A few crucial factors come into play when you’re buying a snow blower, and they all need to be weighed together to determine what machine is best for your specific needs.
If you can identify those factors and prepare yourself to search for that perfect machine, you can shop for a snow blower with the confidence you’re making the right decision.
To help you with that, we’ve broken down the four most important things you need to consider when buying a snow blower. Some manufacturers also provide a snow blower product finder like the one from Troy-Bilt to assist in narrowing down your options.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s quickly review the three most common types of snow blowers available:
- Single-stage snow blowers: Breaks, scoops and throws snow with one auger.
- Two-stage snow blowers: Breaks and scoops snow with an auger, then throws it with an impeller.
- Three-stage snow blowers: A pair of augers work together with one impeller to clear more snow faster.
There is also a fourth type worth mentioning that simply pushes snow forward called either a power shovel or an electric shovel. These don’t quite qualify as a snow blower but may be worth considering if all you need to clear is a light snowfall from a deck or a small pathway.
Now, to help you decide which of these types of snow blowers you should be looking for, here are four factors to keep in mind:
Amount of snowfall you get
First, think about the largest amount of snowfall you get during a single storm over the winter and the type of snowfall your area usually receives. Your answers will go a long way in determining the best snow blower for you.
For example, if you get no more than six inches of light, powdery snow during any given storm then buying a single-stage snow blower could be the way to go. But if you find yourself removing close to a foot of snow from your driveway on a regular basis, you’re dealing with drifts or a mixture of snow, ice and slush, start by looking into a two-stage snow blower.
If more than a foot of heavy, wet snow is common for you, consider the power of a three-stage machine. These snow blowers are effective for large drifts and tough mixtures of ice and snow, including that barrier of snow that accumulates at the end of the driveway after a few passes of the plow.
Type of terrain you’re clearing from
Next, think about the type of surface you plan to be clearing with your snow blower and the angle of that surface.
If you’re clearing snow off a small driveway with a smooth, flat paved or asphalt surface, a single-stage snow blower is again where you should start your search – factoring in the amount of snowfall you get, of course.
But if your driveway, regardless of size, has a surface that’s rough or sloped, avoid a single-stage – two- or three-stage snow blowers are better suited for the job.
Keep this in mind: an auger-assisted or push-propelled snow blower is better for solid and/or even surfaces, while an engine-driven machine is better suited for rough and/or sloped surfaces.
Size of area you’re clearing
The size of the area you’re clearing likely factored into your decision to buy a snow blower in the first place. Now, start thinking about what type of snow blower is best suited to clear that space.
If you’re buying a snow blower for a short driveway, a single-stage might make sense. But remember, if that short driveway gets a lot of snowfall or is rough and uneven, a two- or three-stage machine is likely your best bet.
For longer driveways or bigger areas, two- and three-stage snow blowers are also recommended. As a point of reference, we’d recommend a two-stage machine for an area equivalent to eight to 15 parking spaces, and a three-stage for 15 parking spaces or more.
Features important to you
Finally, think about the features you’d like to have on your snow blower and determine which are necessary for the jobs you’ll be using the machine for.
Take the time to consider the features that are essential to the jobs you’re doing and the features you’re flexible on. Then you can determine whether you want a snow blower with all your preferred features or only a select few.
Popular snow blower features include push-button start, power steering, four-way chute control, heated hand grips, airless tires or tracks, remote pitch control, and more.