There are only few times that I’m hoping it snows here in Pennsylvania—Christmas Eve, New Years, and when I get a new toy that requires snow to operate. In October, I got the Snow Joe iON 18SB 40 Volt Cordless Snow Blower in the mail to review. Our headquarters is based out of Florida, where it only snows during apocalyptic scenarios, so I was the only person eligible to review this machine in a true, winter weather state. In my younger years, I was a snow shovel kind of person secretly laughing at the people using snow blowers and calling them lazy under my breath. With a full time job, two kids, and a long driveway, I reevaluated my physical energy consumption. If you’re in the same boat that I was back then, let me walk you through some of the basics you’ll need to know about battery powered snow blowing.
The Snow Joe iON looks to be a great snow blower for the first-time owner or the frustrated previous owner of a gas guzzling, endless maintenance, heavy, loud snow blower of yesteryear. With its non-intimidating looks and easy operation, it should be a perfect fit for your small to mid-sized jobs.
Snow Joe iON Features
- Lightweight design (32 lbs)
- 40 V 4.0 Ah EcoSharp rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Up to 50 minutes of run time
- No pull cords, gas, oil, tune-ups, carbon emissions or tangled extension cords
- Steel auger with 2 rubber blades
- Moves up to 500 lbs of snow per minute
- Cuts a path 18 in. wide by 8 in. deep
- 180° auto-rotate directional chute
- throws snow up to 20 ft
- 3 W LED headlight for nighttime snow removal
- ETL approved; Full 2 year warranty; Energy Star certified
Snow Joe iON First Impressions
The unit arrived in a box that was much lighter than it looked. The only assembly required was to connect the handle with two plastic knobs and the directional chute with a rubber washer and two knobs as well. After that, you are ready to go—cordless! This isn’t the first electric snow blower to hit the market and also not the first cordless, but it does have some handy features you won’t find on other models out there. The battery comes partially charged, as do most lithium-ion batteries since this is a stable state for them. I decided to charge the battery fully so I didn’t get half way through our sidewalk before sputtering out.
The Snow Joe does provide up to 50 minutes of run time, but if you find yourself using it for longer periods of time, I would highly recommend purchasing a second battery as a backup. I looked over the construction to see how sturdy it was and how it was made. To be honest, my first thought was that the plastic seemed a bit thin (1/8”) and the parts didn’t look like they would hold up over a few heavy winters. The rubber pads that throw the snow are ¼” thick and the driveshaft that they spin on is about 5/8” metal tubing. As I’m looking at this, I’m thinking of the big snow flurries that we’ve gotten and how taxing they were on my back. So, I’m hoping that it holds up better than my spine did. Regardless of what it looks like, I’m only interested in how it performs for now.
A Closer Look at the Snow Joe iON Features
One of the features that I love is the built in LED light. In the winter, it seems like there is only about 8 hours of daylight, so this is a very handy feature to have. Most of my snow removal is done in the early morning or late afternoon as it’s getting dark and you don’t want to be stuck trying to hold a flashlight or parking your vehicle to use the headlights. The LED light pivots up and down, but does not turn left or right. Technically, you don’t need to see left or right, other than to grumble about how much more you have left to remove.
The battery compartment has a door that covers the battery to keep it from getting wet and a safety key, which acts as a breaker to run the machine. Much like a treadmill, if the key is not inserted, the unit will not run. I personally don’t see the purpose of the safety key and it concerns me that if I ever misplace it or drop it, I can’t run the machine. I’d like to see the Snow Joe iON team add some sort of rope attaching it, so users can’t lose it as easily while fumbling around with gloves in deep snow.
To start the machine, you simply need to push the button on the side and pull the bar to engage the blades. That’s it! No pull cords, no fueling up the tank, no oil changes, no chokes or primers—just charge and go.
The Snow Joe iON has a single stage brushless motor, so if you’re a tool guy, you know this means a longer life, more powerful, efficient, and hassle free operation. The brushless motor design is important for a tool like this that requires different levels of power running through deep heavy snow or very light dustings.
The EcoSharp battery and charger fall into the mid level of battery quality and construction. I don’t have any experience with EcoSmart, so I cannot give a full review on its quality other than its performance on the Snow Joe iON. If you find that the battery is not lasting long enough for your projects, you can purchase a second battery for $149. on their website. The battery has a visual 3-light gauge that tells you when the battery has a 30%, 60% or 100% charge. The plastic that covers these lights started to fall off of my battery the first day. I don’t see it causing any issues, but given the fact it has to operate in wet conditions, I wish the construction of the battery were a little better. It’s important to note that if you have any Sun Joe products, then you can use this battery for them as well.
Performance of the Snow Joe iON
The Snow Joe iON sat in my garage for 3 months while I waited and waited and waited for a snowfall. We had a few light dustings, but not enough to accumulate. Finally the other day we got about 3-4”, so I fired up the Snow Joe iON and went to work. When I say “fired up” what I mean is that I pushed a button and immediately got to work.
My first impression using it was how quickly you can get out of the garage and removing snow—no extension cords to worry about, pull strings, trips for gasoline, etc. I only had about 15 minutes before I had to leave the house, but I was so excited to see how it performed. I chose a section of my concrete driveway where we park the cars that’s about 15’ wide. If you want avoid most people’s first rookie mistake, be sure to start from the center and work your way out to the edges. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing snow back onto the line you already cleared.
As I was moving forward, I noticed it was only throwing the snow about 2-3 feet to the side. This is because the action of a snow blower actually needs some mass to be able to really throw it. To get some momentum going, I started on the lower half of the driveway where there was some deeper snow. As I hit those spots, the engine roared (or maybe it was the current running through the brushless motor) and it threw the snow about 8-10 feet. I was much happier with the results on my second run.
The Snow Joe iON works best with 4-10” of snow. If you are using it on less than 4”, then you should push faster so it loads more snow into the chute at once. Basically, the more snow you have, the better performance you will see—up to a certain point. For me, I was unable to wait for a 10” snowfall to see the difference, but there are a lot of user videos online that show the Snow Joe iON clearing 8” of fresh snow with ease. Snow Joe iON’s website offers some helpful tips for new owners to make the best of their experience.
Because my wife and I had driven over the snow, I was unable to get all the way down to the concrete on some places. The scraper bar underneath was definitely a help to lift up some of those sections. I wasn’t able to “dig in” the same way you can get a better angle on a shovel for compacted areas. I found myself lifting the tires off the ground to try and achieve a better angle, but it appears the most efficient angle is when the wheels are flat.
My driveway is pretty rough, and I noticed that after only 30 minutes of use, it was already starting to show some wear. I can see why they sell replacement scraper bars because I don’t think this would last for two seasons if you are only using it on concrete surfaces. That’s going to be a common issue with any abrasive material scraped against plastic though. I did try to go over a section of gravel and immediately threw some rocks, but after a few adjustments, I was able to stay above them and still remove enough snow.
My favorite feature was the electronically controlled 180 degree chute. This made it a breeze when switching sides and adjusting for the strong winds blowing the snow back on me. The knob was placed in a great spot so there wasn’t any unnecessary bending over to reach it. The motor rotates quickly and smooth so you aren’t standing in the cold waiting for it. The vertical angle of the deflector is still controlled manually by loosening the knob and moving the top part of the chute to the desired position. Make sure that you tighten down this knob enough because when you reach some heavier snow, it can push the deflector up and change the angle from where you set it.
I was able to clear my driveway off in less than 30 minutes. While it wasn’t able to remove the compacted snow where we drove over it, I am still satisfied with it’s performance. If you are the kind of person that wants your driveway without any snow, you might need to lay down some salt or grab a shovel for the heavily compacted areas. I also realize that trying to remove snow that has been driven over is a lot harder to do.
I didn’t run into any issues with clogging or the unit slowing down. The battery life was plenty to do the job and I didn’t have any loss of power toward the end. I did run into an issue a few times where the door to the battery compartment came open and got snow all over the battery. The protective door on mine does not have a positive click to lock it in place, but simply hinges up and covers the battery. I would like to see it click into place to secure the battery a little better from the moisture.
Depending on how much snow mass I could get into the feed, the Snow Joe iON would sometimes throw the snow 10 feet and other times it would flop out of the chute a few feet. It was enough to get the job done without too much frustration, but I would like to see a more consistent throw. That’s likely improve when the amount of snow is in the recommended range.
While it didn’t perform as powerful as the gas blowers out there, I found that it was enough for my application as a homeowner. The Snow Joe iON is very light and easy to move around, but the plastic is pretty thin and I can see that being an issue over a few hard winters—especially the scraper as I mentioned earlier. The Snow Joe iON does come with a 2 year warranty, so make sure you keep your paperwork if you want to have it covered in those two years.
I would say this is an ideal unit for the homeowner who wants to clear off decks, patios, sidewalks and small driveways. If you have a really rough exposed aggregate on your driveway, it will work fine, but you may be replacing some parts each season. At $399, it’s priced higher than the other cordless snow blowers out there, but also has more features than they do. If you’re thinking about getting an electric snow blower for the applications I listed above, then I would recommend the Snow Joe iON for you.