Customer Reviews: Toro 38381 18-Inch 15 Amp Electric 1800 Power Curve Snow Blower
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on December 13, 2010
The Toro Power Curve is not a bad machine for the right situations. At times I've been impressed by its effort-- but ultimately my needs were more than it could handle. I give it a mostly positive recommendation, but before buying just make sure you aren't expecting too much from this machine.

Living in Wisconsin we get a lot of snow, and my previous snowblower was a small 18" MTD that handled most everything for 12 years. When it died I was going to replace it with another but I was intrigued by the postive reviews on the electric models. Of course I never expected it to be as powerful as the gas blower, but I thought it would at least be better than shoveling. Which it is.

The assembly is simple. Five minutes to put the handle on and attach the levers. Then I purchased a 100' 12ga extension cord for $40. That's it-- you will never need to do or buy another thing for it.

True to Wisconsin weather, I had a chance to use it 6 times in the first three weeks. The first day was 3" light powder which the Toro chewed through quite well and probably cut my normal shoveling time in half. The second was 5" of day of crusted day old snow. The Toro actually worked a little better with this, probably because it had a little more solid substance to it. The third day was a 12" blizzard that left high drifts at the edges. And to be expected this is where I ran into problems. It was just too much for the Toro to handle and though I was able to clear most of our driveway it took a couple hours and a lot of help from my shovel.

And to be fair, I'm not judging based on THAT-- it is rated for light snowfall and a max 10" intake, not for replacing a large 2-stage snowblower. It seems very well suited for 3" - 8" of snow and smaller areas such as patios and sidewalks. Our driveway is apx 1000 sq ft and I think that's probably the most you'll want to do. Thankfully it seems able to throw snow at least 15'-20' feet depending on conditions. Many of the reviews on here claim they were able to do 12"-16" of snow with it. I'm not saying that's impossible... But I do question if its worth the time and effort to push it through that much snow. In those cases its probably necessary to do it in two 6" layers during and after the snow.

My tips for using it are to have a good plan with the extension cord. It is very annoying to keep manuevering 30 lbs of heavy plastic cord and bending over to move it. I tried to use an S shaped pattern and kept it on my shoulder which helped but the best thing was to have my wife follow behind me holding the cord. True, its taking two people and looks strange-- but I was able to clear snow twice as fast. Also when you are at snow drifts higher than the intake-- use a shovel or boots to knock the snow down in strips and then you can go over it with the blower. It also helps to move slowly in narrow strips to keep the motor from bogging down.

It is smaller than I expected, mostly plastic and very hollow feeling... But I'm not overly concerned about its durability/quality. Todays plastics are very strong and the previous Power Curve model has over 700 positive reviews and very few complaints of any parts failing. If I had any strength concerns it would be the metal handle which seems to flex too easily when pushed with force.

The positives:
-NO maintenance or gas/oil
-simple to unpack and assemble
-its very light, anyone can handle it.
-its small and easy to store and transport.
-its quiet. Think: a vacuum cleaner.
-history shows it has good build quality and longevity.
-it quickly clears small to medium snow-- probably perfect for areas with light snowfall
-snow is thrown an impressive distance (10-20')
-would be good for using on a wood deck or roof

The negatives:
-its expensive. Comparable electrics are cheaper and single stage gas blowers start around $50 more.
-the wheels are too small-- I use them frequently when backing up and often end up dragging it.
-you need to press the trigger AND a small safety button at the same time to activate motor. This can get quite difficult with gloves or mittens on. (TIP: I put a small C-clamp to keep the thumb button depressed and it was a huge improvement.) The plastic main trigger seems difficult to keep depressed unless you use two hands.
-the output chute is small compared to small gas blowers. Some clogging but not too bad.
-its annoying to work around an extension cord.
-The metal handle seems a weak point. I worry about breaking it when pushing through deep snow.
-Don't expect to clear out 12"+ of snow as quickly as a gas blower. It is possible in some cases, but just be realistic. It will take more work.

I'm going to try and stick it out with the Power Curve for the rest of the winter, but next Fall I'm probably going to need to replace it with a gas blower. While it wasn't the best fit for me, it is not a bad product. I'm sure there are a lot of places and people that this will be a very good purchase. Just be realistic about its features and what you expect from it.

--------- *2 Month UPDATE* --------

After 2 months the snowblower suddenly stopped working. Pulling the trigger produced nothing. I disassembled the red cover and was disappointed to find the wiring from switch to motor was connected with regular twist-on wire connectors that had come undone. Seems a bad idea with the constant vibration so I replaced with waterproof butt connectors.

So that was fixed, but I was disappointed that the motor compartment had a lot water in it. The connectors had water in them and the motor armature was wet and the housing had considerable surface rust. I have been wiping it down after use-- but its impossible to avoid water. Maybe its OK to operate damp, but I'd feel better knowing it wasn't so wet inside.

--------- *12 Month UPDATE* --------

Snowblower blade stopped spinning at full power last winter. I suspect its a loose belt but I never got around to opening it up and checking. Instead I purchased a 205cc Simplicity single stage blower for $100 more than I paid for this and its much better suited for my needs. I do however plan on keeping this for a backup and for its portability (it fits in the back seat of my car).
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on November 21, 2010
Have shoveled, bladed, & blown lots of snow in 55 yrs. Last snowblower was craftsman gas blower that is still working out at the farm. I am 64 & needed something lightweight & powerful that I can pick up & move as I need to! Very easy for one person to assemble. This is the tkt. I just came in from blowing one foot of snow on long driveway & sidewalk at home in town; plus the double driveway and corner lot sidewalk of my 91yr neighbor. One pass all the way to the concrete every time. It took me one hour start to finish. No clogs & the snow slid off the surfaces of the blower & no snow to clean out of the chute when done. I especially like the directional handle on the chute for snow. It allows a good dispersion of snow at a low angle so one is not hitting the neighbor's windows. The throw distance of the snow is equal to larger snowblowers I have used. I am a widow & have to pay for upkeep on sparkplug/gas driven items; and I am converting to electric yard items when possible. The price was reasonable & free shipping was an extra bonus.
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on September 21, 2010
I owned a previous Toro 1800 model for probably 7 years (ending in roughly 2000-2001). I'd get my driveway cleaned faster and better than my neighbors using their gas units. But, after 7 years, my Toro finally had it and I decided to get me a gas/oil mix snow blower.

I ended up with two different gas/oil mix units over the past 9 years. One gas snow blower lasted 3 years (I paid about $500 for it). The next one lasted 6 years and is on its last leg (I paid $465) for it.

Now, I FINALLY get to go back to a BETTER Toro 1800 model than the prior model that I loved so much (AND IT IS STILL THE SAME PRICE I PAID FOR MY FIRST UNIT 17 YEARS AGO!). I'm not waiting to purchase this unit since it is only $299 with free shipping. No way am I waiting. This model has been around a long time. That attests to its popularity, reliability and greatness. It will clear 10 inches deep, no problem. I've cleared snow over 18 inches deep, no problem. It chews right through the white stuff and tosses it clear off the drive by up to 30 feet. Powerful for an electric unit. And this latest engine is even more powerful! Can't wait!

I have cleaned up slushy snow (off the street) with this unit in the past. Nice clear path along the curb so the mail person can easily drive up to my mailbox in the winter. As 'convenient' as a gas snow thrower can be (for the simple reason you don't have to watch out for an electric extension cord), I can't stand it when the engine jets crud up and I have to get the doggone gas unit 'tuned' for a $100+. I started straining my oil/gas mixture through my wife's used nylons (a mechanic told me that trick to keep the jets clean from impurities in the gas/oil mix) and that worked well for not needing any further tuneups. But, I always dreaded coming up to the next season 'wondering' if the gas unit would start, how it would idle, and how long it would last before dying on a heavy snowfall day. I NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT SUCH THINGS WITH MY PAST TORO 1800 ELECTRIC SNOWTHROWER! It always started, always ran powerfully, and always did a better job cleaning the driveway than my gas/oil powered units.

So I AM BACK FOR ANOTHER ROUND WITH WHAT APPEARS TO BE A MUCH IMPROVED VERSION (and the other model was already great)! I can't wait for snow to fall now! I'll be ready. I'll be thrilled. I'll be glad to be the ONLY ONE (AGAIN) in our neighborhood with this powerful electric snow thrower. My neighbors have purchased huge, powerful gas units. Man do they rev for 1-2 seasons. Then, I hear them chugging and choking (I know they don't filter their gasoline through nylon stockings) and then I see them loading these heavy gas hogs into their RVs for the semi-annual trip to the tuneup shop. I WILL NOT MISS THAT AT ALL. RELIABILITY, POWER, EFFICIENCY, CLEAN RUNNING, NO POLLUTION, ALWAYS STARTS, ALWAYS RUNS, WORKS LIKE A CHAMPION WORK HORSE, I AM NEVER GOING BACK TO THOSE MESSY GAS/OIL CHUGGERS EVER AGAIN. Not with this beautiful, electric, Toro back in my garage again (FINALLY - WELCOME HOME TORO!)

9/27/2010 - My new Toro arrived on Saturday (9/25/2010). Thanks for the quick shipment, Amazon. My new 100' 12-gauge extension cord arrived today (9/27/2010). Usually I don't look forward to winter. Now all I can say is: I'M READY - BRING IT ON!

11/11/2010 - Just a note that the shipping box mentions the type of extension cord to get. "Use 14 gauge extension cord only to 100'. Use 12 gauge extension cord only to 150'." I purchased the Pro-Power 12 gauge outdoor extension cord by Coleman Cable, Inc. On Coleman's selection guide, it says the 14 gauge gives you 15 amps up to 50' and 13 amps up to 100'. According to Coleman, the 12 gauge gives you 15 amps up to 100' whereas Toro says the 12 gauge is good up to 150'. I think your safest bet is the 12 gauge 100' but the 14 gauge will probably work just fine up to 100' (according to Toro's shipping box stats). A few more weeks and we'll post the results of our first uses with this powerful machine.

12/16/2012 - Wow. Hard to believe it's been two years since I last reviewed this snowthrower. I wish I had bad news for the gasoline and oil snow thrower lovers. Now, don't get me wrong. Those gas/oil tuneup beasts have their rightful place in probably 10 percent of the snowfall driveway cleanings that are needed in the United States. For the other 90% of driveways, this (under $300 shipped) electric snowthrower is ideal. No tuneups needed. Plug in and go.

I just got done plowing out the first significant snowfall in Ohio this evening. 10-12 inches of 30 degree snowfall and you know how heavy that can be. Sweet. Right down to the concrete. Smooth, clean. It even cleaned up the tire tracks packed down on the driveway from our two cars pulling in from work earlier. Next, I tackled the end of the driveway where the snow plow threw its buildup from the road. Took care of it out to two feet into the street and fifteen feet in the street on either side of my driveway. Now, the mail person can drive right up to the mailbox and have plenty of space to pull out. Of course, my driveway is super clean and this puppy is going on its third winter. I did hear my neighbor's gasoline super hog snowthrower misfiring a little today so I'm sure he'll be calling someone to pick it up for a tuneup (too heavy and huge to fit in his car). Anyway, if my electric snowthrower ever breaks down or it can't do the job, I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks for looking.
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on November 29, 2010
When shopping for a new snow blower, you're likely to be comparing the Toro 1800 with the comparable yet less expensive Snow Joe 622 (or similar). As of this writing, the star ratings are fairly close, but with a bit more research, I found people had more trouble with their Snow Joe than I wanted to risk. Here's just one forum on the topic:

The latest model Toro 1800 (38381) has a lightweight plastic body and the required assembly takes literally about 2 minutes. It has a strong 15 amp motor that was able to cut through snow to clear my driveway and sidewalk with ease. One thing to note about the Toro 1800 is that if you do not have the necessary 12 or 14 gauge power cord, a new 100 foot cord will run you fifty bucks or more. I wouldn't recommend using the 'standard orange extension cable' as those are generally only good up to 13 amps - but check the little tag on your cable to find out the amp rating, it might be sufficient.

It really is a top-end electric snow blower. It does not match up with large, heavy gas-powered snow blowers (for example, it will not blow snow that has been really packed down by a vehicle driving on it), so don't expect it to. On the flip side, you don't have to mess with mixing oil and gasoline or lubricating parts or worrying if it's going to start up when you go out in the cold - the electric motor is instant-on. All-in-all I'm very happy with this purchase.
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on April 23, 2011
Before the winter season began, I wanted to be ready for the snow. Last season my back begged me to get a snow blower. After doing some research and a lot of thinking, I decided I didn't really want to have to deal with the gas/oil a regular snow blower would bring me. I decided I wanted an electric one and this seemed to be the best.

The good:
- Tackled low to medium amount of snow like a champ.
- Easily started.
- You can control the direction and height the device throws the snow rather easily.
- If the machine stalls because of too much snow, just pull it back and it starts right up.
- Didn't see a gigantic spike in electric bill (small one though).
- The machine folds up nicely for storage. I recommend you put it inside when you are done on top of some towels for a few hours before storing it.
- Easy assembly
- Saved my back.

The not so good:
- The machine has a key that is needed to start it. It is just basically a piece of plastic that holds something down and allows the main lever you hold down to work. At least once, I managed to start the machine without that key in place. Don't know how, but just something to think about.
- After a while, holding down the lever that makes the machine work can hurt your hands. This is especially true if you are wearing very thick gloves. When using this machine, I recommend using the thinnest gloves you can that keep your hands warm.
- This doesn't have to do so much with the machine, but the recommended extension cords are expensive if you need over 100 feet. Also, I HIGHLY recommend you buy cords made for cold weather. It will help a LOT when you have to navigate the cord around your property and when you have to wrap up the cord to put it away. So factor about $75 dollars in for extension cords if you have a larger property.
- If you have a high amount of snowfall, the machine stalls a lot. It is rated for something like 10 inches I believe. The closer you get to that, the more you will find yourself constantly pulling the machine back and ramming it into the snow (and repeating). I have seen videos of people using the machine and this seems to be what most of them do. I did manage to do a foot and a half by doing this.
- The wheels are terrible. I wish they had used some higher quality rubber wheels. This is the only part of the machine that I am worried about lasting.

I am going to give this device 4 stars. I used this several times this winter and it made the snow clean up a ton easier. I feel like if you live in an area that doesn't see over 10 inches of snow very often, this is a much better device to have around than a gas powered machine you have to constantly maintain. But if you get over 10 inches constantly or live in an area that gets very heavy snow, I think you would be better off investing in a gas powered machine.

A couple of recommendations:
- Clean the snow up as soon as possible. The lighter the snow is the easier it is to remove.
- If you are expecting over 10 inches, it may be advantageous (if possible) to clean up the snow twice. It will make the amount of energy you have to use later a lot less. If it isn't possible, follow previous suggestion.
- Use a shovel to clear out a good starting point for the machine. Don't just throw it in the snow. Dig out enough space so the machine is sitting flat on your walkway and is able to maneuver a bit.
- Keep the extension cords tangle free.
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on January 10, 2011
For all those that have had the belt issue similar to what I've read in several posts, the fix to the belt falling off is to simply tighten up the main rotor axle. Note it is reverse threaded (left to tighten). After doing this the 1800 works fine once again.

I down rated the 1800 to 4 stars for two reasons, (a) should not have to figure this out myself it should be in the manual, since it appears to be a common issue given the commentary from other owners (b) I'm sure there's some engineering trick that Toro could come up with that could alleviate this from happening.

PS - You'll need a 7/8 Allen Wrench and an adjustable wrench. Open both sides of the 1800, and then tighten using the wrench on the right side and the 7/8 allen wrench on the left.
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on January 27, 2011
Worked ok for ONE 6 inch snowfall the week after I bought it.
2 weeks later with 8-10" it started stalling with the motor racing
but the snow impeller (the rotating part) not moving.

Finally it wouldn't work at all.

Called up Toro tech support 3 times about the problem Toro Case Number 2123136
These are the words of the support person:
(1)"How much snow were you clearing? You know that this unit can't handle serious snow."
"Sounds like you slipped the belt. The instructions to fix that are in the Operating Manual."

(2)Called back and got Same tech:
ME:The instructions to fix the slipped belt aren't in the operating manual
"Oh! Do you want to speak to a supervisor" Put on hold for 10 minutes
Comes Back
"I talked to the supervisor and they said there isn't any other instructions"
"You can take it to be repaired"

Lost patience and opened up unit to find the small belt connecting the motor to the drive shaft of the snow impeller
was completely stripped by the teeth on on the motor shaft.

(3)Called back and got second tech who was more helpful
I read the part number off the belt and she agreed to send another.
ME:"If this happens again will you replace the belt?"
Tech:"Thats a wear item that costs $19.95"
Tech:"I'll send insructions to replace the belt and send you a new one."

She then sent instructions by email to replace the WRONG belt.
I replied by email but haven't gotten a response
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on February 26, 2013
Bought this snowblower during the winter of 2010/2011 ... didn't have snow until this year! Was beginning to think I'd never get to use this machine! Well, it snowed last week (02/21/2013), but my machine was in storage and I didn't get it out. Wish I would have now. Snowed again today (02/26/2013) and I had it with me this time! Each snowfall was 9+ inches. This 2nd round, however, was heavy and wet. This machine made a truly valiant effort in clearing my driveway. It was definitely better than shoveling!

A couple of observations ...
* The machine clogged 3x, which didn't surprise me considering how wet the snow was. These were super easy and quick to clear.
* It is super lightweight, which is GREAT; however, because it is lightweight, it can't "scrape" down to the cement if the snow has been walked on/compacted. I used a simple shovel just to loosen the snow and scrape the cement and then rolled over it with the snowblower.
* The wet snow does not get thrown as far as if it was dry (obviously).
* Keeping the cord clear of the machine was NOT an issue.
* It was nice to be able to quickly turn on and off the machine with just a squeeze of the handle.

Considering the amount of snow we have gotten in the last 3 years, this machine is perfect - it folds up nicely, is lightweight, and was relatively inexpensive.
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on February 17, 2015
I am a single female with some minor back issues that make shoveling uncomfortable. My plow guy stopped shoveling as part of his services, so I decided to try this option. I only used it a few times last year in 2 inches of snow and under when the plow guy didn't come. I live in Maine and this year we have had more snow than we have had in a decade. We had 36 inches of snow at once. Because the snow was much taller than the snow blower - I shoveled off the first foot and then this little guy did the rest. I love that the blade is plastic as I don't have to worry about getting cut. I accidentally got my thick outdoor extension cord wrapped up in the blade and the machine stopped immediately and my cord was not damaged. It even tackles the harder snow that has partially frozen. The blower shoots the snow to the other side of my driveway. This is perfect for women and for older people!
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on December 17, 2010
Bought the last model (display model) at a big box store in late November and just had the first opportunity to use it on 4 inches of snow yesterday. My drive way is 80 ft long and I have an additional outside parking spot to the side so it is a large area (about 900 sqr ft). Those that complain about the cord appear to be using it in a pattern for gas blowers - meaning go down the driveway, turn around and come back. The method for electric blowers is to start closest to the outlet, step forward three feet with the blower, step back and then move to the right or left 18in and repeat until you finish that "row", then move forward in three foot increments until reaching the end of the driveway. This is more of a completion of short rows rather than one long strip at a time and thus the cord will not be an issue.

With the 4 in of lighter snow I was getting about 15 ft of throw very easily, but when I got to the end of the driveway were there was very wet snow(and I had to adjust the chute higher)and only got about 10ft at most (where the snow was wet and about 1ft high). Being from NH and using other blowers, I do not know that I would recommend this model for those receiving snow that is normally heavy and plus 1ft is the norm (but I will defer to those from regions to give actual experiences with this model and those conditions), but for an area of the country that gets 35-40 inches annually it is great!
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