Top positive review
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I am posting a preliminary review and will follow up...
on February 8, 2013
I got this about two weeks ago, and now supposedly the worst blizzard in several years is coming through New England. My gas machine needs the carburetor overhauled and I have been slow to get to it because of a heavy work load. So, it is still apart in the garage. LOL.
So, I bought this as a temporary backup mostly thinking I would use it for light snowstorms of 3-4 inches.
Last night we were buried by 2 feet of snow here in MA. There are drifts up to 4-5 feet in my driveway. And my gas powered piece of junk is in the garage in need of serious repair.
I have always had very bad luck with gas powered tools. Lawnmowers, snow blowers, trimmers, etc. But I have never ever had a problem with an electric one. Three years ago, I bought a Troybuilt 2 stage snow blower that is 26" wide. When I went to get it the second year, it would not shift into gear. The transmission had to be replaced, fortunately under warranty (by one month!). Two years later, it will not start because the carburetor is shot. The gaskets went on it and it is leaking gas and floods or gets too much air. But whatever, it does not run and will not until I finish the rebuild of the carb. Normally that is easy, but on this model, they do their level best to make getting at even the fuel line a complete nightmare. Reminds me of the old Chevy Vega where you had to drop the engine to replace the fourth spark plug.
Three years ago I bought an electric lawnmower because I was sick of the gas models. And it runs great to this day and does a fantastic job. So, when I had to get a backup, I looked for a top brand name and decent reviews.
Out of the box, the first thing that strikes you is how light it is. I mean, I can easily pick it up with one hand, unlike my 150 pound gas blower. But then you start to wonder how it could possibly be that light. The answer is because the entire thing is plastic. Even the blades. Well, the handle is metal.
It feels exactly like my electric lawnmower. I have learned from that how to avoid the cord. Start at the area closest to the outlet and move away from it and parallel to it. That way the cord is always behind you. It also helps to have a helper to just watch the cord for you.
Bumped it from 3-4 stars after doing half my driveway.
In use, I realized that because you cannot often control where you have to point the snow blower, the cord can cause grief. But then I figured out that keeping the cord wrapped over the back of your neck lets you easily control it. So, the cord is no problem at all.
So, what is my opinion of the unit now that I have used it in very deep snow? It is vastly better than a shovel. It is running fine and doing the job. It cannot handle the drifts so I have to break those down with a shovel, but I would have had to for my gas powered piece of junk as well. It is easy to maneuver and no harder to push than my lawn mower. When it hits a clump of snow it cannot handle, it bogs down, but if you then back it away, the snow falls down and you can give it another go.
It would be easier to use with two people, just as with my other blower. One person breaking down the drifts and perhaps helping watch the cord or shoveling those areas you cannot do with the blower.
My impression is this is BETTER than a gas blower. The gas blower will power through deeper snow, compressed snow and ice, which this will not. But this is doing fine in a 2 foot blizzard (of powder, not 2' of slush and or ice). I can lift it onto the deck and porch to clean them. Can't lift my 150-200 pound gas unit onto anything. And storing this is much easier because I can carry it anywhere.
The wheels on this model are not driven, but because it is so light, it is not a problem. It deals with snow just dandy, but ice or a large rock would end its life, so be aware it is plastic. It throws the light snow just fine and it does not clog. It is quiet. And there are no fumes or gas to deal with. So, even after I get the gas one fixed, this is ideal for the lighter storms and cleaning up where the gas one cannot go.
Of course, I concede, the gas one does clear a larger path, blow the snow farther and deals with compressed, heavy snow. So, for the big storms, including this one, it would be a better choice, if it runs. For those of you thinking, well if you just bought an Ariens, yeah, I should have, even at double the price. But this electric model is still great in ways no gas powered model can be.
My only complaint is it could use more power. 18 Amps would be better and about the limit for most exterior outlets. But at 12 Amps this will work from most normal 15 Amp outlets and it is plenty powerful for smaller amounts of snow.
And most of all, it is vastly better than the shovel. The sudden strain of the shovel lifting is known to induce heart attacks. And the twisting and turning when shoveling results in back and shoulder pain, and can result in much worse injuries. I could never have done what I just did with a shovel in the time I did it, and I do not feel tired at all, although my triceps do feel the work out of pushing into 2 feet of snow.
So, I am going to come back a final time and tell you how it all works out to finish the job of clearing my huge driveway (easily 30 by 80 feet) buried by a record setting blizzard. But so far, I am quite impressed. And if it keeps working, I will definitely use it over my gas one for smaller storms because it is much easier to deal with.
Back to the snow!! And update you soon.
FINAL UPDATE: I have bumped this thing to 5 stars. I cleared up after NEMO with this unit. And it did a great job. It was quite hard, because the snow was above the top of the unit. We got somewhere on the order of 28 inches and we were also plowed in by our lovely public works department. Then, when I finally broke through to the street, some public worker jokester stops and tells me I can't push the snow into the street. It was over 4 feet high, I couldn't come at it from the other side. And it isn't like I was going to leave it there.
Anyway, this is not the unit for a blizzard, but it did the job. What that says is that this unit is more than capable for small storms up to 6". I would not use it in wet snow though. Even gas powered large units have problems with that.
I worked for a total of 6 hours clearing snow after Nemo. It would have taken four to five with the gas powered unit if it had been working (which honestly would have been better for this storm had it not crapped out). But I put this through a test that this unit was plainly not intended for. And it did the job!