Tips for Choosing a New Snow Blower

When buying a snow blower, it’s important to get the correct model and size for your needs. Tim Kinney of Lincoln Rent-All & Lawn Equipment Sales, 3110 Auburn St., Rockford, offers a few tips for buyers.
First, determine what size snow blower you need. They come in two basic types, single-stage and two-stage.
Single-stage: This model is ideal if you have a flat, midsized paved driveway and walks; it easily handles snowfall up to 8 inches. It’s fairly light, easier to handle than a two-stage, and takes up about as much space as a lawn mower.

Single-stage models usually clear an 18- to 22-inch swath, with rubber paddles that contact the surface to sweep the snow up and out of a chute in one quick movement. The rubber parts are forgiving on blacktop and concrete driveways, Kinney says, but since its auger contacts the ground, don’t use it on gravel driveways.

Two-stage: This type is best if you have a long, wide, or hilly driveway. It can take on a lot more snow than a single-stage and clear a swath 24- to 32-inches wide. A metal auger funnels the snow backward inside the machine, where a spinning impeller throws it out of a chute at high velocity, typically 10 to 15 feet farther than single-stage machines.

“If you’re in an area with a lot of drifting, a two-stage is better,” Kinney says.
Metal skids can be height-adjusted, depending on the surface. Since the auger doesn’t contact the ground, a two-stage model is needed for a gravel driveway.

Next, decide what features you need. Both types come in electric and gas models, and controls can vary. “Can you handle just a pull start, or do you need an electric start?” Kinney asks. “The electric start doesn’t have a battery, so you do have to plug it in, but once it starts, you unplug it and you’re good to go.”

Engine type is another consideration. Lincoln Rent-All sells only Toro snow blowers, which have four-cycle engines. That means you don’t have to mix the gas and oil, as you would with a two-cycle.

If you just need a machine to clean off sidewalks, a deck, or even a very short city driveway, consider a smaller, all-electric model. They’re less powerful but convenient and require little maintenance. ❚