time: a snow blower is just like a lawnmower. But instead of blades cutting the grass and throwing it into a bag, you hang behind your mower, a snow blower takes the snow and hurls it in a different direction. In other words, a snow blower doesn’t make the snow disappear, but simply moves it from one place to another. A snow blower is an upgrade from getting up an hour early to shovel your entire driveway in the cold. Sounds attractive, right? Sleep longer and work less.
A battery-powered snow blower has a pretty self-explanatory mode of propulsion. To operate the machine, you need a charged battery. These aren’t just an environment-friendly alternative to a gas-propelled snow blower but also work whenever you’ve charged it. With a battery-power snow blower, you never have to get gas when getting out of the driveway is the problem you’re trying to solve in the first place.
Other than remembering to charge the battery, a snow blower doesn’t take a lot of brainpower. You simply start the machine and create a path through the snow by pushing it forward or clear a whole section of your property by going back and forth. That makes a powered snow blower, not just a quicker alternative for shoveling snow, but also an easier one. While most battery-powered snow blowers work roughly the same, there are plenty of differences that make models suited for one situation or another. Below, you’ll find in-depth product reviews that don’t just highlight specific features, but also give you the benefits and drawbacks for each model.
Snow Joe iON18SB
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The Snow Joe iON18SB is a neat little machine with quite the capacity. Although it weighs only 32 lbs, it can move almost 500 lbs a minute, clearing a driveway, deck or sidewalk in no-time. A fully charged battery can last for almost an hour, so even if you need a little more time, you are set to go. Two rubber blades scoop up the snow and a scraper bar ensures that you reach the ground surface, too. The maximum depth is 8” and the path the iON18SB clears is a foot and a half wide.
The chute on top can be rotated 180 degrees with the touch of a button and has a reach of 20 ft. Because there’s a good chance you’re clearing snow when it’s still dark outside, there are three LED headlights on the front of the snow blower that help you to clearly see where you’re going.
It handles both fluffy snow and somewhat icy snow, although the fluffy snow is easier to handle for the Snow Joe iON18SB. Although the maximum depth is 8” of snow, snowfall beyond 5” high sometimes needs another run to truly clear a surface. As you can imagine, cleaning a big surface with snow levels beyond 5” might also drain the battery before you finished, so after heavy snow, it’s more important to focus on the areas that you need most.
The battery charge holds up really well, and because you can carry the battery around, you can charge it inside, saving you a trip through a dark, cold garage. A replacement battery can be found online and will generally cost you around $100 (around $35 for a charger). These batteries are interchangeable with other Snow Joe and Sun Joe products, such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and chainsaws.
The handle you use to push the snow blower around is adjustable, which can create the feeling of a shaky construction. It does hold up well, although there are issues with the rotating chute freezing stuck. A quick warm-up round before you need the chute usually solves this problem.
With the Earthwise SN74016, you clear 430 lbs. of snow per minute with a maximum of 8” deep. By pushing the Earthwise, you clear a path that’s 16” wide. If you need a bigger space cleared, such as a driveway or sidewalk, you have 40 minutes per battery charge to get it done. Weighing in at 20 lbs., it is considerably lighter than the Snow Joe iON18SB.
While it’s a lighter device than the Snow Joe iON18SB, it does hurl the snow farther with 32 ft. The chute on top is adjustable in three different directions. While the maximum depth is recorded at 8”, you get the best results with slightly less snow, although it does great with snow on top of ice, shaving off the ice as well. For those with gravel driveways, it’s good to know that this snow blower focuses on the snow and will leave the little rocks of your driveway right where they are.
After ordering this snow blower, you have to assemble it yourself. This takes around 10 minutes, although some people have reported issues with the assembly process, making the assembly time take a little longer.
Although the Earthwise SN74016 is easy to maneuver, assemble, and transport or store, it has one drawback: all these weight and space saving features have left the wheels a bit small. Especially in heavier snowfalls, it can be awkward to steer the snow blower through the snow. While it by no means makes the Earthwise hard to handle, it can add a minute or so to your process. Of course, that still makes the snow blower a lot faster than using an old-fashioned shovel.
Snow Joe iON13SS
Where the other snow blowers covered in this article look like lawn mowers for a snowy surface, the Snow Joe iOn13SS looks more like a classic snow shovel. The difference with those snow shovels is, of course, the effort it takes to move your snow from one place to another. Where using a normal snow shovel is hard physical labor, the Snow Joe iOn13SS moves up to 300 lbs. of snow per minute with ease. Simply walk behind the snow blower and gently push it to clear a path of 13” wide with a maximum depth of 6”.
For people who have read the other two reviews as well, these numbers may stand out. The iOn13SS does indeed have lower numbers. It doesn’t clear as much snow per minute doesn’t cut as wide or deep as the other two, and “only” has a range of 25 ft. (still beats your neighborhood kid).
But while the Snow Joe iON13SS doesn’t excel in raw power, it is made for quick jobs. Like a shovel, you can pick it up and clear a pathway through the snow in seconds. It’s the perfect machine for a quick job well done and takes up less assembly and space than any other snow blower.
A fully-charged battery gives you 52 minutes of time to clear your surfaces. It takes about three hours to charge a battery.
While it works great, the handle can feel a little wonky when going through a lot of snow. This doesn’t really impair the usability of the snow blower but can feel tricky. It doesn’t help that the battery shield sometimes pops open for no reason. These drawbacks don’t stand in the way of clearing your driveway but can be a small hassle.
You use it the same way you would a normal shovel. The extra handle gives extra support so the shovel doesn’t feel like an ordinary shovel in the way it might impact your back. The clear difference with a normal shovel is in the work it will take to remove the snow. Working with the Snow Joe iON13SS is a breeze compared to old-fashioned shoveling.
How to buy a snowblower
Now that we’ve seen three different snowblowers, it’s time to take a better look at what precisely makes a good snowblower. This way, you know not just what to look for, but also how to make a decision based on your specific needs.
The power of a snowblower is greatly determined by the battery. Not all batteries are created equal. Some have a higher voltage, others have a higher Ah, which stands for Amp hours.
Another factor in the power of a snowblower is the engine itself. A powerful engine makes for better snow clearing results. Often, the precise power of a snowblower is a combination of the battery and the engine.
A powerful engine cannot function properly without sufficient power coming from the battery, and hooking up a less powerful engine to a more powerful battery is a waste of resources that makes producing and selling the snowblower unnecessarily expensive.
Throw distance stands for the distance the snow will be blown away. With a snowblower, this is usually the farthest distance the snow is thrown, as it is usually dispensed in some arch, which also keeps snow from piling up in one place. In the reviews discussed above, the throw distance ranges from 20-32 ft. These numbers are pretty average for a cordless snowblower, and definitely higher than someone using an old-fashioned snow shuffle.
More important than the throw distance is the degree in which you can determine the direction of the snow. Since you want to avoid throwing the snow straight ahead (and creating more work for you down the line), the more adjustable this option is, the better. The Snow Joe iON18SB has a clear advantage over the other models since it has a 180-degree range that is adjusted with a button.
Plowing capacity stands for the amount of snow that a snowblower is able to clear. This is measured in pounds of snow cleared per minute. The higher this number, the faster you’ll be working (or at least, the more snow you’re moving while you’re working). This is an important measurement to keep in mind.
For example, if you have a battery life of 30 minutes coupled with a plowing capacity of 500 lbs. per minute, you’d be able to get more done than a battery life of an hour coupled with a plowing capacity of 100 lbs. per minute (these numbers are exaggerated to make a point, most numbers will be a slightly less significant tradeoff).
The models in this review have a plowing capacity of respectively 500 lbs. per minute, 430 lbs. per minute, and 300 lbs. per minute. Here it’s clear to see how the Snow Joe iON18SS is made for small, quick jobs. By knowing the sort of job you want to do, keeping the plowing capacity in mind helps you make a well-informed decision.
The clearing depth of a snowblower is an indication of how thick a pack of snow it will be able to handle. This (like snowfall itself) is measured in inches. Most snowblowers have a clearing depth between 5”-8”. Keep in mind that the type of snow, the weather, the surface, and how long the snow has been laying all affect the performance of a snowblower. This is why a snowblower with a clearing depth of 8” might still need to go over a 5” layer of snow twice. Unfortunately, the reverse is never true.
Due to the physical characteristics of a snowblower, the indicated clearing depth will also be the maximum clearing depth the snowblower is able to handle. That doesn’t mean you’re at a loss when the snow is thicker than the clearing depth, but it will probably mean that you’ll have to go over a certain patch of snow more than once to really clear it.
In practice, most snow over 4” will need some extra work, unless you are able to start clearing the snow right after it has fallen and you have a favorable surface you’re clearing.
A snowblower creates a path through the snow. The width of this path can differ depending on the exact model snowblower. Most snowblowers for non-professional use range from 12”-18” when it comes to clearing width. For most people, a path 12” wide is plenty, so the clearing width becomes more important when you’re clearing a bigger surface.
Covering a six-foot driveway, for example, saves you two trips when you’re using an 18” clearing width snowblower compared to a 12” snowblower. When you consider doing the work on a lengthy driveway, this can make a big difference in how long it will take you to clear a surface.
Some people will just need a path, however. In this case, the clearing width isn’t of great importance. Most people (and dogs) will do fine with a 12” clearing width. Most models snow blowers are available in different sizes, so if you’re certain you won’t need a snowblower to clear a large space, a smaller model might just save you a bit when buying a snowblower.
The weight of your snowblower also impacts its performance. As you may understand, a snowblower that is too light will not move through the snow easily. A heavier snowblower may end up being cumbersome. Some people want to clear their decks, too and don’t want to carry a heavy snowblower up their steps. Transporting a heavy snowblower is difficult
What’s the best snow blower?
While the best snowblower depends on your specific needs, it’s still possible to make a recommendation for a snowblower that will satisfy most people. The best snowblower of all the models that were discussed above is the Snow Joe iON18SB. It has the best metrics, best performance and some features that make its use easier, such as the adjustable handle and the LED headlights. It’s the very best model for anyone who has a sizable surface to clear while it doesn’t cost the amount that a professional or industrial grade snowblower would cost.
People who don’t have the space to justify buying a full-size snowblower might be better off with the other model from Snow Joe, the iON13SS. This lightweight and easy-to-use model combines the ease of shoveling with the power of a snowblower. It doesn’t have the impressive metrics of it’s a bigger brother but comes with an ease that’s hard to rival. It’s not the best snowblower all-round, but it is the best in its own class of quick snowblowers.