With the winter weather upon us, you might be looking at ways to make dealing with the snow a bit easier. For many homeowners, this means investing in a snow blower. With so many snow blowers available, however, finding the one that best suits your needs can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing. To help you with choosing the right snow blower, here are a few factors to keep in mind.
For some driveways and walkways, a small snow blower is all that is necessary. Not only are smaller models less expensive, but they are also easier to maneuver. If your area is prone to larger storms, however, you may need to upgrade to at least a mid-sized model. If you regularly face heavy storms, if you have a large driveway or if your driveway is hilly, invest the extra money in a larger snow blower with power-driven wheels.
Gas vs. Electric
As you browse through snow blowers, you find that there are both gas and electric models available for purchase. Electric snow blowers are the smallest, lightest and quietest models available. They are also the easiest to handle and to maintain. These snow blowers typically feature a plastic auger that pulls in the snow and then throws it out of a chute. This means they also have a tendency to throw gravel and, because they are so small, you generally have to complete several passes in order to clear the area. These snow blowers are best for driveways, walkways and decks that are short, level and have less than four inches of snow.
Gas snow blowers come in both single-stage and two-stage varieties. Single-stage snow blowers have a rubber-tipped auger that picks up and throws the snow while also helping to propel the machine. These snow blowers, which are typically more powerful than electric varieties, are usually small to mid-size. They are a good choice for level, midsized paved driveways that receive snowfall of less than eight inches.
Two-stage snow blowers also use an auger to pick up and throw snow, but they also have an impeller that helps to throw the snow out of the chute. Two-stage models are also propelled by engine-driven wheels. These snow blowers are best for larger driveways where the snow reaches greater than eight inches. Two-stage snow blowers are also better capable of handling inclines and are the best option for clearing a gravel path. They are much heavier than single-stage snow blowers and, like the single-stage variety, they require regular maintenance that is not necessary with an electric snow blower.
Before purchasing a snow blower, it is a good idea to look at the floor model and to determine whether or not the machine is a good height for you to use. Be sure to consider both the height of the handle and your options for adjusting the chute. Most single-stage models have a long handle that allows you to adjust the height and direction in which the snow is discharged from the chute. Two-stage models typically have a joystick that allows you to make these adjustments. Two-stage snow blowers also frequently feature a drive/auger control that allows you to work the auger and the drive wheels with one hand while your other hand is still able to control the chute.
Most snow blowers have a dead-man control, which is a safety feature that stops the auger and the impeller when you release the handlebar grips. Two-stage models also typically feature a handle-bar mounted trigger that is able to cut power to one or both drive wheels as necessary.