April 13, 2017

Buying a Snow blower

cherry blossoms

It's April and most people have little tax collecting cherubs dancing around their heads. The lucky ones have already filed their taxes and are awaiting precious refunds while the rest are biding their time to reluctantly pay at the very last minute possible.

When you're not thinking about taxes, there are all kinds of flowers blooming. From cherry blossoms to tulips, Spring is a wonderful time of the year. Unless you suffer from allergies ... but I'm veering off topic now.

The title of this post is supposed to be about snow blowers, so I should probably get back to it. We're talking about snow blowers in Spring because that's when nobody needs one and the prices are the lowest. In December when the snow is coming down, manufacturers know their products are in demand and they can charge more. But when the flowers are blooming ... who's thinking about snow blowers? We are, that's who! Because we want good deals.

So lets take a look at snow blowers to see what's available.

single stage electric snow blower

Single stage electric snow blowers

Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • No maintenance
  • Cheapest type of snow blower
Cons
  • Need extension cords
  • Not very powerful
  • Requires push effort
View price history

Ours Go To 11

It should be simple to pick a blower. You'd generally want the one that pushes the most snow, has little maintenance and costs the least. But that's not how it works.

The type of blower depends on how tough the snow is and how much you need to move. For example, if you want to move light and fluffy snow then you can get away with an electric. But if you want to move snow that's wet, heavy or icy then you have to go with a gas blower. And, even then, they have different options for how much volume of snow you need to move over what distance. You don't want to just blow the snow from part of your driveway to the next, do you? You want to throw it into your neighbor's yard and let them deal with it.

How far you can throw the snow depends on how many stages the blower has. A single stage blower will both chomp the snow in front of you and throw it with one motion. Multi-stage blowers, as in two or three, will have separate components for the chomping and throwing of the snow. They'll be able to shoot it farther into the neighbor's yard. This reduces the likelihood that they can push it back into yours.

single stage gas snow blower

Single stage gas snow blowers

Pros
  • Can handle fluffy snow
  • More powerful than electric and no cords to deal with
  • Smallest and lightest gas snow blower
  • Cheapest gas snow blower
Cons
  • Gas and oil maintenance
  • Can't handle wet or heavy snow
  • Requires push effort
View price history

Maintenance

The easiest to maintain blowers are the electric. There's no oil or gas to worry about, those clean electrons will just quietly zip through your extension cord without putting out any harmful gases. The downside is that you have to manage an extension cord while you are blowing snow. A second downside is that electric blowers just aren't very powerful. They're good for moving light and fluffy snow. But if it's deep or tougher, they'll bog down and leave you frustrated. There are battery powered ones to save you from the extension cord, but they're even weaker than the corded ones. In fact, electric blowers are so weak that unless you have a small driveway and are unable to shovel light snow on your own, I really wouldn't recommend any of the electric blowers.

Now the gas blowers are more powerful but require more maintenance. They have four-cycle engines meaning that you don't have to mix the gas and oil together. They each go into their separate compartments. But now you have the regular maintenance that comes with gas engines such as emptying fluids at the end of the season, spark plug replacements, changing oil, etc. No question they are more powerful, but with all that power ... comes responsibility.

two stage gas snow blower

Two stage gas snow blowers

Pros
  • Can handle wet/heavy snow
  • Most popular size snow blower
  • Self propelled (forward and reverse)
Cons
  • Gas and oil maintenance
  • Big and heavy
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Storage

The electric models are the smallest and easiest to store. They're the size of a small, walk behind lawnmower. The gas models each move up in size with the number of stages. A single stage gas blower will be about the size of a lawnmower. While a two stage blower will be about the size of a small lawn tractor. A three stage blower is overkill unless you have a large property and plenty of storage.

three stage gas snow blower

Three stage gas snow blowers

Pros
  • Can handle wet/heavy/icy snow
  • Most powerful walking snow blower
  • Self propelled (forward and reverse)
Cons
  • Gas and oil maintenance
  • Large size requires bigger storage
  • Most expensive type of walking snow blower
  • Big and heavy
View price history

Summary

  • Electric snow blowers are smaller, cheaper and easier to maintain but can really only handle light snow. Only use if you're not able to shovel any snow manually.
  • Gas snow blowers come in different stages:
    • Single stage blowers are better than electric but have limited range.
    • Two stage blowers are the sweet spot of power, size and cost.
    • Three stage blowers are for those areas with heavy wet snow and ice.
  • Most suburban homes will want a two stage gas snow blower.
  • Urban homeowners can use electric snow blowers when they can't shovel.

When you're ready, head on over to our main site and see all the deals on snow blowers.