Let it Snow: New Eco-Friendly Snow Removal Technology
New advances in technology are changing the image and user-friendliness of those hulky, belching snow-chucking machines that chew through drifts and piles to clear driveways and walkways during the winter.
Harder working machines, creature comforts and even a green component are making snow blowers an easier resource for multifamily properties to dig out of big winter snow storms. Manufacturers are changing the perception that snow blowers are cumbersome to operate and guzzle gas.
While Josh Adams, Home Depot’s merchant of outdoor power equipment, believes the traditional growling sounds and hard-charging rhythm of a traditional snow blower have a certain charm, he says newer machines are finding a warm spot in the hearts of operators. Their ease of use, improved toughness and green features are making them fast sellers.
One eco-friendly machine, operated by a 40-volt battery, is the first of its kind in the industry to have hybrid technology. The machine will operate up to 50 minutes and uses LED lights for visibility at night. The electric scoop control can be operated from the handle bar without having to shut down the machine and manually move the scoop. Also, the handle folds down for easy storage.
Other models like it are showing up in retail outlets.
“The battery-operated market is growing,” Adams said. “Last year we had one, this year we have two (in stock) with additional models coming on line. Looking into future, we see this as a growing trend. The batteries just keep getting better and they can last longer.”
For larger jobs, the gasoline-powered machines are the best option, Adams says, but battery-operated snow blowers hold up just fine for moderate snow removal. Electric-powered machines work just as well and are getting better. Quieter, brushless motors in 40-volt electric units are also gaining in popularity.
“My recommendation is to use battery-powered or electric product with smaller jobs with less snow,” Adams said. “Generally, they are good for up to 6-8 inches of snow. They’re best in smaller areas, like porches or walkways.”
For bigger jobs, a single- or two-stage gas model is the best option. New features are helping machines better displace massive snow drifts, like those left by city crews at property entrances when roads are cleared.
One snow blower manufactured by Ariens uses steel housing and a cast-iron gear box with a five-year warranty that protects the auger and keeps it turning during heavy snow removal.
“They have the best warranty on a gear box in history,” Adams says. “The gear box is really important to a machine and keeping the auger turning. Heavy snow, snow plow piles at the end of driveway tax a machine. You have to clear that snow out of the way, and that’s where a cast iron gear box comes into play.”
Snow blowers are also becoming more operator-friendly.
Like with lawn mowers, Toro’s Personal Pace® feature is now available on certain models so that operators can walk at their speed, not that of the machine. And, joy sticks on the console change chute control without having to stop the machine and adjust manually.
For the tender-handed, heated hand warmers and auto-turn steering are available on some Ariens machines.
“The hand warmers are a pretty important feature,” Adams says. “When you’re out in the cold and snow you really know the difference. Also, the auto-turn steering really makes it simple to turn the machine in the snow.”
Other features include larger tires for better traction in snow and ice.
The days of a snow blower working over the operator may be over. Improvements are making operation simple enough that apartment operators can more easily keep walkways and driveways clear around the property, even in heavy snowfall and ice.
So, let it snow, let it snow.