Information, How To Choose, Best Snow Blowers On The Market
Choosing Your Snow Blower
Once you've decided to purchase a snow blower, the first thing to consider is how much snow you will be removing. Experts recommend over-estimating your snow removal needs, since buying an underpowered machine may be a disappointment if you happen to experience a heavier-than-usual snowfall. Questions to consider include the size of the surfaces you'll be clearing; will you be clearing a driveway as well as walkways and sidewalks, or just a walkway and/ or sidewalk. Naturally you'll also need to consider your pocketbook, too. Snow blowers can run anywhere from $100 for small, lightweight blowers, up to thousands of dollars for the heavy-duty ones that may be more than you need, unless you're considering a second job during winter months of hiring out your snow blower.
Snow blowers are usually gas-powered, although there are some electric models on the market for small jobs. The best-known manufacturers of snow blowers include Toro, Ariens, Honda, Craftsman, Troy-Bilt, Snow Joe, and Yard Machines. Depending on your snow removal requirements, you'll also need to choose from a single-stage or two-stage blower. Single stage blowers are usually powered by 2-stroke engines which require that you mix your gasoline and oil to run on. They're usually smaller horsepower, so good for residential and for lighter snowfalls (5" or less). Their cutting widths usually range from 12" to 24". Two-stage snow blowers do well in heavier snow fall, have a larger throwing range, cuts up to 36" width, and usually come with a 4-stroke engine, meaning there is no mixing of oil and gasoline. The two-stage blower usually has a better winterized engine, too. Single-stage blowers usually run from $300-$800, while the two-stage blowers can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000. A third consideration if you're only needing help with small jobs like walkways, are electric blowers. These are usually included in the single-stage category. You can usually find these for around $100, and they'll do an adequate job if you aren't dealing with heavy snow fall or large areas to de-snow.
Best Snow Blowers By Type
Toro has several models in this class which get good reviews from professional as well as users like you and me. The Toro CCR 2450 GTS has a 20" path and throws snow further than most others in its class, and gets good reviews from such sites as GardenWeb.com. There are several single-stage blowers in Toro's new Power Clear line, including The Toro Power Clear 221R/E ($600) with a 21-inch clearing width. It weighs 74 pounds and can throw snow up to 30 feet. The Power Clear 221Q ($660) is almost identical to the Power Clear 221R/E, except it allows the user to control chute direction with a joystick. It also weighs 74 pounds. The Toro Power Clear 421Q ($760) has a higher capacity of 1,800 pounds and a longer throw distance of 35 feet. It weighs a few pounds more than the other two Power Clear single-stage snow blowers. The Honda snow blowers have 4-stroke engines, electric start, and 20" wide paths. Their prices are a little higher than Toro, ($800), but may be worth the extra money since you don't have to mix gas and oil, and their blowers have cleaner emissions.
Here again, reviewers like Toro two-stage snow blowers. Prices range from $1,000 to $1,800 on its various models. They are heavier too, but snow blowing capacity is much higher than the single-stage blowers. Some of the well-liked models include Power Max 828 LXE (this one has an 8-horsepower engine), and Power Max 1028 LXE and Power Max 1128 OXE. These are all heavy-duty models with larger horsepower engines, and heavy in weight as well. Toro's Power Throw line is new, a little less money and weight, but with good snow removal capabilities. Craftsman blowers are a little less money than Toro ($500-$650 est.); slightly smaller clearing width and other features, but still gets great reviews. Models include the 5.5-hp Craftsman 31AS6BCE799 and Craftsman 31AE5HTG799. Ariens is another snow blower maker with such models as 5520 Compact, selling for around $770, with a 5 horsepower 4-stroke engine, or their 5524E Compact model.
Electric Snow Removal
Classed the same as single-stage blowers, these are smaller and good for lightweight jobs only, such as a walkway or sidewalk. They're lighter weight as well, and obviously depend on electricity to run them. They're low-maintenance, unlike their gas-powered brothers, and they cost considerably less. If you don't have big snow removal jobs to perform, consider an electric model. The 12-inch electric Snow Joe costs about $90 and gets good comments from Amazon.com reviews. For a little more money, Toro's Power Shovel runs around $110 and converts to a power broom with a few adjustments. Yard Machine's Snow Fox is more money ($200), and is somewhere between a snow broom and snow blower in classification. Snow Joe also makes a 19" blower selling for about $239, and this one is a blower. Toro's 1800 Power Curve will throw the snow up to 30 feet away, but is still only rated for light jobs. With a $300 price tag, if you have a large driveway or frequent heavy snow falls, this one wouldn't do the job as well as a gas-powered model, but is fine for small driveways, sidewalks and walkways.
Here are a few more things to consider before you buy
Safety features such as a deadman's control, which shuts off the machine when you release the switch
Deflector and Chute adjustments can be made easily
Choose the right clearing path for your needs
Choose a blower with the right amount of power for your snow levels
Handling ability. Some are very heavy, if they're too much for you, pick a lighter model
Headlights, if you'll find yourself clearing snow after dark