One of the least welcome aspects of winter is the constant shoveling of snow. Every year countless people injure their backs or sustain other injuries shoveling snow. A snow blower can be a godsend for people in climates that get a lot of snow. It makes the job of snow removal easier, faster, and less debilitating.
Snow blowers can be electric or gas powered. Most work in two main stages. First an auger breaks up the snow as the snow blower passes over it. Then an impeller sucks up the loosened snow and propels it to the side, off the sidewalk or whatever is being cleared.
Snow blowers can differ quite a bit from each other, and there are numerous factors that are relevant to choosing the best snow blower for you.
Electric snow blowers have cords, which can get tangled, cause tripping, and be a hazard in wet conditions.
Thousands of injuries, from mild scrapes to amputations, occur every year when people try to clear clogs from the chute of a snow blower. The blower should automatically shut off when the controls are released, and should come with a tool for clearing clogs so people are less likely to reach in with their hand.
If you’re going through deep snow, or having to work up an incline, most snow blowers require a lot of exertion. Ironically, you may end up struggling and exhausting yourself as much as if you were out there shoveling. The more expensive, higher-powered gas blowers, though, are largely self-propelled and much easier to maneuver.
Many types of snow blowers can have a problem with gravel driveways, or any surface like that that has small debris under the snow. If the auger brushes along the ground when gathering snow, the blower can suck up a lot of gravel or other material along with the snow. Larger, more expensive gas blowers more often are designed so that the auger does not contact the ground like that.
Gasoline-powered snow blowers typically cover a wider path than electric, which can be important if you’re clearing a wide driveway.
In some circumstances, such as if you’re clearing snow right alongside your neighbor’s property, you need to concern yourself not only with removing the snow from where you don’t want it, but avoiding sending it somewhere else that would be a problem. The throw distance of the snow blower and the position of the chute determine where the snow ends up. Adjustable chutes are especially helpful in giving you better control.
Electric snow blowers are considerably quieter than gas blowers. Some gas blowers sound like heavy construction equipment and it is recommended that users wear ear plugs or other protection.
Electric snow blowers are considered more green than blowers that use gasoline. The latter should not be turned on inside a garage, as they can cause carbon monoxide build up.
A cheap electric snow blower with little power can be had for under $100. But you can also pay over $2,000 for a snow blower.
Check the warranty with any snow blower you’re considering. Name brands are more likely to have good warranties.
For reasons of safety, ease of use, and expense, choosing the right snow blower makes a big difference. Educate yourself, take your time, and shop around before making a decision.
Gerri Willis, “Buying a Snow Blower.” CNN Money.
“How to Buy a Snow Blower.” Snow Blowers.
“Snow Blowers: Faster and Friendlier.” Consumer Reports.