Like a car or other type of machinery, the more you understand about snowblowers and their available features, the better a decision you can make when it comes to buying one. Too many people get talked into buying blowers that have way too much power for what the buyer uses it for, or have many more features than they would ever use. Save yourself some time and money by getting to know the common snowblower features, and what they do.
There’s nothing worse than waking up at 5am to go to work and finding out that your car is snowed in – unless you can’t get your snowblower started. Look for a gas-powered blower that comes with a plug-in for an electric start. As long as you have an outside outlet handy you will never have to worry about trying to start your blower in the cold.
Number of Speeds
When you are going through heavy snow or big banks it’s a good idea to have a slower speed, otherwise your snowblower may get clogged up and stall. Five or six speeds are usually enough, you probably wouldn’t find use for more speeds than that.
It’s important that the controls on any snowblower be easy to understand, and let you do what you want quickly and easily. Make sure you check out a few floor model snowblowers to get a feel for the controls available, and how they can work with you to get through tough jobs. Most importantly, the handle should be at a comfortable height for you to push and control the snowblower, and should come with a dead-man control (a bar or button that you need to hold down for the auger to rotate) for safety.
You should be able to easily change the height of the deck; as well as adjust the chute to spray snow in the direction you want it. Dual-stage models often have additional features to let you control the machine with one hand, so the other is free to change the deck height or move the chute (or drink coffee).
This is usually only available on dual-stage blowers, and works by engaging the right or left wheel in order to help you steer more easily. Power steering is definitely a handy feature on heavier snowblowers, or if you have to get around a lot of corners.
Many people don’t consider how much room a snowblower takes up. Unless you have a large garage to store your machine year-round, it may be a good idea to get a model with folding handles so it takes up less room in the off-season.
While this is a relatively small, low-cost feature, it does come in handy. Basically the clearing tool is a small shovel or stick that you use to clear clogged-up snow in the chute or around the auger, and it prevents you from using your hands (a big safety no-no) or carrying around a broomstick.
No one likes clearing snow in the dark, so your snowblower should come equipped with a good pair of headlights.
If you are dealing with large snow banks, these can come in handy. Drift cutters go up the side of the chute to ‘cut’ into snow banks. This ensures that you don’t get a mini-avalanche as you pass by, so you don’t have to make a second pass to clean up what was left behind.
For flat driveways this feature is likely not necessary. However, if you have steep inclines or get a lot of ice this may be more useful than just rear-wheel drive, or a manual push model.
Heated Handle Grips
Overkill? You may not think so on those extra-frosty days. Usually this feature comes with a switch to turn it on or off, so you only have to use it when your mittened hands are freezing up. Unless you want to use it more that is.