It's that time of the year again: winter! and you'd rather be thinking about snow skiing than snow blowing. Me, too. No such luck. In many places winter brings snow - sometimes a little, sometimes a massive pile. But plowing it doesn't have to be a huge burden. There are snow blowers designed for light snow and historic falls, and everything in between.
For those lucky enough to have only a few inches of snow on the ground, but still want to keep sidewalks and decks clear, there are the smaller units. These are typically powered by electricity. Sometimes, they're even battery driven, requiring no cord or home outlet at all!
The smaller electric models are often called "electric snow shovels". They usually weigh no more than 20 pounds or so, yet consume about 12-14 amps. They're plenty powerful enough to clear a long sidewalk with a few inches of medium-wet snow.
For bigger jobs, but for those who still want the quiet and convenience of an electric snow blower, there are the 14-inch to 24-inch (or larger) plug-in models. They resemble their larger gas-powered cousins but weigh less and require practically no maintenance.
Rechargeable battery-powered snow blower models are generally heavier. Those lead batteries, similar to the one in your car, weigh a fair amount. They're also usually more expensive than a snow blower you plug in. The tradeoff is in the freedom and ease-of-use of being self-contained. No need for utility power to be on, and no drag from a long cord you pull around.
Gas-powered snow blowers are typically larger, heavier, and more powerful - though sometimes none of those - than the electric snow blower models. Price is all over the place, so they may be cheaper, more expensive, or exactly the same as an electric with roughly the same specs. On average, though, you can expect a gas blower to offer more power, more clearing ability, and cost a bit more than the equivalent electric.
A gas-powered model usually offers no less a 22-inch wide auger. That's the blade assembly that chews up snow and feeds it into a chute to be blown aside by the power of the motor.
As a general rule, the wider the auger, the higher the price - but larger models tend also to be accompanied by more powerful engines. Two-stage models - which chew snow then blow it forcefully through the chute using an impeller - are frequently more powerful, but also more expensive still.
Whether electric or gas, it's helpful to look for metal parts - especially in the auger. It gets the roughest treatment, often encountering gravel or tiny twigs on the ground beneath the snow. Modern plastics can stand up to a lot, but with a fast-spinning blade you never know for sure.
Tradeoffs in other parts - the intake, chute, and other parts that come into contact with moving snow - can often lower the weight and price, without compromising durability too much. Plastic parts used there are very often just fine. Other tradeoffs - features such as a headlamp, hand controls to turn the chute, fuel capacity, brand of engine - are also possible.
There are tons of variations in snow blowers, and a wide range of prices. That balancing act is always a personal exercise. Your budget might be different from your neighbor's. Your need for more clearing power, increased ease of turning, or any number of other attributes is very individual.
In the end, getting the right snow blower for your particular situation comes down to what you want most. For some, reliability is hugely important. Some buyers insist on a snow blower that will last 20 years. Others value more getting the most power possible at a given price. Still others want features that make a snow blower so effortless to use a child can perform the snow clearing chore.
TopSnowBlowers.com offers specs, reviews, and ratings to help you get the most out of your money - information arranged in easy-to-digest format so you can make an informed decision on purchasing the best snow blower model for you, in your environment, without overspending.