With the dizzying number of different snow blowers on the market today, it is getting very difficult to decide on which to buy. We thought that we’d try to simplify the decision making process for you. Below you will find 10 questions that you need to answer to determine what kind of snow blower will best suit your specific needs:
This is pretty self explanatory. The amount of time and effort that it will take to clear snow from a fixed area will depend on how wide the snow blower’s clearing width is. Have a big area to clear? Then you should buy a wider machine. A wider clearing auger also requires a larger engine to drive it.
Even if you have a large area to clear, it may be overkill to buy a really big snow clearing machine if you never see more than a few inches of snow every now and again. Some smaller single stage units do a better job of cleaning smaller amounts of snow right down to the pavement.
If you intend to clear snow from gravel surfaces, stay away from most single stage units. Many single stage snow blowers intentionally force the clearing auger into contact with the ground in order to help propel the blower forward. It is considered a cheap self-propelling system. These systems work well enough on hard surfaces like pavement and sidewalks but if you try to run one of these machines on gravel, you run the risk of digging up and throwing gravel instead of snow and possibly damaging the machine.
All types of snow blowers will clear snow on level surfaces but if you have to clear snow on grades or hills, consider a machine that is self-powered and even one with power steering. Another consideration for clearing on hills is the tires. Look for a machine with larger pneumatic tires. The last thing you need is a 200 pound snow blower sliding down a hill backwards with you behind it!
Gas powered snow blowers can weigh anywhere between 90 and 300 pounds. Electric snow blowers are in the range of 17 to 35 pounds. This is something to consider if you are not comfortable walking behind a machine that weighs more than you do. It goes without saying that heavier machines are much less portable so they’ll need to be stored close to where you will be using them and they can be difficult to move over great distances (like from home to the cottage). And don’t even think about clearing your deck with anything bigger than a single stage snow blower.
Gasoline powered snow blowers will require at least some routine maintenance over their lifetime. This can include fairly straight forward tasks such as changing spark plugs or topping up oil, coolant and fuel stabilizers or replacing belts and tightening up hardware. These are small engines that vibrate a lot and have moving parts that will need to be tightened or replaced. For some, even this small amount of maintenance will be outside their comfort zone. Thankfully for people like us, electric snow blowers are pretty much maintenance-free.
Even though you’ll probably run your snow blower less than 200 hours per season, gas units do emit exhaust that is harmful to the environment and it all adds up. If you are concerned about being environmentally responsible, take a look at getting and electric snow blower – they are truly zero-emission.
Not everyone has a huge garage where they can store a huge snow blower. Don’t forget, you will need to store it in all four seasons – even in summer when you are not using it. Snow blowers range in size from “not much bigger than a snow shovel” to “bigger than a washing machine” so choose accordingly.
Like a lot of technology today, snow blowers now come with many new and wonderful gadgets and features. Many features have become commonplace. For example, 120 volt electric starters have become pretty much standard on most units. Unfortunately, some features are only available on certain machines so you need to keep this in mind when you go shopping. Some of the most popular features are: headlights, heated hand grips, power steering and auto-turn, to name a few.
Snow blowers are divided in three main types or "stages". They are commonly referred to as single-stage, two-stage and three-stage.
Single-stage snow blowers are basic units with a single auger (blade) that draws the snow in, chops up any snow or ice clumps and propels the result out the discharge chute. The auger is often mounted low enough that it contacts the ground to drag the unit forward. These are basic units that are fine for smaller driveways, paths and sidewalks covered with less than up to 24 inches of snow.
Two-stage snow blowers are the most common type of machine. They are usually larger than single-stage units and use an intake auger similar to their single-stage counterparts but they also have a second auger that propels the snow up and out the discharge chute. This arrangement allows the primary auger to do a better job concentrating on breaking down clumps of snow while the second auger concentrates on throwing the snow clear of the machine. These units can throw the snow much farther than a single stage unit.
Three-stage snow blowers are a little less common. Imagine a two-stage snow blower with a third auger mounted facing forward in front of the primary auger. This third auger breaks down clumps of snow before they reach the primary auger. This arrangement clogs less and works best in deeper snow.
Hopefully, after considering the preceding questions carefully, you are better prepared to decide on what type, size and features that will be best for your specific needs. Take a look at our snow blower selector tool to see what is available for purchase in Canada today.