As much as you may love winter, sometimes it is the pits. No one wants to be tasked with the job of shoveling snow out of the driveway and the walkways—it’s cold, it’s hard work, and it’s time consuming.
Sure, we’d like to stay inside until the snow melts away, but life goes on and we still have to go to work or school. You can make the chore of snow removal a little easier when you have a snow blower handy.
A snow blower is a great little machine that can help make the snow removal process simple. It uses an auger or an impeller to suck the snow up and the machine throws it out of a chute.
These machines can range in size from very small (which can only remove a few inches) to the large, mounted snow blowers that are typically used commercially and by township workers.
In this guide, we’re going to provide you with all the information you could possible want to know about these handy winter tools. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get right to it!
Did you know that parts of Canada receive snow 9 months out of the year? With that much snow, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the snow blower was invented there during the late 1800s.
In 1884, the very first snow blower was created by Orange Joll and the Leslie Brothers. Their invention would be affixed to the train and as the train goes through the snow on the tracks, the rotary snow blower would expel the snow from a chute on the side.
Fast forward to the 20th century where the horse and buggy died out and the automobile flourished. In 1925, a Montreal inventor, Arthur Sicard, developed the first self-propelled snow blower.
He used the concept of grain thrashers to create a four wheel drive truck that had a snow blower on the front end and chutes. This truck was powered by two motors, one for the truck and one for the blower, and was capable of throwing the snow up to 90 feet!
In 1952, the Toro company became the most popular manufacturer of these machines when they released the Snow Hound. This walk-behind snow blower allowed homeowners the ability to clear the snow from their property without breaking their backs whilst shoveling.
Today, the snow blower has had numerous technological advances that makes the unit more reliable, more durable, and performs better too. They’ve also been equipped with features that makes the snow removal process a little more comfortable and easier for the operator.
As you start looking around at the types of snow blowers available on the market today, you will probably notice that they are categorized by stages:
A single stage electric snow blower is going to be lightweight and are best suited for smaller areas with less than 8 inches of snow.
The single stage machine will have an auger that will direct the snow through the chute.
Though these machines are not powered by an engine, the auger will come in contact with the pavement and create a limited forward driven motion.
The single stage electric snow blower can be corded or cordless:
Keep in mind that because it will need an extension cord for it to operate, you will want to make sure you have an extension cord that is going to remain flexible while outside in the cold.
Depending on the space that needs clearing, you may want to purchase a second battery to have on hand.
A single stage gas snow blower is great if you don’t want to be tethered to an outlet while you’re trying to remove snow. These units often are going to have a wider intake height and width so you’ll be able to clear more snow.
The benefits of using a single stage unit is that you’ll be able to get down to the pavement in a single pass. This allows for any snow that comes in contact with the cleared space to melt in the sun.
Depending on your needs, you’ll want to choose one of three “levels” of single stage:
These snow blowers are designed to remove heavier snowfalls that amount to more than 8 inches. These types of machines uses an auger that feeds the snow into the impeller. The second stage makes the snow removal quicker and the machine can work on taller amounts of snow.
With this type of snow blower, you’ll usually find models that features a single-hand operation and a chute that you can adjust while moving.
This ability lets you change the direction the snow is being thrown without having to stop the machine.
Typically the second stage units are self-propelled so you’re not going to have to push hard on the machine, and it will also feature heavy duty tires with deep treads, or even tracks.
Although these machines are going to let you remove larger amounts of snow, that all comes with a price. Not only are these machines going to be more expensive, but they will require routine maintenance because there are so many moving parts.
Also, they are going to be heavier and more of a challenge to work on if something breaks. These types of machines aren’t recommended for a DIY-er who likes to tackle these sorts of repairs.
The three stage gas snow blower is not going to be something the average homeowner is going to have in their garage. These machines are typically used when you have a very large space and/or deep, heavy snow that needs to be cleared away without having to spend all day doing it.
These machines operate a lot like a two stage unit, except there is an accelerator that will move the snow, regardless of weight, about 10 times faster.
These machines are capable of moving almost 50% more snow than your two stage, making it a more efficient snow blower with little to no snow left on the ground.
The three stage gas unit is always self-propelled and because they are highly complex machines, they will require a professional to do the maintenance.
It should go without saying, but these are going to be the most expensive type of machine.
Before you start shopping for a snow blower, there are some features that you’ll need to take into consideration:
Once you do find a snow blower that you like, you’re going to want to know how to use it safely.
Safety should be your number one priority when you’re working with a machine like a snow blower. Here are some safety tips you will want to keep in mind when operating one:
Your snow blower is going to be an investment piece, so you’re going to want to make sure you get plenty of use out of it. In this section, we are going to go over how to prepare your snow blower for winter, but also general maintenance tips to help prolong the life of your machine.
There are many companies that make snow blowers, but that doesn’t mean they are all created equal. Here’s a look at the four top makers of snow blowers:
When you’re looking for a high quality two-stage snow blower, Ariens is the best. Since 1960, the company has sold over 3 million of these products and they range from professional grade snow blowers all the way to compact units.
Not only will you find snow blowers in their product line up, but you’ll also find a selection of zero-turn mowers, walk behind mowers, and finishing tools to complete your yard clean up -be it snow or lawn.
The Toro company was founded in 1919 when they introduced the golf equipment business. Today they offer a huge array of machinery for everything from what the average homeowner may need, but also professional contractors, grounds keepers, and golf ranges. You can also rent machines from Toro if you need to.
Husqvarna is a company that has been around for almost 400 years. While they may not have had snow blowers back then, the company got their start under the name “Jönköping Rifle Factory” and they created around 1,500 musket pipes each year.
The company stopped manufacturing rifles in 1967 and they now focus on tools and machines for homeowners and professionals alike. You can find garden tractors, walk behind lawn mowers, chain saws, hedge trimmers, power cutters and much more in their product line up.
With a name like Snow Joe, it’s understandable to see why they are one of the best snow blower manufacturers on the market. The company has a complete line of electric snow blowers, but they also have two stage snow blowers as well.
The company also has a variety of summer related products, categorized under the “Sun Joe” name. Some of these products include gardening tools, pressure washers, weed whackers, rototillers, wood chippers and much more.
The snow blower is one of man’s greatest inventions. Well, maybe it isn’t one of the greatest, but it certainly is a life saver when you’re tasked with clearing large amounts of snow in the middle of winter. These machines can take a long, miserable chore into something that will take less time and will be less work.
When you decide that you do need a snow blower, it’s important that you choose the right machine for your region. If you live in a region that doesn’t experience a lot of heavy snow, you’re not going to need a heavy duty two-stage gas unit.
You may be able to do perfectly well with a single-stage electric snow blower, as they can handle up to 8 inches of relatively light and fluffy snow like a champ.
If you do decide that you need something more powerful like a two-stage gas powered machine, you’ll want to think about how big the space is that you need clearing. If you have a big area, you’ll want a machine with a high intake height and wide clearing width.
We’ve created a buying guide to help you choose the best snow blower that your money can buy. We go over what you should look for in a snow blower, but we also have five mini-reviews of our top favorite snow blowers. At the end of the guide, we will give you our top two choices.
Whatever machine you decide on, one thing is certain; you’ll be able to retire that snow shovel and enjoy how quickly and easily you can clear out the driveway and walkways!
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave us a message! Also, tell us where you live and what winter is like near you. We’d love to hear from you!