I am about to purchase a new snow blower and need some help in making a final choice.
I live outside of Chicago. Typically we get several snows at 4"-8". Inevitably we get 2-4 at 12"+. I have a concrete driveway that's 150' long, single car wide, and splays open to a 3 car garage at the end. The house is on a city lot and there is only a few feet on each side of the driveway. Today I'm using an older 4.5HP single stage Yard Machines (was fine for our previous house with no driveway, just sidewalks). This machine simply takes too long and is too loud and rough to do the job efficiently.
Here is what I am considering:
Ariens 7524 E 7.5HP OHV 2 stage $729
Ariens 5520 E 5.5HP L head 2 stage $599
Toro Snow Commander 7HP 2 cycle 1 stage $799
I can see pluses and minuses to all 3. The 7524 has the best engine, but is big (I have limited storage) and I'm worried may be a bit intimadting for my wife to use. The 5520 is slightly more compact, is still an Ariens, but has 5.5 HP and is an L Head. By the way the price on the 5520 is great. The Toro is the most consumer friendly - i.e wife friendly - looking machine. It seems to have the power and size (24" X 15" opening) but is a 2 cycle, 1 stage and I'm not sure how well it will perform - and if it will much louder than the other 2.
Few last points - 3 out of 4 dealers recommended the Toro. $800 is about the most I can spend right now.
I would greatly appreciate your advice and also would like to hear your direct experience with any of these machines.