The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Snow Blower


Have you found yourself staring enviously at your neighbor’s snow blower? If you’re anything like us, each winter you shovel your driveway through a couple snows and start dreaming of a machine to do the heavy lifting.

But what kind should you get? There are a bunch of types from a variety of brands and it’s hard to tell which is designed for what purpose, and which is going to work best for you.

That’s why we’ve done the research to give you this guide to snow blowers. At the end of this article you’ll know exactly what you need, which blowers offer it, and before you know it, you’ll cut your driveway clearing time to nearly a quarter of what it used to take.

What Are the Different Types of Snow Blowers?

Let’s start from the top. There are basically three different types of snow blowers: single stage, 2 stage, and 3 stage blowers. Here’s what that means.

Single Stage Snow Blowers

These are the smallest types of machines. They use an auger to feed the snow into the chute to be thrown. Since the auger is responsible for both feeding the chute and providing the discharge, these machines can only handle lightweight snow removal.

Single stage blowers also aren’t designed to break up snow, so they don’t work very well with heavy snow types.

When Are Single Stage Snow Blowers Best?

As a rule of thumb these are great for up to 8” of powder snow, slightly less for that dense heavy stuff. Their primary benefit is their price point. These are usually much cheaper than the 2 and 3 stage alternatives.

2 Stage Snow Blowers

These are your more heavy-duty machines. The first stage is the (often serrated) auger up front that’s responsible for breaking up the snow and feeding next stage. The second stage uses an impeller to drive the snow out the chute.

When Are 2 Stage Blowers Best?

Because the job of removing the snow is broken up between two parts, each individual stage can handle more snow. There are different sizes of 2 stage blowers, but generally they are designed to handle a depth of 12-15 inches of snow. They are also much better at handling heavy and packed snow as opposed to loose and freshly fallen snow.

The biggest drawback to a 2 stage is that they are less maneuverable and more expensive than their single stage alternatives. But it you live any place where snow can be over 8 inches deep more than once a year, it’s worth the investment.

3 Stage Snow Blowers

3 Stage are your heaviest duty snow blowers. The process is broken down to one auger that’s responsible for breaking up the snow, a second responsible for feeding that snow to the chute, and the third stage is responsible for discharge.

When Are 3 Stage Blowers Best?

These are the most powerful snow blower options. Even your heaviest and most densely packed snow can be cleared in a single pass with 3 stage blowers. Because of their price they are best for people with large driveways and a consistent threat of deep snow during winter. In general, these are designed for moving depths of 18 inches of heavy/wet snow.

However, these are very heavy and very expensive machines.

Popular Snow Blower Features to Choose From

As with most things, there are a variety of features available in snow blowers of every type. Here are the more popular and common options.

Electric Starter

An electric starter means that instead of pulling on a cord to try and get your snow blower running, you simply plug it in with an extension cord and press the starter button. This is an option that you’ll encounter more on 2 and 3 stage blowers.

Power Steering

For most 2 stage and 3 stage blowers, this is practically necessary. Power steering allows the outer tire to move faster than the interior and uses part of the engine to assist so you’re not trying to force the machine yourself. Usually there are triggers on the handlebars to engage the assist.

Chute Controls

While using your machine, you’ll need to make adjustments multiple times to where you are throwing your snow. On most single stage blowers, this is a matter of having a long handle attached to the chute so it can be operated from the driving position. But you’ll still have to disengage the augers.

On your 2 and 3 stage options, you can often find a chute control stick that is included on the console that allows you to swivel the chute to the side, as well as control the angle at the top.

Variable Speed

Your single stage blowers have a single speed. But most 2 and 3 stage blowers have variable speeds to help control your snow thrower and keep it from getting bogged down in deep snow cover.

Just as important as having tortoise and rabbit speed options is reverse speed. Trust us when we say you do not want to try and drag your snow blower backwards without drive assistance. Especially if your driveway has any sort of grade to it. Best to let the machine do the work for you.

Wheels vs. Tracks

The majority of snow blowers have wheels. All single stage blowers are wheel-based since the operator is needed to push. And most 2 and 3 stage options have wheels as well. But there are a few that have tracks. (That’s right – like a tank!)

The upshot here is they have incredible traction. So if you have a particularly steep driveway, tracks could be the way to go. On the downside, they are much harder to turn so they often come with power steering to help.

Gas vs. Electric

For your single stage blowers, you have the choice between gas-powered, battery powered, or plugged-in options. The gas-powered models are going to be more expensive, but more powerful. While your electric options are going to be much cheaper, but are really only suited for loose snow removal on your patio or your sidewalk.

Additional Features to Mention

There are a few other features that are worth mentioning, but aren’t strictly necessary unless you prefer them.

  • Heated hand grips
  • Headlights
  • A clearing stick

 

What Are the Most Reliable Snow Blower Brands and Models?

 

Husqvarna ST 224P

Husqvarna has always been a brand of sturdy and long-lasting products (not just snow blowers). Part of what makes their machines so great is that their engines come with a 5-year warranty. Plus they’re built with incredibly sturdy materials that won’t mind a bit of hard usage.

The Best Snow Blower for Gravel Driveways

One of the most popular blowers from this brand is the ST 224P. The reasonable price of this machine plus its adjustable skid shoes means it can handle clearing your gravel driveway without scraping up any gravel, which helps save your driveway (and your snow blower).

This 2 stage gas-powered blower includes:

  • 24-inch wide clearing deck
  • Power steering
  • Electric starter
  • Adjustable height handles
  • Adjustable skid shoes
  • Headlights
  • Heated hand grips
  • Heavy duty tire treads
  • Chute controls from the console
  • A clearing stick
  • Loop handles for grip
  • Variable speeds including reverse

 

Husqvarna ST 327T

Again with Husqvarna’s incredible reliability, the ST 327T is our top pick for anyone with a steep driveway to contend with.

Best Snow Blower for Steep Driveways

With a deck designed to clear up to 24” of snow and a deck width of 27” this heavy duty snow blower can clear your driveway in no time. And with its burly treads, you can be confident you’ll make it down and back up your driveway in one piece. Other features of this snow thrower:

  • Electric starter
  • Power steering
  • Drift cutters
  • Variable speeds including reverse
  • Cast iron gearbox and impeller
  • LED headlights
  • Heated hand grips
  • Adjustable skid shoes
  • Chute controls on console
  • Clearing stick
  • Husqvarna 5-year engine warranty

 

Toro SnowMaster 724 ZXR

Toro is another brand that has built a reputation in the lawncare and grounds-keeping industry for making rugged and reliable machines.

The Best Snow Blower for Paved Driveways

The SnowMaster is a fantastic option for general driveway snow clearing. One of the more unique features of the SnowMaster is the “Personal Pace” drive system that keeps the wheels and blades moving at the optimal speed for whatever pace you’re walking, instead of the machine driving you.

With its price point it’s difficult to come up with a better snow blower for the average homeowner. It’s able to handle the majority of snows to remove, built to last, and easy to manage making the job go quicker. Which, if we’re honest, is the whole point of the snow blower – making quick work of snow. The other features include:

  • Deep tracks for traction
  • Tight turning radius without lever aids
  • Long handle chute control

 

Best Electric Snow Blower

As an honorable mention we thought it was worth adding that the Toro PowerCurve 1800 is our top recommendation for an electric snow blower.

If you need a tool for clearing your patios, decks, and pathways it’s tough to find another electric blower that has as much power, ease of maintenance, and clearing deck width. Other features of the PowerCurve:

  • Inverted funnel housing to eliminate clogs
  • Lift handle for easy transport
  • Easy chute adjust handle

Now go out there and conquer winter with less time and less stress on your body! You can check out our snow removal products here.