We discuss skid steer snow blower volume/distance tradeoff and factors that affect efficiency.
People are obsessed with throwing distance. Yes, it is fascinating to watch videos of snow blowers throwing snow 50 feet through the air, but throw distance is subjective and is largely dependent on many factors: snow type, temperature and wind speed to name a few. The main goal should be throwing a large volume of snow an acceptable distance. This requires quality hydraulic components, including motors and hoses, to maximize the efficiency of the skid steer snow blower attachment.
Efficient Design Allows More Volume
Almost every skid steer snow blower skid steer attachment can throw snow a reasonable distance in the right conditions. The challenge is finding one that can clear large volumes of snow and run efficiently for many winters. Properly sized motors, hoses and components are a must to achieve max efficiency and durability.
When removing snow, the goal is to be as efficient as possible. An engineer has to consider throw distance and volume (see tradeoff chart below). A skid loader snow blower attachment could be designed to throw snow a mile, but would suffer in clearing large volumes of snow quickly. It is a tradeoff.
The snow blower’s hydraulic motor is the most expensive part and it has the greatest influence on efficiency. When a skid steer snow blower attachment is 20% cheaper, you can almost guarantee that it has a cheap, undersized and/or foreign motor.
An inferior or improperly sized motor is more likely to bog down because it won’t have the necessary torque to cut through deep snow. Also, the motor will likely not last as long because it will be overworked by the skid steer.
SNOW Blower Longevity
Some skid steer manufacturers use smaller diameter hoses or undersized motors on their snow blowers because they are less expensive. This typically results in excess wear, loss of efficiency, and premature failure.
If there isn’t much snow to blow in a particular year, there's an even less chance of failure. Properly sized hoses are required for maximum efficiency.
The bad news for the owner is when the overworked motor fails, the blower will likely be out of the warranty period. Now, one has a costly repair on a blower that has barely moved any snow.
Keys for Long-Lasting Performance
Longevity is a concern that is easy to see; either the skid steer snow blower attachment is working or it isn’t. Performance is much tougher to gauge even when running competing brands side-by-side. This is where you'd think throw distance should help an end user decide, but the problem is the subjectivity of the spec almost makes it completely worthless.
To truly compare skid steer snow blowers, the hydraulic components and overall design make the difference. If any of the hydraulic components are not properly sized (motor, hoses, etc.) the volume of snow exiting the chute will be sacrificed. The hydraulic motor and loader will always run more efficiently with correctly sized components.
Manufacturers are likely not going to give every bit of info about their product, but here are a few that will help and a reputable manufacturer should provide: overall weight (more weight usually means built stronger), hose diameter, max gallons per minute (GPM) the flow rate the motor can handle, and the brand of the motors and hoses.
At Virnig, we design our products to handle long-term wear and tear; therefore, they typically weigh more than a competing brand. For example, on V60 Snow Blowers we use 8" wide cutting edges while many other blowers use 6". Also, the fan housing is made from 3/16" steel for strength against distortion.
Our skid steer snow blowers use ¾” Eaton® hoses. We would like to use 1”, but they are too inflexible in the winter to manage easily by hand. Virnig offers skid steer-specific hydraulic motor configurations to ensure optimum performance and longevity.
Lastly, we use Eaton® and Parker® motors on our snow blowers. Eaton and Parker are proven, worldwide suppliers of hydraulic components located in the USA. We follow their guidelines on all of their products we use.
ADVERTISED THROW DISTANCES ARE SUBJECTIVE
Since there isn’t a standardized testing procedure used to determine throwing distance, it should be questioned. Even if a throw distance test existed, it would have to be done in a windless environment and there would have to be specific ways to minimize variability between tests.
There isn’t a sure way to know this spec is a valid metric for comparison. Snow blower throw distance is not an exact science and there are multiple variables. It is nothing more than a number the manufacturer decides to advertise. Also, it is possible for a manufacturer to artificially inflate their throw distance to gain a competitive advantage in the eye of the consumer.
Think of snow blower throw distance like a vehicle’s MPG rating. Even though the MPG rating is regulated, the real-world MPG often differs from what the manufacturer states.
Don’t fall for the trap of buying one skid loader snow blower attachment instead of another based on one subjective measurement. Flow rate, quality components, overall design and clearing width should be more important than throw distance when purchasing a snow blower.
Final Words of Advice
If you are looking for a dependable snow blower attachment for your skid steer, please look at the whole picture. If one is cheaper than another, find out why. Never use snow blower throw distance as a deciding factor, and always ask questions before making a final decision. Otherwise, you may be searching for a new blower much earlier than anticipated.