I get asked a lot of questions, but, ‘what size snow blower do I need?’ has to be at the top of the list.
Here I cover all the key factors you need to know between lectric and gas-powered, along with single-stage, two-stage to three-stage snow blowers.
But first, you need to really ask yourself:
Do I Need A Snow Blower? 4 Things To Consider To Help You Decide
Whilst this may seem like a silly question, a lot of people don’t consider other factors that should be thought about before jumping into to purchase one.
Some questions to should ask yourself before you jump in are:
1. Do I get enough snow every winter to warrant the investment?
If you normally only get one big snow storm each winter, would be it more cost-effective to pay for a professional snow plowing company? This answer will likely depend on the size of the area you need clearing.
2. Do I have the space to store a snowblower all summer?
You can’t simply leave a snowblower outside in the elements when not in use, it needs a storage area that’s dry and ideally, damp-free. Do you have the space to store a snowblower in your garage, or would you need to purchase an outdoor snowblower shed?
3. Can I maintain & repair a snowblower myself?
This question obviously mainly applies to gas-powered snowblowers, but they do need maintenance each year and this includes changing the oil, cleaning out old gas, replacing shear pins, throttle cables .etc. If you’re happy to undertake the work yourself, it’s cheap, but hiring a professional each year can get expensive.
4. Am I actually going to get out in the cold and clear the snow?
If the answer is no to this, then, obviously there’s little point wasting $400-$2000 on a snowblower. Many people enjoy clearing snow, but if you’re the type that’s more likely to sit in the warm until it melts, is it really worth the expense?
If you’re happy with your answer to all of the above questions and know it’s not going to be a waste of money, then course, let’s move on to the most important question:
What Size Snow Blower Do I Need?
If you normally receive less than 12 inches of snow, most single-stage snow blowers will be more than capable of the job. But if your snowfall often exceeds that, a two-stage size snowblower with a 20 to 30-inch clearing width will be much more suitable & effective at snow removal.
If you’re lucky enough to only receive less than 6 inches of snow, an electric snow shovel will normally be sufficient.
Of course, these are just estimations. The type of snow, wet & hard or light & fluffy, will ultimately dictate what size snow blower you need to buy.
There’s a lot of factors that come into play when giving an accurate answer, so here’s how to narrow down your search and find the right size for your area.
How To Choose The Right Size Snow Blower
Don’t rely on flashy ads, take it from me, you need to consider your circumstances carefully. This includes not only the different snow blower types available, but the amount, and type of snowfall that you usually experience.
The size along with the type of surface, concrete or gravel, etc to be cleared also plays a big part in your decision. Uneven terrain and gravel driveways can be a nightmare.
Just remember, you fail to do your research, you may live to regret your purchase so it’s best to take some time to explore my whole site.
Types Of Snow Blowers & Finding Which Size You Need
Here I will categorize the snow blowers not only by their power source but the stages they use, don’t worry, I will explain all as I go.
Cordless Snow Blowers & Single Stage Electric Snowblowers
Starting off with the battery-operated cordless snow blowers and corded electric snow blowers. These are generally only ever single-stage models, meaning that the auger gathers and throws the snow in one action. Hence being referred to as single-stage snow blowers.
You can see some of the best cordless snow blowers in my reviews here.
These are great little machines for smaller areas, such as a walkway or patio, and ideal if you don’t usually have large wet and heavy snowfalls. But, when compared to a gas-powered single-stage snow blower you are somewhat restricted.
You are either tethered to the cord or limited by the battery time. Having said that given the right circumstances they shine. Always use an insulated winter extension cord when using outdoors in wintery weather conditions.
Two-Stage Snow Blowers
A two-stage snow blower has the extra action of an impeller. The auger gathers up the white stuff and pushes it to the spinning impeller.
The impeller then throws it through the discharge chute. Having the impeller allows for larger amounts to be cleared faster, bonus, less time in the cold.
In addition to that, a two-stage machine can also handle heavier and deeper snow than the single-stage model and also has the advantage of a wider clearance width which makes it much better snow removal equipment than single-stage models.
If you’d like to learn more about the main differences, I’ve written a dedicated article covering single stage versus two stage snow blowers.
Three-Stage Snow Blower
A three-stage snow blower, yes, you’ve guessed it yet another action, is the biggest of all the machines. But, this machine is a commercial size snow blower and is rarely needed by the average homeowner.
Featuring the extra feature of an accelerator for the impeller, that allows for extra throwing power. Allowing the operator to clear huge amounts of snow easily.
Each type is designed for specific snow conditions, which I explain next.
Match The Snow Blower To The Amount Of Snow
To find the right machine for you, think about how much snow you normally get. Along with the area size you want to clear.
The general rule is that the deeper and heavier the snow and the larger the space to be cleared, the bigger your snowblower should be.
Let me explain that with more specific examples.
Light Snowfall (Four Inches Or Less)
Less than 4 inches qualifies as light snow and in this case, one of the electric snow shovels from my reviews might be all you need. These lightweight and low-maintenance machines are also referred to as snow throwers. They are simply fantastic for small areas such as front steps or walking paths to the sidewalk.
Medium Snowfall (Up To 12 Inches Of Snow)
Good quality single stage snow blowers can generally handle snow of up to 12 inches high. However, they have their limitations. They can only do their job well if the snow is dry, fluffy, and on flat paved surfaces.
High Snowfall (Up To 18 Inches Of Snow)
When you are dealing with a high level of snow, a two stage snow blower does a good job. This gas snow blower is good for up to 18 inches and can deal with wet and heavy snow. It works fast and will have no problems clearing driveways, even on slight inclines or gravel surfaces.
Extreme Snowfall (Over 24 Inches of Snow)
If you live in a state that sees over 24 inches of the white stuff, then don’t settle for anything less than 3-stage gas snow blowers. With all the power and performance you could ask for, this is a gas model with it all. With its large clearing width and depth, you will happily plow your way through the worst of winters.
Extra Features To Consider
There are many different snow blower features available that you need to consider. Here I will go into more detail.
Clearance Width & Throwing Distance
Clearing widths and throwing distance are related to each other in snow blowers. The wider the auger, the less time you’ll spend in the cold. For larger areas and driveways, choose a gas blower that clears at least 22 inches wide and throws snow at least 60 inches.
Tires, Tracks & Skids
On icy or steep surfaces, tracks give you more traction than tires. If you can only find snow blowers with tires, go for the airless tires. Do not attempt to use a snow blower on steep surfaces without the correct safety procedures in place.
If you’re worried about damaging the ground cover, you can add skids that will ensure the auger doesn’t dig into the ground surface.
Like in a car, you want full control and maneuverability. For this, I recommend power steering, variable speed control, an automatic chute rotation or joystick control chute, and freewheel turning.
Snow clearing can be quite a chore so make things easier for yourself with the right snow blower elements. Add-ons that make snow blowers more user-friendly include headlights, heated handlebars, and an electric start.
Frequently Asked Questions (People Also Ask)
Still can’t decide on the best machine for you? Maybe this will help you make up your mind.
What is the difference between 1, 2 and 3 stage snow blowers?
The difference between 1,2 & 3 stage snow blowers, generally speaking, is the clearing capabilities of each model.
A single stage snow blower only has an auger to both collect and throw snow, while a 2-stage snow blower also has an impeller for extra snow-shooting force. A 3 stage snow blower is the most powerful of them all because it also has an accelerator for the impeller.
How many inches of snow do you need for a snow blower?
2 inches is the recommended minimum amount of snow for using a snow blower. But, to be worth the investment and to do a worthwhile job I would say that at least 6 inches of regular snow at least.
What is the best snow blower for home use?
The Husqvarna ST224P is a favorite among homeowners. Other popular highly recommended models are Ariens ST24Le Deluxe and Toro Snowmaster 724 QXE.