How Snow Blowers Work: Simply Explained [All Types]
The American snow blower market looks set to exceed 800 million dollars by 2024, and for good reason.
These snow-beating appliances are incredibly useful for those of us in colder climates.
However, one question almost always gets asked…
Just how the heck do snow blowers work?
How Do Snow Blowers Work?
Below is a basic schematic of a single stage Husqvarna machine, just to give you a general idea of all the ‘bits and bobs’. Not every snow blower will be configured like this, but it’s a good overview.
Put quite simply, the user starts the engine of the snow blower either by a push button electric start, or by recoil/manual start. All ‘recoil start’ means is that you’re pulling on a rope/cord to get the engine cranking over.
The user then engages the drive handle or lever (two stage models) OR pushes the snow blower (single stage models) forward at their own pace.
A control lever or handle engages the auger (the bit that looks like a cork screw), which pulls the snow into the auger housing, and pushes it back towards the impeller (two stage models). The impeller spins, and then shoots the snow out of the discharge chute.
On single stage units the auger paddles throw snow directly into the chute for discharging, so no impeller is necessary.
How is a Snow Blower Powered?
Snow blowers can use 1 of 3 different power sources:
Snow Blower Stages Explained
You can buy snow blowers that are either single stage, 2 stage, or 3 stage. Here’s how each of them operate:
- Single stage snow blowers have only 1 auger and use the paddles of that auger to throw the snow in, up and out of the chute.
- 2 stage snow blowers have a main auger, and also an added rotating auger in the discharge chute to move the snow through faster and throw it farther.
- 3 stage snow blowers have a slow turning auger that collects snow and moves it to the center of the housing AND a 2nd stage auger which is designed to impel the snow into the impeller faster than an ordinary 2 stage machine.
A 3 stage snow blower is the most powerful kind of snow blower because it has two augers and one impeller (i.e three stages) working together to pull the maximum amount of ice, snow and slush through the machine.
What Type of Snow Blower Do You Need?
There are many different snow blower manufacturers and many different models available. Throw in the technical information and the different configurations of the machines, well – anyone would get a bit confused. Let’s think about it simply.
So – the more ‘stages’ a snow blower has, the more augers/impellers the snow blower has to scoop up and discard snow. This means that the higher the stage, the more powerful the snow blower. In simplistic terms, a three stage snow blower will be roughly three times as effective as a single stage snow blower. Here’s what to use each type of snow blower for in a handy table.
|TYPE OF SNOW BLOWER||BEST USED FOR|
|Single Stage||Smaller jobs like paved driveways or sidewalks. Has to be used on paved areas only. Areas where the snow fall is light – 12 inches or less.|
|Two Stage||Can be used over gravel/dirt, and on slopes and larger areas. Can handle heavy snowfall and wet and heavy snow.|
|Three Stage||Most powerful and best for extreme snow fall areas. Can be used to clear large spaces of snow and bust up big chunks of snow at the end of paths and driveways.|
What Size of Snow Blower Do I Need?
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a snow blower, and here are some questions to ask yourself –
- How much snow do you usually get all in one snow fall or at one time?
- What is the size of the area that you want to clear?
- What kind of surfaces will you clearing?
- What kind of terrain will you be clearing – flat, sloped etc.?
Snow blowers come in different clearing widths and heights. They’re made in variety of sizes to cope with different amounts of snow.
The easy way to look at it is this – the more snow fall you have, the larger the size of the snow blower you’ll need.
Let’s look at different sizes of snow blowers and what you can and should use them for.
Less Than 18 Inches
Electric Power Shovels or Snow Pushers come in this diameter size. This is the right machine for you if you only get a few inches of snow at a time, or if you only need to clear small areas like walkways. They will have an augur like a ‘proper’ snow blower, but they push snow out of the front instead of out of a chute at the top.
18 to 21 Inches Wide
Most single stage snow blowers are no larger than 21 inches across. They work best on light snow fall, and are brilliant if you consistently get less than 1 foot of snow fall at a time. The advantage of this size is that it’s both lightweight and easy to store during the warmer months.
21 to 28 Inches Wide
For snow fall of a foot or more, you’ll probably need a snow blower in this size range. The metal augers churn up even packed snow and the powerful impeller throws it well out of the way. If you need to clear snow on a dirt or gravel surface, a two stage machine of this size won’t toss around debris like a smaller machine would, which saves on clean up.
Wider than 28 Inches
The biggest snow blowers fall into this size range and are best for clearing large areas of snow. So you need to consider whether your property is large enough to warrant this kind of snow clearing power or whether you’ll perhaps need this size of snow blower for clearing a commercial or heavily trafficked large area like a parking lot?
Because of their extra width and height these machines cover a larger area with each pass, making light work and an easy job of it. They’re also more powerful, so you’ll be able to handle even iced over piles of snow with ease.
The large units that come with an extra impeller between the auger halves are what are referred to as ‘3 stage’ blowers and those are made strictly for very heavy snow conditions.
Are Snow Blowers Worth It?
The simple answer here is YES.
Factors to consider before buying are what levels of snow you can expect where you live, what your time and effort are worth, your health and mobility, your regard for safety within and adjoining your property, your available storage space for the machine, and what sort of budget constraints you have.
If you live in an area with very light snow fall, or have minimal areas that need to be cleared, a small sized snow blower (even a hand held snow shovel) could be both cost effective and save you the hassle of shoveling/sweeping your sidewalks and driveways.
To add onto this, you need to think about the safety implications of leaving those walked over areas completely untended – slip and falls due to wet surfaces are common accidents and a small snow blower or electric snow shovel can do that minimal amount of clearing for you easily and more cleanly.
For those who live on large properties and need easy road access or have long paths and driveways to clear, the larger and more powerful models of snow blower make this work so much quicker and easier. Shoveling a huge amount of snow is doable, but what about the impact on your back and the amount of valuable time it’s going to eat up?
For people who have mobility issues, old injuries or are of advancing age, snow blowers are a perfect alternative to the more effort intensive shoveling, and if you’re careful to browse extensively online you can often find used/‘on sale’ snow blowers for knock down prices – probably cheaper than repeat visits to your chiropractor!
As far as storage space goes, talk to local retailers and people who already own snow blowers – there are a range of easy – store sizes available and perhaps you can pick up some nifty ideas on space saving storage for your machine.
Snow blowers are hugely useful machines and if you live in a heavy snow climate and don’t mind spending a bit of money, they’re a good investment in your property management.
If you’re on a property with one or more garages, snow blowers are really essential to being able to move vehicles in and out easily and safely. Being trapped in your garage or driveway and late for work after a snow fall is nobody’s idea of fun.
You’ll also be the most popular neighbor in the street if you’re clearing common walkways or sidewalks used by local pedestrians!
Pricing Guide for Snow Blowers
At Appliance Analysts we like to throw in extras, so here’s a simple break – down of what you can expect to spend on a snow blower. Prices are accurate at time of writing.
|TYPE OF MACHINE||LOWER END RANGE||HIGHER END RANGE|
|Hand Held Snow Shovel||$95||$200|
|Single Stage Snow Blower||$160||$800|
|Two Stage Snow Blower||$390||$1 900|
|Three Stage Snow Blower||$1 800*||$2 600**|
Links to top Consumer Rated 3 Stage Models Below:
Also check local retailer specials, and websites like Ebay Classifieds, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used machines selling in your areas. Here are some easy to click links to these sites –
We hope this article has been very helpful to you in understanding snow blowers and the need for them in icy conditions! We look forward to seeing you next time, do visit again soon.