Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winter Snow Blowing Blues

Now that winter is upon us, with an official National Weather Service Winter Weather Warning today with high winds and blowing snow of 2-3 inches I got to test out my latest implement to help make the Driveway of Doom™ passable. A NWS Winter weather warning basically means: "Hey guys, guess what? It's winter - deal with it!".

So with 3 inches of packing snow on the driveway, after walking the dog, I took this out for a spin:

A rechargeable battery-powered snow blower!

Meet iON's big brother- iON PRO, an amped up, deluxe size version of the original battery powered snow blower. The iON PRO 21-Inch unit is ideal for clearing large driveways and walkways without the hassle of gas, oil, tune-ups, frustrating pull cords, or tangled extension cords. And, with an upgraded interchangeable and rechargeable 40V 5.0Ah EcoSharp PRO lithium-ion battery iON PRO delivers up to 65 minutes of whisper quiet run time on a single charge. You can get larger snow jobs done without waking the neighbors or polluting the air with toxic emissions. This cordless dynamo is also engineered with a powerful 600W brushless motor for increased battery efficiency, optimal motor performance and extended motor life to keep iON PRO blowing strong season after season. iON PRO starts instantly with a simple push pf a button and its adjustable handle maximizes user comfort during use. Equipped with a steel auger and 2 heavy duty rubber blades. iON PRO moves up to 660-Pound of snow per minute, clearing a path 21-Inch wide by 8-inch deep with each pass. Plus the scraper bar at the base of the unit lets you clear right to the ground without any surface damage. Featuring a 180 degree auto-rotate chute that rotates instantly with the push of a switch, iON PRO directs the snow stream up to 20 feet away. Compared to heavier and more cumbersome gas machines, iON PRO weighs only 36-Pound, so you can easily maneuver it around your property. For nighttime snow removal, iON PRO features an integrated LED headlight that quickly switches on to increase visibility. GET EQUIPPED this winter with the Snow Joe iON PRO-the easy, convenient and cordless solution to get snow out of your way on your snow day.

So does it deliver what it promises?

The Pros: It's very quiet, no need to worry about disturbing the neighbors whatever time it is when you need to clear your driveway. It starts up immediately and it's much lighter than a gas snowblower. It's very quiet and you don't need to mess with a choke or gas/oil mixture or a pull-start- just insert the battery, and you're ready to start. Starting it is the easiest thing ever - hold the safety button and then pull up the dead man switch to the handle and you're good to go. One battery charge suffices to do the entire driveway, which is rather impressive. You don't need to mess with a choke or gas/oil mixture or a pull-start. Just insert the battery, press the start button while holding down the lever and off it goes. The chute has an electric switch so you can rotate it around without stopping. It also has a mounted LED light for night-time snow clearing. When you're done, remove the battery and put it on the charger and that's it. With a couple of inches of snow it was pretty smooth sailing for the most part and it did a very good job cleaning the driveway all the way down to the asphalt. Even after completing the driveway and walkway to the front door, there was still charge remaining on the battery, which is a good thing.

The Cons: It's rather under-powered, which is surprising considering it's touted as a "Pro" model and an electric motor should have sufficient torque and power to handle the snow. I can't see a "Pro" using this except for very light jobs. With packing snow, once the snow gets above 3 inches and oftentimes less, including from getting blown in the way from snow being blown from the rest of the driveway, it tends to jam up and stop with a perfectly formed snow block inside it that you need to pull out and then restart and try again. 2-3 inches of packing snow seems to be the max before you're stopping and starting. This slows things down quite a bit, but it eventually will get through in short bursts. Don't expect it to handle monster snow falls, unless you want to be out using it to clear it in 2 inch increments at a time as it's coming down. It claims it can handle up to 8 inches at a time, but that's certainly not wet snow.

In short, it beats a shovel hands down for speed and less aches and pains, but it won't replace a gas powered snow blower when there's a lot of wet snow about, which we get a lot of in winter here. If you just have light powdery snowfall in your area or up to a couple inches of wet, this will do. If you regularly get a heavier and wetter snowfall, it likely makes sense to stick with a gas blower or plan to do the driveway multiple times as the snow is coming down so the blower can keep up.

Overall I think it will do ok, but not as great as I had hoped.

Update: It snowed about a half inch of non-packing snow overnight. This morning I got up and the snowblower performed admirably. Nice and quick and quiet and I had a driveway I could safely egress and then get to work.


Murphy's Law said...

Real snow blowers use gasoline. Real MEN use a shovel..

Just saying.

Murphy's Law said...

Sixty degrees and sunny here in New Orleans. Thinking of you and that snow. Hoisting a beer for you as I type this.

Old NFO said...

Another reason I live in the South! :-)

Aaron said...

ML: gas is one thing, but this one is both coal and nuclear powered. So how manly is that? It's doing great with these daily 1-2 inches of light snow the past couple days, it does have clear issues with packing snow though. Enjoy your time in the Big Easy and enjoy the beignets responsibly...

OldNFO: Texas and the South in general is looking damn attractive this time of year.