Watching the snow come down can be one of winter’s great pleasures—that is, until it’s time to clear off the driveway. Homeowners and others who have to make sure driveways, sidewalks, porches and other areas stay clear face a tough choice on how to do the job: Opt for a pricey snow blower to make snow removal quick and convenient, or stick with a less expensive shovel and use some elbow grease?
Buyers who opt for a snow blower should be careful to choose a machine that’s powerful enough for... their needs. According to experts, single-stage blowers are best for lighter snowfalls of less than 6 to 8 inches and should be used on hard surfaces, while two-stage blowers can better handle larger snowfalls and rougher terrains such as gravel driveways.
Snow shovels should also be matched to the task at hand: Combo shovels can do it all—scoop, push, and toss snow, while more basic models can scoop and toss but aren’t quite as good at pushing. Heavy-duty snow pushers and sleighs are better for clearing larger accumulations without straining your back, and emergency shovels are ideal for tossing in the car. With all that in mind here are the best tools on the market for winter snow removal.
A solid snow blower that reviewers praise for its reliable performance and reasonable price, the Troy-Bilt Squall 2100 is a single-stage, gas-powered blower that the manufacturer says can handle depths of up to 13 inches. Experts give it good marks in several categories including plow pile removal and throwing distance, and excellent ones for surface cleaning and handling.
Reviewers say the Squall 2100 is surprisingly effective even though it is relatively compact for a snow blower, and they like the reliable 208cc engine and easy push-button electric start. The blower has a 21-inch chute that rotates 190 degrees for more effective removal, but experts caution that speed of removal is slow. Other features include a comfort-grip ergonomic handle and drift cutters that tackle higher accumulations. It’s backed by a two-year warranty.
A traditional single stage gas thrower is powerful enough to take care of most standard properties. The Toro Power Clear 721 offers the extra power of gas without being a fuel hog like two stage options. As a medium duty design, the thrower is capable of handling snow up to 10" in depth.
The multidirectional thrower can be angled as you move so you can keep snow away from cleared spots. The thrower will launch snow up to 35' away. Set up and using the thrower is easy with an electric starter and self-propelled rotor. Once active, the thrower will literally claw itself forward so you don’t have to push that hard through the snow.
The top alternative on this list is the GreenWorks Pro 80V electric thrower. Using a cordless, efficient battery design, all you have to do is charge the thrower and start moving snow. This unit can handle a typical 10" snow depth without issue while remaining quiet as it works. The cutting rotor will also cut a 20" wide path through the snow.
As a cordless thrower, the Pro 80V is easy to charge and use. Charging time is a quick 30 minutes. Once fully charged, the battery will last up to 45 minutes. Given this simple setup, the thrower is also more maintenance free than gas-powered options.
Gas-powered snow blowers aren’t as convenient to set up as their electric cousins, but they usually move more snow. For larger jobs, a two stage gas blower like the Cub Cadet 24 in. 208cc is hard to beat. Using a 208cc gas engine, this blower will handle deeper snow masses of up to 24" in height.
The blower is designed with extra abuse in mind. The cutting blades are corrosion and rust resistant, and can easily be replaced when the time comes. Non-marking skid shoes will also protect the concrete underneath as the blower moves along so you aren’t scratching up your driveway or sidewalk as you work.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
If you don’t have a large driveway or network of sidewalks to clear, save some money with a budget thrower. The Snow Joe 324E miniaturized a typical snow thrower into the size of a snow shovel. Using a two blade and paddle design, this thrower essentially scoops up snow and blows it out from its main dish as you carry it around.
The portability of this snow thrower is another standout feature. Powerful enough to handle small driveways and sidewalks, you can also carry this thing onto the deck, steps, or patio to clear out snow you’d have to take a shovel to otherwise. An LED light will even light the path in front of you for night time use.
An electric snow thrower is more energy efficient than gas blowers, making them ideal for people conscious about their environmental footprint. The Snow Joe Ultra SJ621 uses a 13.5 amp motor to offer a lot of performance without the need for a lot of power. Four steel blades rotate to cut an 18" x 10" path, moving snow up to 650 pounds per minute. In total, you can clear around 2,450 square feet of snow in just an hour.
Plugging into any 120 volt outdoor wall outlet, the Ultra SJ621 runs off of your home’s electric grid. The power cord will provide a consistent supply of power so you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel or batteries going dead.
A cordless, electric snow thrower can simplify how you store the thrower when not in use. Without the need for gas or cords, most cordless throwers will fit in a space smaller than a lawn mower. The GreenWorks 2600502 takes this compact setup and enhances it with a folding handle design to save even more space. The handle folds into itself, reducing the vertical space you need to store this thrower.
Using a 13 amp motor, the thrower won’t leave you hanging on performance. Capable of throwing snow up to 20', the thrower is perfect for smaller properties you need to clean up quickly without much effort.
Most snow blowers start to show their limits as snow gets deeper. For people living in areas with large amounts of snowfall, only a few select options will get the job done without failure. The Husqvarna ST224 uses a two stage, gas powered 208cc engine to toss snow up to 24 inches deep. 15" rubber tires will also give you plenty of traction in slippery situations.
Compared to other snow blowers, the ST224 will also give you plenty of ways to control the blower while you work. The handle is adjustable in height to give you the perfect ergonomic grip. A friction disc control lets you change the crawl speed to match the snowy conditions outside. Go slow for deep snow, speed up for the lighter stuff.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
For a traditional yet affordable snow thrower option, the WEN 5662 is hard to beat. Using a 13.5 amp motor, this thrower can snow 20' away. The cutting profile is smaller than other options, clearing a path 18x8 inches. This makes it ideal for smaller driveways or paths that don’t require a larger thrower to handle.
A long power cord means you can use this electric thrower without having to wait around for the battery to charge. The 180 degree adjustable chute can be controlled using a crank so you can control the direction of the snow as you move.
Experts say a two-stage snow blower such as the Husqvarna ST224 is a must for buyers in snowier climates, and reviewers confirm that this is an effective, durable choice for those willing to make the investment. It has a 24-inch chute and 15-inch tires that the manufacturer says can easily handle up to a foot of snow, but many users say it’s just fine for even larger accumulations.
Owners are happy with this Husqvarna, calling it “a beast” that makes quick work of clearing driveways and sidewalks even after large snowstorms. Experts give it very good marks for throwing distance and hard surface cleaning, but they also say handling and noise are only ho-hum. It’s easy to fire up the 208 cc engine with a push-button electric start, though some say there were assembly hiccups. Other features include a heated, height-adjustable handle, LED headlights and a friction-disc transmission for smoother operation. The blower is backed by a five-year warranty.
An expert-approved workhorse, the True Temper Aluminum Combo Ergonomic Snow Shovel has a sturdy 20-inch blade that can quickly clear crucial areas, experts say. That’s partially thanks to the combination blade, which is meant for both shoveling and pushing snow, and a curved, ergonomic handle that requires less effort to lift.
This shovel is especially recommended the True Temper for shoveling on hard, flat surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways. The sturdy metal scoop is ideal for both slicing through hard snow and pushing softer or piled snow out of the way. However, the shovel may scratch wood decks or patios. Owners also praise the shovel’s effectiveness and easy-to-grip D-ring handle, but some caution that the shovel is too heavy at 5½ pounds.
For buyers who live in areas with light, infrequent snowfall, the Suncast SN1000 Snow Shovel can get the job done without breaking the bank. This shovel has a polycarbonate scoop with an 18-inch blade, and reviewers love how easy it is to lift at just 2½ pounds.
The scoop on the Suncast SN1000 features an angled rib pattern to better remove snow and a steel-core handle for increased durability. Reviewers say the D-ring handle is easy to grip and the scoop does a fine job of snow removal in small areas when accumulation is lighter, though some warn it might not stand up to very heavy snowfalls. A few also wish for a metal blade that could better handle ice.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
An emergency shovel can help motorists who drive in snowy conditions stay prepared for anything, and reviewers say the AAA Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel is an ideal tool to toss in the trunk. At just 1.3 pounds, it’s relatively light, and it disassembles into three pieces to fit in even the most space-challenged vehicle. It comes in red, blue, or yellow.
Reviewers say the AAA shovel feels quite sturdy, despite its lightweight construction, and many report that it served them well digging out of large drifts or breaking up sheets of ice. They also like the telescoping handle, which extends from 25 to 32 inches, though some wish it were longer. They report that the T-shaped handle is easy to grip, and as one reviewer notes, because it is plastic instead of aluminum, it won’t get too cold to use comfortably.
Homeowners who live in snowy climates need a shovel that can stand up to heavy accumulations, and reviewers say the Garant Yukon Poly Scoop Ergonomic Sleigh Shovel does an excellent job clearing large amounts quickly. The large 26-inch blade is made of polyethylene and is reinforced by a galvanized steel strip for increased durability.
At 14 pounds, the Garant Yukon is not a lightweight, but the design emphasizes pushing and gliding instead of lifting. Owners rave about how fast they can clear driveways and sidewalks without hurting their backs and say the Yukon is extremely sturdy. A few note that the ergonomic metal handle can get cold, so they recommend using it only while wearing heavy gloves or mittens. Others caution that the shovel is quite bulky and will require ample storage space.
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