Deciding which snow blower to buy can be a daunting task. There are so many to pick from. How do you know which one is best?
You could spend hours and hours researching online, but who has time for that?
Relax. We've done the work for you.
In this review, you'll find easy to understand information about the different types of snow blowers and how they work. We'll talk about what to look for in a snow blower and how to decide which one is best for you.
We've picked what we think are the best snow blowers for the money in each category. And we decided to stick with the lower priced, budget friendly models.
If you're in a hurry, you can check out our picks in the table below. Or scroll down to read more details about each of them.
What does a snow blower do?
Simply put, a snow blower is a labor-saving machine that moves snow from one place to another.
It's much faster and much easier than using a shovel to clear snow from driveways, sidewalks, and decks. It saves you time, and it can prevent serious health problems like backaches and even heart attacks.
Snow blowers can vary in the features they have, but they all accomplish the same thing. Every snow blower has an auger that scoops up snow and then discharges it out of a chute to wherever you want it to go.
What are the different types of snow thrower?
Snow throwers can be either gas powered or electric. And both of those categories can be broken down a little further, as you'll see.
All electric models are single-stage. That just means that they pull in the snow and discharge it all in one motion.
Electric blowers are smaller, lighter, and easier to handle than gas powered blowers. And they're quieter, too. They're best for homes with short level driveways and in areas where typical snowfalls are 4 to 8 inches or less. They're also less expensive than gas blowers.
Gas powered snow blowers are heavier and generally more powerful than electric ones. They can be either single-stage or two-stage.
Two-stage means that they have an auger to pull in the snow and a separate impeller to discharge the snow out the chute.
Single-stage gas throwers are good for medium sized driveways and for areas that get no more than 8 inches of snow at a time. They're not as heavy as the two-stage blowers, and they don't take up much space in the garage.
Two-stage gas models are the largest and most expensive type of snow blowers. This is the type you want if you have a big driveway or if you're on a hill. It's also the best for gravel driveways because it won't pick up the loose material and throw it.
There are also heavy duty 3-stage snow blowers, but those are outside the scope of this review.
How does a single-stage gas snow blower work?
The auger of a single-stage snow blower is usually made of plastic or hard rubber. It acts like a paddle that pulls the snow into the machine and sends it out the chute, all at once. That's why it's called "single-stage."
This type of blower is not self-propelled, so you will have to push it. But because the auger touches the ground, it helps to move it forward. It's called an auger-assisted drive.
It runs on gasoline, and you start it with a pull cord, like a lawn mower. Most single-stage gas blowers have an optional electric start if you'd rather not have to pull the cord. Just push the button, and it starts up.
What are the pros and the cons of a single-stage gas snow thrower?
- lightweight, so easy to push and to pick up
- easy to maneuver
- works well on paved surfaces
- small engine, therefore fuel efficient
- small storage footprint
- good for small to mid-size driveways
- wider path and longer discharge range than electric blowers
- less expensive than 2-stage gas blowers
- not good on gravel
- not good on hills
- cannot handle snow more than 8 inches deep
- does not have drive wheels
- requires engine maintenance
Which is the best single-stage gas snow blower?
Toro Power Clear 518 Ze
Toro makes some of the world's best outdoor equipment, and the Power Clear 518 ZE is no exception.
This snow blower is ideal if you have a small to medium size paved driveway and if you don't get snowfalls deeper than about 8 inches.
It's small and easy to handle, but it's powerful for its size. You can cut a path 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep with this blower, so you'll be able to get the job done in short order.
The locking zip deflector makes it easy to adjust the direction and angle of the snow discharge. Plus you can lock it in place.
You can start it with the pull cord or use the electric start. The pull cord start is easy to use, and it's backed by Toro's 2-year Guaranteed-to-Start warranty.
How does a single stage electric snow blower work?
A single-stage electric snow blower works the same way as a gas one. The plastic or rubber paddles scoop up the snow and pitch it out the chute in a single motion.
The paddles touch the ground, and this is what propels it forward. It's also the reason that you can't use it on gravel.
Instead of using gasoline, it runs off of electricity. That means that you need to be near an electrical power source.
You have to keep a corded electric snow blower plugged into an outlet in order for it to run. That does present some problems. It takes some practice to learn to maneuver it without getting the long power cord tangled up. You also have to be careful not to run over the cord.
There are also cordless electric snow blowers available. There's no extension cord to get in your way, but the charge lasts less than an hour. So it's possible that you might run out of battery before you're finished clearing the snow. Some people buy an extra battery so they can swap it out and keep on working.
What are the pros and the cons of a single stage electric snow thrower?
- lightweight and easy to handle
- maneuvers well in tight spaces
- clears close to the ground
- can use it on wood decks
- environmentally friendly
- no gasoline fumes
- easy to start
- no maintenance engine
- doesn't take up much storage space
- least expensive type of snow blower
- has to stayed plugged in while operating (corded only)
- extension cord can get in the way (corded only)
- limited range
- narrow clearing path
- can't handle deep snow
- can't use on gravel
- not self-propelled; must be pushed
- cordless models run an average of about 45 minutes on one charge
Which is the best single-stage electric snow blower?
We had a hard time deciding on the best snow blower in the corded snow blower category. We think it's really a toss-up between the Greenworks 2600502 and the Snow Joe SJ60. They sell for about the same price. There are a few small differences between them, though.
This snow blower has a 20-inch wide clearing path. That's wider than most electric models, so you can get the job done a little faster. It can handle snow up to 10 inches deep.
It's lightweight and easy to maneuver in tight spaces. It doesn't take up much storage space, either.
There's a lever on the handle so you can change the direction of the discharge chute on the fly. That's much better than having to stop and manually adjust the chute.
The Greenworks 2600502 has a 13 amp electric motor and starts up with the push of a button. You have to keep it plugged in with an extension cord while you're using it. But there is a cord lock on the handle to help keep it in place.
You get a 4 year warranty with this model. That's better than most!
SNOW JOE SJ620
The Snow Joe SJ620 is similar to the Greenworks 2600502, but it has a narrower clearing path. It can cut a path 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
Also, at 13.5 amps, the motor is a little bit more powerful.
Like the Greenworks, the Snow Joe has a chute adjustment lever on the handle and a power cord lock to keep it from coming unplugged.
This model does not have a headlight. But, if you want a light, you can upgrade to the SJ621 for just a few dollars more.
Snow Joe offers a 2 year warranty on this snow blower.
Snow Joe iON18SB
If you'd rather have a cordless electric snow blower, we recommend the Snow Joe iON18SB.
This lightweight blower is good for small areas and for snowfalls of less than 8 inches. The clearing path is 18 inches wide, and it can discharge snow up to 20 feet away.
It has a chute control on the handle, so you can change the direction of the discharge without stopping.
Another convenient feature is an LED headlight that allows you to work in the dark.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will keep its charge for up to 50 minutes, depending on the type of snow. If you're working with heavy wet snow, the run time could be as little as 25 minutes. The battery is easy to swap out, though, so you keep keep an extra charged battery on hand to extend the time.
Snow Joe offers a 2-year warranty on the blower and a 90-day warranty on the battery and charger.
How does a two-stage snow blower work?
The two-stage blower has an auger to gather in the snow plus an impeller that throws the snow out of the chute.
You can use it on a gravel driveway because the auger does not touch the surface. That means it's not going to pick up stones and fire them at nearby property or people.
It's heavy, but it has a wheel drive system, so you don't have to push it. This makes it ideal for sloping driveways or large areas.
What are the pros and the cons of a two-stage snow thrower?
- throws the snow farther
- works on deep snow, heavy wet snow, and ice
- breaks up snow as it gathers it in
- wide clearing path
- can use on unpaved surfaces
- bigger more powerful engine
- heavy and harder to maneuver
- takes up a lot of storage space
- engine maintenance required
- gasoline fumes
- most expensive type of snow blower
Which is the best two-stage snow blower?
Briggs and Stratton 1150 SNOW SERIES
When you need a powerful and reliable snow blower that can handle the deepest and heaviest snowfall, look no further than Briggs and Stratton.
The Model 1696619 is part of Briggs and Stratton's 1150 Snow Series, and it features a 250 cc 4-cycle engine.
This snow blower has a whopping 27-inch wide and 20-inch deep cutting path. It's self-propelled, with 5 forward and 2 reverse speeds, so you can use it on inclines.
We like the user friendly controls that allow you to change the direction and angle of the chute and the speed on the fly. The LED headlight is also a big plus.
It starts up easily with the pull cord, even in the coldest weather. But there's also a push-button electric start if that's your preference.
This model's impressive snow clearing ability, ease of use, and the 3-year Briggs and Stratton warranty make it our choice for the best two-stage snow blower.
Are snow blowers worth the money?
If you're trying to decide whether a snow blower is worth the financial investment, there are a couple of things you should consider.
Think about how many times on average you need to shovel snow in a given winter, and how many hours it takes you each time. Is it worth it to you to cut down the amount of time you have to spend shoveling?
You could also calculate how much the snow blower plus fuel will cost you per snow event over a period of, say, three years. How much does that work out to per hour? Could you hire someone for less?
Maybe you'll decide that it's less expensive to hire someone to plow your driveway or shovel your sidewalk. But maybe not.
Another consideration is the physical toll that shoveling snow can take on your body. If you are not fit, or are getting older, you might see buying a snow blower as an investment in your health and longevity. In that case, yes, it is worth it!
Which snow blower should I buy?
Before you take the plunge and buy a snow blower, here are some questions to ask yourself:
How much snow do I get where I live?
If your typical snowfall amounts to 8 inches or less, you should be fine with a single-stage blower. If you get more than 8 inches of snow, you'll need the bigger intake that a two-stage blower provides.
What kind of snow is normal for my area?
Single-stage blowers work best on light fluffy snow. A two-stage is best if you're usually dealing with heavy wet snow or hard-packed snow.
What size is the area I need to clear?
If your driveway is less than 60 feet, a single-stage gas or electric model should do the job. Anything bigger than that, and you'll want a two-stage.
Also keep in mind that with a corded electric, you'll have to deal with the extension cord. Corded electric blowers are not suited for big areas.
Is the area level or hilly?
Single-stage snow throwers are not motor driven, so they're not good for sloping driveways. You'll be fine going downhill, but going back up is another story.
If you're on a hill, you'll be much happier with a two-stage because the motor drives the wheels. You can even put chains on the tires of some models to get more traction.
Do I prefer gas or electric?
Maybe you have a small level driveway, and you don't get a lot of snow. In that case, a single-stage would be fine. But you'll need to choose between gas and electric.
Electric models are quieter and cleaner, and you never have to worry about running out of gas. But you are limited by the battery life in a cordless, or you'll have to deal with a long power cord with a corded model.
Gas models require some maintenance plus you have to keep a supply of gasoline on hand. Maybe you don't want the fumes or the noise that a gas-powered motor makes.
Both types have advantages and limitations. You'll have to decide for yourself what's most important to you.
If electric, do I want cordless or corded?
You'll either have to learn to manage with a long power cord or make sure that the battery is always charged. You may need to buy an extra battery so that you don't run out of power in the middle of a job. It's up to you.
Will I ever need to remove snow when it's dark outside?
The days are short in winter, so you might need to be out clearing snow before the sun comes up or after sunset. If that's the case, you'll want to choose a model with a headlight.
How much storage space do I have?
Remember that you're going to have to store your blower when you're not using it. Most two-stage snow blowers take up a good bit of space. Single-stage models are more compact and don't take up much room. And some are even light enough that you can hang them on the wall or from a rafter.
Do I want to be able to adjust the chute without stopping?
Easy adjustment of the direction and angle of the discharge chute from the handle is an important feature to consider. Having to stop to turn the chute by hand can be frustrating and time consuming. If you rarely have to remove snow, this might not be much of an issue.
What is my budget?
Single-stage blowers are less expensive than two-stage. There's also the additional cost of fuel for the gas powered models to consider. If you don't get a lot of snow, you don't need to spend a lot of money. But if you do have to deal with heavy snowfalls, we recommend investing in the best two-stage snow blower that you can afford.
Where can I buy a snow thrower? How much do they cost?
You can spend anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars on a snow blower, depending on the type and features you get.
The models in this review are in the less expensive price range and would fit most people's budget.
Amazon carries all of these models at a great price. We recommend Amazon because it's a well-known and trusted retailer. It has easy and secure ordering, and they always honor their return policy.
To recap, here's a list of what we think are the best budget friendly snow blowers on the market today.
Best Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower: Toro Power Clear 518 Ze
Best Single-Stage Electric Snow Blower, corded: GreenWorks 2600502 or Snow Joe SJ620
Best Single-Stage Electric Snow Blower, cordless: Snow Joe iON18SB
Best Two-Stage Snow Blower: Briggs and Stratton 1150 SNOW SERIES Model 1696619
Be sure to take a look at the buying guide above to help you decide which type of snow blower best matches your needs. Remember, the size of your driveway and the amount of snowfall you typically get are the main factors to consider.
All of these snow blowers are available right now at Amazon. You can go there now to find the current price and to check for any available discounts.