Tips for Buying a Snow Blower
Every year, winter comes anew and brings masses of snow. For many people, this is the beginning of a time when they have to clear the yard, the sidewalk, or other areas early in the morning. Depending on the region and altitude, the quantities and effort involved can vary considerably. At higher altitudes, so-called snow throwers or snow blowers are usually used for rough preparatory work. The reason for this is simply that the snow masses would hardly be clearable without motor support at hand.
If you are about to purchase such a machine, you can check our reviews and the guidelines in this article to find a suitable model. The main focus here is on the performance and working width of the snow blower. Depending on the amount of snow and the area, different machines can play off their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages and disadvantages of snow blowers
Let’s give you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages that we have become aware of over years of using various types of snow blowers.
- Clearing snow and ice is really easy with most models. There is no comparison to classic snow clearing with a snow shovel.
- Despite the considerable size and resulting weight, most snow blowers are surprisingly easy to operate and move.
- Depending on the model, the ejection distance and the angle can usually be adjusted. After milling, the snow lands where it can remain and does not disturb anyone.
- Snow clearing with a blower is usually much faster than with a snow shovel or pusher.
- Whether petrol snow blower or electric snow blower, the energy requirement of these machines results in corresponding maintenance costs.
- When clearing snow with an electric model, special care must be taken to avoid an accident with the power cable, if there is one.
- In order to clear solid and damp snow, powerful models are usually required. Electric models in particular quickly reach their limits under such conditions, so that strong snow blowers should be preferred for such types of snow.
- When working, considerable noise can occur. This certainly does not please your neighbors.
What to look out for when buying
When buying a snow blower or a snow thrower there are a few points that should be considered. First of all, it is essentially a question of the required performance of the machine itself. You should be aware of this point in advance. It is sufficient to ask the following question and to be able to answer it.
- How large is the area to be cleared and how much snow must be moved on average?
If you have answered this question for yourself in your head, then you can deal with the following topics for buying snow blowers with a clear conscience.
Electric or gasoline?
Depending on the amount of snow, type of snow and area, you have to choose between an electric or gas powered snow blower. Models with electric drive usually have the advantage that they work a lot quieter than their gas-powered colleagues. But with an electric snow blower, you have to accept that you need to pay attention to the power cable when clearing the snow and that there is often only a very low power available. Many electric models use batteries instead, which offer limited power.
In addition, be aware that gas-powered models usually require significantly more maintenance. An example of this would be the replacement of seals and the classic oil change. You won’t have these issues with an electric model.
We prefer electric snow blowers especially in smaller areas with quite fresh and light snow. If you want to clear large areas, heavy and high snow, then you should use a machine with a gas engine.
The drive of the snow blower
There are two different types: wheel drive and caterpillar drive. Depending on the region, the later is also known as a chain drive.
Advantage caterpillar drive
- More grip on uneven and slippery surfaces
- In some cases more efficient
Disadvantages of caterpillar drive
- Snow blowers with caterpillar drive are usually somewhat more difficult to control and often not as maneuverable as models with wheel drive.
We recommend snow blowers with caterpillar drive especially on critical surfaces such as slight inclines or large areas. Alternatively, you can equip a wheel drive model with snow chains. Depending on the model and wheel drive, such a solution can sometimes achieve surprisingly good results.
The clearing width
When buying a snow blower, it is essential to pay attention to the correct or adapted clearing width. There are very different widths on the market. It is important that the clearing width of the snow blower matches the size of the path you intend to clear.
If a large area is to be cleared, a snow blower with a large clearing width is preferable. Ensure that the clearing width also matches the performance of the machine.
The clearing height
One point that people often underestimate is the maximum clearing height for snow blowers. You should carefully consider what your needs are and how much snow you have to work with. There is hardly any point in buying a snow blower with a maximum clearing height of 15 cm if you live in a region where snow typically piles up to 30 cm overnight.
We recommend to be a bit more generous and to get a snow blower that has more clearing height than you would need.
One- or two-stage snow blower?
Single-stage snow blowers are often found especially in the inexpensive beginner’s area. With these models, snow clearing and ejection are combined in one unit. This combination of both tasks, unfortunately, limits the performance of the machine enormously in many cases. Therefore, you should only choose such equipment for light and loose snow. If you try to clear hard and heavy snow with single-stage models, you will run into difficulties.
The better alternative is the two-stage or sometimes even three-stage snow blowers. The two-stage models have a clearing auger which picks up the snow and transports it to the discharge hopper. Once it reaches that, a screw, rotor, blower or similar device then ejects the snow through the ejection hopper.
If you have to clear large areas with a lot of snow, make sure to get a two- or even three-stage snow blower. These devices have considerably more power to move the required masses of snow.
In our experience, there is no such thing as the right or best snow blower in general. There is only the best one for your needs. You need to consider some important things before purchasing in order to get the type that fits your situation. For example, a small model can be more suitable than a large one with caterpillar drive. So the exact conditions and requirements on site are always very important.
Here are the key points to consider before buying a snow blower.
- How large is the area and how much snow has to be moved?
- Electric or gasoline?
- The drive
- The clearing width
- The clearing height
- One- or two-stage?
Caring for a snow blower
Since snow blowers naturally come into contact with damp snow and possibly even snow/salt mixtures, care should be taken to ensure proper maintenance of these devices. We recommend that you observe the manufacturer’s information and let a specialist workshop do the maintenance work. If you have the appropriate specialist knowledge, you can also do it yourself. However, be sure to adhere to the safety regulations, because bad accidents have happened with snow blowers during maintenance.
We advise you to prepare the snow blower for its summer break at the end of winter. This includes, for example, cleaning the device thoroughly so that no dirt, salt or other contaminants can attack the device during the summer. This is also a good opportunity to inspect the machine for possible damage. If you find any damage, better have it repaired directly, otherwise there could be a nasty surprise in the coming winter at the latest.