How to choose a snow blower, tips for choosing and reviews
snow blower — a device for cleaning snow in a certain area by capturing, crushing and ejecting in a selected direction.
snow blower robot — an improved version of the snow blower that performs the work automatically: the user just needs to set the route and time of cleaning. In addition, the robot can be activated remotely (SMS, a special application on a smartphone). If an obstacle or a living being is encountered on the way of «smart» technology, the robot will bypass it or stop the movement.
- Self-propelled tracked snow blower
- Self-propelled wheeled snow blower
- Non-self-propelled snow blower
Domestic (country) — compact non-self-propelled equipment with low power. Similar snow blowers are divided into subclasses:
- micro class (electroshovel) — a low-power device (up to 1000 W), used to clean the yard and paths;
- mini class (electric cleaner with a deflector) — a more powerful unit (up to 2500 W), designed to clean an area up to 500 m22;
- medium class (gasoline cleaner) — a fairly powerful technique (up to 6000 W or 5 hp), used to clean an area up to 3000 m22.
semi-professional (amateur) — larger self-propelled vehicles with a capacity of 5-7.5 hp. Recommended scope: cleaning of areas up to 6000 m2.
Professional — overall self-propelled equipment with high power (7.5-13 hp). Recommended area of application: cleaning of areas from 6000 m22.
Important: to convert horsepower to kilowatts, you should know that 1 liter. s.=735 W.
self propelled — driven by a gasoline or electric motor, equipped with a transmission. Such a snow blower is much more convenient than a non-self-propelled counterpart, since the user does not need to push it. The self-propelled model will perfectly cope with dense snow and crust. Disadvantages: high cost, more expensive maintenance, large dimensions. This is the best solution for cleaning a large area.
Self-propelled models are equipped with headlights, heated handles, power steering.
There are two types of self-propelled snow blowers.
- Wheeled — designed for a flat surface and slightly rugged terrain. Snowblower wheels are specially profiled for good grip on ice and snow. This model is flexible and lightweight.
- Crawler – designed for complex terrain (including ice surfaces, steep slopes). Compared to wheels, caterpillars are characterized by a larger grip area and high traction, which means better flotation. At the same time, the tracked model is inferior to the wheeled one in maneuverability and speed, and its price is much higher.
non-self-propelled — driven by the user’s muscle power. Such a snow blower is cheaper, more compact and cleans the surface more gently than a self-propelled one. Minus — not suitable for cleaning crust or dense snow. The non-self-propelled model is suitable for processing small areas (dacha, country house) and cleaning hard-to-reach places. This technique is easily mastered by teenagers and the elderly.
Non-self-propelled snow blowers weigh 45 kg, self-propelled — about 70 kg.
Electric — light, quiet, easy to maintain (does not need an oil change), relatively cheap. Such a snow blower loses to a gasoline counterpart in power and mobility (depending on the length of the cord). In addition, the possibility of a wire break and a short circuit in the snow is not excluded.
Electric motors are mainly equipped with non-self-propelled machines. A machine with an electric motor is good for cleaning small areas with an electrical outlet, such as a house yard, wooden terraces.
Petrol — powerful, does not depend on the mains and cable length. This machine is heavier, more expensive and more difficult to maintain (needs fuel, periodic oil changes) than an electric snow blower. The disadvantages include a high level of noise during operation.
Gasoline engines are used in self-propelled and non-self-propelled machines. It is logical to choose such a model for cleaning a vast area where there is no electricity.
The gasoline engine is presented in two forms.
- 2 stroke — powerful at a relatively low price, but during operation it makes a lot of noise and does not start well in the cold. A 2-stroke engine requires refueling a mixture of gasoline and oil in a precisely defined proportion (deviation from them will lead to premature engine wear).
- 4 stroke – economical, less noisy and easy to refuel (gasoline and oil are refueled separately). With the same volume, such a motor is inferior in power to a 2-stroke.
Hybrid — combines the previous two engines. The gasoline engine drives the rotor and augers, generates energy for the electric motor, and the latter starts the tracks. Hybrid vehicles are expensive and rare.
Directly determines the performance of the snow blower. It is measured in horsepower (hp) or watts (W). A more powerful model will show a better result when clearing high snowdrifts and crust, but will cost more and require more fuel. Powerful snow blowers are heavier than low-power «brothers».
Motor power parameters:
- Electrical engine — 2-3 HP (the most expensive electric car in terms of power is commensurate only with the cheapest gasoline);
- Gas engine — up to 10-15 hp
Recommended snow blower power:
- 3-4 l. With. — for cleaning on the porch, at the exit from the garage and other small works;
- 5-6 hp — for cleaning the territory of 6 acres;
- 8 l. With. — for cleaning the territory of 10 acres;
- 10 hp and above — for cleaning the territory from 1500 m2.
Volume – the larger this parameter, the higher the engine power and the performance of the snow blower. A large motor consumes a large amount of fuel and makes the design of the device heavier.
Start type (petrol) — implemented in two versions.
- Manual (twitch of the handle) — models with a similar launch are light and cheap, but inconvenient, since they require physical effort to start.
- Electric starter — snow blowers with this launch are more convenient, but heavier and more expensive. The starter can be powered from the mains or from the built-in battery. The first option is cheaper and more reliable (especially in winter), the second one provides greater autonomy, which accordingly affects the price of the snow blower.
Fuel tank volume — the higher this parameter, the longer the snowplow will work without refueling.
Transmission (gearbox) — there are two types.
- stepped — simple and cheap, but inconvenient to use: shifting gears should be sequential and with the snow blower completely stopped to avoid transmission wear.
- Stepwise (variator) — easier to operate, since a complete stop of the machine is not required to change gears. Such a gearbox has a complex design and will cost more.
Number of gears — in different models, this parameter can reach 6 (front) and 2 (rear). The more gears (speeds), the more convenient it is to work with a snow blower.
Auger — a device by which a snow blower picks up snow and throws it in a certain direction.
Metal — hard and durable material. Such an auger will perfectly cope with high snowdrifts, crust and dense snow, but for work with delicate surfaces, for example, a garden path, it will not work. In a collision with a solid obstacle (stone), a metal auger can damage the transmission or motor. Self-propelled snow blowers are supplied with metal augers.
Plastic — Sufficiently hard material at a low cost. Unlike a metal auger, a plastic tool works gently on the pavement, but is quite brittle and prone to cracking when hitting a stone. Plastic augers are found in cheap snowblowers.
Rubber+plastic, rubber (rubberized) — a relatively soft material. Such an auger is suitable for clearing snow from paths with a decorative coating. A rubberized tool can handle loose snow; when working with crust or dense snowdrift, it will show a much worse result and quickly fail. Rubberized augers are installed on non-self-propelled snow blowers.
In addition to the auger, many snowblowers use a sweeper. This tool is designed for cleaning soft snow of shallow depth. A sweeper brush is ideal for light jobs and cleaning delicate surfaces, but it won’t be able to handle more serious tasks.
A self-propelled snow blower can be equipped with an auger / rotor pair. The rotor (impeller) throws snow much further than the auger.
Important: pay attention to models that are equipped with an auger and a brush. In this case, the quality of cleaning will increase noticeably: the auger will remove dense snowdrifts, and the brush will clean the remaining snow.
Form — available in two options:
- embossed — to clear the area from icy or packed snow;
- smooth — for cleaning the territory from loose, fresh snow.
Auger or brush diameter — the higher this parameter, the more snow the auger or brush will capture. But reducing the diameter will increase the force when rotating the tool. A snow blower with a large auger is better at clearing a significant amount of soft snow, while a model with a small auger is good for dealing with crust and hard snow.
Impeller — Designed for ejection of snow in snowplows with a two- and three-stage cleaning system. The impeller is made of plastic or metal. The first option is cheaper, but the second is more reliable and durable.
Chute for ejection of snow (deflector) — made of plastic or metal. A plastic gutter is lighter, cheaper and quieter (does not vibrate during operation), but a metal one is stronger and more reliable: it does not freeze in the cold and is not prone to cracks. The metal chute will not collapse when small stones are ejected along with snow.
Working height and width — allow you to evaluate the performance of the snow blower in one pass. The larger these parameters, the higher and wider snowdrifts the machine will handle.
The grip height depends on the device class:
- domestic — 20-32 cm;
- semi-professional — 35-50 cm;
- professional — 50-60 cm.
For regular snow removal, a device with a parameter of 20 cm is enough, but if cleaning is done less frequently, then a snow blower with a height of 50 cm will be a good choice.
Capture width — the larger this parameter, the faster the machine will clear a certain area of snow. At the same time, as the working width increases, the maneuverability of the snow blower decreases.
The capture width depends on the device class:
- domestic — 30-55 cm;
- semi-professional — 55-70 cm;
- professional — 70-100 cm and above.
Ejection range — is determined by the engine power of the snow blower.
The ejection range depends on the device class:
- domestic – micro-class cars (up to 3-4 m), mini-class cars (2-8 m), medium-class cars (up to 10 m);
- semi-professional – up to 15 m;
- professional — up to 19 m.
A long throw distance (over 10 m) is required when processing large areas (more than 1500 m2). A short throw range is useful for clearing a relatively small area.
Performance — the amount of snow that the device throws per hour of operation. The unit of measure is ton per hour (ton/h). Manufacturers sometimes list performance in snow clearing area per hour (m2/h).
Performance depends on device class:
- domestic – mini class machines (up to 8 tons/h), medium class machines (up to 10 tons/h);
- semi-professional – up to 30 tons/h;
- professional – up to 90 tons/h.
Time of continuous work — the duration of the snow blower from refueling it with fuel or charging the battery. A machine that can work for a long time is useful for cleaning large areas.
Cleaning system — There are three types.
- single stage — the capture and ejection of snow is carried out by rotating the auger. Throwing snow for a considerable distance requires a high speed of rotation of the auger. If the fast-rotating auger hits a rock or other obstacle, the machine is likely to break down. Such a device should not be used for cleaning gravel and rocky paths.
- two stage — snow is captured by an auger, and ejected by an impeller, which increases the reliability of the unit. Such a machine will cope with the processing of rocky and gravel surfaces. The reliability of the two-stage system is enhanced by the independence of the adjustment of the snow ejection range from the rotation speed of the auger.
- Three-stage — the capture of snow is carried out by two augers, which then feed it to the accelerator (for grinding), and the ejection is carried out by an impeller. Such a snow blower is great for processing large areas and will cope with snow of any depth and density.
Noise level – the smaller this value, the more comfortable the operation of the snow blower.
Wheel diameter — the larger this parameter, the higher the cross-country ability of the snow blower. Non-self-propelled machines, for example, mini-class models, are equipped with small wheels with a diameter of up to 15 cm. But for self-propelled semi-professional models, the wheel diameter is from 15 cm.
Overload protection — prevents the failure of the snow blower with a significant increase in the load on the motor. In self-propelled machines, the auger is disconnected from the gearbox (in case of jamming), in non-self-propelled units, the engine is simply turned off (in case of overheating).
Headlights — make it possible to use the snow blower at night.
Heated handles — warms the hands of the operator when working with a snow blower. This function is especially useful for cleaning large areas, which takes a long time. Heated handles are provided in powerful models.
Power steering – makes it easier to control and maneuver the snow blower: to turn the machine in the right direction, just turn the right or left handle.
Throw distance adjustment — allows you to change the distance of throwing snow depending on the situation.
One hand operation – facilitates the operation of the snow blower. In particular, this option is useful when changing the position of the snow ejection chute without stopping the machine.
Height adjustment of handles — allows you to adjust the handles to the height of the user. This feature provides additional comfort when working with the machine.
Snow Chute Adjustment — makes it possible to determine the direction of snow ejection.
There are several ways to adjust:
- manual – requires the snowplow to stop;
- mechanical – allows you to adjust the direction of snow ejection on the go;
- electric — also does not require stopping the snow blower, but is a more advanced and expensive option.
In some budget snow blowers, there is no adjustment at all — the snow ejection chute is rigidly fixed.
Adjusting the position of the snow catcher — allows you to determine the distance of the snow intake to the ground. Thus, the user sets the thickness of the snow layer that will remain after the passage of the car.
Adjustment is made in two ways:
- mechanical – requires the car to be stopped;
- electric – does not require stopping the snow blower.
Locking wheels / tracks individually – makes it easier to control and maneuver the snow blower. In budget models, blocking is carried out by means of cam locks (blocking requires a complete stop of the unit), in expensive snow blowers, trigger switches are used that block the wheels / tracks on the go.
Knife for cutting snowdrifts — a sharp metal plate that is attached to the snow intake. The knife makes it easier to work with dense snow.
Fuel level sensor — with its help, the user monitors the level of fuel and, if necessary, refuels the car.
- Pay attention to the weight of the snow blower. The lighter the model, the more plastic parts it contains, which will quickly fail. In a quality machine, the main components and assemblies should be metal.
- Poor processing of plastic parts indicates a poor quality snow blower. The same applies to models made of very thin metal.
- Inspect the removable and moving parts of the snow blower, as well as the covers. In low-quality equipment, they hang out even before the start of operation. You should not purchase a unit in which the handle vibrates during operation.
- Pay attention to the terms and conditions of the warranty.