Monday, January 17, 2022

Opinion: Wow, electric snowblower actually works

Editor | January 12, 2022 7:40 AM

So before the snow flew in earnest, I decided to buy a snowblower. Being a cheapskate when it comes to power products, I set my budget at $700.

I’m not sure of the psychology behind this. I mean, I won’t blink an eye at plunking down several grand for a camera or a lens or a computer, but it just pains me to buy a lawnmower or weed eater or spend a lot of money on a car.

My car cost $2,500. (The secret to buying a used car is to find an older model that has a good user rating that no one wants. In Montana, I have found this to be the Saturn Ion, but they’re getting harder to find, since Saturns were discontinued in 2009. It’s also important to note that Saturn bodies are primarily plastic. If you hit something with them, they seem prone to shatter to the frame. I hit a deer with one and it quite literally destroyed the front half of the car. My current Ion I caught the edge of the bumper on a snowbank and it ruined it. I cut it off with a Sawzall.)

But I digress.

This is about snowblowers.

I bought an electric one. An Ego 21-inch.

I cost $650, which was $50 under my budget. It claimed it could throw snow 35 feet. I thought for sure that was a lie, but I bought it anyway.

Like the Ion, it’s primarily a plastic body. There’s really not much to it. It takes two large batteries, each about the size of a motorcycle battery, which run an electric motor that runs the-belt driven blower unit. (I’ve already had it partially apart. The one thing that will kill it is baling twine, which I managed to suck up into the unit.)

It came with a charger that only charges one battery at a time. The charger is louder than the actual snowblower when it’s blowing snow. The charger has a fan to keep it cool and when the fan really gets going, it’s noisy. Once the charging cycle starts, it quiets down quite a bit, but you still don’t want it in the same room as the TV.

At any rate, you charge up the two batteries, which only takes about an hour and then you stick them into the unit. Some green lights come on when it’s ready and you’re off and blowing snow.

Here’s the thing: It really can blow snow 35 feet. It works surprisingly well. This past snowstorm was the biggest test yet and it did most of the driveway on one charge. I have a sizable driveway, which is about 60 feet or so long, but in a U-shape. The snow was about 8 inches on the level and two feet where the plows plowed in the driveway along the street.

The only problem with the snowblower is it’s not self propelled. You have to push it like a lawnmower. So I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not in fairly good shape. This is not a snowblower for grandma.

Ego does, however, make a self-propelled blower, but it’s about $1,300 with the batteries and charger.

The cool thing is the batteries are interchangeable with other products. I’m thinking of getting a chainsaw.

What’s most enjoyable, however, is you don’t have to worry about the thing starting. Just drop the batteries in and go. It even worked well in last week’s subzero weather.

How long will it last? I don’t know. It’s pretty simple to replace the propeller and the drive belt. It will be interesting to see how many seasons the batteries hold a charge.

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