Vail Landscape Logic: Decide whether a snow thrower is right for you
October 25, 2015
It's the time of year when you need to know where the snow shovel is. And if you're tired of the back strain, you might be ready to trade that shovel in for a snow thrower — especially with forecasts of a rough winter ahead.
Before you shop, know your needs based on how much area needs to be cleared and whether you have unpaved areas or special surfaces such as a deck to clear. The work will dictate the machine and the power source.
Electric snow throwers are plug-in-and-go models that don't require the maintenance of gas-powered models. Electric throwers range from small, electric-powered shovels to throwers in narrow widths of around 15 or 18 inches. They are very useful for clearing snow off decks and other small spaces, such as patios.
TWO TYPES OF THROWERS
Gas-powered machines, like a lawn mower, use gasoline and require annual maintenance such as draining old gas, changing the oil and replacing the spark plug. The most important step in selecting these throwers is deciding whether a single-stage or two-stage thrower is best for your needs.
• Single-stage throwers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Rubber paddles inside the machine self-propel it and throw snow out of a built-in shoot in one mechanical motion. These throwers are best in newly fallen, non-compacted snow. They are not designed for use in non-paved areas.
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• Two-stage throwers are more heavy duty, are on larger frames, have more power than single-stage throwers and offer multiple speeds. The two-stage action has snow pulled inside by a steel auger and then thrown out by an impeller. The steel auger has the power to cut through compacted snow. This machine is well-suited to mountain properties with deeper snowfall and/or sites with a lot of snow to clear.
What's best for your property?
Consider a small-size, single-stage thrower if your home has a one or two-car garage, driveway and small walk area to clear.
• This size will be adequate for most storms.
• It operates best from ½ inch to 9 inches of snow.
• It moves about 1,100 pounds of snow per minute.
Consider a medium-size, single-stage snow thrower if your home has a two-car garage, large driveway and some walks.
• This bigger size will be better for your needs than the smaller thrower.
• It can handle ½ inch to 12 inches of snow.
• It moves about 1,800 pounds of snow per minute.
Consider a two-stage snow thrower if your home has a three-car garage or more, large driveway and/or large expanses of walks. It's best if you need to move a lot of snow and also works on non-paved surfaces.
• The extra power will be helpful if you live where there are deep snowfalls.
• If your property faces north or is on a snowplow route, this powerful thrower is better equipped to move through drifts or wind rows left by snow plows.
• It works best when snow is at a depth of 5 inches or more.
• It moves up to 2,200 pounds of snow per minute.
As with all consumer purchases, deciding which snow thrower to purchase may require more research and input from a local, trusted distributor. After the purchase, take note of specific safety precautions and maintenance recommendations so that the equipment remains a useful household tool for many snow seasons ahead.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.
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