Electric vs Gas Snow Blowers: Here’s Which Will Work Better

Researched & Written by Editor

Snow blower machines can be divided into three categories: 

  • Gas powered
  • Corded electric
  • Battery electric. 

In this article we’re going to be comparing electric and gas snow blowers with recommendations for which is better in what type of yard.

Electric and Gas Snow Blowers
Read on to know the difference between Electric and Gas Snow Blowers

Side by Side Comparison

CATEGORYELECTRICGAS POWERED
DurabilityLow – lightweight casing, only meant for very light snowHigh – heavy duty design and materials
HandlingEasy – Lightweight and small in size, streamlined designSelf – propelled so easy handling but some larger models can be heavy and bulky
Start UpEasy push button startEither knob function start OR requires pull cord start
CordYesNo cords
Snow Clearing AbilityOnly light snow – around 8 or 9 inches maximumMade for heavy snow, some models can handle around 2 feet
RangeLimited to reach of your power cord/placement of your socketsOver wide areas, adjustable for different surfaces of terrain
Noise LevelVery quietCan be loud to very loud depending on engine size & design
Disperses SnowIn front of youUsually to the sides of the user, chute is adjustable on many models
MaintenanceLow, keep dust free and stored in dry areaHigh, gas and oil changes and machinery and component upkeep
PortableYesYes, but vehicle/high effort required if going long distances
Mountable (to wall etc.)Yes, many models are wall/surface mountableNo
Fuel NeedsElectricity and available power socketGasoline and oil
Eco – FriendlyYes, very eco – friendlyNo – uses both gas and oil
CostAround $120 upwardsAround $300 upwards

The Low Down

We’re going to go into more detail further on in this article, but here’s a synopsis if you’re in a hurry.

If you’re serious about moving more than a light snowfall and you need to do it quickly and effectively, electric snow blowers are not for you.

Go with the gas powered models – even if you get a smaller machine. 

The electric models of snow blower are regarded by some snow blower experts as sort of the ‘joke’ of the industry.  They’re really only meant for use on very small areas with very light snow fall, their functionality and power are very limited

Are they better than nothing?  Yes, but don’t expect them to clear heavily snowed in areas.

Things to Consider – What Type of Snow Blower Do YOU Need?

Your Climate

Think about where you live, or if you’re moving into a new area look up the annual snow fall that you can expect.  If you can realistically expect close to a foot of snow or more than that at any one time, an electric snow blower is not going to cope with that level of snow fall, that’s just an unfortunate fact. 

If you’re in an area that can get regular (built up) snow or snow fall in large amounts, the gas powered blowers are really essential if you want to make a dent in those kinds of snow drifts.

Snow covered vehicles
Heavy snowfall needs a Gas Snow Blower

If you only ever get a couple of inches of snow at a time, then you can use the electric snow blower.  It’s not as powerful or effective as the gas machines, but you’ll get the job done at a cheaper cost.

The Size of Your Property

The size of your outdoor property will determine your snow blowing needs.  If you’re in an apartment or very small sized property, you may only need the electric (smaller) models of snow blower for cleaning off your car, blowing the snow off of short walkways and so on.  Light jobs and a very small area to clear are just right for the electric snow blower.

Be aware that you are limited as to where you can use the electric snow blower because you are limited to the reach of its cord, or charge of it’s battery. 

If you’re living in an average to large sized property, the electric snow blower will not be able to handle that kind of area effectively, and you will be hampered by having to do one area at a time.

For average or larger sized properties the gas powered snow blowers are the way to go.  Using the electric models is technically possible if you have enough power outlets, but it will take you a very long time and be an absolute pain of a job!

Your Health, Fitness & Mobility

If you are affected by poor health or mobility issues the electric models of snow blower are much lighter and more streamlined than their gas powered counterparts. 

They’re simply easier to move around and adjust when you’re using them.  If fitness issues are a concern for you and you only have small areas/low snowfall to contend with, look at the more powerful models of electric snow blower as they may be all you need.

If you’re not in the best of health or advancing in age but still have a large property or heavy snow fall to contend with, look at the ride on models of gas powered snow blowers or talk to your retailer or manufacturer about gas powered machines designed for easy use and user comfort.  Things like ergonomic design, self – propulsion, heated handles and useful head lamps are almost par for the course in today’s machines, so talk to an expert about getting a machine that is built for user ease and comfort.

It’s always wise to put your health first.  Consider getting a snow clearing service in to assist you, or enlist the help of neighbors, family and friends to set up your snow blower and pack it away during snow season.  Rather ask for help than risk injury or even fatality by trying to do more than you should with compromised health!

Consider Your Driveway

About the most common area for using a snow blower of any type is the driveway.  The simple fact is, pedestrians need to get access to and from the property, and vehicles have to have clear and open routes of entry and exit.

cleared driveway from snow
Gas Snow Blowers are great for wide driveways

If you don’t have a driveway, have a tiny driveway or very limited outside/sidewalk only areas to clear, you should be fine with an electric snow blower, as long as your cord will reach that far.  For anything bigger or more intensive, you’re probably going to need a gas powered machine to clear those access routes both quickly and efficiently.

Remember, it is crucial at all times that your property is ‘reachable’ by emergency or medical services, you do not want to be in a case of emergency and have critical services denied either entry or exit.

Your Storage Capabilities

The electric snow blowers are built for easy storage and most of them are even wall mountable, so space efficient.  If your needs are small and space is an issue, the electric snow blower may be all you need and it’ll save you storage space – a large cupboard inside will do.

Storage Area
Consider where you’ll store your snow blower.

If you’re facing heavy snow or a sizeable property you’ll have to consider making space in your garage(s) or alternatively looking at other storage areas like a garden shed for your gas powered blower.  Some gas powered blowers come in nifty sizes that don’t take up that much space, so measure your storage capacity FIRST, and then chat to the salesperson about the correct ‘fit’ for the space you have.

A great idea is to share appliances with a neighbor and just swap as the season changes.  One of you stores the lawnmower, and one of you stores the snow blower and you both use both appliances but only have to store one.  If you’ve got a good relationship with your neighbor, this saves both space and cost!

Noise Disturbance

If you’re living in a closely packed neighborhood or some sort of communal living area like an area of apartment blocks, noise disturbance is likely to be both frowned upon and legally regulated.

That being said, in those circumstances you’re not likely to have the need to clear larger areas of snow simply because it’s either done by custodial services or the sizes of the separate properties don’t warrant it. 

Male covering his ears from the noise
Snow Blowers can be noisy and can cause disturbance to others

So, your best bet for small/communal living areas is the electric snow blower – it’s very much quieter than the gas machine and you won’t distress anybody with how much noise you’re making clearing snow off your car in the morning, for example.

If you’re on a larger property and need bigger areas cleared, the gas machine is going to be necessary – but then, you’re far less likely to annoy people with the noise simply because of the spaces involved. 

Pro – tip:  If you’re looking to lessen the noise of a gas powered snow blower simply angle the exhaust pipe either to knee level, towards the ground, or straight upwards towards the sky, this’ll help to disperse the noise.  If you’re still concerned about noise pollution talk to the sales person about quieter models and options for mufflers.

On this topic, it’s always neighborly to be considerate and try to avoid using your gas powered snow blower before 9 in the morning or after 6 in the evening unless absolutely necessary.

How Handy are You?

If you can get away with using an electric snow blower – you have little snow or a small area to clear, the electric snow blower is far easier to maintain.  That being said, electric motors can be tricky so the most cost effective option is often just to replace the whole unit instead of fiddling around with it.  The units themselves are not overly expensive.

By and large, all the maintenance an electric snow blower really needs is to be kept dust free, for the cord to be kept in good condition, and to be stored in a dry space. 

If you have the need for a larger and more powerful snow blower and you’ve decided to go gas powered, you will find the maintenance a consideration.  Here is some essential maintenance for gas blowers –

  • Both gasoline and oil changed regularly
  • Gas and oil drained if the machine will be sitting idle or be stored for a significant period of time
  • Spark plugs cleaned and maintained/replaced
  • Components like belts, pins, paddles, air filters and bolts kept in good condition and repaired where necessary

This amount of maintenance can seem daunting and the gas models do take more care and attention than the electric ones, no doubt.  You’ll also spend more money on the oil and gas needed, that’s a given with the larger machines but you’ll be compensated by a HUGE difference in power and efficiency.

If you’re relatively handy gas engines are often ‘easy’ fixes compared to electric motors, and if you have a small engine repair shop or technician nearby, you’ll be set for those mechanical issues that crop up.  Most repairs can be undertaken by technically minded users, as long as safety comes first and you have a general understanding of mechanics.

Most small engine repair places offer both quick and cost effective fixes, particularly during snow season when they realize how important a working snow blower is to their clients! 

These are just some areas to consider when you’re weighing up the pros and cons of electric vs gas powered snow blowers.  Consider what you need the machine for, what your resources are, and with the help of articles like this you’ll be making wise purchasing decisions that fit your lifestyle.

Thank you so much for spending time with us today at ‘Appliance Analysts’, happy snow blowing!