Less expensive snow blowers with gas engines are supplied with a pull-cord starter. Better models, especially the 4-stroke versions, come with an electric starter that requires the operator to plug into an AC receptacle to obtain starting power. Once started, the snow blower can be disconnected from the AC power.
Snow Blower Configurations:
Single-stage snow blowers:
Single-stage snow blowers are generally considered as sufficient to handle snow removal at a depth of 6 inches or less. Single-stage snow blowers do not employ an impeller to take the snow from the auger to the discharge chute. They use an auger that has been designed to provide the two functions, that of the auger and the impeller. As well, the auger, which is usually rubber coated to provide traction, acts as the forward drive mechanism as it actually runs on the ground.
Single-stage snow blowers are generally powered by 2-stroke engines although some manufacturers do make single-stage, four-stroke versions. Engine sizes are generally 3 to 5 horsepower and will clear a path of 17 to 21 inches.
The advantages of a single-stage snow blower are:
- Lighter in weight.
- Fewer moving parts, which means less downtime.
- Easier to maintain (fewer moving parts).
- Because the auger rides on the ground it clears snow right to the surface of the driveway or walkway.
- Easier to operate
The disadvantages of a single-stage snow blower are:
- Physical strength is required to pull the unit backwards
- Does not have the power to clear deep snow (deeper than 6 inches)
- Because the auger rides on the ground the surface being cleared should be solid and flat (no gravel or crushed stone)
- Generally requires pull-cord starting.
Two-stage snow blowers:
A two-stage snow blower has an auger and an impeller. The auger is the first stage and its purpose is to gather the snow. The second stage which is the impeller takes the gathered snow and delivers it to the chute. With engines in the 5 to 13 horsepower range, the two stage snow blower can handle deep snow with a clearance width of 22 to 36 inches.
Two-stage snow blowers are heavy machines that must be maintained in order to have them available when needed.
The chute is the mechanism on the snow blower that disperses the gathered snow. It is important to understand some of the variations that are available:
- Manual or electric control – some snow blowers utilize an electric control lever on the handle to control the chute discharge direction while others utilize a crank style mechanical mechanism.
- Chute material – chutes made from polymer materials are considered better than those made of metal as the polymer chutes do not clog with snow as readily as the metal ones.
- Adjustable deflectors – regulates the discharge arc of the snow. Some snow blowers have controls to change the discharge arc while the machine is in operation. Other snow blowers require that the snow blower be turned off in order to adjust the deflector arc.