Snow came at the Chicago area this year with an intensity that we haven't seen in years. My back was starting to REALLY feel it, so I thought I'd see about a snowblower. In researching, it looked like there are basically 3 types out there: a small electric hand-held model, the mid-sized electric and the 2-stage gas model. This Snow Joe model is in the middle category, and as such has it's pros and cons (but doesn't everything?).
1st – Some assembly required. Ok, that’s not a deal breaker, but I know that some like it already assembled. There are 5 screws, 3 cord fasteners and a chute to open up. Follow the included instructions and you’ll be up in 20 minutes easy.
2nd - Let's be realistic...it's an electric snowblower. Don't expect it to throw snow 50 feet (though it does toss it pretty far when you have the chute pointed straight forward and not into the wind). I'll admit that when you turn the chute to the extreme left or right, the snow goes maybe 2-3 feet, but that works for me as my neighbor's driveway is only 3 feet away from my driveway. Pointing it at a 45 degree angle usually threw the snow about 10 feet.
3rd - Wet/compact snow (otherwise referred to as heart-attack snow) is tough to deal with. My first and second use of the Snow Joe was in this stuff. I was able to get through all of it, but not without struggles. I eventually learned that I was trying to force the Snow Joe to move more snow than it could handle and snow got stuck in the chute (it also made a very annoying screech when that happened). Once I slowed the pace down, it did MUCH better. I haven’t tried it with “regular” snow yet, but I can assume that it’ll do better.
4th – The cord gets in your way a lot. I’m learning to throw the cord over my shoulder so it doesn’t get under the blower’s blades. I’m thinking that I might be able to tie it to my jeans somehow, but I’ll have to try that another time. Do, however, tie a knot with the power cord around the unit’s handle before you plug the cord into the unit. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration of having to plug the cord back in. And while I’m on the power cord subject, I was quite shocked to find out that the unit was only 2 pronged…my cord (12 gauge, 100’, 3 pronged) barely fit into the unit’s plug, but it did with a little, er…persuasion. BTW, the manual recommends a 12 gauge cord for 150’ of cord, 14 gauge for 100’ and 16 gauge for 50’.
5th – The chute has its issues. There are times when blowing snow that it appears that it’s blowing it everywhere. The crank starts out tough to move too…but I saw it suggested somewhere that you should spray it and the inside of the chute with a little WD-40 to loosen it up and lubricate the chute. It does move much more smoothly due to that.
1st – It moves snow! I mean, that’s what I wanted it to do and it did just that. In fact, it gets all the way to the pavement! I was a bit shocked at how clear it really can clear a path. Once I got a route planned on my driveway (taking into account the wind and where I wanted the snow to eventually go), it was smooth sailing. In fact it may have pushed snow into my neighbor’s driveway, but with the time I saved with this machine, I easily cleared my neighbor’s driveway too as a courtesy. It even moved what the snowplow had left behind 12 hours earlier (though that was NOT as easy as when I was moving freshly fallen snow).
2nd – It is lightweight! Ok, it’s not a feather, but for a machine that throws as much weight around, you’d expect a MUCH heavier machine. I haven’t done so yet, but if need be I’m pretty sure I could put it in my Corolla and hop over to my Mom’s place to plow her drive.
3rd – Do a price search for this little baby and you’ll find that Wal-Mart has, by far, the best price around. Unfortunately, there weren’t any of the Snow Joes within 100 miles, so I had it shipped to the store nearest to me at work. It took about a week and a half to get here. I got to the store and the clerk was disgusted to find that someone had stacked it upside down! She turned it upright and we opened it together to make sure that everything inside was ok. It was, as the unit was VERY securely packed. The thing that almost got to me was that I had to REALLY force that box into the car…just barely able to squeeze it into my ’07 Corolla. Worse case scenario would’ve been to unpack it in the parking lot and put the pieces into the car, but I didn’t have to do that.
I like this little guy! I know I’ll save time (now that I know how to use it) and it’ll save me back stress. And since there’s no oil or gas to mess with, it’s virtually maintenance-free! I would definitely recommend the Snow Joe.
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