Snow Removal Equipment: Snow Thrower vs. Snow Plow

When it comes to snow removal equipment, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right tools. There are many different machines on the market these days with all sorts of different pros and cons to each. What it really comes down to is finding the right equipment for your needs. Each machine is equipped to handle different situations. Dry snow, wet snow, and location are all things that will affect what kind of machine for removing snow is the proper fit for you!

The Types of Snow We Encounter in North America


Many people may not realize that snow is not of uniform structure or consistency everywhere. There are different types of snow in different locations, even throughout North America alone. Snow that falls on the East Coast may differ greatly from the snow that you find on the West Coast. This is due to a range of different factors. Snow on the East Coast tends to be more of what we consider to be ‘wet snow’. This type of snow is sticky, compact, and great for building a snowman! The wetness can be due to the ground not being completely frozen, air temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, or solar energy (sunlight) being absorbed into the snowflakes as they fall. Therefore, ‘dry snow’ happens when temperatures are well below freezing and there is less fluctuation in temperature. This reduces the overall humidity, creating powdery, light, dry snow. Compact snow usually occurs with wetter snow, as it is already physically denser. What makes it hard to work with is that oftentimes, the surface of the snow will ‘melt’ during the day, then re-freeze overnight, producing a layer of hardened ice over the top of the snow. These types of snow are all quite different in how they must be handled; thus, choosing the right snow removal equipment is of utmost importance!

Snow Removal Equipment for Dry Snow


Some may say dry snow is, in certain ways, more easily cleared than other types of snow. This is due to the fact that dry snow is light-weight, fluffy, and powdery – requiring less amount of force to move. For this reason, manual shoveling can be a great snow removal method depending on the size of the space you need to clear snow from. If the space is large or, like many individuals, you hate manual shoveling, a snow thrower will also work well with this type of snow. Dry snow is less likely to clog the augers of the snow thrower or contain dangerous icy debris that would normally create a safety hazard. Should you choose a snow thrower for clearing dry snow, keep in mind that a problem that you might encounter is that since the snow is so light and powdery, if there happens to be a bit of a breeze, the snow will be projected out of the chute and then carried wherever the wind takes it. This can create mess and frustration. Using a snow pusher will eliminate this problem, as the snow is not being projected into the air. If you choose to use a snow plow, just be sure to angle the plow to either side so that the snow can flow out of your path, and be aware that the snow cannot be higher than the height of the plow, as it will overflow and fall back onto your cleared surface.

Snow Removal Equipment for Wet Snow


Wet snow can prove to be a bit more challenging to properly clear. This is the type of snow that is heavy, slushy, and difficult to move. With this type of snow, manual shoveling can be tiresome and take a physical toll on the body, especially considering it takes more time to complete which means more time out in the cold! A snow thrower can be used to clear wet snow, but you may encounter some setbacks like clogging which can cause your machine to stop or breakdown. Using a snow plow is ideal for wet snow because it can move the heavy snow out of the way as opposed to picking it up and throwing it.

Snow Removal Equipment for Compact Snow


Snow that is compact is typically quite wet, and when not cleared, can develop a sheet of ice if temperatures drop. Ice is always a safety concern; therefore, this type of snow should be cleared as soon as possible. When removing this type of snow, it is similar to wet snow and will require similar equipment. While a snow thrower will remove the snow, this particular type of snow is especially dangerous with these machines. Compact snow often has clumps of icy debris that, when projected into the air can injure someone or damage property like garage doors, windows, or nearby cars. This type of snow will also be harsh on the machine itself. Compact snow and icy debris can clog your chute and/or damage augurs, creating frustration and requiring time to correct or repair. A snow plow is definitely the best method for removing snow that is compact. If the snow is particularly compact, try to find a snow pusher, such as the Orec Snow Bull, that allows the plow to be angled to one side. This allows heavy snow to flow to the side instead of rolling into a ‘snow log’ where it may become too heavy to push directly forward.

Arming Teams with the Right Snow Removal Equipment


Arming your team with the right snow removal equipment is imperative to performance, efficiency, and time management. To get the job done right the first time around, you must choose your equipment carefully and with all the different elements in mind. For dry snow, manual shoveling or a snow thrower will work well; while wet or compact snow might be better handled with a snow plow. There is a wide range of each of these products available on the market today. With a bit of knowledge of what kind of snow you will be working with, you will be much more likely to choose the proper equipment for each job, making your team more efficient and timely!

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