Snow Blower Reviews
Anyone who lives in a cold, snowy climate knows that clearing snow away from the driveway, sidewalks, and walkways can be a major task and a major pain. A snowplow service can help keep your driveway clear, push the snow up to the back and sides of your driveway, powered by a pickup truck and a plow mounted on the front. But then you are at the mercy of the plow service in terms of timing, and the expense can be $20 per storm, which adds up - and you are still left to deal with sidewalks, walkways, etc. Many home owners opt for a snow blower or snow thrower. These gas powered snow blowers
are like lawn mowers for snow - you walk behind them and the blades inside them chop up and pick up the snow from their path, then throw it out a chute on the side to get it out of the way.
The most popular snow blowers are made by Ariens, Toro, Craftsman, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, MTD Yard Machines, and Honda. Below we will review things to look for when buying a snow blower, and what the best snow blowers are for your particular needs.
Best Snow Throwers:
The main advantage of a snow blower is that it saves your back, arms, and legs from doing all the heavy snow removal work. If you've ever used a snow shovel, you know that each shovelful weighs a lot, and after scooping hundreds of shovels full, you have effectively lifted and thrown quite literally tons of snow. A powered snow blower uses a gas powered engine to do all the heavy work for you - all you do is walk behind it and guide it. There are two main types of snow blowers - single-stage and two-stage. A single-stage snow blower has an auger, which kind of looks like chopping saw blades, that spin and chop up the snow in its path, sending it out a discharge chute. They normally are powered by a two-stroke gas engine - the horse power rating of the engine will determine how quickly it chops and how far it throws. Two-stroke engines require you to mix gas and oil for efficient operation, while 4 stroke engines run on straight gasoline. Also, snow blowers come in different widths - they might clear 12" to 24" at a pass. Obviously the wider path it clears, the faster you can do the job. Single stage snow throwers are designed for residential use under lighter snow conditions - they can comfortably handle 4-5" of snow. In single-stage blowers, the augur comes in contact with the ground surface, making them fine for flat concrete but not so good on gravel or dirt. When you have deeper snow and a larger area to clean, you get to the two-stage snow blowers. RECOMMENDED
- One of the top selling gas powered 2 stage throwers is the Poulan Pro PR624ES 24-Inch
- it features an electric start, chain speed drive, and a 23 inch intake height.
Two-stage snow throwers (also known as dual-stage) normally have a larger 4 cycle engine, but the main difference is the inclusion on an impeller, which collects the show as it is chopped up and then powerfully shoots it out the side. Two-stage snow blowers can throw snow up to 40+' and can clear paths up to 36 inches wide, making quick work of even the longest driveways. A two stage blower normally comes with a tougher, winterized engine as well, with freeze resistant starting mechanisms and cooling system tweaked for cold weather performance. They also come with powered wheels or treads that require almost no pushing work on the part of the operator. For smaller jobs like clearing a walk way, you might want to consider the smaller "sweepers" that are available, like the Yard Machines Snow Fox 12.5-Inch 8.5 Amp Electric Snow Thrower
. At a little over $150, this small, electrical machine can throw snow 20' and makes sidewalk and walkway cleaning a snap. Toro makes an electric Power Shovel
for right around $100 that clears 300 lbs of snow per minute (up to 6 inches deep). It also converts to a power brooms for sweeping during the rest of the year. Both of these are electric powered, so you don't need to worry about gas and oil -- just an extension cord. For light cleanup work, these work really well.
Buying a Snow Blower
For a single-stage snow thrower, expect to pay $300-$800. For a two-stage snow blower, expect to pay $600-$2000. As discussed above, the first decision you need to make is whether you need a single or dual stage snow blower. If your storms are usually 5 inches or less and you have a manageable area to clean, you can probably get by with a cheaper single stage blower. If you face snowfalls of 6 inches or more and have larger surfaces to clear, consider the two-stage thrower with the added impeller power to really clear the snow quickly and throw it far away. Next consider just how cold your climate is - do you need the special heavy duty features like special starters, heated grips, etc. Also, how hilly is your terrain? Self-propelled units might be your only choice in a hilly, icy environment. For tips and advice on buying a new snow blower, check out Lowes.com
. They have a snow blower buying guide, and of course they sell snow blowers along with all the other home maintenance equipment they have. You can pick up a Troy-Bilt 5.5HP Single-stage Snow Blower for $450, with an electric starter and 21" clearing width. A more powerful Husqvarna 10.5HP dual-stage blower runs just under $1000. Honda also makes some heavy-duty track drive and wheel drive snowblowers, like the HS724TA Snowblower, HS928TA Snowblower, and HS928TAS Snowblower. These feature from 6.5HP to 8.9HP, are self-propelled, and have a 24-28" clearing width. Their less powerful models, Honda HS520A Snowblower and Honda HS520AS, clear 20 inch paths and can throw snow up to 25' - they run for over and hour and a half on a single tank of gas. The Toro models include the Toro Snow Commander at $859, the Toro two-stage Power Max, with a 26" clearing width, 6 speeds, and an $1100 price tag. The Ariens models range from the $529 single-stage 522, with 5Hp and a 22" path. The Ariens 722EC has a larger 7HP Tecumseh Snow King engine, a 1.2qt fuel tank (2 stroke engine) and clears a 22in path. The Ariens Deluxe 2-stage snowblowers range from $1100 - $1900 MSRP. In the mid range, the Ariens 11528LE Deluxe has an 11.5HP engine, halogen headlight, 14" four blade impeller for more throwing power, and hand warmer grips. That gives you a good idea of price ranges and model features. Checking out a Lowes or Home Depot is a good starting place to check out the size, features, and prices of snow blowers. For more variety, you may want to visit a local yard and small motor store. Ariens offers a 3 year warranty, which is pretty standard. You'll also want to find a local maintenance or repair shop that can handle yearly tuneups and maintenance, which will probably run $30-$65. If you prefer the convenience of shopping at home, you can check out the bestselling snow blowers here
in their home and garden section. They carry Poulan and Yard Machine models. The BEST ELECTRIC SNOW THROWER
based on 100's of consumer reviews online is the Toro 1800 18-Inch 12 Amp Electric Curve Snow Thrower
which is sold through Amazon.com for roughly $325.
Other Snow Removal Equipment - Salt Spreaders, Plows, Driveway Markers, etc.
Apart from snow blowers, there are of course other products out there to help you keep your driveway and walk clean. If you have heavier equipment like a truck or a tractor, you may want to consider adding a snow plow attachment to the front. Snow plowing is a bit of an art, but there is nothing that says you can't do it yourself. You can check out some snow plows here
. You can get some ideas of what is out there -- plows start around $300 and go up from there. If you'd rather avoid the ice and snow build up by using a de-icer, then take a look at these spreaders and de-icers
. I've spread salt by hand before along walkways -- it's OK for a small job, but tough to get even coverage. If you've got more ground to cover, a salt spreader makes it go a lot faster. And don't forget the old snow-shovel
-- chance are you'll have at least a few areas that still need to be cleaned by hand with a shovel. I've tried those big scoop-looking devices that you are supposed to slide along the ground and remove snow real fast -- didn't work, as the snow was so heavy you just can't clear much at a time. So I prefer an old fashioned snow shovel - and the scrape method is much easier on the back than the scoop and lift method. Whenever you can, use the shovel like a broom and push and scrape as much snow as you can over to the side, lifting and throwing snow only when you have to.