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Shopping Guide: Snow Blowers
Snow days are perfect for cuddling up under a pile of blankets with a fresh cup of coffee and watching movies. They’re not perfect for commuting to work. ‘Tis the season to start thinking about your next snow blower and how to make your mornings easier.
You can have the best tires in the world on your four-wheel drive vehicle, but if your driveway is blocked in with snow, you’re not getting anywhere. You might be used to grabbing the nearest shovel or asking the neighbor’s nimble and naive child to help clear the pathway, but believe it or not, there’s a better solution.
Finding the perfect snowblower is easy if you know what you’re looking for. From clearance abilities to an energy source, there are tons of options available that are sure to fit your needs. We’ll break down some guidelines that you should follow when investing in a snow blower. After all, a new snow blower is supposed to make your life easier, not more difficult.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered
Our top picks are all electric, which is just one category of snow blowers.
You can shop for louder, heavy-duty gas-powered snow blowers that will most surely wake your neighbors up in the morning. If you’re living in an area where 12 inches of snow is considered light snowfall, you may want to consider a non-electric dual-stage snow blower.
This same rule applies to any user that plans to use their snowblower on unpaved or hilly surfaces. Because electric snow blowers typically go directly from snow to chute, any gravel, hard ice, or debris that it picks up will fly out of the machine at a higher-than-ideal velocity.
Electric snow blowers are perfect for the suburban households where you need a dependable and simple appliance to clear sidewalks, decks, driveways, or paved roads on a relatively level surface.
Depending on the size of your driveway, sidewalk, deck, or road where snow accumulates, you can be looking at just a few snowflakes or unmovable piles after those imminent winter storms.
One huge advantage of an electric snow blower is its eco-friendly benefits. While gas-powered hand tools emit large quantities of carbon emissions relative to their size, electric hand tools put off zero carbon emissions.
And, as you’ll see with a few of our picks, especially the Toro 15 Amp, electric snow blowers are steadily improving their capability to handle large loads of snow.
Battery or Plugged In?
First, think about the accessibility of your home’s outdoor outlets in relation to where you’ll need to use the snow blower. If you have a long driveway, this may not be the best option for you.
You can use your battery-operated snow blowers anywhere as long as the battery is charged up and ready to go. This is convenient for using it on sidewalks or nearby roads. However, corded snow blowers will never die on you so long as it’s connected to a power source.
Battery operated snowblowers need quite a few hours to charge, so you could either be looking at having a spare battery on hand or waiting long hours between uses.
When it comes to the runtime of a certain battery-operated model, be sure to see what past users have said about the tool. They can be the most honest and deliberate about the difference between ideal run time and actual run time. After all, if you find yourself recharging your snow blower multiple times within one storm, reviewers will start to relay that information.
Snow Width Clearance
You wouldn’t want to sweep your kitchen with a toothbrush for many reasons, but the biggest being that it just wouldn’t be efficient. Your kitchen floor takes up square footage, and your toothbrush would just sweep a small fraction of a foot with each stroke. In the end, you’d be sweeping the floor for hours whereas a broom would only take a few minutes.
Use this same logic when purchasing a snow blower. You don’t want to use a tool that is too small for the area you’re clearing. When you have a large amount of acreage, you’re going to need a different snow blower than one that is designed for your patio steps.
Take a look at the width of snow that each snow blower can knock out at once. Driveways are designed to have 10 feet of width per vehicle, so if you have a multi-vehicle driveway, you’ll need to increase your snow blower’s reach.
You’ll see this width included in the title of each snow blower. For instance, the Snow Joe Ultra 18” is able to tackle 18 inches of snow width-wise at one time. This means that for a standard driveway, you’d only need one pass of the snow blower to take care of clearing a path.
The More You Know About Deep Snow
A snow blower’s width clearance is different than its depth intake. Rather than measuring out the area that you’ll need to clear out, you’ll have to consider how much snow you usually get.
If your forecast brings 12 inches or more of snow to your neighborhood once every few months, make sure to keep your eye out for a snow blower that can handle this height intake. They are designed to funnel that amount of snow into their augers (fancy name for the propellers, blades, or fins that chomp up all that snow).
Snow blowers whose parts are lower than the snow level are more likely to clog up and simply stop working when overloaded.
For areas that get dusted with infrequent snowfall that drop 10 inches or less, you can save money by sticking with a snow blower in the $150 or less range. The more clearance a snow blower has, the higher the price tag is.
LED Lights, Ergonomic Handles, and More
The beauty of shopping for a new snow blower is that you can find one that really calls to you. This is figurative, of course, because they’re all super quiet. Since power and amperage don’t waiver too much from model to model, what makes each snowblower special is their manufacturer’s attention to detail.
You can direct most of our top picks to spit out the snow in whichever direction you want up to 20-25 feet away. Some models actually make it even easier for the user by putting the controls for this chute at your fingertips so you never have to bend down. After all, you’re getting a snow blower to avoid the extra back work, so those handy controls are a huge bonus.
For early morning-goers or night owls, look for the models with lights so you can clear snow at nighttime. With the height-challenged, the Worx 18” actually offers 3 different height positions so you’re not uncomfortable as you push the snow blower on your tiptoes.
After you’ve seen which models can handle the functionality you’re looking for, find the features that really speak to you. With the right combination, you’re sure to find a snow blower that will make your winter days much more pleasant. Compare our top 10 snow blowers and start enjoying those snow days again.
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