If you’ve always shoveled the snow around your home — or paid someone to do it — you might find yourself asking yourself: Is it time to buy a snowblower? Let’s examine the pros and cons.
How often does it snow? This is the first question you need to ask yourself when considering a snow blower purchase. In northern climes where snow begins in late November or early December and stretches through April, a blower makes more sense. If you need to clear your driveway and walks at least twice per month, the answer is also likely yes. In less harsh areas, where snow falls less regularly, it’s not so clear cut.
Don’t forget to ask yourself a few more questions. How much area do you need to clear? Are you physically able to shovel? Do you have anyone nearby who would be willing to shovel for you?
Types and costs of snowblowers. Electric snowblowers are lightweight and best for handling drier, fluffy snow on small jobs such as patios, decks or short driveways and sidewalks. Next up are the different levels of gas-powered blowers. Each is capable of handling wet, heavy snow. Higher-stage models have increased capacity for handling snow and throwing it further. Lower-level models can only be used on paved surfaces. Models with power drive to the wheels are easier to push.
Electric blowers start at about $150. Gas-powered units start as low as $500 and run to $1,500, but $800 is about the average.
Comparing costs. Shoveling the snow yourself is, of course, the cheapest route to take. Or you could hire a friend or family member to do the work for you. To accurately compare the cost of shoveling to a snow blower purchase, remember to figure in the cost of the shovel, how often it snows and how long it will take to finish the job. Then compare that to the cost of a blower and determine how long it will take to recover the purchase price, plus gas and maintenance.
If you live in the northernmost parts of the country, such as Minnesota, Michigan, and Upstate New York, you will likely recover your cost in the first year or two. Below those northernmost tiers, it may be three to five years or longer.
Hiring a snow removal service. The final option is hiring a snow-removal service, which charges an average of $75 per job. With a reliable snow blower costing about $800, a homeowner will recoup the initial investment after 11 times. Many people hire a removal service when they are older or have health problems. Be sure the service you use is insured.