Choosing the Right Snowblower to Clear Your Driveway

When you’re buying a snowblower there are a lot of factors to consider in your decision. You’ll want to consider things like your budget, whether or not environmental factors are important to you, and most importantly, will the machine fulfill your snow-clearing needs? This article focuses on this latter consideration. With all the options available to you when it comes to snow removal equipment, it really is best to examine your own personal needs.

There are essentially three main things you’ll want to think about when you’re deciding if a snowblower or snow shovel fits your needs. You’ll want to look at how wide a path it clears, what kind of traction it has, and if it has headlights to clear your way. The third consideration is not an option available on all machines, so you’ll want to give special consideration to how important this is to you when you decide which machine to purchase.

How Wide Is Your Path?

One of the biggest advantages that a snowblower has over a traditional handheld snow shovel is that it clears a much wider path. The average handheld snow shovel may clear between 12 inches and 18 inches of snow at one pass, depending upon the width of the shovel. The best snowblowers can cut a much wider path than this – in some cases as much as a 30-inch-wide path with one pass.

Granted, less-expensive snow clearing equipment, such as an electric snow shovel, will only clear about a 12-inch path as well, but the key word here is clear. One of the most annoying things about a manual shovel is that the snow tends to build up and push out the sides, leaving a trail of snow behind on the path you’ve already cleared. Even the most basic electric snow shovels do a decent job of clearing the snow completely out of your path on each pass.

While it may not be up for debate whether or not electric or gas-powered snow shovels/snowblowers are more effective at clearing the snow from your driveway than hand-held manual shovels are, there is still a lot of variation in how wide a path these different machines are capable of clearing. Your most basic electric snow shovel will generally clear a path that’s between 12 and 14 inches. The most expensive snowblowers can clear a path up to 30 inches wide – that’s more than 2 feet of snow at one pass! The math is pretty simple; with one of these machines you can clear the snow in your driveway in less than half the time it will take you to do so with a manual snow shovel. As a general rule, the more money you’re willing to pay, the wider a path a snowblower will cut with each pass. It really comes down to what fits your budget.

What Kind of Traction Does the Machine Have?

You might think that all electric or gas-powered snow removal machines will operate very well in the snow. Surprisingly, some of these machines have wheels with a very narrow base and very little traction. This is especially true on the least-expensive models, such as electric snow shovels. As you get into the higher-end machines that generally cost more than $1000, you’ll invariably find that they have 14 to 16-inch tires and that the tread on these machines is built to grip whatever winter will throw at you.

Obviously, an electric snow shovel is much lighter so you don’t necessarily need as much traction, as you can simply lift the machine if you run into an issue. But it becomes much more of a problem on inexpensive gas-model machines. These low-cost snowblowers are, unfortunately, often equipped with small wheels that have very little traction. While they may not be as heavy as some of the larger, more expensive models, they’re still too heavy to lift, so you’ll want to carefully consider how important traction is to you if you buy one of these machines.

Does the Machine Light Your Way?

One more thing you’ll want to look at when considering how good a machine is at clearing your path is how well it lights your way. Headlights are generally only included on machines priced over $500, so if this is outside your price range you’re probably going to have to live without headlights on your machine. The great advantage of having headlights on a snowblower is that you can see what you’re doing more clearly. It is certainly more of a luxury item, though, as the lights over your garage may be more than enough illumination for your needs.

Remington RM3060 With Integral Headlight

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Final Thoughts

As we’ve indicated above, having headlights is a luxury item – how wide a path your machine clears and how well it grips the ice and snow on your driveway are the biggest considerations. If you have a small driveway and you live in an area where snowfall is quite light, then an electric snow shovel is probably good enough to do the job. For those that live in areas where the snow comes fast and heavy in the wintertime, and/or your driveway’s a little on the larger side, then you’ll definitely want to give serious consideration to a higher-end snowblower.

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