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Snowblower comparison: Toro, Worx and Snow Joe
on May 18, 2011
Bottom line: while the new Toro model (the one with the larger wheels) is better at moving snow, the Worx is no slouch and is a better value. Snow Joe just didn't cut it for me.
I grew up in Western New York, so I'm not a stranger to having to deal with a lot of snow. But, while a big, hulking snowblower got a lot of use there, it's not something that really is worth the expense and storage space now that I live in Virginia. An electric seemed like a good idea, so I spent some time trying out differed models.
For the winter of 08/09 I tried a Snow Joe. Liked the price and the specs on paper seemed pretty good. But performance was horrible. Rather, I should say performance was fine for the brief time it worked -- Joe lasted all of 30 minutes before dying from a cracked auger shaft. Impossible to get anyone at the company to provide me with info on a repair. Fortunately, it was bought with an American Express card and they stepped in and gave me my money back (they have a warranty/replacement type benefit). So long Joe.
(As an aside, it seems Snow Joe has a new model out that is getting decent reviews. So no one should completely dismiss Joe from my bad experience).
For this past winter I got the Worx mainly because of my positive past experience with their chain saw and blower/vac. A friend who lives several houses down got the new Toro model (the one with the bigger wheels). Being guys, we of course had to compete to see whose was the best. Mother Nature was kind enough to give us way too many opportunities to try them out.
Both are pretty easy to put together, but the Toro has better instructions. On the other hand, I really like the cam bolts that the Worx uses. Takes a few minutes to figure them out, but if installed correctly they allow you to loosen and fold the handle for storage without any tools. Flipping the cam when the handle is extended ensures everything stays tight regardless of the amount of bouncing around it gets on the pavement.
Both have grips that are comfortable and safety switches that can be used with gloves on.
Both also deal with the rarely seen fluffy snow like a champ. But, what we normally get in VA is the wet, heavy stuff. That's a bit more challenging. I didn't notice any difference between the Toro and the Worx with snows of up to 6 inches. Once you pass the 6 inch level, the Toro started to have the edge - threw it further and didn't bog down as much. At the 10 inch level the Toro really pulled ahead. The Worx got the job done, but the Toro was faster, threw further, and never clogged. The Worx is rated for 9 inches max; the Toro is rated for 12 inches. Both can tackle deeper snows if you take it slow.
But there are some key advantages to the Worx. It has a 13 amp motor versus a 15 amp in the Toro. While more is usually better, I ended up tripping the breaker twice with the Toro, since the only circuit I have outdoors is a 15 amp. The Worx is also more forgiving when it comes to an extension cord. A 12 gauge is best at the 100 foot length, but you can get by with a 14 gauge. With the Toro, you absolutely must have a 12 gauge that is rated for 15 amps.
I found the Worx easier to fold and store than the Toro. Takes up less room as well.
The Worx also has a metal auger that has rubber tips/scrapers. The Toro has an all-plastic auger. But, while the metal seems like it would last longer (the rubber tips are replaceable), the Toro design is more clog resistant. I had to spray the Worx with WD40 to keep the chute from clogging (and it still did clog on me once). Didn't have to do that with the Toro, and no clogs. Since it was the same amount of snow on the same driveway, I have to assume the difference is in the Toro design.
The Worx wins out in terms of price. I happened to get it on a price dip, but even the usual Worx price is lower than the Toro.
Toro wins out with regard to replacement parts. Sooner or later you'll need a new belt or a new bottom scraper due to wear and tear. Toro seems far easier to deal with than Worx to get parts - there are Toro dealers in my area, and I've seen Toro parts from online vendors (including Amazon). No one seems to carry Worx parts, so replacements will need to be ordered directly from the company, which can be tedious and expensive.
So, if you absolutely want to get the most powerful, most capable electric snowblower, you'll want the Toro. But, the Worx offers a great blend of features at a lower cost, and the 13 amp motor is easier to deal with than the 15 amp on the Toro (unless you have a 20 amp outdoor circuit). Both are 5-star products, but I'm glad I went with the Worx.
Now, if it never snowed again to the extent that I have to use the Worx, I'd be one very, very happy camper!
PS: Regardless of which one you get, some tips that apply to both are:
1. Get a cold-flexible extension cord (the blue ones). You'll appreciate how easier it is to maneuver when the temperature really dips down.
2. Make sure your extension cord is suitable for the amperage of the model you use. 12 gauge is always a good bet, but be sure it can carry 15 amps if you get the Toro.
3. When you're done using the snowblower, bring the machine inside and let the trapped snow melt. Put down a couple of old towels and just let it defrost on its own. Once it has fully defrosted and dried out, put it back in the garage. The reason you want to do this is that water can get into the nooks and crannies, and then freeze if the snowblower is stored wet in an unheated garage. The frozen parts can put a huge strain on the belt and/or motor when you start it up again.
4. Irish Coffee makes the job much more pleasant.