Clears fresh snow easily and effortlessly
Compact design is easy to move and store
Easy to assemble
Underperforms with compacted snow
Pulls on a downgrade
Only throws snow 10 feet
The last time it snowed, we swore we’d swap out our shovel for a snowblower. Of course, that was much easier said than done as we were soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there. When it comes down to it, there are a few key features any good snowblower should have: power, speed, and easy-to-operate design. To see if the affordable, single-stage Troy-Bilt Squall 208EX Snow Blower could check all of these boxes, we put it to the ultimate test—a New England winter. Keep reading to see how well it handled the region’s extreme elements.
Setup Process: Surprisingly easy
When a huge Troy-Bilt box arrived at our doorstep, we planned to spend a few hours putting our new snowblower together. When we opened the box, though, we were pleasantly surprised at how little setup was actually required.
The only thing that was detached from the snowblower was the chute, which had to be attached with two included screws, and the chute handle, which popped right onto the chute once it was secured in place. Though the parts were included, the box didn’t contain any type of wrench to properly attach the chute. Luckily, we had a 13-millimeter wrench socket on hand, but this is something you’ll want to ensure you have in your toolbox before your snowblower arrives.
The last thing we had to do was fill the snowblower with gas and oil—both of which are housed in their own tank. Because the snowblower has a 4-cycle engine start, it’s not necessary to mix the oil and gas, but you do need to make sure you have some to get it up and running. While the Troy-Bilt ships with a sample bag of oil, ours exploded in transit so we picked up the appropriate gas and 5W-30 oil after reading through Troy-Bilt’s gas and oil recommendations.
Design: Compact and high-contrast
You might not be considering the Troy-Bilt Squall 208EX for its looks, but its sleek design is certainly a positive. The body of the snowblower is black, while the safety key (which has to be inserted for the engine to start), knobs, and handle grip are bright red. The contrasting colors add to the Troy-Bilt’s attractiveness, but they also make it easy to find the key and knobs as snow flies around the machine.
Because of the lack of gears, the snowblower is quieter than most…and we found the vibration to be minimal.
Once you get past its looks, you’ll likely take notice of its key specs. The 208EX comes equipped with a 208cc Troy-Bilt electric start engine and a 21-inch clearing width that’s designed for optimal performance in up to 6 inches of snow. It also has a manual pitch E-Z Chute control that allows you to adjust the rotation up to 190-degree rotation and an adjustable, ergonomic handle that folds down for easy, compact storage. There’s a wide-fit mitten grip that threads through an eye hook that’s attached to one of the blower’s handles and dual LED headlights which provide additional visibility in low-light conditions—say like a snowstorm.
As a whole, the snowblower is incredibly lightweight. We’re talking just 95 pounds—so light, in fact, that we were initially concerned with whether or not it would have enough weight to tackle a New England snowstorm, but more on that below.
Performance: Almost an A
We tested the Troy-Bilt Snow Blower on a 50 x 10-foot driveway that was covered in roughly 6 inches of fresh snow. We also used it to clear out paths to our front door, deck, and backyard where our dogs run around. While the Troy-Bilt outperformed in several areas, it also fell flat in others.
Starting the snowblower was a cinch—and probably one of our absolute favorite things about the machine. To get it going, the manufacturer guides you to insert the key, open the choke (which is located just under where the handle attaches to the body), press the primer three times, and then yank the pull-start to get the blower revved up. We were surprised that after just two pulls, the engine was running and we were off.
You can plug the snowblower into an extension cord to take advantage of its electric start feature, but with how easy it was to get it started—even in 30-degree New England weather—we didn’t have to rely on the electric start at all. We did run it on electric power to clear the front walkway, just to test that its performance wouldn’t suffer, and we found it to be just as powerful as when the machine was running on gas.
The Troy-Bilt handled 6 inches of snow effortlessly. Clearing the entire driveway took 30 minutes, which put the Troy-Bilt Squall 208EX on par with bigger, more powerful machines we’ve used. You do have to stop and walk around the machine to manually adjust the chute every time you want to change direction, but this didn’t end up being as much of a time suck as we anticipated.
Keep in mind that 6 inches is the snow blower’s maximum snow capacity. While the machine worked out perfectly for this storm, we would have had to go out and clear the snow a few times had the storm been anticipated to drop more than that.
While we were impressed with the snow blower’s speed, there were times when it worked against us, pulling us down the slippery driveway when we were working on a downgrade. The rubber wheels did provide a little grip, but we had to offset the pull with our body weight a couple of times—a situation that can be dangerous on icy footing. While the snow blower’s single-stage design (AKA single speed) makes it more user-friendly, this also means you have to exercise more caution when operating it as you can’t change the speed to combat this pull.
Starting the snowblower was a cinch—and probably one of our absolute favorite things about the machine.
While the single-stage design has its drawbacks, there are also some definite positives. Because of the lack of gears, the snowblower is quieter than most (though you still couldn’t carry on a conversation without shouting) and we found the vibration to be minimal. The combination of the padded handle and the low vibration made operating the machine extremely comfortable and reduced fatigue in our arms.
Because the snowblower is so lightweight, it’s also easy to maneuver. At times when it got bogged down by snow—or when we were moving too fast for the machine to catch up—it was easy to pull it back, reset, and try again. The snowblower was also easy to turn when changing direction as we moved up and down the driveway.
The lightweight of the machine also makes the Troy-Bilt a convenient option for someone living in an apartment or a house without a garage. Because it’s not as heavy as other machines, you can carry down into a basement or into a shed to store it without much difficulty.
The manufacturer makes no promises about snow throwing distance, but we estimated that the Troy-Bilt was able to throw the snow about 7 to 10 feet. That falls significantly short of the 30- to 40-foot throw we’ve seen in bigger models, but it’s common for single-stage machines. While we would have liked to see it go a little further, this isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s just important to make sure you have the chute properly positioned so you’re not reburying the area you just cleared.
While the snow blower’s 9-inch, steel-reinforced rubber auger paddle handled fresh snow like a champ, it didn’t perform as well with compacted snow. After we cleared the majority of our driveway, we moved two vehicles out of the way to finish the job. The snowblower ran into two problems when trying to clear the snow that was compacted from the weight of the cars’ tires. Because the machine is so lightweight, it didn’t have the heft necessary to really get under the compacted snow. Instead, it wanted to glide right over the snow. The 208EX’s scraper bar is also lightweight and lacked the ability to scrape the snow off the driveway. There were some spots where compacted snow was left behind and we had to grab a shovel to manually complete the job.
After our daytime test, we took the snowblower to the backyard at night to test out the headlights and found that they cast just enough light to illuminate what’s in front of you without creating an excessive glare that can make it difficult to navigate a snowy area. The snowblower had no problem clearing snow from a stone path or a grassy (albeit frozen) yard, which was a nice surprise after failing to contend with compacted snow.
Clearing the entire driveway took 30 minutes, which put the Troy-Bilt Squall 208EX on par with bigger, more powerful machines we’ve used.
Price: As budget-friendly as it is compact
The Troy-Bilt 208EX will set you back about $550, which is a fair price for such a powerful machine. Although you can get more inexpensive options, they likely won’t have the same features and power that comes with the 208 cc engine of the Troy-Bilt.
Competition: Single- vs. two-stage models
Ariens Deluxe 28 Two-Stage Snow Blower (view on Amazon): If you need something with a little more power and the ability to handle severe snowstorms, the Ariens Deluxe 28 may be a better option. While it’ll cost you twice as much as the Troy-Bilt, it can also handle twice as much snow (or up to one foot). The snowblower also has a 28-inch clearing width, so it can clear large areas of snow in less time. Of course, the two-stage machine is sizable, so it lacks the compactness of the Troy-Bilt.
Cub Cadet 2X 26-Inch HP Snow Blower (view on Amazon): The Cub Cadet is another heavy-duty option that combines power and ease of use. It’s equipped with a 243cc engine (compared to Troy-Bilt’s 208cc engine) that’s ideal for snowfalls of up to one foot. While it can throw snow up to 40 feet (almost four times as far), it doesn’t fold for easy storage and it’ll run you $1,000 so if you don’t get a ton of snow, you’ll likely want to stick with a smaller single-stage unit.
EGO Power+ Snow Blower with Peak Power (view on Amazon): If you’re looking for a model that completely eschews gas power, check out the EGO Power+. It runs on battery power and has the same 21-inch clearing width of the Troy-Bilt. While you may have to sacrifice some power, it’s designed for high-efficiency, can fold for compact storage, and is more on par with the Troy-Bilt price-wise.
- Product Name Squall 208EX Snow Blower
- Product Brand Troy-Bilt
- Price $549.99
- Weight 95 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 30 x 23.4 x 21.25 in.
- Auger Diameter 9 in.
- Clearing Width 21 in.
- Fuel Tank Capacity 2 qt.
- Engine Displacement 208cc
- Warranty 2-year limited
- What's included Snow thrower, two safety keys, chute assembly, chute rotation control assembly, one 20-oz. bottle of 5W-30 oil, product registration card, one eye bolt, snow thrower operator’s manual, engine operator’s manual, parts/warranty document, hande knob.