Snow blowers, or snow throwers as they are sometimes called, can make fast work of clearing snow from your porch, deck, sidewalk, or driveway. They work by scooping up snow through an auger mounted in the front of the machine and blowing it out a chute to wherever you aim it. There are three main types of machines – two-stage gas snow blowers, single-stage gas snow blowers, and electric snow blowers.
Two-Stage models are the biggest, heaviest, most expensive, and able to move the most amount of snow. They are called two-stage because first the auger shovels snow into the intake, then secondly an impeller shoots the snow out the chute up to 40 feet away. Powered by a gas engine, they typically cost between $600 to as much as $3000 or more. They are best used for very large areas that receive lots of snow.
Single-Stage models are lighter, cheaper, don’t move as much snow, and usually have a smaller gas engine than two-stage models. They do not use an impeller, instead the auger scoops up the snow with enough force to blow it out the chute. Typical prices range from about $300 to $800. They are preferred for medium to large sized areas or smaller areas that receive large amounts of snow.
Electric models use an electric motor and need an extension cord in order to work. They are quieter, cheaper, and require no oil or gas to operate. However, they do not have the power of gas-powered engines so they cannot clear as much snow. In fact many struggle with snow over 6 inches deep. They typically cost between $100 to $300. These should only be used near to the house in small to medium sized areas.
Below we review the best snow blowers from all three categories. For this topic we focused on models that cost less than $1500, which is enough money to spend to get a quality unit for home use.
Best Two-Stage Snow Blowers
Our choice for the best snowblower is the Ariens 921032. It is a deluxe two-stage 291 cc gas powered 30-inch wide model with powerful snow clearing capabilities and electric starting. One of its main assets is a unique Auto-Turn steering feature which makes turning the machine in the tightest turn radius possible effortless. It also has a 21-inch intake height with a 14-inch auger which can handle compact snow and ice. Overall we highly recommend this Ariens model, although it might be overkill for small areas.
The Ariens 921030 is very similar to the 921032 and was rated as a Best Buy from the leading consumer magazine. There are two main differences. First is the engine which is a 254cc Ariens AX engine. The second difference is the overall width which is 28 inches instead of 30. The smaller engine and width also equal a smaller pricetag that is about $300 less than our number one choice.
The Craftsman 88396 received one of the highest grades from the leading consumer magazine. It comes with a 357cc 4-cycle OHV engine and push-button electric starting. The intake height is 21 inches and features a 12 inch serrated steel auger. Overall it is really powerful and can move plenty of snow really fast, although it does not throw the snow quite as far as the Ariens versions and it is the most expensive model on our list.
The Troy-Bilt Storm 2840 is another outstanding 28-inch wide machine. It offers a 277cc engine, electric start, 21 inch intake height, 12 inch auger, power steering, and aggressive tires for better traction. It also has an in-dash headlight and reflective strips for safe operation in low light conditions. The Storm 2840 can handle virtually any condition thrown at it.
We selected the Ariens 920021 as the best snow blower under $1000. It has a 24 inch wide clearing path and is the highest rated snow thrower on HomeDepot.com with a 4.7 overall rating from users. This 2-stage machine features a 208cc engine, electric start, self-propelling drive, in-dash headlight, and a throwing distance of 40 feet. It also has an intake height of 20 inches and 11 inch auger. We would not hesitate to recommend the Ariens 920021 to anyone who has a medium to large driveway or path to clear.
The Craftsman 88173 was rated as a Best Buy by the leading consumer magazine for compact two-stage snow throwers. It features a 208 cc OHV engine with push button electric starting. The intake is 24 inches wide by 21 inches tall. It won’t quite clear snow as fast or throw it as far, but this is another high quality machine that we would not hesitate to recommend.
The Cub Cadet 2x 524SWE is on par with the other highly rated compact 24 inch wide two-stage machines. It has a 208cc electric start OHV engine with 6 forward and 2 reverse speeds. The intake is 24 inches wide by 24 inches high. It actually is a bit quieter than some of the other top-tier models, which might be a nice feature for some of you.
The Husqvarna ST224 gets mixed reviews. It is one of the highest rated models available on Amazon with a 4.7 star average from users, but it did not receive a good score from the leading consumer magazine. It clears snow up to 12 inches well enough thanks to a 208cc engine with electric start, a 180 degree shoot rotation, LED headlight, and heated handle grips. The main negative is that while it is self-propelled, it can be really difficult to turn around.
Best Single-Stage Snow Blowers
We chose the Toro Power Clear 721E as the best single-stage snowblower. The 721E was picked as a Best Buy from the leading consumer magazine and scored the highest grade from that publication as well. It features a 21 inch wide clearing path and a 212cc 4-cycle engine with electric start. This Toro machine is really good at removing snow – we would say the best of single-stage models even in plow-pile removal – and the handling is excellent. However, it only has one speed, the throw distance is average at best, has no headlight, and it is quite noisy.
The Honda HS720AS features a 20 inch wide clearing path with a 187cc engine. The Honda is good at snow removal and the overall handling is very good. The snow throwing distance, like all single-stage models compared to two-stage, is only mediocre. The HS720AS has electric start, but does not have a headlight. The controls are also a bit difficult to use.
The Cub Cadet 221 LHP is powered by a 208 cc 4-cycle engine with a 21 inch wide clearing width and a 13 inch tall intake. To start this model you just have to plug into a standard wall outlet, then push the start button. The controls are easy to use and it has a headlight. The Cub Cadet 221 LHP does not quite have the speed or the throwing distance of the Toro 721E, but it is otherwise an outstanding machine that we would recommend.
The Craftsman 88782 is powered by a 208cc 4-cycle engine with electric start. It features a 21 inch wide clearing width with a 13 inch intake height. Overall it works pretty good including clearing right down to pavement, but the throw distance is a bit weak.
The Ariens Path-Pro SS21EC is one of the highest rated single-stage units on HomeDepot.com, but it received a poor grade from the leading consumer magazine. Its ability to clear snow thanks to a 21 inch wide clearing path and 208cc engine would best be labeled as fair. While it does have electric starting, it does not have a headlight, only has one speed, and lacks freewheel steering.
Best Electric Snow Blowers
We picked the GreenWorks 2600502 as the best electric snowblower. It rated very highly for electric versions on Amazon with a 4.5 star average. This 32 pound model has a 13 amp motor with a 20 inch wide clearing path. The GreenWorks 2600502 can start to have trouble with wet snow above 6 inches, but we still recommend it for small driveways or path areas.
The Toro Power Curve 1800 38381 was rated as the top electric snow blower by the leading consumer magazine. With a 15 amp electric motor it can clear a path 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep while moving 700 pounds of snow a minute. It works well in less than 8 inches of snow, but more than that can cause problems for this machine. It is also the most expensive electric model on our list, but it is still significantly cheaper than gas-powered units.
Another solid choice is the Snow Joe SJ621. Powered by a 13.5 amp electric motor, it can move 650 pounds of snow a minute. The snow intake is 18 inches wide by 10 inches tall. Overall it is reliable, effecient, and suprisingly powerful. Now having said that, it does not handle wet snow deeper than 6 inches all that well. So for smaller driveways and sidewalks where the snow is not too deep then we highly recommend this Snow Joe model.
The Power Smart DB5023 is our choice for the best snow thrower under $100 and is also the best selling snow thrower on Amazon. It is powered by a 13 amp electric motor that can cut a path through the snow 18 inches wide and 9 inches deep. It works really good in dry snow up to about 6 inches deep. However, if the snow is too wet or deeper than about 6 inches, it can struggle a bit.
Another decent choice for machines under $100 is the Greenworks 26022. It is powered by a 10 amp motor and can clear a path 16 inches wide by 6 inches deep. We only recommend this model for small areas with snow less than 5 inches deep. Anything above that can be difficult for this model.