What Kind of Snow Blower Is Right for You? Here's What to Consider
If you have decided that it is time to shop for a new snow blower to clear that nasty snow off of your driveway the next time Old Man Winter dumps on you, here are five questions to ask yourself to help you select the right snow blower to meet your own unique needs and circumstances.
1. How Long Is My Driveway?
If you have a lot of ground to clear you might want to consider a more powerful and wider two-stage snow blower. If you have a shorter driveway or only a deck and sidewalks to clear, a... single-stage machine might be a better option.
2. How Much Space Do I Have to Store a Snow Blower?
If you have limited storage space, then you will want to look for a smaller machine or one that offers space-saving features such as a folding handle bar. Remember, in most parts of the United States, snow removal is a major concern for only about three months out of the year, at most. The rest of the year, your snow blower will be taking up potentially valuable space somewhere on your property.
3. How Much Snow Does My Area Typically Get, and What Type Is It (Wet and Heavy or Light and Fluffy)?
It is a good rule of thumb to purchase a snow blower that can handle higher-than-average snowfall for your area. This way, you will be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Single-stage snow blowers clear the entire surface area with an auger and are typically good for areas that get less than 12 inches of snow per storm. Two-stage machines use an auger to feed the snow into an impeller, which blows the snow out of the machine. These snow blowers are capable of handling snowfalls of more than 12 inches. [Editorial note: You can learn more about the difference between single-stage and two-stage snow blowers in this article on gas snow blowers.]
4. Who Will Be Using the Snow Blower Most of the Time?
Does that person have any physical limitations that should be taken into account? There are new technologies such as Auto-Turn for effortless steering and features such as hand warmers and headlights that can make the job of snow removal easier on the user.
5. What Level of Maneuverability Do I Want?
There are four types of steering with increasing levels of maneuverability:
- Solid axle
- Pin lock
- Trigger steering
With type #1, the axle is locked solidly to the tires (unable to freewheel). Pin lock steering allows one free wheel and one locked wheel. In the case of trigger steering, levers unlock an axle on either side to enable turning. Finally, with Auto-Turn, the slip differential automatically senses turns for smooth, precise steering without having to operate additional levers or switches.
Your experience handling equipment, how much effort you want to put into driving the machine, and the number of turns you have to make each time you clear snow will help you determine which steering type will work best for your needs.
Two additional articles are offered here to help you decide, specifically, whether an electric snow blower (as opposed to one powered by gas) is right for you:
These articles (especially the second one) will help you decide if the advantages of going electric could outweigh the burden of having to drag that darn cord around. One advantage is that, rather than having to work to get your snow blower to start up, with electric you just plug and go.