Single-stage electric snow blowers are best for walkways, decks and short level driveways that have less than four inches of snow on them. They are the smallest, quietest and easiest to handle.
About the size of a walk behind mower, electric snow blowers take up little room for storage. They do not have driven wheels, instead the auger which picks up and throws the snow also helps propel the blower forward. They typically clear an eleven to fourteen inch path. They also have the tendency to throw gravel so are not recommended for gravel driveways. They do not have the power to go uphill. Prices range from $150.00 to $300.00.
Single-stage gas snow blowers are small to medium sized machines. They are more powerful than the single-stage electric blowers. They perform well on level mid-sized driveways with eight inches or less of snow. They are fairly light-weight and easy to handle. They require about the same storage space as electric blowers.
Gas snowblowers do clear a larger path of twenty to twenty two inches. Gravel driveways pose the same problem for them as electric models. They can have an electric start switch. Even though they are more powerful than electric they still do not have the power to pull the blower up a hill. Prices range from $300.00-$900.00.
Double-stage gas snow blowers also use an auger to pick up and throw the snow; however they have a fan-like impeller that helps throw the snow out of the chute. They are also propelled by engine driven wheels.
Larger and more powerful than single-stage models, these work great on long, wide driveways with eight inches or more of snow. They can clear a path twenty eight to thirty inches wide. They work well on inclines. Since the auger does not touch the ground they are a must for gravel. They do require a lot more storage space and regular engine maintenance. Prices range from $600.00-$2100.00.
Gas versus Electric Snow Blowers
There are pros and cons with each type of snow blower. With electric powered blowers there is no need to store or mix oil and gas, and they have a cleaner carbon footprint, too. With gas powered blowers you are not limited in your movement by the electric cord.
When selecting a blower be sure to consider some features that may vary by model and brand. Check the height of the handle and the placement of the chute lever. Make sure you are comfortable with them as you will use them often. Some models are available with heated handles. Non-slip wheel chains and drift cutter kits are other features to look at
There are some features to consider for your safety. For double-stage blowers a one handed drive control lets you control the levers with one hand and the chute the other. Trigger drive disengagement allows you to disconnect the wheels from the transmission giving you control over steering without having to stoop down.
A kill switch feature should be on any model single or double-stage. This switch quickly disconnects and stops the auger from spinning. Double-stage models often come with a feature that automatically stops the auger upon release of the handles.
Convenience Features and Buying Tips
There are other features that do not affect the safety but are for your convenience. Headlights are an option that will make early morning or after dusk snow blowing much easier for you. An easy start switch such as an electrical starter will make it easier to start than having to pull the cord.
To make chute level adjustments easy look for a model that has more than one lever within easy reach to adjust the direction and height of the snow coming out of the chute. Look for single-stage blowers with an extra long chute level adjuster to make it easier.
Before buying a snow blower, be sure to check out how much storage space you have available for it. Try to buy it off-season to save money. Check with your neighbors to find out what types of snow blowers they use and what they recommend. Finally, make sure you read the warranty and that it is sufficient.
Photos by Uriah Welcome and Joe Hall, Creative Commons Attribution License