Reviews Tools & Materials

Clear Driveways and Walkways With the Snow Joe Single-Stage Snow Blower

After testing numerous single-stage snow blowers, the Snow Joe 48V, 18-inch Ionmax proved to be quite capable for clearing what moderate snow storms can dump on a property.
The Snow Joe Single-Stage Snow Blower on a large snow-covered cement pad during testing.

Photo: Zach Lazzari for Bob Vila

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Snow blowers come in a number of different styles. Shoppers will encounter both electric and gas models, plus single-stage, 2-stage, and even 3-stage options. We tested and analyzed a large grouping of single-stage snow blowers during a series of storms in Montana, and the Snow Joe X2-SB18 48V Ionmax took the top prize. Each model was judged based on price, performance, and features. Single-stage snow blowers are best used for light to moderate snow loads and while this well-designed, budget-friendly model isn’t perfect, I found that it did an exceptional job at clearing snow.

Snow Joe X2-SB18 48V Ionmax Snow Blower: At a Glance

The Snow Joe Single-Stage Snow Blower on a snowy surface with several tracks around it during testing.
Photo: Zach Lazzari for Bob Vila

Rating: 8.8/10

SPECS

  • Type: Cordless electric
  • Weight: 43.1 pounds
  • Clearing width: 18 inches

PROS

  • Capable of throwing snow up to 40 feet for exceptional clearance
  • 24-volt (V) batteries (2 included) last for more than an hour of continuous use when combined
  • 180-degree adjustable chute allows for maximum control of where the snow goes

CONS

  • Plastic auger blade isn’t suitable for use on gravel
  • Unit is not self-propelled, meaning that operators will need to push it

Get the Snow Joe snow blower at:

What is the Snow Joe 48V Ionmax?

This small but powerful snow blower is a single-stage model with an 18-inch clearing width. It runs on two 24V batteries, each having 4 amp hours of energy storage. Alone, a battery can power the snow blower for 30 to 40 minutes and when combined, the runtime doubles. In our overall testing of snow blowers, we found larger single-stage models as well as those with steel augers and a number of attractive options. Still, the Snow Joe stood out for its ability to perform and its very functional, easy-to-use design. Moreover, it hit a moderate price point that makes it a great fit for the small to medium jobs expected from a single-stage snow blower.

This model worked great on small driveways and paths. It also has a rubber-tipped blade that is perfect for protecting decks and sensitive surfaces. While not self-propelled (few single-stage models are), it’s lightweight and easy to push and maneuver. Overall, Snow Joe has built an excellent option in the single-stage snow blower market.

How difficult is the assembly process?

Every single-stage snow blower tested had a slightly different assembly process. Some were difficult and required multiple tools to wrench and screw pieces together. The Snow Joe was among the easiest, and it came together in a matter of minutes. The longest wait time involved charging the batteries, so I recommend starting with charging so the unit will be good to go when needed. The handle screws into place on each side in a single piece, and this can be quickly removed for transport and storage.

After attaching the handle, I simply snapped the chute into place and inserted the bolt and adjustment piece for the chute angle section. Lastly, I inserted the auger control rod into the chute and secured the handle with a cotter pin. Once the batteries were charged, I inserted them into the port and was ready to use the snow blower.

The Snow Joe Single-Stage Snow Blower clearing a path through snow covering a large cement surface.
Photo: Zach Lazzari for Bob Vila

Are the controls and functions easy to use?

It would be a challenge to find an easier snow blower to start and operate. Some models have upgraded features like an electric auger, eco mode, and other add-ons, but I actually preferred the simplicity of the Snow Joe in many situations. After all, a single-stage model is typically used for smaller jobs that don’t require advanced features.

To start the auger, press the power button and hold the throttle. It will engage immediately and users can then begin pushing to blow snow. The chute direction adjustment is on the handle for quick changes. The auger angle requires a manual adjustment on the chute itself, but that only takes a few seconds to complete. An automatic light will offer guidance in dark conditions, but there are no controls for this feature. Users really only need to set the chute direction and press the button to clear snow. If the chute clogs, use the attached tool to remove snow and clear any blockages.

How does this Snow Joe perform in different snow conditions?

It’s important to note that single-stage snow blowers aren’t designed to handle major storm events. The Snow Joe 48V Ionmax cuts an 18-inch wide path in snow up to 10 inches deep. This is a pretty normal size range for single-stage models. Two-stage models often have augers 24 inches or larger for big, heavy snow loads. There is a huge difference in performance abilities between the two.

Despite being smaller, this Snow Joe proved to perform very well in testing where I used it on powder and wet snow; I even pushed it into icy, hardened snow banks. It excelled at blowing powder and its hard-working auger chopped harder snow well. It struggled with the really wet snow, but all the other single-stage models tested struggled as well. Tip: Adding a chute lubricant can help to prevent clogging in wet conditions.

For most users, this is a great tool to clear snow when there is less than a foot on the ground. It’s ideal for paved surfaces and even decks and patios. It does clear larger snow loads, but users will want to work in layers, clearing 10 inches at a time. This slows progress but is still effective.

The Snow Joe Single-Stage Snow Blower on a large snow-covered cement pad during testing.
Photo: Zach Lazzari for Bob Vila

Is the Snow Joe 48V Ionmax worth the money?

With a price that’s typically under $400, the Snow Joe is definitely worth the money. A snow shovel is cheaper, but the labor trade-off is immense, and there’s virtually no chance of winding up with a backache. When compared to other models, there are a few that cost less, but most are actually more. Some run into the $700+ range with similar (or less) battery capacity.

Budget shoppers looking for performance value should absolutely consider the Snow Joe. The combination of price and quality were the two factors that led to top rankings in our review process.

Is a single-stage snow blower right for you?

Before pulling the trigger on a purchase, think through the snow conditions in your region. Also take your property size into consideration. Single-stage snow blowers are excellent tools for the 2-car driveway and walkway, but they won’t do well on gravel roads, steep inclines, and larger properties that receive frequent storms.

If the snow piles are measured in feet and you are clearing a large property and even helping the neighbors, a 2-stage is probably worth the investment. They cost more but there are some great gas- and battery-powered models on the market. If there’s no regular need for heavy snow removal, a single-stage model is likely the best option. It can quickly and efficiently clear the average snow piles.

Where to Buy the Snow Joe X2-SB18 48V Ionmax Snow Blower

Get the Snow Joe snow blower at:

Meet the Tester

Zach Lazzari is a freelance writer splitting time between the great outdoors, travel, and DIY projects ranging from camper builds to home renovations and maintenance. His home base in Montana is the perfect testing grounds for winter products and snow equipment. With over a decade of professional writing experience, he also covers a variety of other projects and maintenance topics for Bobvila.com.