Snow blowers (or throwers) come in two models: gas-powered or electric. As is common with gas-powered equipment, these snow blowers have more power, but also require maintenance and are not environmentally-friendly. OHV engines counter some of those emissions, because they are more energy-efficient. When you’re looking at gas blowers, bear in mind the power of the engine can be found in the “cc” measurement, which stands for “cubic centimeters.” Many brands no longer put the horsepower on their snow blowers. Anything 200cc and above should be enough power for most snow-clearing jobs. On the other side, corded electric snow blowers are emission-free and can save you lots of money. More compact snow blowers have about 7-7.5 amps and are ideal for sidewalks, steps, and decks. These lower-powered models can clear 300 pounds of snow per minute. Higher-amp electric snow blowers have between 12-15 amps, and can clear 650-850 pounds of snow per minute. There are even some electric snow blowers with as many as 30 amps, though those are quite expensive.
Clearing path and depth
The length and depth of a snow blower’s path determines how much snow you can clear and how fast you can do it. Compact snow blowers meant for lighter residential jobs usually have about a 12-inch wide path and 4-inch depth. Larger snow blowers can handle more snow, and cut between 15-20 inches wide with depths around 9-12 inches. For areas where there’s a lot of snowfall, you can get snow blowers/throwers with 24-inch clearing paths and 21-inch depths.
The auger is the part of the snow blower that cuts the clearing path and depth. They are also sometimes called blades. The auger moves the snow to an impeller and then into the discharge chute. Having a durable auger is crucial, because when it breaks, the snow blower won’t work until you fix it. If it’s weak, it also won’t be able to handle as much snow as it claims it can on the box. Steel is the most popular metal of choice for augers, and they are often tipped in rubber for added durability. Sometimes they have special features, like serrated blades.
The discharge chute is where the snow blower does its “blowing.” All the snow gathered by the auger goes to the chute and then blows away from the area you’re clearing. In terms of distance, 20 feet is the standard, and as you go up in power, the snow blowers can reach 30 feet. You can also control the direction of the flying snow using features like a directional discharge crank or 180-degree directional chute. Using the handle (or crank), you can rotate the chute to the desired direction, so snow doesn’t end up somewhere where it’s still in the way. Not all snow blowers have adjustable chutes, though most do, so just check to make sure.
Using a snow blower/thrower should be as easy and convenient as possible, since no one wants to be working out in the cold for very long. Handles with adjustable, rubber grips are important so you can find the perfect bar height, and avoid back pain. Some handles are telescopic, so adjusting the snow blower is especially easy. Most snow blowers with adjustable handles have three different settings. When it comes to controlling the snowblower and discharge, 4-way joystick controls on the handle make using the tool fast and easy. With gas-powered snow blowers, a gear transmission that allows for both forward and reverse movement allow for more movement.
If weight is a concern for you, there are lots of compact snow blowers that weigh only 12 or 12 ½ pounds. These snow blowers are best for smaller snow jobs like clearing decks, sidewalks, and driveways. Heavier snow blowers are still under 40 pounds, so you can deal with lots of snow without working with a bulky snow blower/thrower.
For snow blower/thrower stability, large wheels are important. Most snow blowers have at least 6-inch wheels. Features like pivots and easy-glide make it easy to navigate the snow blower. Good wheels also help keep the weight off your arms.