Snowfall varies dramatically in different areas even within the same city. If you live in an area that gets vast amounts of snow and you only have a shovel, there’s a good chance you're online researching real estate prices in Hawaii by midwinter. Shoveling snow in high snowfall areas gets old fast. If you've ever used a snow blower, you can appreciate that these contraptions aren’t simply an inspired invention, they’re almost a necessity in certain areas of the country.
Snow blowers also vary in terms of feature packages. For example, one difference is single-stage versus two-stage snow blowers. This refers to the auger, which is the corkscrew-shape paddle that pushes snow into the blower. Single-stage blowers only use one auger, while dual-stage blowers have an auger and an impeller that breaks up large chunks of snow and ice. This allows the blower to push snow out of the chute smoothly. Single-stage blowers are best for snowfalls under 4 inches, and their dual counterparts are better for heavy jobs. It’s important to be aware of the types of snow blowers that work best for your specific area, and this buyer’s guide will help you determine that.
Gas vs. Electric Snow Blowers
Finding the right snow blower isn't completely straightforward. Gas snow blowers vary in size and functionality, and you’ll want to find the best one to help you clear snow in your specific area. Electric Snow Blowers are best for light weather conditions, clearing flat or paved areas near an outlet. Gas-powered snow blowers tend to work better if you need to handle heavy snowfall, rough terrain or large areas.
Gas snow throwers require more maintenance. They are loud and spew out fumes and exhaust into the air, but they're tougher than electric models and come in a variety of sizes. The larger the snow blower, the more power it produces. Electric snow blowers are more far more compact, weighing just over 30 pounds on average, in contrast to gas snow blowers whose weight averages well over 100 pounds. Electric snow blowers are better for the environment; they're also quieter and easier to maintain and store.
The most powerful gas snow blowers can plow through a couple feet of snow with a throwing distance of 40 feet or more. The best electric snow blowers, in contrast, clear optimal snow depths of 10 inches and throw snow up to a maximum distance of 30 feet. While electric snow blowers don’t have the same power, for certain areas they are more than sufficient and can be the preferable choice for some people.
Electric snow blowers are easy to start and operate and are safe for the environment. The electric snow blowers that plug into a wall, however, are limited in their mobility when compared with their gas counterparts. All electric snow blowers are single-stage so they won’t plow through huge piles of snow, but they are well-suited for flat areas with moderate snowfall and specialized areas like decks and patios. For more information about snow blowers and other products for your home, look for our articles about snow blowers.
Best for Hilly Areas With Lots of Snow
The Husqvarna ST227P, Troy-Bilt Storm 2625 and Craftsman Quiet use advanced two-stage technology and clearing widths that are both high and wide to quickly clear a path in a field of deep snow. These snow blowers also have the power to climb up hills and traverse uneven terrain. A couple inches of snow in the valley can result in over a foot of snow on the benches and even more at the mouth of a canyon. If you live in one of these areas with high snow volume, these snow blowers will provide the defense you need to combat the massive snowfall you’re likely to face during the winter months.
Clearing snow in the morning is tough, and waking your family with a deafening snow blower makes it worse. The Craftsman Quiet is a two-stage snow blower that packs serious power without the noise. This is a great snow blower to consider if you live in a quiet neighborhood and need to clear heavy snow frequently. The blower’s power and wide clearing width get you out of the cold fast by letting you clear snow quickly. The Craftsman Quiet has a clearing width of 26 inches, and the tires are 15 inches tall and 5 inches wide. Their deep tread grips the snow without scuffing your patio or driveway.
To combat monster blizzards, you need an equally fierce snow blower to clear driveways and common walkways. If winter brings at least a foot of snow to your doorstep, a tough two-stage snow blower like the Husqvarna ST227P is a valuable tool to have. This gas snow blower has a generous clearing width of 27 inches, which will help you make quick work of a huge driveway. This two-stage snow blower has a 12-inch steel auger that collects loose and hard-packed snow, channels it into the impeller and then pushes it through the steel chute. The snow blower intake, the plow-shaped piece that houses the auger, is 23 inches high and can take in snow piled up to 2 feet high. The 15-inch tires allow you to maneuver through snow smoothly without scuffing your driveway or patio.
The Troy-Bilt Storm 2625 Snow Thrower has plenty of power to remove a lot of snow in a short time. This snow blower has a clearing width of over 2 feet, which is wide enough to clear a driveway in a couple passes. The Troy-Bilt can handle deep snowdrifts and slippery surfaces. The intake is 21 inches high, enough to shovel almost 2 feet of snow into the auger and impeller. The 15-inch tires give you a boost over the snow and keep the snow blower grounded when covering slippery turns. The four-cycle engine in this snow blower is huge, with a displacement of 243 cubic centimeters.
Best for Flat Terrain
While most snow blowers can clear snow on a variety of terrain, some like the Power Smart DB765124 and the Snow Joe SJ623E are best-suited for flat areas. The Power Smart has a wide clearing width of 2 feet and is a powerful two-stage snow blower that can plow through up to a foot of snow. The Power Smart has 13-inch tires, which are great for flat surfaces but may lack the extra traction you need for serious inclines. The Snow Joe model is an electric snow blower that, in contrast to the Power Smart, lacks a self-propelled drive system. For gas blowers this feature is almost essential since they are much heavier than electric models. The Snow Joe’s light weight it easy to push over most terrain. These snow blowers are great machines for clearing snow in flat areas with moderate snowfall.
The Snow Joe SJ623E is one of the best electric snow blowers available due to its power, maneuverability and reliability. The Snow Joe is optimal for snowfalls of up to 10 inches and handles light, fluffy snow as well as moderately wet snow with ease. You need to plug this snow thrower into a wall socket though. Snow Joe recommends you use a 100-foot cold-rated extension cord. A benefit of using an electric snow blower is that it weighs much less than a gas-powered blower. The Snow Joe weighs just under 34 pounds, which is about the weight of 4 gallons of water. Electric snow throwers are much lighter than gas-powered ones and are easier to turn and push.
The Power Smart DB765124 is a good snow blower for when large snow blowers are too much for your needs but the clearing area is too large for a simple snow shovel. This model is light, weighing only 160 pounds, with small tires measuring 13 inches high. This gas snow blower is best for simple snow-clearing jobs in flat, paved areas such as your driveway, sidewalks or parking lots. The Power Smart clears a path 24 inches wide, while the plow-shaped intake stands 20 inches tall. This makes the Power Smart effective for clearing 6 to 12 inches of snow.
Best for Patios and Decks
Electric snow blowers tend to be the best tools for clearing snow off decks and patios. The Greenworks 2600502, Toro 1800 and WORX Pathfinder are some of the best snow blowers for these areas that are more susceptible to being damaged. The auger and paddle in electric snow blowers are made of materials that are gentler to specialized areas like decks and patios and aren’t as likely to scuff or damage these surfaces. They have enough size and power to clear up to about a foot of snow. Another plus for electric snow blowers is these areas are closer to wall outlets than most outside space, so if you are relying on cord power there won’t be a problem with running out of cord.
The Toro 1800 Power Curve may not be the most powerful snow blower on the market, but it is easy to use and handle. When it comes to removing snow, you need a device that can pick up any type of snow and clear your walkways. Weighing in at 25 pounds, this device is lightweight. Toro recommends using a 100-foot extension cable for powering this single-stage snow blower. Depending on where you can plug it in, this may be limiting if you have a long driveway or sidewalk. However, for homes with shorter driveways or small paved spaces, it will prove an ideal length.
If you're looking for alternatives to gas-powered snow blowers, the Greenworks 2600502 is a great option. While electric gas blowers are less powerful than the average gas snow thrower, this blower plows through a level of snow comparable to single-stage gas blowers. This, combined with a low price tag, makes it a popular choice among eco-minded homeowners on a budget. As you would expect from an electric single-stage snow blower, it is lightweight. At only 35 pounds, the device is easy to maneuver and guide through paved areas. It’s also great for decks, patios and other areas close to the house.
The WORX Pathfinder electric snow blower allows you to spend less time removing snow with its wide clearing path and strong 13-amp motor, and more time enjoying the winter season. The WORX makes quick work of snowfall with a clearing range of 18 inches at an intake depth of 10 inches. This snow blower can discharge snow a distance of 30 feet, which is an amazing feat considering its compact size. It works well on flat driveways, decks and patios in areas that receive moderate snowfall.
Best Compact Machines
The Ariens Compact 920021 and the Ryobi RY40811 are very different machines. The Ryobi is an electric snow blower that looks compact, while the Ariens is a gas blower with bulk. The Ariens snow blower has features like 15-inch tires, electric start and 2-foot clearing width. The Ariens packs a punch and will clear as much as 2 feet of snow over all types of terrain. Yet when it comes time to store it away, it fits into relatively compact space with handles that fold in and a lower-than-average weight for a big machine. While the Ryobi is a much smaller and lighter snow blower, it has an impressive clearing width for an electric thrower. Like other electric blowers the Ryobi works best over flat terrain, decks and patios, but it has the advantage of battery power, so it’s not confined to the space you can reach with a cord.
The Ariens Compact 920021 snow blower has a clearing width of 24 inches, meaning it can clear a path 2 feet wide, which is great coverage, especially for a relatively compact snow blower. This will make less work for you and will let you quickly clear snow from your driveway and sidewalk. This snow blower holds half a gallon of gasoline and distributes 208 cubic centimeters through the engine. In addition, the engine produces 9.5 foot-pounds of torque, giving it enough power to throw a lot of snow at once.
The Ryobi RY40811 sets you free from the leash of an extension cord with two 40-volt lithium-ion batteries that power this electric snow thrower for up to 40 minutes. You aren’t limited by the length of a cord and could even venture out and help a neighbor clear snow. The best electric snow blowers can clear a wide path in a single pass, and the Ryobi RY40811 has an above-average width of 20 inches, letting you clear a lot of snow quickly. This blower is best used with fresh snowfall that's up to 10 inches deep, and it can throw snow up to 25 feet away.
There are three main things to consider when looking for a gas snow blower: annual snowfall, terrain and the size of your yard or business. If you have a small area that collects less than 4 inches of snow, we recommend looking for an electric snow blower.
For more than 4 inches of snow, plow piles and tough terrain, we recommend a medium to large gas snow blower. Large blower augers clear up to 2 feet of snow. Moving all that snow creates big plow pikes, too. The self-propelled machines can help you power through the piles at the end of your driveway.
Many of the models we highlight have multiple speeds to clear through different depths and types of snow. Headlights and safety features are important to consider since most plowing happens during the dark of the morning.
How the Power Is Generated
Whether in lawn mowers, chainsaws or snow throwers, gas power packs a punch. In many models, one of the main advantages is the power transfers to the wheels. This makes maneuvering and pushing through snowdrifts easy. The best snow blowers have skid shoes that raise the auger and avoid small rocks and particles.
On average, the clearing width for dual-stage snow blowers is between 24 and 26 inches, so you can expect to clear a path of around 2 feet, on average. We also include gas blowers that clear even more and are good for clearing parking lots and full streets.
Something else to consider with most gas-powered tools is engine displacement. Measured in cubic centimeters, this stat measures the volume of gas taken in by each piston. As gasoline pumps into the engine, the pistons push ignited gas through the machine. The more cubic centimeters of gasoline pumped through the snow blower, the more power the snow thrower produces.
Maximum Control Over Varied Terrain
Whether you have a short, straight driveway to manage; an entire parking lot; or a winding path to clear, it's crucial to keep control of the snow blower. Typically, dual-stage blowers have multiple speeds. Changing speeds is most important for hilly terrain or uneven amounts of snow in your path. Most snow blowers have about six different forward speeds and two reverse speeds.
Safety & Maintenance
Waking up to fresh snow is a soothing sight, unless you have to clear all of it. Mornings are dark in the winter, so you need extra safety features to boost visibility. Headlights are a valuable feature, especially if you live in a rural area without many streetlights.
If you have to clear gravel or areas with loose rocks, adjustable skid shoes add height to the snow blower to clear small objects. This helps you avoid jamming the machine or expelling rocks and hard debris out of the snow blower. In case of a jam or problem with the snow blower, use the safety override features to shut the machine down completely.
Two-stage gas snow blowers require more care than electric models. You should plan for annual maintenance before winter. For example, you can add stabilizer to the gasoline to stretch fuel use and avoid engine corrosion. Always empty the tank before storing for the off-season. Additionally, check the spark plugs and tires every year before the first snowfall.
Warranty & Support
Gas powered snow throwers are a serious investment and often cost twice that of electric models. This means you want to purchase a snow blower from a helpful, responsive company that answers questions and provides plenty of information before you purchase.
The best snow blowers come with support lines in several forms. Most often, you can find a downloadable PDF of the user manual online through a third-party retailer or directly from the manufacturer. Additionally, look for companies that provide assistance over the phone, live chat or email. Because snow throwers are so expensive, you want to look for a model with a long warranty of around two to five years so you can use it for several winters.
Whether you live in an area that gets several feet or a few inches of snowfall a year, gas snow blowers are a good tool to have. They will save your back and make quick work of snow removal so you can save your time and energy for more worthwhile winter activities with your family. Our buying guide can help you find a snow blower that works best for your specific needs.
Contributing Reviewer: Noel Case