How Does an Electric Snow Shovel Work? - Backyard Boss
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How Does an Electric Snow Shovel Work?

Clearing snow is one of those chores that you can’t get away from if you live in a climate with cold winters. Here at Backyard Boss, we love winter, so if clearing snow from our driveway is the price we have to pay, it’s worth it.

However, why make life hard for yourself if there are easier alternatives that don’t break the bank? That’s where outdoor tools like an electric snow shovel fit in. It’s the affordable middle ground between an expensive snow blower and the manual labor of shoveling your driveway.

But an electric snow shovel isn’t for everyone or every situation. Read on to find out how they work, where they work, and who they work for.

How They Work


man using electric snow shovel
Image credits: Greenworks store via Amazon

To answer the question, an electric snow shovel spins a 1 or 2-blade paddle auger to suck snow off a smooth surface and fling it out of the way. The width of this mechanism can be anywhere from 10 to 16 inches wide, perfect for clearing a footpath.

The discharge chute is usually facing forward, which seems like a strange place to discharge snow you’re trying to clear. To avoid this pitfall, look for a model with a rotating discharge chute.

When it comes to the power source, you have the choice between a corded snow shovel or a cordless snow shovel. The spinning blade mechanism is powered by a battery or an extension cord (no gas versions available). If you have a soft spot for electric tools, then an electric snow shovel is right up your alley.

A corded model will have more run time than its battery-powered alternative, so if you don’t want to be limited by a battery, go with a corded version.

A cordless version is the best choice for those who don’t have any electrical outlets outside or near the area you want to clear. They run for about an hour on a single charge, which is plenty of time if you have a small area or foot path to clear.

While an electric snow shovel is less work than manually shoveling snow, it still requires some effort to push as it is not self-propelled like a snow blower. Instead of wheels, an electric snow shovel is held by the user similar to the way you’d hold a string trimmer or brush cutter. This includes an adjustable handle and some come with a harness to distribute the weight of the machine into your legs and shoulders. This ergonomic design allows you to work more comfortably for longer periods of time.

This design makes them easy to use and portable in light snow. However, this also causes some limitations.

Where They Work

Electric snow shovel leaning on fence
Image credits: Greenworks store via Amazon

The main thing to consider is that you should only use an electric snow shovel in snow that’s a foot deep or less. Depending on the product or model, this maximum may be reduced down to 6 inches deep.

If you’re only clearing a few inches of snow at a time, then an electric snow shovel will drastically cut down on the amount of time and effort required to clear your driveway. It will also reduce the risk that clearing snow has on your heart.

Anything deeper than a foot, and the electric snow shovel will struggle to clear the snow and you risk damaging the tool.

That being said, the more powerful electric snow shovels are capable of flinging up to 300 pounds of snow per minute 25 feet out of the way. No small feat for a compact, handheld (dual handles) tool.

If you live in a climate that regularly gets multiple feet of snow in one go, an electric snow shovel is likely not the way to go. Choose a snow blower or a traditional shovel to clear heavy snow instead.

Who They Work For

Are you looking for an easier way to get through light snow clearing jobs, but you’re not ready to invest in a snow blower? Then an electric snow shovel is a great choice.

They’re more expensive than a snow shovel, but a lot cheaper than a snow blower. So if you regularly need to clear a foot or less of snow, and you don’t want to break the bank, an electric snow shovel is an excellent middle ground.

It’s important to understand that while an electric snow shovel is less work than manually shoveling snow, it’s more work than a snow blower.

If you’re looking for the absolute easiest way to clear snow, or you regularly have to clear deeper snow, an electric snow shovel is not for you.

Will They Work For You?

There you have it, everything you need to know about how, where, and who electric snow shovels work for. Will they work for you?

When you’re ready to invest in a lightweight tool to help you clear snow, check out our best electric snow shovel reviews to give you all the information you need to make the right choice. However, we do also love the Snow Joe 323E 13-Inch 10-Amp Electric Snow Shovel and the Greenworks 8 Amp 12-inch Electric Snow Shovel.

As always, comment below and let us know your thoughts on an electric snow shovel!