Greenworks 2600502 Review

From $123 Best

Pros:

  • Longer warranty (4 years) than most snow blowers, gas or electric.
  • Very lightweight and easy to maneuver, at only 32 pounds, and compact for easy storage, users say.
  • Clears a 20-inch path, slightly wider than other cheap electric blowers, so fewer passes may be necessary.
  • Less maintenance than a gas blower.
  • Relatively quiet; owners compare the noise to a loud vacuum cleaner.

Cons:

  • Too many plastic flimsy plastic parts to stand up to long-term use, many users say; some reports of units that were dead upon first use.
  • Models that come with an outdoor extension cord are more expensive.
  • Recommended 50-foot cord length may not be sufficient for long driveways and sidewalks.

Takeaway: Budget-conscious buyers who don't regularly battle blizzards should be pleased with the Greenworks 2600502. Users who've gotten used to managing the cord praise the ability of this lightweight electric blower to clear snow up to about 8 inches. Even with some complaints regarding durability and construction, the majority consensus is that, for the price, this blower is hard to beat.

Snow Joe iON 18SB Review

From $278 Best

Pros:

  • Battery means no fussing with a power cord.
  • LED headlight.
  • Very lightweight, at only 32 pounds, making it easy to lift and maneuver.
  • Good marks for surface cleaning in expert tests.
  • 8-inch snow intake makes it well-suited for occasional use and light accumulations.
  • Less noisy than gas models.
  • Energy Star certified.

Cons:

  • Not enough power to deal with heavy snow; don't expect to easily clear more than 3 to 4 inches at a time, several owners warn.
  • Many say this blower clogs easily and has a limited throwing distance.
  • With up to 50 minutes of run time per charge, the battery might not last long enough for larger jobs.
  • Some complaints of long recharge times.

Takeaway: Although the battery-powered Snow Joe iON 18SB can't compete with other snow blowers on power, many owners say it's got the chops to chew through lighter snowfalls on smaller driveways and sidewalks. They also say it's hard to beat the quiet engine and cord-free, lightweight maneuverability compared with bulkier gas blowers.

Craftsman 88780 Review

From $450 Best

Pros:

  • Enough power to manage heavier snowfalls, including icy deposits, users say in online reviews.
  • 21-inch clearing width.
  • Convenience features include self-propulsion and push-button start.
  • Excellent or very good marks in expert tests for handling, plow-pile removal, and surface cleaning.
  • 4-cycle engine with separate tanks for fuel and oil; no premixing required.

Cons:

  • Some reviews suggest that the throwing distance is not very far; deep snow may further shorten the range.
  • As a single-stage snow blower, it's not designed for use on gravel or rough surfaces.
  • Some reviewers complain of vibration and others say the build is not as sturdy as it could be.

Takeaway: Users say this single-stage Craftsman snow blower is adept with fairly hefty accumulations of up to about a foot on smooth surfaces. Because it's self-propelled and easy to handle, it's a good pick for buyers who need a powerful snow blower but can't manage a heavier two- or three-stage gas model.

Where to buy

PowerSmart DB5023 Review

From $129 Good

Pros:

  • 8-inch intake height easily clears up to 6 inches of powdery snow, owners say.
  • 30-foot throwing distance is farther than competitors.
  • Quieter and lower-maintenance than a gas blower.

Cons:

  • At 37 pounds, it's a bit heavier than comparable electric blowers.
  • Too many flimsy plastic parts, reviewers say.
  • 1-year warranty is half the industry standard.
  • Requires an outdoor extension cord that can be pricey.

Takeaway: Very inexpensive but effective for lighter accumulations, the corded electric PowerSmart DB5023 suits buyers who need a snow blower only occasionally and are willing to drag along a power cord. Users say it has surprising power and clears small driveways and walkways with minimal effort, as long as the snow's not too wet or too deep.

Where to buy

Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E Review

From $167 Good

Pros:

  • 15-amp engine is on the powerful side for an electric blower.
  • Handles up to about 10 inches of powdery snow with ease, users say.
  • Very lightweight, at just over 32 pounds, making it easy to push and maneuver.
  • Earns high praise for quick and easy assembly -- less than 5 minutes by most accounts.
  • Requires little maintenance and folds up for storage.

Cons:

  • Lacks the power to deal with wetter snow, many users say, leading to clogging and reduced throwing distance.
  • Requires an outdoor extension cord that can be pricey.

Takeaway: The corded electric Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E does a fine job even on heftier accumulations of powdery snow, owners say. They love the lightweight frame and no-hassle upkeep of this electric blower. Many say it's good for clearing off a deck. Reviewers warn that it's underpowered for wet snow, or that the cord gets in the way, but those are complaints levied against all electric models. Users say it beats a shovel any day and score the Snow Joe brand tops among electric blowers for reliability.

Toro Power Clear 518 ZE Review

From $399 Good

Pros:

  • Very light for a gas blower, at 58 pounds.
  • Locking deflector to direct snow high or low and a discharge chute that rotates 210 degrees to throw snow where users want it.
  • Backup electric starter and variable speeds.
  • High marks in expert tests for throwing distance, surface cleaning, and handling.
  • Collapses for easy storage.
  • 4-cycle engine with separate tanks for fuel and oil; no premixing required.
  • 2-year, guaranteed-to-start (in one or two pulls) warranty in addition to a 2-year full-coverage warranty.

Cons:

  • Struggles somewhat with wet snow, according to reviews.
  • Rubber paddles don't make much of a dent in tightly compressed snow, some users say.
  • Reports of paddles breaking and screws loosening or falling out.
  • Some users complain that the oil tank is awkwardly positioned, making refills difficult, and the gas tank lid can be hard to remove.

Takeaway: This single-stage Toro snow blower is light, compact, and cheap for a gas model. While the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE doesn't have the oomph of more expensive blowers, users say it's plenty adept with snowfalls of up to about a foot. Its modest weight and ease of operation are top selling points for consumers who want an entry-level gas blower that's simple to use from start to finish. Experts say the brand deserves the positive feedback it receives from bargain-minded consumers.

Where to buy

Greenworks Pro 2600402 Review

From $254 Think Twice

Pros:

  • Battery-powered, so users don't have to fuss with a power cord.
  • Maintenance-free, brushless motor and push-button start.
  • Less noisy than gas models; good marks for quiet operation in expert tests.
  • Long 4-year warranty.

Cons:

  • Not enough power to deal with wetter snow, several users say.
  • Reviewers report several durability and quality-control issues, with some receiving units that are dead on arrival.
  • Many say the battery life is much shorter than the 45 minutes promised.

Takeaway: Low-maintenance, go-anywhere cordless snow blowers have undeniable appeal, but the Greenworks Pro 2600402 seems to miss the mark despite a souped-up 80-volt battery. Several users say it labors in deep or wet snow, while others complain that it simply stopped working after just minutes of operation.

Poulan Pro PR100 Review

From $310 Think Twice

Pros:

  • Inexpensive for a gas snow blower.
  • Wide 21-inch clearing path.
  • Easily clears paved driveways and other small, hard surfaces, users say.
  • Separate tanks for oil and gasoline simplify maintenance.

Cons:

  • Reviewers report durability and quality-control issues such as bolts that shake loose, poorly welded mufflers, and wheels that are prone to jamming.
  • No electric start or self-propulsion.
  • Can be hard to maneuver, many users say.

Takeaway: The single-stage Poulan Pro PR100 is temptingly cheap for a snow blower with a reasonably powerful gas engine, but reviewers raise a lot of red flags. Many say it's a beast to drag through the snow, often because of malfunctioning wheels. Others report flying bolts and even the muffler falling off the blower.

Where to buy

Buying Guide

Choosing a Snow Blower

Unless you live in a region that's regularly slammed with substantial snowfall, there's little need to spend more than $500 for a snow blower that will see only occasional use. A cheap snow blower can reliably clear small to medium-size driveways, walkways, decks, and patios of around half a foot of snow, or more if you're willing to make multiple passes. The cheapest snow blowers are usually corded electric models under $200, but spending a bit more -- over $300 -- can buy the cordless convenience of a battery-powered blower or the added power of a gas blower.

Snow Blower Brands.

Several familiar and a few not-so-familiar names rule the cheap snow-blower market. Well-known brands with models in the Cheapism price bracket include Toro and Troy-Bilt, which make a range of electric and gas blowers. Cub Cadet and Poulan Pro have inexpensive gas models, while Snow Joe and Greenworks make cheap corded and battery-powered electric blowers. Big names including Honda, Husqvarna, and Ariens focus on pricier, higher-end gas models, while Ego makes a higher-end cordless blower.

As with many appliances, there are a lot of brand names but not a lot of manufacturers. The Ohio-headquartered company MTD makes Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Remington, Troy-Bilt, and Yard Machines. Husqvarna makes Poulan Pro, while Ariens makes Sno-Tek.

Electric vs. Gas Snow Blowers.

It's important to carefully consider your needs before deciding between electric and gas. Electric snow blowers are lighter and lower maintenance than their gas counterparts, but most require access to a power outlet and an extension cord that can stand up to the elements (generally not included). Buyers can opt for a cordless model, but expect to pay a premium for that convenience -- and there's the risk of dealing with a dead battery before the job's done. Gas blowers are typically a bit more powerful than electric blowers. While a cord or a dead battery is not a worry, the tradeoff is that users must stay on top of routine maintenance, such as checking oil levels and replacing fuel filters.

In our roundup of the best cheap snow blowers, we recommend three corded electric models. The Greenworks 2600502 (starting at $123) makes it onto many reviewers' lists as one of the best electric snow blowers around. Its light weight and the brand's overall reputation for high-quality products at reasonable prices make it our top pick. There's also the Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E (starting at $167) and the PowerSmart DB5023 (starting at $129). Both have shorter warranties than our top choice and a bit more heft, but each presents its fair share of positives.

The Snow Joe iON 18SB (starting at $278) is a cordless electric snow blower that's a good option for homeowners facing lighter loads and willing to sacrifice a bit of power for easy portability. Cordless converts who want as much power as possible can consider stepping up to the Ego SNT2102 (starting at $599). Buyers might want to steer clear of the Greenworks Pro 2600402 (starting at $254). Complaints concerning reliability dog this battery-powered snow blower.

Snow blower reviews suggest that anyone who regularly receives up to a foot of powder or significant amounts of wet snow should spend extra for a gas model. Our pick for best cheap gas snow blower is the Craftsman 88780 (starting at $450). It can power through fairly substantial piles of snow with relative ease. Another gas blower we recommend is the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE (starting at $399), a compact model that users say is small but mighty and can clear snow deeper than its 12-inch intake suggests. We're a bit wary of the gas-powered Poulan Pro PR100 (starting at $350). Reviewers indicate it suffers from durability issues and maneuverability that's below par.

Expensive vs. Cheap Snow Blowers.

All electric snow blowers and most cheap gas blowers are single-stage models that rely on augers (usually rotating rubber paddles) to gather up snow and send it through the discharge chute while helping pull the machine along. The auger in a single-stage snow blower scrapes the ground, so it should be used only on paved/smooth surfaces.

Those who get a bit more snow or have rough surfaces to clear may want to step up to a gas-powered two-stage snow blower like the Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 (starting at $599). Two-stage models use an auger (usually made of serrated metal) to churn up snow and an impeller to help send it out the chute. They can handle heavier snowfalls and uneven terrain or gravel because the auger doesn't contact the ground. Three-stage snow blowers, the most expensive of the bunch, work like two-stage models but are much faster. They are best for users who get a lot of snow and want to deal with it as quickly as possible. The Cub Cadet 3X 26" (starting at $1,199) is one of the best values among three-stage gas blowers.

For the most part, two-stage snow blowers are $500 and up, while three-stage blowers run at least $1,000. At the other end of the spectrum is the lightweight, inexpensive Toro Power Shovel (starting at $99), for those who want assistance with small snowfalls in tight areas.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $450.00)
Type Single-stage gas
Power 179 cc
Weight 98 lbs.
Clearing Width 21 in.
Intake 13 in.
Chute Rotation 190 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance N/A
Warranty 2 years
(from $123.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 13 amps
Weight 32 lbs.
Clearing Width 20 in.
Intake 10 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 20 ft.
Warranty 4 years
(from $278.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 40 volts
Weight 32 lbs.
Clearing Width 18 in.
Intake 8 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 20 ft.
Warranty 2 years
(from $399.00)
Type Single-stage gas
Power 99 cc
Weight 58 lbs.
Clearing Width 18 in.
Intake 12 in.
Chute Rotation 210 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 25 ft.
Warranty 2 years
(from $167.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 15 amps
Weight 32.4 lbs.
Clearing Width 18 in.
Intake 10 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 25 ft.
Warranty 2 years
(from $129.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 13 amps
Weight 37 lbs.
Clearing Width 18 in.
Intake 8 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 30 ft.
Warranty 1 year
(from $254.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 80 volts
Weight 38 lbs.
Clearing Width 20 in.
Intake 10 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 20 ft.
Warranty 4 years
(from $310.00)
Type Single-stage gas
Power 136 cc
Weight 81 lbs.
Clearing Width 21 in.
Intake 13 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance N/A
Warranty 2 years
(from $599.00)
Type 2-stage gas
Power 208 cc
Weight 195 lbs.
Clearing Width 24 in.
Intake 21 in.
Chute Rotation 190 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance N/A
Warranty 2 years
(from $599.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 2 x 56 volts
Weight 53.4 lbs.
Clearing Width 21 in.
Intake 13 in.
Chute Rotation 180 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 35 ft.
Warranty 5 years
(from $1199.00)
Type 3-stage gas
Power 357 cc
Weight 267 lbs.
Clearing Width 26 in.
Intake 21 in.
Chute Rotation 200 degrees
Maximum Throwing Distance 40 ft.
Warranty 3 years
(from $99.00)
Type Corded electric
Power 7.5 amps
Weight 13.5 lbs.
Clearing Width 12 in.
Intake 6 in.
Chute Rotation N/A
Maximum Throwing Distance 20 ft.
Warranty 2 years

Snow Blower Reviews: What We Considered

To research and compare snow blowers, we consulted expert sources such as Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, all of which do product testing. We also plowed through thousands of online reviews from current and past owners of cheap snow blowers on the websites of retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and Sears. Most reviews focus on performance, maneuverability, durability, and ease of use. All in all, reviews indicate that buyers who match the specs to their particular needs and have realistic expectations are satisfied with cheap snow blowers.

Power.

Manufacturers often indicate the power of a snow blower in cubic centimeters (CCs) for gas models and amps for electric blowers, which can make it confusing to compare models. CCs refer to the volume of piston displacement in a gas-powered engine. The greater the displacement, the more powerful the engine. The same is true for the amp rating in an electric motor -- the more amps (a unit of measure for electric current), the more powerful the motor. In the case of battery-powered blowers, higher voltage means more power.

Reviews indicate that more power doesn't necessarily mean better performance. Indeed, a slew of satisfied reviewers say many of the less-powerful blowers we researched do just fine for light snowfall on small, paved areas and deftly blow away top layers of deep snow.

Still, expectations are usually higher for gas snow blowers, and users' satisfaction often depends on how well they have matched a snow blower's capabilities with weather conditions in their area. While an electric or single-stage gas blower should suffice for lighter use, buyers who live in very snowy climates should consider a two- or three-stage gas model.

Clearing Width and Intake.

The amount of snow that the best snow blowers can clear also depends largely on their design. The clearing width affects how many passes you have to make to clear away the snow. A wider path gets the job done faster. The clearing width for the cheap snow blowers we researched ranges between 18 and 21 inches. More powerful gas models, especially two- and three-stage machines, are more likely to clear wider paths.

A related feature is the height of the intake, which determines how deep the snow blower cuts during each pass. If you live in a region where the snow really piles up, you'll be frustrated constantly if the intake isn't high enough. A low intake in high snow means making several passes over the same area and removing the snow in layers, or venturing outside during a storm several times to clear the snow before it gets too deep. A good rule of thumb: The intake should be at least 2 inches higher than the depth of the snow.

On most cheap snow blowers, the intake ranges from 9 to 13 inches. Although that means they can handle nearly a foot of snow at a time, single-stage snow blowers and power shovels generally are best for light duty on smooth surfaces with accumulations up to about 6 inches. Reviewers who expect these machines to power through larger amounts or manage very wet, heavy snow are often disappointed when they find they need to make several passes. A higher intake generally comes with a higher price tag. On two- and three-stage blowers, the intakes typically range from 16 to 23 inches.

Weight and Maneuverability.

If light weight is a key requirement, it's no contest: Electric snow blowers win out big time. The electric models on our list start around 32 pounds. The heftiest, a battery-powered model meant to compete with gas blowers, tops out at 64 pounds. For an even lighter option, a power shovel can make quick work of smaller, tighter areas where a blower would be too awkward.

The lightest (and least powerful) gas snow blower among our picks is just under 60 pounds, while the three-stage model we favor tops out at a hefty 267 pounds. Fortunately, a gas blower is also more likely to feature some form of self-propulsion and power steering, making it less of a beast to move. Still, gas blowers are likely to be bulkier, so users who need help clearing snow in tight areas will want to stick to an electric model -- or a tried-and-true shovel, electric or otherwise.

Throwing Distance and Discharge Chutes.

Once the snow is churned up and compacted, it has to go somewhere. Specs detailing the throwing distance and chute rotation of a snow blower give a good indication of how far the snow will go and where it will land. Look for a model capable of blasting snow at least 20 feet. The maximum throwing distance of the blowers we researched ranges from 20 to 35 feet, although a few manufacturers don't provide this spec. Note that advertised throwing capabilities are only rough estimates. Reviews indicate that the amount and weight of the snow affect the throwing distance -- for example, the heavier or wetter the snow, the shorter the distance.

These days, the chutes on most snow blowers are adjustable -- typically at least 180 degrees -- which means you can aim the discharge in almost any direction (ideally not onto a neighbor's property). Blowers with adjustable deflectors can also shoot the snow high or low.

The discharge chutes on cheap snow blowers are invariably made of plastic, which some consumers report is prone to cracking in cold temperatures -- although, on the other hand, it doesn't rust. Also, the chutes tend to clog with snow, which means having to turn off the machine and clear it out. (Never, under any circumstance, try this while the machine is running.) Some snow throwers come with a scoop for this purpose. Spraying the interior of the chute with WD-40 or silicone can also minimize buildup. Keep in mind that less powerful snow blowers are more prone to clogging simply because their engines aren't as capable at pitching the snow, particularly wet snow, out of the shoot as quickly as necessary to avoid backups.

Ease of Use.

User-friendly touches can make a demanding winter chore easier, if not fun. Buyers who have switched from gas to electric snow blowers prize the ability to plug in and go rather than mess with a fuel tank and pull start. Apart from a few users who feel hampered by the cord (which can be run over, if you're not careful), most say electric blowers are easy to manage once you get the hang of it, which happens pretty quickly. Even easier to manage are battery-operated models that don't require an outdoor extension cord or a well-placed outlet. Other features reviewers appreciate include small touches like easy-to-operate power buttons that don't require constant engagement and snow-discharge chutes that are easy to aim. Bells and whistles like headlights, heated handgrips, and remote chute control are nice but uncommon on the cheapest blowers.

Gas snow blowers require more user engagement than electric snow blowers. Oil and fuel levels must be checked throughout the season, and the engine should be cleaned when snow is done for the year. A pull cord or recoil start demands priming the engine and setting the choke, and some users find the recoil action awkward, if not impossible. But technological improvements have made the top gas snow blowers quite user-friendly. For one, the four-cycle engines now common at the cheaper end of the market have separate compartments for oil and gasoline, so there's no need to premix the two, as you would with a two-cycle engine. Several users report that their clothes no longer have the telltale odor that inevitably comes with a two-cycle model. In addition, many top snow blowers now have a convenient electric start that can eliminate any struggles with the pull cord.

Durability.

Even a budget snow blower can last for many years -- if properly maintained. Most of the snow throwers we researched come with two-year warranties, although we did see coverage as short as one year and as long as five years. Regardless, a warranty doesn't mean much when there are 6 inches of snow on the driveway and the snow thrower won't start or a critical component shakes loose mid-clearing.

Long-term durability data on most of the blowers on our list is scant. However, we did come across some reports of lemons that were defective from the get-go. There are also plenty of complaints about components breaking after a couple of snow-clearing sessions. Blowers that employ a lot of plastic parts particularly draw users' ire. Some reviewers say they just aren't strong enough to stand up to Mother Nature. Finally, there are countless reports of gas blowers that wouldn't work when pulled out of storage. Experts suggest this is often the fault of improper upkeep, as opposed to engine defects.

Additional Products We Considered

Toro Power Shovel Review x

From $99

Definitely not meant for heavy work, this lightweight, light power electric shovel has a telescoping handle and should clear a 12-inch path in up to 6 inches of snow. Users say it works well on smaller areas where a big snow blower won't fit, but gripe that holding the "on" button while clearing the snow gets tiring.

The Toro Power Shovel (starting at $99, Amazon) helps lots of people get through snowy winters. Designed for clearing light snow, it also works wonders on deeper accumulations in small spaces like decks, porches, stairs, and between parked cars, according Toro Power Shovel reviews. The specs suggest using this cheap electric shovel in no more than 6 inches of snow, and consumers report in Toro Power Shovel reviews on Amazon that it easily blows through that much powdery snow but slows a bit when set against denser snow or icy crystals; one says that the plastic impeller blades aren't suited for packed snow. Deeper snows pose more of a challenge but can be vanquished, users assert. Reviews on Home Depot, for example, suggest attacking deep snow by layering off several inches at a time. One user, however, reports feeling some achiness the next day from holding the shovel aloft as he worked. Another common strategy involves shoveling at intervals during the course of a storm. This cheap snow shovel also scores points with users for its light weight and compact size. Women and seniors claim it's easy to operate and one reviewer says it's much like vacuuming. This snow shovel is not without its faults. Two stand out: the straight-on throw and the lack of a lock for the trigger. It's all too easy to blow the same snow over and over, say Toro Power Shovel 38361 reviews, because the discharge points forward. The front-only discharge is a really big problem if the wind is blowing the snow toward you. Experts at suggest starting at the center of the driveway and aiming the Power Shovel towards the sides. Users note that trial-and-error eventually leads to an efficient snow-clearing strategy for your property, such as holding the unit at a slight angle or walking at an angle. Another irritant, according to reviews, is having to actively hold the power button "on" as you proceed. Doing so while shaving a top layer of deep snow is particularly tiring, one reports; another says a longer switch that you could hold with your hand instead of just fingers would be an improvement. A few consumers also wish for wheels to facilitate pushing. This inexpensive power shovel weighs less than 13 pounds and appeals to consumers who don't feel capable of handling a large, wheeled snow blower. It's compact enough to store almost anywhere, including a closet in the house or from a hook in the garage. The 13.5-inch assembled width makes it slightly wider than a regular shovel; it clears a path 12 inches across and up to 6 inches deep. The electric Toro Power Shovel features 7.5 amps of power that can process up to 300 pounds of snow a minute and throw it up to 20 feet ahead. The telescoping handle can be adjusted for height and angle. The body and critical components are plastic. This is a good choice for light-duty snow removal and detail work. As long as you understand the limitations of the Toro Power Shovel, you will not be disappointed. For the most part, it beats the manual shovel by a mile.

This snow shovel is not without its faults. Two stand out: the straight-on throw and the lack of a lock for the trigger. It's all too easy to blow the same snow over and over, say Toro Power Shovel 38361 reviews, because the discharge points forward. The front-only discharge is a really big problem if the wind is blowing the snow toward you. Experts at suggest starting at the center of the driveway and aiming the Power Shovel towards the sides. Users note that trial-and-error eventually leads to an efficient snow-clearing strategy for your property, such as holding the unit at a slight angle or walking at an angle. Another irritant, according to reviews, is having to actively hold the power button "on" as you proceed. Doing so while shaving a top layer of deep snow is particularly tiring, one reports; another says a longer switch that you could hold with your hand instead of just fingers would be an improvement. A few consumers also wish for wheels to facilitate pushing.

This inexpensive power shovel weighs less than 13 pounds and appeals to consumers who don't feel capable of handling a large, wheeled snow blower. It's compact enough to store almost anywhere, including a closet in the house or from a hook in the garage. The 13.5-inch assembled width makes it slightly wider than a regular shovel; it clears a path 12 inches across and up to 6 inches deep. The electric Toro Power Shovel features 7.5 amps of power that can process up to 300 pounds of snow a minute and throw it up to 20 feet ahead. The telescoping handle can be adjusted for height and angle. The body and critical components are plastic.

This is a good choice for light-duty snow removal and detail work. As long as you understand the limitations of the Toro Power Shovel, you will not be disappointed. For the most part, it beats the manual shovel by a mile.

Where to buy

HomeDepot.com
$28.06
EZVacuum.com
$34.00
EZVacuum.com
$14.99
bizrate.com

Toro Power Clear Review

From $399

Users praise the durability of this gas-powered snow blower and say it clears snow deeper than its 12-inch intake suggests. The 518 ZE features an electric start and a discharge chute that rotates 210 degrees and is designed not to clog.

For inexpensive single-stage gas snow blowers, the Toro Power Clear series earns impressive reviews. An expert Toro Power Clear review on Snow Blowers Direct commends its power and ease of use. The company says the compact Power Clear series performs best in up to 6 inches of snow, but users report it achieves at a higher level. Reviews on Home Depot, for example, say the 518 ZE cuts through wet, heavy snow and clears down to the pavement. (Note: Single-stage gas snow blowers should be used only on smooth surfaces.) Deep, dense snow dumped by blizzards or snow plows may require more than one pass and an occasional break to clear a clogged chute, according to reviews, but users aren't complaining. We did come across one minor gripe saying the rubber paddles can't pick up tightly compressed snow, so you’ll probably want to break up any packed snow like drifts left behind from snow plows at the end of your driveway. Consumer reviews on Snow Blowers Direct are also favorable; one reports using the 518 ZE snow thrower to clear more than a foot of snow on a pond to make room for skating. We read a few grousing comments about having to bend way down to reach the oil filter and electric start.

The updated Toro Power Clear 518 ZE (starting at $399) features a 99cc OHV engine with recoil and electric starts, the latter good insurance against sub-freezing temperatures and a boon to users who don't want to hassle with a pull-cord. (Users say the Power Clear series starts up easily, with one or two pulls, so the electric start is rarely necessary.) As on other inexpensive gas snow blowers, there are separate tanks for oil and gasoline; the fuel capacity is 1.4 quarts. The Toro Power Clear 518 ZE cuts an 18-inch path with a 12-inch intake (up to 1,100 pounds of snow a minute) and shoots it as far as 25 feet. A proprietary "zip deflector" on the adjustable discharge chute lets you direct the snow high, low, or anywhere in between. This compact model sports 6-inch plastic wheels and weighs 58 pounds. One user posting on a consumer product review site asserts that it's light enough to carry up stairs.

The Toro Power Clear series features moderately priced gas snow blowers built for moderate amounts of snow, but they rise to the occasion to perform better than the specs suggest. Also worth noting, all Toro blowers are backed by a 2-year full coverage warranty for additional peace of mind. The Toro Power Clear series clearly deserves a spot at the top of our list and at the end of your driveway.

Where to buy

Craftsman Snow Thrower Review

From $500

The Craftsman 88780 is a gas snow blower with an electric start and the power to storm through medium-depth snow. Users like the convenient features and overall performance.

The manufacturer specs say the Craftsman Snow Thrower (starting at $500) is engineered for moderate amounts of snow, but Craftsman 88780 reviews report it manages just fine in snowfalls of a foot or more. The one caveat, reviews say, is that deeper snow shortens the throwing distance. One purchaser posting a review on a consumer products website notes that 19 inches presented no obstacles -- no balking, no clogging, and not much extra push-power required. Another reviewer says this gas snow blower proved its mettle on all but the deepest drifts, some as high as 6 feet. Other Craftsman Snow Thrower reviews on Sears similarly say it clears deep, crusty snow down to the surface, with one or two noting it may choke a bit on densely packed piles left by street plows. Some, including one consumer who lives in North Dakota, assert this lightweight consumer-grade snow blower is as effective as heavier, more powerful models. Specs don't indicate the maximum throw rate, but a review on Craftsman Community says lighter snow flies a good 15 to 20 feet. Separate tanks for fuel and oil are a big draw, and several reviews say you get more than three hours of steady snow blowing on a tank of gasoline.

Amidst all the high praise, a few minor grumblings surfaced. One Craftsman 88780 review complains about limited traction and parts that wear out quickly. Another says the starter broke on first use. Yet another gripes about the absence of a lever to adjust the discharge chute, forcing the user to bend down to do so.

The Craftsman Snow Thrower is a single-stage (use only on smooth surfaces) gas snow blower with a179cc engine, 13-inch intake, and 21-inch clearing width. The discharge chute rotates 190 degrees and the wheels are eight inches high. This model also features an electric start, although reviewers say they rarely use it because the recoil start revs the motor on the first pull.

Sitting at the top of our cheap price range, the Craftsman Snow Thrower may seem like a reach for frugal consumers but the investment should pay off in terms of effectiveness and ease of use.

Where to buy

Ego SNT2102 Review

From $599

Pros:

  • More powerful than cheaper cordless blowers, with two 56-volt batteries.
  • Can handle up to a foot of powdery snow and smaller accumulations of wet snow, users say.
  • Top marks from experts for surface cleaning and handling.
  • 35-foot throwing distance means snow won't pile up where users don't want it.
  • No fussing with extension cords.

Cons:

  • Heavy for an electric blower, at 64 pounds.
  • Some experts and owners claim it's hard to manage on rough surfaces or in heavier accumulations.
  • Still slower and less effective than gas blowers, experts say.

Takeaway: The Ego SNT2102 is for consumers who long for a low-maintenance cordless snow blower with the power of a gas model. Although it comes with a comparatively hefty price tag, this is one of the only electric models we researched, corded or cordless, that users say is capable of slicing through up to a foot of powder without getting bogged down. The mix of convenience and performance might be well worth the added expense.

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Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 Review

From $599

Pros:

  • Tackles wet, icy snow and accumulations up to a foot with ease, users say.
  • Convenience features include self-propelled drive, eight speeds, push-button electric start, and remote chute control.
  • 24-inch clearing width.
  • Experts give it very good marks for speed, plow-pile removal, surface cleaning, and handling.

Cons:

  • Heavy, at 195 pounds.
  • Remote chute control can be finicky, reviewers say.
  • Experts warn that a lack of freewheel steering can make it more difficult to turn.

Takeaway: Though just outside the Cheapism price range, this Troy-Bilt snow blower is one of the best values on the market for buyers who want a two-stage snow blower that can make quicker work of heftier snowfalls or clear rough surfaces like gravel or dirt. The Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 also receives kudos for relatively rugged construction, with several users saying it will last for years with proper maintenance.

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Cub Cadet 3X 26" Review

From $1199

Pros:

  • Can handle even the biggest snowfalls and be used on gravel, dirt, or hilly terrain, users say.
  • Extra-wide 26-inch clearing path.
  • Dual augers and an induction accelerator break up snow and push it into the impeller, helping make cleanup quicker.
  • Convenience features include heated hand grips, trigger-controlled power steering, push-button electric start, and a headlight.

Cons:

  • Heavy, at 267 pounds.
  • Shear pins that protect the gearbox break too easily, some users grouse.
  • High-speed accelerator may make a mess with smaller amounts of snow, experts say.

Takeaway: This Cub Cadet snow blower is pricey, no doubt, but a solid value for a three-stage blower that's powerful and fast enough for large, frequent snowfalls. It's also in another league when it comes to features, with heated hand grips and power steering to make it easy enough to maneuver with one hand despite being relatively heavy.

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Toro Power Shovel Review

From $99

Pros:

  • With a 6-inch intake, this electric shovel easily clears up to 4 or 5 inches of powdery snow, users say.
  • High marks for clearing snow down to the surface in expert testing.
  • Much lighter, less bulky, and easier to control than a full-size snow blower.
  • Fits in areas a snow blower can't reach.

Cons:

  • Not enough power for densely packed or icy snow.
  • Front-only discharge might leave users covered in snow, depending on the wind.
  • "On" switch must be pressed continuously while operating.
  • Some complaints about weight given the lack of wheels.
  • Some gripes regarding cheap materials and reports of broken handles.

Takeaway: Although it's definitely not meant for heavy-duty work, the Toro Power Shovel is a lightweight alternative to a snow blower that is especially adept at clearing snow from small decks or walkways where a larger blower would be a no-go. Users say it's best for small amounts of powdery snow, although some reviewers have used it to clear deeper accumulations a little at a time.