A snow blower is a very useful piece of equipment for any homeowner who needs to deal with snow. However, snow blowers are somewhat costly and are difficult to transport and store. Because of this significant investment of time and energy, it is very important to pick the right snow blower, based on the different available types.
Single stage snow blowers use a single piece of equipment, called an auger, to pick up and expel snow. These machines have limited power, but can still reliably clear small to medium amounts of accumulated snow. These smaller blowers clear an area of limited width, usually under two feet across. While they have some degree of self-propulsion, the operator still needs to push and guide the machine. Single stage snow blowers are available in both gas-powered and electric models.
Two stage snow blowers have an additional piece of equipment, the impeller, which sits behind the auger and expels snow from the machine. The auger’s only purpose in a two stage blower is to pick up snow. This division of labor across two pieces gives the two stage blower significantly more power, enabling it to deal with deeper, heavier snow. Two stage blowers also clear a wider area and are fully self-propelled. These machines are also bigger and more expensive than single stage blowers. All two stage blowers run on gasoline.
Anyone who wants to purchase a new snow blower should take the following factors into account.
Length of the clearing area; Electric single stage snow blowers are the most affordable of the above options, but the operator must deal with an inconvenient extension cord. Homeowners who need to clear fairly short driveways and walkways may consider purchasing an electric blower, particularly if snowfall in their area is relatively light. However, anyone who needs to clear a longer driveway should pick a gas-powered machine.
Width of the clearing area; As previously mentioned, single stage snow blowers clear an area that is between one and two feet wide. Such machines are fine for sidewalks and walkways, but require many passes to clear a wide driveway. Conversely, a two stage machine can clear even a wide driveway in just a few passes, but may not be an appropriate choice for a narrow walkway.
Depth and composition of snow; Single stage snow blowers have little trouble clearing up to five inches of accumulated snow, especially if that snow is relatively light. As such, they are an appropriate choice for areas where snowfall is usually light to moderate. Buyers who expect heavier snowfall and deeper accumulation should opt for a two stage snow blower. Note, though, that a two stage blower may actually have trouble clearing shallower snow.
Surface to be cleared; In a single stage blower, the auger makes direct contact with the clearing surface. That is fine on smooth surfaces such as pavement, but can be very problematic when trying to clear a crushed stone or gravel driveway. Two stage blowers feature adjustable clearing heights, and the auger never makes direct contact with the ground. As such, a two stage blower can clear virtually any surface. There is a drawback, however, as a two stage blower will leave a thin coating of snow on the cleared surface. Single stage blowers do not have this issue.
Storage and transport; All snow blowers are relatively large machines, but two stage blowers are bigger and heavier. Since these machines should be stored inside when not in use, it is very important to think about how much indoor space is available and whether the machine needs to be carried up and down stairs. Buyers who have limited space available should consider choosing a smaller machine.
Other features; Many two stage snow blowers feature additional options that cannot be found on smaller machines. Heated handgrips, electric start mechanisms, drift cutters for deep snow and vinyl cabs to protect the operator are all featured on some two stage models. Of course, these additional features also add to the cost. Buyers should carefully consider their individual circumstances and determine whether these additional features are worthwhile.
Cost; Although prices vary from model to model, electric single stage snow blowers are easily the cheapest option. Gas-powered single stage blowers are somewhat more costly, while two stage snow blowers can be very expensive. It is important to weigh cost against the blower’s capabilities and determine whether the added power is worth the added expense.
Buying a snow blower is a significant investment, so care must be taken to choose the right one. Buyers should carefully consider the options, keeping in mind the clearing surface, the snowfall tendencies in their area, the need for storage and transportation and the price. By keeping these things in mind, anyone can choose a snow blower that fits their needs and budget.