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With Winter storms whipping across the United States, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, it’s incredibly important to be prepared to deal with ice and snow.
We’ve collected the essential tools you’ll need to remove snow as its falling, prevent it from freezing, and clearing up ice if you missed a spot. If you’re in the middle of a huge snowstorm, it’s smart to clear snow every few hours (as frequently as once per hour) to prevent it from accumulating and becoming dangerous or too heavy.
All of the gear we’re recommending can fit in a small garage or basement, and can be operated with a single person. Most work on their own, the exception being a plow attachment for a car.
Cleaning snow can be an extremely physically intensive chore, so be sure to take regular breaks, and drink a lot of water before heading out.
1. Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt
Ice melt is the first and last snow cleaning tool you should use. Spreading it around before a storm can prevent snow from accumulating, and pouring a layer on after can melt remaining snow and prevent it from turning to ice.
Green Gobbler’s ice melt is made out of magnesium chloride, and designed to work in temperatures up to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The solution is effective against snow, but designed to avoid hurting pet paws, while being non-corrosive to pavement and concrete. The salt was harvested from the dead sea, and creates an exothermic reaction that releases heat.
Whether you’re expecting light flurries or a full-on blizzard, using ice melt can make a big difference and save you a lot of shoveling time.
2. ErgieShovel 18-Inch Impact Resistant Polycarbonate Shovel
A shovel is the most common snow removal tool, but this one from ErnieShovel has a couple of features that help it stand out.
It has an ultra-wide 18-inch blade to scoop up a lot of snow, and a second handle, which lets you get better leverage to reduce back strain. Its poly-carbonate blade has a metal tip for added strength when you’re dealing with ice.
Whether you’re getting your first shovel, or need to replace a well worn one, the ergonomic benefits and large size of ErgieShovel’s make it our top pick.
3. Snow Joe 11-Inch 10 Amp Electric Snow Shovel
An electric shovel is a less powerful (but more compact) snowblower without wheels. You’ll still need to be in the same scooping position as you would when manually shoveling, but this tool does all the work for you.
Snow Joe says it can move up to 300 pounds of snow per minute, and its two-inch rotating paddle is 11-inches wide. Think of this as the equivalent of a snow Swiffer — you’ll clear small strips of a big area with ease. The shovel will throw snow forward, so you should think about where to position yourself to prevent yourself from having to go over the same area twice.
This electric shovel isn’t battery powered, so you’ll need to keep it plugged into an outlet at all times. We recommend using a heavy gauge outdoor extension cable for this job because the cord will be exposed to moisture.
We like that Snow Joe’s Electric Snow Shovel has an adjustable handle, so you can find a position that reduces back and arm strain. It’s also under 14 pounds, which is a lot lighter than the average snow blower (though still heavier than a typical shovel). If you want a fast, partly-automatic way to clean snow, and don’t have enough room for a snow blower, this is the tool we recommend.
4. Snow Joe Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower
If you need to clean a lot of snow in a large area as quickly as possible, there’s no better tool than a snow blower.
This electric-powered model from Snow Joe has a 15-amp motor that the company says can remove up to 720 pounds of snow per minute. It has an 18 inch four-blade auger made of steel to literally cut through snow. You can direct the snow blower’s chute by twisting a crank, so you can pile it up in a single area instead of having to blow it around to the right spot.
Snow Joe’s Snow Thrower isn’t battery powered, so you’ll need to keep it plugged into an outlet at all times. Again, we recommend using a heavy gauge outdoor extension cable for this job. If you’ve never used a snow blower before, it’s a substantial improvement over using a shovel. Not only is it faster, but you don’t put as big of a strain on your body because you’re standing upright instead of constantly hunching over.
This tool is 33.7 pounds, which is standard for this type of machine, but still requires quite a bit of force to push, especially in thick snow. It’s also 45 inches wide, so you’ll need quite a lot of room to store it. You can disassemble it in spring if you want to save space, though.
If you live in a snowy area, and are tired of shoveling week after week, this is a substantial upgrade, especially at just under $150.
5. WARN ProVantage Side x Side Straight Plow Blade
A plow blade can turn your vehicle into a snow plow, and it’s the most effective way to clean show from a long driveway.
This one from ProVantage is designed to fit onto a snowmobile, and has a 60-inch blade that can push a tremendous amount of snow all at once. The blade is treated with a low-friction powder, which WARN says prevents snow from sticking to it. The company also offers a 66-inch and 72-inch version if you have a more powerful snow mobile.
If you have a truck, DK2’s Avalanche is an 82-inch snow plow designed for a full-sized vehicle. It comes with a hitch mount, and wireless controller to raise and lower the blade. You can lock the blade into three specific positions to remove snow more effectively.
It may not be necessary for everybody, but if you want to move the most snow in the least amount of time, this is the right choice.