Beyond the snow thrower: New options make it possible to become a ‘plow-it-yourselfer’

Courtesy of ARA Content

If you’re fortunate enough to live on a large lot, you likely enjoy the added space and privacy. That is, until the snow falls, and then you’re faced with the challenge of clearing a long driveway or the prospect of being stuck at home.

In the past, homeowners with long driveways had been limited in their snow removal options. Shoveling is out of the question. Waiting for the snow to melt or trying to drive over it are probably also not realistic or wise decisions, especially given the risk of slip-and-fall litigation.

That leaves two options: Either pay a professional contractor and hope he shows up exactly when you need him, or struggle to get your snow thrower started and spend the next few hours clearing snow.

This winter, however, thanks to new technologies and product innovations, there is a more attractive option—plow-it-yourself (“PIY”) and become a self-sufficient “PIYer.” Once thought of as an option reserved for contractors, businesses or public institutions, plowing is now an affordable and convenient option available to homeowners across the country.

If you think you’re ready to enter the ranks of being a dedicated PIYer, here are a few considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a snow plow:

How much should I expect to spend? As is true with most products, you can expect to find a wide price range. In the case of plows for residential use, you could pay as little as $1,500 or in excess of $5,000, depending on the model and features you purchase. It’s important to match up budget with desired convenience and safety factors.

What kind of vehicle is required to handle a plow? The addition of a plow puts additional stress on a vehicle’s transmission. That’s why some truck manufacturers suggest not adding a plow to specific makes or models. Traditional bulky plows weigh more than 600 pounds and typically require a full-size truck or tractor for operation. But the lighter weight models, such as the Home Plow by Meyer, are compatible with most popular SUVs and light pickups, as well as many leading utility vehicles.

How difficult is the plow to assemble? This is a major obstacle for many people considering the purchase of a plow. That’s because most plows on the market today require professional installation. However, improvements have been made in this area. In the case of the Home Plow, initial assembly can be completed in less than an hour by nearly any knowledgeable DIYer, because the product ships mostly assembled and does not require auxiliary lights to be hooked up.

Can the plow easily be operated by more than one member of the family? No one can predict when the snow will fall. So you need a product that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice and can be operated by almost any driver in the family. This is the basis for some of the newer features on today’s residential plows, including the innovative Quick Link receiver mount on the Home Plow by Meyer that allows the plow to be connected or disconnected in less than a minute without the need for any tools. And, at only 245 pounds, the Home Plow is lightweight and can easily be maneuvered by young or old, male or female.

How much time can I expect to save by plowing? Depending on the amount of snowfall and the length of your driveway, you could literally save hours off the time you would have spent shoveling or operating a standard snow thrower. With a product the size of the Home Plow, even long driveways can be cleared in less than 10 minutes. Even better, since all of the controls are inside the vehicle, you never have to leave the comfort and safety of the vehicle to control or adjust the movement of the blade. A remote control handles hydraulic up/down movement, while the patented auto-angling system senses the weight of the snow and automatically angles to push snow off to the side. Many models require the operator to be outside the vehicle to make manual adjustments.

With the right snow plow, homeowners who once felt restricted in their snow removal options can now be self-reliant, get the job done quickly and easily and be on their way. That’s good news in light of the not-so-good preliminary winter forecasts that have already been released for the 2010/2011 winter season. AccuWeather of State College, Pa., which was credited with accurately predicting record-breaking snowfall last year in the mid-Atlantic region from New York City to Richmond, Va., is expecting the winter battleground to shift north and west this year into the Midwest, Great Lakes region and even the northeast. Specific cities being cited as potential targets for above-average accumulations include Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle and Portland.

To learn how you can better arm yourself in preparation for this year’s winter blast, visit

From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue

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