Before You Buy
Whether you call it a snow blower or a snow thrower, before you shell out for one this winter, make sure you're getting the one you need.
Gasoline-Powered Snow Blowers
If you consistently get more than six inches of snow or your driveway is long, you'll need a gasoline-powered snow blower. There are two types: single-stage and two-stage. Two-stage models are the most expensive, ranging from $500 to $2,500. But if you're clearing unpaved areas with heavy snow, you'll need a two-stage model, because they have an auger that collects the snow, plus a separate impeller, which throws it.
Electric Snow Blowers
Electric models are less expensive, ranging from $100 to $400. They're lighter and easier to maneuver, and they don't make as much noise or create as much air pollution as gasoline-powered models. If all you've got is a small, paved driveway and some walkways to clear (and they're within a hundred feet of your house), an electric snow blower will serve your needs in snowfalls of up to six inches. It will also save you gasoline and maintenance hassles without taking up much storage space.
Special Snowblower Features
Some models have great features like headlights, one-handed operation, and electric (rather than recoil) start mechanisms, so you don't have to yank any cords. Some even have independent-clutch wheels that allow for easy pivoting without going into reverse. These can all come in handy when you've got a lot of ground to cover.