Snow blowers and snow plows are both highly effective tools for removing accumulated snow.
Blowers are manually controlled and standalone machines, making them easy-to-control and great for detail work like removing snow from driveways.
Plows attach to pre-existing vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, so offer increased speed and beefier snow-removing power.
Blowers offer increased visibility during use, minimizing the chances of accidentally damaging something on your property.
Plows are incredibly durable, lasting decades and often requiring little to no maintenance or repair.
The winter months are relentless. The lack of sunlight, bitter cold, and, of course, immense snowfall all ruin your day. Besides contacting a local snow removal company, average homeowners have two powerful options for stemming the powdery tide. There are snow blowers and snow plows. Which is better for you? Keep reading to find out.
What’s the Difference Between Snow Blowers and Snow Plows?
Each of these tools come with their own set of pros and cons worth considering before making a purchase. A snow blower is a manually-pushed appliance that pulls in snow, chops it up, and pushes it back out via a moveable chute. A snow plow, on the other hand, is essentially a large curved blade that scoops snow out of the way. Plows attach to vehicles like trucks, ATVs, SUVs, and more.
Snow Blowers Pros and Cons
Snow blowers, as the name suggests, are powerful appliances that blow snow from one area of your exterior to another. These independently-controlled machines feature sturdy augers and a spiral blade that essentially mulch and redirect snow through a chute or series of chutes. Controlled from behind, snow blowers are a convenient and fast way to get your property squared away after a snowfall.
Easy to use: Unlike snow plows, snow blowers are ready to go as soon as you open the box, as they do not require any additional gear or tools to start.
Maneuverability: Snow blowers are easy to maneuver, making them great for tight spaces. Additionally, many models are on the lighter side.
Increased Safety: Snow blowers are mostly safe because you are standing directly behind the machine and controlling its every move. Most modern blowers include a suite of safety-enhancing features, such as protective areas surrounding the spiral blade and powerful headlights. Still, follow approved snow blower safety practices at all times.
Great Visibility: Blowers offer fantastic visibility, as you’ll have ground-level access to everything around you. This makes clearing out driveways and walkways a breeze and reduces the chances of property damage.
Compact for Storage: Modern blowers often feature foldable designs and small-ish form factors, making them easy to stuff in the garage or even a closet when not in use.
Needs Regular Maintenance: You’ll need to regularly maintain your snow blower for continued success, so count on routinely checking the belts, changing the oil, replacing the spark plug, adding fuel, and conducting related maintenance tasks.
Not Great for Large Areas: While fantastic for driveways and walkways, snow blowers take a long time to clear out an entire property, especially when compared to a plow. Plus, the snow simply accumulates near your workspace as you work, due to the chute-based design, necessitating multiple pass-throughs.
They Get Expensive: Normal single-stage snow plows are relatively budget-friendly, at around $300 to $500, but these are really for light and fluffy accumulations. You’ll need a two-stage or three-stage blower for anything above six inches, and they cost up to $3,000.
Exposure to the Elements: You’ll be out there pushing that blower and braving the elements. Some plows attach to vehicles equipped with heaters, but the same is absolutely not true for blowers.
Snow Plows Pros and Cons
Just like your city or county’s fleet of official snow plows, a consumer-grade plow affixes to the front of a commercial vehicle like an ATV, a quad bike, and even a pick-up truck or SUV. Once attached, these plows scoop and displace massive amounts of snow with a curved, angled blade.
Incredible Durability: Plows are old-school tools with few, if any, moving parts. They are essentially giant slabs of metal. In other words, they’ll last as long as you need them, so long as you own a vehicle to attach them to.
Little to no Maintenance Required: For the same reason, a plow needs little or no regular maintenance, though the same is not true of the vehicle it affixes in front of.
Handles Massive Amounts of Snow: Plows easily handle large amounts of snow at once, which is fantastic for large yards and multi-acre properties.
Works Quickly: With the right vehicle pushing it along, a good snow plow makes short and speedy work out of massive snowfalls spread across large areas.
Increased Accessibility: Whereas blowers are manually pushed, plows are pushed by a heavy-duty vehicle. This makes plows the preferred choice for those with limited accessibility, such as the elderly.
Not Standalone: You’ve figured out by now that plows require a heavy-duty vehicle to operate. If you lack such a vehicle, say goodbye to your snow plow dreams.
They Cost More: Plows are low-tech but still on the expensive side. Expect to pay at least $1,000 for a plow that attaches to a truck or SUV.
Not Great for Small Areas: Plows demand a decently-sized workspace, such as a large yard, and are not nearly as maneuverable as blowers. This makes them great for removing snow from the outer edges of a property, but not good for detail work like clearing out driveways and walkways.
Can Damage Property: Plows are pushed along by large vehicles with powerful motors that move at fast speeds. You also have limited visibility while sitting inside of the said vehicle. All of these factors combine to create an increased risk for property damage during use. Plow carefully.
They are Large and Bulky: Plows are fairly large and bulky, particularly models intended for use with a truck or SUV. In other words, you may struggle to find a good place to put it during the other seasons.
Snow Blowers vs. Snow Plows
Blowers are best for detail work and plows are better for clearing out large accumulations, but there are some other key differences that set these two appliances apart.
It’s simply easier to both buy and sell used snow blowers over snow plows. Why? Plows integrate with a specific vehicle type, whereas blowers feature universal designs used by anyone, with no vehicle required. Plus, modern blowers are high-tech machines, further increasing their resale value as customers chase the latest trends. Additionally, folks hold on to plows forever, whereas consumers often move on to the latest and greatest blower, making them easier to sell and find buyers for.
Best Resale Value: Snow Blowers
Blowers are notoriously easy to control, requiring little or no setup. You simply add fuel or plug it into a power outlet and start redirecting snow. Plows, on the other hand, attach to a pre-existing vehicle and this is (sometimes) a time-consuming process, requiring a bit of mechanical know-how and a suite of tools. This is not a huge deal if you attach the plow to a vehicle that doesn’t get much regular use, but if attach it to, say, your primary truck, you’ll be removing and reattaching the plow all of the time.
Easiest to Install: Snow Blowers
City Use vs. Suburbs Use vs. Country Use
If you live in a large metropolitan area and just want to keep your driveway and walkway free from snow, a blower is your best bet. Plows simply demand too much room, being better suited to open spaces.
Best for Cities: Snow Blowers
For the suburbs, it truly depends on how much land you own and how close your nearest neighbor is. In most cases, a blower is a great match for the suburbs, as you could accidentally damage a neighbor’s yard while driving a plow around. Snow plows and suburbs only mix if there is plenty of room to maneuver and a large area to plow.
Best for the Suburbs: Snow Blowers
If you live off-the-beaten path and have plenty of land, a snow plow is your best bet. A blower is simply not suited to handle vast properties with plenty of nooks and crannies. Plus, if you already live in a remote location, chances are you already have an appropriate heavy-duty vehicle to integrate with the plow.
Best for the Country: Snow Plows