Honda HS720 review: First Impressions - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-12-2014, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Honda HS720 review: First Impressions

***cross-posted by request from the Honda Snowblowers Forum***

I live just north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and my neck of the woods received about 20 cm of snow (not overly wet as the ambient temperature was about -5 degrees Celsius).

I had previously owned a Toro PowerClear 180 Single Stage snowblower with an electric start for 6 years and finally sold it after having to bring it back to the shop for repairs almost every year for gas leaking. Yes, this model was under the Toro recall back in 2010 and I did everything I could to prevent leaks from using premium ethanol free gas, a little splash of fuel injector cleaner to keep the carb clean and running the snowblower gas tank empty at the end of year. Despite the frequent carb needle replacements, Toro fuel line and carb kit replacements, this little guy kept leaking fuel at the beginning of the year and I finally got sick of it. The Home Hardware guys indicated to me that this one model was problematic and otherwise Toro snowblowers were generally reliable.

Kudos to Perkins Home Hardware in Markham for providing excellent service for this snowblower. It was my very first snowblower and despite the fuel leak, I quite enjoyed using this little guy for clearing the driveway of our first home.

On to my recent purchase (and reasons why I bought the Honda HS720C) and my first experience with it:

Background:

1. I have a 5-6 car driveway with asphalt surface.
2. My city has plow service so I have to deal with end of driveway (EOD) muck for both the street and sidewalk that intersects my driveway.
3. I got sick of leaking gas and bringing my snowblower in at the beginning of every season for hardware service.
4. Learned that unless you have a physical impairment that makes it difficult to pull a recoil cable, it's not work paying for an electric start because of the hassle to take out and put away the extension cord to the blower.
5. Psychologically, the poor experience I had with the Toro PowerClear 180 turned me off of buying Toro outdoor power products. I get it was probably a problem with this one model, Toro handled it well, but sometimes emotion overcomes logic for decision making.

Despite #5, I did look at the Toro 721QZR and Honda HS720C as they were in roughly the same price bracket in Canada.

Pros for the 721QZR:

1. Moderately cheaper as the price is WYSIWYG - no PDI or freight chargers
2. The chute control when displayed on the floor is very light to the touch
3. Slightly bigger engine than the Honda HS720 (212cc vs 190cc)

Cons for the 721QZR:

1. Remote chute control for left to right rotation, only manual control for up and down (means you must walk around the snowblower to adjust) - the up down control was exactly the same as the PowerClear 180; easy to use mechanism to move and lock the chute head into position.
2. Requires manual priming of fuel with a fuel bulb. Must take off gloves to do this.
3. Manual knobs for handle folding is pro or con depending on your needs. If you have small storage spaces and need to fold down the handles frequently, this would be a pro. It was a con for me as I found these manual knobs loosened quite easily and I have to tighten them up every time I used the Toro. Not a dealbreaker.
4. Harder to access sparkplug and oil drain.

Pros for the HS720C

1. Chute director controls gives you full control for direction of snow throwing. Left/right and up/down.
2. Fuel line supply is controlled by a simple on/off switch.
3. Easy access to oil drain and spark plug.

Cons for the HS720C

1. Slightly heavier than the 721QZR
2. Chute controls seem tighter on the display floor and not as light to the touch as the Toro 721QZR. But not as difficult as described in some internet posts. I don't know what all the fuss is about; it's not like I have to take two hands and lean on the control to move the thing. The Toro 721QZR is definitely easier to rotate left and right, but some may feel that it's too easy - you can definitely overshoot which direction you point the Toro's chute vs the Honda's pull, slide and lock mechanism.

I bought the HS720C based on the fact that I was looking for reliability and seen enough posts and reviews to give the Honda snowblower a try and the pros that worked for my situation: 1. Fuel line switch (psychological decision). 2. Full chute control (going up and down a driveway results in lots of chute direction changes as you change directions at each end)

My initial impressions on first use:

1. I had lubed the rubber cuff around the chute with white lithium grease as described in other posts. Made a moderate, noticeable improvement while in the garage, in use, the chute was very easy to move left and right, up and down.
2. I had tightened the handle to remove play, than 1/4 turn to tighten as described in other posts. No excess vibration noted by me. I used for 30 minutes with mitts on, no complaints.
3. I could see the benefits of the bigger motor compared to my 87cc Powerclear 180. When tilted, the HS720 easily got rid of the compressed snow from car tires on my driveway, I could never do that with the little PowerClear 180.
4. Easy to start, I started the Honda with one pull. My PowerClear 180 needed 3 or 4 pulls to get going.
5. No EOD muck to test how much power the Honda could generate. Will have to wait and see. My PowerClear 180 stalled quite a bit on the EOD stuff meaning I had to tackle in smaller "chunks" to avoid stalling.
6. Heavier than my PowerClear 180, but still easy to maneuveur.

So far, so good. I'm sure the Toro 721QZR is a fine machine.

For me, the HS720 is a clear and welcome upgrade over my little Toro PowerClear 180 in the first real snow of the year.
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Last edited by miwo76; 12-12-2014 at 03:54 PM. Reason: added photos
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-12-2014, 08:39 PM
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Once again a great review, well done.
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-12-2014, 08:58 PM
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Welcome to the forum Miwo

Very through review. Thanks

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Make sure the windows are up before the snow plow goes by !!

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post #4 of 9 Old 12-15-2014, 05:54 PM
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Thanks for the review. One thing I'd like to ask. Does the 720 require much operator effort to propel it? I had a Toro Snow Commander, and just recently gave away a Ariens Sno-Tek single stage because they both required some heavy effort pushing to clear just 3-4" of snow. This was from day one when the paddles were fresh. Also there was no adjustment on the Sno-Tek to increase the amount of paddle friction.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-16-2014, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Can't say it took any effort at all to propel it. Slight tilt and away it went. Felt it propelled better than the Toro Powerclear 180, probably because of the larger motor
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-18-2014, 06:26 AM
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Great!!!
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-19-2014, 08:18 PM
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Thanks that's exactly what i needed to know.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-28-2015, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Finally had a couple of heavier snowfalls with the city plows coming by and leaving some end of driveway (EOD) muck.

Took the HS720 out and it got rid of it pretty easily. The bigger motor in the HS720 becomes very evident compared to my little 87cc PowerClear 180. In the past, if attempted to clear the EOD pile, I would have to be careful how much I could tackle in a single pass. If I attempted to take it on buy doing anything any more than 1/2 width of the PowerClear 180's clearing width, I would almost guarantee stalling the little guy. I learned to take the EOD by shovelling a small gap towards to the street so I could fit in the PowerClear 180 for lengthwise passes. I had to shovel as the 180 would stall quite frequently especially with EOD stuff left overnight to harden up a little. I still beat shovelling it all by hand, but I did have to make adjustments to try and prevent the 180 from stalling while using it: smaller, slower passes and being resigned to having it stall from time to time.

The HS720 fixed all that for me. Enough power that I have yet to stall it and it chews up EOD muck like butter compared to the PowerClear 180.

I suppose a two stage blower would be even better with EOD stuff, but for my purposes, the HS720's lighter weight and maneuverability make all the difference for quickly clearing out my suburban driveway.
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-12-2015, 09:03 PM
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miwo76,

When you engage the auger, does the 720 start moving forward immediately or do you have to tilt it to make the auger contact the pavement and begin to move?
Also I have seen videos of some people using this machine and watched it kind of going a bit sideways and sort of not staying in a straight line. Could just be due to an inexperienced operator, I don't know, but I could see if you have to tilt it forward so much that the wheels come off the pavement that the unit could sort of "float around" instead of staying straight. I also noticed that Consumer Reports didn't give it the highest rating for handling (although still above average) as it did to some other single stage machines. I know that they are not the ultimate authority on snowblowers but can you comment as to what they might have been seeing with handling issues? I have this machine on my short list as well so I would appreciate any feedback you might have to these questions. Thanks.
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