Winter is a magical time, filled with sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights. It’s also filled with shoveling, which can be strenuous, time-consuming, and almost always ends in a sore back. When shoveling is just too difficult, an electric snow shovel can save the day. 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 unquestionably easier on your body than shoveling.
If your house is set up to be able to use a long outdoor extension cord then we recommend the corded Greenworks 2600802(available at Amazon for $94.71). It’s a quality, well-balanced machine that eats away at the slush at the end of the driveway and clears down the pavement, for a good price.
If extension cords aren’t feasible, or you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of wrangling one, then the Snapper 1687919 (available at Amazon) is our pick for a quality battery-powered cordless machine. While heavier and harder to wield than the Greenworks, the Snapper can chew through both deep and heavy snow, with a battery that will last.
Here are the best electric snow shovels we tested ranked, in order:
Kobalt KSS 2080A-06
Snow Joe iON13SS
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The corded Greenworks electric snow shovel is easy and comfortable to handle. It has enough weight, however, to clear all the way 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 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, and so if the snow is taller than that, it gets clogged. This is a problem with all of the electric shovels, but the corded ones like the Greenworks seem 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 3-5 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.
Hi, I’m Jean Levasseur. I’m a former conveyor mechanic, current property manager, and a hobbyist woodworker, in addition to being a 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.
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 all seven of the electric snow shovels in real snow on a real driveway.
We tested 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 all of the shovels in three main areas. First was my driveway. I took between five and seven passes across the width of my driveway with each shovel, trying to get down to bare asphalt in as few passes as possible. I also experimented with trying to aim the snow in particular directions—spoiler alert, the shooting directions don’t change on any of these, so you have to carefully plan your shoveling paths.
The second area where we tested the shovels was walkways. I have brick pavers, stone, and grass walkways around my home. I cleared all of these, alternating shovels, again trying to get as close to the ground as I could while controlling direction.
Finally, I cleared my deck, porch, and stairs. Conveniently, I have seven stairs at my house, so I cleared one stair with each shovel per storm. Then I lugged them each onto the deck or porch and used each one to clear part of those.
What to Know When Buying an Electric Snow Shovel
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.
All this said, you don’t have to worry about how long clearing snow takes you. You have power for as long as you need it, unlike battery-powered shovels which can run out of charge. I also observed that the power level of the corded shovels was more consistent. When they hit a heavier patch of snow, they didn’t slow down in the same way that the battery-powered shovels did. The good corded models are also more consistent when dealing with the plow slush at the end of the driveway.
Battery-powered snow shovels are quite a bit heavier than the corded ones, which makes them harder and more tiring to maneuver around the driveway. They also experience a bit of a power drop when they encounter heavier snow—not enough to stop it from working, but enough to throw off your rhythm.
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, although all three of the shovels we tested lasted an hour or more in our battery test. 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. The three that 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 the deep snow. In a few inches, I just pushed the shovel along the ground without a problem. Once the snow gets deeper than the opening of the electric shovel, however, it can no longer throw the snow. So, you have to pick it up to do layers at a time. In our last 16-inch storm, I had to do as many as four passes while holding the shovel off the ground to clear a path.
Which brings us to the third major drawback of electric snow shovels: their weight. They are quite heavy, particularly the battery-powered ones. Picking an electric snow shovel up feels about the same as picking up a shovel full of snow. Making four passes with the electric shovel held off the ground is essentially the same as using a regular shovel.
The Bottom Line
If shoveling is a challenge for you physically, then an electric snow shovel could be a great option. There’s no question that they are 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.
Other Electric Snow Shovels We Tested
Ryobi RYAC804-S 10-Amp, 12-Inch Electric Shovel
This was my absolute favorite corded electric shovel to use. Unfortunately, we experienced a problem with the Ryobi after testing was complete—it simply refused to start a few days later when we went to take photos of our winner.
If you think we got a lemon—and maybe we did—you can still take a chance on this electric snow shovel and we think you’ll be happy. It is affordable, lightweight, and easy to maneuver around my driveway. It clears consistently down to the pavement, rarely needing more than one pass. It was even able to tackle the plow-slush at the end of my driveway.
While the Ryobi and the Greenworks are very similar in terms of performance, I would give the edge to the Ryobi in two categories. First is the balance. It is easy to push and easy to hold. The second and more important difference is the performance in deeper snow. While both did OK, the Ryobi was able to handle a bit more on each pass. The Greenworks took four passes to completely clear a second of 16-18 inches of snow, while the Ryobi did the same relative area in about three. It could just take a bit more per bite.
All in all, this is a powerful machine, and a great option if your house is set up for long extension cord use. It’s unfortunate that it stopped working out of the blue. We did contact Ryobi customer service, but they merely referred us to The Home Depot, where we purchased the machine.
Kobalt 80-Volt Max 12-Inch Cordless Electric Snow Blower
Kobalt has a reputation for making decent quality machines for the average homeowner, and this electric shovel is a prime example. It works well, clears down to the pavement in one pass, and even handles deep, powdery snow.
There are a couple of knocks against it, however, that keep it out of the top spots. The first is its weight. While all of the battery-powered shovels are heavy, the Kobalt is the heaviest. It is a beast to use, particularly if you have to pick it up off of the ground to clear, which you do in deeper snow.
The second problem is that it is missing a cover for the battery compartment. If you store it outside before the storm, the battery compartment fills with snow. Then you have to clear it out and let it dry. This seems like a pretty major oversight on Kobalt’s part, and something I hope they’ll fix in future models.
If you’re primarily going to be storing it inside before a storm and you don’t mind the extra weight and cost, or if you already have the Kobalt 80V battery for another product, this is a solid option.
Clears down to the pavement
Able to handle heavy or deep snow
No battery compartment cover
Toro 38361 Power Shovel, 12-Inch, 7.5-Amp
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 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 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.
Snow Joe iON13SS 40-Volt iONMAX Cordless Brushless Snow Shovel Kit
The Snow Joe is the smallest, lightest of the battery-powered electric shovels that we tested. It did well enough in small amounts of light, fluffy snow. However, anytime it hit a patch of packed snow, it just rode up on top of it. It was very hard to keep this shovel down to the asphalt, even with multiple passes. Additionally, when it got to heavier patches of snow, there was a noticeable power drop.
This shovel’s light weight is a benefit. It is easier to maneuver and handle than the other two battery-powered electric shovels, and my back and arms weren’t as tired when I was done testing it. If weight is a major consideration for you, however, then consider getting one of the corded ones. They’ll be cheaper, lighter, and better performing.
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.
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