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If you live somewhere that receives several feet of snow every winter, chances are a snow blower would be a worthwhile investment for your home. Snow blowers typically cost several hundred dollars, but they can save you hours of backbreaking work, moving even the heaviest snow quickly and easily.
However, there are a lot of snow blowers out there to choose from. You’ll have to decide between gas- and electric-powered models, as well as whether you want a one- or two-stage design. Gas snow blowers tend to be more powerful, but like most gas tools, they also require more maintenance. You’ll also want to consider factors such as the amount of snow you usually get, how heavy the snow is, and how much area you need to clear—all of these will play a role in determining the best snow blower for your needs.
Here, the best snow blowers available online.
For a powerful, reliable tool that can handle deep, heavy snow, you need a model like the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30-inch Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower. This high-end gas-powered snow blower has all the features you could ever want or need, including a powerful 357cc engine and a 30-inch clearing width to tackle up to 18 inches of snow.
This snow blower has 14-inch serrated augers that break up ice and snow, and its two-stage snow thrower is easy to control thanks to its one-handed operation system. The model is mounted on X-trac snow tires for superior traction and features in-dash headlights, touch-n-turn steering, heated handgrips, and more. According to reviewers, the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm is worth the high price, as it can tackle deep, heavy snow and is reliable year after year.
The majority of snow blowers sold today are powered by gas, including the top-rated Ariens Deluxe Two-Stage Self-Propelled Snow Blower. At over $1,000, this model is on the more expensive side, but its two-stage operating system and 28-inch clearing width are useful for anyone who has a large driveway.
This gas-powered snow blower has a 254cc engine, and its 14-inch steel augers help you move through snow up to 21 deep quickly and easily. It’s self-propelled with six forward and two reverse speeds, and its auto-turn steering makes it effortless to guide around your driveway and sidewalks.
On the other hand, electric snow blowers like this cordless model from Snow Joe offer less power, but they require significantly less maintenance. This particular battery-powered snow blower runs on a 40-volt battery that delivers up to 50 minutes of run-time per charge, and its 18-inch clearing width is ideal for small driveways, paths, and sidewalks. Its 180-degree chute can throw snow up to 20 feet, and the whole unit only weighs 32 pounds, making it easy to handle.
You’ll often hear the term single-stage when talking about snow blowers, and that simply means that the machine’s corkscrew-shaped auger pulls in snow and throws it out the chute in one step. This style of snowblower is generally less expensive and better for smaller amounts of snow, and one of the best single-stage models available today is the Toro SnowMaster, which has a 24-inch clearing width and a 252cc engine.
This single-stage snow blower is best used on 6 to 10 inches of snow, and it can throw snow up to 45 feet. It features a self-propelled personal pace system, which matches your walking speed for easier operation, and its “Quick Stick'' control makes it easy to change the direction of the chute. Overall, reviewers have positive things to say about this product, writing that the machine has good traction and is easy to maneuver.
Two-stage snow blowers have an auger for snow intake, as well as an impeller, which is a fan that helps force snow through the discharge chute. While more expensive, two-stage models like the Craftsman SB410 are able to throw snow significantly further, making them useful for clearing large areas.
This two-stage gas snow blower has a 208cc engine and 24-inch clearing width, and its self-propelled drive has six forward and two reverse speeds. It can clear up to 21 inches of snow, and you can easily adjust the 180-degree chute for better control. The serrated steel augers cut through the snow for faster clearing, and reviewers say it is easy to handle and performs well, especially for the moderate price.
If you frequently experience wet, heavy snow, you’re going to need a heavy-duty tool like the Husqvarna Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower to move it. This two-stage model is powered by a 208 cc engine, and it clears a 24-inch path on every pass, using its heavy-duty augers to cut through frozen and wet precipitation.
This Husqvarna snow blower is also packed to the brim with useful features, including 180-degree remote chute rotation, electric start, power steering, LED headlights, heated grip handles, and more. Reviewers say the unit is well-built and powerful, writing that it works beautifully in slushy, heavy snow, as well as in large amounts of accumulation.
For large driveways, you’re probably going to want to look for two things in a snow blower: first, a larger clearing width to help you cover more ground with each pass, and second, a self-propelled system that helps move the unit around your driveway. Luckily, the Troy-Bilt Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower has both these things, as well as several other useful features.
It’s powered by a 243cc engine and has a 26-inch clearing path, and you can adjust the discharge chute up to 200 degrees. The machine offers six forward and two reverse speeds, and its one-hand operation makes it easier to control.
If you have a small space to clear or are working on a modest budget, the PowerSmart Corded Electric Snow Blower is about as affordable as they get. This corded snow blower has an 18-inch clearing width, and it can throw snow up to 30 feet via its 180-degree adjustable chute. The affordable unit is best for clearing sidewalks, paths, and other small areas, as its max extension cord length is 100 feet, but it can still handle snow up to 11 inches deep. While it may not be the most powerful unit out there, the Powersmart Electric Snow Blower still receives praise from buyers, who say it’s easy to use and handles small jobs well.
The best overall snow blower is the Troy-Bilt 30 in. Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower (view at Home Depot), which is a powerful and reliable gas-powered snow blower that can tackle almost anything. If you’re looking for an electric option, go with the Snow Joe 18 in. Single-Stage Electric Snow Blower (view at Lowe’s). It weighs less and has a smaller profile which makes it easier to handle.
What’s the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower?
You’ll often see a snow blower referred to as a snow thrower. In fact, only snow blowers with single-stage engines are technically snow throwers. This is because single-stage snow blowers don’t actually blow the snow—they rely on an auger to scoop and literally “throw” the snow out the chute. More powerful two- and three-stage snow blowers have an impeller to help blow the snow out the chute, but you still might see them advertised as snow throwers.
How do I decide between a single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage snow blower?
A single-stage snow blower works in one motion, utilizing a scoop-like auger that shovels the snow and funnels it out the chute. A two-stage snow blower has an impeller fan in addition to the auger, which helps propel the snow into the intake chute and increases the overall clearing power and throwing distance of the snow. A three-stage snow blower has the most power because it adds an accelerator to the auger and impeller fan, which means much faster snow removal, greater clearing capacity, and longer throwing distances. Ultimately, your decision will come down to how much power you’re looking for, mostly dependent on how much snowfall you need to clear.
How do I store a gas snow blower between seasons?
Properly storing a gas-powered snow blower in the offseason is important because gas can corrode and gunk can build up and cause damage. Most likely, you’ll want to drain the fuel tank before storing it for months at a time. You can also add a fuel stabilizer to the tank to keep the gasoline ready and prevent it from breaking down over time. However, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular machine for best results.
If you live in an area that sees harsh winters with lots of snowfall, a snow blower can make your life considerably easier. This mighty machine will put your shovel to shame as it buzzes a path through snow drifts, saving you considerable effort and time.
Snow blowers are able to clear driveways, sidewalks, decks, and more thanks to their motor-powered auger that scoops up snow and sends it flying. A gas or electric engine supplies power to an auger of wide paddles or metal blades, which funnel snow into the machine and push it upward through the discharge chute. The operator guides the snow blower along, leaving a freshly cleared path in its wake.
When shopping for a snow blower, you’ll need to decide between electric or gas-powered models and single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage versions. Some snow blowers are equipped to handle major blizzards with 18 inches or more of snow, while other versions are for lighter snowfalls of 8 inches or less. Your typical winter weather and budget will determine the type of snow blower that's right for you. Snow blowers start at about $120 for the most basic single-stage electric versions and about $500 for two-stage gas models, though extra features will make the price quickly climb. If you need a more powerful option, three-stage snow blowers start at about $1,000.
Snow blowers are powered by both gas and electric motors, though electric motors are limited to lighter-duty single-stage models. Decide whether you want the convenience of electric operation or if you want the extra power of a gas motor that also needs regular maintenance and fuel.
Pay attention to how much power either type of engine is rated for on any snow blower you’re considering; gas engines are rated in terms of horsepower and electric engines are measured in amps.
Consider how wide a path the snow blower will clear with each pass. Typical clearing widths are anywhere between 20 and 25 inches, but some budget models may clear even less and some more robust models may be able to do up to 30 inches or more.
Narrower clearing widths mean you may need to make more passes to clean the driveway or sidewalk—extending the time you’ll be spending out in the elements. A wider clearing width will help you clear snow faster and get inside sooner.
Wheels vs. Tracks
Pushing a snow blower through heavy snow is tough. To make the task easier, some models are equipped with power-driven wheels that will help propel the machine along.
Less common are snow blowers with tracks instead of wheels—similar to what you’d see on a bulldozer or other piece of heavy equipment. The tracks may provide more stability on uneven terrain or gravel but are probably overkill for your average suburban home.
Many snow blowers work at a single pace, but if you’re looking for a model with a little more get up and go, then shop around for one with variable speed control. Typically found on two-stage and three-stage snow blowers, speed control will let you move faster with a simple adjustment to a lever near the handgrips.
Check to see where the speed control lever is located and if it’s in a comfortable position for you to adjust. If it’s out of reach or hard to use, you won’t enjoy the convenience offered by this feature nearly as much.
Make it easier to get started quicker by choosing a snow blower with an electric starter. At the push of a button, the machine will be ready for action without the need for a manual pull-cord start, which can be challenging.
Both electric and gas-powered models are available with an electric start option. If you want to be up and running faster when the snow flurries arrive or you hate struggling with a conventional starter, you should strongly consider an electric starter.
There are a number of other features that you may want to consider when shopping for a snow blower. Many of these aim to make the job quicker and easier or help you stay warm while removing snow.
Some of the most common additional features to keep an eye out for include a headlight, drift cutters, or handgrips with a built-in warmer.
If your typical winter snowstorm is far from a full-fledged blizzard, you may find that a single-stage electric snow blower is sufficient for your snow clearing needs. Equipped with a paddle-like auger that scoops snow and funnels it out the chute for discharge, this snow blower does its job in one swift motion—hence the name "single-stage."
Single-stage snow blowers with an electric motor are typically lighter than their gas counterparts and they also offer the advantage of not requiring fuel to run. However, they are more limited when it comes to clearing power and are typically better suited for snowfalls of 6 inches or less. They also usually have a more narrow clearing path, making them a better choice for sidewalks, decks, or other smaller spots you’d like to clean off.
There are two types of single-stage electric snow blowers on the market: corded and cordless.
Corded single-stage models require that you plug the snow blower into a power source and manage the cord as you work. Extension cords are generally not recommended for use by manufacturers, so make sure you buy one with a cord long enough to reach the areas you plan to clear.
These electric snow blowers offer the advantage of being able to clear snow from anywhere without the hassle or limitations of a cord. The downside, of course, is that your snow blowing session is limited by the life of your battery.
If you don’t mind operating a gas-powered snow blower and experience slightly more snowfall, then a single-stage gas-powered model may make more sense. An auger moves in the same way as other single-stage models to move snow from the ground and up through the chute, but the power is supplied by a gasoline engine.
These snow blowers usually offer a little more clearing width and will typically clear a path about 2 feet wide with each pass. They’re more maneuverable than two-stage or three-stage blowers. However, they are still limited in power and throwing distance, making them best suited for snow accumulations up to 8 inches.
A two-stage snow blower takes snow removal to the next level by adding an impeller fan to help propel snow into the intake chute—increasing clearing power and throwing distance. Two-stage snow blowers are the go-to choice for areas affected by snow accumulations of 8 inches or more.
This type of snow blower is also more likely to have the added features that make clearing snow easier and more efficient, including power-driven wheels, greater intake heights, and wider clearing paths.
One drawback to a two-stage snow blower is the fact that the auger doesn’t come in direct contact with the surface to be cleared. As a result, many of these machines leave behind a thin layer of snow.
When choosing a two-stage gas snow blower, consider how much horsepower a particular model has. The more horsepower the engine has, the greater the power it will be able to generate. This will help the auger get through deeper drifts and provide more power to the wheels as you press on through wet or heavy snow. The greater the demands that will be placed on your snow blower, the more horsepower you will need.
Two-stage snow blowers generally start around $500, but the price will ultimately depend on the features that are important to you. Some models incorporate commercial-grade features like rubber tracks and higher horsepower engines along with variable speed control and joystick chute controls, which can push the price tag well past $2,000.
For the most snow-clearing power, look to a three-stage snow blower. These gas-powered snow moving machines add an accelerator to the auger and impeller fan setup to move snow even faster. These snow blowers are a match for clearing snowfalls totaling anywhere from 1 to 2 feet.
The secret to the three-stage snowblower’s success is the accelerator, which is basically another auger placed in between the two sides of the standard auger. This auger moves in a motion perpendicular to the standard auger and results in a much faster collection of the snow in front of your machine. It would only make sense that the clearing path becomes wider, too. You can expect to clear close to 30 inches with every single pass of the blower.
In addition, most three-stage snow blowers have the bells and whistles that will make snow blowing more comfortable. The majority of popular models include heated handgrips, electric start, power steering, and chutes with greater throwing distances.
All this power doesn’t come cheap, though. Three-stage snow blowers will set you back $1,000 or more—with some models approaching the $3,000 mark. Still, if you face serious winter weather or have a lot of space to clear, it may make sense to invest in the superior power of a three-stage snow blower.
Snow Blower Shovel
Worth a mention if you live somewhere with very light snowfall is the electric shovel. Combining the functionality of a shovel for quick snow removal with the power of a motorized auger results in a handy tool for quickly clearing light snow or small areas.
Power snow shovels, as they’re sometimes called, are available in either corded or cordless models. A few corded models are also equipped to use a battery pack, giving you the option to go cordless if you’d like.
An auger sits inside the mouth of the shovel and churns snow into the shovel’s surface before propelling it forward. As you move the shovel along the ground, it will gradually clear a path, without the work of scooping and throwing the snow yourself.
The shortcomings of snow blower shovels include narrow cleaning paths (usually less than 12 inches) and short battery life or distance limitations because of the cord. Additionally, they aren’t a match for deep snowdrifts. However, they can be a good addition to your snow removal arsenal and make quick work of clearing off the porch or short sidewalks.
Electric snow shovels generally cost between $50 and $150, depending on their power and capabilities.
Cub Cadet is a well-known brand that produces single-, two-, and three-stage snow blowers—one of the few manufacturers to address all three product types. These well-engineered models are offered with many different features and start around $500, but quickly climb past $1,000 or more.
Producing single-, two-, and a select few models of three-stage snow blowers, Troy-Bilt also gives consumers a lot of options to choose from. The entry-level models start at a more affordable price point but lack some of the features that more expensive models incorporate.
Producing single- and two-stage gas-powered snow blowers, Ariens offers a lot of options to homeowners. With nine different series available, there are abundant options for average residential use and more powerful models with traction and high-performance capabilities.
Honda manufacturers single-stage and two-stage gas-powered snowblowers. While the selection of single-stage models is more limited, there are a number of two-stage Honda models to choose from. More basic models offer standard features, while high-end options benefit from Honda’s unique hydrostatic drive and infinitely variable speed transmission.
Focusing on small-scale and entry-level electric blowers and snow removal tools, Snow Joe offers affordable options that are a good match for light-duty use. Snow Joe primarily manufacturers single-stage electric snow blowers and power snow shovels.
Accessories and Warranties
While the snow blower itself will do the majority of the heavy lifting, there are accessories and extras available to make the task easier or more comfortable. Below are some of the most common options to consider.
If the wind is blowing, you can expect to get more than a light dusting of snow as your machine throws snow out of its path. Blowback is an unpleasant part of the snow clearing process, and a snow cab will minimize your exposure by protecting you with a clear, portable windshield of sorts. It can also help to block any icy wind that may be blowing your way.
Slippery conditions often go hand-in-hand with a snowstorm, so your snow blower’s tires may slide and lose traction as you work. Avoid this safety hazard and improve the handling of your machine by adding a set of tire chains to your snow blower’s tires.
If you opt for a gas-powered snow blower, you’ll have to drain out the fuel during the more seasonable months of the year or develop a plan for keeping the fuel stable. Instead of wasting it, adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank can keep the gasoline ready and prevent it from breaking down over time. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, which will likely include filling the gas tank to the brim to avoid condensation and moisture build-up.
When shopping for a snow blower, it’s not uncommon to see warranty coverage that lasts for two or three years. Typically, single-stage snow throwers will have two years of warranty protection, while two-stage and three-stage machines may gain an additional year of coverage.
It’s important to know that most warranties are dramatically reduced if you use the snow blower for commercial purposes. In some cases, the warranty period may be as short as 90 days. But if you just plan to use the machine around your property or to clear the sidewalk in front of your house, you will have several years of warranty coverage to give you peace of mind.
A lifelong New Englander, contributor Camryn Rabideau is no stranger to blizzards. As such, she knows the value of a high-quality snow blower, which can help make snow removal a much easier task.