How to Choose the Best Snow BlowerEric Johnson
In This Article:
What You Need to Know to Choose the Best Snow Blower
When It Comes to Snow Removal, “Best” Doesn’t Necessarily Equate to “Most Expensive”
Electric Snow Blowers and Cordless Snow Blowers for Light Snowfalls
Single Stage Snow Blowers Save Your Back
Two Stage Snow Blowers for Serious Residential Snow Removal
3 Stage Snow Blowers, for Consistent Heavy Snowfalls and Large Areas
Snow Blower Tanks: Track Drive Snow Blowers
Features to Consider When Buying a New Snow Blower
A Little about Snow Blower Tire Chains
When You Need Snow Blower Tires, Let Treadworld Help
There’s nothing like the natural beauty you see all around you after the first heavy snow fall of the season, right? Like the song says, “the treetops glisten,” and everything seems quiet and peaceful. For one moment you can just appreciate the wonder around you. Then reality kicks in, and you begin thinking about how you’re going to remove all that snow and ice from the driveway and walkways—and maybe even from around the base of your house to keep snow-melt from getting into your lower level when the thawing starts. If you’re a fan of back-breaking labor, you can shovel it. Or you can put on your best winter gear, your heaviest boots, your warmest gloves, and pull out your trusty snow blower, something you actually look forward to doing each year, since as all your neighbors know, you are the second coming of Tool Man Tim. Heh, heh, grunt, grunt.
What? You’re in the market for a snow blower? And you’re here looking for some information to help you make your best choice? No problem. You’re in the right place. The tire experts at Treadworld have you covered. That’s because we sell the best tires anywhere, and we use the equipment those tires go on—like ATVs, UTVs, trailers and…snow blowers. Keep reading to learn the differences between an electric snow blower and a cordless snow blower, if you’d get better snow blowing results from a gas snow blower, whether a single stage snow blower will satisfy your needs, or whether you’re better off with a two stage snow blower? And what about a three stage snow blower, or a tracked snow blower? And what features do you need, that are worth paying a little extra for? You’ll find all the information you want right here to pick the best snow machine for your needs.
While it would be easy to say that choosing the best snow shovel machine comes down to spending the maximum you have to spend, that would not be accurate—unless your definition for “best” is “most powerful”. Then sure. Typically, a 1 stage snow blower will cost less than a 2 stage snow blower, which will cost less than a 3 stage snow blower, which will cost less than a snow blower with tracks, with each bringing more power to the party than the last. But going up the scale doesn’t necessarily mean “best,” for two reasons. First, snow blower designs from each company is different, meaning a 2 stage blower from one brand may give you more power, more capacity, more throwing reach and fewer moving parts that can break than a 3 stage blower from another brand. And second, determining the best snow blower for you should be based on your snowplowing needs. Just like you don’t need a yacht to fish the local lake behind your cabin, you don’t need a tracked snow blower to get the white off your single lane driveway and ten-foot step. So, following are some details about the different types of snowplows available to you, to help you make your “best” choice.
If you indeed were looking to clear a single lane driveway and a short walkway—and you’re not living in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, where it’s not unusual for residents to get an average 463.1 inches of snow each winter—an electric snow blower or a battery powered snow blower could handle the job very nicely. The best cordless snow blowers are capable of tackling light snowfalls, 6-12 inches or less, on sidewalks, decks and small driveways. You can choose one with an electric cord trailing behind—which depending on your situation, could rapidly become a pain in the rear—or you can choose a battery snow blower that will run until the juice runs out and you need to recharge the battery, typically around a half hour to 45 minutes. Some companies are designing battery blowers using batteries that are interchangeable with other equipment you may own, like string trimmers and leaf blowers, which is a definite plus. These small snow blowers are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and ideal for use on decks and steps where larger gas-powered models won’t fit.
Another consideration—unlike larger gas-powered snowblowers, electric snowblowers often have plastic paddles that make contact with the ground, flinging anything they come in contact with, which means you want to stay away from areas with lots of gravel. While in the past this type of snow blower was typically manufactured using less expensive materials, which often led to a situation where making repairs was hardly less than buying a new one, technological advances and lithium-ion batteries have somewhat closed the gap between electric and gas snow blowers. This type of snow blower is also typically quieter, if you like blowing snow in the wee hours before heading off to work, without irritating your neighbors.
In a nutshell, the difference between single stage, two stage and three stage snow blowers is that a one stage snow blower relies on a high-speed auger to collect snow and send it out the chute; a two stage snow blower adds a fan-like impeller behind the auger to the process to give blowing snow more “oomph!” sending the snow up to 50 feet away; and a three stage snow blower adds an accelerator for better cutting and crumbling frozen snow and ice, while maintaining the distance throwing ability.
Single stage snow blowers essentially get their name because they throw the snow once. They are lighter, smaller and easier to handle than their two and three-stage brothers, and they’re ideal for moving moderate amounts of snow quickly. They typically have basic features and an ability to throw snow anywhere from 36 inches to 25 feet (depending on model), which can be just what you need for residential areas with moderate snowfall of less than eight inches. They can crumble and collect compacted snow left from city snowplows, as long as you address it before it freezes, and after chopping down the larger chunks with a shovel. A soft, rubber-tipped front auger, typically made from plastic or hard rubber, that touches the ground, cuts into, collects and discharges the snow—meaning this type of snow blower is less than ideal for areas of lots of gravel since it will send rocks and stones flying along with the snow. That auger has a rubber leading edge that helps propel the snow blower slightly as it works, but it’s not a true self-propelled mechanism. Single-stage blowers are only suitable for slight inclines, and typically offer a path that is 18-22 inches wide—wide enough to clear most sidewalks with two passes. There are different levels of snow blower within this category (entry, mid, professional) that represent different levels of power and engine size, with options added like wider paths, electric vs. hand-cranked chutes, chute rotation options and recoil vs. electric push-button starts for you to consider.
Bigger, beefier and stronger two stage snow blowers are so-named because they “throw” the snow twice. Initially, a metal auger collects snow and ice, before a high-speed impeller launches it through the discharge chute to keep the snow moving and preventing clogging the intake bucket. Since the auger on a 2-stage snow blower doesn’t contact the ground, these machines can be used on gravel, crushed stone and concrete without fear of shooting missiles. Their heavier designs with larger intakes tackle deep drifts, heavy snow piles and ice too, without slowing down, and they are basically thought to be good for use with up to 24 inches of snow, and on steep inclines. They also typically clear a wider surface than single stage snow blowers, often up to 30-inches per pass, while throwing snow up to twice as far. As with the one stage blowers, within this category, there are again different levels (entry, mid, professional) that represent different levels of power and engine size, auger and impeller, along with different materials, ranging from aluminum to cast iron. They also have options added at those different levels, like interlocking controls, halogen headlights, remote deflector control, handwarmers, power steering, electric start vs. key start, wider paths, automatic chute control, chute rotation options and track drive for use on hilly surfaces and inclines, for you to consider.
The additional stage on powerful and efficient 3 stage snow blowers is an accelerator, which makes this type of snow blower ideal for heavy snow and tall snowdrifts. Two metal augers scoop ice and snow, moving it toward the center of the unit where an accelerator, spinning perpendicular to the auger, helps collect the snow, cutting through icy snow, and forcing it all into the impeller, which shoots it out of the chute at high speed. Three stage snow blowers are great for taking care of the compacted piles of snow the city snowplows leave behind. They can easily plow 20-plus inch piles of snow, with a 30-inch path, launching it up to 60 feet away. They’re good on inclines, and on unpaved surfaces because, like 2 stage snow blowers, they don’t scrape the ground.
Like a tank, tracks models of two and three stage snow blowers remain in constant contact with the ground on steep angles, providing maximum traction, making them a safe choice for maintaining control on steep inclines and unpaved surfaces when slipping wheels aren’t an option. They’re typically powerful enough to tackle high snow piles, offering effortless maneuverability. If there is a downside with tracked snow blowers, it’s with use on sheer ice, since the design offers lower ground pressure which can cause some slippage which you won’t get with snow blower chains for instance.
Even if you love gearing up and heading out into the blowing snow and wind, there are snow blower features that will remove some of the hassle.
Self-Propelled Snow Blower – since snow blowers are not light equipment, often weighing 250 pounds and more, you may want to select one that is self-propelled, especially if you’re plowing an area with inclines. Along with that, you may want to consider…
Variable Speed Control – because having multiple speeds let you move faster to get the job done quicker, to handle light snows and when conditions allow, or to move slower when you’re facing especially heavy snow and ice, to help prevent clogging.
Power Steering – saves your back while making turning easier. These snow machines are heavy, but power steering allows you to turn on a dime by releasing one wheel to allow the snow blower to turn easily. You can’t do this if your snow blower has a solid, locked axle.
Single-Handed Operation – offers you more convenience. Two and three stage snow blowers have levers for controlling the wheels and handling the auger, which can be a two-handed operation unless your snow blower has one-handed operation that lets you hold down both levers with one hand.
Chute Control – depending on the area you’re removing the snow from, you may benefit from being able to maneuver the throwing chute on the go. While with many snow blowers, changing the angle of the chute is a manual process, you can get blowers that allow you to control the direction while you’re moving, even with while wearing heavy gloves. This is typically done with a lever or a joystick-style control.
Headlight – whether or not a headlight would benefit your snow removal efforts depends largely on whether you blow snow during low-light hours of the day, something not all your neighbors may appreciate, but which is not always avoidable when you’re working a regular job. Many brands feature high-intensity LED lights that won’t burn out.
Heated Hand Grips – even though you’ll likely be wearing gloves, heated hand grips that radiate heat can prove helpful, especially in rugged, frigid conditions. Another option is to put hand warmers in your gloves.
Folding Handlebars – can be nice if storage space is at a premium. Usually found on single stage snow blowers.
Something you can consider when you’re determining which snow blower is best for your situation, is snow blower tire chains because they are a cheaper alternative to a tracked snow blower or a 3-stage snow blower, for getting extra traction if you live in an area that often experiences extreme conditions. Some snow blower tires have a tread that won’t accommodate snow blower chains. The tread on each tire for snow blower needs to sync with the chains in order to work correctly. Additionally, you need to be certain your snow blower has enough clearance for the use of chains. Your snow blower manual should prove helpful here. Snow blower chains come in a variety of sizes, and it’s crucial they fit properly, or you run the risk of damage to your tires and your snow machine. Chains may not be 100% flush, but they should be snug, yet not so snug that they dig into the tread.
If you’re looking for replacement snow blower tires, or tires with a different tread, count on us here at Treadworld to provide you with exactly what you want, from our wide range of sizes and dependable tread styles, perfect for helping you get out from under the latest cold weather gift from Mother Nature. Obviously, you need tires that give your snow blower the no-slip grip you need in any conditions, from light snowfalls to mega-storms. RubberMaster snow blower tires offer you the option of sawtooth, bar lug or stud tread patterns, each of which provide you with the traction that will help make short work of your snow removal chores. Use the convenient Treadworld Product Selector Tool on the Treadworld.com home page to quickly find what you need. All our RubberMaster Tires are manufactured to strict tolerances from top rubber compounds, then triple-tested for quality, balance and uniformity before being X-rayed to be sure they’re perfect. You can expect easy ordering and fast shipping, plus your satisfaction is guaranteed with our no-hassle Ultimate Advantage Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have, and to get the ideal snow blower tires—or the perfect trailer tires, ATV tires, UTV tires, lawn and garden tires, and many others—from our extensive selection.