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Lightweight snow throwers or “powered snow shovels” are very popular, especially in regions that experience frequent, but moderate snowfall.

The basic components of a snow thrower are the engine, blades to break up snow, auger or paddles to pull snow in, impellers to eject snow and chutes to direct thrown snow. The combination of these components depends on whether the model is a single or two-stage thrower.

Single-stage units are lighter, easier to maneuver and less expensive than two-stage units.

Single-stage units use one action to break up snow, draw it in and discharge it. Two-stage throwers use separate augers or fans and impellers with the former breaking up and pulling in snow and the latter propelling it forward or out to one side. Directional controls adjust the discharge chute so snow is thrown in the desired direction.

Two-stage units can maneuver as much as one ton of snow per Lighter weight, less expensive models are usually sufficient for ordinary home snow clearing. These may have combination plastic (high-density polyethylene) and aluminum construction, 2-1/2-hp engine and as small as 14″ clearing width. These have the ability to clear a 50′ driveway of 3″ snow in about 10 minutes.

Gasoline-powered units offer 3 to 11 hp, two or four-cycle engines, cutting widths from 14″ to 32″, automatic rewind or recoil (optional electric) starters, two to five forward and one reverse speed (up to 2-1/2 mph).

Electric units have clearing widths of 16″ to 18″. Power units must be totally enclosed to prevent snow and water from getting into the motor.

Quality features to look for in snow throwers are chain and gear drive, fully-enclosed transmission and gear drive to eliminate problems of snow and ice on drive train, clutch control operating from handle, adjustable rollers for paved surfaces and skids for unpaved ones, heavy steel or good plastic/metal construction, semi-pneumatic tires (tractor treads recommended) and chains available for use on inclines.

When shopping for a snow thrower, think of how large of an area you intend to clear to help determine which model best suits their needs.

For instance, in a region that experiences frequent snowfalls of 6″ or more, if you have a large driveway to clear you may need an auger-type model. These spiral blades spin like a screw, compact the snow and throw it out the discharge chute. These can come in both single-stage and two-stage models.

Instead of the auger types, a paddle model with two to three paddles made of hard rubber or plastic mounted on a rotating drum may be more appropriate for areas with lighter snowfall. The paddles usually will not dig as deeply as augers, which could force the operator to make repeated passes over the same area to remove a heavier snowfall.

Lightweight snowthrower models, or “compacts,” retail for about $250 to $500 and heavier duty, self-propelled units such as the auger variety may run as high as $1,500.

Consumer Reports says that the “typical self-propelled thrower has two deadman controls-one for the auger and one for the driving wheels. When the operator releases those controls, auger and wheels automatically come to a stop.”

When purchasing a unit, be mindful of safety. Most injuries involve hands used to unclog units. An operator should never use a hand or a stick to remove clogged snow or ice when the machine is running.

An operator should avoid touching hot mufflers, cylinders or fins; pull starter cord rapidly to prevent kickback, and allow engine to cool before adding fuel.

The Safe Way to Remove Snow
1. If using a snow thrower, be sure the area is clean and avoid excessive force. Let the machine do the work.
2. If shoveling, use a shovel that is proportionate to your lifting ability. Use arms and legs to do the work.
3. Avoid twisting and jerking motions; they are the leading cause of back injuries.
4. Dress in several layers of clothing-muffler, jacket, sweater, etc., so you can take off outer layers as you warm up to the job.
5. Be careful. Snow shoveling requires six to 15 times the energy required during rest period. This is comparable to running at a speed of 9 miles an hour.
To dig out a 50′, double-car driveway after a 4′ wet snowfall, you have to remove four tons of snow!
Who Gets the Most Snow?
Rochester, N.Y. 89.6″
Denver 59.5″
Cleveland 52.7″
Hartford, Conn. 52.0″
Milwaukee 46.8″
Minneapolis/St. Paul 46.3″
Boston 41.9″
Detroit 40.5″
Chicago 39.8″
Amounts are record mean snowfalls for these cities

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.