As someone who lived in warm, South Texas for most of her life, having a snow blower (or even a snow shovel or parka for that matter) was never a necessity.
Since I lived in an apartment for my first few years here, snow removal was done for me. I never had to worry about shoveling until now. I recently moved into a house, and I have come to the conclusion that, yes, I’m going to have to do all that work myself this winter. No complimentary snow removal for me anymore, just back-breaking, freezing cold hours of scooping that heavy, white sludge off my driveway and sidewalk…
…Or so I thought, until I saw how convenient snow blowers are. (Well, that is, when my boyfriend isn’t around to do it for me…)
Then came another perilous thought: How in the world am I going to find a snow blower that’s right for me? It’s all easier to understand than I’d anticipated. But first, it’s important to know what you’ll be using it on (surface-wise), how much snow your area typically gets and how much you’re willing to spend.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STAGE SNOW BLOWER
Single-stage snow blower: They use the spinning auger at the front of the machine to break apart snow and throw it through the discharge chute at the top. Since auger blades come in contact with the ground (to help propel the machine), single-stage snow blowers aren’t recommended for clearing unpaved driveways, etc. Single-stage snow blowers are smaller, so they’re easier to maneuver and are great for areas with light snowfall. (This Worx WG650 is a single-stage snow blower, and it can clear snow up to 10″ deep and 18″ wide.)
Two-stage snow blower: They have an auger with an impeller (a fan-like piece that sucks snow out of the auger and pushes it through the chute with more force), and they usually have stronger motors and wider clearing paths. They’re great for handling heavier and wetter snowfall and for larger areas like driveways longer than 40′. Two-stage snow blowers normally have driven wheels that can make sloped walkways easier.
Two-stage snow blowers are typically far more expensive, so unless you’re planning on clearing a very large space that’s covered in a lot of snow, usually a single-stage snow blower is the way to go. For example, this Snow Joe Ultra SJ620 is a single-stage snow blower, but it cuts up to 18″ wide and 10″ deep, so it does the work of a larger snow blower at a fraction of the price.
GAS OR ELECTRIC SNOW BLOWER:
Electric-powered, single-stage snow blowers: They’re more compact (similar to a lawn mower), and they’re ideal for areas that get less snowfall or for smaller homes where it’ll only be used to clear walkways, patios, decks or porches. Electric-powered, single-stage snow blowers are more lightweight than their gas-powered counterparts, and they’re easier to navigate while clearing snow. Plus, their compact size makes them easy to store.
Gas-powered, single-stage snow blowers: They’re a bit heavier than electric snow blowers, but mid-sized, gas-powered, single-stage snow blowers are often easier to maneuver than two-stage snow blowers. Plus, they offer larger front augers to clear more snow per pass, and they handle moderately heavy snow falls easier.
SPECIAL FEATURES TO CONSIDER IN A SNOW BLOWER:
Electric starting: If you have a hard time with pull-start lawn mowers (like me), having a snow blower with an electric starter will come in handy. Usually, an electric-start snow blower will need to be plugged into an outlet via an extension cord. Then, just push the start button, unplug the cord and blast that snow away.
Headlight: For use at night or in poorly lit areas, headlights are a great feature (like this Snow Joe Max SJM988)
Serrated auger: Serrated augers provide a more aggressive cut, and they’re suitable for areas that get heavily packed snow and ice.
Phew… After all that, I think I can finally choose the right snow blower for me, but if you’re still having problems deciding, consider this chart:
There are exceptions to the chart, though, so make sure to do your research so you can find the snow blower that best suits you!
After all that is said and done, and you’ve picked out the snow blower that fits you and your circumstances, make sure to stay safe! Ever year, there are thousands of emergency room visits that are related to injuries caused by using a snow blower. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Injuries most frequently occurred when consumers tried to clear the auger/collector or discharge chute with their hands.” Most snow blowers come with a plastic tool to clear out snow from the chute or auger, and it’s vital to use that instead of your hands! If a clearing tool isn’t available, use a broom handle, and keep those fingers and feet away from any moving parts. Your gloves will be happy house all ten fingers after your driveway is clear!
– Never leave your snow blower running in an enclosed area
– If running an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is
– Don’t add gasoline to a running or hot engine