Snow removal equipment ranges from the basic snow shovel to the large two stage gasoline powered snowthrower. The job is much easier when using a power snowthrower. Walk-behind power snowthrowers come in three sizes or types – electric, single-stage gas, and two-stage gas machines. Some pull themselves through the snow with their rotors while the bigger versions have a separate power train for propulsion.
Why consider a snowthrow? A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that in sedentary men, shoveling and average driveway can put as much strain on the heart as playing a game of singles tennis. As we get older and the snow gets deeper, a snowthrower becomes more and more attractive
What Size For Me?
You can decide the size of the machine by how difficult your snow removal job might be.
Small Jobs – Electric snow shovels and snowthrowers are now available as effective tools for snow removal, filling the gap between their larger, heavier, gas-powered counterparts and the manual snow shovel or scoop. Electric snowthrowers feature a bell-curved rotor or auger which spins and wipes snow off the underlying surface. These machines are ideal for yardeners living on the edge of the snow belt, or with smaller areas to clear – such as walks and short driveways – the little bit of power lost is exchanged for light weight, no maintenance, easier starting, lower cost, and smaller storage requirements found in the electric versions. Electric snowthrowers will cut paths from 12 to 20 inches wide, but generally don’t work well trying to throw more than 4 inches deep at a time.
Medium Jobs – Single-stage units are light and easy to maneuver. They gather snow with a high-speed rotor and throw it out of the machine in a single action. The rotor or auger also serves as the drive wheel to move the blower down the driveway or along the sidewalk. It does so because the edge of the blade is rubber – similar to a car tire – so as the blade scrapes the driveway it pulls the machine forward. These machines handle light fluffy snow, such as commonly found in the mountain regions of the country. They will cut a path from 16 to 21 inches wide and handle snow up to 7 inches deep depending on the power of the engine and the weight of the snow. These machines are not easy to use if you have a driveway that has any kind of serious slope.
Tough Jobs – Two-stage throwers first break up the snow with a slow-turning auger, then pass it to a high-speed impeller that blows it out of the machine through a chute, in other words it has two stages. Two stage units usually have separate drive wheels, freeing the auger to just deal with the snow. These machines are preferred if you commonly have snow more than 6 inches deep and have a tendency to have to struggle with snow that is heavy, wet, or even icy. These larger units also are recommended for rough and gravel surfaces or sloped surfaces. While the machines differ by model, these machines will usually give you a 21 inch wide cut and work in from 10 to 14 inches of snow depending on the power of the engine.
Features To Consider
Power of The Engine – As with lawn mowers, the more powerful is the engine the easier it is to throw snow. It becomes a pocket book issue as much as anything. No matter which type of thrower you are buying, but the most powerful macine in that category that you can afford.
Discharge and Throwing Distance – a snowthrower should have a flexible discharge system so you are not blowing snow back on areas that have just been cleared. If you are clearing a wide srea such as a three-car driveway, make sure the snowthrower you choose can throw snow the proper distance. Some models are designed to minimize snow clogging in the discharge chute.
Starting System- Snowthrowers need to start when the weather is cold and miserable, so ask about the starting ease of the machine in sub-zero weather. Make sure the pull cord is straight up, and doesn’t require twisting your body to operate. The large the snowthrower, the more likely you should have an electric start option on the machine.
Snowthower Safety Tips
Wear slip-resistant boots, an insulated jacket with a hood, and substantial gloves when operating these machines. We advise safety goggles whenever you are using a snow thrower.
Take care in starting your snowthrower. Most serious back injuries occur during forward bending and twisting, and approximately 85% of back injuries occur when muscled are tensed.