Buying your first snow blower can be overwhelming. There are many models to choose from all with varying features. To make your decision easier, consider the size of your property, yearly average snowfall, and price.
Having lived on a corner lot with a fire hydrant and a long sidewalk, I’ve spent a significant amount of time snow blowing. If you strictly focus on price, you may buy a snow blower that’s inadequate for the job at hand or isn’t reliable. Make sure you find the right balance before buying.
Types of snow blowers
- An electric snow blower. Is recommended for smaller properties. It can work well for removing snow from patios, walkways, and other paved surfaces. It’s a nice option for areas that receive light snow.
- A cordless snow blower. Runs on a high-voltage battery. It’s a light unit that can handle various types of snowfall on smaller properties and there are no maintenance costs. Cordless and electric snow blowers are less expensive and are nice alternatives if you don’t want to shovel.
- Single-stage. This type of snow blower is nimble and uses a high-speed auger that scrapes the snow off your driveway or sidewalk and launches it through the air. While it’s served me well, there were many times I could’ve used a two-stage snow blower. The bottom of the driveway was often difficult to clean after the snowplow went through and left heavy snow and hard ice chunks. This type of snow blower is best served for light to moderate snowfall and for small-to-medium-sized properties. If you have a gravel driveway, this type of snow blower shouldn’t be used as it’ll scrape off the stones and shoot them in the direction of the chute. This could cause property damage or injury. Lastly, over time the auger will wear out and need replacing. When your snow blower stops throwing snow efficiently, you’ll know it’s time to replace the auger.
- Two-stage. This type of snow blower is more powerful than a single-stage. It’s self-propelled, so you’ll be able to get through a lot of snow and ice without stopping and starting. Also, because this snow blower doesn’t scrape the ground, it can be used on gravel driveways. The downside to this snow blower is that it’s heavier, bigger, and not as nimble. Because it removes large amounts of snow, it’s recommended for properties that have larger, longer driveways and for climates that receive significant snowfall each year.
- Three-stage. This type of snow blower is the strongest and toughest. It can clear over 20 inches of wet, heavy snow and chop up the ice chunks like nothing. While these machines are expensive, if you live in a climate that receives a lot of heavy snowfalls, this one is for you.
Features and attachments
Once you’ve identified the type of snow blower you need to remove snow from your property, it’s then time to look at some of the features offered. Depending on what features you select, it could make your job even easier. If you’re like me, the quicker you can get back in the warm house the better!
Here’s a list of features that can be found on the different types of snow blowers.
- Electric start. Instead of pulling on a cord numerous times, simply plug it in and push the start button.
- Skid shoes. Skid shoes protect your concrete from damage as the unit goes across your driveway or sidewalk. They also eliminate the annoying rust stains that appear on your garage floor because of melting snow.
- Speed controls. Allow you to operate the snow blower at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
- Power steering. A heavy snow blower trying to cut through a lot of snow can be difficult to maneuver. Power steering allows you to turn it with ease.
- Remote or joystick operated chute. I don’t have this feature on my snow blower but would highly recommend it. I constantly must manually adjust the chute. As winter wears on, this becomes frustrating.
- Headlight. Improves visibility for you as well as cars that may be driving by.
- Heated handles. In my opinion, this is another must have. Keeping your hands and fingers warm can prevent frostbite.
- Plan ahead. Think about snow placement before you start. This can help prevent extra work.
- Don’t wear loose clothing. Loose clothing can get caught in moving parts very easily and quickly. While a scarf can help keep you warm, it’s not worth the risk.
- Never operate while impaired. Operating while impaired can dull your senses and cause unintentional injuries.
- Wear appropriate safety gear. As a kid, I never thought about safety gear. Now, I wear ski googles to protect my eyes and ear plugs. Injuries can happen quickly and when you least expect it. Taking a few extra minutes to put on safety gear is worth it.
- Wear appropriate cold weather gear. While I would love to wear shorts and flip flops all year, it’s just not possible while living in the Midwest. Warm boots and mittens/gloves are important to keeping our extremities warm and preventing frostbite. In addition, moisture-wicking technology in clothing can help prevent you from feeling cold and uncomfortable.
- Don’t shoot snow at others. As kids, we did this all the time. We’d line up and wait to get pummeled with snow. We never thought about debris shooting out of the snow blower causing injury. My single-stage snow blower shoots debris very forcefully. An ice chunk or stone could be deadly.
- Never use your hands to unclog the chute or auger. Every year people suffer serious injuries to their fingers or hands. Before clearing out a snow clog, always turn the machine off and use the plastic cleaning tool that’s attached to it. If you don’t have one, use a wooden handle from a broom or shovel.
- Watch for cars and pedestrians. Always be alert to what’s going on around you. Neighbors walking their dogs or pulling kids in sleds is common after a snowfall. The last thing you want to do is cause injury to them. Also, if you must step into the street, watch for passing cars as well as snowplows. Fresh snow causes significant changes to driving conditions.
Lastly, if you intend on buying a snow blower this year, it’s a good idea to buy one before the first snow. This will ensure there are many options to choose from. Once the snow starts flying, there may be a rush on them leaving you out in the cold.