With winter in full swing for most people around the country, most of us are pulling out the old snow shovel that we labor over every year just to get to our cars. Some live in areas that get much more snow than others, so they may already have the luxury known as a snow blower! For those who don’t already own one, this is your one stop shop of information!
Table of Contents
- Where Do I Start?
- Snow Blower Stages Explained
- What Type of Power Source Should I Choose in a Snow Blower?
- What are the Most Important Features in the Best Snow Blower for Me?
- Are There Other Snow Blower Features to Consider?
- What is the Difference Between a Snow Blower vs a Snow Thrower?
- Where Should I Buy a Snow Blower?
- Some “Best Snow Blowers” to Consider
Choosing the right machine can be overwhelming, and there are a million different options when it comes to width, speed, brand, etc. It doesn’t have to be that difficult, so we summed up the main points in this guide that you can easily follow to make sure you get the best snow blower for you!
Where Do I Start?
Most hardware or farm supply stores will carry at least some kind of snow blower. For those who live in an area that gets only a little bit of snow throughout the winter, it may be harder to find a best snow blower, since it may not be a necessary item. Those of whom live in areas that get loads of snow each year, finding somewhere that carries snow blowers is going to be much easier.
Of course, you can spend anywhere from nothing to a house payment when buying a snow blower, so it is important to have a set budget of what you would like to spend. This budget may also need to be reevaluated when deciding what kind of snow blower you want. This could mean either a one, two, or three stage blower, what kind of power source it has, and a multitude of other features.
Snow Blower Stages Explained
Every snow blower has an auger built into it that throws the snow out and in the direction you want it to go, but this is the bare minimum on a snow blower. For a single stage snow blower, the only power throwing the snow out is the auger. This is the weakest option and often doesn’t throw snow very far, normally about twenty-five feet or so.
For those who do not get a ton of snow throughout the year, this will be the better option for you to consider. It also relies on pure strength to push or pull it through the snow, meaning the wheels are not powered by the engine.
Two-stage blowers have the addition of a fan as well as the auger. The fan helps to blow out more snow through the chute and in the direction you want. These models can plow through snow faster than a one-stage model, throw the snow about thirty-five feet, and it is a good middle ground when it comes to snow blowers. Most people will find that this is the best model for them.
For those who get a ton of snow each winter, considering a three-stage may be a good idea. In addition to the fan and auger, a three-stage model includes an accelerator, which basically allows you to collect even more snow and send it to the fan which helps blow it through the auger and out of the way. These machines are very powerful and the strongest workhorse of the three stages, blowing snow up to forty feet or more!
Unlike the one-stage, a two and three stage snow blower’s wheels are powered by the engine, which means you expend less energy running them! This can also be dangerous if your snow blower doesn’t have a kill switch, however, most modern models have at least some kind of feature to stop the engine or the auger in case of an emergency!
What Type of Power Source Should I Choose in a Snow Blower?
The use of electric powered machines is becoming increasingly common in today's society, and snow blowers are no exception. While a battery powered snow blower is going to use less energy to run, they tend to not run as well when compared to gas. If you get only a bit of snow that doesn't require a bunch of energy to plow through, an electric blower would probably be all you need.
Gas snow blowers are the more common of the two, and for a good reason. Although you will spend more to power it in the long run, it runs much better and with more power than an electric snow blower. If you get a bunch of snow or even an average amount, gas is going to be necessary to plow through the abundance of snow in your driveway.
What are the Most Important Features in the Best Snow Blower for Me?
Gas vs Electric:
Depending on your budget and preferences, gas or electric snow blowers can be tricky to choose between. A good overall tip to remember is that gas snow blowers will be more expensive, but will run better and work harder. Electric is going to be much less costly, however they do not run and clear snow as well.
The width of your snow blower will affect the length of time it takes you to clear whatever area you need to clear. For most people, this is only a driveway at most, so having a snow blower that doesn’t have a real wide clearing area, you will be okay.
For those who have to clear a bunch of area, such as a walkway, driveway, sidewalk, or if you have a snow blowing side hustle, a larger clearing width is the best bet, since it can clear snow much faster.
Each blower is going to throw snow a different distance compared to another. Most models depending on the stage will throw snow about the same distance. Depending on what you are trying to clear and how much leeway you have when it comes to blowing snow off that area will determine the throwing distance you need.
If you have only a small area to clear, and you don’t have a ton of space to pile snow in any direction, a snow blower that doesn’t have a real long throwing distance is going to be the safer bet. For those who have a larger area to clear and no worry of piling it on or next to anything, a larger throwing distance is great, since it will get all the snow well out of the way!
Depending on the capabilities and/or preferences of who is using the snow blower, you don’t want a machine that is going to work and move very fast. Knowing how fast your snow blower works and moves if the wheels are powered by the engine is essential for safety and efficiency. Again, if you have a large area to clear, and you can handle the blower being a bit faster, it will be better to have a faster snow blower.
Wheels vs Tracks:
Most snow blowers have wheels, and for most of us, this is going to be all we need. Wheels are easier to maneuver and do great on most surfaces. All one-stage snow blowers have wheels, and some two or three stage.
Tracks are great for those who have to clear hills or other areas where wheels may not get a ton of traction. Tracks are stronger and more powerful when it comes to this, however they can be a bit difficult to move around on a level surface. This option is only available on two and three-stage snow blowers.
Discharge Chute Controls:
When using your snow blower, it is really nice to be able to adjust the direction in which the snow gets blown out the chute. This can especially be handy if you have to pile all the snow in one area, since you don't have to constantly go in one direction.
At a bare minimum, getting a chute that can swivel in a full circle is going to be a great idea. Some chutes have other adjustments such as the amount of snow that gets blown out as well as the up and down directions to add distance.
Are There Other Snow Blower Features to Consider?
Snow blowers can have a multitude of features that can all be considered to make the job of clearing an area easier or more comfortable for you the user. There are so many different options, and most are not crucial to performance, but here are just a few of which you may want to consider when buying your snow blower.
Hand grip type:
The grip for your machine is going to be your main point of control, so it is important to be familiar with it, as well as getting the best grip for you. Some grips have a kill switch like a push mower that can be crucial for safety, but this grip can be uncomfortable. A hand grip can have a trigger that activates the auger.
For those who end up having to clear either later at night in the dark or early in the morning before work, it can be a pain working in the dark and trying to clear your driveway. A snow blower that has a headlight on it can easily fix this problem!
If you plan on using your snow blower quite a bit, or you know that you have to clear an area where you may run into issues such as gravel or big rocks, knowing the warranty on your snow blower is a good idea just for peace of mind.
A snow blower can be big and take up a lot of space that you may not have. Planning for where it will live when not in use is important in knowing the size of the snow blower you should look in to.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get away with making more noise. If you have neighbors close by that may hear the snow blower, it may be a courteous decision to get a snow blower that isn’t as loud. This also will depend on the fuel you use. In general, an electric snow blower is quieter than gas.
As previously mentioned, a snow blower can be either very cheap or very expensive, depending on your needs and wants. Decide how much you want to spend on a snow blower and go from there. Most decent machines will cost about $800-$1000 or even more in some cases.
What is the Difference Between a Snow Blower vs a Snow Thrower?
While the term can be used interchangeably, it is normally two different things. A snow thrower refers to a one-stage, weaker model of machine. These are going to be small and only good for small areas. They will only “throw” snow a short distance, compared to a blower that will blow it a much further distance.
A snow blower is the most common term but refers to a more powerful two or three stage machine. This is the best option for most people that get any kind of snow. It is also the most common of the two if you are using the technical terms.
Where Should I Buy a Snow Blower?
Directly from the dealer:
Buying directly from the dealer, such as Cub Cadet or Toro is a great option, if you have it. The dealerships often have the best selection of snow blowers and can answer more questions you may have compared to other stores. The issue is that you may not have a specific dealer-only store near you.
A home and garden or other store that has snow blowers are the best option for most of us. Buying a blower from one of these stores allow you to possibly support a smaller local business that might carry snow blowers, and you can also see and feel the snow blower to see if it is the best option for you.
Like most everything, Amazon has snow blowers that can be a good option if you don’t have anywhere else to buy a blower in person. The only issue is that it can be difficult to choose between the thousands of options, and some companies that sell on Amazon are cheap scams and sell machines that don’t hold up to what they should.
Other online stores:
Other online stores will all be similar to others, but some are obviously better than others in terms of prices, shipping, customer service, etc. This is another great way to support smaller shops and businesses!
Some “Best Snow Blowers” to Consider
1. Troy-Bilt Storm Two-Stage Snow Thrower
This snow blower is a great all-around option for anybody in need of a great machine! It runs off gas but includes an electric starter that simply uses an outlet to start, then you can unplug and go!
The chute is adjustable, and the handle has safety features to ensure you don’t get hurt while operating it. There are also adjustable speeds that allow you to clear a 24-inch path in no time at all! In terms of the criteria above, this snow blower meets most of them. While it is a bit pricey, it is definitely worth the cost for those who use their snow blower a lot throughout the year!
2. Greenworks 20-Inch Corded Snow Blower
For those who only need to clear a small area, or for those who don’t get that much snow, this little snow blower is a great budget option! With a price of only $119 and many features including an adjustable chute and a three-year warranty, it is hard to find a better corded snow blower.
Of course, with the cord you are limited to the length of your extension cord. If you have a large area to clear or an area that has no access to electricity, this is not a good choice for you. It is however sold in many places including online and Walmart! For small walkways or driveways, this is a great option that won’t break the bank, but it will get the job done!
3. Toro Power Max HD 828 Snow Blower
Looking for an absolute beast of a snow blower? This is the best one that we recommend! Although this snow blower does cost a good chunk of money, it is well worth it if you get loads of snow dumped on you every year.
With all the features of the Troy-Built Storm snow blower previously mentioned, as well as more power, a wider clearing area, bigger tires, a headlight, and easy steering and control, this machine cannot be beat!
Clearing a large area is no problem, and in some cases a smaller area such as a walkway could be cleared with as little as one pass! Being run on gas also allows it to plow through heavy wet snow with ease, meaning you will never get hung up or stuck! It also includes an electric start, meaning you don’t have to struggle with a pull start while you are outside freezing!
Which is better, a 2-stage or 3-stage snow blower?
For most people, a two stage snow blower is going to be perfect, however in terms of power and options, a three stage is the better bet.
What is the number one rated snow blower?
The two highest rated snow blowers are either the Toro brand, or the Troy-built Storm.
What is a good name brand for a snow blower?
Toro or Troy-Built are the most popular. Other brands include Cub Cadet and Ariens.
How wide should the blade be on a snow blower?
Depending on the area you have to clear, the blade should be wider for a larger area. A good middle ground is a blade about twenty to twenty-two inches.