Snow Blower Buying Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Snow Thrower
There's only one thing worse than getting 12 inches or more of heavy snow you weren't prepared for: worrying about how you're going to move it.
Don't risk your back again this winter. People aren't made to move snow, and that's why we have snow throwers to do the heavy lifting for us.
If you have ever wondered what the best snowblower for a large driveway is, or what size snowblower you need, this article should answer most of your questions. After all, the right snow blower makes a blizzard easy to tackle, and even a little fun, too. Plus, you'll be amazed at how much easier, faster, and safer they are than risking serious injury by using a shovel. There are five distinct styles of snow blowers to choose from:
Electric Snow Blowers
Electric snow blowers are capable of clearing light snow (less than 12 inches) from sidewalks and small driveways. These extremely lightweight machines are commonly used on decks and steps where larger gas-powered models simply don’t fit.
Keep in mind that, unlike gas-powered snowblowers, electric snowblowers are made from less-expensive materials, which means they won't hold up as well over time, and repairing them is often not worth the cost at their price points. They usually have plastic paddles that make contact with the ground, which means they will fling anything they come into contact with, including rocks and other hazards. Because of this, we advise people not to use a single-stage snowblower on gravel driveways due to safety.
Some of the benefits of electric snow blowers include lower price points and they are virtually maintenance-free, eliminating the need for oil changes or fill-ups. All you need is a cold-weather extension cord and an electrical outlet and you'll be clearing your driveway in seconds out of the box.
Battery-powered (cordless) snowblower technology is getting better every year, and offer all of the advantages of electric units while ditching the extension cord for maximum portability. Plus, some brands are designing their batteries to be interchangeable with other power equipment, so your snowblower battery can power your leaf blower or chainsaw, too. These units can be used virtually anywhere with a charged battery in hand.
Single-Stage Snow Blowers
In very basic terms, gas-powered single-stage snow blowers only throw the snow once with an auger that scoops up the snow and throws it out the chute. These gas-powered units are the lightest, smallest, and easiest to handle.
They have some basic features and accessories available and are great for suburban areas that get moderate snowfall. If you don't mind clearing your driveway multiple times during a snowstorm, this price point might be great for you.
Since the auger paddles actually make contact with the ground, you should not use a single-stage snow thrower on gravel surfaces, or you'll risk injury to others or damage to your driveway.
Though single-stage snowblower models vary across brands, most are typically 18-22 inches wide and meant to handle snowfalls up to 8-12 inches. The most limiting factor, however, is their height—not the width. If you’re frequently battling 12-inch snow drifts, a single-stage snowblower won't be powerful enough; you'll need a 2 or 3-stage instead.
Two-Stage Snow Blowers
Two-stage snow blowers, on the other hand, outperform both electric and single-stage throwers in every category. These powerful machines can handle upwards of 18+ inches of snow with ease, and their heavier, sturdier design helps you tackle deep and heavy snow without slowing down.
The distinct difference is that these blowers throw the snow twice. First, a metal auger scoops up the snow and ice. Then, a high-speed impeller throws it out through the discharge chute to keep the snow moving and prevent clogging the intake bucket.
The auger on a two-stage snow blower doesn't touch the ground, so they can be used on gravel and concrete. Plus, they feature taller buckets capable of tearing through the snowdrifts and pile-ups at the end of your driveway or mailbox.
If you need to clear large, deep expanses of snow, you’ll appreciate the wider and more powerful two-stage snowblower.
Three-Stage Snow Blowers
Three-stage snow blowers are the most powerful and efficient snow blowers on the market. First, two metal augers scoop up the snow and ice. Then they move it toward the center of the unit where an accelerator chops and pushes the snow through the impeller, launching it out of the chute at high speed.
These blowers have all of the features you need to make sure your time spent removing snow isn't just comfortable, but also easy. Some popular features of these models can include self-propelled wheels, heated grips, and single-press chute control.
If a snow plow leaves frozen, compacted walls of snow at the end of your driveway, this machine will plow through 20+ inches high heaps while launching it 50 feet away.