Snow removal equipment purchases, like many other purchases, offer several options to consider. Here is a checklist of a few questions to ask yourself before purchasing a snow plow.
1. WHAT KIND OF SNOW PLOWING WILL YOU BE DOING?
- Residential driveways
- Contracted snow removal (parking lots, side roads, residential and business lots)
In most cases, a 7- or 8-foot plow is adequate for light residential work. However, if you are thinking about contracted snow removal of big parking lots, side roads or long rural driveways, commercial snow removal professionals generally want a larger plow as they are focused on removing the snow quickly and efficiently in an effort to move from one job to the next.
2. WHAT KIND OF VEHICLE WILL YOU BE USING?
- Light Duty pickup/SUV
- 1/2 ton pickup
- 3/4 or 1 ton pickup
- Heavy Duty pickup
- Skid Steer, Front End Loader
- Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV)
The type of vehicle you will be using for your snow removal is an important consideration when purchasing a snow plow. Snow plow recommendations are based upon the Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (FGAWR) of the vehicle that you own. The FGAWR is the specific weight determined by the vehicle manufacturer to be the maximum allowable weight that can be placed on the front axle. Because the vehicle’s axles should never be loaded beyond the manufacturer's listed FGAWR, the type of snow plow you put on the front of your vehicle should comply with these weight recommendations.
If you are plowing your own driveway or several small residential driveways, most 1/2-ton pickups and in some cases, even smaller pickups and UTVs, will work. If you are doing commercial snow removal, it is recommended that you use at minimum a 3/4-ton pickup truck. Before purchasing a blade, make sure to check if the blade’s weight is within the FGAWR for your vehicle.
3. WHAT TYPE OF SNOW PLOW BLADE DO YOU WANT?
- Straight Blade
In general, either plow design will get the job done. Straight-blade snowplows are still a big seller, as they tend to cost a bit less than V plows. But the V-plow does have the ability to angle and direct snow—as well as “scoop” snow for stacking that straight blades simply can’t do. The v-plow also handles snow that has “frozen” overnight better than a straight blade. When put into the “V” position, the plow’s arrowhead configuration can slice through hard snow better than the flat surface of a straight blade. That slicing action also makes the operation easier on the vehicle and the operator.
4. WHAT TYPE OF PLOW MATERIAL DO YOU WANT?
- Stainless Steel
On the commercial plow side, all three materials will do the job for you, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Poly is the slickest material of the three. As such, snow will not stick to the blade and will slide off the blade easier and faster than it will with the other materials. as such, it is becoming the choice of more professionals out there. It is also extremely corrosion- and scratch-resistant.
Stainless Steel has visual appeal and corrosion resistance and perhaps a slight advantage in “slickness” vs. mild steel, but it is also prone to denting; any rocks you hit will leave “dings” in the blade.
Mild Steel has been used to manufacture plows for decades. Steel provides durability, rigidity and overall value.
One common myth to dispel. Poly plows are not lighter than their steel counterparts. In fact, they are usually heavier. Why? Because the poly material lacks the rigidity of steel, and must be “backed” or reinforced with even more steel in order to keep its shape. As such, poly plows are commonly heavier than steel plows.
There are more considerations when it comes to purchasing a plow, but this is a great starting list. Visit online plowing forums or Facebook pages of the snow plow brands to learn more or speak with your local snow plow dealer for help in making your purchasing decision.