Snowblowers or snow throwers can help you survive even the very worst Mother Nature sends your way. Learn about which type is best for you.
Snowblowers use either gas or electric power and come with either single-stage or dual-stage snow throwing abilities. There are three important questions to ask yourself before choosing a snowblower. How much snow do you receive? What type of snow do you receive? How large is the area you have to clear?
If you receive only moderate snowfall and have a small, narrow drive, you may not need to spend the extra money on a two-stage snowblower. The smaller the snowblower, the more passes it will take to clear your drive, so a wide or long driveway will require a clearing path of up to 45”, which means investing in a two-stage model. Wet, heavy or packable snow will also require a model with extra horsepower. Read on to determine which type of snowblower will work for you.
Single-Stage Electric SnowblowerGood for: short, level, paved driveways, small decks & walks
Single-stage electric snowblowers are small, compact and lightweight. The term single-stage comes from the one-step process these snowblowers use to clear snow. A rubber-tipper auger breaks the snow loose, lifts and tosses it directly through the discharge chute. These snowblowers have a clearing path (or swath) of about 11 – 18” wide, meaning that they are best suited for short, narrow drives and walkways.
Because you will need to plug in the cord to an electrical outlet, single-stage electric snowblowers have limited range and freedom of movement. They are light and compact, which does aid maneuverability and makes them easier to store. Single-stage electric models don’t have driven wheels and are propelled only by the biting action of the auger blades. This means you may need to use some muscle to push the machine forward in the snow. Look for a model with large, sturdy wheels. Flat drives are the easiest to clear with this model and drives with steep slopes are not recommended.
Single-Stage Gas SnowblowerGood for: mid-sized, level, paved driveways with less than 8” of snow
Single-stage gas snowblowers are more powerful than their electric counterparts. If you have a mid-sized, level driveway, this model might be the choice for you. Although they are heavier than electric models, they are still fairly compact. Without the hindrance of a cord, these snowblowers are very easy to use and maneuver around your property.
Single-stage models that are gas powered have a larger clearing path, 20 – 22”, but like electric models, are propelled forward only by the auger, making them difficult to push through deep or heavy snow. They should not be used on gravel drives since the auger must grip the ground surface. Gas models require more maintenance than electric snowblowers. They typically come with two-cycle engines which require oil to be mixed with the gasoline.
Two-Stage Gas (Dual-Stage) SnowblowerGood for: long, wide, uneven driveways with higher than 8” of heavy snow
Two-stage, also know as dual-stage, snowblowers are so-called because there is a second part to the snow throwing process. An impeller, which rotates like a fan, is located above the auger. After the auger lifts the snow, the impeller helps throw it out of the chute, making it a two-stage process. These models are also propelled by engine driven wheels, which makes them more powerful and a better choice for drives with steep inclines and deep, heavy snow. Two-stage snowblowers usually have engines with 8 to 12 HP with clearing paths 24 to 36” wide, depending on the size of the model. 13 HP models come with 33 – 45” swaths and steerable wheels.
Two-stage snowblowers are best for long and wide driveways and driveways with slopes. Also, on unpaved, gravel driveways, you should only use a two-stage snowblower, since the auger doesn’t touch the ground. Two-stage models are heavy and take up a fair bit of storage space. Because they are gas powered, they require regular maintenance. Two-stage models are also the most expensive type of snowblower.