When shopping for a new snow blower, you'll need to keep a couple of things in mind.Electric Start or Key Start
The first is whether or not the machine is capable of getting the job done, so look for the right size and power.
The second is whether or not it's a snow blower that you're capable of handling, so you'll need to look for the right features.
Features are distinctive attributes that improve how you and your snow blower work together.
Some people don't mind pull-starting their snow blower. In fact, a lot of newer snow blowers are very easy to pull-start in one or two pulls.
However, many of us have known the frustration of trying to pull-start an engine, especially once it gets older. But with electric start, you just plug into an extension cord and push a button. Key start offers you another easier alternative to pull-starting.
Professional grade two-stage snow blowers all come with electric/key start, but other grades and types can be found with this feature as well.
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Many snow blowers today feature speed control, allowing you to increase or decrease the speed of the drive system. Having more speed options allows for better control when running into more compacted or extra fluffy snow.
Reducing your speed through dense, compacted snow will feed the snow more slowly so the augers and impeller can keep up.
Moving faster through light, fluffy snow will help you feed an optimum amount of snow into the auger and impeller for better efficiency.
You may be thinking that a smaller snow blower will be easier to maneuver and operate, but that may not always be the case.
Power steering can be found on most of the larger, professional-grade models. It works by reducing the speed of one wheel to make turning much easier.
For example, as you prepare to turn left, release the handle on the left side while continuing to hold the handle on the right side. The right wheel continues to rotate while the left wheel is slowed.
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For improved traction and maneuverability, you can get two-stage snow blowers with a track drive system.
A track drive system is like what you see on tanks. Its wheels are like gears, driving a textured rubber track that surrounds them.
More surface area makes contact with the snow on a track drive system than with a conventional wheel. It distributes the drive power more evenly, improving traction for gravel surfaces and uneven terrain.
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Entry-level snow blowers often have a simple handle that requires you to reach forward and turn the chute with your hand.
If you have a small driveway, you might not mind that. However, if you're looking for convenience, look for a mid-grade or professional model with convenient chute controls near the handles.
There are various kinds of controls, from a sliding lever on the side to a joystick that controls both the chute and the deflector. Good controls can make the chute feel like an extension of yourself.
Often times, you'll find this feature on smaller single-stage snow blowers. This is a space-saving feature. Unless you have a very large garage, storage space will be a real concern when shopping for a snow blower.
Large two-stage and three-stage snow blowers can take up some serious space in a small garage. Having a smaller single-stage snow blower with folding handles can enable you to store it away in a smaller space.
You can bundle most of your body in quilted, insulated, fluffy stuff; however, your fingers need to be able to move. This can make it tough to keep your hands warm enough. Most of the time, you'll find that your hands and face get the coldest.
While we don't offer a face warming feature, some models come with hand warmers that radiate heat to keep your hands warm. You can also install hand warmers on a variety of models that don't include them.
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Ever try taking your snow blower through a drift, only to find that it caused a minor avalanche to dump snow on the area you just cleared?
Drift cutters help shave away what's higher than your snow blower intake, so it doesn't fall behind you. They're tall, thin pieces of metal that attach vertically, but with a slight forward tilt, to the sides of your snow blower intake.
As you move forward, they slice off the tops of the drifts so the snow falls in front of your bucket. They're a simple way to avoid having to clear the same places twice.
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Snow removal can be tough when you work 9-5. It's usually dark when you leave for work in the morning, and even darker on your drive home.
When you get home from work to find your driveway covered in a foot of snow, you don't want to work in the dark, but you also can't leave it until the weekend when you have time available during daylight hours.
Headlights allow you to clear the snow off your driveway on your own time, without waiting for daylight. For many of us, they're a necessity.
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Clog Clearing Tool
While this isn't some advanced technological marvel, it's quite handy to have.
Most snow blowers come with some form of clean out tool
. Some come with a stick for poking and breaking through the clog, but others come with a miniature shovel to clear your chute.
The shovel style clearing tool is nice to have, because should there be something in that pile of snow you don't want going through your snow blower, you can shovel it out and keep going.
NEXT: How to Pick the Perfect Snow Thrower