There are three types of snow blowers. Here are the important things to know before buying a snow blower.
If you weren’t as prepared for winter storms as you’d hoped to be, it’s never too late to start thinking about next year’s snow blower purchase. But before heading out to the store, do your research to arm yourself with the right information so you get the product that best fits your needs.
Craftsman offers single-, dual- and three-stage snow blowers to get the job done. Stu Sandstrom, Craftsman product manager, helped identify some key questions to ask to help you find the right machine for your needs — no matter where you live.
How much snow do you get in an average snowfall? Why it matters: Different snow blowers have different capacities. “A single-stage snow thrower handles up to 9 inches on average, and a larger snow thrower has an intake of 22 inches and can handle quite a bit more snow in one shot,” Sandstrom says. “Someone in Maine who sees a foot or more every time it snows is going to need a different product than someone in Cincinnati.”
What type of surface will you be using it on? Why it matters: Take note if you’ll be clearing snow off a gravel or loose stone surface: “You’ll need a two-stage thrower. A single-stage will turn your snow thrower into a rock thrower,” Sandstrom says. “The two-stage has high-impact poly skid shoes that lower from either side of the auger house to lift the snow thrower off the ground and slide it along nicely.”
What kind of snow do you usually get? Why it matters: “In Chicago, snow is often heavy and wet,” Sandstrom says. It takes a different amount of force and power to move wet snow versus the light and fluffy stuff. One-, two- or three-stage snow throwers have different size engine options.
“If it can handle wet and heavy, then it will handle light and fluffy,” Sandstrom says. But if you live in a place that gets a good amount of snow, “it wouldn’t be to your benefit to get snow thrower that just handles light and fluffy.”
How large is the area you’re going to clear? Why it matters: If your driveway is wide enough for three cars side by side, you’ll want something different than someone with a much smaller area.
“Our single-stage has a width of 21 inches,” Sandstrom says. “Every time you go down your driveway, you’re clearing 21 inches of snow.”
Larger units will clear more snow with every pass.
What time of day are you going to be using the machine? Why it matters: Snow blowers can be awfully noisy. If you’re going to be out there at 5 a.m., consider one of Craftsman’s three models with “quiet engine technology,” says Nancy Finley, in charge of snow throwers, mowers and pressure washers for Sears. “It’s up to 45% quieter than our regular Dual-Stage Craftsman engines. And if you’re going to be clearing in the dark, look into purchasing one with a headlight.”
Who’s going to be doing the work? Why it matters: A snow thrower can be a bit more difficult to maneuver than a lawn mower. But many have power steering or “Zero-Turn Steering,” Sandstrom says, “where the machine does the work for you.” Look for the best fit for the person who will be using the machine.
What’s your budget? Why it matters: Your needs will dictate what you’ll be purchasing, but know up front that the opening price point for a single-stage unit is around $399, and a basic two-stage unit can cost $599. The 45-inch two-stage Pro Series can start around $2,299.