My first battery-powered snow blower was a Snow Joe Two-Stage

This winter I’ll be relying on my newly purchased EGO Power+ Snow Blower to clear the snow off the driveway. However, this EGO snow blower isn’t my first battery-powered snow blower but instead I once owned Snow Joe’s first Two-Stage 80V Cordless Snow Blower, the iON24SB-XR.

As far as I know, Snow Joe is the only manufacturer of a cordless electric two-stage self-propelled snow blower currently on the market. For two decades I had been using a MTD gas powered two-stage snow blower that I bought at the local K-Mart. Naturally, whether gas or electric, I prefer two-stage snow blower over a single-stage. So, during the 2016-2017 snow season I bought and used the Snow Joe two-stage as my primary means of removing snow from my house.

With winter just beginning I’m looking forward to seeing what the EGO snow blower can do. However, I thought it would be good to stroll down memory lane and give you my initial review and overall impressions of the Snow Joe ion24SB two-stage I once owned.

My Initial Impressions of Snow Joe’s iON24SB

At the time of my purchase, many of the early reviewers for this two-stage cordless Snow Joe were either first time buyers of a snow blower or graduating from a single-stage snow blower. As someone that has owned a two-stage gas snow blower for the past 20 years, I wished there had been more reviews from previous two stage gas owners before I made my purchase. I only came across one trusted reviewer which was Paul Sikkema from   Sikkema’s review helped convince me to take a chance on this Snow Joe. 

After using the snow blower (iON24SB-XR 5.0 Ah) for just a few days, I quickly reached the conclusion that this cordless snow blower isn’t as good as a gas snow blower. However, if you’re looking for an alternative to gas, noise, and engine maintenance this cordless Snow Joe is a reasonable compromise. As long as the snow blower is functioning well, it definitely will do its primary job of clearing snow off your driveway.

Initially, I debated whether I wanted to keep or return the Snow Joe and leaned toward keeping it because it was “good enough”.  After decades of dealing with gas, oil, noise, and sluggish engine starts that come with a gas engine…I ‘m just ready for the electrification of my outdoor tools. So, on Amazon my initial review put this snow blower at 4 stars out of  five.  If this was a gas snow blower it would have received 3 stars from me but because it didn’t need gas and introduces some cutting edge technology I favored the higher ranking.

Here are my initial impressions of the Snow Joe:

The Positives

Size Doesn’t Matter – This snow blower definitely can throw snow. When I first put the snow blower together, my first impression was that it was smaller than I had expected. However, I quickly found that as long as long as you have power in your batteries it shouldn’t have a problem clearing up to a foot of snow. I went through 3 inches and 7 inches of powdered snow with no problem. My neighbors with their larger more expensive snow blowers were confused with how this small thing could pick up so much snow. Some reviewers complained that it doesn’t do well with wet snow but almost all snow blowers have problems with wet snow.

Quicker Startup, Less Maintenance, and Less Noise – To start this snow blower it’s just a matter loading batteries into the compartment and then go. No priming the engine and for the first time in 20 years after clearing the driveway my clothes or hands don’t smell like gas and fumes. I’m also getting to that age where noise is starting to bother me so my ears are very pleased with the Snow Joe. In fact, this cordless snow blower is quiet enough when running that it felt odd to me to hear my neighbor running his own gas snow blower from a distance.

The Negatives

Packaging Needs Improvement – As other reviewers have mentioned, the packaging could be improved. With the thin box and weak packing material, my snow blower arrived with the fastener for the chute clean-out tool broken. I feel I’m lucky nothing else broke during transit and I plan on calling Snow Joe to get the broken part replaced.

Awful, Awful, Awful Handles – Snow Joe, what were you thinking? This snow blower’s handles are uncomfortable as you have to squeeze the drive/auger grips from the bottom with your fingers. For good reason, most two-stage snow blowers have you press the grip from top with the weight of your hand. Less fatigue on both hands and elbows that way. This poor design choice by Snow Joe was one of the reasons I considered returning the snow blower. Also, the “safety button” on the auger trigger needs to go or have the ability to lock in place as it was cumbersome to engage without two hands. Snow Joe, when you do improve this handle/grip I’d like to have us “first generation” buyers be able to retrofit this year’s model with the new handles/grips.

Neutral Territory

More Battery Power Needed – My 5.0 Ah batteries lasted only a half-hour. I had to wait for three hours to recharge the batteries before I could finish the second half of my driveway (40 feet long with three car garage width). Snow Joe does have a 6.0 Ah option, but I think you’re better off saving the money buying the 5.0 option and use the savings to buy a second set of batteries. The 6.0 Ah bundle only gets you extra 10 minutes of operations than the 5.0 Ah bundle. My recommendation for a normal residential driveway:

Single car driveway: 5.0 Ah option
Double car driveway: 5.0 Ah option + extra batteries or 6.0 Ah option
Triple car driveway: 5.0 Ah option + extra batteries

Build and Material of the Snow Blower – My gas snow blower lasted 20 years and I abused the heck out of it. I think I’ll be lucky if this new snow blower lasts 10 years with its plastic parts and lighter material. Realistically though, I’m not sure today’s gas snow blowers would last 20 years unless you’re willing to fork over a lot of money for the elite/professional lines. So given the price of this snow blower, I’m OK with the expected 10 years. Also, being that this snow blower is battery powered there is a lot less vibration, wear and tear than a gas snow blower. In other words, plastic on a cordless/electric snow blower should last longer than it would on a vibrating gas snow blower.

Not Fast, Not Slow – Some reviewers complain that the snow blower is too slow but I found the speeds reasonable for a two-stage snow blower. The three speeds are very comparable to the first three gears of my gas snow blower. My gas snow blower has a 4th gear that I seldom use (too fast with snow/ice on the drive) and won’t miss. What I will miss though is my 5th gear which is intended to be used without the auger engaged so you move to your destination quickly. The Snow Joe is difficult to push/pull if the motors are not being used.

Final Impressions: Great concept, but did I get three lemons?

Shortly after my initial review, it was quite obvious by my second use of the snow blower that due to poor wasn’t just the chute mount as I mentioned below that had been damaged but also auger housing. I found snow leaking on the side and the snow blower couldn’t be balanced/leveled properly. 

Looks like my Snow Joe Two-Stage Snow Blower was damaged in shipment.

I contacted Snow Joe directly, worked with them directly and received a replacement. Unfortunately about 3/4th done with my driveway the auger motor of snow blower #2 stopped working. I worked with Snow Joe received a replacement and experienced the same auger motor problem with snow blower #3. It’s a pity because until the auger motor quit, the snow blower was clearing the snow off the driveway just as you expect any two-stage gas snow blower would.

After three snow blowers, Snow Joe decided to refund my money (I never asked for a refund as my goal was to have a working Snow Joe in my garage). I had to spend $60 on packing and material to return the final snow blower but in all three cases Snow Joe sent me shipping labels. So for $60 and my time spent returning snow blowers (more of a pain than the money), I had use of the snow blower. I think Snow Joe actually lost money on this deal due to shipping, support, and replacement costs.

So with having three snow blowers that didn’t work, why is my final rating standing at three-stars? It mainly comes down to the great customer service I received from Snow Joe. Between emails and phone conversations, Snow Joe treated me right. Also, it’s my hope I just had a string of back luck as I can see real potential in this snow blower. When it worked, it worked great.

But Wait There is More…

Despite having to return the Snow Joe, I remained hopeful that Snow Joe would have all the quality control issues and design flaws worked out for the next model. Starting in the 2017-2018 season, Snow Joe did indeed introduce a new version of this snow blower, the ION8024.

Snow Joe ION8024-XRP 24-Inch 80 Volt  Two Stage Snow Blower

This new version of it’s cordless two-stage bring a feature upgrade with a cutting-edge 4-speed digital drive system (3-speed XPORT for rapid return at the end of a snow-clearing run). More importantly, Snow Joe addressed some of the design issues I pointed out including improved handles and better tires.

While I haven’t reviewed the new Snow Joe myself, reviewers at Amazon give this snow blower 3.1 stars out of 5 stars. But given the sample pool is rather small (only 48 reviews) at the time I’m writing this article, I’m not sure if you can conclude from the reviews whether this is new version is better or worse than the previous snow blower.

As always, if you have ever owned a Snow Joe two-stage snow blower, I’d love to hear from you on your impressions of this machine. Also, if there are other manufacturers of cordless electric two-stage snow blowers let me know as well via the comment section of this article. 

Car and Driver: Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric

Jaguar could drop all of its gasoline-powered models and become a fully electric luxury brand in the near future, if a report from the U.K.’s Autocar is to be believed. Jaguar has already stated publicly that all new models it launches starting in 2020 will offer some sort of hybrid power train, but a move to sell exclusively battery-electric vehicles—if it comes to pass—would be far more drastic.

–  Joseph Capparella, Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric across Its Entire LineupCar and Driver, October 12, 2018.

The EGO Power+ Nexus Escape Power Inverter

Given my continuous obsession with the EGO Power+ product line, I couldn’t resist buying this new product by EGO. The new EGO Power+ Nexus Power Inverter just arrived at my doorstep. This new 150 Watt Inverter should be a nice convenient addition for whenever I need need backup power indoors to run my smaller devices.

All of EGO’s current line of 56 Volt Batteries will work with the Nexus. The power inverter provides two USB ports and one AC port. While 150 Watts isn’t a huge amount of power it’s enough to power a tablet and laptop while out and about, lamps in the house, and even your TV and router in a power outage. While run time will vary, there are a number of reviews showing people powering their television for a few hours off  a single 5.0 Ah or 7.5 Ah EGO battery.

As my wife reminded me, I already have a Honda generator I use when camping with my travel trailer or when I have need for backup power here at the house. So why did I buy this product if I already own a generator? The problem with my Honda generator is that it is gas-powered so it has to stay outdoors when it’s running. It’s a bit of a hassle to have to pull in the power from the generator through a number of very long power-chords. This EGO inverter will let me bring a power source right into the house without having to crack the door open every time I need power.

If you already own EGO products, the purchase of this inverter seems to me to be an obvious purchase to make. Currently, the Home Depot sells the Nexus Escape for $99.99. I was able to purchase the product for $75 at an introductory price.

New Atlas: BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3

Electric cars are on the march and critical to their appeal are advances in battery capacity, or in other words, how far you can drive them on each charge. BMW has made new efforts to ease range anxiety among future owners of its premium i3 EV, packing more battery density inside for an extended range of up to 260 km (160 mi) in everyday conditions.

– Nick Lavars, BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3New Atlas, October 1, 2018.

CleanTechnica: Time to ditch that gas-powered weed eater for a battery-powered one?

The big news in the battery-powered garden tools sector may be the advancing tech that allows for higher voltage tools. Battery voltage for weed eaters seems to be going to infinity and beyond. The weed eater that won my informal whack-a-thon was an 80 volt machine. 80 volt weed eaters break new ground in the “high voltage” string trimmer space. The evolution in cordless power tools in general has been marked not only by steady improvements in battery chemistry, but also by continual increases in the battery voltage these tools run on… from the first 4.8V cordless drills in the early 1960s, to the 18V cordless tools in the 2000’s, to the 20V+ cordless power tools of today. The first of these trimmers I purchased was a 20V unit. Soon after I learned there were 40V versions of the garden tools, then 60V versions, and finally I discovered the king of the hill 80V line.

Steve Bakker, Is It Time To Ditch That Loud, Polluting, Hard-To-Start, Smelly, Obnoxious Gas-Powered Weed Whacker?, CleanTechnica, September 23, 2018.

Forbes: Review of the 2018 Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle

My experience with the ZF7.2 taught me that I could expect a reliable 60 miles per charge in mixed riding situations, and close to the full 100 when I rode around town exclusively.

The issue of range might be enough to scare off some potential buyers, but it shouldn’t. The FXS isn’t a touring bike, nor does it pretend to be one. It’s an exciting, lively bike for commuting, weekend rides, and quick hops. Leave it plugged in in your garage, and it’s always ready to go, with minimal maintenance required. You don’t have to worry about your gas going stale in the tank, or keeping track of oil changes, or gapping spark plugs. There’s no clutch to adjust, no cables to lubricate. The FXS has black composite body parts that don’t require wax or paint care, so you won’t need to spend hours detailing and polishing the bike. I really like the rough and ready aesthetic of the bike.

–  Jason Fogelson, 2018 Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle Test Ride And Review: Charged, September 17, 2018.

Los Angeles Times: Electric motorcycle is a magic carpet ride

For two months this year I used a Zero DSR electric motorcycle as my main commuter vehicle. The experience deepened my appreciation for battery-powered transportation, and my admiration for the Zero line. But it also taught me that electric bikes aren’t for every rider, or for every ride. Even a state-of-the-art bike like the DSR could not satisfy all of a dedicated biker’s biking needs.

The DSR is Zero’s top model, and the company is right to be proud of it. Wickedly quick off the line, delivering spookily seamless power, the bike feels like a magic carpet ride that violates the laws of thermodynamics.

– Charles Fleming, Zero DSR electric motorcycle feels like a magic carpet ride — for everything but longer trips, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2018.