Many of us have a love/hate relationship with snow. No matter how much you may enjoy getting out for winter activities, clearing the driveway is a daunting task for many. While there’s still some time before it starts flying, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to talk about exactly what you should be considering when looking for a new snow blower. These time and back-saving investments are absolutely worthwhile at any level.
Up on Stage
Single-stage, two-stage, three-stage… what level do you need? In a single-stage blower, a rotating, rubber-coated auger collects snow from the ground and immediately pushes the snow upwards and out through the chute. An important characteristic that distinguishes this type of blower is that the auger is in direct contact with the ground. These are ideal for very light, shallow snow and will struggle to do anything with wetter, heavier snowfalls.
Two-stage blowers are the most common type for our rugged winters. In this case, the metal auger is much bigger and much stronger. Unlike the single-stage blower, the auger is raised off of the ground. It breaks down snow as it spins, and “throws” the snow up into an impeller that drives it out the chute. The auger & impeller work together to throw snow much further than you’re able to with a single-stage blower. Added features like self-propelling, increased power, auto-turn steering, heated grips, and more will be available depending on the specific model you’re looking at.
Three-stage blowers take the power and speed of a two-stage, and crank it up to 11. A second auger rotates in the opposing direction of the first, and will chew up any amount of snow and ice. The snow is passed up through the impeller, where an added accelerator launches it at very high speeds over even greater distances than its two-stage cousins. Three-stage blowers are great for very high volume snowfalls and heavy-duty applications. They can handle more snow, much faster.
Deciding what kind of snowblower is right for you depends heavily on your driveway. You’re going to need to keep a couple of things in mind, like what your driveway is made of and how steep it is.
If your driveway is made of gravel, rock, or has a particularly uneven surface - you’ll need to have something that can actually handle the terrain without damaging anything. Remember, the auger contacts the ground in single-stage blowers - anything other than a fairly flat, fairly smooth surface is going to require a two or three-stage - they’re much better candidates for these surfaces.
Inclined driveways are better suited for two and three-stage blowers. You’ll benefit from a self-propelled snow blower on your way up and the larger wheels make them much easier to control on a hill. While you can use a single-stage on a slight incline, you don’t want to have contact between the ground and the augers on a hill.
A Matter of Inches
This is another important question. The height of snow the different stages can handle, respectively, will help inform your decision on what makes the most sense for where you live. There is a range across brands and models, but as a fairly reliable rule of thumb:
Single-stage: Up to about 8 inches of snow.
Two-stage: Generally, up to about 18 inches of snow, sometimes up to 24 inches.
Three-stage: Between 18-24 inches of snow, depending on brand and model.
In Atlantic Canada, our winters often hit us with enough snow that the larger, more robust two-stage blower is going to be the starting point for the size of many driveways. If the conditions around your yard almost always result in very light snowfall on your small driveway, or if you’re using it for a paved/cement walkway, a single-stage can work perfectly for you! If the conditions around your yard are prone to creating massive drifts and banks for you to tackle, it might be worth upgrading to a three-stage powerhouse!
Atlantic Outdoor proudly carries snow blowers from Ariens, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna. With so many options to choose from, it can be tough to decide which blower is the right one for the job. Stop by our showroom today, and one of our snow removal experts will be more than happy to make things as clear as your driveway will be all winter.