Of course, there is no universally correct answer to the title question. It depends on your personal budget, circumstances, and the specific model being considered. What considerations go into making that choice? Read on…
Electric vs Gas, Explained
Electric snow blowers are, obviously, powered by electricity – standard house current (120V, 60Hz in the U.S.). That design choice has implications, though.
There are very few self-contained (battery powered) electric snow blowers on the market. The Ariens AMP Electric Sno-Thro is a rare bird – two stage, a 24-inch wide intake, a serrated auger, and will run for up to an hour on one 7-hour charge.
Most require a cord, so you have to be conscious of it when moving around. Even so, most models have a hook or clamp that helps keep it out of the way. Most users quickly adjust to having it and rarely have a problem. Of course, it means you can’t plow during a power outage, a potential consideration for some buyers.
Gas-powered snow blowers invariably run on gasoline. Some use 2-cycle engines. Technicalities aside, you use a gasoline-oil mixture as fuel, often the sort made by the snow blower manufacturer. Others are full-blown 4-cycle engines.
Either can be plenty powerful, though 2-stroke engines (as they’re also called) do produce more pollution. More of the unburnt fuel leaks through the exhaust than in 4-stroke engines and the fuel itself is dirtier. Their simpler design does usually imply lower weight and better power-weight ratio, though. However, 2-cycle engines tend not to last as long as 4-cycle models.
Gas-powered models usually (but not in every case) offer more power than an electric model. That’s typically a must if you have large amounts of wet (and therefore heavy) or icy snow to move. An electric model usually won’t have enough power to move it far enough, fast enough to satisfy most buyers.
Gas models are also typically much larger, wider, and frequently heavier as well. See the Ariens model mentioned above for an exception. The Husqvarna 12527HV gas model is a very beefy 265 lbs, for example. By contrast, the Greenworks 26032 is a modest 37 lbs. On the other hand the Husky model features a 27 inch wide intake versus the Greenworks’ more modest 20 inch.
To some buyers, noise level will also be important; gas models are almost invariably noisier than their electric counterparts.
If you need to clear large amounts of heavy snow over a wide area in a reasonable time, a gas-powered model is almost a necessity. They typically dig deeper, wider, and faster with more power. If you want the ultimate in low weight, low maintenance, lower noise then an electric model will likely be your preference.