Moving to Battery-Powered Outdoor Home Equipment Part 1. The Rise of the Battery Powered Snow-Blower

Moving to Battery-Powered Outdoor Home Equipment Part 1. The Rise of the Battery Powered Snow-Blower

Submitted by Bob Briesblatt, Glencoe Sustainability Task Force Member

Disclaimer: Several products and vendors are mentioned in this article and are part of the author’s personal experience. The Village of Glencoe does not endorse the use of specific products or vendors.

With spring right around the corner and our heavy snow season just about over, I thought it would be a good time to discuss my adoption of a battery-powered snowblower and my experience with it so you can consider making the change to electric from a gas-powered blower.

I bought my first and only gas-powered snow blower when we moved from the City of Chicago to Wilmette over thirty years ago. Living in the city, we didn’t have a driveway and I only had to shovel a small piece of sidewalk. Also, I was young and strong, and handling a snow shovel was not an issue. When we moved to Wilmette, we now had a long driveway and a walk to the front door. A snowblower was a necessity. At that time there were no real options, so I purchased a gas-powered snowblower. For 12 years, I purchased gasoline which I had to keep in a plastic container in my garage every season. I had to have the snowblower tuned before every winter. At the end of the season, I had to use the unused gasoline by running the snowblower. Yes, it polluted but there weren’t any effective substitutes.

When we moved to Glencoe, we inherited the company that the previous owners had used to plow their driveway. The village plowed our sidewalk. That left only a short walkway to the front door to shovel. We sold our gas-powered snowblower and moved on.

Over twenty years later we had to reconsider a snowblower. The company that had plowed our driveway for over 20 years left the business. The Village was considering discontinuing the sidewalk snow plowing program (but ultimately did not). With heavy snows, I was concerned about my back while shoveling our side and front walkways. Now there were options. Battery-powered and electric-powered snow blowers were available. Being concerned about pollution, I decided to see if I could move to an electric snowblower.

The first decision one faces in going electric is cord versus battery. Generally speaking, the snow blowers which use an electric cord for power are cheaper. A quick Google search found the price for one model ranged from $163 to a little over $200, which is substantially cheaper than battery-powered snow blowers. That price does not include the price and inconvenience of an extension cord. One would also have to have an outlet to use. If one does not have an outside outlet or one in a garage, it will mean a cord keeping a door or window open in the middle of winter.

I rejected the electric cord models because of having to negotiate an extension cord, particularly on our long driveway. I then checked out the battery-powered snow blowers.

The price for battery-powered single-stage snow blowers ranges from $400 to $800, often depending on the battery size one chooses. With battery-powered snowblowers, the size and amperage of the battery will drive the price. The battery alone on a battery-powered snow blower can run over $300 if one is thinking of buying a spare battery.
Snow blower 2

I decided on a Toro Flex-Force Power System 60 V Max Snow thrower with a 7.5-amp battery. When I bought the snowblower, I thought about buying a spare battery but decided to see how long the battery that came with the snowblower would last. It turned out that the battery that came with the unit was all I needed. It contained enough power to clear my entire driveway and my sidewalk by the side of the house and to our front door.

The battery and charger sit in my basement until I need to use the battery. As one can see it is not very large.

Battery picture

The benefit of the battery-powered snowblower is that it is lighter than a gas-powered snowblower. It does not pollute. It does not have a gasoline motor that has to be tuned. It has two headlights. It can handle 6 to 8 inches of snow. It works on heavy wet snow. The number of moving parts that can fail is far fewer than in a gas-powered blower. Even though we found a new plow service to do our driveway, for most snows I could clear it with my electric snowblower. It also allows me to do the sidewalk in front of our house when I need to. Most importantly I am no longer polluting when I use my snowblower.