Choosing Between Recoil Start and Electric-Start Snowblowers

Starting a snowblower may be one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had the displeasure of living through. That’s largely because any snowblower I’ve ever used had a recoil start (pull start if you prefer) option. There’s nothing to get the blood boiling like yanking on that cord numerous times, listening to the engine sputter a few times, and then having it promptly cut out on you. You start to ask yourself: Did I overprime it? Is there enough gas in it? Is it getting the right spark to the engine? These are all valid questions that people have been asking themselves for decades.

Fortunately, if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars you can buy a snowblower with an electric start and avoid all these problems. It’s quite satisfying to simply push a button and watch your machine roar into life; that’s what you can expect when an electric-start snowblower is working properly. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of start option.

Yard Machine With Electric Start

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The Argument for a Recoil-Start Snowblower

First, it’s important to realize that the recoil-start snowblowers that you’ll find on the market today, or pull-start if you’re more comfortable with that term, are much more reliable than you may have been used to in years past. Yes, you do have to pull on a string, which does require a little exertion, but it’s really not much effort these days. In most cases your engine will fire up with the slightest of pulls and you’ll be off and running. At the worst, your machine will usually start on the second or third try. The point is, even though you do have to pull on a cord, you don’t have to put a lot of effort into it, so it’s not as bad as you might expect.

The great thing about the recoil-start option is that it’s all self-contained within the machine. You don’t have to worry about plugging anything in to get it started; as a result, you don’t have to be near the house to start your machine. If you don’t mind a little physical effort, this really is the best option.

The Argument against a Recoil-Start Snowblower

As you might’ve guessed already, the main concern with recoil-start snowblowers is that they do require some physical exertion. If you have any kind of disability at all, or if you have a heart condition, this may simply be too much for you. It’s not great if you have a bad back either. In all of these cases you’re definitely better off to look at the option of a snowblower with an electric start. It’s probably better to pay a little extra money for a machine than it is to risk injuring yourself.

The Argument for an Electric-Start Snowblower

Electric start snowblowers are without a doubt highly convenient. All you have to do to get one of these machines started is to push a button and go. Your shoulders will thank you, your back will thank you, and your heart will thank you. Even if you are in good shape, it might be a good idea to save some of your effort for the job of plowing through the snow that’s in front of you and not on trying to get your snowblower started. If I were to describe the benefit of an electric snowblower in one word, it would be “convenience”.

The Arguments against an Electric-Start Snowblower

What we didn’t mention above, when we waxed elegantly about how great and convenient an electric-start snowblower is, was that you have to plug them in for it to work. Because of the cold weather, this isn’t quite the same as with a lawnmower. Batteries don’t always function very well in cold weather, so you need the reliability of your home’s electrical outlets to assist you in starting your machine. That’s right, you’ll need an extension cord plugged into your machine and plugged into the wall of your house. If you’re in good physical shape it may be a lot quicker just pulling the cord on the recoil start rather than lugging out an extension cord and plugging it into the wall.

The other drawback of an electric-start snowblower is that in many cases the electrical mechanism inside the machine can sometimes fail. This can be an expensive fix if your warranty runs out, and you may end up just using the recoil-start option anyway – that is, assuming that your machine comes with both options. Fortunately, in most cases machines that have an electric start also have a recoil start for backup.

The Best of Both Worlds

The bottom line is, if you can afford it your best choie is to purchase a machine that has an electric start and a recoil start for backup. That way, if you’ve got a shoulder injury or your back’s acting up, you can always opt to use the electric start until your body heals. Once you get healthy again you can always use the recoil start to save time. It’s nice to have that choice.

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