Tips for Purchasing a Snow Thrower

Snow shoveling can literally be a 'pain in the back' for many and a more serious health hazard for some. Investing in a new snow thrower might be the best option for a stress-free snowy winter.

Snow throwers have proven their winter worth well over the years, but don't make a purchase based on the looks of the unit alone. You should know the differences in features and models so you can make an informed decision. Here's some knowledge to have when you're making a snow thrower purchase:

Two- or Four-Cycle

Two-cycle engines require that you mix the gas and oil together (usually between a 30:1 and a 50:1 ratio, but you'll want to verify against the owner's manual to be certain). On the other hand, four-cycle engines have separate tanks for gas and oil. Both use a specific type of engine oil - 4-cycle models use SAE 30 and 2-cycles use a specific 2-cycle oil made for mixing.

Single- or Two-Stage

Single-stage units clear the snow in one single action, drawing it up-and-out from the auger to the shoot. Two-stage throwers move snow first to the back of the unit, then out the shoot, making them a better choice for heavy, wet snow. Two-stage throwers can cut through more snow and ice than single-stage models. They'll usually reduce the number of passes you have to make over a single area, so it's a good investment choice.

Horsepower (HP)

You don't need a snow thrower with more torque than the family minivan. For ample sized driveways, a five- or six-horsepower model will work wonders, and for smaller jobs, consider a three- or four-horsepower model.

Manual or Electric Start

Snow throwers with manual starts have to be set in 'choke' mode and primed by pushing the small bulb on the side of the motor. This brings in the necessary fuel to start up the thrower. Electric start snow throwers involve no rope pulling - merely set the mower to choke, plug it into any available wall outlet and press the ignition button - making them much more convenient, especially when it's super cold outside. The quicker they start, the quicker you can get down to business and get back inside the house.

Clearing a Path

For most residential gas-powered snow throwers, the range to clear the snow is anywhere from 20 inches to about 33 inches. In contrast, electric models have clearing paths as small as 12 inches, designed specifically for walkways. If you're looking for a good all-around thrower, choose one with a clearing path anywhere from 20 to 24 inches.

Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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