How to choose a snow blower

Snow blower
(Image credit: Alamy)

When the first inch of snow settles this winter, there’s no quicker way to clear your path than with the best snow blowers. One of the latest snow blowers will make it quicker and easier to shift snow rather than laboriously shoveling it aside with a spade. 

With the best design to hand, you’ll have a better chance of clearing tough, frozen build-ups of snow successfully, too. And when you’re inches deep in snow and swiftly clearing your drive with a powerful snow blower, you’ll thank yourself for staying one step ahead of Mother Nature for sure. 

So, if you’re keen to get kitted out before the weather takes a turn or just upgrade from an existing tired model, there’s a wide choice of high-tech snow blowers to buy online that will suit a range of budgets. From brands like Enhulk, Snow Joe, and Greenworks - you can find them at retailers like Walmart and Amazon.  

The best snow blowers have been designed with comfort and convenience in mind to accommodate varying snow-clearing types, widths, and depths. There are corded or cordless designs and electric or gas (petrol) models to consider. Self-propelled models for smooth control, heated handgrips to keep your mitts toasty, and airless tires that won’t go flat are also useful design features you can look out for. 

With so many factors to consider, it can be hard to know which snow blower to choose. To keep things simple as you shop online for the best design, however, we’ve highlighted the essential features to consider here - with expert advice from gardening and landscaping expert Fiona Jenkins. And once you’re set up with a fast and efficient snow blower, all you’ll need to worry about when snow falls is how big a snowman you’ll be able to build.    

How to choose a snow blower

1. Size up the space that needs to be cleared

The space that needs to be cleared will determine the size and type of snow blower you buy. Once you’ve measured this, you can assess the clearing width, controls, and snow height on the snow thrower you buy. ‘If you only have to clear snow from small areas around your home - such as the front path - then a small, electric snow blower should be sufficient,’ says Fiona Jenkins, gardening and landscaping expert at ‘If you have a long driveway or yard and are likely to get heavy snowfall, you’ll need a larger self-propelled electric machine or even a gas model that will work well to clear compacted snow.’  

Most snow blowers will have adjustable clearing widths, which will be stated in the description, so check if it suits the area you want to clear. The Litheli Snow Blower, for example, has an adjustable clearing depth of 6-12 inches that can handle varying snow levels and can have a driveway with space for up to eight cars in one go. 

‘The snow height of a snow blower is indicated in centimeters or inches and will tell you the maximum height of snow that the blower can cope with,’ says Fiona. ‘How far the snow blower ejects snow will be an important consideration, too, as you don’t want it blowing onto a part of your property that you’re going to have to clear again or onto a neighbor’s property. The snow throw distance is usually given in feet/meters.’  

Headshot: Fiona Jenkins at MyJobQuote
Fiona Jenkins

Fiona Jenkins is a UK-based landscaper with over twenty-five years of experience in the industry. As a gardening expert for MyJobQuote, one of the UK's top trades-matching sites, Fiona offers her expert advice to MyJobQuote's tradespeople and homeowners and has also been featured as a gardening expert for a range of reputable publications. 

2. Choose from gas or electric snow blowers

Similar in size to your standard lawnmower, most electric snow blowers are easy to push and store in your garage. But while electric snow blowers are easier to use and maintain than gas versions, they don’t always have the power to clear large spaces of stubborn snow. ‘Electric snow blowers tend to have an output of 1200 watts, which is sufficient to clear up to 30cm/11 inches of snow and will throw it to a distance of around six meters/19 ft,’ says Fiona. ‘They are generally lightweight and easy to maneuver.’

‘Gas snow blowers (with or without electric start features) are usually bigger and more powerful than their electric counterparts and designed to clear snow from larger areas and to a greater depth. Depending on your needs, gas snow blowers are available from 6hp up to 14hp with augers ranging from 50 to 100 centimeters. Most gas snow blowers are two-stage, which means that as well as the auger that pushes the snow into the machine, they have an impeller, which throws the snow out to a greater distance.’ 

3. Opt for corded or cordless electric designs

Electric snow blowers come in either corded or cordless options. While cordless models can give you more flexibility when moving around the yard, as there are no cables to contend with, you will need to remember to keep the battery charged up. Unless your snow blower is sold with two batteries, you will also need to factor in the cost of extra batteries to extend use when the primary battery runs out. The Voltask Cordless Snow Shovel comes with one battery that gives you up to 25 minutes of runtime on a full charge, for example.  

Snow blower

(Image credit: Alamy)

4. Consider single, two or three-stage snow blowers

You’ll find snow blowers in either single, two-stage, or three-stage options. ‘A single-stage snow blower uses the auger to both move the snow and eject it,’ explains Fiona. ‘The auger works like a drill in reverse and, in single-stage blowers, is the only part moving the snow. These work well on average snowfall up to 6 inches deep. 

‘Meanwhile, two-stage snow blowers use the auger to move the snow into the center of the machine and an impeller to throw it a greater distance than the auger could do alone. These work well with snow up to 12 inches. Three-stage designs work faster than two-stage models, are designed for snowfall up to 18 inches. Two and three-stage snow blowers are also more effective on steeper drives where the auger doesn’t scrape the ground.’ 

5. Look for convenient controls and design features

Self-propelled systems with variable speed controls for forward and reverse directions will make the snow blower easier to control and will make it easier to cut through heavy, wet snow. Some designs with power steering can turn the machine 180 degrees with ease. Other useful design features include electric start buttons (on gas models), heated hand grips, and automatic chute control that makes it easier to direct which way you blow the snow. Also, look for airless tires that won’t go flat. Foldable and height-adjustable handles will make the machine easier to use, while LED headlights are a nice touch when dusk falls.  

Snow blower

(Image credit: Alamy)

6.Stay safe

You’ll need to be suitably dressed when operating your snow blower – high heels and flip-flops are definitely a no-no. ‘Steel-capped boots will protect your feet as the augers are dangerous and the machines are heavy,’ says Fiona. ‘Ear defenders are necessary as even the snow blowers that claim to be quiet can be loud. Safety glasses will protect your eyes, while heavy-duty gloves will keep your hands warm and safe. If using an extension lead with an electric snow blower, keep it away from the front of the machine so that it doesn’t get accidentally severed.’  

7. Store correctly for longevity

You’ll need to drain gas snow blowers of their fuel before storing them. ‘If left in the tank, the petrol will oxidize and break down, forming a sludge in the tank, carburetor, and fuel lines,’ says Fiona. ‘This will make it difficult to start the snow blower the following winter.’ 

If you have salted the ground before use, your snow blower will most likely be covered with salt, so this will need to be cleaned to avoid corroding the metal. ‘Lubricate all parts that require it. Inspect the blower and replace any worn parts. While the machine is not in service, take the opportunity to change the oil if required. A cover will protect the snow blower from accumulating dirt and debris while it is being stored.’