We have researched top Snowblower/Snow Thrower and gathered reviews and ratings information so you don’t have to. Everything you need to know about these Snowblowers/Snow Throwers is here on this website.
How to choose your Snowblower:
For most of us, a snowblower purchase is a significant buying decision. The price of the unit is certainly a major concern (price range from $100+ (small electric snowblower) to >$1000 for larger gas snowblower). However, make sure you make a choice based primarily on your needs. Let your needs dictate the type of snowblower and then drill down to the choice of a specific model to chose based on price and feature differences. Next we proceed with the factors that determine your particular need, followed by a description of the different types of snowblowers and features you should consider for each type. We close with a short discussion on some safety concerns.
Factors to consider in deciding the type of snowblower:
- Size of driveway, walkways & decks to clear: Here is how to think about this, the larger the area you need to clear, the more passes you need to make with your snowblower to finish the job. A 10 ft wide driveway cleared lenght-wise would take 7 – 10 passes (for electric units), ~6 passes (single stage gas units) or 4 – 5 passes (two stage gas units). Think about doing this for a long driveway, how many times do you want to go back/forth in winter weather? You need to consider your physical condition also, while electric & single stage units are lighter, most 2 stage models comes with large traction wheels that are often powered so you don’t have to push hard. Bottom line, chose 2 stage units if you have larger areas to clear, 1 stage units for medium areas and electric units for small areas, especially where maneuverability is an issue (decks for example).
- Nature & incline angle of the clearing surface: Two things to consider here: how smooth the surface is and how steep or hilly is your clearing area. Electric and 1 stage gas models comes with an Auger (that’s the wheel that spins to collect snow) that’s rubber tipped and scrapes the surface area. This result very little snow left behind, the movement of the Auger could also help propel the snowblower forward. However, if the surface is gravel or stony, the snowblower would also pickup some gravel/stone and throw it out also. If you are clearing gravel surface, you will need 2 stage snowblowers where the Auger is displaced from the surface. 2 stage snowblowers are also good for steep inclines since these heavy units come with powered wheels.
- Amount and nature of the Snowfall: In short, heavier snowfalls will require larger 2 stage models. Consumer Report suggest using the following guideline: < ~4in snow depth for electric snowblower, < 8in for 1 stage gas snowblower and > 8in snow depth for 2 stage snowblower. You will notice that some manufacturer specifications for the smaller models (e.g. electric) will specify a snow cut depth per pass that is larger than the guideline above (e.g. 12in for Toro’s popular power curve line); and this would be fine for these units if you are clearing dry/light snow. For wetter/heavier snow you need bigger models. In electric & 1 stage gas models, the Auger performs both the snow collection and expulsion task, so these units cannot throw snow very far, especially for wet/heavy snow. In 2 stage gas model, on the other hand, the Auger only does snow collection, while a separate Impeller mechanism would expel the snow, resulting in greater snow throwing capacity. Many of these units also have serrated Augers, which give greater snow cutting power, including cutting thru icy snow.
Types of Snowblower:
- Electric Snowblower: Small, light & easy to maintain, these are powered by (rated in Amps) electric engines; good for clearing decks, walkways & small driveways and light snowfall. These units are perfect for light clearing tasks. They can certainly save your back compared to shoveling the snow. One major difference between electric and gas powered units is the required electric extension cord, which decreases mobility. Proper extension cord suited for outdoor winter conditions is required. Toro, for example, suggest a minimum gauge (AWG) of 14 for a 100 ft cord and AWG of 12 for 150 ft cord (max length allowed).
- 1 stage Gas powered Snowblower: Medium sized snowblowers powered by gas engines. Single Auger for both snow intake and expulsion. These machine are used for medium snowfall and clearing sizes. They come with bigger capacity engine vs electric models and larger wheels for better traction, but are not suitable for heavy duty tasks.
- 2 stage Gas powered Snowblower: High powered snowblowers with both Auger for snow intake and Impeller for expulsion, capable of handling heavy snowfall as well as large clearing areas and challenging environments. These units have bigger snow intake and snow throwing capacities. They also come with powered wheels. Some models have multiple speeds, including reverse. Some units also come with power steering and headlights for low light conditions.
- CARB Compliant Gas powered Snowblower: These unit comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standard. This is required for California residences, but might also be an attractive option for others seeking a greener solution.
Features to Consider:
Here is a list of features to consider when choosing a particular model:
- Engine Size: Measured in Amps for electric models and cc/hp in gas powered models
- Clearing width: How wide the clearing intake is (in)
- Snow cut depth/pass: How high the intake area is (in)
- Intake size: Often the prior 2 specs will be listed together as intake size (A in X B in –> clearing width X snow cut depth)
- Diameter of the Auger (in)
- Diameter of the Impeller (in) –> only for 2 stage units
- Tire size & type (important for traction, quoted as: diameter X width in inches)
- Weight of the unit (lbs)
- Snow throwing distance: up to Y ft
- Ease of use and adjustability of the handle and control panel
- Electric Start option: ease of starting close to an electric outlet (Gas powered only)
- Powered wheels: how many speeds/reverse speed available (large 2 stage models only)
- Power steering capacity (2 stage models only)
- Headlights (2 stage models only)
Snowblowers need to be treated carefully. There are two main concerns that need to be addressed.
Clearing the Chute or Auger Housing:
Your Snowblower could sometime get clogged up. This requires you to clear some snow inside the Chute (where the snow gets thrown from) or in the Auger housing. The danger is that the Auger may have been deformed because of jamming. It might snap back suddenly once the snow causing the jam is cleared. If you clear the snow using your hand, this snap back action could cut your hands, causing serious injury. A famous instance of this was when Joe Sakic of hockey’s NHL Colorado Avalanche broke his finger trying to clear his snowblower’s Auger. NEVER use your hand doing this. Your model might come with a snow clearing tool, and if it does not, use a broom stick or some other tool to clear the clogged snow.
This is specifically for Electric snowblowers. Make sure you use the correctly rated electrical cord as specified in the owner’s manual. Be careful of operating the blower in wet areas because of the dangers of being electrocuted. Make sure the cord is not damaged and follow all safety instructions in your manual.