If you live in a cold climate, a snow blower can really come in handy — helping you remove large amounts of snow from driveways and walkways with ease. But the right fit for you will depend on how large of space you have to clear, how big of a machine you can handle and your budget.
Data obtained May 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Snow blower types
Start by figuring out which fuel and stage type of snow blower will work best for you.
These come in single-stage, two-stage and three-stage models
Large jobs; professionals
Broad size range available
Can be loud
Can be heavy and difficult to maneuver
Corded models that are typically lighter than gas blowers; most are single stage
Smooth, paved surfaces
Quieter than gas blowers
Require less maintenance
Can still be on the heavier side
Restricted based on cord length
Walkways, porches and small driveways
Not restricted by a cord
Not as powerful
Run time restricted by battery charge
Gas-powered snow blowers come in three different stages, outlined below.
Single-stage. These blowers use an auger to break up the snow before lifting and tossing it away. Single-stage blowers are also referred to as “snow throwers.”
Two-stage. One of the most popular types, the two-stage snow blower uses an auger to break up the snow, then uses an impeller to blow it away.
Three-stage. The three-stage snow blower works the same way as its two-stage counterpart, with the addition of an accelerator. This makes the three-stage blower more powerful and effective, especially when dealing with compacted snow and ice.
How to compare snow blowers
When buying a new snow blower, compare these important features:
Price. Snow blowers can range in price from $100 to $3,000 or more, depending on the size, type and brand. A budget-friendly or mid-range option is typically plenty of power for the average homeowner.
Size. Some models are heavier and harder to move around than others, so make sure the one you choose will be easy to manage around your property. Also, consider where you’ll be storing your snow blower when not in use, since some larger models can take up lots of room in your shed or garage.
Type. Consider the areas you’ll be clearing snow from and how much snow your area typically gets to help you figure out which fuel and stage type will be the best fit for you.
Start mechanism. Blowers with pull starts can be tricky to get running, especially in cold weather. If this is a concern for you, opt for a model with an electric start feature.
Tires. If you have an unpaved, rocky driveway, choosing a model with airless tires might make the most sense. You’ll avoid having to deal with a flat, since they can’t be punctured.
Extra features. Depending on your budget, you can opt for bells and whistles like headlights, heated hand grips and power steering.
How to operate a snow blower
Read the instruction manual that comes with your snow blower before operating it. The following are general tips to give you an idea of how to use a snow blower.
Wear proper safety gear, such as eye protection, gloves and work boots.
Clear the area you’ll be working in from large sticks, rocks, toys and other obstacles.
Start the blower in a well-ventilated area — not your garage.
Aim the discharge chute away from the road or sidewalk.
Avoid running your machine in slushy conditions, as this can clog your blower.
Set a steady pace and avoid going too fast.
Snow blower safety tips
Don’t use a snow blower on gravel or rocky surfaces.
Never clean out the chute with your hands or feet.
Never point the chute at people, buildings or cars.
Never leave an unattended snow blower running.
Don’t use a snow blower to clear anything but snow.
Disconnect spark plugs when making any repairs or maintenance checks.
Make your winter chores a little more manageable with the right snow blower for your property and physical ability. Compare some of the most popular models to help you find the one that best suits your snow-clearing needs.
To compile our list of the best snow blowers, we performed our own online research, comparing the type, size, price and overall features of popular models. We also took into account third-party product reviews, as well as personal experiences.
Frequently asked questions
August and September are some of the best months to buy a snow blower, right before the snow starts to fall. Take a look at our guide of the best time of year to buy just about anything to see when other equipment goes on sale.
Technically speaking, a single-stage snow blower is considered a snow thrower, since it doesn’t have an impeller to blow the snow away. Models that use an impeller, like two-stage and three-stage blowers, are true snow blowers.
It depends on the size of the area that you’ll be clearing snow from, how much snow you usually get in your area and how large of a machine you can physically handle. Larger machines can tackle more snow at once, but they’re generally harder to use.
Gabrielle Pastorek is the shopping and travel publisher at Finder, helping readers to round up the best deals, coupons, retailers, products and services to make sound financial decisions. She's contributed more than 800 articles to the site and is a quoted expert in Best Company and DealNews. She earned an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, with essays and short stories published in The Collagist, Blue Monday Review, Blotterature and others. When she’s not writing, Gabrielle can be found out in the barn with her horse, Lucy.
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