Don’t Even Think About Buying a Snow Thrower Until You Read This…

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(Photo Courtesy of Severe NJ Weather)

It’s freezing cold outside, the ground is frozen and I noticed that snow is in the forecast!

As a proven expert in the field of all things LANDSCAPING, I thought it would be a great time to share my knowledge of snow throwers.  It’s my civic duty to make sure that you are fully educated when making a snow thrower purchase. Should you have any further questions, never hesitate to contact me!  For now, keep reading…

I’m sure that I don’t need to remind anyone about the winter of 2010. Snow, Snow, then a little more snow. I still have blisters and my lower back has not yet fully recovered. It was during this time, that I realized that my current snow removal equipment was way out its league. I had to reload and switch to the big guns.

Living at the Jersey Cape has its own set of challenges when it comes to snow removal. We are at the mercy of the Delaware Bay. I keep track of the water temperature and the effects that it has on crossing weather systems(I know, I am such a weather nerd). As snow storms approach, if the Delaware Bay water temperature is above 40 degrees, the storms seem to start out as snow, then gradually transition to rain. Thus resulting in the snow washing away. On the other hand, when the water temperature is below 40 degrees things can get UGLY… fast.

If you’ve had it with shoveling snow, and are ready to invest in a snow thrower, keep reading as we take an in depth look at the different types of snow throwers on the market and which one will be get you the most bang for your buck.

single stage snow thrower refers to a single stage model which has a serious of plastic or metal blades with rubber edges. The blades sweep up the snow and throw it through a centrally mounted chute in one quick motion. Most are equipped with a deflector chute which can easily be aimed within a 180 degree radius. Perfect for pavers, pavement or concrete.  Snow throwers are not recommended for gravel or stone driveways… for obvious reasons.   Here are a few different styles of snow throwers.

(Photo courtesy of Ryobi)

Leaf Blowers.  That’s right, my leaf blower is an exceptional tool for moving light fluffy snow. Capable of effectively blowing up to 3 inches of light snow, leaf blowers have been used for years. Both hand held and back pack models work extremely well.  Since we don’t usually get much light fluffy snow, you probably would have never imagined such a use for a tool that you already have. Price Range $0.00(if you already have one) up to $350.00.

Power-Shovel-38361

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Power Shovel. A power shovel is exactly that, a power shovel. About the size of a snow shovel, these hand held machines require almost no maintenance and have a small rotating blade that throws the snow forward. Power shovels are electric powered, extremely light weight(anyone can use one) and are recommended for use on porches, patios, small sidewalks and are effective up to 2 inches of snow. Perfect for light fluffy snow, but leave it in the closet for the wet, heavy stuff as you’ll spend more time resetting your circuit breaker than you will moving snow. Expect to spend up $125.00 and I recommend the Toro or the Craftsman.

1500 Power Curve® (38371)

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Single Stage Electric. The next step up in snow throwers is the single stage, electric snow thrower. Motor sizes range from 10 to 12 amperes with clearing widths range from 16″ to 20″ and offer the same environmentally friendly ease of the power broom with just a bit more UMPH! Equipped with a small set of wheels in the back, this type of machine is easily maneuverable and handles light, fluffy snow up to 6 inches. Features include an adjustable chute, extremely low maintenance and easily stores in the hall closet. Not recommended for heavy snow. You won’t go wrong buying the Toro, MTD or Craftsman models. You’ll need around $300.00 and a good 12 gauge extension cord(HINT: make sure to buy enough 12 guage extension cord to reach the end of your driveway).

Power-Clear-621E-38452

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Gas Powered Single Stage. This model is the Cadillac of single stage snow throwers. With clearing widths of 18-24 inches, the 2 cycle engines range from 3 to 6 horsepower. Still light and maneuverable, the single stage gas versions pack a lot more punch than the smaller, electric models and are not limited by the length of the extension cord. The first time I tried one of these, I was moving 5 inches of new snow with a layer of slush on the bottom. This machine was so strong that I had to readjust the chute as it was blowing snow and slush 20 feet into the air. This machine pulls itself along and is a beast in up to 8 inches of snow. These models are relatively light weight with a folding handle and take up very little space in the shed or garage. The models that I’ve used have all been electric start and started with ease. This series is a great homeowner model for Jersey Cape snows. These models are NOT designed or built for constant every day use. I recommend Toro, Honda, Troy Built and Craftsman and are all in the $400.00-$650.00 price range.

Two Stage Snow Blowers have a 2 stage blade system designed to get snow and ice out of the way quickly. The first series of blades are auger style, serrated blades that pick snow up from the sidewalk and move the snow into the second stage. Stage two is an impeller that blows the snow through the discharge chute to the desired location. Two stage units are perfect for any surface(including stone and gravel) and work well when dealing with inclines. Almost all are self propelled with 6 or more forward speeds and no fewer than 2 reverse speeds. Snow blowers range in size from just a few horsepower up to heavy duty, Diesel powered machines that clear roads, runways or train tracks.

Since none of us will be clearing runways or train tracks in the near future, I’ll focus this report on homeowner and light commercial applications. Two stage machines mean BUSINESS and can do SERIOUS TO DAMAGE if not operated properly. Always read the owners manual and consult a professional should you feel hesitant or over matched.

Power-Max-724-OE-37770

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Entry level of two stage snow throwers are equipped with 4-6 horsepower with 20-24 inch clearing path model. These models are on the smaller side, self propelled, store easily and are equipped with some form of electric start. Perfect for up to 8 inches of snowfall, this unit is the most popular in the Cape May area. Look for models that are single hand operation which allow you to adjust the discharge chute without stopping the machine. Price Range $450-$650. Preferred models are Craftsman, John Deere, Troy Built, Honda, Ariens and Cub Cadet.

Power-Max-HD-928-OE-38660

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Light commercial model snow blowers range from 8 to 10 horsepower with clearing paths of 24-30 inches. This clean running, 4 stage engine line is relatively heavy duty and are very popular with professionals. Sized to clear sidewalks and driveways, these units include larger tires and are often equipped with chains and/or weights for added traction(weights and chains are also available as after market add ons). Some of the newest models replace with wheels with a Track Drive. The most impressive feature of this line of snow blowers is the ability to break through the ice and mounds of snow that are left behind by Municipal snow plows! When shopping in this size category, look for models that are equipped with built-in lights. You may not do much snow blowing at night but it’s a convenient feature in a pinch. For those of us without price restraints, heated grips and power steering are also available! Price Range $800-$1,200. Preferred models are Craftsman, John Deere, Troy Built, Honda, Ariens and Cub Cadet.

(Photo compliments of Craftsman)

Lawn Tractor Mounted Snow Blowers. For those fortunate enough to own a heavy duty lawn or garden tractor, many manufacturers make snow blowers that mount directly to the front and connect to the blade drive pulley. These models are very similar in size and ability to the light commercial line and can be very handy! Models vary depending on manufacturer and the overall size and weight of your lawn tractor. I recommend installing this unit on your tractor immediately following the mowing season. The conversion process takes time and is more enjoyable on a late fall afternoon as opposed to the night before a snowfall. Consult the manufacturer of your lawn tractor as to the availability and avoid buying “Universal” models. Lawn tractor mounted snow throwers always require a weight kit and chains and are useless without both so remember to factor in these additional costs when purchasing. Price range based on size and model with all kinds of handy options(see enclosed cab picture above).

A few things to consider when owning a gas snow removal machine. Always drain all fuel from the tank. If you don’t have means to drain the tank, add a fuel stabilizer to keep gas from going stale and clogging the injectors. Always keep your eye on the weather and make sure your machine is in proper working order prior to a snowfall.

As always, don’t overwork yourself and call me if you need me. Office 609-898-9136, Cell or Text 609-722-1814 or email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

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2 Responses to Don’t Even Think About Buying a Snow Thrower Until You Read This…

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