Snow Joe ASHJ201 Ash Vacuum – Full Review
Snow Joe is a newer brand in the power tools industry, alongside their sister ‘Sun Joe’ product line. Snow Joe’s ASHJ201 ash vacuum cleaner is a basic, entry-level ash vacuum with the base-line requirements for cleaning out a pellet stove, barbecue or fireplace. It would likely be sufficient for small jobs, but some consumers may want to step up to a more powerful model with more accessories for larger jobs.
We’ll walk through some key criteria in this product category and explore how the Snow Joe ASHJ201 stands up against competitors.
Ash vacuums often don’t come with wheels because you’re not going to be walking around with this vacuum. You’re usually operating it in one place, such as beside a fireplace. This model is one of the many models that don’t come with wheels or a wheel dolly. Nonetheless, we do like models that come with wheels for portability’s sake and there are plenty that do.
Seeing as you’ll be carrying it, it’s worth looking at how heavy this model is. And on this metric, this model stands up well. It weighs 8.8 Lbs, which is far lighter than many competitors whose weight runs up into the teens.
Lastly, we look at cord length to assess portability. The cord on this model is 8.5 feet long, which is toward the shorter end. You can get cords between 6 feet and 16 feet long (you could also get a cordless ash vacuum). So, you might need to plug it into an extension cord if there isn’t a power outlet close to your fireplace or pellet stove. This isn’t a deal breaker for us.
So, overall, we give the Snow Joe ASHJ201 ash vacuum mid-range marks for portability.
Suction & Ash Collection
Suction for ash vacuums is never great. That’s because the motors have to work against a two filter dual filtration system which includes the pre-filter and the fine particle filter. This puts strain on the motor, causing it to both run hot and less efficiently. That’s the trade-off for being able to catch fine ash particles!
With that in mind, we like to look at the power of the motor and the collective opinion of consumer reviews to determine the likelihood a consumer will be satisfied with an ash vacuum.
This 500W 4 amp motor is one of the weaker motors in this product category. Many more expensive competitors have 1000-1200W 10 amp motors, so on the motor power metric, this model is definitely at the entry level.
Product reviews are mixed about the power of this vacuum cleaner. Some reviewers have provided positive feedback, while others have complained about the weak suction power. We’d highlight, though, that most ash vacuums have plenty of people complaining about poor suction power – so it’s often just a matter of needing to educate the market about why suction may be weak.
One of the best ways to ensure the suction is as powerful as possible is to clean the filter regularly. And we mean very regularly – after every use. This will put less strain on the motor and maximize suction.
This model has a 4.8 gallon cannister. We’ve seen them as small as 3.5 gallons and large as 6 gallons. But the 4.8 gallon cannister is about standard in this product category and more than enough to clean out a fireplace or pellet stove. Tip the ash out after every use and it should serve the residential user very well.
Note that ash vacuums don’t have bags, but rather allow the ash to fall directly into the cannister itself. This makes it easier to tip out the ash into the garden, but does mean you may need to give the insides of the cannister a scrub from time to time.
Warm Ash Protection
Many people want a vacuum that’ll puck up hot or warm ash. This is not a good idea! Warm ash can damage the hose and filter. The filter, in particular, could easily be burned when embers or hot ash come up against it. So, it’s best to ensure you give the ash 24 hours to cool before removing it with a vacuum cleaner. Even if it looks cool, underneath the surface, that ash stays hot for a long time.
But there are some precautions taken by Snow Joe to help protect the vacuum. First is aluminum intake nozzle, which protects the mouth of the hose. The hose is also metal lined in order to protect the plastic exterior from damage.
Accessories and Blower Settings
Here’s where the Snow Joe ASHJ201 could really have some improvements. We recognize that this vacuum is designed to be affordable – and you’ll save money compared to many other models – but the functionality will also be a little lower.
There are no crevice tools or horsehair brush end provided for this vacuum. You’re essentially stuck with one option: the aluminum nozzle. This can do most of the job, but when it comes to getting into the nooks and crannies of a pellet stove or under the fireplace’s grate, you’ll need a smaller nozzle.
So, we do with this model came with your standard four appliances (including crevice and brush tool) rather than just the aluminum nozzle.
Furthermore, there appears to be no blower settings on this model, whereas many competitors do have blower settings. A blower setting would be another great way to clear out dust from those hard to reach spaces. So overall, we’d have liked to have seen these additional functionalities that are becoming pretty standard in the vacuum cleaner product niche.
Comparison with Major Competitors
|1. PowerSmith PAVC101 All-In-One Ash Vacuum||5 Gallons||16 Feet||Yes|
|2. Bacoeng Advanced Ash Vac||5.3 Gallons||15 Feet||Yes|
|3. Pellethead Ash Vacuum Pro||5 Gallons||12 Feet||Yes|
|4. KIMO Cordless Ash Vacuum||3.5 Gallons||Cordless||Yes|
|5. Shop-Vac 4041300 Ash Vacuum||5 Gallons||6 Feet||No|
|6. Snow Joe ASHJ201 Ash Vacuum||4.8 Gallons||5 Feet||No|
|7. Vacmaster Ash Vacuum||6 Gallons||12 Feet||No|
Frequently Asked Questions
Can an ash vacuum work on hot ash?
Some ash vacuums are able to handle warm ash up to 140F. However, overall we do not advise vacuuming up ash until it has fully cooled to prevent damage to the fragile filters in the vacuum cleaner. 24 hours is a good timespan to wait before clearing out the ash. The exception is, of course, if the ash poses a fire hazard. In this case, you’ll need to take added precautions to protect your own safety.
But overall, no, ash vacuums cannot work on hot ash. They’re designed for lukewarm and cool ash only.
How else could I clean ash from my fireplace?
An ash vacuum is the best option just about every time. But, there are a few other options to tide you by. The first is simply to use a fireplace tray. Get a tray that has a good external lip on it and fits snugly in your hearth. After the ash and tray have cooled, you can simply pick up the tray, take it outside, and sprinkle the cold ashes into the garden (it’s good compost).
You could also use a good old dustpan and broom. There are many companies that offer fireplace tools (they usually come in sets which include dustpans, pokers, tongs and other fireplace tools. Remember again to let the dust cool before using a dustpan and broom.
The Snow Joe ASHJ201 is an entry-level ash vacuum that could work well for the budget conscious consumer, but is not the best model on the market by any means. When stepping up to higher-priced models, look for a more powerful motor, crevice tool accessories, and a wheel dolly for more movability.
To get the Snow Joe Ash Vacuum, check it out on Amazon.