Bass on Bass

Monday, October 13, 2014

Small snow blowers: Be happy, Go cordless electric

Well, they’re here! Rather “they” are coming to stores near some of you later this month. “They” are cordless electric single stage small snow blowers. The only 2 single stage “chute equipped” cordless electrics “on the market” are the Snow Joe 18” Ion 40v and the Ryobi 20” 40v model. The snow Joe has been around ~ 1 year already and most reviews are strongly positive. This year’s production of them arrives at retailers for customer purchase ~the 20th of this month. The Ryobi is completely new to the marketplace this year and is slated to be available for customer purchase ~ the 18th of this month. Both use their own “flavor” of similarly “in use replaceable” 40v lithium ion battery packs.

Snow Joe 40v "Ion" 

In truth there’s been a cordless electric snow blower around for some years now. However it is, or was, a big 24” 2 stage machine with a totally not “in use replaceable”, very heavy 24v sealed lead acid battery pack. It was the Ariens Amp 24 prices between $1500 and $2100. It “was” because all indications are that Ariens has discontinued it.

I have been intermittently waging a sort of on-line campaign to get makers of various existing cordless electric yard equipment to bring to market the like of the “new” snow blowers this article is about for some time now. It is my very firm belief that the future of all power yard equipment for relatively small yard homeowners lies inevitably with cordless electric power. I think gasoline power will eventually, possible in as little as a few years, all but  disappear from that sub-market of yard equipment. The release of the Snow Joe Ion model last year raised hope that other cordless electric equipment makers might follow suit. I even received a reply some months ago from a maker which suggested likely release this winter season of one. Unfortunately, they have yet to do so. There is the Ryobi now though.

Well, on to the business of which has the better of which features (caveat herein is that neither I nor any prospective buyer I’m aware of has yet had hands on with both machines):

1)     The drive system:
A)They both use 40v brushless DC motors and belt drive of the augers, 180 degree chute rotation, vertical chute discharge angle adjustability and “bite” height of 10”.
B)They differ in bite width.  The Ryobi has a 20” swath scoop and “maybe” auger size and the Snow Joe’s 18”. I have to admit, not having hands on experience with either, I can’t know how the 2 size factors relate in either. My impression from photos is that their actual auger size may be somewhat closer to one another than 2”.
C)Their auger designs differ more dramatically, though. The overall auger shapes are not very different but the Ryobi appears to be of single plastic piece, probably secured to a steel central shaft. Whereas the Snow Joe’s is a steel structure onto which tire casing type material blades are bolt clamped. The Ryobi might be able to clear ~10% more ground per pass but my impression is that the actual auger of the Snow Joe is likely to be more durable and is certainly more easily repaired.
D)Their discharge chute rotation methods differ quite a bit. The Ryobi’s chute rotation mechanism is a very direct lever action shaft running from near the user grip zone of the handle into the body of the business end of the blower. The Snoe Joes is “joy stick” controlled electric, motor driven via a separate motor in the main body of the blower. It’s likely a simple momentary double throw toggle switch, switching the polarity of that motor’s power back and forth, but “joystick” is a better way to describe it for marketing. By a simple degree of complexity criteria, the Ryobi’s chute rotation mechanism would appear likely to be more reliable. If either a motor or wiring fault occurs with the Snow Joe’s rotation, it could be useless for some time. 

2)      The Battery systems:
Both use 4o volt Lithium Ion battery packs which "slide" into their respective holders on the machines via guide grooves and both have thumb operated spring loaded latches on the packs to lock them in place. Both battery systems incorporate dimple switch activated progressive LED charge state indicators on the ends of the battery packs. Both makers' battery packs attach to the separate chargers in essentially the same way they connect to the snow blowers, minus the fully enclosing chambers. 
A) The Snow Joe's battery pack is a 4AH (160WH) battery which reportedly goes from on battery indicated full discharge to fully charged via the provided charger in ~2 hours. Only one battery pack is included with the Snow Joe Ion snow blower purchase though spare or replacement packs are available for separate purchase. 

   B) The Ryobi comes with 2 each, 40 v 2.4 AH (96WH) battery packs which in serial use would provide a total of 192WH  of energy supply. Of course that requires swapping out one for the other in the middle of a use session. Ryobi's battery packs can reportedly charge from full 
discharge (indicator defined) to fully charged in 90 min. The separate charger supplied can only accommodate one battery pack at a time so purchase of a second charger may be advisable.
C)  The 2 snow blowers situate the in use battery compartment differently. The Ryobi's battery chamber is part of the main body assembly of the snow blower whereas the Snow Joe's battery chamber is located on a special bridge assembly on the handle close to the main body. Both employ a flip closed cover protecting the chamber and battery pack. 

   3) One other difference is in their respective means of fold up for storage or transport. Each one accommodates it but the Ryobi requires disconnect of the hitch pin secured link between the 2 pieces of it's manual chute rotation lever rod in order to fold down the handle. With the Snow Joe one simply releases the lever locks on either side of the middle of the handle assembly to enable fold over. Both have a convenient carry handle on the main body of the blower. 

    My personal preference is for the Snow Joe. That is based on more time on the market, the dramatically positive nature of all but a very few of many reviews and the assessment of a friend who has owned one for a year and loves it. Also the design of the auger just seems more robust than that of the Ryobi and Snow Joe has been making corded electric snow blowers for years.

  So, pitch that gas can, abandon all need for motor maintenance, forget ever coming in from snow removal smelling of gasoline, eliminate all pull starts and, if you've done all that by using a corded electric already, CUT THE CORD and get one of these cordless electrics for your small snow blower requirement!

 Where? Both are available at least from Home Depot (See links in para. 1) or direct from their makers on-line(Ryobi,,,Snow Joe). As to locally, I was only able to see preparations to market the Ryobi at  my local Home Depot. Neither this year's supply of Snow Joe's nor the Ryobi's are due to be available for purchase before the 18th -20th of this month(Oct.). I am not aware of any retailer source other  than Home depot for the Ryobi but the Snow Joe is available on-line through a couple of other retail outlets.


Willyvon1 said...

The WH figures are calculated simply via battery voltage X battery capacity in Amp Hours For output evaluation that assumes 100% efficiency of the battery performance which isn't a real world fact.. It appears some vendors list Li-Ion rechargeable battery output watt hours at 90% of that or in the above cases that'd be 86.4WH for the Ryobi battery and 144 WH for the Snow Joe battery.

Willyvon1 said...

Well updating the status of cordless electric snow blowing options, now there's a 40v Greenworks model for ~$349 including a single 4 AH battery pack. Also, Snow Joe has come out with a 21" Ion that uses a 5AH battery pack. Greenworks also has shown their 80v "Pro" line that includes a 20" single stage snow blower. Those 80v packs are supposed to go from on battery indicated full discharge to full charge in 30 min. Here;s the link to a video on their 40v model which, understandably looks almost identical to their "Pro" 80v model.

Willyvon1 said...

Oh yeah, I bought the Snow Joe Ion 18" snow blower and, wouldn't you just know it, there has been no December snow yet in order to try it out! Come on Winter 2014!

guy tedesco said...

waiting for snow and looking forward to using my snow joe on 60 feet of walkway and two car drive way. i also bought the cordless sunjoe mower so i have two batteries, i think it was well worth it

SaturdayMorningFan said...

Have you had a chance to use your Snow Joe yet? Any impressions?

Willyvon1 said...

Sad to hear it. My experience with them has been less than stellar since writing this. The Ion snow blower exhibited some inferior to the competition design features and the 16” Ion mower their CEO had sent to me will not be used as it arrived damaged due to insufficient packing in the shipping box compounded with excessively weak front axle support structure in the deck resulting in ~2” vertical cracks at the bottom front corners of the deck. I won’t be buying any more Snow Joe / Sun Joe products for a while, never if they don’t improve their operation.

Electric Snow Blower said...

Well, they're here! Rather “they” are coming to stores near some of you later this month. “They” are cordless electric single stage small snow ...

Snow Blower said...

I bought the Ariens 24 in. Electric Snow Blower,Come on Winter 2016!

Willyvon1 said...

Here's a new to the market 24" 40v Lithium battery pack powered 2 stage snow blower. The specific one shown is with 2 ea 6AH in use removeable battery packs. It appears available with 1 or none at lower prices.

Willyvon1 said...

Here's a good deal on a good alternative. A critical feature is the chute design, more appropriate (lower) height than the 40v 18" Snow Joe Ion and a grip-locked adjustable deflector for better control of output of snow.

baronrichard said...

It’s my fortune to go to at this blog and realize out my required stuff that is also in the quality.

Willyvon1 said...

bonrichard; ( find no date on their ONE post about snow blowers. They are all about leaf blowers. They make no mention of the Ego, the only cordless electric single stage snow blower on the market with 2 battery chambers. Snow Joe came out with an 80 volt 2 stage machine but NO *) VOLT BATTERY PACKS! Not smart. It uses 2 of their 40v packs feeding in series to get the 80 volts DC. Back to the Ego. It is THE class of the field. can run forever on the 2 56v battery packs users can insert into it's 2 battery chambers. The battery packs typically charge up 1 1/2 times as fast as the Snow Joes' charging system. Were I in the market right now, that's what I'd buy. The extra 50-60% price is worth it. I've seen comparative testing reports vs same sized single stage gas powered ones in which the Ego literally "blew the competition away"

Willyvon1 said...

Oops that Snoe Joe 80v 2 stage: they make NO 80v Battery packs but use 2 40v packs in series to get the 80v to run on. Excuse the typo please.

Willyvon1 said...

Mea Culpa. I failed to include a link to the Ego. They are sold either direct or at Home Depot stores.

Here's another good, widely available machine. Back in 2014 Ryobi's 20" machine offered only 2.4 AH battery packs. That was the deal breaker for what was otherwise a better design machine than the Snow Joe I have. Now they offer battery packs that are 5 AH. The cost is ~ 1/2 that of an Ego.