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Decent but Be Aware of it's Limitations
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.
-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
-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).