Choosing a snow blower can be tricky business. It not only depends on the specifications of your driveway but also the depth and nature of snow you wish to remove. Three types of snow blowers are available on the market: single stage, two stage and three stage snow blowers, each having a higher efficiency than the previous one.
The goal here is to pick a snow blower that is easy to operate and maintain. For this we will be looking at various factors that will help you choose a snow blower that fits your needs and gets the work done while requiring minimum effort.
Let’s have a look at the types of snow blowers first:
Single stage snow blower
Single stage snow blowers are considered as light duty machines. These usually have a high-speed impeller connected to auger paddles which are placed close to the ground. The auger’s role being to sweep snow off the ground and direct it towards the chute where it’s launched 35ft into the air. It also has a rubber leading edge that makes it easier to operate as it slightly propels the blower forward while it scoops snow.
Two stage snow blower
This is called a two stage snow blower because it operates in two stages. It breaks ice using its slow-turning serrated corkscrew auger and leads it to the high speed impeller in the center of the housing. The snow is then propelled approximately 50ft into the air through the discharge chute. Compared to the single stage blower this has a more powerful engine and higher efficiency.
Three stage snow blower
The three stage snow blower has the most horse-power and highest snow clearing efficiency/speed out of all the others. This is due to the addition of an accelerator. The auger and accelerator work together to churn the snow and push it towards the high speed impeller, after which the snow is discharged through the shoot and thrown 50ft upwards.
What additional features are present in two and three stage snow blowers?
Even though single stage blowers are the simplest to operate, there are quite a few features that make two and three stage blowers require less work. These snow blowers are often self-propelled, have chute mechanisms, remote deflector control and power steering. These features make them easier to operate. Second stage blowers are also lighter compared to the others.
Benefit of having chute mechanisms
In a single stage snow blower you might find a crank that would help you change the direction of the discharge chute if you or the wind change direction while clearing out the snow. This crank takes several turns to manually shift the outlet. This is not only strenuous but also time consuming. With chute mechanisms and remote deflector control you will have an electronically operated lever that can help you change the direction of the chute without even stopping.
Why is self-propelling and power steering better?
Both of these features save you a lifetime of back pain. Power steering makes turning your heavy duty snow blower a piece of cake, while self-propelled snow blowers automatically move around steep pathways making them a lot easier to navigate.
How the size of your driveway matters
Single stage snow blowers are ideal for a small area/driveway. Which means that for a single-car/double-car driveway a single stage snow blower would suffice. However for bigger driveways, those approximately sixty feet or larger, it would be better to use a two stage or three stage snow blower.
Choosing according to the type of driveway
However small, it’s not wise to use a single stage blower on a gravel or dirt driveway as it has a fixed auger close to the ground. Instead use a two/three stage blower with an adjustable auger so that you don’t have dirt or rocks entering your blower.
Why factor in type of snow?
This plays a big part in choosing the right snow blower for you. A single stage will only be able to efficiently remove light, soft, compacted snow. If the snow is deep, wet and sticky then a two/three stage snow blower is your best bet at clearing it. The same goes for icy and frozen snow.
To snow, or not to snow?
The depth of snow that accumulates in your driveway on an average is also important to consider. A single stage snow blower can typically clear 12 inches of light snow but in some cases can handle up to 18 inches as well. Whereas two/three stage snow blowers can clear around 24 inches of wet and heavy snow.
Why prefer electrical or battery powered snow blowers?
Battery powered and corded electrical snow blowers create less noise and pollution than gas snow blowers. They also require less maintenance, as there’s no need to change their oil. Battery powered snow blowers have more mobility since they aren’t restricted by a cord and can be used on larger driveways.
Single stage snow blowers are usually corded whereas you can easily find cordless two stage snow blowers.
Why prefer gas powered snow blowers?
The first advantage of going for gas is that you have all three types of snow blowers available. Besides that, gas powered snow blowers have a larger clearing width of about 18-45 inches.
Why most don’t prefer gas snow blowers
Gas snow blowers are harder to maintain and fuel becomes difficult to store during the winters. Not only that, but gas snow blowers can weigh up to 68 pounds or more which is twice of what battery operated snow blowers weigh.
They also take a lot of effort to start. Compared to the electrical snow blowers which have a simple power switch, gas snow blowers need more than several rope pulls to start.
Which one would cost less in the long run?
If you’re still torn between a two and three stage snow blower then this might be the tie breaker. The three stage snow blower might seem tempting because of its higher efficiency but it costs more in the long run. Two stage snow blowers aren’t as complicated and therefore easier to maintain, while three stage snow blowers will always need professional help to maintain, hence cost more in the long run.