A Primer On Snow Blowers

Red Snowblower Clearing Laneway

Shoveling snow can be hard, heavy and as you get on in years potentially even dangerous. While some people claim they actually enjoy shoveling snow, because it gets them out in the fresh air and provides some exercise. While it’s hard to think anyone can actually enjoy the sight of two feet of fresh snow allover their walk and driveway, if you’re one of those people, this isn’t for you. However, if you’re considering getting away from shoveling your own snow and letting a snow blower take on the heavy lifting, here’s some background information about snow blowers you might find useful.

Snow blowers are available in two different designs – single stage and two stage

Single stage snow blowers

Often called snow throwers a single stage snow blower is designed to work in areas with moderate snowfalls and works best in snow that ranges from 3” to 5” deep.

A single stage snow blower uses and auger assembly usually made from metal, plastic and hard rubber. As the auger rotates the snow is forced towards then up a snow chute that can direct the output about 25 feet.

Single stage blowers are usually powered by a 4 cycle gas engine of about 5 horsepower (much smaller than the engines commonly used on 2 stage blowers) and clear a path about 24” wide.

2 stage snow blowers

2 stage snow blowers are much more heavy-duty machines, usually powered by gasoline engine of 8 to 12 horsepower and clear a path anywhere from 24 up to 36 inches wide.

The snow clearing function is a combination of rotating steel auger blades to carry the snow in the center of the machine where a second stage high speed rotating impeller blade throws the snow up and out a discharge chute.

The result of this two-stage action is more snow can be quickly moved plus it can be deposited much further away from the machine. Two stage blowers can throw snow up to 45’and because of their power and clearing action can cut through snowdrifts that are two to three feet deep.

Which design is better?

The two types are designed to address different conditions. Obviously a single stage blower is all that’s necessary in areas where snow fall is light and minimal while the larger two stage design works better in areas that get lots of snow.

Some advantages of a single stage design are it’s light and maneuverable (due to the smaller, lighter engine), making it better for clearing sidewalks than the larger 2 stage blower. A downside is their smaller clearing width requires more passes up and down a driveway to clear it off.

Because of the auger design, a single stage blowers can clear right down to the driveway surface while two stage blowers must leave a thin layer of snow on the drive. While this seems like the single stage blowers “cleans” better, it also means the single stage blower can only be used on hard flat driveways and walkways, not gravel. A two stage blower can be used on any type of relatively smooth surface.

Two stage blowers are usually self powered and have both forward and reverse gears helping to keep them moving in deep snow. Single stage blowers are usually manually powered (you push) although the design of the auger does provide some pulling action to help move them through the snow.