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 in mind.

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The Best Snow Blower Options

Photo: amazon.com

When there’s snow on the ground waiting to be shoveled, it’s always tempting to consider buying a snow blower to make clearing the driveway less of a chore. Before you invest, take a moment to learn about the key features of these machines as well as the features to consider when choosing the right one for your needs and budget.

The best snow blower for your property will depend upon the amount of snowfall you receive, how much sidewalk or driveway you have to clear, and whether the area you’ll be clearing is flat or sloped. Keep reading to learn the top tips and recommendations—and don’t miss the top-pick favorites among the following snow blower options available!

  1. BEST OVERALL: Briggs & Stratton 24-Inch Dual-Stage Snow Blower
  2. RUNNER UP: Snow Joe Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower
  3. BEST CORDLESS: Snow Joe 40-Volt iONMAX Cordless Snowblower Kit
  4. EASIEST TO MANEUVER: Greenworks 20-Inch 13-Amp Corded Snow Thrower 2600502
The Best Snow Blower Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Snow Blowers

Most people think about 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 finding 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

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

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 driveways because their auger blades don’t touch the ground.

Three-Stage Snow Blowers

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.

What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Snow Blower

In addition to choosing among single-, two-, and three-stage snow blowers, there are other factors to consider. How much room you have to store the machine, whether a gas-powered or electric model best suits your needs, and the amount of snowfall in your area can help narrow down your choices.

Size and Weight

Electric snow blowers are the lightest, weighing around 30 to 65 pounds, followed by cordless models that weigh anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds. Gas-powered snow blowers are in the heaviest category and can weigh 100 to 300 pounds or more.

Terrain Type

Removing snow from flat sidewalks and driveways is straightforward with most snow blowers, but trying to push a heavy snowblower up an incline can be a workout for even the most physically fit. If you have a slope to maneuver, consider buying a self-propelled snow blower. With this snow blower type, the wheels pull the machine forward, so all you need to do is guide the machine and follow along. In the event you’re clearing snow from a gravel driveway, you’ll also want to make sure the machine is a two-stage or three-stage snow blower to keep from throwing rocks.

Fuel

Like most outdoor maintenance machines, snow blowers can be powered by electricity, gas, or diesel. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks.

  • Electric-powered snow blowers are typically small, affordable, single-stage machines intended to clear light snow up to about 8 inches deep. They need to be plugged into an outlet with an extension cord. This limits their performance ever so slightly, making them best suited for those 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 don’t raise concerns about where to store 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 get the fume-free operation as with an electric blower, but you don’t need to work around an extension cord. That said, run time is usually limited to around 30 minutes before the high-capacity battery needs to be recharged. But in many cases, you can continue past 30 minutes 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.

Clearing Width and Depth

Single-stage snow blowers (also known as “snow throwers”) are designed to remove snow in swath widths ranging from around 11 inches to 22 inches. A two-stage snow blower will clear snow in a swath up to 27 inches wide, and a three-stage snow blower can clear up to 40 inches in a single pass. Only single-stage and two-stage models are designed for home use, however. Three-stage blowers are considered to be commercial machines.

Wheels vs. Tracks

Snow can be slippery, especially if it’s had a chance to melt slightly and then refreeze. This makes it hard for even self-propelled snow blowers to power through, but this is where track-drive snow blowers shine. Instead of wheels that can lose traction when maneuvering through heavy or slippery snow, the tracks on a track-drive model dig in and help pull the machine along. The difference is in price. A gas-powered snow blower runs an average of $450 to $1,000, while a track-drive blower will set you back $3,500 to $4,200 or more.

Additional Features

Some of the best snow blowers include extra features that make the work easier and more comfortable. Accessories designed to elevate the experience of using a snow blower include:

  • Heated handles that keep the user’s hands warm in frigid temps.
  • Lights that let the user start clearing away snow before dawn.
  • Speed controls that adjust how quickly the self-propelled wheels turn.
  • Automatic safety shutoff if the user releases the handles.

Our Top Picks

In order to qualify as a top pick, a snow blower should be able to clear away the amount of snowfall that’s typical in your area, should be dependable, and should be easy to operate. Since individual conditions and snowfall depths vary widely, so do the following nine snowblowers. One is sure to be a good choice for your snow removal needs.

Best Overall

Photo: amazon.com

For efficient and dependable snow removal on paved driveways and sidewalks, look no further than this dual-stage snow blower from Briggs & Stratton. Designed to clear an impressive 24-inch-wide swath of snow in a single pass, this gas-powered snow blower comes with a push-button electric start. Its auger-assisted drive system is designed so that the movement of the rubber-edged auger helps pull the machine along. It features an adjustable discharge chute that can be moved from one side to the other with a directional crank located near the handle. The snow blower’s intake chute will handle snowdrifts up to 20 inches high and toss the snow up to 30 feet. It’s designed to clear paved surfaces only—no gravel drives for this one.

Runner Up

The Best Snow Blower Option: Snow Joe SJ619E Single Stage Snow Thrower
Photo: amazon.com

No need to store fuel with Snow Joe’s corded electric snow blower. This unit is powered by an electrical outlet and connected with a 12- or 14-gauge exterior extension cord (not included). It features a powerful 14-amp electric motor and will clear an 21-inch swath of snow in a single pass. It comes with a push-button start and LED headlights for nighttime snow removal. The handle is ergonomically designed to reduce hand and wrist fatigue, and the machine features a safety switch that shuts down the snow blower if you release your grip. The intake chute will clear snow to a depth of almost a foot, and the Snow Joe rubber auger blades make contact with the paved surface, leaving it snow-free. The adjustable discharge chute throws the snow up to 20 feet away.

Best Cordless

The Best Snow Blower Option: Snow Joe iON18SB 40-Volt iONMAX Cordless Snowblower
Photo: amazon.com

If you like the “no muss, no fuss” operation of an electric snow blower but need one that can range farther than an extension cord will allow, check out this cordless Snow Joe. 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 swath. Features include an adjustable chute, LED headlights, and an auger assist that makes the unit easier to push forward. You’re limited by the 50-minute battery run time, but you can purchase an extra battery to swap in when you run out of juice.

Easiest to Maneuver

The Best Snow Blower Option: Greenworks 20-Inch 13-Amp Corded Snow Thrower 2600502
Photo: amazon.com

This lightweight and easy-to-maneuver Greenworks 20-Inch 13-Amp Corded Snow Thrower weighs a mere 30 pounds, making it the lightest pick of the bunch and the easiest to push. For light snow removal, the Greenworks snow thrower will clear away snow up to 10 inches deep and toss it up to 20 feet away. It requires the use of a heavy-duty exterior 12- or 14-gauge extension cord to operate, and it features bright LED lights to illuminate a path in dim lighting and an easy push-button start. This single-stage snow blower will clear a swath up to 20 inches.

FAQs About Snow Blowers

If this is your first time shopping for a snow blower, you likely have questions. The following are some of the most common questions and their answers about snow blowers.

Q. What is the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower?

The terms “snow blower” and “snow thrower” are used interchangeably, but there are a couple of differences if you want to get technical. While both clear away snow, a snow thrower is a single-stage machine, and a snow blower can be a single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage machine. Snow blowers clear a wider swath and are better suited for heavier snows, while snow throwers work well on lighter snows.

Q. How do you use a snow blower?

For the best results, use it just after the snow has stopped falling when it’s still light and fluffy. Make uniform passes down and back on the sidewalk or driveway, adjusting the discharge chute as necessary to toss the snow off of the surface.

Q. How do you start a snow blower?

You may have to pull a manual recoil cord to start a gas snow blower, although many start by push-button these days. Cordless and electric models start at the push of a button.

Q. How do you clean a snow blower carburetor?

A dirty carburetor can keep a gas-powered snow blower from starting or cause it to emit dirty, smoky exhaust. A carburetor cleaner will dissolve the gunk and debris so your machine will run more smoothly. To clean the carburetor, you’ll need to remove its cover, which may come off differently depending on the make and model. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how to reach the carburetor.

Q. How do you store a snow blower?

The best spot to store a snow blower is either in a garage or storage shed during the summer when it’s not in use. If you don’t have the extra space, you can cover it with a waterproof tarp and store it outside.