If you find yourself digging your sidewalk and driveway out from many snowstorms each winter, you may want to put down the shovel and get a snow blower. A great snowblower takes care of the backbreaking work for you, moving even the heaviest snow quickly and easily, so you can keep the shovel around for handling smaller tasks.
To help you select the best snow blower for your needs, we extensively researched the most popular two-stage, single-stage, gas, and battery-operated models. We also reached out to Cheryl Higley, Education and Content Director at SIMA Snow and Ice Management Association, for insight. She noted, "When choosing a snow blower, consumers should consider: the type of snow (heavy/wet, powdery, etc.); the accumulation amount they plan to clear; and the surface type they’ll be clearing (not all snowblowers should be used on gravel surfaces for instance). Also, understand dealer support in terms of replacing wearable parts and pre- [and] postseason maintenance."
After all of our research, we tested seven snow blowers on our own driveways and sidewalks after snowstorms, evaluating them on their design, performance, size, usability, safety, and value.
Ariens Classic 2-Stage 24-Inch Snow Blower
Simple to assemble and use
Easy to maneuver, especially with self-propelled feature
Several safety features
Can tackle deep snow without chute getting clogged
Gas-powered and requires refilling
No LED headlights
The best snow blower we tested is the Ariens Classic 2-Stage 24 in. Snow Blower. We found it incredibly easy to assemble and use—even for first-time snow blower users—and an excellent value for its power and maneuverability. While it is a two-stage snow blower and might be more than you would need for a small driveway, we think it's a great solution if you tend to get deep snow fairly often and require a powerful snow blower.
We were able to assemble it relatively quickly and found the instructions to be clear. We also found Ariens' instructional videos to be extremely helpful. Once we had it ready to go, we had no trouble getting it started! This gas-powered snow blower offers both a manual, recoil start and an electric, push-button start (a must-have on cold days!). And thanks to the self-propelled feature, we found that this blower tackled even deep, wet snow (over a foot deep) at the end of our driveway with ease. In fact, we didn't insert the wheel pin at first (one wheel must be locked for the self-propelled feature to work), and we used it without the self-propelled feature and noticed a difference once it was self-propelled. The self-propelled feature includes six forward speeds and two reverse, so you can pick the right speed to match your pace.
We also noted that we felt fully in control of where we were sending the snow, thanks to the snow chute feature's easy-to-use controls on the handlebar. They let us shoot the snow up to 40 feet away, up and down, or side to side, allowing us to adjust as we went. While it doesn't include some features that would be nice to have (headlights or heated handles, for instance), we were also impressed by all of the safety features, including a grip-activated auger control, a tool for dislodging clogs in the chute when the engine is fully turned off and stops, and a quick engine shut-off. Although it is a push-button start, the engine key must be in for anyone to operate it. Keep in mind that since this is a gas-powered model, you will need to refuel it, and it does omit fumes. However, for the power and price, we think it's worthy of our top pick.
Price at time of publish: $1,519
Clearing Width: 24 inches | Power Type: Gas | Stage Type: Two-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 40 feet | Number of Speeds: 6 forward, 2 reverse
EGO Power+ 21-Inch Cordless Single-Stage Snow Blower
Cordless and battery-powered
Fold-down handle for compact storage
No smelly fumes
Two LED headlights
Not the most powerful option for deep snow falls
Both included batteries need to be used at the same time
Only one battery can be charged at a time in the included charger
After using the EGO Power+ Auger-Propelled Snow Blower on our own two-car driveway and sidewalk with 4 inches of snow and 7-8 inch snow drifts, we found it to be an excellent, budget-friendly, battery-operated model. Even for a first-time snow blower user, this model was easy to set up (it only took us 10 minutes), easy to start (thanks to the electric, push-button start), and easy to operate with intuitive controls. It's a single-stage electric model, so it's less powerful than the two-stage options on this list or some gas-powered models. Since it is not self-propelled, it had trouble with some turns and deeper snow. However, this is the best choice if you don't need to clear feet of snow often (or ever!) and don't have the space to store a big bulky snow blower.
We appreciated that the augur's speed could be easily adjusted to handle heavier snowfalls and that the discharge chute could be turned 180 degrees to control where and how far the snow is thrown (up to 35 feet away). When the wind chill was below 25, we found that adjusting the chute lever required a bit of effort, and we had to keep our fingers firmly on the handle as we turned it to prevent the device from turning off (which took a little practice to do). Thanks to the push button, if it did turn off, it was easy to restart.
The mower comes with two 5.0Ah batteries, both of which are used at once during operations. We found that the included battery charger swiftly replenishes the battery, but it only has one slot, so you can only charge one battery at a time. However, this may not be an issue if you have other EGO tools that use the same type of battery and have an extra charger (or battery). When we tested the snow blower, each battery drained to half-capacity after about 15 minutes of constant use. This model also has two LED headlights for low-light visibility and a 5-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $699
Clearing Width: 21 inches | Power Type: Electric | Stage Type: Single-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 35 feet | Number of Speeds: Variable
Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Snow Blower
Efficient on heavy snowfalls
Eight speeds, including two reverse
Electric push-button start
Need to add gas and oil
Like all gas models, it emits fumes
After we tested the Ariens Deluxe 28 (an older version of this model), we were so impressed with its performance that we decided to test this newer version in our latest testing round. While we love both models, we recommend the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO as our best splurge because it continues to offer the same features with a few upgrades for only a few hundred dollars more. Those include an extra 5 feet of snow-throwing distance (55 feet, compared to 50 on the older model) and a more powerful engine. However, you can't go wrong with the Deluxe 28 model if you don't need those updates.
While testing this gas-powered, self-propelled, two-stage model, we were impressed with its ability to easily turn around corners and power through many snow storms, including those with deep, heavy, wet snow. It cleared our three-car driveway, sidewalks, and walkways easily. The snow chute also stood out for being incredibly easy to operate, allowing us to direct where the snow was thrown, which was especially welcome on a windy day. We also appreciate the included ice scraper—although the chute hasn't gotten clogged yet, the scraper will be handy in clearing out ice and snow from the chute (once the machine is turned off). We also tested the LED headlights and found them very useful at night or with dim light.
Overall, we feel like all the features make this snow blower more than worthy of its higher price tag. However, like all two-stage models, if you don't have large spaces to clear, don't get a lot of snow each year, or don't have the space to store a clunky snow blower, you will want to go with another option on this list. Also, keep in mind that this is a gas-powered model, and you will need to add fuel when needed.
Price at time of publish: $1,840
Clearing Width: 28 inches | Power Type: Gas | Stage Type: Two-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 55 feet | Number of Speeds: 6 forward, 2 reverse
Cub Cadet 2X 26-Inch IntelliPower Snow Blower
Electric quick starter, LED lights and other helpful features
Multiple speeds, including reverse
Powerful, durable and reliable
During testing, the Cub Cadet 2X 24" INTELLIPOWER™ Snow Blower stood out for being easy to maneuver, which is a welcome feature when cleaning up after a snowstorm. The seven drive speeds—six forward and one reverse—on the self-propelled snow blower allowed us to plow through any snow thickness without trouble, and the steering assists allowed the machine to turn on a dime with almost zero effort. We could propel the machine without engaging the augur, a welcome touch; letting go of the handles stops the machine. (The machine also has a "kill" key that turns the whole thing off when pulled out, which is very nice for peace of mind.) The 5-inch-wide tires had plenty of grip on ice, slush, and snow and never slipped.
The motor was loud but not unbearable, as with nearly every gas-powered snow blower. And for those concerned about emissions, we didn't note a lot of noxious exhaust. We were also impressed with the uber-adjustable snow chute, which even allowed us to throw snow slightly behind. The little things impressed us, such as secure caps on the oil and gas tanks and their internal indicators that let us know when they were filled.
However, we had no issues with clearing a five-car-wide driveway and 60-foot-long sidewalk, even in minus-25 wind chill. The electric start instantly fired up the snow blower, and the choke was easy to adjust and forgiving. We never worried about killing the motor accidentally, which we experienced with other snow blowers.
We do need to note that we did struggle when initially setting up this snow blower, which had a 45-minute setup time and included unfolding, levering, and securing the tube frame containing the controls; shifting control wires so that they didn't catch on anything; and having a tough time telling when the oil pan was filled adequately. As long as you don't mind the setup time, this is, in our opinion, an excellent option for its performance and ease of use (it helped us clear out even after a blizzard!).
Price at time of publish: $1,299
Clearing Width: 26 inches | Power Type: Gas | Stage Type: Two-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 40 feet | Number of Speeds: 6 forward, 1 reverse
Best Cordless Electric
EGO Power+ 24-Inch Cordless 2-Stage Snow Blower
Self-propelled and powerful with a long run time
Easy to assemble and use
Included battery charger charges both batteries at the same time
Throws snow up to 50 feet away
Levers a bit hard to use on freezing days
For a powerful yet easy-to-use battery-operated snow blower, we recommend the EGO Power+ 2-Stage Snow Blower. This self-propelled, 24-inch model stood out for its random variable-speed control and ease of assembly. Plus, we appreciated the included dual-battery charger for the two 7.5Ah batteries that give the machine a long operating span. In fact, we tested this self-propelled, 24-inch machine on a short driveway and about 60 yards of smooth and bumpy sidewalk, some of which had a 30-degree slope. After 45 minutes, we still had half power left in both batteries.
Similarly to our best budget pick, also by EGO, setting up and assembling the machine took 10 minutes—less time than uncrating it! All we needed to do was attach the handles, with the supplied bolts and knobs, and the disposal chute, which was neatly attached via a perfectly fitting strut. (The only tool we needed was a 19/32 wrench to adjust the skid shoes for optimum elevation of the scoop on the pavement.) Within 15 minutes, we were ready to tackle the snow.
This SNT405 model operates similarly to the manufacturer's self-propelled lawn mowers by simultaneously holding down the centrally located safety button and the augur control lever on the right side of the operation handle. The variable-speed motor, which is not governed by defined stops and is controlled by a thumb-operated lever on the left side of the handle, gave us fine-tuned control, making it easy to travel uphill and down. (The machine can propel itself with the augur off.) Turning it on a narrow sidewalk was easier than its 145-pound weight would have led us to believe.
A central lever on the operations handle let us swivel the chute for putting the snow where we wanted it. An additional lever enabled us to adjust how far we threw the snow (up to a huge distance of 50 feet away). It took a little elbow grease to do this in sub-freezing temperatures, but not enough to call it an issue. Overall, we think this is a great two-stage snow blower that provides enough power for those with many surfaces to clear or experience more or heavier snow each year. If your needs are less, you may want to consider EGO's 21-inch, single-stage model, our best budget pick, which costs nearly $1,000 less for many of the same features.
Price at time of publish: $1,600
Clearing Width: 24 inches | Power Type: Rechargeable battery | Stage Type: Two-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 50 feet | Number of Speeds: Continuous
Best for Long Driveways
Toro Power Max HD 30 in. 302 cc Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower with Electric Start
Remote chute control
Easy to use in tight spaces
Fastest speed isn't very fast
A long driveway requires a snow blower with a large clearing width so that you can cover more ground with each pass. It also helps if the unit is self-propelled, so you don't have to continuously push a machine that can easily weigh hundreds of pounds. The self-propelled Toro Power Max HD Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower satisfies both of these needs, with a 30-inch clearing width and variable speeds to maneuver the 300-plus-pound machine.
The snow blower came almost fully assembled except for the handles, and removing it from its wooden crate took far longer than setting it up. After we did so, we realized that a snow blower intended for long driveways has a huge footprint. It's about 3-4 feet wide and 5-6 feet long, fully occupying a quarter of a single-car garage. It can only be made smaller by disassembling it to some degree, which is only feasible when the season is over.
We powered up the machine's 302 cc (20 hp) engine with the electric start, which needed an extension cord to an outlet. Curiously, the snow blower started quickly on the fastest of the six forward speeds (there are also two reverse speeds), and it then slowed down. On the one hand, that can be considered a safety precaution, preventing the snow blower from taking off. However, we discovered that even its fastest speed was slower than the other machines we tested, and its lowest speed was impractically poky. However, under constant speed, the machine distributed the snow where we wanted via the onboard joystick.
We also found the Toro somewhat difficult to operate continuously because of its somewhat curiously designed handles. One side, controlling the gas flow, stayed down by itself, but the other, controlling the augur, needed constant pressure and may be difficult for some to keep it depressed. We did appreciate that the handle had a warming function—a nice touch missing from many snow blowers we tested. There's also an LED light for lower-visibility conditions. Those who prefer a gas-powered machine for its greater power than an electric also should appreciate that the manufacturer specifies the snow blower to be CARB compliant, as it relates to emissions.
Price at time of publish: $1,999
Clearing Width: 30 inches | Power Type: Gas | Stage Type: Two-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 49 feet | Number of Speeds: 6 forward, 2 reverse
Best Single Stage, Gas
Toro Power Clear 18 in. 99 cc Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower
No need to mix oil with gas
Narrow clearing width
Not a great option for deeper snow falls
Although we haven't tested it ourselves, the Toro Power Clear Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower may be a good choice if you're shopping on a tighter budget and don't need as much power as some of the other options on this list. Ideal for smaller driveways and snowfalls, this option has a 7-inch auger diameter and an 18-inch clearing width, and its 99 cc engine can move 2 to 9 inches of snow.
With a locking deflector, the mounted chute lever allows you to aim the snow exactly where you want, blowing it up to 25 feet away. This helps you quickly and easily clear sidewalks, paths, and other small areas. We also appreciate its electric starter, which avoids pulling a cord perhaps several times to fire it up. Unlike many gas-powered snow blowers, you do not mix oil with gas to fuel this machine.
Price at time of publish: $599
Clearing Width: 18 inches | Power Type: Gas | Stage Type: One-stage | Maximum Throwing Distance: 25 feet | Number of Speeds: Not applicable
|Overall Rating||Design||Performance||Ease of Use||Safety||Value|
Ariens Classic Snow Blower
EGO Power+ Cordless Single-Stage Snow Blower
Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO
Cub Cadet 2X IntelliPower Snow Blower
Best Cordless Electric:
EGO Power+ Cordless 2-Stage Snow Blower
Best for Long Driveways:
Toro Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower
Best Single Stage, Gas:
Toro Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower
Our best overall pick is the Ariens Classic 2-Stage 24 in. Snow Blower. After testing, we think this 2-stage, gas-powered model is a great value for its performance, power, and features. However, if you don't have the storage space, budget, or need for a two-stage gas model, we recommend the EGO Power+ Auger-Propelled Snow Blower. Single-stage and battery-powered, this model is more affordable, and a great choice for moderate snow falls, and small- to medium-sized driveways and walkways.
How We Tested the Snow Blowers
After researching the top battery-operated, electric, and gas-powered picks on the market, we tested seven snow blowers in our own driveways, sidewalks, and walkways each time after several storms. First, we unpacked and assembled each snow blower, noting how long it took, what tools were required, and how clear the instructions were. After ensuring we fully understood the instructions, charged the batteries, or added the fuel, we tested these snow blowers in conditions of four inches of snow or more and larger snow drifts. We timed and evaluated each snow blower's performance, design, and ease of use, including how easy it was to turn on (via choke or electric start), maneuver through the snow and when turning, and how easy each feature (including the snow chute) was to use. We also used any included ice scrapers to clear any clogs (always turning the machine off completely before using) and noted their helpfulness. We also noted whether the snow blower's handles folded for easy storage or if it was bulky and required more storage space.
What to Look for in a Snow Blower
Snow blower/Snow thrower
You may see these terms used interchangeably, but the key to remember is that a snow thrower is not as powerful or efficient a snow remover as a snow blower.
Snow throwers, whether powered by gasoline or electricity, are single-stage machines designed for lighter snowfalls. They have lower-rated engines, snow-scooping augers made of rubber instead of metal, and, most important, scoop up and discharge the snow in a single operation.
Snow blowers invariably are two-stage or three-stage machines. They have engines rated at higher horsepower and augers made of metal and use separate operations to collect the snow and discharge it.
You can find snow throwers and snow blowers powered by gasoline or electricity (corded and rechargeable battery). Gas-powered models, such as our Best Overall pick, the Ariens Classic 2-Stage 24 in. Snow Blower, generally are more powerful than electric snow blowers but emit fumes. Also, they require engine oil, which must be mixed with gasoline. Some models may need to start by means of a choke. Gasoline-powered snow blower engines are rated in horsepower or cubic centimeters (cc); a higher number indicates more power. If you prefer to know the horsepower of a product rated in cc, divide by 15. A medium-sized machine, for instance, might have a rating of 300 cc, which translates to about 20 horsepower.
Electric models are lighter and quieter than gas-powered products but generally are better suited for lighter snowfalls and for clearing narrower spaces. Two-stage electric snow blowers, such as our Best Cordless Electric choice, the EGO Power+ 2-Stage Snow Blower, are rated in amps.
According to Cheryl Higley, Education and Content Director at SIMA Snow and Ice Management Association, you should also consider the type of surface you will be clearing when choosing gas versus electric. She notes, "Concrete and asphalt driveways can be cleared with any snow blower; however, if you're clearing a gravel driveway, you will need to choose a 2-stage blower. The paddles on electric and 1-stage blowers make contact with the surface, so you risk throwing rocks and gravel with these machines. This poses a hazard to anyone who might come into the path and will also damage the paddles."
Snow blowers, whether gasoline or electric powered, are designed as single-stage (sometimes known as "snow throwers"), two-stage, or three-stage machines. "Stage" refers to the number of operations the machine performs.
Single-stage snow blowers are the least powerful and are designed for areas that experience light to moderate snowfalls, generally under 12 inches. These machines have rubber augers that collect the snow and blow it out their discharge chutes in a single motion. You can find single-stage snow blowers in gas-powered, as well as electric-powered models such as our best budget choice, the EGO Power+ Auger-Propelled Snow Blower.
Two-stage snow blowers, such as our top choice for long driveways, the Toro Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower are designed for heavier snowfalls, up to about 18 inches. These machines, equipped with augers generally made of serrated steel or other metal, scoop up the snow and channel it into components called impellers, which shoot the snow out the discharge chute. The advantage of this type of snow blower is the intake duct can be kept clearer, assisting in more-efficient snow removal. Two-stage machines come in gas- and electric-powered models. Another facet to note about two-stage snow blowers is that, unlike single-stage models, you can adjust the height of the machine's skid shoes. This can get the scraper bar low enough, even at surface level, to scoop off as much snow as possible.
Three-stage snow blowers add another element to the operation: Instead of moving collected snow into an impeller, these models add a halfway component called an "induction accelerator," which chops the snow up and then moves it into the impeller. These machines are designed to collect more snow than other models, potentially getting surfaces to a stage where the sun can melt what's left before it re-freezes, making the surface slick. Three-stage snow blowers only come in gas-powered models.
Consider how wide a path the snow blower clears with each pass. Typical clearing widths range from 18 to 22 inches, but some budget models may clear even less, and some more robust models may be able to clear 30 inches or more. Narrower clearing widths mean you may need to make more passes to clean the driveway or sidewalk. But they also have smaller footprints and can be stored in smaller spaces.
Manufacturers commonly warrant residential-use snow blowers for two years for single-stage machines, or three years for two-stage and three-stage machines. Most warranties are dramatically reduced if you use the snow blower for commercial purposes.
Increasingly, gasoline-powered snow blowers come with a one-button starter that avoids the need to pull the starter cord repeatedly. Generally, this is enabled by plugging the cord into a standard outlet, which supplies the power. Many of the gas-powered mowers on this list have this feature in addition to a choke, including both our best splurge pick, the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Snow Blower, as well as our best single-stage, gas pick, the Toro Power Clear Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower.
All electric snow blowers generally start by pressing a safety switch and depressing another lever that engages the augurs.
Many snow blowers, including self-propelled models, have variable-speed control. Typically, this control is found near the handgrips and operated with a thumb. Some speed controls are designated and separated by stops; others have a continuous control. Higher-end models also may have more than one speed for reverse.
This feature allows you to use one hand to control both the auger and the wheels, so your other hand can direct the discharge chute.
These provide added comfort so you can use the machine for longer periods. (You might be able to purchase them separately.)
How do I decide among a single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage snow blower?
Ultimately, your decision comes down to how much snowfall you typically need to clear. A single-stage snow blower may be sufficient if your area is prone to light snowfalls of 12 inches or less and your home faces a narrow sidewalk or lacks a driveway. Two-stage snow blowers also can handle snowfalls of a foot or less. Opt for one of those if you wish to purchase an electric model since three-stage snow blowers are only gas-powered. We recommend spending the money on such a product if you wish to scoop as much snow off surfaces as possible, since two-stage models have adjustable skid plate heights.
How wide a clearance width do you need on a snow blower?
That depends on the width of the surface to be cleared and how much time you wish to spend doing the chore. We recommend blade widths of 20 to 38 inches, which are typically found on two-stage snow blowers, if you have a fairly wide or long driveway or wide sidewalk.
Do you need to mix oil and gasoline in a snow blower engine?
All internal combustion engines, including those driving snow blowers, require lubrication to keep the engine from overheating. Whether you need to mix oil with gasoline depends on whether the engine is a two-cycle or four-cycle design. (The "cycles" refer to how many piston strokes, two or four, it takes to initiate engine operation: intake air and fuel, compress the air and fuel, initiate combustion, and exhaust the fumes.) Most older snow blowers have two-cycle engines, while most products manufactured within the last five years or so have four-cycle engines.
Generally, a two-cycle engine has just a single tank, requiring oil to be mixed with the gas in carefully prepared ratios, depending on the product's make and model. Four-cycle engines have separate tanks for gas oil and oil, so mixing the two isn't necessary.
In any case, it is important to add the correct weight of oil to your snow blower to make sure it can start in cold weather. Read the owner's manual for the recommended oil weight, such as SAE 5W-30.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Ira Lacher, based in an ordinarily snowy Des Moines, Iowa, conducted product research and pored over results from our real-world tested products. He also personally tested the EGO POWER+ Peak Power 56-volt 24-in Two-stage Self-propelled Brushless Cordless Electric, our best cordless electric choice. Jenica Currie, Associate Commerce Editor for The Spruce added additional testing insights and products. She also added insights from Cheryl Higley, Education and Content Director at SIMA Snow and Ice Management Association, an expert our team interviewed when researching products.