OK, so we're now into winter and the snow is here. We've already discussed shoveling snow here, but some may choose to automate the process with the use of a snowblower. If you're in the market for a snow blower there are a few things to consider. First, how much area do you have to clear? The size of the area is a primary factor for determining the type of snow blower you need. Why? Well, just like lawn mowers, snow blowers are sized for amount of work they need to perform. Let's discuss.
Single-stage snow blowers
There are two types of snow blowers; single-stage and dual-stage. A single-stage snowblower does all the work with a single action. A rubber-finned rotor turns very fast and grabs the snow, sending it up a shoot and throws the snow up and away from the blower. These are generally smaller in size and capacity than dual-stage versions. They are also the most common for homeowners. Another consideration for single-stage snow blowers is the power source. These snowblowers are available in electric or gas powered options. Electric versions should be used for the smallest of areas -- typically a short sidewalk or a very small patio or parking area. Gas powered, single-stage snowblowers are better for mid-sized areas that include a driveway a few car lengths long and sidewalk. For bigger properties, read on.
To clear large areas, a dual-stage snow blower is best. A dual-stage blower removes snow with a two-step process. First a slow speed auger grabs the snow with a metal blade and pulls it into a shoot where a faster spinning blade shoots the snow away from the blower. These units generally have larger engines and are self-propelled with knobby tires to help push through up to 24" of snow. These blowers can clear as much snow as you have time to handle. They are great for longer driveways and sidewalks, but are less desirable for confined areas or spaces that require a lot of turns.
Operating a snow blower
Regardless of which version you buy, you'll need to consider a few basics before operating your new snow blower. First off, storage. Where will you keep the snow blower? You'll want to keep it in a place that is easily accessible, such as a garage or carport. The last thing you'll want is to drag your snow blower through deep snow to get it from the storage shed to the driveway. Next, if you purchased a gas-powered blower, you'll need fresh gasoline and oil. Lastly, you'll need consider where you will blow the snow as you operate it. The wind can be an opposing force, blowing the snow back in your face, so consider wind direction as you aim the shooting snow. Also, try not to shoot the snow in areas you need to clear or have already cleared.