Nothing is worse than being greeted with 10 inches of snow on your driveway on a winter holiday.
But things go even further south when you think about how your back will be hurting after shoveling that monstrosity.
An excellent way to save yourself from this nightmare is to get a snow blower, but getting the right snow blower is a pretty daunting task.
Frankly, there are too many factors to consider when buying one and there are many kinds of them. So, we decided to make this daunting task a little simpler for you by coming up with this complete guide to buying snow blowers!
Go ahead and give it a read.
Best Deals On Snow Blowers 2019
Here are two basic factors that categorize a snow blower. The knowledge of these factors is crucial to understand what suits your needs the best.
The term “stage” defines how many times the snow is broken-down or processed before it is shoved out of the chute.
Usually, the higher the stage the better because that means the machine can throw the snow farther away.
Single-stage only has an auger, which collects the snow that is then thrown out of the chute.
Two-stage snow blowers add an impeller to the mix. It’s a fan that forces the snow collected at the back of the auger to be shot straight from the chute.
On the other hand, a three-stage blower not only has two augers and an impeller but it also an accelerator, which forces the snow into the impeller from the augers.
While there are two ways to power up the snowblower – electricity and gas, gas snow blowers are significantly more powerful and efficient and hence, more prominent.
You also don’t need long power cables to run a gas snow blower, which is a huge heaven-sent.
On the other hand, electric snow blowers are more lightweight and compact. These blowers can fit in tighter spaces where even a single-stage snow blower can’t reach.
Types of Snow Blowers
Before we start discussing the specific features of a snow blower that you should keep an eye out for, let’s talk about the various types you can buy.
There are primarily two types: electric and gas. And in the category of gas snow blowers, you can go for either a single-stage, a two-stage or a three-stage model.
Let’s take a closer look!
Electric Snow Blower
You can imagine electric snow blowers as a lightweight version of the gas blowers, which we’ll discuss in the section below.
These snow blowers can clear up only a light amount of snow – typically, less than 12 inches. You can use it on sidewalks and small driveways.
Electric snow blowers are not only light, but they are also compact. So, they are essential especially when big and chunky gas models can’t fit.
Aside from being light and compact, these blowers also don’t need as much maintenance as their gas counterparts. There’s no need for oil changes and fill-ups!
Hence, as long as you have a long enough electrical extension, you can keep using these snow blowers as they are virtually maintenance free.
Gas Snow Blower
Gas snow blowers are more powerful and can deal with even higher amount of snow.
These blowers use gas for functioning; hence, there’s a little room for the need of maintenance that you should consider.
But for that extra maintenance, you get freedom from using long electrical cords, and you’ll also be able to clean up a large amount of snow.
There are three kinds of gas blowers that you can find in the market – single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage.
And depending upon your typical use case, you may find one kind of blowers more suitable for you than others.
Single-stage snow blowers only process the snow once, i.e. it handles the snow with a single auger that scoops up the snow from underneath and then throws it out of the chute.
If you live in the suburbs with a moderate amount of snowfall, these snow blowers might just be all you need, especially considering that these blowers come with all the necessary accessories right out of the box.
Also, these snow blowers are significantly cheaper than the two-stage and three-stage options.
Typically, these are about 18 to 22 inches wide and can handle a snowfall of up to 8 to 12 inches. The limiting aspect of these blowers is, of course, the height.
Clearing more than 12 inches of snowfall with a single-stage blower can be an exhausting ordeal. Therefore, if you live in an area of heavy snowfall and you are always facing more than 12 inches of snow, then go for a two-stage or a three-stage model.
Also, keep in mind that the drill in these machines come in contact with the ground underneath it. So, don’t use these snow blowers on a gravel surface. Otherwise, it can hurt you, people around you, or the driveway.
Overall, it’s an excellent machine for light snowfall because it gets the job done while being significantly cheaper than the other options.
A middle-of-the-road approach for snow blowers gives you a two-stage snow blower. It outperforms both electric and single-stage snow blowers.
It has the capability of clearing up to 18 inches of snow without any hassle, thanks to not only its internal components but also its sturdier and more heavy-duty design.
The large design of these blowers helps you keep the momentum of the machine even when clearing up a large amount of snow.
Two-stage snow blowers do the job in two parts. First, the fitted auger scoops up the snow from the ground and feeds it to the machine. Then a high-speed impeller projects this snow out of the chute to keep the intake bucket from clogging.
One drawback of the single-stage snow blower is that it cannot be used on gravel surfaces. You don’t have to worry about it when using a two-stage snow blower because the drill doesn’t come in contact with the ground.
Also, these come equipped with significantly taller buckets that can accommodate big piles of snow that can accumulate at the end of your driveway or around the mailbox.
Overall, if a single-stage blower is not working for you, then with a little more investment you’ll find a two-stage snow blower to be worth it!
The top of this snowblower “food-chain” is, of course, the three-stage snowblower.
These snow blowers are more powerful and more efficient at removing snow than any of the options above.
There are three parts of processing the snow in this snow blower. First, the two augers pick up the snow from underneath. Then they move it towards the center, where an accelerator breaks down the snow and pushes it towards the impeller.
The impeller, then, throws it out of the chute with high velocity.
The heavy-duty nature of these snow blowers makes snow removal not only possible but also hassle-free. It helps you maintain the momentum with the toughest of snow.
These also come equipped with features like self-propelled wheels, heated grips and single-press chute control that make removing snow a breeze when compared to other options.
Ultimately, if you are frequently fighting with the toughest of snowfalls, then there is no option left for you but to get one of these. Yes, it can be a little expensive, but it’ll be worth the price.
Features to look out for
Now we will take a look at all the features of a snowblower that you should be looking for when buying one for yourself. Some of these are safety features, and some add to the convenience of using one of these machines.
But no matter what the feature is for, we’d recommend not to compromise on any of these when buying one for yourself.
Deadman control is a must-have safety feature! It’s a feature that turns the auger and the impeller off when you take your hand off the handlebar grips.
You must make sure that this feature is present in your blower when you make the purchase and that it is working all right every time before you use it.
The long handle is a lever that is used to control the direction of the discharge chute. It is mostly an ornament of a single-stage model and it’s necessary.
Make sure that the long handle works fine before you finalize your purchase.
Gas-powered models of snowblowers often come equipped with an electric start. It is significantly more convenient to start up the machine with this instead of pulling the chord.
It also makes sure that your chord has a longer life, which is essential because it is the only way to turn on the machine without an electric start surely.
A headlight makes working in the dark very convenient. You’ll usually find a headlight on a two-stage or a three-stage machine.
Although it might not be a must-have for everybody, we strongly recommend you to get a machine with a headlight so that you can work in the dark when needed.
A two-stage or three-stage blower can usually run at different speeds. You’ll often be greeted with a lever that allows you four to six degrees of forwarding movement, while also allowing one or two speeds in reverse.
Having various speed options is extremely necessary to cut down the snow with grace and ease. Always make sure that the blower is functioning normally at all speeds before buying.
A trigger is mostly mounted on the handlebar. It helps you quickly steer the machine in any direction by letting you cut off the power from either of the wheels or both at once.
It is almost a given in any snowblower, and you should always make sure that it’s appropriately functioning before making any investment in the machine.
Discharge Shoot Control
A discharge shoot control is a joystick that lets you control the direction of the discharge chute – changing it both horizontally and vertically.
There’s an alternate version of the control with an easy-turn crank control, which is helpful because the joystick can turn frigid in cold weather.
Anyway, you should always check if it’s convenient to use and adequately functioning before buying a snowblower.
What you need to keep it running
Here are some of the things that you need to take care of to keep your snowblower running:
Get drive-belts for your machine. You’ll only need one drive-belt to run your single-stage or two-stage snowblower, but it is a good idea to keep a spare when you need it.
If you are using a two-stage snow blower, then shear pins can help protect its engine and transmission by breaking when the auger hits something too hard.
The vitality of this part demands you to have a few extra spares for an emergency!
Using a machine to move pounds of snow is bound to take a toll on the machine! And if you are not using it every other week, then there is no way for you to skip on the fuel stabilizer.
It prevents the gasoline from breaking down your fuel lines and your carburetor. Make sure that you use fuel stabilizers if you want the snow blower to remain operational for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll try to answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding snow blowers. This is an effort to clear some of the dilemmas regarding this complex machinery and how to use it.
Where should I store my snow thrower?
The ideal place for storing a snowblower is somewhere dry, cool and well-ventilated.
Even when not stored for a long haul, moisture can damage the parts of the blower. So, it needs to be dry.
It is also important to have a cold place to store because otherwise, the parts may wear down due to thermal damage. There is also a chance of sparking and spontaneous combustion with these machines, so make sure to store them somewhere cold.
Which is better? Gasoline or diesel?
A diesel snowblower has a high initial investment. The machine usually costs a little more than its gasoline competitor, but it is more robust and durable than gasoline snow blowers and it’s easier to maintain.
Besides that, the fuel cost is also lower.
Intuitively, gasoline snow blowers are cheaper than diesel ones but they need more effort to maintain and the fuel is more expensive.
Is a three-stage better than a two-stage?
While a three-stage blower will typically perform better than the two-stage version from the same brand, comparisons between brands become difficult because a two-stage might perform better than a three-stage.
It is also a matter of the use case. While a three-stage may have a better throughput, a two-stage might be easier to maneuver and operate on the given surface.
Is the snow blower’s throw distance important?
It’s one of the many ways to measure the performance and efficiency of a snowblower. The longer the throwing distance, the better.
If your snowblower doesn’t have sufficient throw distance you might have to do several runs before your driveway clears up.
High throw distance also ensures that you don’t have run-off flooding your sidewalks and pathways will be reduced when the snow melts.
Don’t worry about throwing the snow too far because the direction of the chute and deflector can be easily managed. Therefore, the more the throwing distance, the better.
But keep in mind that different brands do this measurement differently, so there’s no point in comparing two products from different brands on the same basis.
Is the snow blower’s tons per hour capacity important?
Tons per hour tells you how much snow the snow blower can move in an hour.
In theory, heavy-duty snow blowers are bound to have higher tons per hour numbers than economy snow blowers.
But in reality, each brand measures its tons per hour capacity in a different way and it can get confusing if you just stick to the numbers.
So, that’ll be all for this guide. We hope that you found this comprehensive guide about snow blowers helpful.
We tried to include all the factors that you should be aware of when buying the best snowblower for the money.
We talked about all the various kinds of snow blowers and what you need to maintain them, and also mentioned the must-have features to help you remember what all you may need from your snowblower.
With that, we wish you very well on your endeavors!