Pros and cons of snow removal options

torch

Well-known member

Equipment
B7100HSD, B2789, B2550, B4672, 48" cultivator, homemade FEL and Cab
Jun 10, 2016
2,598
843
113
Muskoka, Ont.
A frequent question that comes up here revolves around "I have xxxxx. What should I use to remove the snow around here". Usually this results in a plethora of replies with each poster expounding on their own personal favourites. So I thought it might be fun and potentially more useful to condense the pros and cons of each approach in one thread.

Disclaimer: my own personal bias is towards snowblowing, because it seems the best solution for my own particular situation -- up to 18' of snowfall per year through a long wooded lane. So I'll start with the pros and cons of my personal favourite and invite you to join in with your perceptions.

Snowblower.

Advantages:
1. Lowest traction & horsepower requirements in deep snow. Instead of pushing and shoving a heavy load out of the way, a snowblower picks up the snow and tosses it off to the side. In deep snow, one can simply reduce the travel speed and move the snow with no additional stress or strain on the tractor.

2. No tendency to narrow the path over the course of the season. Since the blower tosses the snow well beyond the side of the lane, there are no banks falling back in beside the tractor after the blade passes or shoving the tractor towards the centre.

3. Discharge can be aimed. The combination of chute rotation and deflection allows the operator to place the removed snow anywhere within range of the discharge. EG: pile the snow to the side of an intersecting cleared path or away from the garage.

Snowblower disadvantages:
1. Highest initial cost. A snowblower costs more than a simple blade. In addition, some blades can be used for other purposes like moving dirt, whereas a snowblower is dedicated to one task only.

2. Higher maintenance requirements. A snowblower has moving parts that must be lubed or greased. Chains, gears and bearings eventually wear out.

3. Increased hazards: Snowblowers can ingest objects hidden under the snow -- frequently stones and rocks -- and then either hurl them with considerable force or jam in the mechanism, hopefully breaking only the shear pin. Operations are halted until the mechanism is repaired (it's as much fun changing a shear bolt with frozen fingers as it sounds).

4. Poor performance in wet, sticky snow. Some blowers are better able to handle this than others, but all blowers are subject to plugging under certain circumstances.

5. Slowest method of removing light snow.

Snowblower variations:
1. Rear mounted: Cheapest and often heaviest duty option, this hangs on the existing 3ph, is powered by the existing PTO and requires no special mounts or frames. Will fit a variety of tractors, opening up the used market. The tractor travels on the cleared path. BUT the operator has to twist around in the seat and drive in reverse. Can blow right up to a fixed object.

2. Rear mounted pull-behind: Similar to above, but the intake is on the tractor side so the blower is used while facing forward. Unfortunately, this means the tractor travels on the uncleared snow. Best suited to larger tractors with ag tires. Also, more difficult to get close to fixed objects. Operator can comfortably face forward while operating, although may require some twisting to observe discharge.

3. Front mounted: Most expensive. Tend to be lighter construction to reduce weight. Special mounts or subframes limit models each one can be used with, limiting used market. Requires forward-facing PTO, possibly at non-standard speed, or complicated drive mechanism. More prone to rudder effect (resistance to steering input) in deep snow. Can get right up to fixed objects. Most comfortable operation as the driver faces forward. Best view of discharge for the same reason.

4. Snowthrower (aka: single stage): Lightest construction, usually front mounted and offered for small low-powered (eg: lawn) tractors. These differ from a snowBLOWER in that the intake auger also throws the snow through the chute, instead of a separate impeller below the chute fed by the auger. These are suitable only for dry snow and plug very easily in wet snow. They don't throw the snow as far and may require a higher travel speed to throw it at all in light snow.

Blade:

Advantages:

1. Cheapest and most versatile option. An existing dirt blade can readily be adapted for use with snow, although a lightweight snow blade may not be up to the task of moving dirt.

2. Minimal maintenance. Other than a pivot for angling the blade, there's not much in the way of moving parts to maintain.

3. Fastest method of removing light snow. In fact, sometimes faster is better, giving the snow some momentum to help clear an existing bank.

4. Best way to move wet slushy snow. Blades don't plug up the way a blower can.

5. Best way to get close to objects. Front mounted or rear mounted, the operator can ease right up to an object (eg: garage door), drop the blade and pull the snow away.

6. May push gravel around and off to the side, but doesn't hurl it onto the lawn or through the neighbour's window.

Disadvantages:

1. Doesn't move the snow very far. This can be a huge problem where objects such as trees or fences border the path being cleared. After a few snow falls, such objects become anchors that prevent the bank from moving back and the path starts closing in.

2. Limited control of where the snow ends up. EG: leaves plow rows across intersecting paths that must be cleared.

3. Greatest strain on the equipment. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction; shoving several hundreds of pounds of snow out of the way means several hundreds of pounds of force pushing back. Particularly problematic if the operator tries to ram a frozen bank back further.

4. More likely to require multiple passes. Long paths and/or deep snow eventually leads to spillage past the leading edge of the angled blade, requiring either additional passes or smaller bites.

Variations:

1. Rear mounted. Most commonly seen with dirt blades. While the operator will spend most time facing forward, it may be necessary to twist around when plowing alongside obstructions. Blade and operator must be rotated backwards to push banks back.

2. Front mounted. Usually replaces a FEL bucket. May require 3rd function for angling. Operator faces forward in use with good visibility. Easily pushes banks back without reconfiguring blade direction. In fact, banks can be pushed in stages by initially lifting the blade and pushing the top first. Easy to drag snow back from buildings.

3. Snow pusher. Basically a blade with wings or perhaps a FEL bucket with no bottom, the sides help contain the snow within the confines of the blade without spillage or plow rows. Most useful for piling snow dead ahead instead of off to one side, up to the capacity of the pusher. Of limited use on long runs and deep snow. These tend to come in sizes suitable for large, heavy tractors with good traction and power. The wings limit how close one can get to drag snow back from a building.

Front End Loader

Advantages:

1. Perhaps the most versatile attachment for any tractor. It works with snow as well as it works with dirt. It can pick up loads of snow and cart it away to pile it anywhere you please. And since snow is lighter than dirt, you can fill the bucket to the brim with impunity.

2. Operator is facing forward not twisted around.

3. Possibly the best option for confined areas with limited capacity for piles of snow.

4. Great for heavy, wet, slushy snow.


Disadvantages:

1. Limited capacity. Unlike a blade or blower that continually move snow over a long pass, once the bucket is full you need to go dump it.

2. Limited ability to drag snow backwards away from objects. Even fully dumped, the bucket is angled away from the direction of travel and may tend to ride up on packed snow.

Variations:

1. Since snow is lighter than dirt, one can purchase a separate, larger, snow bucket to increase capacity and further leverage the investment.

OK: What have I missed about your favourite weapon?
 
  • Like
  • Love
  • Wow
Reactions: 17 users

MuttCat

Member
Apr 9, 2017
84
15
8
Dorloo, NY, USA
I'm first up! Did I win?

I've a front mounted Kubota snowblower. Anything under six inches I usually don't even bother with. But when it really snows, I go downstairs to a heated garage, open the door, hop in the seat, and first pass right out the door to the town road. Can't beat that.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users

ve9aa

Well-known member

Equipment
TG1860, BX2380 -backblade, bx2830 snowblower, fel, weight box,pallet forks,etc
Apr 11, 2021
1,202
980
113
NB, Canada
Holy Hannah ! (what a detailed post). How could I possibly add to it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

ve9aa

Well-known member

Equipment
TG1860, BX2380 -backblade, bx2830 snowblower, fel, weight box,pallet forks,etc
Apr 11, 2021
1,202
980
113
NB, Canada
Holy Hannah ! (what a detailed post). How could I possibly add to it?
I am 100% pro snowblower btw. I used to watch my neighbour do his driveway with a big mid 1960's International tractor (40-50hp?) and bucket, 2WD machine. Huge filled tires, massive chains and rear ballast and he'd be out there before me and I'd usually go out after he started, with my walk-behind, admittedly large (45" cut, 13hp,dualies), snowblower, do my driveway and be back in, dried off and warmed up, having a coffee and he'd STILL be out there fighting with huge piles of snow. (and I have more Square feet of driveway than him). Only when it was DEEP, super heavy wet snow would he ever win, usually by a small margin.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

jkrubi12

Well-known member

Equipment
B2601/LA435/QA54"/BH70/B8160box/BB1254/PFL1242/SGC0554/WC-68 Chipper
Sep 24, 2012
397
289
63
right coast
@torch, that post is so sticky-worthy its a slam-dunk. Well done! (y)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

rc51stierhoff

Well-known member

Equipment
B2650, MX6000, Ford 8N, (BX sold)
Sep 13, 2021
2,123
2,401
113
Ohio
Torch Great post. I am very interested to see how long it stays on the rails. You are off to a great start…Good luck. 😉

I am not sure i missed or it is assumed regarding traction. I would suspect that in general a blade would need more traction (weight and/or traction aide)…with an angled blade it is not unusual for the material(snow) to wash out the steering if no traction aides used. I think your points 3 and 4 alluded to this in the blade section…but i think very simply there is a difference in the amount of traction and grip required between the different types….I am not saying anything bad it’s just different IMO. I believe this is also compounded exponentially with repeated snows if not sufficient space to push snow.

Lastly my four legged friends help in snow removal…I understand that the human should control the animals…however in my mind I have had an ornery dog charge/chase and in one instance attack front plow (but no harm to the dog or anything like that). I believe a snow blower could pose a problem if operator not really careful. I guess a snowblower could blow a chunk at an ornery dog also, so maybe a wash?

Again great post, those are my additional thoughts for consideration.
 

PaulR

Well-known member

Equipment
BX 23S -- 100 hours seat time so far
Aug 3, 2020
579
458
63
Hadley, MA
Agree.
I was going to put in my 2 cents but there's like a whole dollar there to chew on.

For me:
Deeper snow I use the blower.
I plowed today for the first time and yea, it's quicker than the blower.
Heavy slush and light accumulations is really nice to have the plow.
Both my plow and blower go on the same K-connect, so it's pretty damn sweet.
I had the plow ready to go last night when it was coming down and I was like, damn, anymore accumulation and I'll have to swap over to the snowblower.

Both are great, both have advantages/disadvantages, if I had to choose one I'd go snowblower I think. That thing is just fun.
 

jimh406

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
Kubota L2501 with R4 tires
Jan 29, 2021
2,200
1,598
113
Western MT
For individual implements, you list a lot of good information. However, many people use more than one.

So, when you say rear blades don't move snow very far, that's assuming you don't have a front bucket to move it over. Also, with an offset, you can move snow over a foot off the road. Maybe you need to move it farther.

We didn't have to move it farther even when we had a combined 3 ft. 1 ft on the ground and 2 ft additional in 24 hours. Note: I opened up that road without an offset with a Polaris ranger with front mount blade. If you angle the blade and only put it part way to the ground, you can knock the top of the border off which makes it roll farther. Then, go back and remove the bottom part with the blade. Obviously, it would be easier with an offset rear blade and I could move it even farther.

At the end of the day, pick the right tool for the job. A snow blower would be good for some rare cases, but I can make two passes faster than a snow blower to clear my driveway that is about 1/3 of a mile each way. That would take a lot longer with a snow blower. Possible, I think it would take longer. We rarely get more than a few inches of snow at a time, but can have it several times a week.
 

DustyRusty

Well-known member

Equipment
2020 BX23S, BX2822 Snowblower, Curtis Deluxe Cab,
Nov 8, 2015
5,536
4,134
113
North East CT
How about comparing different Kubot snowblowers? I used a BX2816 with hydraulic turning (BX2818) and a hydraulic chute deflector (BX2820) (55" wide) and it did a great job. This year I upgraded to the BX2822 snowblower (it is the 55" wide HD version) and it also does a great job. One of the first things that I noticed is that the BX2822 is a much heavier snowblower, and it can't be wrestled around as easily as the BX2816 when you want to align it for mounting to the K Connect. I also realized that it will not lift as easily as the BX2816, so I had to increase the engine revolutions just to raise it. With the higher revelations, the chute direction changes much faster, as well as the chute hood. Overall it was a new learning experience using a much heavier snowblower. I can't say for certain, but it appears the augers turn slower on the BX2822 than they do on the BX2816 since it didn't throw the snow as far or as easily. It also might be that today's snow was heavy wet snow, and the blower was pushing it ahead more and not digesting it. I also found that in the BX2822 I had to take 3/4 bites at the snow because if I didn't I had snow flowing out of one side, sort of like a windrow. Tomorrow I am going to the Kubota dealer to check out a pair of drift cutters that will extend forward a few more inches, and also add an additional 5" to the width of the snowblower. I believe that this will help to direct the snow into the snowblower better. Right now I am in the experimental stage of establishing the parameters of which snowblower is best suited for my overall satisfaction. For that reason, I still have ownership of my original BX2816 snowblower.

BX2816 Weight 287# Width 50" Working Height 21" Impeller Diameter 15 3/4" Chain Drive
BX2822 Weight 320# Width 55" Working Height 21" Impeller Diameter 15 3/4" Gear Drive
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

airbiscuit

Active member

Equipment
New Holland T2310, New Holland TC21D, Kubota l3010 GST, Farmall H
Mar 18, 2021
193
128
43
NW WI
"Rear mounted pull-behind: Similar to above, but the intake is on the tractor side so the blower is used while facing forward. Unfortunately, this means the tractor travels on the uncleared snow. Best suited to larger tractors with ag tires. Also, more difficult to get close to fixed objects. Operator can comfortably face forward while operating, although may require some twisting to observe discharge."

Very well stated. I would only add 2 things.

You can get close to fixed objects (like a garage door) with a rear pull blower.

You didn't include an ATV or UTV with a plow. It is ridiculous how much snow they can push and how fast. You just have to have enough area for the plowed snow to go.

BTW, I've had all but a front mount snowblower, and my weapon of choice is a Rear Pull Snowblower.
MK Martin Rear Pull Snowblower.jpg
 
Last edited:

i7win7

Well-known member

Equipment
BX2370, B2650 grapple, tree puller, trailer mover, 3 point hoist, mower, tiller
Feb 21, 2020
3,314
3,879
113
Central, IL
Not a fan of the FEL blade. In float blade bogs down & front axle floats off the ground. I usually just leave the bucket on and use the rear blade (swung to the side).
20160101_210401.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
***Current*** M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC & GL7000 ***Sold*** MX6000HST & BX25TLB
Feb 9, 2021
4,534
5,270
113
NW Montana
@torch, really well thought out and detailed explanation of snow removal. Definitely should be a sticky. I would add though that you could expand it a bit for open station vs. cabbed tractors because there's a difference there too.
 

KKBL

Member

Equipment
L2501 HST QA 525 loader, 42" forks, brush hog, grader/box/back blades
Jan 5, 2022
80
77
18
Girard, PA
You don't say how long your "long wooded lane" is, but 18 foot of snow a year sure is a challenge no matter what the length. We average 100+ inches per year and had 166 inches in the2008 season. I use a 1/2 ton 4x4 with 7 1/2 foot plow for 1/2 mile private lane and 3 large driveways - no problems keeping everything open and pushed back enough all season. It's nice to be inside a comfortable warm truck cab if you have a lot to plow.
 

DaveFromMi

Well-known member

Equipment
L3901 RCR1260
Apr 14, 2021
570
491
63
Indiana
And now for something completely different. When we moved to the home place, money was tight and I got the idea that all the work around here could be done with a DR brush cutter with attachments. I got the brush cutter, finish mower, and grader blade attachments. After we settled in, I came to my senses and got the L3901 with the bush hog. The DR still gets a lot of use. The 42" grader blade does a great job for the snow we get here. I've cleared 10" of snow off of my 450' driveway in under 30 minutes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
***Current*** M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC & GL7000 ***Sold*** MX6000HST & BX25TLB
Feb 9, 2021
4,534
5,270
113
NW Montana
And now for something completely different. When we moved to the home place, money was tight and I got the idea that all the work around here could be done with a DR brush cutter with attachments. I got the brush cutter, finish mower, and grader blade attachments. After we settled in, I came to my senses and got the L3901 with the bush hog. The DR still gets a lot of use. The 42" grader blade does a great job for the snow we get here. I've cleared 10" of snow off of my 450' driveway in under 30 minutes.
My driveway is 450 yards long, and steep, and wide, and a second driveway is an additional 125 yards long. It would take a lot longer than 30 minutes to clear my driveway with a walk behind unit. If you talk about your driveway in terms of feet it's not very long. :ROFLMAO:
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

DaveFromMi

Well-known member

Equipment
L3901 RCR1260
Apr 14, 2021
570
491
63
Indiana
My driveway is 450 yards long, and steep, and wide, and a second driveway is an additional 125 yards long. It would take a lot longer than 30 minutes to clear my driveway with a walk behind unit. If you talk about your driveway in terms of feet it's not very long. :ROFLMAO:
Check again. In this area of the country, the ' symbol means feet.
Yes, yards are longer than feet.
The video is not mine.
 

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
***Current*** M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC & GL7000 ***Sold*** MX6000HST & BX25TLB
Feb 9, 2021
4,534
5,270
113
NW Montana
Check again. In this area of the country, the ' symbol means feet.
Yes, yards are longer than feet.
The video is not mine.
' means yards? I'm just a dumb engineer and ' means feet and " means inches in my world. 10'-6" on a drawing is kind of explicit in it's meaning and sure doesn't refer to yards.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

GreensvilleJay

Well-known member

Equipment
BX23-S,57 A-C D-14,58 A-C D-14, 57 A-C D-14,tiller,cults,Millcreek 25G spreader,
Apr 2, 2019
10,307
4,291
113
Greensville,Ontario,Canada
possible 4th option for snowblower type is...
a selfpowered SSQA snowblower. Has it's own gas engine, on/off in 30 seconds. pricey if store bought,,,if you bodge maybe $500.
if (IF ??) it ever snows enough around here ,I'll try out the one I made 3 summers ago......

BTW if you use a rear blade or rear blower, you do get better traction swapping the rear tires.
 

Dustyx2

Active member

Equipment
BX22, M7060, Landpride RC-2512, Woodmax SB84
Feb 19, 2021
215
59
28
NE Wyoming
This is why I use a snowblower. With open prairie and Wyoming wind we are always battling drifts.
You push up windrows and it just fills it back in. The cutters are 5' tall for reference. This was our April storm this spring.
 

Attachments

  • Like
  • Wow
Reactions: 1 users

GreensvilleJay

Well-known member

Equipment
BX23-S,57 A-C D-14,58 A-C D-14, 57 A-C D-14,tiller,cults,Millcreek 25G spreader,
Apr 2, 2019
10,307
4,291
113
Greensville,Ontario,Canada
MTO USED to have 'snow fences' on hwy 400 ( Toronto to Barrie,6 lane, major highway ), after they took them down ( cost saving idea... ) got an increase in accidents, especially between hwys 88 and 89. Had an Uncle Bob lived up that way, NEVER had snow on the highway..until AFTER the snow fences were removed.....
They had a 40-50 car pileup there few years ago..made a TV show out of it......
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user