How to find the right snowblower

DescriptionVideo

In the market for a new snowblower (a.k.a. snow thrower)?

(If your snowblower is broken, check out our snowblower troubleshooting and how-to repair help. It may make more sense to repair your equipment, rather than purchase a new one.)

Before you start shopping, think about what you intend to clear – your driveway, sidewalk, deck, patio, walkway…anything else?

Before visiting your local outdoor power equipment dealer or home improvement store, make sure you first know the answers to these questions: How does a snowblower work? What kind of snowblower do I need? What type of snowblower is best?

Types of snowblowers

The basic shovel for snow removal just doesn’t work for most people. Fortunately, there’s a snow-clearing solution that’s just right for you, where you live.

If you live in an area with very minimal snowfall, you might consider a power shovel as an alternative, though there is mixed feedback about its effectiveness compared to a single-stage snowblower. A manufacturer recently launched as snowblower that they’ve dubbed a three stage snowblower, which includes an accelerator that assists the collection auger in chopping the snow and ice.

Single and two stage snowblowers are the two most common types.

Single stage models use an auger to scoop snow and discharge it through a chute. Two-stage (a.k.a. dual stage) models use an auger to collect the snow and a high-speed impeller to discharge it through the chute.

Single stage electric snowblower

Ideal for:

  • Light, fluffy snowfall – clearing less than four inches (about 10 centimeters) of snow

Pros:

  • Works well for clearing flat, short walkways, decks, patios, porches and driveways.
  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Simple push-button, electric start
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Quieter than gas-powered snowblowers
  • Inexpensive – $100 to $300 retail cost

Cons:

  • Not self-propelled and may require more physical effort to operate than a dual-stage model for some people.
  • Requires use of a long, weather-resistant, outdoor extension cord
  • Cannot be used on crushed stones or gravel-covered surfaces because the auger contacts the surface directly
  • Can only be used on flat surfaces (no inclines)

 

Single stage gas snowblower

Ideal for:

  • Light snow totaling less than eight inches (about 20 centimeters)

Pros:

  • Works well for clearing flat, short walkways, decks, patios, porches and driveways
  • Lightweight and easy to store and maneuver
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Affordability: $100 to $300 retail cost

Cons:

  • Cannot be used on crushed stones or gravel-covered surfaces because the auger contacts the surface directly
  • Can only be used on flat surfaces
  • Noisier than an electric model

Dual stage gas snowblower

Ideal for:

  • Medium to heavy snowfall greater than eight inches (approx. 20 centimeters)

Pros:

  • Clears more snow faster than single stage models
  • Variable speed adjustments to accommodate the operator as well as the amount of snowfall
  • Self propelled operation – reduces user effort
  • Picks up heavy, wet and icy snow with ease
  • Can operate on gravel, as the slide shoes (a.k.a. skids) are adjustable

Cons:

  • More expensive – $600-$2,000 retail cost
  • Requires ongoing maintenance

Other features to look for

  • Headlights – if you think you’ll be operating the snowblowers in low-light conditions or in complete darkness, this will be important.
  • Adjustable chutes
  • On-board clean-out shovel
  • Heated handles

 

Snowblower broken?

Whether you have an Ariens, Toro, Honda, Cub Cadet, Poulan or other snowblower, RepairClinic has free troubleshooting and how-to repair help information and replacement parts including slide shoes, scraper blades, spark plugs and more.

 

Related info

11 easy ways to prep a lawn mower for winter storage

Snowblower repair help

Maintenance tips for your snowblower

Outdoor power equipment dangers

How to prep your snowblower for winter

Important snowblower safety tips

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