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Craftsman claims its new snow blowers are quieter

In early tests, dual 26-inch machines require no hearing protection

Published: September 17, 2014 08:00 AM

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Operating a snow blower has never been a quiet job—for the operator or the neighbors. But even if we get a lot of snow this winter, clearing it could be a bit more peaceful thanks to a pair of new Craftsman snow blowers. Sears claims that the Craftsman 88694, $900, and Craftsman 88972, $800, have "America's quietest dual-stage snow thrower engine." Consumer Reports is putting that claim to the test and so far the results have been promising.

We’ll be buying the Craftsman 88694 as soon as it's available in mid-October. But in preliminary testing of a Craftsman 88694 that we borrowed, it was noticeably quieter at the operator’s ear than the Toro Power Max 726 OE 37771, $900, a 26-inch machine we tested that's somewhat quieter than other dual-stage snow blowers. What’s more, when we tested the Toro it had a Briggs & Stratton engine. That has since been replaced by a Chinese-made engine, which have typically been noisier in our snow blower tests.

Other than the muffler design, the Craftsmans match the construction and features of other 26-inch, MTD-made snow blowers we’ve tested, including the $750 Craftsman 88970, the $900 Cub Cadet 526 SWE 31BH54TS, and the $770 Yard Machines 31AM63FF. Being dual-stage, both Craftsman models add an impeller behind the usual auger for throwing out what the auger scoops up. So far they have cleared on par with the other three models—not the best we’ve seen, but more than adequate for their size. And you pay no premium for the quiet operation.

The two models share the same overhead-valve, 208-cc engine, along with 12-inch impellers, electric start, and single-hand operation—which frees you to adjust the chute without pausing. They differ in steering: For the extra $100, the Craftsman 88694 offers trigger-controlled steering that allows for easy turning.

Ready to buy a snow blower now to beat the rush? We’ve got nearly 100 models in our snow blower Ratings, and we're wrapping up tests of a dozen more. Before you shop, be sure to read our buying guide.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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