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Is electric start worth it?


Junior Member
I'm a single mom/homeowner and not a professional, so this is a little out of place, but I figured that you all could give me some good advice.

I live in snowy Michigan and I'm planning to buy a snowblower, new or used, either this year or next. I don't have money to burn. I'm wondering if electric start is something I should pay extra for. Normally I can handle pull-starts but the machine will sit in an unheated garage.

I appreciate any advice.


PlowSite.com Veteran
Western Michigan
Hi Tara, Welcome! We are from just North of you in Sparta.

If it was me, I wouldn't worry about electric, especially on the smaller units. They start so easy, even in tough situations that it probably isn't worth the extra hundred bucks or so.

Do a search here in the snow plowing forum on snowblowers for some excellent recommendations on brand and model numbers. Hondas and Toros are the favorites, and one thing almost everyone mentions is how easy they start!

Good luck finding one around here though! Seems to be a hot seller lateley!!

SlimJim Z71

PlowSite.com Addict
Cary, IL
I agree, an electric start model would cost some hefty $$$. Read your owners manual very well. If you prime them right, you should get it up and going within a few pulls. I've heard a lot of good things about the Honda ones... for the record.



2000 Club Member
If you were going to use the blower on many different places like most of us do, then no not worth it. But if it is for your personal use( and I believe that it is) I would get the electric start. Just make sure you have a plug in your garage, as the electric start on snow blowers is handles with an extention cord from an outlet to the snow blower.
Not knowing what size you will be buying, a honda unit will start very easy, but any other 4 stroke machine in a cold garage will start much harder, and you will really grow to appreciate the electric start option.


PlowSite.com Veteran
My toro single stage snow blower starts in 1-2 pulls even after being stored for 9 months. My toro 2 stage wich has the tecumseh snow king engine (pretty nuch a standard engine for 2 stage blower) also starts in 2-3 pulls even after storage. I feel electric start is a waist of money!


Senior Member
Tara, you should talk to Pineisland1. He seems like a decent guy and it sounds like he lives close to you. You could probably talk him into doing it for you for next to nothing.




I would say to go with the electric start. It makes starting the machine virtually effortless.

One thing to keep in mind, is that the guys giving you the advice are used hoisting that snowblower into and out of the back of a truck all night long. They may have a bit more upper body strength and pull starting a machine is no big deal. I know of a single mom who bought a machine and could not get it started when the time came. She returned it for an electric start model.



PlowSite.com Addict
I'm not trying to sound sexist here, and forgive me if I do, but I've noticed that most women, unless they have been in the trade and are accustomed to starting equipment, are inclined to have problems with pull starting. My recommendation would be to establish a budget for buying the blower, then buy the biggest/best you can get for that money WITH electric start. My reasoning is that a smaller blower that is running will do you more good than a big one that didn't start because you had trouble roping it over.
Pull start.

I can't speak for anything other than a Honda regarding a single-stage thrower. If I had a little sister about age 8, I am confident she could start it within two pulls, everytime. I'm not being cute, just trying to illustrate my point.

If you were my mom or sister, I'd say buy the Honda with pull start. Mine starts on the first pull most times. If it doesn't start on the second, it is out of gas or turned off. Electric start on the Honda would only be needed, in my opinion, for someone older and pretty frail.

On the other hand, if you are going with a two stage blower, electric start is probably a must unless you are rather strong. The large eight and ten horse engines take more effort to turn over with a pull start, especially in cold weather when the oil is thicker than molasses. Hope I helped.

Synthetic oil helps with cold starts because it doesn't thicken as much as petroleum based products can due to cold weather. Synthetics cost more, but for small engines (mowers, snowblowers, garden tractors, etc.), with small oil capacities, it is economical enough to run and makes cold weather starting a snap.
I hate to recommend MTD but in our area I have seen them out perform ariens, simplicity, toro, and honda.

They seem to be very light weight and many retired seniors are using the mid-size range (26-29"swath-8-10hp) for their own use without clogging or slipping.

I know that even with our chutes lubed up sometimes our toro 33" doesnt perform as well as their machines under the heavy wet conditions.

Hated to recommend it, but it is an inexpensive yet reliable option for home use.



Junior Member
I'd say pull start only. The only case where an electric start comes in handy is to get a blower going that is on its last leg and requires a lot of toying around with the choke/carb.

Save the money and get a pull start only!

john r

Senior Member
Tara, We run 2 Honda 828 (might be a little too large for you) blowers. They run well and start almost everytime on 1 pull. They come equiped w/an elec. start but we have never had to use the option. I guess if you break a pull cord you have a backup means of starting the machine. Oh BTW if you don't properly "Summerize" you machine it probably wouldn't matter if you have elec. or a pull start. Just my $0.02. Just one more thought, If you keep your machine in the garage that will help out tremendously in your ability to start it up. In all sincerity, if you can't pull start it while it's stored in the garage (somewhat warm area) then you might consider an elec. start.

[Edited by john r on 01-05-2001 at 08:19 PM]


Looks like we are not getting you much closer to a decision about this electric start deal are we? I think the answer lies in you going to some shops in your area and seeing if they have any demo's or used machines.That way you can see if you can start it without electric start or not. Also you can roll the thing around to make sure your not getting a machine thats too big for you to handle.One last thing I will say is there is a quality difference between the chaper MTD stuff and say a Honda or Toro. Short term the cheap stuff works ok but in the end it pays to buy the best.


john r

Senior Member
Tara, I just remembered that Consumer Reports did a comparison on snow blowers (gas and elec engines) about a year ago. Go to your public library to find the article. Also our library system allows you to access their data base from a remote site (saves time sometimes). At least you will get the best bang for the buck since CR did alot of research for you :)


I have a 15 year old non-electric Sears snow blower that, despite its age started on the first pull this year. i have used it in my small snow shoveling business and it works great. I would suggest a used one, try looking in truck trader. I think the site is http://www.autotrader.com