2015 Craftsman Quiet 26 Inch Snow Thrower Model 88694 Review

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2014 Craftsman Quiet 26 in 208 cc Model 88694 Two-Stage Snow Blower Review

Is This The Best Snow Blower For You? 

Not only is this snow blower easy to use, it is one of the quietest 2-stage snow blowers on the market.  This is the snow blower you should buy for you wife and grandmother (not the cheap small one) This snow blower is so easy to use if you can walk behind this unit, you can use it. Why? Because the snow blower has power steering, it is balanced well and the controls are easy to use. You drive this snow blower with two small levers under the handles. No manhandling an awkward, heavy machine.  No locked up solid axle that requires you to skid the wheels to turn. No “pin-lock” differential that leaves you with no traction in heavy or slippery areas.

MovingSnow's Best Buy Craftsman 88691

MovingSnow’s Best Buy Craftsman 88691

This is the best value snow blower on the market with this feature. And it’s not a bad machine either.  This Craftsman 26 inch snow blower will easily handle 9-14 inches or more snow on a 2-3 car drive 80 to 100 feet long. Yetit is small enough so it will fit through the side door of your garage.

by: Paul Sikkema

Hearing damage is not reversible, so its prevention should be taken seriously.

The new Craftsman 88694 and 88972 set a new environmental standard of being 45% quieter than last years 88691 and 88970.

Background: When noise levels in the workplace reach 85 decibels (dB) or higher, OSHA requires employers to take steps to reduce this hazard and prevent hearing loss in employees. At that level of sound, people typically have to shout to hear each other, and hearing damage can begin to occur if the exposure persists. Many municipalities are also creating noise ordinances. Each community addresses noise issues in its own way, and noise ordinances often reflect local concerns and peculiarities. Some are vague and subjective; others may explicitly define maximum decibel levels that are allowed at certain specified times of day. A typical gas powered snow blower can be as loud as 90 db. (Lawn mowers 92 db) It is a good practice for you as a homeowner to also be aware of loud equipment and reduce your noise exposure whenever possible.

20141015_142824 For reference, a normal conversation can be about 70 dB, a typical gas powered two-stage snow blower is 90 dB and a jackhammer is 130 dB. At higher levels, damage to hearing can occur much more quickly than at lower decibels. The decibel scale is logarithmic, so as the number increases it does so exponentially. For example, if a circular saw operates at 107 dB and another operates at 96 dB, the noise energy of the second saw is 90 percent less than the first saw, meaning it’s a lot quieter (although it’s still very loud). Manufactures are encouraged to create new quieter products under the Buy Quiet Program.

What is Buy Quiet? Buy Quiet is a prevention initiative by the CDC which encourages companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce worker noise exposure. This is accomplished when new businesses start up or when older equipment is replaced. Buy Quiet provides information on equipment noise levels, so companies can buy quieter products that make the workplace safer. It also encourages manufacturers to design quieter equipment by creating a demand for quieter products.

What does this have to do with snow blowers? The other review sites have not realized that you and I not only want a snow blower that will move lots of snow (or sawdust in the case of one review site) a long distance but that we also want a snow blower with ergonomic and environmental features.  The new Craftsman 88694 and 88972 sets a new environment standard of being 45% quieter than last years 88691 and 88970. In fact these snow blowers are so quiet that they are below the OSHA threshold for hearing protection. Craftsman has not officially stated that they are now selling products under the Buy Quiet initiative but with the introduction of the Quiet Mower this year and now the 88694 and 88972 Quiet snow blowers they are one of the first retailers to assist you in helping to keep you neighborhood quieter and more environmentally friendly.

My Opinion: Craftsman designed this new snow blower the right way. They re-engineered the engine so it now gives you a lot less noise but doesn’t lower the power.  Even though the muffler is huge compared to the old muffler, it doesn’t take up any more room on the snow blower. One of the benefits of this new design is the fuel tank is also relocated and is larger then the old version. 

The rest of the Model 88694 snow blower is the same high quality machine that you are used to with the previous Model 88691. Since the only items that have changed are the fuel tank and muffler we will not have to take a wait-and-see on this snow blower. It has the same quality and durability you expect from Craftsman. 

I am giving this snow blower my “Best Buy” rating.

Quiet power steering front What makes this snow blower a “best buy”?

  • Power steering makes this snow blower one of the easiest to use. Two small levers under the handles let you “steer” this snow blower with your fingers. This method is the easiest way to manuever a 26 inch snow blower.
  • Poly skid shoes that don’t mark your new patio or stained driveway yet are as tough as the steel shoes on other brands.
  • Quiet Engine. This engine is 45% quieter than last years model.
  • The efficient Overhead Valve motor with electric start is sized to get you job done quickly and efficiently.
  • Large, deep tread tires. These tires will give you the traction you need to clean your drive, sidewalks, patio and go out and clean a spot off the lawn for your dog.
  • Extended chute with Single handed 4-way chute control with a lifetime warranty. The chute is so tough you can drive over it with a pickup and not damage it. (Try that with a metal chute) It is slippery so snow does not stick to it and it will not rust.
  • This snow blower by Craftsman is a great snow thrower at a “value” price. If you follow Craftsman you know this size has been around for a few years now and is one of the best rated snow blowers on the market. It is very popular because of the size, features and the affordable price. This machine is a proven winner and it will last for years if properly taken care of.

What you can use this snow blower for: For paved and gravel surfaces, patios, sidewalks and walkways. Will do grass pathways and trails. All types of snow including heavy, wet blizzard snow. It has tires large enough so you can go out in the back yard and clean a spot off for your dogs or make a path out to the storage shed. You can use this to clean your patio and deck and the poly skid shoes will not scratch the surface. This snow blower is a good choice if you have a stained concrete drive. It handles the occasional 12 inch and deeper snow falls. The six forward and two reverse speeds will let you go slow for the heavy stuff and faster for the lighter snows. If you regularly get 14-20 inch snow look for a snow blower with a larger motor.

This Snow Blower Id New. Can You Trust It? In reality this snow blower has been sold now for at least 4 years and has a proven track record of being a very reliable and capable machine. Only the gas tank and the muffler on the engine were changed for 2014. This snow blower is one of the best Craftsman has ever sold. Of course if you use a fuel stabilizer and take care of the machine it will be one of the best you have owned.

What you may not like: This snow blower is 26 inches wide and will probably fit through the side door of your garage. If you have to go through that side door to move snow make sure the door is at least 30 inches wide. It only has a 208cc engine. This engine has plenty of power for “midwest” snows but if you live in a snow belt please look at a snow blower with a larger engine.

Owners of the 4-way chute control on this unit either love it…..or hate it. What most owners don’t understand is the control is actually designed to use the palm of your hand to release the chute and your forearm to move it from side to side. In other words with your left hand reach over the top of the control handle and grasp the knob like the end of a baseball bat. Squeeze the red button like you are making a fist. Use your forearm to move the handle from side to side for the chute rotation and push it forward and back for the deflector. This works very well because you use the strength of your forearm to change the rotation of the chute, but it does take some getting used to.

Sears is the Official On-Line Retailer: Click Here To See Current Price, Order Online, Pick Up at your local Sears store, or have it delivered to your home: Quiet 208cc Dual-Stage Snowblower Check out the “Special Offers” tab at sears.com to get the best deal online.

Be Careful! This snow blower is sold through Sears and Sears.com! You may find other “factory-direct discount” stores and websites trying to sell it, but make sure they are authorized Sears sales representatives.

This Will Be One Of The Best Rated Snow Blowers for 2012 – 2014? There are no reviews on sears.com at the moment but I expect new owners to like this snow blower a lot.  Why? Because it has been around longer than most. In reality only the gas tank and muffler have changed.  This snow thrower has had many upgrades over the years and has been rated as one of the best snow blowers for the last two years. The drive system has been around for many years and is one of the most dependable around. The transmission is proven reliable on this size. The impeller, auger gearbox and shear pin system has proven itself over the years.

Read on to learn more:

20141015_142750 Does This Get a Best Snow Blower Rating For 2012-2014? Using the Good, Better, Best rating system this snow blower rates a “Best” for ease of use, durability and long life. 4-Way remote chute, electric start, adequate engine all factor into this “best” rating. It uses a strong Craftsman motor that has plenty of power for it’s 26 inch size and 9-21 inches of snow. In fact the motor is one of the most dependable on the market today.  Don’t be afraid to buy this snow blower if it fits your needs.

Is This One Of The Best Snow Blowers for the Money? I normally don’t give you my opinion, but I do expect owners to like this machine. This is one of the “best values” on the market for 2014. Craftsman has kept the price about the same as last year and it will be very hard to find a comparable snowthrower from the other brands for a similar price. If you want an easy to use 26 inch snow blower seriously look at this machine.

Customer Satisfaction: No one has reviewed this snow blower on sears.com yet but I know the overall customer satisfaction will be great if you remember to do 2 things. First, always use a fuel stabilizer or fresh non-ethanol fuel. If you are going to leave your snow blower sit for more than 2 weeks use a fuel stabilizer. Today’s gas is designed for auto use, not for these small engines. Second, buy extra shear pins now! The auger system is designed to be protected from damage by the shear pins breaking and if you replace one with a bolt you stand the chance of destroying your auger gearbox. Third, get used to it before the first snow. Go out and play with the chute control, learn to start it, and practice with it.

I am not going to tell you to buy a protection plan, but todays fuels are not designed to be used in small engines and Sears is the ONLY retailer that will repair fuel related problems if you have the optional protection plan. For less than the cost of one carburetor repair you can have 5 years of protection that includes wear and tear.

Here are a few tips to get the best out of this snowblower. 1. Read the operator’s manual and familiarize yourself with the operation of the machines BEFORE you have to blow snow with it. 2. The 3 or 5 year home protection plan can be a great value. Sears will fix your snow blower and give the satisfaction that it will work for you for the 3 or 5 years. If they can’t repair it they will replace it for free.  3. Practice using the chute so you really understand how to use it. The deflector has a tensioning adjustment that you can change it for light or heavy, wet snow. 4. When you get your new blower home, get it out of the box, learn how to start it and practice with it before the first snow. Take it out and drive it around the driveway. (If there is a manufacturing issue, you will find it now instead of when the snow is 12 inches deep.) 5. Use a fuel stabilizer like Stabil (Marine) or Seafoam. Put it in your gas can when you fill it at the pump.

Value: At around $899 it is a good value. Watch for special “Shop Your Way Rewards” sales, no interest or cash back with a Sears Card, Family & Friends, and Midnight Madness Sales. Check out the “Special Offers” tab at sears.com to get the best deal online

Service & Parts Availability: Service – With this snow blower you have the choice of calling 1-800-4MY-Home and have a tech come out and fix it OR take it to your local Sears and they will have it serviced for you. With a protection plan either way is no-charge to you. Parts – I have a 21 year old Craftsman snow blower that I use every year. All the parts for it are still available through searspartsdirect.com.  Parts are available now for your new snowthrower and I expect them to be available 15-20 years from now.

Ask me in the comments below and I will show you how easy it is to get your parts. It is not hard to get parts for your Craftsman snow blower and the motor.

20141015_142627 Ease Of Use: This snow blower has the 4-way chute and power steering. You will like the control you get with the extended chute and the fact that snow does not blow back all over you as much. This uses a “power steer” drive system. There is no differential so both wheels drive all the time giving you the best traction. When you want to turn just pull the trigger under the handle and the snow blower turns for you. No “manhandling”  If you have back problems or a physically smaller than average I suggest buying this snow blower. It is balanced well so you if you do have to lift up the front to go over an obstruction you easily can do it. Under normal snow removal conditions you will appreciate the traction and agility this unit has. The extended chute allows you to put the snow exactly where you want it.

Key Features and Benefits: (From Sears.com)

  • Craftsman 208cc Quiet engine – 45% quieter.
    • Move more snow with a more powerful engine and save time out in the cold. This 26 in. Craftsman® Dual-Stage Snowblower has a 208cc* 4-cycle OHV engine, EZ Steer for better maneuverability and 4-way chute control.
    • 208cc* 4-cycle OHV Craftsman® engine provides more power, longer life, and improved fuel economy – no mixing of gas and oil required.
  • Push-button electric start allows for easy and sure starts in cold temperatures
  • 26 in. clearing width and 21 in. intake height lets you clear more snow with each pass, ideal for medium to large paved and gravel driveways and sidewalks
  • 12 in. serrated steel auger and 12 in. impeller breaks up hard-packed snow and discharges heavy, wet snow
  • 6 forward and 2 reverse, power-propelled speeds save time and energy, allowing operator to adjust speeds to match need
  • 4 Way chute control – 190 degree chute rotation control with the ease of a joystick to discharge the snow where you want it, without leaving the operator’s position
  • Extended chute design keeps a tighter discharge pattern to increase throwing distance and reduce snow blow back
  • 15 in. x 5 in. X-Trac tires provide superior traction in heavy snow conditions
  • Deluxe Glide-Tech™ skid shoes eliminate garage rust stains and driveway damage, by sliding along pavers and bricks
  • Single hand operation eliminates starts and stops, freeing up a hand for on-the-go adjustments
  • Mitten-grip starter handle – easy to grasp and turnover recoil start while wearing gloves
  • Plow style handles for comfort and control with panel design for convenient shear pin storage
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Limited lifetime warranty on upper and lower chute

Click Here To See Current Price, Order Online, Pick Up at your local Sears store, or have it delivered to your home: Quiet 208cc Dual-Stage Snowblower Check out the “Special Offers” tab at sears.com to get the best deal online

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