I Thought This Was A Gag...

... but I am increasingly convinced it is real.  Somehow I got on the mailing list of the "Environmental New Network" and got this press release:

Eco-Friendly Snow Thrower Is Alternative To Belching Snow Blowers

Sno Wovel Quietly Outperforms Snow Blowers Without Emissions, Noise, Strain

New Canaan, CT. November  9, 2009 -- Structured Solutions II LLC announced the launch of their newly-designed wheeled snow shovel this fall. The Sno Wovelâ„¢ is the only non-combustion alternative snow removal device performing equal to or better than a snow blower. The all new folding frame Sno Wovelâ„¢ debuts in a new category of hybrid tools, combining safety for the user, protection of the environment and high-performance. No fuel, fumes and deafening noise to harm the environment or the operator "“ no electric cords to tangle with. The Sno Wovel is 2-3 times faster than shoveling and comes with a folding frame design for easy and portable storage.

wovel1



This seems like a fairly unsatisfying alternative to a big honkin' snow blower, but I live in Phoenix so what do I know?

  • Flatland

    Yeah, I live in MN and wouldn't even consider switching this for a regular snow shovel. There is no way this can handle more than 2-3 inches.

  • Craig

    Looks like it might work for 3 inches of fluffy snow, but not real snow.

  • http://www.bestmutualfundsnow.com Vanguard Funds

    I agree that there is no chance it can handle that much.

  • Mike C.

    If you can do a better job with that than you can with a snow blower, you should get somebody to show you how to use a snow blower. Maybe turning it on would help.

  • Mark

    I don't see how it is an improvement over a regular shovel. For those in warmer climates - Most of the time you aren't throwing the snow with the shovel, most of what you do is push the shovel back and forth across the pavement to push the snow to the edges, that is exactly what this device does, but then when you are done with this device you are going to have to go in get, the shovel and shovel snow from the edges anyway.

    It seems less useful then a snow shovel in other words.

  • NJconservative

    Shoveling snow is a common precipitator of heart attacks. What is the cost difference between the environmental damage that a power snow blower causes, and the bypass and week in the hospital after a heart attack? Or, if you are unlucky, the years of lost wages if the heart attack kills you?

  • CoderInCrisis

    I live in Wisconsin. I bought a medium-sized snow blower about 4 years ago when we moved into our house (single-stage Honda, and it wasn't cheap). Last year I bought a big honkin' snow blower because we get enough big snowfalls every year (4-5 of 6 inches or more) that the snow blower I already had just didn't cut it. Lake Michigan winters would laugh derisively at the contraption pictured, all while dumping a foot of wet, heavy snow on you as fast as possible.

    Pushing the snow to the edges of the driveway works only if you haven't already got a big snow bank on the sides of the driveway, at which point you start throwing the snow with the shovel. Or, like the saner folks among us, fire up the big honkin' snow blower. Something like 26" clearing width, 20" high intake, 2-stage, 5 forward speeds (though only the first 2-3 are useful when clearing snow). Shoveling is for people that don't get much snow or like to suffer in the 15-degree weather at 6:00am in February.

  • CoderInCrisis

    Oh, and as far as the environment, most if not all modern small engines (not real small, like chainsaws and such, but lawn mowers) are four-stroke, so they don't burn oil like the old ones did. We're even starting to see four-stroke line trimmers. As for fuel, it it astounding how long a snow blower can run on a pint of gas. I realize that to an environmental alarmist burning any fuel is bad, but on the scale of environmental problems snow blowers don't even register.

  • Paul

    Living in Wisconsin, I have lots of experience with both snow blowing and snow shoveling. The Wovel may be better than a regular snow shovel but there's no way it beats a snow blower; especially when you've got 4 or more inches of snow on your driveway.

    I hanging on to my snow blower until Al Gore takes it from my cold, dead hands.

  • morganovich

    now, obviously, the CO2 efficiency is greatly dependent upon the diet of the user. if you insist on eating evil, inefficient meat, well, then you're really not helping gaia as much as you could, are you...?

    also: take this shovel to my tahoe house where we get snow in 3 foot dumps, and you won't even be able to throw it into piles with the silly thing.

  • K

    A solution in search of a problem? Who knows?

    There are some details and rave reviews at:

    http://www.activeforever.com/p-1484-sno-wovel-wheeled-snow-shovel.aspx?CMPID=G_IndLiv_Wovel_sno%20wovel&gclid=CLHksd3e_p0CFSQNDQodnXy0pg&

    My guess is to stick with a snow shovel. It is simpler, takes less storage room, and will cost less. For places regularly getting heavy snowfalls a shovel made with very light materials is probably worth the extra cost.

    As to the Sno Wovel: the advantage of a cycle-type device would be to employ the strong leg muscles instead of the weaker arms and back. But this design must be pushed so it discards some of that advantage.

    And it looks as if the wheel must maintain traction with the ground to force rotation. But we are talking about icy or snowy ground or sidewalk or pavement which offers little traction.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    Having spent a few winter weeks in a part of Japan that gets a lot of small snow falls, but few huge ones (Kamioka area), I was impressed with the performance of the push-frame shovels they have around there: an ordinary(ish) snow shovel blade is fixed to the bottom of a frame with pushbars and waist and foot height. It can be easily rammed through the snow until it accumulated 10-12 inches on the blade, then dumped to the side of the path. It works quickly and efficiently for the snow they get there, and it is stable enough to catch yourself on if you slip.

    But it is not a substitute for a snow blower.

  • argonaut

    This looks like it'd take too much effort to move.

    We always used a yooper scooper in northern MI and it worked quite nice.

  • Ben

    Ok, I'll admit it, I actually own one.

    Having used both a snow blower and a standard shovel, I would put the wovel squarely between the two in ease of use.

    I live in a climate where we don't get much more than 3" of snow at any one time, so the wovel actually ends up being only slightly slower than a blower, and I do still get a little exercise, though not the back breaking kind a standard shovel gives.

    I mostly bought it because I couldn't justify the cost and storage of a full blower for the medium amounts of snow we get.

  • Allen

    Unfortunately this thing is real. I can't believe anyone who's ever shoveled snow would bother to far in it's general direction, let alone buy one.

    Check out the video they have on their site :
    http://www.wovel.com/

    Anyone who's shoveled for an extended period of time knows that the last things you want is to be pushing that hard, that high. You want to use your legs. This thing looks like it's designed to make your arms /shoulders soar for a bit, only to let you forget out about your arms / shoulders once you're back starts to hurt. It's not just the pressure from pushing snow that high but that violent flinging motion at the end. Exactly how the hell is that better than shoveling? At least with a shovel I'm close to the weight and can stoop and make sure to use my legs to lift and throw it. I'm not sure how much energy is "saved" by this but I'd guess all he energy used for a few back surgeries more than make up for the small amount of fuel used by a snow blowre.

    And note that pansy ass wheel. That wheel they have on there is going to slide all over the place if it's at all slipery or, worse, if you have to turn. For a wheel that works in snow, check out a Pugsly and it's extra fat tires : http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ttmJ_nLqvnA/SWWZwkVPDzI/AAAAAAAAEhI/HgFzqDwgst0/s400/Jill&Pugsly%5B2%5D.jpg .

  • Tom Nally

    When you relocate a "load" to an alternate location, it requires a certain amount of energy. You might have to lift the load against gravity, and/or you might have to push the load against friction. When shoveling snow, this energy comes from biochemical activity within your body.

    The device pictured above provides a lever, but it doesn't bring any "new" energy into the work effort. (For example, no fuel is consumed, no stored hydraulic or pneumatic force is released, no stored spring energy is released in service to the work effort.)

    If it does provide a benefit, perhaps it is this: the user doesn't have to lift a load of snow up to waist-level in order to carry it to the side of the user's driveway. Instead, perhaps all you have to do is lift the load one or two inches, then wheel to the edge of your driveway, then dump. In other words, to clear your driveway, perhaps you don't have to impart as much gravitational potential energy to the snow in order to relocate it. Therefore, you no longer need as much stored chemical energy that is normally converted into gravitational potential energy held briefly by the snow.

    Also, if it helps the shoveler to avoid continually bending at the waist, that is another load -- the shoveler's upper torso -- that no longer needs conversion of chemical energy into gravitational potential energy over and over and over.

    Of course, if the tool is awkward to use, then the energy savings might not be worth it.

    Obviously, I'm just guessing here.

    ---Tom Nally, New Orleans

  • Ariel

    Ah, nothing like the 19th Century. Even has that quaint Victorian look to it. I think I'll start framing a business plan to make buggy whips...

  • Michael

    I don't see any kind of mechanical multiplier on the thing. Physics is working against it but it seems like every year someone releases a new shovel designed to defy the laws of physics. Take God for the gullible.

  • Douglas2

    It looks like the doubters above have never used it.
    One news report I saw had an owner who purchased one after a back injury from an auto accident. He found that he could still clear the snow and do so in a third less time than he had with a standard shovel before the bad back.
    This is exactly why stores with user-reviews and magazines like Pop Mechanics are so useful, because if such a thin IS what you think you are looking for you can investigate whether users find an advantage in its use or find it to be just another snake oil purchase.

    I've got a rain-gutter that overflows in heavy downpours, and probably should add another downspout trenched to the drywell. But if the siphon "Gutter Pump" devices would really increase throughput of my existing downspouts, I could save the money, time, and backbreaking labor. So like most commenters above re: the Wovel, I'm skeptical about the "Gutter Pump". If it really did work as claimed, however, the $15 would be well worth it for me.

  • Dr. T

    "For places regularly getting heavy snowfalls a shovel made with very light materials is probably worth the extra cost."

    It depends on how you use the shovel. For "plowing" heavy snow, a shovel with a heavy blade is better. For tossing snow as far as possible, a light shovel is better.

    The wheel/shovel combination has too many limitations: 1. It is for pushing snow, not throwing to the side, so it won't work when there's lots of snow piled up along the driveway or sidewalk. 2. It can only handle a few inches of snow. 3. Light, fluffy snow will just float down behind it. 4. It won't work on gravel or dirt driveways.

    For those with back problems, instead of buying the Wovel, I recommend the snow removing devices known as neighborhood teens with shovels.

  • hedberg

    When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I was one of those neighborhood kids with a shovel. I shoveled a lot of snow and don't think I knew anybody who owned a blower. I doubt if I ever saw one back then.

    No, this device won't save any energy, but it will allow somebody to shovel snow using different mechanics. Watch the video and see how a trained user "throws" the snow. You get a lot of forward momentum and then at the right time push down hard on the handle. So, instead of lifting the shovel and throwing, you're pushing the device forward and then pushing down. Still doing the same work, but you don't lift the snow from a crouching or bending position, which is hard on your back and arms. You push down hard on the handle and then recover from the small crouch you must enter with your legs. So, your essentially trading deep knee bends for shallow knee bends with a push. Also, the act of filling the shovel is different. With the wheeled device, you're standing mostly upright and pushing mostly with your legs. When using a normal shovel, you're bending down and using your arms.

    So, I don't know how practical this thing would be in a snowy Wisconsin winter -- whether or not it would work with all the different sorts of snow you might see and whether or not it would work with very deep snow. But, it looks like it might be useful a lot of the time and when it's not up to the task, there are those neighborhood kids. Probably they have a blower these days rather than shovels.

  • hedberg

    Just a comment about the dangers to old guys of shoveling snow: there are worse ways to go than collapsing in your driveway on a cold winter's day. Much rather go out with a snow shovel in my hands than in a hospital bed with an IV needle in my arm and a catheter hose up my hose.

  • Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    As a highly experienced snow shoveler, I can say it is a nice gimmick, good for small amounts of light snow, but nothing beats 7HP or so of snow blower with chains on powered wheels and a really big catch area.

    And nothing beats hiring a guy with a truck & plow to "take care of business" while I sit indoors.

  • Tom Nally

    The common tool to which this thing is comparable is the "dolly".

    Dolly's don't bring any "new" energy into the work task either. But, (1) dollies do provide a lever, (2) they do allow loads to be relocated by lifting them only a few inches off the floor (instead of waist high), and (3) they do provide wheels to avoid some of the work effort that would otherwise be lost to friction.

    So, that's where the advantage takes place: you don't have to work so much against friction, and/or you don't have to work as hard against the pull of mother Earth.

    ---Tom Nally

  • http://www.cogfactory.net colson

    Lemme guess - the engineer who designed it lives in... Southern California?

  • Michel

    Tom's point is valid. If you are going to scoop, wheel and drop the Wovel might be useful, but it isn't going to beat a snow blower.

    The Gutter Pump is just a fancy downspout screen and still requires you to clean out your gutters.

  • D in CA

    Snow?

  • Bobby L

    Well, *everyone* knows that the human body burns energy with near perfect efficiency, so replacing an internal combustion engine that does the work in a quarter of the time with the human body's energy system totally breaks unity....

  • AZ Star Geezer

    The least they could have done was put a SNOW TIRE on the stupid thing!

  • Allen

    I'd rather put the $150 toward a nice snow blower or just live with shoveling.

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    Or just live next to the ocean in San Diego. It's 75 degrees out right now, and it hasn't snowed here since before I was born. Of course, we do have to put up with living in a state run by mongoloid idiots.

  • An Observer

    I live in Buffalo, NY. Need I even comment?

  • ERS

    ERS, You'd likely do better if California actually was run by people with Down's Syndrome. You really insulted them by comparing them to California legislators and administers.

  • Ariel

    somehow I assumed the ERS moniker.

  • Stupid Wovel

    Stupid Wovel!

    It'll never work.

    Never tried it, only seen picture.