We have been receiving an increasing number of inquiries lately from people asking about which snow blowers are best suited for a person with small hands or limited use of their hands. This came as a surprise to us at first but after seeing the number of people complaining about the difficulty of handling larger snow blowers, we have decided to try to help out with this simple guide to buying a snow blower for people with smaller hands or limited ability in their hands.
There is one caveat to this guide, most of the people who contacted us were interested in purchasing larger snow blowers that could handle more, wet and deeper snow. If you only need a simple single-stage snow blower for light jobs, most of these come with what the industry considers to be "ergonomic" handles or control grips. See our How To Choose The Right Snow Blower guide or use our Snow Blower Selector.
Unfortunately, when it comes to snow blowers, the bigger the machine, the bigger the control handles. As previously stated, most single-stage snow blowers are usually fitted with smaller "ergonomic" handles. This is of little help if you need to clear a larger area or deep, wet snow. The problem is compounded if you have smaller hands, have limited ability with your hands or arthritis in your hands. Gripping the control handles can be impossible - especially while wearing thick gloves.
In years past, when you get into the two and three-stage units, most manufacturers simply used the same control handles no matter what the size of the machine. This is mainly due to the handles being an extension of the metal tubing that is used to construct the frame of the unit. In addition, these control handles usually have safety paddles/switches that must be held to the handle for the unit operate. (Never attempt to by-pass these safety measures)
Luckily we can report that this is changing and there are a few larger units out there fitted with smaller "tube" style control handles. This is great for anyone with small hands or with limited ability in using their hands. Manufacturers have also added additional control features that may make handling their machines easier for people with smaller hands.
Depending on your budget, there are several options that you could look for ranging from simple tube handles all the way up to a unit with power steering and an auto-turning function.
At the very least you should look for a snow blower that is self-propelled. This mean that the engine that turns the blades also turns the wheels so you do have to push the snow blower into the snow bank. Be fore-warned, most single-stage snow blowers are not self-propelled.
Many snow blower manufactures have realized that with our aging population the ergonomics of the control grips are a new problem for users. So a good place to start would be to look for snow blowers with the words "ergonomic control" in the description.
If you have a little more money to spend, you could buy a larger unit with power steering. This may not always allow you take your hands off of the control grips so be aware.
Another nice feature is "auto-turn". This feature makes the machine do a complete 180 degree turn without any force required from you. This will turn the machine around and place it into the perfect position to blow the next row or snow.
Our top picks come from a few product lines. These are (in no particular order): Toro, PowerSmart, Briggs and Stratton, Ariens and Snow Beast. We have divided them into single-stage (just incase you are interested in a smaller unit), two-stage and automated. You'll note that we have not included any three-stage snow blowers here due to the lack of auto-turn on these units.
For your convenience, we have been careful to narrow down our results to only snow blowers with electric starters. We have also biased our result towards units with wider clearing width. These units all have lighter safety bars that must be activated in order to operate the machine.
These snow blowers are fully self-propelled and come fitted with ergonomic control handles. Some of these units also have more advanced features. Again, we have biased our list to snow blowers with larger engines and wider clearing widths.
We thought that some people may like to see snow blowers that are automated with power steering and auto-turn. These are the most advanced snow blowers available on the market today. They are also fully self-propelled. Although they do not come fitted with ergonomic control handles, they have many features that makes your job much easier.
It is never going to be a lot of fun for anyone with small hands or limited ability to clear snow but we hope that this short guide will assist you in better selecting your next snow blower! Remember to look for snow blowers with ergonomic control grips, self-propelled and if possible, power steering.
Best of luck!
As a bit of an aid, here is our buying guide chart: