Power Smart DB7659 / DB7659A 208cc Double Stage Gas Snow Blower Review by Merrill Shadwell
The Power Smart DB7659 Series, and its relatives, the DB7659A Series present the snow blower buyer with some tough choice. Besides clearing width there really isn’t that much difference between them. Still, there are a few key attributes that differ.
All Power Smart DB7659 and DB7659A models are gas-powered. But there’s gas-powered and then there’s super charged. True, the 208cc engine on this line is far from the largest motor around for snow blowers. But the efficiency is impressive. The ability to generate about 6.5 HP from this baby is very welcome.
Many have shied away from snow blowers from Power Smart because their LCT (Liquid Combustion Technology) engines are made in China. That was a valid concern – in the past. True, you’re not going to get local parts from the manufacturer. But do you really care if the part comes from the other side of the country or the far side of the world?
After all, many car parts are made outside the U.S., too. These days, shipments from China are so frequent and so fast for all kinds of products, there’s no extra delay ordering them from overseas.
In any case, experience shows that the LCT is a durable, well-running unit that typically requires only standard maintenance. It helps, as with any gas-powered OHV 4-cycle, to add a bit of fuel stabilizer at least once per season. But apart from that, and the usual caveats (keeping it clean, filled with oil, drained at the end of winter) there’s no reason to expect problems.
One thing is beyond debate. Starting the LCT engine in any DB7659 (or DB7659A; they have the same engine) is effortless, even in the coldest weather. The electric start is reliable and house current delivers plenty of starting power to this medium-sized power plant.
You have to work a little harder if you need to get it going using the recoil, such as during a power outage when you can’t wait to plow. Even so, it’s not that hard. My back isn’t what it used to be and still a crank or two invariably kicks these guys on, even when the temperature is well below freezing. There’s a choke and a gas-primer that help improve the odds to near certainty.
There’s another nice touch to this model, one that shows a welcome thoughtfulness in design. The extension cord plug-in has a little cap that folds over the holes. That way, snow doesn’t get inside if the unit is sitting in the snow waiting to be started. Thanks, Amerisun.
The gearing offers no room for complaint either. With 4-forward and 2-reverse speeds this thing will handle just about any situation you’re likely to encounter. The highest gear will speed through an inch or two of snow with ease. The lowest is helpful for crunching through the compacted snow near the street after the city plow has come by.
Frankly, even in my tough environment, four forward gears is probably overkill. It does help for those times when you have a high berm to climb or some crunchy ice to deal with. But for most situations, two or three forward gears is plenty.
Intake and Auger
If there’s any downside to this line, it isn’t the engine but the snow clearing ability. It’s good, but limited. That’s not because of the quality, which is fine. It’s simply that the DB7659 is a little on the small side for the needs of a percentage of homeowners. If you require a large unit that clears heavy, deep snow this one is not for you. But for everyone else, read on.
The auger width comes in two sizes: 22″ or 24″. (DB7659-22, DB7659-24 or DB7659A-22, DB7659A-24.) Any of those is plenty wide enough to do my property, and I live on large acreage with a 1/2 acre backyard and a very big circular driveway. I have to work at it for a while, for sure, but it will do the job in reasonable time.
The more important limitation in my case, though possibly not in yours, is the intake height. It’s “just” 16 inches. That’s not tiny by any means, but it’s considerably less than the 20″ height of the Power Smart 7651 Series. That means that when you get a very heavy snowfall in a short time, as I sometimes do, it can be tough to clear everything in time. Judge according to your personal situation.
The auger itself is fine, nice and tough. A metal unit is always preferred, though you typically pay a little more for one. That extra cost is usually worth it, in my view, whether you have a big need for it or not.
Certainly not everyone has a gravel-covered hard-dirt driveway like mine. Quite the opposite; most are asphalt. Still, it’s a rare driveway (or sidewalk, for that matter) that doesn’t have a fair amount of tiny rocks scattered about the surface. Those pebbles can easily break or chip a plastic auger, even the tough ones made of “space age” plastic of the type we have now.
Those same comments in the paragraph above apply to the chute. That’s one place where a buying decision can swing one way or the other between the DB7659 and the DB7659A. The A-model has a steel chute, compared to the plastic one for the DB7659.
However, those comments don’t apply with equal force here. For sure, small rocks can harm a chute, but it’s less likely. With good plastic, of the sort contained in all parts of the DB7659 and DB7659A lines, the odds are lower you’ll have trouble. That view goes out the window for homeowners with a driveway like mine, but for the average one I stand by it.
The chute itself can be a struggle or a breeze, depending on which series you select. The DB7659 requires manual effort. It’s far from major but I always prefer the ease and convenience of a lever to adjust it, such as that provided in the DB7659A Series. It will help with either choice to keep it well lubricated. A good cold-weather spray will help prevent slush from freezing along the join. That keeps rotation free and easy.
The tossing distance is quite good, at least 30 feet for the moderate stuff. Too slushy and it can’t go the maximum, but the same is true for snow that is ultra-fluffy. A Golidlocks-amount of moisture is required to reach any manufacturer’s rating.
It helps quite a bit that these snow blowers are two-stage models. That type has both an auger and an impeller. The auger’s blades chew up snow and feed it into the intake; the impeller is a spinning “fan” sitting behind it that sucks it up and blows it out the chute. The impeller on these units work very well.
Overall Size, Weight and Shape
The overall size and shape of the DB7659 or DB7659A snow blowers offer a mixed bag. The size itself has both good and bad aspects, mostly depending on your situation.
It’s compact, measuring just 36 inches long x 30 inches high x 26 inches wide (for the 22 inch model). That somewhat compact size definitely helps when it comes time to store your snow blower. It’s also handy for allowing smaller users to handle the unit with ease. But it also means limited ability to tackle the tougher jobs.
That aspect has been well covered above so no elaboration is needed. I’ll just add here that the more serious drawback can be the weight. It can also be a big advantage, again depending on your situation.
For anyone looking for a relatively lightweight snow blower, any of these snow blowers could be a good choice. Even teens and smaller women should have no undue effort moving a DB7659/DB7659A around, especially given the transmission described above. But at just 154-160 lbs, it also means this unit isn’t going to have the heft to clear the deepest, crustiest snow very effectively.
A certain amount of weight is needed just to keep the auger hugging the ground in those tougher snow clearing situations. Ice, or even just well-compacted snow, can easily lift a snow blower up, and weight helps counteract that. If the blower doesn’t supply it you must. That puts the DB7659/DB7659A closer to the lighter-duty category than its auger width alone would suggest.
Another potential drawback is less important but worth mentioning. The exhaust pipe isn’t all that well insulated, thermally, and it’s a bit close to the gas cap. The cap is nicely tethered to the fill spout, but it is plastic and can melt if it comes into contact with a hot exhaust guard.
You can overcome that limitation with some care. Just be sure to flip it to the other side or, better still, fill the tank only when the engine is cool. Still, it is something you have to think about.
The tires on the DB7659/DB7659A snow blowers are a little smaller than ideal. The 12.5″ height of the first and the 13″ height of the second are both terrific. At that height, it’s very hard for the snow blower to get buried. But they are a bit more narrow than I would prefer, just 4″.
The tread on the DB7659A is a bit different than that on the DB7659. The difference strikes me as minor. But only long-term testing over varied conditions could settle the matter. In either case, unlike a car tire, the tread isn’t as major a factor in grip on a snow blower as is width and material.
There’s very little assembly required for this snow blower model. It comes well packed in corrugated cardboard with some serious staples and sits on a good wooden pallet. Unpacking is the biggest part of the chore and even it’s not that tough.
Once free, you’ll see that all you really have to do is attach the handlebars and fill with oil. The first job takes minutes, and only that long if you’re clumsy like I am. The second is effortless (though, of course, vital). No oil is provided with the unit, though, so you have to be sure to get the right type for your climate.
Any model from the DB7659 or DB7659A lines would make a fine snow blower. The price is significantly lower than similar units from other manufacturers, yet the quality is quite high. On the other hand, the DB7659(A) is somewhat small and lightweight and therefore may not be suitable for tougher snow clearing situations.