Snow blower terminology – Your need-to-know snow blower terms

by Martin

in Choosing a snow blower

Is it a blower, is it a thrower or is it a shovel?

This is what Wikipedia will tell you about the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower: “the term “snow thrower” is often used to encompass snow throwers and snow blowers, however, in proper usage a snow thrower is a machine that uses a single stage to remove or “throw” snow while a snowblower uses two stages to remove or “blow” snow” (emphases added).

In fact, most people use ‘snow blower’ as a general term to refer to the various snow blowing and throwing machines. On this site we generally follow the Wikipedia approach but also use the terminology that the manufacturers use or the phrases that we think people are using when searching for information.

A power shovel is really a type of snow thrower, usually electric. It is small, lightweight and can be handled a bit like a shovel. You introduce it to the snow a bit like you would a hand shovel, but – and this is the whole point- the power shovel automatically throws the snow off in the direction you want it to go, without you doing the heaving.

Single stage and two stage

In a single stage snow thrower, the action of the auger (see below) is responsible for pulling the snow into the machine and throwing out again in the direction determined by the placing of the discharge chute.

By contrast, a two-stage snow blower has, unsurprisingly, 2 stages in the process by which it handles the snow. In the first stage, the auger acts as it does in a single stage snow thrower, by pulling the snow in. The second stage involves an impeller which does the job of discharging the snow out of the machine. The two stage process generally enables the snow blower to handle more snow, more quickly and to throw it further than a single stage machine.

Snow blower parts

The Auger is a helix shaped component (think corkscrew or drill bit) which is moves the snow through the snow thrower by its high speed spinning action. Have a look at the picture at the top of this piece. That is the auger from a commercial grade snow blower

The Impeller is a propeller-like component that spins at high speed forcing the snow through the impeller housing and, effectively, blowing it out of the machine.

Drive wheels – the larger snow blowers have wheels powered the engine to drive the machine forward. Sometimes the wheels are fitted with snow chains. Some models have tracks instead of wheels. On smaller models, the auger engages the ground and provides some forward propulsion.

Discharge chute – believe it or not, this is the chute from which the snow is discharged :). These need to be able to rotate easily so that the snow can be directed where you want it to go. They also need to stay in place once you’ve positioned it. The bigger and better snow blowers have controls on or around the dashboard for positioning the chute so that you can move it as you continue blowing snow.

Deflector – This is the fitting at the end of the chute. You raise or lower it to direct snow closer to you you or further from you. The picture below shows a chute and deflector detail. The deflector is the section with the handle.

Snow blower terminology - chute and deflector

snow blower chute and deflector

Clearing tool – A plastic probe used for clearing the auger area, impeller housing or discharge chute of clogged snow.

Skid shoes – Adjustable feet, usually at the bottom of the bottom of the auger housing on two stage snow blowers. These allow you to raise the height of the base of the intake. This is what allows two stage machines to operate on loose or gravel surfaces, because the skid shoes raise the intake about the loose material.

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