Updated December 2022
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Buying guide for Best snow blowers

A snow blower is an indispensable piece of equipment when you’re stuck at the end of a long driveway during a tough winter. You can save time, and your back, with a snow blower that works with your terrain and average snowfall.

However, there are so many different types of snow blowers on the market, it can be hard to know where to begin. How do you find the snow blower that has the right combination of design and power to keep your driveway clear during the winter? There are a few key aspects you'll want to consider.

Always snowblow with the wind rather than against it, so you don’t undo all your hard work should it blow the snow back into your cleaned out area.

Types of snow blowers

To determine the type of snow blower that’s best for you, consider the size of the area to be cleared, the terrain (hills, angled driveway, length and width of the driveway), and the amount of snow you typically get each year.

Single-stage electric snow blowers

Single-stage electric snow blowers use a plastic auger to pull snow in and throw it out a discharge chute. This type of snow blower is easy to use, lightweight, and quiet. They work best in small areas like decks and small paved driveways. The auger will throw rocks, so keep pets and children at a safe distance. The swath is usually less than 20 inches and most can only handle eight inches of snow or less. An electric motor does not require the same maintenance as a gas engine, and you don’t need to refuel. However, these snow blowers have to be plugged in while in use, which limits range and decreases maneuverability. You also have to be careful not to run over the cord. They don’t have the power for steep hills.  

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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.
Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Battery-powered snow blowers

Battery-powered snow blowers function much like single-stage electric models, except they don’t have a power cord.

They are light, easy to handle, and about the size of push lawn mowers, so storage isn’t usually an issue.

Keep in mind that these models are not self-propelled and cannot handle more than four inches of snow. This makes them practical for decks and a short section of sidewalk or driveway.

Single-stage gas snow blowers

Single-stage gas snow blowers are larger than electric models, with a swath of 20 to 22 inches.

These snow blowers are intended for nine inches of snow or less and work best on sidewalks, decks, and small paved driveways. They are relatively light, and some models offer electric starting.

They don’t work well on slopes because their augers are not powerful enough to handle the incline, causing them to pull sideways. Nor do they work well on gravel as the auger will throw gravel.

For those who have mid-sized, paved, level driveways and walkways, single-stage gas snow blowers work well.

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For your safety
Be sure you have a clearing tool to keep the discharge chute clear of debris or hardened snow. Do not start clearing the chute until the snow blower has been turned off.

Two-stage gas snow blowers

Two-stage gas snow blowers are larger and heavier, with a 24- to 30-inch swath. The auger pulls the snow in like a single-stage model, but it is aided by an impeller to move snow out of the discharge chute. This gives two-stage blowers the ability to handle up to 16 inches of snow.

Their wheels are driven by the engine, which means they can handle slopes. Gravel driveways are no problem for two-stage gas snow blowers because they have skid shoes that keep the auger from touching the ground.

These snow blowers are heavy and large, requiring more of financial investment and significant storage space.

Three-stage gas snow blowers

Three-stage gas snow blowers are the heavy hitters of the snow blower world and can handle up to 18 inches of wet, heavy snow.

They use an auger and impeller, but the impeller also has an accelerator to move more snow through the blower.

With a swath of 30 inches or more, they can handle large driveways, hills, and gravel.

They’re the most expensive snow blowers on the market, as well as being the largest and heaviest. But if you live in an area with heavy snow throughout the winter, they can be worth the investment.

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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.

What to look for when buying a snow blower

Electric start

An electric start on a gas-powered snow blower is much easier than using a pull cord. You simply plug in the snow blower long enough for it to start, then move freely over your property.

Dead-man control

Dead-man control is an absolute must. This feature stops the auger and impeller whenever the handlebar is released. Don’t even consider a snow blower without this feature.

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There are approximately 6,000 snow blower injuries in the U.S. each year, so always be vigilant when using your machine.

Heated handles

This is mostly a luxury feature, but if you spend a lot of time clearing high volumes of snow, it can be worth the added cost.

Discharge chute handle

The discharge chute controls the direction in which the snow is blown. On single-stage models, a long handle makes it easy to change the direction of the chute while still running the machine. It cuts down on time and adds convenience.

Speed options and control

Two- and three-stage snow blowers often have four to six speeds. Some have one or more reverse speeds as well. Speed control lets you adjust the speed of the drive wheels, which can prevent the snow blower from becoming clogged with wet, heavy snow.  


A headlight might not seem like an important feature, but in the winter when it gets dark early in the evening, a headlight lets you clear snow after the sun has gone down.

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For your safety
If you run out of gas while snowblowing, wait at least 10 minutes before adding additional gas. The hot engine could burn you

Turning capabilities

Easy turning is most important for larger two- and three-stage machines.

Some snow blowers have extra controls on the handlebars that slow one wheel in the direction you want to turn. This helps the snow blower make sharper turns, even in heavy snow.

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While power is important for snow removal, good wheels are also a necessity. Some snow blowers come with powered wheels to make the job even easier.

Discharge chute control

On some two- and three-stage snow blowers, a joystick chute control near the handlebar lets you adjust the chute direction vertically and horizontally.

Some newer models have crank chute controls that are even easier to use, especially with gloves on.

Make sure the location of the joystick or crank is easy to reach from the handlebars.

How much does a snow blower cost?


At $150 to $300, you’ll find electric and battery-powered snow blowers that can be used on six inches of snow or less, some on as little as four.

If you get more snow than that, you’ll have to make several passes to clear the area.

These snow blowers work best for small areas that are level and paved.

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After you use your snow blower, let it run for a couple of minutes to clear out the snow.


In the $300 to $800 range are single-stage gas snow blowers, as well as a few two-stage models.

These snow blowers work well on level, mid-sized driveways, with some of the two-stage snow blowers performing well on slopes, gravel, and at snow depths of 16 to 18 inches.


From $800 to $1,500, you’ll find powerful two-stage snow blowers and some smaller three-stage models. Chute controls, headlights, and other extra features are more common in this price range. These snow blowers can handle slopes, gravel, and heavy snow.


At $1,500 and up are the larger two-stage machines with a lot of extra features like heated handles, wide swaths, and chute controls. You’ll also find the largest three-stage snow blowers that power through high volumes of wet, heavy snow.

If you suffer from a bad back, you should steer clear of heavier, gas-powered models. While they move snow faster, they typically weigh over 200 pounds.


Q. Is it safe to use a snow blower when there is a risk of hitting rocks? What type should I use if I live on rocky ground?

A. You should always clear debris out of the way before snow falls on the area you might potentially clear. However, there are some safety precautions already in place on most snow blowers. If you have a gravel driveway or live on rocky ground, you’ll want to get a two-stage model because they have skid shoes. Skid shoes can be adjusted to different heights to keep the auger from touching the ground. For safety reasons, shear pins or bolts hold the auger to the drive shaft. They are designed to break and stop the auger if the auger hits an object that is too hard like a rock.

Q. I only get about five inches of snow a few times during the winter, but I am no longer at an age where I can shovel my porch and driveway. What kind of snow blower should I get?

A. Your best bet is either an electric single-stage snow blower or a battery-powered snow blower. Both are lightweight and easy to maneuver and maintain. As long as the surface area you want to clear is level, either would be a good choice.

Q. Do I need to do anything before storing my snow blower for the summer?

A. Your biggest concern is removing fuel from the tank. You two options. The first, and best, option is to run all the fuel out of the tank so that it won’t thicken or leave deposits while not in use. The second option is to add a fuel stabilizer to any fuel remaining in the machine. This will minimize deposits and thickening.

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