The best snow blowers on the market can handle varying amounts of snow, from a light powder dusting to several feet of precipitation. But which is the right machine for you? You'll find all kinds of options out there, and it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff. That's where we come in.
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At the top of this page, you'll find descriptions of our five favorite snow blowers on the market. These highly rated machines all qualify for our top-contender list.
A snow blower’s clearing ability is measured by the efficiency and thoroughness with which it moves snow. Machines come in several forms: single-stage (a simple auger cuts snow and discharges it into a chute), two-stage (an additional impeller fan boosts snow removal), electric (better for lighter work), and gas-powered (better for heavier loads.) The best machines are the ones that get the job done with minimal user effort. The distance that a snow blower is able to throw snow is also critically important because the last thing you want is to have blown snow land so close you have to move it all over again!
Ergonomics and maneuverability is a snapshot of a machine’s ease of use, especially in cold and hazardous weather conditions. When it's cold outside and slippery underfoot, you want to know that moving your snow blower around isn't going to cause you problems. You're also going to be well wrapped up and wearing gloves, so you need controls that are easy to use.
Richard is a seasoned small business owner in the hardware industry. He also owns a pool maintenance business and serves as an advisor on groundskeeping committees for a number of prominent organizations. He’s a regionally renowned safe cracker/locksmith expert, and in his spare time, he renovates and repairs vaults, safes, appliances, and a number of other products.
Additional features to consider when purchasing a snow blower include durability over time, the “green” factor of eco-friendliness, and add-ons like heated handles, control panels, and halogen/LED lighting.
Snow blower prices run the gamut from $150 electric models to $5,000+ industrial models. Our review focuses on quality snow blowers that are suitable for the average home owner.
Single-stage electric models can handle light, dry snow. Two-stage gas models should be used for heavy, wet snow. Powerful three-stage snow blowers are best for hard-packed snow and ice.
The GreenWorks 26032 boasts a 20-inch clearing path with a maximum depth of 10 inches. Our research indicates that this smaller model can move an impressive 850 lbs of snow per minute. Throw distance reaches up to 25 feet - an important feature for those who need to clear snow far from their intended path. Greenworks owners are generally satisfied with the snow-clearing ability of this product, but potential buyers should note that this is a corded machine, and corded machines simply do not deliver the same amount of power as their gas-driven counterparts.
The Toro 38381 offers an 18-inch clearing path with a maximum depth of 12 inches. This model moves up to 750 pounds of snow per minute with a throw distance of 30 feet. As with other electric snow blower models, the Toro’s ability to clear snow varies with weather conditions, but we found the vast majority owners of this machine to be satisfied with its results.
If you suffer from a bad back, you should steer clear of the heavier, gas-powered models. While they move snow faster, they typically weigh over 200 pounds.
Unlike our first two electric models, the Poulan Pro PR270 is a gas-powered machine with an electric start. The Poulan delivers an impressive 27 inches of snow clearing width and 23 inches of snow depth, a clear cut above the GreenWorks and Toro in terms of snow-clearing efficiency. According to the manufacturer, it is intended mostly for users who live in regions with light to moderate snowfall. Although we don't have accurate figures for volume moved or distance thrown, the two-stage action is a considerable advantage over the electric models as far as this aspect of the ratings are concerned.
Husqvarna upholds its reputation as a quality manufacturer with the Husqvarna ST224. This machine carves out a 24-inch clearing at a depth of up to 23 inches and can throw snow up to an astonishing 65 feet. One impressed customer noted that the Husqvarna “goes through snow like a hot knife through butter.” Enough said.
The Ariens 921030 Deluxe Track Two-Stage Snow Thrower clears a 28-inch wide path at a maximum depth of 21 inches. Snow throwing distance reaches up to 50 feet and while Ariens doesn’t quote volume figures, we are unable to find any owners who are dissatisfied with it.
While power is clearly important for snow removal, good wheels are also a necessity. Some snow blowers come with powered wheels to make the job even easier.
At just 37 pounds, the GreenWorks 26032 is easy to maneuver and has a feel that’s similar to mid-sized lawn mower. The handle height adjustment feature adds extra comfort. Our biggest concern with this machine is its lack of powered drive to the wheels; in heavier snow, any extra required force would fall on the shoulders of the user. However, for lighter snowfalls, this machine is your best friend.
Just like the Greenworks Electric, the Toro Electric lacks powered drive to the wheels. To be fair, neither machine is really designed to be used in snow that's deep enough to make this a problem. At 25 pounds, the feather-light Toro is assisted by Power Curve technology that is designed to clear snow at a faster pace, thereby reducing the amount of physical energy required.
There are approximately 6000 snowblower injuries in the US each year, so always be vigilant when using the machine.
There's no doubt that two-stage snow blowers move snow faster and more efficiently than their single-stage counterparts, but there's a considerable weight difference as well. At 240 pounds, the Poulan Pro PR270 Snow Thrower is a substantial piece of equipment. Fortunately, ergonomically designed handles, large wheels, and an efficient drive system that offers six forward speeds, plus reverse, help overcome this.
At 240 pounds, the Husqvarna outweighs smaller machines like the Toro and Greenworks by a considerable amount. Its overall dimensions are greater, too. We give the Husqvarna a high rating for the superior conveniences it offers, including Hydrostatic powered drive to the 'go anywhere' track, giving excellent control through almost infinitely variable forward speed and reverse. There's no denying its size, but this is a fair trade-off for the machine’s level of snow clearing ability. There's also the option of power steering and owners report that, with practice, it becomes much easier to maneuver than might be expected.
Like the Husqvarna, the Ariens 921030 Deluxe is a hefty piece of equipment. At 275 pounds, it offers six forward speeds and two reverse speeds. A two-stage machine, the Ariens operates on tracks instead of wheels, giving it superior handling on difficult surfaces.
If you have a lighter-duty snowblower, don’t wait for the snow to stop to start removal. When about 6 inches have gathered, start up your machine.
As an electric machine, the GreenWorks 26032 creates zero emissions - a benefit to those who prefer an eco-friendly snow removal system. It offers an easy-start push button and a cord lock for safety. Most owners who have a lot of area to cover end up buying an extension to compensate for the short cord. One of this machine’s greatest advantages is its light weight; at 37 pounds, it’s a breeze to maneuver.
The Toro 38381 Electric offers the same zero-emissions benefit as the GreenWorks. It comes with a useful zip deflector to adjust snow throwing height and a handle that allows for easy direction change while the machine is in motion. Toro’s Power Curve system claims to clear more snow in a single pass and reduce clogging, and most of the owners we surveyed found it to be as good as advertised in this department. Like the GreenWorks, an extension cord is recommended for maximum efficiency.
If you run out of gas while snowblowing, wait at least 10 minutes before adding additional gas. The hot engine could burn you
A common complaint about gas-powered snow blowers is the tricky pull-start mechanism, but the Poulan Pro overcomes this with optional push-button electric starting. All major functions are easy to access via the control panel mounted between the bars. An adjustable skid plate is useful for handling various surfaces. Unfortunately, the Poulan Pro's 208 cc gas engine, while effective, is not CARB compliant and cannot be sold in California.
We absolutely love the Husqvarna’s 208cc LCT motor. It's a powerful, durable unit with a tremendous reputation; the only drawback is that it’s not CARB compliant and, like the Poulan Pro, cannot be sold in California. The Husqvarna offers a control panel, electric start option, comfy heated handles, and ultra-convenient LED headlight for early-morning and late-night jobs.
Like the Husqvarna, the Ariens 921030 Deluxe sports a reliable Briggs & Stratton engine, albeit a less powerful one with only a 254cc unit. Features include electric starting, a convenient control panel, and a powerful halogen headlight that enables users to clear snow day or night. For the price, we wish the engine had a little more get-up-and-go, especially considering that the Husqvarna offers a more powerful model for considerably less.
Before using your snowblower for the first snow of the season, make sure all parts are primed and ready to go.
At a cost of only $179, the GreenWorks is a popular, lightweight machine that easily gets the job done in milder weather. The construction isn't quite as solid as some of the bulkier, higher-priced models, but considering the low cost of this machine, we find it to be an adequate investment for those with minimal snow blowing needs.
For almost twice the cost of the GreenWorks, the Toro 38381 offers slightly more power than its lower-priced competitor. We rate this model as a “light to medium duty” machine. At $363, it’s a solid investment, but our research suggests that the advantages this model offers over the GreenWorks might not be worth the higher price tag.
After you use your snow blower, let it run for a couple of minutes to clear out the snow.
Moving up to gas-powered machines means moving up in price range. At $899, the powerful Poulan Pro is a considerable step up from the Toro and Greenworks machines. If there is a criticism from some owners, it's that this machine falls between two types: it's neither a cheap, light-duty snow blower nor an expensive, heavy-duty one. Rather, this is a middle-of-the-road model with middle-of-the-road quality.
At a price of $969, the Husqvarna ST224 reflects a huge price increase. You get what you pay for with this machine, however, and we give the Husqvarna top ratings for its powerful and durable motor, phenomenal snow clearing ability, and the special “extras” it offers - like the cozy hand warmers and the LED headlight. If you are expecting a harsh winter, this is the machine you want in your garage.
The $1422 Ariens 921030 is an impressive machine at an impressive price. One of this model’s greatest advantages is its go-anywhere tracks. Customers love the fact that this machine comes from the renowned Ariens company, but for a price tag this high some users question the adequacy of this machine’s power output in tougher weather conditions.
The Husqvarna ST224 can clear huge amounts of snow in conditions that would, quite literally, choke many competitors.