In a previous post I told you the difference between a snowblower and a snow thrower. Today let’s start to narrow down the best type of snow moving equipment for you.
I’ll quickly go through the different types and how they may work for you. The different types I will explain are Snow Shovel, Electric Snow Shovel, Electric Snow Thrower, Single Stage Snow blower, Two Stage Snowblower, Tractor Mounted Blade, Tractor Mounted Snow Thrower, ATV Snow-blade or Snow Thrower, Tractor Loader or Skid-steer, Pickup Mounted Snowplow, Truck Mounted Snowplow, Dedicated Snow Thrower, Rotary Plow
A snow shovel is designed to easily move snow. It usually is built of a lightweight material like plastic or aluminum and is slippery so the snow doesn’t stick. Most of them have a curve built into the shovel so you can not only scoup the snow but push the snow if it is light and fluffy. I prefer one like the one picture below that is about 18 inches wide and has a longer handle with a grip at the end. This shovel allows me to throw the snow without bending. I can also push large amounts because it rolls the snow forward much like a snowplow and the grip on the end let’s me get a good push. Snow shovels range in width from 16 to 30 inches. I prefer one that is about 18 inches wide. It allows me to clear areas quickly but doesn’t get to heavy if I have to throw the snow.
The biggest disadvantage to a snow shovel is the labor involved. Electric Snow Shovel
If you are under doctor’s orders not to shovel snow but you still need to get it moved an electric snow shovel or power shovel may be just what you need. Most electric snow shovels are about 12 to 14 inches wide and are great for clearing steps, porches and small decks. They only cut at depth of 4 inches or less but are light enough so you can hold them while you are cutting larger drifts.
The biggest disadvantage to an electric snow shovel is it only throws the snow a few feet. If you live in an area that gets feet of snowfall instead inches this will not work for you. Electric Snow Thrower
An electric snow thrower is the next step up from the power shovel. If you never need to move snow more that 100 feet from your house, only get a little snow each year, and you don’t have to throw it very far the electric snow thrower may work for you. My neighbor across the street has a 16 by 30 foot driveway, a 6 by 20 foot front porch and an 8 by 16 foot deck. An electric snowblower is perfect for him.
Two disadvantages to using electric snow throwers. First snow thrower uses 110v so you have to drag a 12 gauge cord along with you as you are moving snow. Second, they only throw snow 15 feet or so. Last year it snowed early and didn’t melt so we had piles of snow by March. My neighbor eventually had to hire a skid-steer to move his piles of snow because his snow thrower couldn’t throw the snow over the mounds that built up.
Single Stage Snow Thrower
A single stage snow thrower is a step up from the electric snowthrower. The single stage gas powered will move snow faster than an electric and can be used anywhere . If you have one car driveway that is only one or two car lengths long and you don’t have to blow the snow more than 20 feet this may be the right snow thrower for you. This style of snowblower is also popular for cleaning off decks and patios because it is light enough to carry up steps and through the house. Many come with electric start and all the 2008 models are four-stroke so you don’t have to mix oil and gas anymore. Most of these are designed to use the auger to pull you forward through the snow
Disadvantages: People tend to buy these snow throwers because of the cost and when they really need a larger machine. They only throw snow 15 to 20 feet and efficiently only clear 4 inches or less at a time. They tend to wear out faster than the larger snow blowers so be careful when buying a used machine. Most of the older machines were two-stroke and you have to use an oil-gas mix to run them. Two Stage Snow Thrower
Two stage snow throwers come in may sizes and are the most popular style of snow moving equipment. If properly maintained most will last you many years so they are always a good investment. They are powerful enough to clean out the snowdrift that the snowplow that cleans the road leaves at the end of your driveway. Depending on the weight of the snow this type of machine will throw snow 20 to 50 feet so you don’t have to be concerned about getting too high of banks close to your driveway. This type of snowblower uses a separate drive to push the unit through the snow.
One of the best advantages of this type of snow thrower is they can be raised off the ground so you can easily clean a gravel driveway or clean and area off your lawn for your dogs.
A 5hp 24 inch snow thrower will easily take care of a 16 by 60 foot driveway. Other models range from the 5hp, 24 inch to 12 hp 30 inch. If you have a really large area to clean Sears carries a 33 inch and 45 inch commercial model.
Disadvantages: Two stage snowthrowers take up as much storage space as a riding lawnmower. They are also hard to steer so you may want to consider the models with “power steering” if you weigh under 150 lbs or you have trouble lifting more the 40 lbs. Tractor Mounted Blade
A typical tractor mounted blade mounts on the front of a riding lawn mower. It works really well if you have long areas to clean the snow off of and you can quickly clean a few inches off your drive.
Disadvantages: You have to plan on where you want to pile the snow. If you have landscaped beds along your driveway or you get a lot of snow every year you will have problems finding places to go with the snow and may have to hire a skid-steer to move the piles for you. Tractor Mounted Snow Thrower
A lawn tractor mounted snow thrower mounted on your lawn tractor is great for long driveways and large areas you have to clear snow from.
Disadvantages: You have to remove the deck on your lawn tractor and replace it with an intermediate drive to power the snowblower. They are usually heavy and it takes a lot of effort to turn your lawn or garden tractor if is does not have power steering. The extra weight will wear out the steering faster on most of the consumer model lawn mowers. They also take a lot of room to turn around in so if you have short driveway they may not be practical for you. Most people find that for the money, a 2 stage walk behind snowblower is a better choice. ATV Snow-blade or Snow Thrower
If you have a large ATV a snow-blade or snow thrower may be a better choice than one mounted on your lawn tractor. With a snowblade you can go faster with an ATV so you can throw the snow farther than you can with a lawn tracor. The ATV snow thrower by AgriFab is a large machine and can move a lot of snow quickly.
Disadvantages: You may find your ATV is too light to effectivly push a lot of snow. Tractor Loader or Skid-steer
A tractor loader or skid-steer is a great way to move lots of snow. You can stack the snow up or move it easily to a remote location.
Disadvantages: They can be heavy and will tear up a lawn if youd drive over it in the winter. A tractor loader or skid-steer does not work well for large open areas like parking lots because when you push the snow it usually rolls off both sides of the bucket. You will need a place to store it and will usually have to keep the block heater plugged in when not in use or you may have problems starting it in really cold weather. Pickup Mounted Snowplow
If you have a long driveway or a large parking area a pickup mounted snowplow may be the best choice. You can quickly clean a 2000 foot driveway while sitting the the comfort of a warm cab.
Disadvantages: You need a 4 wheel drive pickup and it takes a lot of room to turn around. Truck Mounted Snowplow, Dedicated Snow Thrower, Rotary Plow
I included pictures of a truck mounted snowplow, a dedicated snow thrower and a rotary plow so you can see what they look like but they are beyond the scope of this website.
The truck mounted snowplow is mainly designed for clearing miles of highway and is too large to be considered unless you own a shopping mall or school campus.
The dedicated snow thrower is designed to clear large areas of pavement such as airports
And lastly the rotary plow is specifically designed to clear railroad tracks.
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of the different types of snow moving equipment. In future articles I will help you decide on the best snow thrower for you and how to keep it in good working condition. Feel free to browse around the site.