PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
November 15, 2016

When the leaves start changing color and falling to the ground, you know that winter is just around the corner. While some people are fond of snow, farmers know that few things complicate farm chores more than a foot of snow that makes it difficult to walk around and transport supplies.

For these reasons, if you live in a region of the country that sees a significant amount of winter snowfall, you’ll need a way to maintain paths to your barn, pastures and tool sheds. While this can be done with an old-fashioned snow shovel, a gas- or electric-powered snowblower will save you a great deal of time and effort. Here are some features to look for when buying a snowblower.

1. Gas or Electric?

Like many small machines, snowblowers can be powered by electric motors or gasoline engines, both of which offer advantages and disadvantages. The benefits of an electric snowblower are obvious—for example, they don’t have a gasoline engine to maintain and they weigh less than gas models. Then again, they don’t have nearly as much strength and can’t clear as much snow as gasoline snowblowers, and some must be tethered to an extension cord to provide power.

For clearing small areas of snow that aren’t very deep, an electric snowblower might be all you need. However, for larger areas and for deeper snow, you’ll want a gasoline-powered snowblower. Of course, it requires all the maintenance that comes with a gasoline engine—oil, spark plugs, etc.—but the inconvenience can be worth it for the power that gasoline snowblowers provide.

2. How Many Stages?

Snowblowers come in three different sizes: single-stage, two-stage and three-stage. Single-stage models are designed for cleaning small areas of light snow and aren’t very powerful, while two-stage and three-stage models can move significantly more snow in less time while covering much larger areas. For clearing paths to your barn, pastures and other outbuildings, a two-stage or three-stage gas model is the way to go.

3. How Wide Is The Snowblower?

Not all snowblowers clear the same width. On the small end, some have a clearing width of two feet or less; on the long end, some large snowblowers can clear a path more than 40 inches wide. If you need to clear wide trails through the snow (perhaps for you and your livestock to navigate), a wider snowblower can be a definite time saver.

4. Are The Handles Heated?

Some snowblowers come with heated handles to keep your hands warm while working, a nice touch if you’re going to be out clearing snow for a long time in cold weather.

5. How Do You Control The Snow Chute?

To control where the snow is blown, snowblowers have a special chute that can be pivoted to change the direction of the snow flow. Some are controlled by a simple crank that must be turned by hand to change the orientation of the chute, but some snowblowers offer more sophisticated controls, such as a joystick.

6. Do You Need a Self-Contained Snowblower?

While many snowblowers are self-contained units with their own power source, it’s also possible to purchase snowblower attachments for tractors, which can be a viable option if you’ve already invested in a tractor and want to use it during all four seasons.

Of course, these aren’t all of the features that snowblowers offer—what features do you look for when buying a snowblower?


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