Snow Blowers: Why Throw Distance is Not Everything

We discuss the 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 up in the air, but throw distance is subjective and is largely dependent on many factors: snow type, temperature, and wind speed to name a few. What it comes down to is 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 attachment in the market 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. Proper sized motors, hoses, and components are a must to attain maximum 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 you see a skid steer snow blower attachment that is $500-$800 cheaper, you can almost guarantee that it has a cheap, undersized motor that was made in China.

Virnig Snow Blower Motor
A premium motor will allow more torque which means greater snow volume and higher performance. When looking at the maroon “Efficient Design” point in the chart below, you will notice that volume is increased even though the snow blower throw distance remains the same (with all other things remaining equal).

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 and, again, the motor will likely not last as long because it will be overworked by the skid steer.

Hydraulic Motor Volume/Distance Trade-off

Blower Longevity

Some 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. 

Hydraulic Hose on Virnig Skid Steer Snow Blower Attachment

Plus, if there isn’t much snow to blow in a particular year, there is an even less chance of failure. Properly sized hoses are required for maximum efficiency.

The bad news for the end user is by the time 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 harder to see even if it is possible to run competing brands side-by-side. This is where the throw distance should help, but the problem is the subjectivity of the spec makes it almost worthless.

To truly compare blowers, the hydraulic components used and the 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 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) a motor is rated for, 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. Additionally, our snow blowers use ¾” hoses. 

Eaton Motors for Skid Steer Snow Blower Attachments

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® brand motors and hoses on everything. Eaton is a trusted, worldwide supplier 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 taken with a grain of salt. 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 tell 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 over another based on one subjective measurement. Durability, quality components, ease of maintenance, and clearing width should play more of a role 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 left with nothing more than a pile of scrap metal and an empty pocket. 

Topics:  Maintenance + Tips | Snow Blower | Snow Removal
Guide to Skid Steer Snow Removal Attachments