Looking out the window at the winter wonderland is a beautiful sight until you realize that you clear the driveway. A snow blower designed for heavy, wet snow may be just what you need.
What type of gas-powered snow blower do you need?
If you receive a lot of snow every year, you are almost definitely going to need a gas powered snow blower. Electric and battery operated snow blowers are designed only for occasional snows.
Single-stage gas snow blowers are larger than the electric snow blowers and generally can clear a swath up to 22 inches wide. They are lighter than two-stage blowers but are more limited in the snow that they move. They are not usually self-propelled and are good for smaller, flat areas.
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When there is a slope or incline that needs to be cleared, single-stage snow blowers tend to slide or go crooked. Additionally, the augers sit low to the ground and tend to pick up gravel and rocks that may be on your driveway or sidewalk.
Two-stage gas blowers have an auger-like the single-stage blowers, but there is an additional impeller to move snow out the discharge chute. The auger is usually slightly elevated so that the chance of picking up gravel or debris from the surface is reduced. They can handle large amounts of heavy, wet snow.
The engine on two-stage snow blowers also drives the wheels. This makes them more user-friendly for hills and slopes. You should be able to clear a straight, clean path when you are moving up to a foot of heavy snow.
For heavy snow and lots of it, you will want to consider a three-stage snow blower. Some three-stage gas snow blowers can move up to 18 inches of snow in up to 30-inch wide swath. Not only do they have the auger and the impeller but also an accelerator that speeds up the snow as it exits. So there is no clogging while moving large amounts of wet snow.
What features do you need?
Electric start: Many snow blowers now have an electric start. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to use a pull start when you are cold and have bulky gloves on. A push button start is easy and quick.
Dead-man switch: If you are using a gas powered snow blower, you should consider a dead-man switch. Slipping and sliding on a sidewalk or driveway is not the time to find out that your unit will not stop running if you fall. A dead-man switch will stop the impeller and the auger immediately if you release the handlebar. The more powerful the snow blower, the more of a necessity there is for your safety.
Heated handles: Like luxury cars have heated seats, some luxury snow blowers have heated handles. While heated handles aren’t a necessity, if you spend a large amount of your time clearing away lots of snow in frigid temperatures you could upgrade and spoil yourself with heated handles.
Discharge chute control: If you are moving large amounts of snow, especially heavy snow, you will want to aim the discharge. Chute controls vary from blower to blower. You will want to make sure that the one you are looking at is easy to reach and can be manipulated with gloves on.
Speed control: Most two or three stage snow blowers have multiple speeds including reverse. You control the speed of the drive wheels. This is essential for preventing your unit from being clogged from heavy, wet snow. By controlling the speed of one side of the unit you can turn easily.
How large is the snow blower?
There are two parts to consider when looking at the size of a snow blower. The first is how wide a swath the blower clears. The wider the swath, the fewer passes you have to make and the quicker the job gets finished. Typically an electric snow blower will clear only a few inches at a time, while some of the larger three-stage gas units can clear up to a 30-inch swath.
The weight and physical size of the snow blower are also important considerations. The heavier the unit, the more wet snow it should be able to throw. The bigger units are bulkier and will need more features and controls to allow you to move the unit with less effort. Going down the driveway may be easy, but you will want to be able to make a smooth turn at the bottom and then get up the driveway.
A larger, heavy-duty unit is also going to take up more space to store in the summer. You will want to have a location that is large enough where you won’t be tripping over when it is not in use.