A man snowblowing his driveway with an EGO brand snow blower.
EGO

Electric snow blowers are still a little bit pricier than their gasoline counterparts so you might be curious how much they cost to operate over time (and if you’ll realize some savings there). Let’s take a look.

What We’re Comparing: Gasoline vs. Battery Power

When we looked how much it costs to operate an electric lawn mower, we opened the article by pointing out exactly what we’d be comparing for clarity.

Fortunately, it’s a little easier to narrow things down in the snow blower market than in the lawn mower market, as there is a much narrow scope of consumer snow blowers than lawn mowers.

This article is focused on comparing the operating costs of basic single and two-stage gasoline-powered snow blowers against equivalent battery-powered snow blowers, like this gasoline-powered PowerSmart 21″ Snow Blower against something similar but battery-powered like this EGO Power+ 21″ 56-Volt Snow Blower. We won’t be looking at corded options or smaller “snow sweeper” type options.

EGO Power+ 21-Inch 56-Volt Snow Blower

Forget pulling on the starter cord and smelling like gasoline, this electric snow blower features push button start, a powerful steel auger, and plenty of battery life.

While plenty of folks seem really happy with their corded snowblowers if the glowing reviews are to be believed, such models aren’t 1:1 equivalent in terms of mobility and portability to stand-alone gas and battery models.

How Operating Costs Compare Over Time

Like any piece of machinery, snow blowers have both their current operating cost (how much you’re spending while you’re using them) and their ongoing cost (routine maintenance, replacement parts, and so on).

Let’s take a look at how much money you’re burning when you’re actively snow-blowing your driveway and how much you’re going to spend over the course of a year keeping your snow blower in tip-top shape.

Cost Per “Refuel”

In our look at electric lawnmowers, we used the average American lawn size as a “cost per mow” point of reference. When it comes to snow, there’s a lot more variability than grass. Your grass isn’t suddenly going to grow 12 inches overnight, but you might get that amount of snowfall. Sometimes you might need to snow blow for an hour, sometimes longer.

But typically, a gasoline mower holds enough gasoline to run for an hour between refuels. Most of the better quality electric snowblowers, like the EGO Power+ model we’re using as a reference point here, also have a run time of about an hour.

An hour is also a convenient unit of time because, unless you’re dealing with some serious shut-the-city-down snow and a very long driveway, it’s enough time to clear everything away.

Running a Gas Snow Blower for an Hour

While there’s some variability between models, most gas snow blowers have a tank that holds 0.5 gallons of gas. That half-gallon lasts around an hour.

As of this article, in December 2022, gas prices are around $3.50 a gallon. Fuel costs per hour of operation, then, are $1.75.

If gas prices were to tumble down to $2 a gallon, it would cost $0.50 per hour, or if they rose back up to $5 a gallon as they did over the summer of 2022, it would cost $2.50 per hour.

Running an Electric Snow Blower for an Hour

Electric snow blower hourly operation costs are based on the price of electricity in your area and the battery’s capacity.

You can calculate how much it costs to charge a battery using some basic math as long as you know what your local electric company charges you per kWh of energy.

The EGO Power+ SNT2112 comes with two 56V 5.0Ah batteries. If we crunch the numbers using the U.S. national average, as of December 2022, of 15.95 cents per kWh. You can adjust the calculations for different battery capacities and different energy costs.

In this case, it costs $0.09 to charge both batteries for a “fuel” cost per hour of operation just shy of a dime.

This lines up exactly with the kind of “fuel efficiency” we would expect based on the efficiency of electric lawn mowers. Depending on the cost of gasoline and electricity at a given time, you’ll usually end up spending about 1/10th to 1/20th the cost to run the machine off batteries as you would running it off gas.

The nice thing is that, compared to gas, electricity prices are relatively stable and cheap. Even if the cost of electricity doubles, you’re still only paying 18 cents to charge the batteries.

Ongoing Maintenance

As with gasoline mowers, gasoline snow blowers require a lot more maintenance and upkeep. And, as with electric lawn mowers, there is significantly less fussing and upkeep with an electric snow blower.

For our comparison, we are not including recurring costs that are identical between machine types. Regardless of what kind of snow blower you own, you will need to eventually replace physical parts that wear, like the drive belt, scraper bar, etc. Switching from gas to electric doesn’t negate that parts of your snow blower will scrape on the driveway and eventually wear out.

Yearly Maintenance Costs: Gasoline Snow Blower

Like all small-engine gas-powered devices, snow blowers need proper maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Skipping the maintenance not only significantly lowers the lifespan of your snow blower but leads to frustrating moments like cleaning out the carburetor when it’s sub-zero out and you’re snowed into your house—not that I’m speaking from the voice of experience or anything.

You need to change your oil after the first 5 hours or so of use per season, then again at 50 hours. Oil isn’t super expensive, but you’ll spend around $5 a season on it.

Spark plugs should be replaced once a season or every 100 hours, so let’s tack $3 onto the bill.

At the end of the season, you’ll need to either add fuel stabilizer to your snow blower or run the gas down until the lines and engine are dry. Let’s call that $2, either you’re potentially wasting fuel if you fill up right after the last storm of the year or you’re using a portion of a jug of fuel stabilizer.

Assuming you have oil and fuel stabilizer already on hand and can use a portion of what you have, you can keep yearly engine-related maintenance costs down around $10 or so.

Although not a yearly event, at some point in the life of the snowblower (perhaps multiple points if you own a particularly dependable model) you’ll end up taking the snow blower into the shop for a thorough tuneup. While it’s something you can do at home if you’re a handy person with the right tools, replacement parts, and time, most people will take it in and spend around $150.

Yearly Maintenance Costs: Electric Snow Blower

When it comes to maintaining an electric snow blower, it’s a lot easier than tinkering with a gas engine. You have to keep an eye on the same wear-and-tear parts you’d have to examine every now and then, like the belts and scraper bar, but there’s no engine to maintain at all.

You don’t have to change the oil, swap spark plugs, run down the engine (or stabilize the fuel), or anything else. The battery-driven motor runs when the batteries are charged and inserted and doesn’t when they’re not. If you leave it sitting there for a whole season because it’s unusually warm, there’s no issue. Just pop the batteries back in next year and go.

Putting aside those replacement parts all snow blowers need over time, like the scraper bar, you won’t have any ongoing costs except the very minor expense of charging the batteries.

Projected Costs Over Time

It was a little bit easier to do a projected cost for our discussion of electric lawnmowers because the use pattern is so consistent. The grass grows every year, and it’s not like some years grass just takes part of the summer off.

Still, we can look at basic projections over time to get a rough idea. Let’s assume that you use your snow blower 10 hours a year. That’s the average, and while you may use it more or less, it makes all of our numbers below easy to scale up or down. And let’s assume you own the snow blower for at least a period of 10 years.

That span is long enough to likely force an electric snow blower owner to replace the batteries at least once, which helps give a more reasonable cost of ownership estimate over time. Also, in fairness, we included the cost of a single $150 tuneup assuming the owner would take their gasoline-powered snow blower into a local shop for a more intensive tuneup than they could give at home at least one time.

With that window of time in mind, here’s how much it would cost to run a gasoline snow blower versus an equivalent battery-powered electric snow blower. Gas and electric prices are based on U.S. national averages as of December 2022.

Gasoline Snow Blower Electric Snow Blower
Fuel Cost $50 $9
Engine Maintenance $250 N/A
Battery Replacement N/A $400
Projected 10-Year Cost $402 $409

Interestingly, this comparison is much closer than our lawn mower comparison. Because snow blowers are used fewer hours per year than lawn mowers, and our comparison featured an electric lawn mower that had a single battery instead of two (shaving the replacement cost in half compared to a two-battery snow blower), the electric lawn mower came out well ahead in the comparison.

Here costs are closer over time, and extra factors such as whether or not you mind smelling like gas engine exhaust after snow blowing or whether or not you need the ability to instantly refuel with a gas can significantly affect your purchasing choices.

And hey, while you’re debating getting an electric snow blower or not, don’t forget about leaf blowers. You’d be amazed how much powder snow you can move with one.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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