What are the Alternatives to Snow Shovels?
The alternatives to using snow shovels are Leaf Blower, Broom, Rake, Rock Salt, Alcohol Solution, Tarp, to name a few among others.
A snow shovel is a hand-held snow removal tool that comes with a broad blade to lift and move or push snow. While a snow shovel is a cost-effective tool to remove snow, the process of heavy lifting, twisting and throwing snow can lead to lower back pain or health and injury risks. Let’s look into the several alternatives of snow shovels in detail.
1. Leaf Blower
As the name implies, a powerful leaf blower is employed to remove leaves from your walkways, lawns and porches. But, a leaf blower isn’t just an ideal machine for the fall season. When your driveway is covered with light and fluffy snow, this hand-held leaf blower can also assist you in clearing the snow effectively off your path.
A leaf blower that works best with snow levels under 3 inches comes within a price range of $40-$550. However, the average cost of a leaf blower varies and depends on their type, including gas, electric, and battery-powered and their styles, such as wheeled models or hand-held units.
The average speed of a leaf blower is important to consider as it gives you an idea of how large of an area you can clear in a given period of time. Eden suggests that a good leaf blower with 120 MPH and 400 CFM can easily and effectively clear a regular-sized yard, where CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and MPH is short for miles per hour.
Each type of leaf blower comes with a typical range of CFM and MPH values, but they also have their limitations.
Before coming to any verdict, let’s peek into some of its advantages and disadvantages.
- Leaf blowers are time-efficient.
- Leaf blowers are versatile since they can be used to remove leaves, light snow, and even grass clippings.
- A cordless leaf blower renders more mobility.
- Leaf blowers are available in multiple power options.
- Leaf blowers can be costly, depending on their size.
- A cordless battery-powered leaf blower comes with lesser power than gas-powered models. But, opting for a gas-powered model leads to less environmentally friendly options.
Brooms are one of the incredible snow shovel alternatives that can be used for clearing light snow, especially off of decks and windshields that can get damaged with a snow shovel. Typically made from a non-abrasive, oversized foam head or bristle brush, a snow broom effectively and safely sweeps the snow off your vehicles, pathways, and sometimes the roof without scratching or damaging the surface.
The average cost of a broom for snow removal ranges between $10-$120, given the type of broom you choose to purchase.
Looking at the below advantages and disadvantages of this broom can also help you make an informed decision.
- Snow brooms are versatile enough to remove all types of debris.
- The usage of a broom is not limited to the winter season.
- Easy to carry around.
- The bristles of a snow broom cannot damage or scratch the surface while dusting off the snow.
- Brooms are not that effective if you need to clear a large area.
- Snow brooms are not the right alternative to snow shoveling in deep snow levels.
- Not a good choice for wet snow removal.
With the correct usage, a good quality snow broom can last for many years before its bristles can get damaged or twisted.
Use this snow removal tool to clear snow from the hood of your car, decks, and around the windows and doors of your home. They are a good choice if you just need to push off light snow. Note that Eden prefers to use a snow broom when you have less than 4 inches of snow.
With a long pole and a wide head, a snow rake is typically designed to remove snow off roofs and reduce the formation of an ice dam. Usually, a snow rake comes with a 15 to 20-ft-long aluminum hoe, but there are some snow rakes available in the market that are small enough to be used on your sidewalks and cars.
Having said that, snow or roof rakes are available in various materials that make the cost go as low as $30 or can even cost you over $100.
- The telescoping pole of a rake makes it easy to reach the roof, making it time-efficient and cost-effective.
- A few models of rakes also come with a bendable handle that allows you to move the handle vertically and not just in a forward and backward motion.
- Some roof rake models are equipped with a plastic handle that usually breaks after a few uses.
- Removing a snow depth of more than 3 inches off the roofs can be dangerous. It’s better to take assistance from professionals, like Eden.
In terms of longevity, snow rakes or roof rakes can last you a lifetime. Eden suggests that you opt for rakes that are designed to leave around an inch of snow on your roof in order to prevent scrapes.
4. Rock Salt
Similar to ice melter, rock salt is applied to a frozen surface and melts ice with temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Though, they are not as effective as ice melters. Rock salt, the cheapest alternative to snow shoveling, generally costs $10–$20, depending on the brand and amount or weight of rock salt you require.
You may as well look into various online sites to acquire high-quality products. Let’s check the advantages and disadvantages.
- Buying rock salt is an inexpensive option.
- They add traction.
- They melt ice at even 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The use of rock salt can make the surface irritable for your pets’ paws.
- Rock salt can cause damage, especially to concrete and metal surfaces.
- Rock salts can be harmful to your landscape or plants if used in large quantities.
5. Alcohol Solution
Alcohol solution, as a de-icer, is a homemade alternative to shoveling snow. This inexpensive method is an excellent way to remove snow from your driveway if you have no other tools to assist you.
The common ingredients you would need to make this DIY alcohol solution are 1-gallon hot water, one teaspoon dish soap and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol. Since alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water, the mixture can effectively melt the snow.
This DIY solution will cost you negligible to no amount of money. However, it is better to overview its pros and cons before you attempt this idea.
- There is no cost involved.
- It is not as effective as rock salt or ice melter.
Instead of using a snow shovel that can lead to back pain, you can opt to use a tarp this winter. After a warning of heavy snowfall or prior to a snowstorm, you can consider placing a tarp on the driveway or sidewalk.
Once the snow lands on the tarp, you can lift the tarp and pile the snow on the side. If you are from a region that receives moderate to heavy snowfall, the weight of the tarp could be significant when you attempt to lift it. But, it’s worth noting that a tarp also removes lots of snow at once. You may as well choose to cover your roof with a tarp.
The average cost of a tarp ranges anywhere between $200 and $1300, depending on the size of tarp you need. Let’s check its advantages and disadvantages.
- Tarps can be employed to remove large amounts of snow.
- Usage of tarps should be avoided in case of heavy snowfall since lifting the tarp weighed down with thick snow may cause you an injury.
7. Snow Melting Mats
Snow melting mats, a slightly expensive alternative to snow shoveling, come with cables that are in an evenly spaced serpentine pattern, providing a snow-free driveway or walkways during the winter.
With snow melting mats, you don’t have to worry about handling a snow shovel or heavy machinery for snow removal. The average price range of snow melting mats starts from $150.
Consider visiting different marketplaces, such as Walmart, to obtain and explore various options of snow melting mats.
Since these snow-melting mats come with a hefty price tag, to look into the advantages and disadvantages to get a clear picture of this alternative tool.
- The snow melting mats provide even heating.
- They are ideal for driveways and walkways.
- They are expensive.
- Snow melting mats won’t work as effectively on a curved surface.
To heat up a driveway, your snow melting mats can use a total power consumption of 3200 Watts, given the time of your usage. And can last up to 4-5 years.
Eden suggests you get this only if your budget allows it. Note that you will also be spending money per hour as you use it.
8. Snow blowers
Coming to an alternative that also gives varied options lifts the spirit of any individual. Snow blowers are such an alternative to snow shoveling. Unlike its name, snowblowers do not blow the snow. Instead, the snow is moved by an auger or impeller.
Also referred to as a snow thrower, a snow blower’s average cost varies, given the type of blower you need or wish to buy. While you can clear a depth of up to 12 to 16 inches of snow using a two-stage or three-stage unit, you also get the option to select a single-stage blower with multiple speeds if you do not want to stretch your wallet. The average cost of a snowblower, however, ranges between $200 – $2000.
- With a snow blower, you can clear a large area and deep snow more effectively and efficiently than a shovel.
- Unlike a shovel, you get the option of electric snow blowers that are environmentally friendly and do not drain manpower.
- They are more expensive than a shovel.
The maximum power an electric snowblower uses ranges anywhere between 15 – 20 amps. With an energy consumption level like this, a single-stage snow blower can last up to 10 years. Meanwhile, two-stage and three-stage units can last over 20 years if they are properly maintained.
A much more popular option, apart from the above-mentioned tools, the snowplow is a tool to clear the snow off the driveway easily if you are in a hurry. A snowplow is mounted on the front of a vehicle for snow and ice removal.
A snowplow with a speed of 30 to 35 mph on the road can do the job without burning too much fuel. However, Eden recommends not to go over 10 miles per hour when you are plowing a residential drive. The average cost of a snowplow usually ranges from $3,000 to $4,500, though the price varies depending on the size and model of the plow.
- They can assist you in removing a significant amount of snow all at once.
- This easy and quick method of removing snow can backfire if you are not careful with the level of the plow. Lowering the plow more than required to remove the snow altogether can risk damaging the sidewalk or driveway.
With less energy consumption and proper usage, a snowplow can last anywhere from 7 to 10 years. Depending on the brand and materials used in the snowplow, it can also achieve a lifespan of over 15 years.
To conclude, the alternatives of snow shovels are Leaf Blower, Broom, Rake, Rock Salt, Alcohol Solution, Tarp and more. When choosing an alternative to a snow shovel, consider the effectiveness, cost and pros and cons of the tool.
If you are still confused about the snow shovel alternatives to choose from, then consider looking up Eden’s snow removal services. You won’t be disappointed!
If ‘By what time will they clear your driveway?’ has been your thought all over the winter, we are here to help you easily drive away.