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Updated on September 14, 2023

Planning guide

How to Choose the Best Snow Blower

The right snow blower will help you make quick work of clearing snow. Find out which type of snowblower is best for your needs.

Why Have a Snowblower at Home?

When the temperatures start to dip, you know it’s time to prepare for the snow. The best equipment to have on your side is a snowblower. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one.
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Gas or Electric Snowblower: Which Is Better for You?

When shopping for snow blowers, your main decision will be between an electric snowblower and a gas snowblower. While either type can be a great choice, the best type for your needs will depend on factors such as:

  • Snowfall amount and frequency in the area
  • Size of the area to be cleared
  • Terrain and surface type
  • Budget considerations
  • Additional features and accessories
Kobalt electric snow blower

Electric / Battery-Powered Snowblower

Electric snow blowers (also called “electric start snow blowers”), as the name would suggest, run off electricity. They can either be corded or cordless. This will typically be your go-to option for clearing snow from smaller areas. There are 2 types of electric snow blowers: corded and cordless (battery-powered).
Craftsman gas snow blower

Gas Snowblower

Due to their powerful engine, gas snow blowers tend to be more heavy-duty and are useful for clearing more snow from larger areas, such as multi-car driveways. They come in single stage, 2 stage, and 3 stage designs that are successively capable of clearing larger amounts of snow.

Types of snow blowers

Here is an overview of the unique benefits and drawbacks of the 5 main types of snowblowers to help you make a quick and informed choice:

Type

Great for

Pros

Cons

Cordless Electric Snowblower

Light to moderate snowfall (walkways, porches, patios and decks, and small driveways)

  • Light and compact
  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Able to store in smaller spaces
  • An environmentally friendly option
  • Quiet operation
  • Minimal maintenance requirements
  • Requires an electrical outlet
  • Available in single-stage models only
  • Not suitable for gravel surfaces
  • Made of less robust materials than gas-powered snowblowers
  • Cord may get in the way

Corded Electric Snowblower

Light to moderate snowfall (walkways, porches, patios and decks, and small/medium driveways)

  • No need to work around a cord
  • Light and compact
  • Easy to manoeuvre and easy to store
  • Quiet motor compared to gas-powered models
  • Lower price than gas models
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Battery needs to be charged
  • Not ideal for large amounts of snow
  • Not suitable for gravel surfaces
  • Not as robust as gas-powered snowblowers
  • Only available in single-stage models
  • Generally not self-propelled
  • Small clearing width (less than 20”)

Single-Stage Gas Snowblower

Light to moderate snowfall (walkways and small/medium driveways)

  • Takes up less space than 2- and 3-stage models
  • Easy to store
  • Ideal for clearing smaller areas
  • Excellent manoeuvrability
  • Not suitable for clearing snow banks
  • Not intended for gravel surfaces
  • Not available in wheel drive
  • Small clearing width (less than 20”)

Two-Stage Gas Snowblower

Heavy snowfall with ice (walkways and medium/large driveways)

  • Clearing widths between 20-24”
  • Suitable for all types of surfaces
  • Self-propulsion
  • Fast and efficient snow clearing
  • More power than single-stage snowblowers
  • Suitable for hard and heavy snow
  • Noisy operation
  • Requires a larger storage space
  • Heavier and more difficult to manoeuvre
  • Higher price than single-stage models

Three-Stage Gas Snowblower

Heavy snowfall with ice (large driveways and parking lots)

  • Most powerful and efficient type of snowblower
  • Suitable for large quantities of snow
  • Suitable for heavy snow and ice
  • Designed for use on all surfaces
  • Capable of launching snow over 50’
  • Large clearing width of over 30”
  • Requires a large amount of storage space
  • Noisy operation
  • Heavy and difficult to manoeuvre
  • Most expensive type of snowblower
Man using an electric snow shovel on a deck

What About Electric Snow Shovels?

Designed to tackle light to moderate snowfall, this compact and lightweight machine is a game changer for those looking for a hassle-free snow removal solution. Compact, efficient, and easy to manoeuvre, electric snow shovels effortlessly clear driveways, sidewalks, and patios in no time.

How Gas Snowblowers Work

Gas snowblowers function differently depending on the number of stages involved in their operation. Here’s how snow is gathered and thrown by single-stage, two stage, and three stage snowblowers.

Single Stage Snow Blowers (also called “snow thrower”)

Inside of a single stage snowblower, there are two rotating rubber blades that touch all the way down to the ground and gather up snow in the snowblower’s path. The blades push the snow into the chute, gathering it and launching it in one single motion.

Two Stage Snow Blowers

In the first stage of a 2-stage snowblower’s operation, two serrated, high-resistance augers gather the snow inside of the snowblower. In the second stage, a high-speed turbine pushes the snow up through the ejector.

Three Stage Snow Blowers

A 3-stage snowblower also uses two steel augers to gather and push the snow into the machine. Then, before the snow is pushed into the turbine, it goes through an accelerator. This allows 3-stage snowblowers to launch snow as far as 50’ away at a rate of about 50% faster than a 2-stage snowblower.
Snowblower with a headlight at night

Snowblower Features to Consider

Snowblowers come with a variety of features that can be very useful depending on the job you need to do. You may find some of the following features beneficial.

Variable Speed
Multi-stage snowblowers often have multiple forward speeds and one or two reverse speeds as well. This can come in handy by preventing clogs when clearing heavy snow. It also provides more control over your pace.

Power Steering
For even greater control with 2- and 3-stage snowblowers, choose a model that offers power steering. You’ll be able to manoeuvre the snowblower with minimal effort, turning left or right on the dime.

Self-Propulsion
Select 2- and 3-stage snowblowers also offer self-propelled drive, which keeps the snowblower moving without you needing to push. It also makes for easier steering and provides greater power in large snow drifts.

Chute Control
A snowblower that comes with an adjustable chute, whether controlled by a remote tilt, a crank, or a switch, will allow you to direct the discharged snow exactly where you want it.

Headlight
An LED headlight can be useful when you need to clear snow early in the morning or after the sun has set on those short winter days.

Heated Grips
Sometimes, even a good pair of gloves can’t keep back the winter chill. Heated handle grips will keep your hands warm during longer snow-clearing sessions.

Accessories
There are numerous additional snowblower accessories that you can get to make clearing snow quicker, more convenient, and more enjoyable. Snow chains, for example, will provide greater traction on icy surfaces. Skid shoes are a must-have on uneven ground, while drift cutters are essential for areas that see heavy snowfall and strong winds.
Heavy duty snowblower

How to Use a Snowblower Properly

Once you’ve picked the right snow blower, it’s time to get to work. Here are some tips for using a snow blower properly and efficiently.

  • Make sure that you are using a snowblower that is sized to your height and that you can manoeuvre effectively.
  • Clear slopes in an up and down manner. Moving across the snow face can damage the snowblower.
  • If you are using a single stage snow blower, try to clear the snow as soon as possible, before it has a chance to compact.
  • For smaller driveways, balconies, or walkways, use a single stage snow blower
  • For driveways that can accommodate about two to four cars, use a 2-stage snowblower.
  • For large driveways that can accommodate over four cars, use a 3-stage snowblower.
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Pro Tip

Never finish using your snow blower on snow that is dirty from road traffic. Always plan to end off with clean snow. This will effectively clean the interior of your snowblower and help prevent corrosion.

How to Maintain Your Snowblower

Ensuring that your snow blower stays in good operational condition for many years to come requires proper maintenance. Follow these tips and you’ll keep your maintenance issues to a minimum.

  • Do not attempt to use a single stage snowblower on snow banks, as this may cause damage to the rubber auger.
  • For gas-powered snowblowers, you’ll need to inspect the spark plugs at the beginning of the season, replacing them if needed. Gas-powered snowblowers also require an annual oil change to avoid engine damage.
  • Keep extra drive belts and shear pins on hand to ensure that your snowblower can always run when you need it the most.
Snowblower cover

How to Store Your Snowblower Properly

When it comes time to put your snowblower away, proper storage will help keep it in good condition and ready to work next season. Here are three important tips to take note of.

  • Store your snowblower away from sources of moisture to keep corrosion at bay. A snowblower cover can help.
  • As winter winds down, try to use up the rest of the gas so that you can store your snowblower with an empty or near-empty tank.
  • Make sure the motor is empty before storing your snowblower. You can do so by allowing it to run until it shuts off, repeating until the motor doesn’t start anymore.
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