Clearing a snow-covered sidewalk or driveway after a fresh snowfall can be a backbreaking chore. While a full-size, two-stage snow blower is an option, these large and expensive machines are overkill for smaller properties. A smaller and lighter single-stage snow blower is a significant upgrade to the hand-powered shovel, while remaining easier to manage and more affordable than its larger cousin. This smaller snow blower uses gas, a standard power cord, or a lithium-ion battery to power an auger that sucks up snow and shoots it up to 25 feet away.
This guide digs deep into the features to consider when shopping for the best single-stage snow blower and reviews some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Snow Joe SJ625E Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Snow Joe SJ618E Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower
- BEST UPGRADE: EGO Power+ SNT2102 21-Inch Cordless Snow Blower
- BEST GAS: Toro Power Clear 18 in. Single-Stage Gas Snow Blower
- BEST BATTERY: Greenworks Pro 80V 20 inch Snow Thrower
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Single-Stage Snow Blower
There are numerous factors to take into account when deciding on the best single-stage snow blower for a property, including the amount and depth of snow it can move, the power source, comfort and maneuverability, and more. Read on to learn about these and other crucial snow blower features.
Snow blowers vary significantly in size and weight. Smaller, compact snow blowers are easier to store, transport, and maneuver than larger models. However, larger snow blowers can remove deeper snow and boast wider intakes, allowing the user to complete the job more quickly. Snow blowers are typically classified by the width and depth of the intake.
Most single-stage snow blowers range in width from 15 to 22 inches and can handle a depth between 7 to 12 inches. A larger snow blower is more difficult to turn but will clear a driveway in fewer passes than a smaller snow blower; the trade-off is maneuverability.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered
Snow blowers operate via electric motors or gas engines. Like a lawn mower, gas-powered snow blowers require only gasoline, as opposed to the two-cycle oil and gas mix that other small engines use. Electric snow blowers consist of two options: corded and lithium-ion battery powered.
Gas snow blowers are more powerful than their electric counterparts and are capable of clearing snow 12 inches deep with a clearance path of between 18 and 22 inches. In comparison, electric snow blowers have less power and are therefore limited to depths of around 7 to 9 inches of snow with a clearance path of typically 20 inches or less. The limited power also means they won’t climb steeper grades as easily as gas-powered snow blowers.
However, in terms of maintenance and ease of use, electric snow blowers win out. Gas engines require routine maintenance and fluid changes. They also have pull-start engines that make them notoriously difficult to fire up in cold temperatures. Electric engines, in comparison, start with the push of a button and don’t require periodic oil and fuel filter changes.
Cordless battery-powered snow blowers are typically the most expensive option, while gas and corded snow blowers are the least expensive.
Corded vs. Cordless
Cordless snow blowers offer the most convenience and ease of use. Like corded models, they start with the push of a button but aren’t limited by the constraints of a power cord. The compromise is with power. Corded snow blowers have access to a steady stream of 120-volt power, which makes them more powerful than cordless models, the best of which only use 80-volt batteries. Corded models also have a constant supply of power, whereas cordless snow blowers will only work for about 45 minutes before needing a recharge.
Clearing Width and Depth
It’s important to consider the width and depth of snow that a snow blower can clear in a single pass. A single-stage snow blower can typically clear a path between 15 and 22 inches. The width determines how many passes are required to clear a driveway or sidewalk.
The snow blower’s intake height determines the depth of snow it can remove with each pass. Most single-stage snow blowers have an intake depth between 7 and 12 inches. A good rule of thumb is to choose a snow blower with an intake depth 2 inches higher than the area’s average snowfall.
Wheels vs. Tracks
Snow blowers move via wheels or tracks. Wheeled models feature two large rear wheels that drive the snow blower forward. Tracked models have tracks similar to those found on a tank. The tracks typically have a slip-resistant covering suitable for both paved and unpaved surfaces. As a result, tracked snow blowers provide significantly better traction in the snow, making them better able to climb steep slopes without slipping backward.
However, most tracked snow blowers are two- and three-stage models, as single-stage models typically don’t produce enough power to drive the tracks. They also operate more closely to the surface, leaving a thinner layer of snow and ice on a driveway or sidewalk than wheeled models.
In comparison, wheeled snow blowers are easier to turn, since tracked models won’t pivot. Wheel sizes for single-stage snow blowers range from 6 to 8 inches. Larger wheels perform better in deeper snow, while smaller wheels are easier to maneuver. Additionally, wheeled models are generally faster than tracked models. That said, some higher-end tracked snow blowers offer faster speed and turn-on-a-dime technology that makes them comparable in speed and maneuverability to wheeled models.
The type of terrain largely dictates the best type of snow blower for the job. Paved surfaces, such as driveways and sidewalks, are best suited for wheeled snow blowers. Tracked snow blowers are better suited for unpaved surfaces. Grade also has a significant impact; steep driveways require a snow blower with good traction and enough power to pull it up a snow-covered slope.
Comfort and Maneuverability
Being large machines, snow blowers can be difficult to operate. Weight plays a significant role in how easy it is to push or turn a snow blower. Most corded and cordless snow blowers weigh between 35 and 40 pounds, while single-stage gas snow blowers weigh between 50 and 60 pounds.
Some snow blowers also offer features such as adjustable handles to suit the user’s height and heated grips to keep hands warm in frigid temperatures.
Single-stage snow blowers often boast numerous additional features to improve ease of use. Chutes allow the user to change the direction of the snow blower’s output without having to turn off the machine. This makes it easier to blow the snow in the same direction when making passes back and forth on a snow-covered driveway.
Snow blowers with a self-propelling auger pull themselves through the snow, preventing the user from having to push the snow blower forward, which can result in dangerous slips. Other features that make a snow blower easier to use include headlights for nighttime use, an electric start option, controls that are easy to manipulate with gloved hands, and drift cutters that allow the snow blower to operate in depths higher than the blower’s intake.
Our Top Picks
The top picks take into account the above considerations as well as overall quality and price. Just ahead are some of the best single-stage snow blowers in a variety of categories. Any of these snow blowers are capable of clearing driveways and sidewalks after moderate snow events.
A powerful electric motor and sizable intake make this Snow Joe snow blower one of the best single-stage options on the market. It boasts a 15-amp motor capable of moving up to 800 pounds of snow per minute. This model also features one of the bigger capacities of an electric snow blower with a 21-inch-wide intake and the ability to handle snow up to 12 inches deep. An adjustable directional chute pivots up to 180 degrees and permits the user to adjust the flow direction of the snow on the fly. Meanwhile, a scraper blade makes sure the driveway is cleared down to the pavement. An LED light provides visibility for nighttime snow blowing.
With its four blades, this model will also shoot snow up to 20 feet to the side, allowing it to capably remove snow from wider driveways. At 34.6 pounds, this corded snow blower is easy to maneuver or hoist into the bed of a truck for transport.
Spending a lot of money on a snow blower that sees only intermittent use just doesn’t make sense. With its low price, Snow Joe’s model is a great alternative to a snow shovel for those who may have to deal with smaller snowfalls or need to clear narrower driveways and sidewalks. It comes equipped with a 13-amp motor, which is enough to move about 550 pounds of snow per minute. Its two-blade intake can handle snow up to 8 inches deep. With its 18-inch width, it is suitable for light-duty snow-blowing jobs.
An easy-to-operate shoot rotates 180 degrees and launches snow up to 20 feet. And, at less than 26 pounds, it’s one of the more maneuverable models on the market. The compact size also makes it easier to store or lift into a car trunk or truck bed for transport.
While battery-powered lawn tools offer the convenience of cordless technology, low-maintenance, and ease of use, the compromise in power and runtime can make them impractical. Not so with this snow blower from cordless tool specialists EGO Power+. This model, weighing 43 pounds, is powered by two stout 5.0Ah batteries, which provide enough power for up to 60 minutes of use.
With a 21-inch-wide intake and the ability to handle up to 8 inches of snow, this snow blower is on par with many gas-powered and corded single-stage snow blowers. And, it will hurl snow up to 35 feet, making it easier to clear wide driveways. The snow blower also includes features that make it easy to use, including a push-button start, variable speed control, and LED headlights for nighttime use. A rapid charger gets the batteries back to full power in about 45 minutes.
It’s tough to beat a gas-powered engine when it comes to raw snow-blowing power. This formidable model from Toro is compact enough for easy maneuverability while boasting impressive power. The 18-inch-wide intake will blast through snow up to 12 inches deep, sending it up to 25 feet away. And the narrow profile and large 8-inch tires allow this cordless model to move efficiently through that deep snow.
This snow blower also offers attractive options that make it easier to use, including a pull-start that works with one or two pulls and a 180-degree deflector for depositing snow in the desired location, regardless of which direction the blower is moving. A foldable handle allows this snow blower, which weighs 58 pounds, to break down into a smaller size for storage.
With its beefy 80-volt battery, this snow thrower from Greenworks delivers a surprising level of performance. The battery produces enough juice to put this cordless snow blower on par with gas and corded single-stage snow blowers, while its intake can clear a 20-inch wide path and handle snow up to 10 inches deep. The 8-inch rear wheels provide enough height for deeper snow.
Due to its 2.0AH battery and rapid recharging capabilities, this snow blower will last for up to 45 minutes on a single charge and will recharge in about 30 minutes. Several features make this 33-pound model easy to use, including a push-start, collapsible handles for easy storage, high-intensity LED headlights for nighttime use, and a chute that rotates 180 degrees for efficient snow removal.
FAQs About Single-Stage Snow Blowers
If you’re wondering how a single-stage snow blower differs from a two-stage snow blower, then read on for answers to this and other frequently asked questions.
Q. What’s the difference between single-stage and two-stage snow blowers?
The biggest difference between single-stage and two-stage snow blowers is power. Most single-stage snow blowers handle snowfall up to about 8 inches, whereas two-stage snow blowers can tackle up to 2 feet of snow. The “stage” term refers to how each blower removes snow. A single-stage snow blower has an auger that both gathers and blows away the snow. A two-stage snow blower, in comparison, has an auger that sucks up the snow and an impeller that launches it into the air. In addition to being able to remove deeper snow, two-stage snow blowers also have larger intakes that range in width from 20 to 36 inches.
Q. What size cord is suitable for a single-stage electric snow blower?
The length of the extension cord depends on the gauge of the power cable. A 12-gauge cord will work up to 100 feet, while a slimmer 14-gauge cord only extends about 50 feet.
Q. How do I start a single-stage snow blower in the cold season?
Electric snow blowers are the easiest to start. Simply plug the unit into an outlet and press the start button. Since these models take their power from an AC power source, there are no issues with low-temperature start-ups. Some battery-powered snow blowers will not start if the battery is too cold. For this reason, it’s a good idea to store lithium-ion batteries at room temperature. To make start-up as easy as possible for gas snow blowers, which typically have a pull-start motor, make sure to use lightweight motor oil, such as 5w30, which is designed to operate at low temperatures.
Q. How do I change the fuel filter on a single-stage snow blower?
Periodically changing the fuel filter ensures contaminants won’t find their way inside the engine and negatively impact performance. The fuel filter is usually located between the fuel pump and fuel tank. Change the filter by removing the two hoses that connect to it, making sure to keep the hoses pointing upward to prevent fuel from leaking out of the tank. Install the new filter by attaching the hoses to the line leading from the fuel tank and the line leading to the engine.