Snowblowers or snow throwers can help you survive even the very worst Mother Nature sends your way. Learn about which type is best for you.
The auger is housed at the front of the snowblower. It is basically a rotating, drum-shaped wheel. The curved, horizontally-mounted blades cut and lift the snow, redirecting it towards the chute. This is the first-stage in two-stage models. If the snowblower doesn’t have driven wheels, then the auger is used to propel the machine forward. These models have rubber-coated blades, because the auger blades make contact with the ground as it rotates, moving the machine forward. These models are not to be used on gravel.
Dual-stage machines have an impeller (also known as a turbine) which is a bladed wheel behind the auger. The impeller uses high speeds to shoot the snow through the discharge chute. This is the second-stage in two-stage models.
Located above and behind the auger housing, the discharge chute directs the snow either forward or to the side. This can be adjusted, typically using a crank to position the chute in the desired direction. The chute can be either partially or fully enclosed. Before removing clogged snow from the chute or auger housing, the machine must be turned off. Read the manufacturer’s manual to ensure you are clearing the chute according to the model’s specifications.
This refers to the width of the auger housing. Single-stage models, with less powerful engines, usually have a smaller clearing path of 22” wide maximum. Dual-stage machines with more power can have clearing paths up to 45” wide.
Engines in snowblowers have been winterized to withstand use in cold temperatures. Look for an engine with a protective aluminum sleeve. For smaller snowblowers, a two cycle engine with 3 to 5 HP is typical. Larger four cycle engines will have more torque to help get the job done and may come with overhead valve (OHV) technology or side valve, which is less desirable. Horsepower for four cycle engines is usually 8 and above.
Most snowblowers come with what is called a ‘dead man control’, which is a safety feature allowing you to stop the auger blades and impeller from spinning when you release the handlebars. Advanced dual-stage snowblowers come equipped with controls that allow you to change direction of the chute, vary speed and steer the powered wheels, all with either two-hand or single-hand operation. Gas-powered snowblowers can come with an electric starter, which is preferable to a pull cord.
Two-stage models have up to 6 speed options for the drive wheels. Multiple speed options help prevent clogs when you encounter heavy, deep snow. Some two-stage models are available with hydrostatic or automatic transmission, which can help you match the machine’s ground speed to the surrounding conditions without having to change gears.