Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow Blower Efficiency

Hi there, I'm a big nerd, and I'd like to prove it to you.

We've been getting a lot of snow in Cleveland, especially in the city where I live.  I use a snow blower to clear my drive way, and naturally I think about what the most efficient way to clear the drive way is while I'm out there in the cold doing it.

The solution I've come up with is somewhat interesting, so I figured I'd share.

There are a few factors to consider:
  1. Length of driveway
  2. Width of driveway
  3. Number of turns you make
  4. Number of turns of the thrower you make (the direction the snow is being thrown)
#1 and #2 are fixed, and there is nothing I can do (aside from buying a larger snow blower) to change those.  So the number of passes I have to make to clear the driveway is fixed.

Clearly, I'm going to go up and down the drive way, not side to side, as that will reduce the number of turns.  Given that, the number of turns I'm going to make is pretty much fixed.  Thus, the only other factor left for me to consider is the number of turns of the thrower I have to make.  As it "turns out" (har har), I actually can do something about this.  In fact, if I do it right, I shouldn't have to re-direct the thrower at all the entire time I'm clearing the drive way.

Here's two diagrams to help explain.  In the first diagram, I'm starting at the left top of the driveway and going up and down to the right.  In the second diagram, I'm starting in the middle and going down on the left and up on the right.

Notice that in the first image every time you turn, you have to also turn the thrower.  But in the second image the thrower is ALWAYS pointing to the right.  The downside to the pattern on the right is that your turns are wider, but I've actually found this is a good thing.  It's easier for me to make a wide turns than a sharp turn.

The last question is why start in the middle?  The reason is that when you're in the middle, the snow has to be thrown the farthest, and sometimes because of the wind or whatever it doesn't quite make it fully off the driveway.  By starting in the middle you make sure you never throw snow over ground you already cleared!

And with that, I have to go snow blow the driveway...  again.