I was tired of the grueling physicality of snow removal and thought I’d invest in something that would greatly improve my life this winter – a snow blower. Little did I know, all snow blowers are not created equal and I was overwhelmed at all the options and extra add-ons.
So if you’re in the same boat and not sure where to start but are considering purchasing this handy machine that will take the brunt of the back-breaking workload winter makes here is what I learned.
Factors to Determine Before You Buy:
How large an area do you have to regularly clear this winter and how deep is the snow?
- If you’re new to your neighborhood, or just don’t have the best memory it’s wise to look up the average snowfall per year to your area in addition to any long term weather forecast predictions for the season.
- Be realistic about the size of your property and spots that will require regular clearing.
- Budget the ideal time you want to dedicate to the task of snow removal taking into consideration any regional regulations on noise levels and times.
If noise level time restrictions don’t align with the times you aim to plow, it may be worthwhile to consider a model with an extra quiet engine, you can find such models at snowshifts.com which offers a broad collection.
All the Many Different Options
I had no idea there were so many options to get the job done because it can become overwhelming it really is important to determine the first key factors explained about to help narrow down your search.
Single Stage Gasoline Snow Blower
I have a Single Stage Gasoline snow blower. It’s among the most basic models but often all you need to get to the job done if you aren’t bothered with extra fancy add-ons. It’s intended for residential use – think light to moderate snowfalls. Anywhere from 7-13cm. It’s definitely not the bulkiest model, quite easy to handle and on the light side.
This is an ideal machine if you’re just looking to clear your driveway and sidewalks and any smooth surfaces like pavement that won’t give you much trouble with gravel or rocks. The industry standard for path clearing on this ranges from around 30-56cm.
I found a model that came with a multi-directional clearing chute that allowed me to adjust and aim from the operating position. This is an operator guided machine, though I find when I get moving with it – it does get a little momentum slight self-propulsion results from the auger so it seems to pull itself forward. For someone with limited strength like my self, I didn’t find it too challenging.
The auger spins around at high speed chipping up snow and ice, a function that has saved many back-breaking hours and had me inside the warm house in no time. The machine comes complete with a discharge shoot to direct all the collected white stuff wherever you want it to go. I found it pretty easy to get the hang of and I’d never used one before.
Another form of Single Stage I learned about was the Electric version available in corded or cordless. These models are great for all the basic purposes described above and are often a lower price point than gas models.
Electric single stage snow blowers require the least maintenance, no engine oil or gas making them Eco-friendly. They are easy to use with a simple push start button and pretty lightweight and more compact than a lot of the gas models. If you’re looking to maintain a fairly small area such as stairs or a deck this is a perfect portable option for smaller properties.
Second Stage Gasoline Snow Blowers
A second stage gasoline blower does everything a first stage one does of course plus some extras you might need if you live in a heavier snowfall zone and/or have a larger property to maintain. This can help you deal with deeper snowfalls and most manufacturers say it can clear a path anywhere from 50 to 90 cm and can handle a big snowfall upwards of 20cm.
Second Stagers have a lot more self-propulsion and control, they come with either tank-style tracks or engine driven wheels. This one pumps out the collected snow a lot faster from the discharge chute and collects the snow even faster with a high-speed impeller.
These snow blower models typically have adjustable speeds, heights, and reversible transmission. Depending on the area you’ve got to clear – this one can be used on almost any surface which is a big plus. This is a good option if you’re living in a place that sees extreme temperatures, most of these snow blowers come complete with 4-cycle winterized engines that can stand up to cold temps and are designed with freeze-restraint starting mechanisms as well as cooling systems.
You can also choose customizable options on models like this such as electric start mechanisms, drift cutters, heated handgrips which tempted me, headlamps and much more. So these models will cost you more than a basic one, but they also offer a lot more and if you’re living in an unforgiving climate or have a lot of snow clearing ahead of you it may be a game changer to buy yourself one of these.
Three Stage Gasoline Snow Blowers
This is the top tier option, the fastest with the most available custom features and advanced quiet engine power. Ten times faster, saving you time on big jobs fit for driveways upwards of 15 meters long. Models come equipped with power steering allowing smooth overall maneuverability. This is the most souped-up version of a snow blower and something I didn’t require myself but was impressed by nonetheless.
Snow Blower Maintenance
Once you’ve done your research and taken the leap congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a new snow blower! Winter won’t be as daunting now that you’ve got it dialed. By investing in whatever version of this machine you found best for you, you can now invest your time and energy into other more important things. A couple things I’ve learned from my first season that might be useful to first time owners:
To unclog your snow blower (because it happens) a broom handle has worked in the past for me or something similar. Whatever you do – DO NOT attempt to unclog the auger with just your hands which can cause injury even when the snow blower is completely turned off.
I didn’t know initially how important it was to clean as much residual snow off my machine as I could after each use. I kept finding it covered in ice – which I read up on and discovered was likely from leftover snow melting from engine heat and then freezing over top once I stored it. I use the snow brush from my car and it works just fine though I’ve heard of some sticklers going so far as to use compressed air to really cover it.
That’s it! Now happy snow blowing!