The Pros and Cons of Electric Versus Gas-Powered Snowblowers

Until I started researching snowblowers while trying to decide which one was right for me, I didn’t realize how much choice there really is. I’d always thought of snowblowers as big gas-guzzling machines that cut through snow like a knife through butter. As it turns out, it’s a lot more complicated than that. While these large, expensive machines are certainly an option, there are also less expensive gas models as well as very basic electric snow shovels and electric snowblowers.

Deciding which model is right for you will depend upon a lot of factors. You’ll want to consider how important the environmental impact of such a machine is to you, what your budget is, and how much snowfall you generally get in your area. If you live in an environment with very little snow, a simple electric snow shovel may be more than enough to handle your needs. Like anything else, there is no one right answer for everybody. In this article we’ll look at the different alternatives, allowing you to make a better-informed decision about which one is right for you.

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Electric Snow Shovels

Electric snow shovels are very basic little machines. They’re very light weight, generally under 15 pounds, and they’re very basic in design. In order to work they have to be plugged into a wall outlet, so you will need an extension cord to use one and you’ll want to make sure it’s a heavy-duty cord designed to work well in cold weather.

An electric snow shovel does not have a chute to blow snow off to the side, as you’ll find on more expensive electric or gas-powered snowblowers. It simply uses a basic auger to push the snow in front of it, propelling the snow a few feet in front of you. How far these machines can throw the snow will vary, but generally you’re looking at about 10 to 15 feet. The main advantage of these machines over a manual, handheld model is that they do a good job of clearing all of the snow out of your way and they don’t leave a trail.

The other great thing about an electric snow shovel is that it’s quite friendly towards the environment. There are no gas emissions to worry about and you don’t have to worry about running to the closest gas station because you’ve run out of gas. However, these machines are designed to handle only very light snowfalls – generally no more than 4 to 6 inches. You may be able to use them in deeper snow, but you’ll have to get creative and lift them off the ground to attack the top layer of the snow first. While these machines are quite light they’re still a bit heavier than your traditional handheld snow shovel, so clearing heavy snow will give you quite a workout. If you live in an area that routinely gets more than 6 inches of snow during one snowstorm, you’re probably better off considering an electric snowblower or even a gas-powered model.

Electric Snowblowers

Electric snowblowers have some things going for them that make them a better option than either an electric snow shovel or a gas-powered snowblower. First of all, if you’re concerned about the impact such a machine will have on the environment, you’ll be pleased to know that they will leave a footprint similar to the electric snow shovel we’ve already discussed above. Again, you plug it into the wall and use electric power to run it, so there are no gas emissions. They’re certainly a lot more environmentally friendly than even the most efficient gas-powered snowblowers.

If you live in an environment with moderate to high snowfalls for which an electric snow shovel simply isn’t good enough to handle the job, but you still want a machine that’s environmentally friendly, an electric snowblower is definitely the best option. These machines will generally retail for between $200 and $400, so they’re not extremely pricey; yet they still do a pretty good job of handling snowfalls of up to about 8 or 9 inches. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds – you’re doing your part for the environment and you’re getting a machine that can handle a fair bit of snow.

The problem with electric snowblowers is that they just can’t handle extreme weather very well. If you live in a northern climate where it’s not unusual to get more than a foot of snow during a storm, you probably won’t do very well with an electric snowblower. If you’re adamant about buying a machine that’s environmentally friendly you can certainly give one of these machines a try, but you’ll definitely struggle with it a bit.

Gas-Powered Snowblowers

As you might’ve guessed by our discussion so far, a gas-powered snowblower will generally do much better in areas where heavy snowfall is common. Gasoline engines can simply provide much more power, making it easier for manufacturers to offer machines that cut wider paths and slice through deep snow with relative ease. The obvious disadvantage of a gas powered snowblower is that there will definitely be an environmental impact. They also require a little more regular maintenance.

It’s not uncommon for higher-end gas powered snowblowers to be able to clear a 30-inch wide path with one pass through snow that’s up to 2 feet deep. This kind of snow clearing power will considerably reduce the amount of time it takes to clear your driveway.

Which One’s the Right Choice?

Choosing between an electric snow shovel, an electric snowblower, and a gas-powered snowblower is really an individual choice. Electric models are certainly better on the environment, but they don’t have anywhere near the snow-clearing ability of the gas-powered models. When making your decision you’ll want to consider your budget, how important the environmental impact is to you, and what type of climate you live in.

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