Tips for Buying 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. Here’s some advice that’s good to have when you’re purchasing a snow thrower:

Two- or Four-Cycle Engine

  • Two-cycle engines require you to mix the gas and a specific 2-cycle oil made for mixing (usually between a 30:1 and a 50:1 ratio, but you’ll want to verify against the owner’s manual to be certain).
  • Four-cycle engines have separate tanks for gas and oil and typically use SAE 30 oil.

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 and usually reduce the number of passes you have to make over a single area. A good choice if you have large areas to clear or experience heavy snowfall.

Horsepower (HP)

  • For ample sized driveways, a five- or six-horsepower model will work wonders.
  • 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. This added convenience is easy to appreciate  when it’s super cold outside, or when you run out of gas.

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.
  • Electric models have clearing paths as small as 12 inches, designed specifically for walkways.
  • A good all-around thrower, clears a path anywhere from 20 to 24 inches.