Snow can be a wonderful thing. It brings families together by forcing them to stay indoors. But when the time comes where you can’t stand spending quality time with your loved ones, the worst thing that can happen is being snowed in.
A snow blower can be a great tool to have. It clears your walkways and driveways from snow of all textures and wetness, and it can be used to throw snow at your jerk neighbor’s lawn. Apart from just throwing snow, a snow blower’s mighty auger can crunch ice into tiny shards, eliminating the slippery trap awaiting you on your walkway.
Electric vs. Gas Snow Blowers
There are two ways to categorize snow blowers; the first of which is classifying the tool by what sort of fuel it uses. There are two sources of fuel – electric and gasoline.
Electric Snow Blowers
These are the weaker, smaller type of snow blower that isn’t designed for getting rid of huge snow mounds and ice chunks in one pass. Electric snow blowers are meant for those living in cities where snowfall reaches a maximum of two feet. Their augers are less powerful, so if you attempt to push one of these into a huge 2-foot mound of snow or even on a thin layer of ice, the auger and chute may end up getting clogged. Also, you’ll need to keep them plugged into an outlet or extension cord which could be dangerous when dealing with moist, compacted snow.
Gas Snow Blowers
If winter is more of a nuisance than a time to enjoy, then you need a gas snow blower. These machines come with huge motors, huge augers, can clear wide paths in a single sweep, and swallow 2-plus-foot snow mounds for breakfast. Like any gas-powered tool, a gas snow blower doesn’t rely on power cords so you can reach all the corners of your yard.
For the rest of the article, we’ll focus more on gas snow blowers. Those of you who deal with large snow banks and thick layers of ice will appreciate this.
Single-Stage vs. Double-Stage vs. Triple-Stage Snow Blowers
The second way of classifying snow blowers is by checking how many stages they process the snow before ultimately tossing it away. There are three different types of snow blowers in this regard – single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage. If you’re going for a gas snow blower, then you can ignore single-stage types since they aren’t fit to handle more demanding snow-throwing tasks
Double-Stage Snow Blowers
This type of snow blower utilizes both an auger and an impeller to collect and throw snow away. Steel augers munch on snow and ice, sending them into the impeller fan which is powered by a beefier motor for throwing greater volumes of snow away at greater distances. Double-stage snow blowers are also self-propelled, meaning that it’ll move forward and reverse on its own accord. Chained tires or tracks help the unit move more effectively on slippery terrain.
Triple-Stage Snow Blowers
Like a double-stage snow blower, this type also uses an auger to push snow into the impeller fan. However, the differentiating factor between the two is that a triple-stage snow blower has an accelerator which works ten times as fast as the augers to clear more compacted, slushier snow away in less time. It also comes with a self-propelling engine, forward and reverse gears, and chained tracks or tires. If you’re looking to push away copious amounts of snow in less time, then a triple-stage snow blower is for you.
Gas Snow Blower Buying Guide
Apart from identifying whether a snow blower is a double-stage or triple-stage model, there are several other factors you need to consider before purchasing one. In this section, we’ll go over the various specs and additional features that’ll make using your snow blower an enjoyable experience.
Both double- and triple-stage snow blowers pack some pretty awesome components. We’re talking between 200- and 400-cc and 6- to 20-HP engines. These heavy-duty engines are what gives them the power to demolish snow mounds without mercy. Note that larger motors with larger fuel tanks are made for people who have to battle blizzards on a daily basis. If you’re dealing with shallower mounds of snow, then a double-stage snow blower equipped with a 6- to 10-HP engine would suffice.
Clearing Width and Height
You can typically tell how powerful a snow blower is by the intake of the machine. Bigger intakes should come fitted with larger engines for heavy-duty snow throwing. The width and height of the intake piece can help you in determining how long it’ll take you to clear your yard of snow. A wider clearing width means being able to cover more area in less time. A taller intake indicates how large of a snow mound the machine can swallow. If you’re dealing more than 16 inches of snow regularly, then you definitely need a double- or triple-stage snow blower that can suction 2-foot tall snow mounds.
There’s absolutely no point in buying a snow blower if it can’t even throw the snow past 10 feet. Luckily, for double- and triple-stage gas snow blowers, this isn’t an issue. Depending on the motor, you can expect it to throw snow anywhere from 20 to 40 feet away. You should also find a model that has a flexible/rotating chute so you can redirect the snow onto your neighbor’s car or lawn.
One might argue that hand warmers are a luxury feature, but when it’s below freezing point, you’ll be thankful for heated handlebars. If your mittens or gloves can’t protect your digits from the chilly air, then working the machine will be difficult to do. Fortunately, most double- and triple-stage gas snow blowers come with this feature.
During the wintry months, you only get around nine to ten hours of sunlight depending on where you are on the planet. Having headlights on your snow blower lets you see where the machine is headed during the dark and what snow mounds lay ahead. It’s something you should definitely consider if you plan on operating a snow blower after sunset.
Gas snow blowers are the Rolls Royce of snow blowers. They come with beefier motors, better snow-throwing capabilities, and the ability to crush and destroy thick ice patches. The most important things to consider are the clearing width and height as well as the maximum distance in which a snow blower than launch whatever snow banks it clears. There are also a few handy features that can improve your experience in operating one of these beasts such as headlights for nighttime visibility and heated handlebars to keep your sensitive digits from freezing off.