Are Manual or Automatic Chutes Your Best Option?

Your snowblower’s chute is probably not something you’ve given a lot of thought to, but it’s essential to the operation of the machine. It’s the chute that will determine where the snow goes; if you don’t want it piling up on your driveway or ending up on your neighbor’s, then the machine’s chute design is something you want to give careful thought. While they may all look the same to you, there are actually quite a few variations in chute design you may come across as you search for the right snowblower.

What do you need to consider in a chute’s design as you look for the right snowblower? You’ll want to give consideration to your preference for a manual or automatic chute, the range of motion of the chute, and whether or not the chute is adjustable. Some of the more basic machines don’t even have an adjustable chute and that may be okay for your needs. As you can see, there’s a lot to consider here.

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Going Manual

If you’re choosing a snowblower with a chute you’ll find the more economical models include a chute that requires manual manipulation for it to move. One major positive aspect of a manual chute is that it will reduce the cost of the machine, as there are fewer mechanical moving parts in it. If you’re on a tight budget this may play a large role in your decision.

The other big positive about a manual chute is that it tends to have less of an impact on the machine’s weight. Again, if you have fewer mechanical parts it stands to reason that your snowblower’s going to weigh a little less. So if you’re looking for a lightweight machine that won’t break the bank, a machine with a manual chute may very well be your best choice.

How do manual chutes work? Well, in most cases they have a crankshaft, extending just underneath the handlebars, which you turn in the direction you want the chute to point. In some circumstances the handle is actually much closer to the chute and you can move the chute by simply pushing the handle in one direction or the other. Whichever type of manual chute a machine has, the principle is the same – you have to direct it using your hands.

A User-Friendly Automatic Model

If you can afford it, a machine with an automatic chute is certainly much more convenient. With this type of machine it’s simply a matter of touching a button that controls the movement of the chute to change its direction. This button is usually conveniently located on the handlebars so that you don’t have to bend over and reach like you must for the manual crank handle.

While automatic chutes are a great luxury, they do have their drawbacks. For one thing, the mechanical parts that move the chute will add some weight to your machine. This probably won’t be an extreme amount, but it will make a difference nonetheless. The other factor to consider is that when you have more mechanical parts there is more potential for a machine to break down. If you’re going to choose a machine with an automatic chute, it’s a good idea to check its warranty to make sure it covers any eventuality.

Adjusting Height and Direction

Regardless of whether you decide to go with a machine that has a manual chute or an automatic chute, you’ll also want to consider the range of motion the chute offers. As a rule you’ll want to look for a machine that has a chute that will move left to right 180 degrees. What this means is the chute is capable of moving from a left-pointing direction all the way over to a right-pointing direction, without moving the machine itself at all. This comes in handy when you’re changing the direction of the machine back and forth; by controlling which direction the chute is pointing at all times, you can put the snow right where you want it.

On some more expensive snowblower models you can even adjust the height of the chute. This will allow you to actually extend or reduce how far the chute throws the snow. This is a great feature to have, as you can avoid throwing the snow too far and have it ending up in your neighbor’s driveway. It’s a good way to keep the peace on your street.

So Which One’s Better?

When you have two different options like we’ve mentioned above, the inevitable question will be asked: Which one is better? The bottom line is that there really is no correct answer to this question. For some people manual chutes may be the better option; this might be true if you’re looking for a lighter machine or a more affordable one. In other cases, if you have the extra money to spend and you’re not overly worried about the weight of the machine, an automatic chute can be a real convenience. Which one’s better really depends on what your own needs are.

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