Winter is only a few weeks old, which means it’s still not too late to invest in a snow blower. But how do you know which one is the right one? Here are several things to look out for.
Do you find yourself have to slouch or stand on your tiptoes to navigate the snow blower correctly? Or do you stand in a natural posture and find using the snow blower easy and comfortable? Where are the handle and chute adjustment located? How does it respond to turns, and how tight can you turn the snow blower? Does it snow a lot where you live? If so, a two-stage snow blower will probably be more appropriate, but the added power can make handling them a little more difficult.
When buying a snow blower, make sure that it contains a “dead man control”, a safety feature that halts the auger or impeller as soon as you let go of the handlebar grips. This immediate stop vastly increases the safety of your snow blower and goes a long way in preventing accidents when unforeseen obstacles pop up.
Another control to look for on a single stage snow blower is a long handle (joystick on two stage snow blowers) you can use to switch the height and throw direction of the discharge chute so snow goes exactly where you want it to.
If you’re buying a two-stage snow blower, also take a close look at the drive control that lets you use both the drive wheels and auger with one hand, and the chute with the other. To make sure it’s extra safe, get one with a handlebar-mounted trigger release that disengages power to one or both of the drive wheels, as your steering control will be much easier.
You can choose from a gas-powered or corded snow blower (with many models offering both, like the NAME). While you do have to exercise more caution in using a corded snow blower and you’re tied to a certain radius, plugging in a cord instead of yanking one can be a welcome respite in cold weather.
If you live in an area that doesn’t get much snow, or your property is fairly small, a single stage snow blower will usually suffice. However, single stage snow blowers only come with one speed, which does limit their power and snow-clearing abilities.
But when you look at two stage snow blowers, they usually come in five or six forward speeds, which can come in very handy when you’ve got a heavy or wet snowfall that requires more muscle.
Ignore what the salesperson is telling you about bigger engines being better, and figure out exactly what’ll work best for your property. A heavy-duty two-stage snow blower will be far more useful for someone living in the heart of Wisconsin, and an overpaid purchase for someone in Kentucky. Do your research beforehand, and go with what you need, not what looks fancy.