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Snow Blower Buying Guide

Snow blowers (or snow throwers) provide rapid and efficient snow removal. If you live in snow country, one of these machines can be a time- and labor-saving alternative to shoveling snow. Use this guide to get familiar with snow blower types and features and to find the machine that's best for your snow-clearing needs.

Snow Blower Clearing Driveway

Types of Snow Blowers

Tight Shot Snowblower in Action

The main types of snow blowers are single-stage electric, single-stage gas, two-stage gas and three-stage gas. Since more than one of these types may be able to handle your typical snow-clearing job, it’s important to consider the advantages of each.

Single-stage snow blowers are lighter and easier to handle than two-stage models. These blowers are best for clearing mid-size areas with a snowfall of 8 inches or less. An auger directs the snow through a discharge chute. Although the wheels aren't engine-driven, the auger contacts the surface, providing limited forward-drive action. Since the auger does make contact with the surface, single-stage blowers are best for use on paved surfaces where they won't pick up rocks or gravel.

  • Electric single-stage snow blowers start with the push of a button and don't need as much maintenance as gas models. They are usually lighter and more compact than gas models, but they do require an extension cord that remains flexible in cold weather. Follow the device manufacturer's instructions for selecting compatible extension cords and see Power Cord Safety Tips.
  • Cordless Electric single-stage snow blowers feature a push-button start and are low maintenance. They are lighter and more compact - and, unlike other electric snow blowers, they do not require the use of power cord.
  • Gas single-stage snow blowers offer good mobility since they aren't tied to a power cord during operation. Gas snow blowers also typically have greater available clearing widths and intake heights than electric models.

Two-stage snow blowers are gas models capable of handling snowfalls in excess of 8 inches. These powerful blowers are the best for clearing large areas and have engine-driven wheels to better handle uneven terrain and reduce operator fatigue. An auger first collects the snow and an impeller fan then discharges the snow through a chute. This two-stage process moves snow faster and farther than single-stage blowers. Skid shoes on a two-stage model elevate the auger slightly so you can use it on unpaved surfaces. You can find a greater range of features on two-stage blowers.

Three-stage snow blowers are gas models capable of handling more snow in less time. Operationally similar to the two-stage model, the three-stage blower features an accelerator that moves 10 times faster than the augers to clear more heavy snow quicker than a two-stage model.

Choosing a Snow Blower

Snow Depth Comparison Chart

Use our chart to determine which type of snow blower may work best for your needs.

Choosing a Snow Blower

Snow Blower Comparision Chart.

Ask these questions to ensure you get the snow blower that's best for your needs.

  1. How much snow do I need to clear?
    For light snowfalls of 8 inches or less, single-stage units should be sufficient. For medium to heavy snowfalls, a two-stage unit offers the larger engine and intake area needed to clear more snow quickly.
  2. How large an area do I need to clear?
    For smaller driveways, single-stage units can do the job. For driveways over 60 feet, choose a two- or three-stage unit.
  3. What kind of snow do I need to clear?
    Single-stage units can handle light snow. The impeller on a two-stage unit helps prevent clogging in heavy, wet snow and the serrated augers cut through hard-packed snow or ice. Three-stage units move more heavy, wet snow in less time.
  4. What type of terrain will I be working on?
    Auger-assisted, push-propelled models are suited for level surfaces. Engine-driven wheels will work best for sloped terrain. You can use tire chains with some models to enhance traction in all conditions.

Snow Blower Features

Snow Blower Parked in Snowy Yard

In addition to narrowing your choices with the questions above, look for a snow blower with helpful features. Two- and three-stage snow blowers will typically have the most features.

  • An electric starter allows you to plug into a suitable GFCI three-prong power receptacle to start the engine rather than using a manual recoil-starter.
  • A more powerful gasoline engine (higher cc or cubic centimeter rating) or electric motor (higher amps rating) translates to more clearing ability.
  • Clearing width and intake height determine how much snow the machine can take in -- especially tall drifts. Greater width and height can reduce chore time.
  • Single-hand operation allows for easy adjustments while operating the blower.
  • Speed controls let you select the pace of the machine in forward or reverse.
  • Power steering gives you superior maneuverability.
  • Large tires offer traction and easier steering. Some models have dual tires on each side for even better grip.
  • Tracks or treads replace wheels on some models for traction on a variety of terrain types.
  • A remote chute control lets you adjust the direction the blower will discharge the snow.
  • A joystick chute control provides more convenience for directing the snow.
  • An extended chute or deflection extension reduces blow-back of the discharged snow.
  • Drift cutters cut through deep snow and can help move snow into the auger.
  • A headlight improves visibility where you're working.
  • Heated handgrips make the work more comfortable.

Shop Snow Blowers

Caution

Always follow the device manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions, including instructions on safety gear.

Snow Blowing Attachments

Silo Image of Snow Blowing Attachment

Attachments are available to work with lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers.

Snow Cabs are availalbe for use with your snow blower.