EGO Trots Out Its Latest Cordless Power Gear

EGO Power+ Snow Blower / Credit: EGOWhether you’re clearing leaves or snow, it’s typically the gas-powered gear that will help you finish in the least time. But every year, the manufacturers of electric tools—including battery-powered models—surpass more of their fuel-burning competition. EGO is one such brand, and the latest models of its 56-volt Power+ line, a snowblower and a backpack leaf blower in a choice of batteries, further advance the line.

EGO Power+ Snow Blower
If snowblowers were pets, electric models have been the runt of the litter, good for snowfalls no deeper than about 6 inches, less if it’s moist. EGO, however, is shooting the moon with claims that its Power+ Snow Blower is the “only cordless snow blower that’s as powerful as gas,” has “the power to clear heavy, wet snow” and “can handle what the city snowplow leaves behind.”

What you find at the end of your driveway the morning after the snowplow has come through has sometimes frozen solid. At that point, even a beefy 28-inch gas model is sweating. Whatever the reality, though, you can’t fault the company for selling its product short. One helpful feature is overload protection, which protects the motor is it’s working too hard.

As with many single-stage snowblowers, which generally use a rubber paddle alone, EGO’s model has a 21-inch clearing width. The unit’s brushless motor should help with longevity, though the residential warranty is five-year (three-year for the batteries and charger). There’s also a variable-speed control, a handle-mounted chute-adjustment lever and LED headlights. We haven’t tested this model but would like to check out its throwing-distance claim of up to 35 feet. The handle folds for easy storage, no surprise given the typical ergonomics of this brand.

The snowblower comes in three variations, all pertaining to the dual 56V ARC Lithium batteries it uses. If you already own something from the EGO Power+ line and have two batteries and the EGO rapid charger, the bare product (sans batteries and charger), Model SNT2100, costs $400. Model SNT2102, sold with two 5-amp-hour batteries, is $600. And for the most run time, opt for Model SNT2103, which has two 7.5Ah batteries and will set you back $800.
EGO Power+ Backpack Leaf Blower / Credit: EGO

EGO Power+ Backpack Blower
The Backpack Blower uses just one 56V ARC Lithium battery, but that coupled with turbine-fan technology helps the unit deliver a rated 600 cubic feet per minute. Since there’s no gas engine, you also get one quiet machine—as we could hear in demos at the Green Industry & Equipment Expo last month. The variable-speed control lets you power down to 260 cfm, but there’s also the usual power-eating turbo button for when you need the most power, such as for moving gobs of wet leaves. And lefties, this model’s controls are right-handed along with other backpacks.

As with the snowblower, the motor is brushless, and the nearly 13-pound product carries the same warranties. For $200, you can buy the backpack blower without a battery and rapid charger, Model LB6000, if you already have those. Model LB6002, $300, comes with a 5Ah battery and charger; Home Depot says the runtime is 120 minutes, but that’s at low speed—what you wouldn’t typically be using. (The manual claims 22 minutes at high speed, 15 minutes on turbo.) For the most runtime, pay $400 for the LB6004, whose battery is a 7.5Ah.

It’s still a bit early for user reviews on the snowblower—especially since most of us haven’t gotten our first real snowstorms. But so far, the bulk of customer comments on the backpack blower have been positive. If you buy from Home Depot, these products’ primary outlet, you get a 90-day return policy if you’re unhappy. EGO doesn’t seem worried.

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Essential Tasks for Snowblower Prep

Man with snowblowerSome of us feel generally too stressed to do anything other than react to the crisis of the day. But in the coming months or even weeks, that crisis will be an approaching snowstorm. A few minutes spent now to check out your gas snowblower could keep you from having to whip out the shovel.

A look inside your machine’s owner’s manual will tell you maintenance tasks for your particular brand and model. The following tips should do the trick if your manual has gone to the land of stray socks:

Any gas-powered model
When a snowblower won’t start at the beginning of the season, the chief culprit is typically gasoline left in the tank over the summer. If this is the case, siphon out what you can (here’s one possible tool) or, with a lightweight machine, tip it over with the gas cap off and empty whatever you can into a spare gas can. Add fresh gasoline to which you’ve added fuel stabilizer.

Old oil won’t keep your snowblower from starting. But unless you changed it before putting it away for the summer—in which case you should merely check the level—you’ll help the engine last its longest by changing the oil now. The larger machines have a drain bolt you remove before tipping the snowblower back over a container; a funnel comes in handy.

Another item to check is your spark plug. It doesn’t need changing every season, but consider it a $5 insurance policy to do so anyway if it’s been a year or more since the last swap. Applying just a bit of anti-seize compound on the threads could make the plug easier to remove next time.

One more task: your pull cord. Even if you have electric start, you want the pull cord as a backup. Slowly draw out the cord; inspect it for fraying. Find any? Consider having a pro replace the cord—it’s a challenging job for a DIYer—before snow is in the forecast.

Single-stage gas models
The simplest snowblowers, single-stage machines have a plastic auger, often with rubber and sometimes metal reinforcement, that scoops up the snow and hurls it out in one step. Their belt transfers power from the engine to the auger but eventually wears or frays—and snaps when you least want it to. Sometimes they just slip off without breaking, but either way the machine is out of commission.

Unless, of course, you had an extra on hand and have a few minutes to remove the snowblower’s side cover. Should you need to buy one, autumn is a good time to pick up a spare. Check your machine’s brand and model first; you might need to jot down some engine specs for the store.

Two-stage gas models
The additional stage of a two-stage snowblower is a fan-like impeller, behind the auger, that catches what the auger pulls in and puts more muscle behind the throw for potentially greater distance. These machines have metal augers and also transmissions to drive the wheels. This complexity, however beneficial, means more that can go wrong.

Dual-stage machines have belts, too, and these also can go at the worst possible time. To make matters worse, it’s trickier to replace one. Having extras on hand, though, help your odds since you can’t count on your local repair shop to stock just what you need.

Shear pins are in place on your auger’s shaft, and they’re meant to break when you’re pushing so hard into, say, a partially frozen snow bank that your transmission is overworking. (Seeing just one half of your auger turning is a tip-off that a shear pin has snapped.) They look like bolts, often without threads, and they’re typically held in place by either nuts or clips. What’s most important is to replace broken ones with parts intended for your machine. If the shear pin doesn’t break when it needs to, you could overtax your snowblower.

Among other parts to check are cables and linkages that lead from your controls to the engine and transmission. They should have no slack. Inflate your tires to the proper pressure (noted on the side of the tire or in the manual) for easier maneuvering of the machine. And check that the auger scraper doesn’t actually scrape the ground while you’re moving the snowblower.

To preserve the auger scraper’s paint and avoid rust, adjust the slid shoes (bolted onto either side of the auger box) so that the scraper’s edge is slightly off the ground. Resting the edge on a piece of thick corrugated cardboard before you retighten the skid shoes can help you set the proper height.

Fire it up
Your last check, of course, is to start the machine. If it doesn’t start at all, think about what you didn’t do and double-check the manual. If it starts but is rumbling unevenly instead of humming (and you’ve adjusted the choke), you might need to spray in a carburetor cleaner meant for small engines, such as this one from Briggs & Stratton. If it repeatedly stalls after you emptied out old gas, however, your carburetor might need a rebuild at your repair shop.

The sound of the snowblower roaring to life can be music after all that work, and it’s great to feel prepared for whatever winter has in mind. Want the same feeling about your mower next spring? Take a little more time and stow your mower the right way.

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