For blowing snow off of sidewalks, driveways and small parking lots, there are nearly as many equipment options as there are shapes and sizes of the snowflakes you’re clearing. Knowing what’s available and how to choose the right tool is half the battle.
There are numerous commercial-duty walk-behind snowthrowers on the market from manufacturers including Honda, Ariens and Snapper. Many other companies also offer implements for use on everything from skid-steer loaders to compact tractors to utility vehicles. Here’s a look at some trends that have been developing over the past couple of years.
Several manufacturers have been developing snowthrower attachments for off-road vehicles such as utility vehicles (UTVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The popularity of UTVs specifically, for both homeowners and professional contractors, has boomed in recent years—so much so that Boss has even come out with a plow for UTVs this year.
Canadian-based Bercomac has rolled out a lineup of UTV/ATV snowthrowers. “Demand for UTVs has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years,” says Chantal Riopel, Bercomac sales manager. “Contractors and homeowners alike appreciate having these machines work all year long, making the initial purchase of the UTV more worthwhile.”
Bercomac currently offers two UTV models, 66 inches and 72 inches, that are ideal for light commercial use. Putting one of these snowthrowers to work with your UTV requires a winch to lift it (at least 1,000 pounds), and a rear ball hitch (1-7/8 inches). Also, Bercomac recommends that you verify your UTV’s measurements to ensure a proper fit; an optional extension kit for the sub-frame may be required.
Bercomac is also in the process of launching a shaft-driven snowthrower that mounts to the front of certain compact tractors. Likewise, Bobcat has introduced three front-mounted implements for use on its model CT120, CT225, CT235 and CT450 tractors.
The ability to mount a snowthrower to the front of a tractor presents certain advantages for operators, especially on larger jobs where long stretches of heavy snow must be cleared. Mounting to the rear, as is the case with a traditional three-point snowthrower, often requires turning around in the seat to perform the work.
However, mounting to the front is often more complicated than mounting to the rear. While compact tractors equipped with front loaders do make it much easier, a front-mount snowthrower may or may not be compatible with the front loader. Furthermore, because the tractor must be equipped with mid-PTO, some sort of mechanism that attaches to the sub-frame must be used. Many companies offer “quick attach” systems that make this process fairly simple.
In the case of Bobcat’s front-mounted snowthrowers, the company says a lift kit and PTO kit are required to mount to the tractor. Then, the tractor’s front-end loader, tractor grille guard or front weight kit, if present, need to be removed. However, loader mounts do not need to be removed. The snowthrower and lift kit are then fastened together by two quick-release pins, allowing for attachment/removal in minutes.
There’s a lot to consider with many variables in play. Simply put: Contractors and their dealers must have a thorough discussion to determine if a front-mount model is a feasible option.
Skid-Steer and Compact Track Loaders
Many contractors have found another feasible option in skid-steer loaders. “A skid-steer loader is more maneuverable than a tractor, and gets better traction on snow and ice than a compact track loader,” says Chris Knipfer, segment application marketing manager for Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment.
The skid steer is popular with smaller contractors looking to generate winter-season revenue with the same skid steer they’re using the rest of the year. With larger contractors, the ability to utilize a skid steer-mounted snowthrower more often is a persuasive factor.