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.