Winter is a magical time, filled with sledding, ice skating, and snowball fights. It’s also filled with shoveling, which can be strenuous, time-consuming, and frequently ends in a sore back.
When a manual shovel is too difficult, an electric snow shovel may help. Electric snow shovels, also called power shovels or handheld snowblowers, combine the maneuverability of a traditional snow shovel with the throwing mechanics of a snowblower.
While they aren’t perfect and are still a good amount of work to use, they are usually easier on your body than traditional shoveling.
After rounds of testing, we’re confident the best electric snow shovel is the Greenworks 2600802 (available at Amazon for $99.00) . It’s a quality, well-balanced machine that eats away at the slush at the end of the driveway and clears down the pavement, all for a good price.
For the best battery-powered, cordless snow shovel, the Snapper 1687919 (available at Amazon) is our pick because it can chew through both deep and heavy snow, with a battery that will last. However, there are plenty of great electric snow shovels in our guide to choose from.
The corded Greenworks electric snow shovel is easy and comfortable to handle. It has enough weight, however, to clear down to the pavement with only one pass. Heavy snow is no problem either; when testing, there was no noticeable power drop when it came into contact with heavier or packed snow.
In deeper snow, the Greenworks snow shovel struggles a bit. It clears OK, but it needs multiple passes held off the ground to do it. The shovel’s mouth is not very tall, so if the snow is taller than that, it gets clogged. This is a problem with all electric shovels, but the corded models we tested, like this one, seems to struggle the most with it.
All in all, this is one of the higher quality corded electric shovels, and would be great for any homeowner who decides they need one.
Snapper 1687919 82-Volt 12-inch Cordless Electric Snow Blower
The Snapper 82-volt electric shovel is a fantastic battery-powered option. Like all of the battery-powered shovels, it’s heavy and a bit unwieldy, but its weight actually helps it clear all the way to the asphalt in one pass. It is powerful enough to chew through heavier or packed snow, including the slush at the end of the driveway, though while testing we noticed an audible drop in power when the density of the snow increased.
In deep, powdery snow, this shovel really shines. In the 16-inch storm that we tested during, the Snapper cleared about 75% of the depth in one pass, and then cleared the rest in a second pass. I didn’t have to hold it up off the ground for as long as some of the corded shovels, which might take three to five passes to clear 16 inches. This said, the weight certainly did make for a more labor-intensive experience than some of the smaller shovels.
I used it for about 20 minutes, and the battery showed no signs of wilting. In our battery test, the Snapper’s battery lasted the longest, making it almost an hour and 10 minutes before it finally died. For most homes, the battery should have plenty of working time to get the job done.
This is a high-quality, durable electric shovel that can handle most of what you throw at it. If you’re specifically looking for a battery-powered option, this is the one that we recommend.
We got about 45 minutes of run time out of the Greenworks Pro, which is plenty to clear a typical driveway. As with most electric snow shovels, this isn’t for deep snowfalls, but it easily handled six inches of simulated sloppy snow.
The Greenworks Pro weighs in at a hefty 15 pounds. Fortunately, that weight is well distributed. The large battery balances the power head as long as you have the adjustable top handle in the right spot. Even with good balance, that weight might become a problem after a long shoveling session.
The build quality of the Greenworks is also excellent. The whole product feels sturdy, and the top handle has some padding for comfort.
This is a relatively pricey product, but if you want rugged construction and a solid run time without the hassle of a cord, the Greenworks Pro is an excellent choice.
Snow Joe 24V-SS13 24-Volt iON+ 13-Inch 4-Ah Cordless Snow Shovel
At 13 pounds the Snow Joe is one of the lighter cordless snow shovels we’ve tested, and you won’t have to drag an extension cord behind you. If you’re buying an electric shovel to keep the snow clearing effort to a minimum, these are major benefits.
The lightness comes in part from the small battery. This has a downside as battery life clocked in at a modest 22 minutes.
If you’re short on storage space, the Snow Joe 24V-SS13 has some attractive space-saving features. The handle breaks down into two short sections, and the top handle is removable. When the warm weather returns this means it will pack down small if you don’t have a shed or garage for storage.
The build quality on the Snow Joe isn’t great. The handle joints were hard to assemble with awkward alignment of bolt holes. The top handle was made from relatively thin plastic, and part of the handle came loose during testing.
If you have a small area to clear, lack storage space, and want a lighter product, this would work for you, just don’t expect too much in terms of performance and toughness.
The snow flinging impeller of the corded Snow Joe electric snow shovel 323E is identical to that of the cordless Snow Joe 24V-SS13. The weight was slightly lower than the cordless version as it lacked the battery, but you’ll have to pull an extension cord behind you. The handling and performance of the Snow Joe 323E and its cordless cousin were almost identical.
The major advantage of the corded version is that short battery life won’t limit how much snow you can clear.
As the designs are so similar, the Snow Joe 323E has the build quality issues of the Snow Joe 24V-SS13, and is best for light snow clearing.
This was the lowest amperage corded shovel that we tested, and it performed like it. The amount of torque that it generates is noticeably less than the other electric shovels, both in the distance it can throw and in how much it can scoop at a time. Even in the smaller snowstorm, it took several passes to clear each area. This said, unlike some of the other snow shovels, it is able to get down to the pavement, though it takes some effort to do so.
In deeper snow, the lower torque is even more noticeable. The snow kept clogging the spinner, so I had to keep pulling it out of the snow, letting it clear itself, and then trying again. This made for a frustrating and time-consuming user experience.
The Earthwise electric snow shovel is the smallest corded shovel that we tested, which is both a pro and a con. In heavier or packed snow, even a few inches deep, it simply doesn’t have the weight to cut through and clear. Multiple passes weren’t enough to get all the way down the pavement. When it came time to test the plow slush at the end of the driveway, it really struggled.
However, it did surprisingly well in deep, fluffy snow. Because of its light weight, it was easy to hold up off the ground to remove the snow layer by layer. It still wasn’t able to get all the way to the pavement or do an effective job with the plow slush.
Hi, I’m Jean Levasseur. I’m a former conveyor mechanic, current property manager, hobbyist woodworker, and writing instructor at a local university. I come from a family of tool-users—my grandfather was a carpenter, my father owned an excavation company, and my mother was a mechanic. Between growing up working for my family’s businesses and then moving onto my own projects, I’ve used most tools you’ve heard of and quite a few that you haven’t. Dave Ellerby, our Chief Scientist, also tested snow shovels at the Reviewed lab.
Like with our regular snow shovel tests, we wanted to come as close to real-world conditions as we could. Fortunately, winter cooperated and we were able to test most of the electric snow shovels through two storms.
The first was about six inches of heavy, wet snow. The second was around 16 inches of light, powdery snow. This gave us a good sense of how each shovel handles different snow conditions.
We were able to test most of the shovels in three main areas
* An asphalt driveway
* Walkways with brick pavers, stone and grass.
* A deck, porch and stairs.
These gave a good sense of performance on different surfaces, the ease of lifting up stairs, and the challenges clearing a space while only throwing snow forwards.
For some products, we used an artificial snow mix for testing. This uses a super absorbent polymer that picks up close to a thousand times its weight in water, forming dense, wet pellets. The high water content makes this an excellent substitute for heavy, wet snow when the real thing isn’t available. Wet snow is the worst case scenario for electric snow shovels, so the artificial snow is a tough test.
What to Know When Buying an Electric Snow Shovel
Do Electric Snow Shovels Work?
Yes, they’ll save you the work of throwing snow, but they’re not a perfect solution.
They’re heavier than manual shovels, not ideal for deep snow, and forward snow throwing can limit their use in some spaces.
Before you buy, think carefully about your own abilities to wield these sometimes awkward machines, your typical snow conditions, and where you’ll be clearing snow.
Do Electric Snow Shovels Make Snow Clearance Easier?
Electric snow shovels avoid the need to lift shovel loads of snow but come with their own physical challenges:
* They’re pretty heavy, those we tested weighed in at 13 to 26 pounds compared to only 4 pounds for our best regular snow shovel.
* They don’t have wheels and rest on the ground. You’ll need to push them through the snow, and they work best on smooth ground.
* To keep them running, you hold down a trigger grip and a second safety switch, so you’ll need good grip strength.
If you’re up to some light shoveling, and not usually faced with heavy snow, a traditional snow shovel may still be a better solution, particularly if it has an ergonomic design to reduce bending.
A snow blower or thrower avoids the need for lifting. The lighter-weight models come in at around 30 pounds and rest on wheels. You won’t have to carry their weight, but the lighter models aren’t self propelled, so you’ll need to push them along. They may have adjustable handles to make this easier.
Self propelled snow blowers take the work out of pushing, but the extra motor means they can weigh in at over 150 pounds. To use these with the minimum of effort, you’ll need a storage space that’s easy to access.
The take-home message is that snow removal is hard work. Different products can alleviate the effort involved, but each type has limitations you’ll need to consider.
Corded vs. Battery
The first decision that you’ll have to make when buying an electric snow shovel is whether to get a battery-powered snow shovel or a corded snow shovel.
Corded electric snow shovels require an extension cord. Depending on your yard and driveway, this can be a significant hassle. You have to have an easily accessible exterior outlet, no obstructions to get caught on, and you have to manage a cord in the snow.
You also have to keep track of where the cord is and not run it over with the shovel, which I almost did several times. And when calculating cost, you need to consider the price of an extension cord long enough to meet your needs if you don’t already own one.
With a corded model you don’t have to worry about how long clearing snow takes you, the power level of the corded shovels was more consistent than with a battery and the good corded models are also more consistent when dealing with heavy slush.
Battery-powered snow shovels are heavier than the corded ones, which makes them harder and more tiring to maneuver. They also experience a bit of a power drop when they encounter heavier snow.
You also have to remember to charge the shovel’s battery before a storm, and consider that it may run out of power before you finish. Finally, the battery-powered models are more expensive than their corded counterparts.
The biggest pro to battery-powered shovels: They can go wherever you need them. You’re not tethered to the house, and you don’t have to climb through the snow to get to your outlet, nor do you have to worry about running over your cord. Those we tested also seemed to do better in the deeper, fluffier snow.
I use a lot of tools for a lot of different tasks at my home, and this situation is actually one of the few where I recommend the corded version over battery for outside. The lighter weight, improved power, and significantly lower cost seem well-worth the inconvenience of having to manage an extension cord.
What Electric Snow Shovels Are Good For
Electric shovels are at their best with a few to six inches of snow on the ground and a wide open, large area to throw the snow. It’s easy to push them along the ground to clear the snow. Because the shovels can only throw straight, you have to plan out your shoveling paths, but as long as you have areas for the snow to go, they can be helpful in clearing small driveways, decks, and walkways.
They also make clearing the plow slush at the end of the driveway much easier. While they don’t all do a great job with this, the top performers chewed through it and saved me a lot of backache.
What Electric Snow Shovels Aren’t So Good For
The number one drawback of the electric snow shovel is that the throwing direction, height, and distance is not adjustable. The electric shovel throws perfectly straight, however far it throws. This lack of control can be managed with some planning and awkward angles, but only if you have enough room.
If you’re in the city or only have a couple of feet right next to the driveway to put the snow, an electric shovel simply won’t work. You’ll be throwing snow into your neighbor’s driveway. This lack of direction control also makes clearing the snow from decks and stairs challenging.
The second drawback is that electric snow shovels are not great in deep snow. Once the snow gets deeper than the opening of the electric shovelit can no longer throw the snow. So, you have to pick it up to do layers at a time.
The Bottom Line
Electric snow shovels can be less physically taxing than regular shovels. But not by as much as you’d think, and they didn’t seem to be significantly faster either.
What’s more, if precision in where you put the snow is important, then an electric snow shovel is probably going to be more of a hassle than it’s worth.
For most homeowners, if a snowblower is in your budget, even a small electric one, get one of those. They’re easier to use, require little-to-no lifting, and you have better control over where the snow goes.
Jean Levasseur became a professional writer over a decade-long career in marketing, public relations, and technical writing. After leaving that career to stay home to care for his twin boys, Jean has continued to write in a variety of freelance roles, as well as teaching academic writing at a local university. When he's not reviewing tools or chasing toddlers around the house, he's also an avid fiction writer and a growing woodworker.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.