The Best Snow Blowers for Clearing Driveways
To choose a snow blower that suits your driveway-clearing needs as well as your budget, start by learning the key features to look for and the top considerations to keep mind.
When there’s snow on the ground waiting to be shoveled, it’s always tempting to consider buying a snow blower to make driveway clearing less of a chore. Before you invest, just take a moment to learn about the key features of these machines, as well the key features of choosing the right one for your needs and budget. Ahead, read our top tips and recommendations—and don’t miss our top-pick favorites among the f snow blower options available!
- BEST VALUE: WEN 5662 Blaster 13.5-Amp 18-Inch Snow Thrower
- BEST OVERALL: Briggs & Stratton 1022 22-Inch Snow Blower
- ALSO CONSIDER: Snow Joe iON18SB 40-Volt Cordless Snowblower
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Husqvarna ST224P, 24 in. Gas Snow Blower
Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Snow Blower
Size up the muscle power.
Most people think of size in terms of the width of the path a snow blower will clear. That’s definitely a consideration—especially if you have a large area to clear—but the real challenge is to find the snow blower most suited for the amount and type of snow you’re likely to receive in your region.
Manufacturers describe snow blowers as “single-stage,” “two-stage,” or “three-stage” to distinguish strength.
- Single-stage snow blowers (also called “snow throwers”) feature a horizontal auger at the front of the machine that rotates rapidly, scooping up snow and tossing it out the chute. The motion of the spinning auger creates the force that blows the snow from the chute, so single-stage snow blowers generally do not generate sufficient power to blow the snow more than 15 to 25 feet away. The auger blades on a single-stage blower skim the ground during operation, so the machine can effectively clear flat and smooth paved areas. Because the blades are so low, however, they tend to pick up small rocks and toss them out the chute, making single-stage blowers unsuitable for clearing gravel driveways. Most single-stage blowers can clear a 12- to 18-inch swath of light, fluffy snow, and they’re available in both gas- and electric-powered models
- Two-stage snow blowers, which are usually fuel-powered, feature a powerful impeller fan that works in combination with an auger to draw in snow and forcefully throw it out the chute. A two-stage snow blower can shoot snow in excess of 35 feet, depending on the power of the fan on a particular model and the weight of the snow. A snow blower will throw powder snow—the kind skiers love—the farthest, but if you’re clearing heavy, wet snow, don’t expect your blower to reach the maximum distance. Two-stage blowers can handle wet snow as well as fluffy snow, and clear a swath ranging from approximately 12 inches to 2.5 feet. Unlike their single-stage counterparts, two-stage snow blowers are suitable for use on gravel drives because their auger blades don’t touch the ground.
- Three-stage snow blowers are the big boys in the snow-removal world. In addition to an auger and impeller fan, they feature an accelerator that grinds chunks of ice and powerfully expels snow and slush from the chute. It’s not unusual for a three-stage blower to throw lightweight snow a distance of 50 feet. These muscle-bound machines can clear paths as wide as 40 inches, depending on the specific model. If you have heavy-duty snow-removal needs, a three-stage blower might be the machine for you.
Find the appropriate fuel.
Like most outdoor maintenance machines, snow blowers can be powered either by electricity or by gas or diesel. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks.
- Electric-powered snow blowers are typically small, affordable, sing-stage machines intended to clear light snow up to about 8 inches deep. Their need to be plugged into an outlet via an extension cord limits their performance ever so slightly, making them best suited for shoppers who receive minimal snowfall and have relatively short sidewalks and driveways. They’re also handy for clearing snow from decks and steps, because they’re lightweight enough to lift and move. An added bonus: These machines don’t create fumes and won’t raise concerns about where to store their fuel.
- Gas- and diesel-powered snow blowers boast a lot more power than electric blowers, and they don’t restrict their operators to the length of an extension cord. With a blower like this, you can clear away deep and heavy snows all along your driveway, and then you can continue down the sidewalk and clear your neighbor’s drive as well.
- Battery-operated cordless snow blowers are relatively new to the snow-removal market and quite promising. You got the fume-free operation you get with any electric blower, but unlike with traditional models, you don’t need to work around an extension cord. That said, runtime is usually limited to around 30 minutes. After that, the high-capacity battery needs recharging. But in many cases, you can keep from having to quit the job early by swapping in a spare battery. Generally speaking, cordless snow blowers are typically single-stage models and are best suited to clearing away light snow.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST VALUE: WEN 5662 Blaster 13.5-Amp 18-Inch Snow Thrower
Retire that snow shovel! If you’re in the market for a good snow blower but your budget is a bit tight, opt for the WEN Snow Blaster Snow Thrower. This single-stage electric blower cuts an 18-inch swath through light and medium snow accumulation up to 7.8 inches deep and through a rotating chute, you can toss the snow wherever you want it to go. You’ll need a heavy-duty, 12- or 18-gauge exterior extension cord (not included) to power the 13.5 amp motor, but for those with modest snow removal needs, this is a small but mighty machine.
2. BEST OVERALL: Briggs & Stratton 1022 22-Inch Snow Blower
When you have a lot of driveway to cover, you need a lot of power. With the Briggs & Stratton Snow Thrower’s 208cc gasoline engine, power is what you get—this machine cuts a hearty 22-inch swath in snow up to 12.5 inches deep. Plus, with easy push-button start and self-propelling operation, you avoid what are normally a couple of the pitfalls that usually go along with owning a gas-powered blower. If your property is larger than the typical suburban lot and the average snowstorm in your area dumps less than a foot, this is a worthy option.
3. ALSO CONSIDER: Snow Joe iON18SB 40-Volt Cordless Snowblower
If you like the “no muss, no fuss” operation of an electric snow blower but need one that can range farther than extension cords will allow, check out the Snow Joe Cordless Snow Blower. Running on a rechargeable 40-volt, lithium-ion battery (battery and charger included), the Snow Joe powers through snow up to 8 inches deep while cutting a 18-inch-wide swatch. Features include an adjustable chute, LED headlights (snow clearing in the evening, anyone?), and an auger assist that makes the unit easier to push forward. You’re limited by the run time of the battery (about 50 minutes), but if you anticipate that being a problem, you can simply purchase an extra battery to swap in if and when you run of out juice. If your neck of the woods gets tons and tons of snow in the winter, look elsewhere, but the Snow Joe is a very compelling option for everyone else.
4. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Husqvarna ST224P, 24 in. Gas Snow Blower
For clearing away snow that’s slushy or frozen, you’ll need a good two-stage snow blower like this gas-powered Husqvarna model. Its powerful 208cc engine and heavy-duty auger make quick work of chewing through even hard-packed snow, and it clears a generous 24-inch swath. Just as good, the Husqvarna comes with an electric start and power steering, features that make it a breeze to operate and maneuver. (The cleated tires help too, as they keep the prevent slips on sloped terrain.) With LED lights for nighttime snow removal and heated handle grips to for cold-weather comfort, the Husqvarna combines user-friendliness with brute force.