Electric snow blowers and gas snow blowers both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Both kinds are capable of moving a great deal of snow, but they do so in somewhat different ways.
Knowing how they differ can help you determine which style is right for your snow removal needs.
Choosing a snow blower based on the size of the job, the shape and pitch of the surface that needs clearing, and your experience level should lead you to a style that meets your requirements.
Free Range of Motion
If your driveway's over 50 feet long, you'll likely have trouble clearing it with an electric model. Using an electric snow blower in excess of 50 feet from the power source will require a 12-gauge cord to avoid overheating problems. However, if you properly size and gauge your extension cord, overheating shouldn't be a real concern.
Gas snow blowers are ideal for longer driveways and bigger jobs. They're limited only by the size of their gas tank. If you're clearing a long driveway, clearing sidewalks, or working anywhere that doesn't have access to an available electric outlet, then a gas snow blower will be the way to go.
Ease of Maneuverability
A common misconception about snow blowers is that the smaller models are easier to move around. Though single-stage and electric snow blowers are small and light-weight, they're not always easier to maneuver.
Large two-stage gas snow blowers are typically self-propelled, and many can even be found with power steering. These features mean you can easily move and steer your snow blower by simply operating some levers.
Therefore, large gas-powered two-stage snow blowers can in fact be easier to maneuver than small electric-powered snow blowers.
Moving Heavy Loads
Moving heavy loads requires more power, and that's something you find in gas models.
Gas-powered snow blowers pack some serious power for moving some serious snow. City plow piles at the ends of driveways are going to be too much for an electric model, but a cakewalk for a three-stage Cub Cadet.
Two-stage snow blowers have an impeller that helps eject the snow faster, but three-stage snow blowers have that and an extra auger that's specially designed to speed the flow of snow even faster, making it possible to cut through a 4-foot mountain of snow like a hot knife through butter.
Clearing Width & Intake Height
Electric snow blowers have a maximum clearing width of 24 inches, with a maximum intake height of 13 inches. This means, they're not designed for snow deeper than 13 inches, and can clear a path no wider than 24 inches.
Gas-powered snow blowers have a maximum clearing width of 45 inches, with a maximum intake of 23.5", so they're able to clear an area nearly twice as fast as the widest electric model, and can handle snow up to 45 inches deep.
A lot of people think electric snow blowers are the way to go for easy start-up and no pull-cord. What you may not realize is that many of the large gas-powered snow blowers feature electric start as well.
Even in the event that you can't plug into an outlet for the electric start feature, most new gas-powered models start with one or two pulls of the cord. Plus, most pull cords are easier to pull now than they were years ago.
Many times, you'll hear people say it's easier to pull start their snow blower than it is to plug in and push the button. So push-button start-up is something you can get on both electric and gas models, but shouldn't be a deciding factor in choosing a snow blower.
Ease of Upkeep
While gas models have their many perks, electric units have some of their own. Electric snow blowers don't need oil changes, they don't need new spark plugs, and they don't require gasoline. The only real maintenance they require is cleaning. Wiping down the auger and any other part that gets especially dirty or salty.
Gas snow blowers require oil changes, fresh gas, occasional spark plug replacement, filter changes or cleaning, and a thorough wipe down to keep salt and other debris cleaned off to prevent rust and maintain performance.
Snow Blower Cost Comparison
Electric snow blowers top out at around $800, making them a less expensive option. If you have a small property that doesn't see a lot of snow, and your electricity rates are low, an electric model may be a good fit for you.
Gas-powered snow blowers cost anywhere from $360 - $3,400. The large price range is the result of the many different styles, sizes, and feature options you find in gas-powered models. They can be as small as an electric model, or very large with multiple features.
Bigger isn't always better though, and cheaper isn't always easier. Based on your personal preferences, property size, and geographic area, choose the snow blower that's right for you.