If you rarely see snow then the idea of having a winter wonderland in your back garden for you and your kids to enjoy is something you’ll look forward to. People living in areas where snow is regular and heavy will look at snow as just another headache to be dealt with as efficiently and as easily as they can. Basically even if you love snow you’ll need to move it from your walkway and driveway if you want to go about living your life normally, and to do that you’ll have a choice of either going old school and shoveling it by hand, or being smart and investing in a snow blower to make all of this happen more quickly.
|Snow Joe SJ621||Power Smart DB7624E||GreenWorks 2600502||Briggs & Stratton||Poulan Pro PR521|
|Discharge Dist.||20-feet||Not specified||25-feet||Not specified||25-feet|
|Discharge Angle||180-degrees||180-degrees||180-degrees||Not specified||Not specified|
|Warranty||2-Year Full||1-Year Limited||4-Year Limited3||-Year Limited||2-Year Limited|
So unless you enjoy hours of back-breaking, cold work in shoveling snow off your drive then buying a snow blower (also known as a snow thrower) makes perfect sense. The purpose of this guide is to explain what options are available to you in terms of snow blowers and the most important features you need to look out for. We also review the top 5 snow blowers (in our opinion) on the market today, so you can see exactly what you can buy for your hard-earned cash.
How Much Snow Are You Moving?
The type of snow thrower you buy will be dictated by how much snow you have to move, so if you’re living in a part of the world where you get heavy snow on a regular basis you’re going to need a heavy-duty snow blower to deal with it. If you’re living further south on the planet, and only see occasional or light snow, then we think you’ll find that a smaller electric snow thrower will do the trick for you. Basically if you’re dealing with any more than about 8-inches of snow you’re going to need a larger, more powerful snow blower.
What Type Of Snow?
Following on from the amount of snow you’ll be dealing with is the type of snow you’ll need to move. You basically have 3 potential choices here: light and fluffy, heavy compacted or heavy with ice underneath. If, for example, you try to move heavy compacted snow with a small, single-stage electric snow blower you’ll burn the motor out in about 30-seconds. So when you’re shopping for a snow blower be very honest about the type of snow you’ll be using it to move. If you’re in doubt about which blower to buy then simply buy a larger model, because at least that way you’re covering all the odds.
Types of Snow Blowers
There are 3 basic types of snow blower you can buy: single-stage electric, single-stage gas, 2-stage gas. Some people wind up getting confused about the amount of “stages” a snow blower can have but it’s actually very simple – a single-stage snow blower has one auger and a 2-stage snow blower has two augers. The second auger in a 2-stage model is basically a very high speed fan/propeller which throws the snow as far away from you as possible.
Let’s take a look at each of the different types of snow blower to see how they compare against each other:
These are ideal for working in smaller spaces and are very easy to handle and then store when not in use. If you’re working with snow up to around 6-inches deep than a single-stage electric snow thrower will do just fine. The things to watch out for here are sloped surfaces, because these blowers aren’t self-propelled, and you should also avoid using a single-stage electric model on gravel because the augers make contact with the ground, meaning they could start shooting out gravel instead of snow! Obviously an electric snow blower will only need you to push a button to get it started, although some more expensive models will come with a back-up recoil starter fitted too.
Single Stage Gas
This is basically the exact same as a single-stage electric snow thrower, except for the fact that the gas engine gives it enough grunt to deal with deeper and more difficult types of snow. Most single-stage gas-powered snow throwers will clear a swath of at least 20-inches, but because the auger touches the ground you’ll have to avoid gravel surfaces unless you want to turn your snow thrower into a giant gravel-shooting machine gun. Obviously because it’s gas-powered you’re not limited in range by the length of an electric cord, plus the fact they’re usually self-propelled makes your life that bit easier when moving several hundred feet of snow.
With 2 augers this type of snow blower will make short work of even the most difficult mounds of snow. Another big advantage here is that because the primary auger doesn’t actually make contact with the ground you can use a two-stage snow thrower on almost any type of surface material. Another 2 bonuses here are the fact that this type of snow blower can propel snow up to 45-feet away from your lawn or drive, plus the self-powered function means you can use it on sloped surfaces too. A typical two-stage snow blower will clear a swath of around 28-inches of now on each pass.
Snow Blower Width
Your snow blower will be capable of moving a certain area of snow in a single pass, which is what people call a “swath”. Basically this is the width of the snow blower itself, which can vary in size from 11-inches on smaller electric models, up to a cavernous 45-inches on the larger models. The width of your snow blower is worth paying attention to if you’re going to need to work in confined spaces like a narrow footpath or walkway. Generally speaking a typical snow blower designed for the average Joe, or Josephine, will have a swath of at least 18-inches.
Flat or Sloped Areas?
If you’re going to be throwing snow off any area with an incline or slope then go for a self-propelled snow blower, otherwise you’re going to be pushing several hundred pounds of blower and fuel up a steep embankment, which is a good way to give yourself a heart attack. We’re not kidding here either – DO NOT try to use a regular snow blower on sloped surfaces. Most snow throwers come fitted with pneumatic tires which can sometimes be used with chains to give you extra traction in difficult conditions.
Some petrol heads will focus solely on horsepower when it comes to choosing anything with an engine, but that can be a mistake when it comes to snow blowers because having a lot of hp with no actual “grunt” behind it is pointless. Instead focus on finding a snow blower with an engine capacity of at least 125ccs, which will also probably be a 4-stroke engine because most of the 2-stroke snow blowers are no longer for sale due to EPA carbon emission controls.
Thousands of people injure their hands, feet and fingers each year when using snow blowers, but the vast majority of these injuries are caused by people trying to dislodge something from the internal auger with their fingers. NEVER place your hand inside a snow blower for any reason – regardless of whether it’s switched on or off. In addition to this keep pets as far away from snow blowers as possible and if you’re using an extension cord to power it then make sure it’s a bright color, because if the cord is white you’re eventually going to run the snow blower right over it. This is also why all your extension cords should have GFIC fitted.
The Key Features Of A High-Quality Snow Blower
You’re already going to be outside working in the cold so the last thing you want is a snow blower which is an ordeal to get started every single time you need it. An electric starter is ideal, but most gas-powered snow blowers come with a recoil-starter which won’t take more than 1 or 2 pulls to get the motor running.
Most snow throwers come with pneumatic tires fitted, but sometimes you’ll need the extra functionality offered by skid shoes instead. This all comes down to the environment you’ll be using the blower in i.e. how much snow you’ll be dealing with on a regular basis.
How far do you need to throw the snow from your lawn or driveway? Most basic snow blowers can move snow up to 25-feet away from where it’s fallen, with bigger models capable of distances of up to 45-feet.
A single-stage thrower will only offer one speed, which is fine because you won’t be dealing with a lot of snow. Two-stage throwers will have several speeds, allowing you to adjust your thrower for the type and depth of snow you have to move.
Are the controls easy to use and easily accessible? Does the blower have a “dead man” control feature where it switches itself off when you release your grip on the controls? Can you quickly and easily change the angle and direction of the throwing chute?
If you’re constantly surrounded by heavy drifts of snow then having drift cutters fitted to your auger will make short work of a drift of almost any size or depth.
The fact that you’re trying to maintain a grip on the control handles in the freezing cold can result in your hands going numb very quickly – heated handgrips can stop that from happening.
Replacement Auger Paddles
Are replacement auger paddles easy to find and easy to fit? If not you might be best to consider another snow thrower instead.
If you’ll need to throw snow in low-light conditions then having a headlight of some kind will help – halogen types being preferable.
Top 5 Best Snow Blower Reviews
Let’s get stuck into our snow blower round-up to see how the different models fared:
1. Snow Joe SJ621 Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower Review
This thrower might be a single-stage electric but it still packs a punch! Capable of moving a swath of snow 18-inches wide and up to 10-inches deep in one pass puts the 13.5-amp Snow Joe SJ621 a step above other electric blowers. You can adjust the discharge chute through 180-degrees and you also get a 20-watt halogen headlight built into it for good measure. For under $160 you get a very capable snow blower which is ideally suited to medium-sized driveways and walkways, with a full 2-year warranty to give you additional peace of mind.
2. PowerSmart Gas Powered 2-Stage Snow Thrower Review
Now here’s a snow destroying beast! The Power Smart DB7624E is powered by a 212cc engine, pushing it through the 24-inches of snow it can scoop up at any one time. The two-stage design means that snow up to 21-inches deep gets discharged several dozen feet away from you, plus the electric starter makes getting the motor running very easy too. You can control the discharge chute through 180-degree with a 4-way joystick and the snow tires give you extra traction when you need it most. The Power Smart DB7624E costs just under $600, and is ideal for anyone needing to clear lots of snow on a regular basis.
3. Greenworks 20-Inch 13 Amp Corded Snow Thrower Review
If you’ve been looking for a lightweight and powerful snow thrower then this model from Greenworks is worth considering. The clearing path on this thrower is 20-inches, and like most high-quality electric models it can comfortably deal with about 10-inches of light snow. For $170 you get a snow blower ideal for medium to small-sized drives or yards, which can move up to 850-pounds of snow per minute and is also covered by a 4-year warranty.
4. Briggs & Stratton Single Stage Snow Thrower Review
The brand name Toro shouldn’t need any introduction here as they’re one of the most popular brands of snow blower on the market today and the Toro 1696715 is a great example of what an electric snow blower is capable of. This 208cc snow blower can shift around 700-pounds of snow every 60-seconds, clearing a path of snow 22-inches wide and 12.5-inches deep on every pass. The auger blasts the snow up to 30-feet away from you, ensuring that you don’t have to throw it twice.
5. Poulan Pro Two Stage Snow Thrower Review
For those of you who live in parts of the world where snow is met with a grimace instead of a grin you’re going to love this two-stage blower from Poulan. The 208cc engine drives the 12-inch auger to clear a path through snow which is 24-inches wide and 12-inches deep, making it capable of dealing with pretty much the heaviest snowfalls you’ll find. The Poulan Pro PR241 is easy to assemble and with a price tag of under $800 is also extremely affordable too.
There’s a time and a place for shoveling snow and there’s an even better time and place for blasting it 30-feet away from you into a ditch!
A surprising number of people do actually die each year from heart attacks brought on by all the effort of shoveling tons of snow by hand, so a snow blower is the affordable and smart way to move all that snow instead!