Some people love mowing the lawn. They look forward to wheeling out the lawnmower and enjoying a moderately strenuous workout, while getting a tan on a beautiful summer’s day.
Things change when the seasons do, however. It’s hard to picture many who love clearing snow from their driveway or walk. Instead of eagerly awaiting the chance to wheel out the snow blower, just about everyone we know simply looks forward to finishing the job and putting the thing away.
That’s why it’s important to buy the best snow blower that fits into your budget – so you can clear the snow as quickly as possible and either get back inside where it’s warm, or head off for a winter activity that’s actually enjoyable. With hundreds of electric, one-stage and two-stage snowblowers on the market, all with laundry lists of specifications and features that are pain to compare, lots of homeowners find it easiest to simply buy one with a brand name they recognize, or the model that their local home center has on sale. A better solution is to buckle down and do extensive research on models, options and snow blower reviews before trying to choose one.
But the best solution is to rely on our research – after all, we’ve already done it, so there’s no sense in letting it go to waste, right? Here’s your comprehensive guide to buying a snowblower, along with our compilation of the choices out there.
Top 10 Best Snow Blowers Comparison Table
Clearing Width (inches)
|Snow Joe SJ625E||Electric|
|Power Smart DB7651||Gas|
|Snow Joe iON18SB||Battery|
|Snow Joe SJ621||Electric|
|Snow Joe SJ622E||Electric|
Door #1 or Door #2?
Several of the most important decisions you have to make when choosing a new snow machine are the “either-or” variety – or as we like to think of it, do you want the snowblower behind door #1, or the one behind door #2?
Door 1: Electric Snow Blowers
1. An electric snow blower, quiet and light, and virtually maintenance-free. Of course, it also requires a power cord which will limit the range of the machine as well as its manoeuvrability, and most will have a difficult time clearing snow that’s deeper than four inches or so.
2. A gas snow blower, which can be used anywhere on your property without being attached to a power source, but will make more noise and require gas, oil and engine maintenance. It can also handle heavier depths.
(There’s also a door #3 with a cordless snowblower, needing frequent recharging and usually only suitable for small jobs. Most people don’t pick door #3, but we’ll include one of these cordless models in our list.)
Door 2: Gas Powered
- A single-stage, whose plastic or metal blade assembly (known as the auger) picks up the snow and expels it through a chute. These snow throwers only work on hard surfaces like pavement because the auger makes direct contact with the surface; they have a hard time with surfaces like gravel, and can damage decks, lawns and wood structures. These machines are good in depths up to 6-8 inches, while some powerful ones may be able to clear snow as much as a foot deep. They perform better on level surfaces and with fluffy or light snow, and can have difficulty working in wet, heavy stuff.
- A two-stage, with a more-powerful engine and what’s known as an impeller added to the mix. The auger picks up the snow and the impeller is responsible for throwing it; this means the machine can be used to remove heavier, wetter stuff at much higher depths (some models can even handle two feet of the white stuff), and throw it much further. The auger on a two-stage unit never touches the ground, and its height can be adjusted to clear any surface easily. These snow throwers are usually wider than single-stage blowers, so they can cover large areas of ground more quickly. Two-stage snowblowers are also more likely to have extra features, like electric start, heated hand grips, power steering, remote adjustments for the snow chute, and even variable-speed transmissions.
(Once again there’s also a door #3, but it has a three-stage blower more suitable for commercial use behind it.)
OK, you electric folks can rejoin us now; we asked you to sit tight because electric snowblowers are only available as single-stage models. At this point, you should have a good idea whether a single-stage electric, single-stage gas or two-stage gas machine is right for your needs; the electric snow thrower works best in light coverings for steps, walks and small driveway areas near AC power. Moderate snows or larger areas call for single-stage gas, while a two-stage unit will come in very handy in the snow belt; some homeowners in snowy areas have both one- and two-stage snow blowers, so they can use whichever is appropriate. As you’ve probably guessed electric snowblowers are the least expensive option, and two-stage gas machines are the most expensive.
Things to Consider when Buying a Snow Blower
Now that’s out of the way, here are some of the other factors to consider when shopping for a snowblower. We briefly mentioned the difference in width between one- and two-stage machines, but there’s no standard auger width for either. Consider the areas you’ll be clearing and look for a model which can take care of as much space as possible with a single pass, remembering that two-stage blowers will normally have a much wider auger. If you regularly get heavy snows, you’ll greatly appreciate having a self-propelled blower and power steering. And if there’s one “must-have” feature, it’s electric start; think of how frustrating a pull cord is on a recalcitrant lawnmower in nice weather, and then picture having the same problem in the middle of a snowstorm in freezing temperatures.
There are hundreds and hundreds of machines you can choose from in the major categories we’ve discussed, making it impossible to do justice to a complete list with just ten entries. For that reason, we’ll be focusing primarily on electric and rechargeable snowblowers in these reviews, although we’ll throw in value choices for one-stage and two-stage units. One important note before we begin: since you’ll be likely to use an extension cord for these machines, be sure that the extension is rated for the amperage of the snowblower; you’ll be safer using a cord that’s rated a little higher than that of the motor, especially if you’re using a long extension.
Top 10 Snow Blower Reviews
1. Snow Joe SJ625E 15
There are a few snow blower manufacturers whose names automatically mean “quality,” and one of them is Snow Joe. The SJ625E has a 15-amp motor and a 21-inch steel auger, making it one of the largest and most powerful electric machines available. The company claims this thrower can move 800 pounds of snow per minute at a depth of 12″; we have no way of measuring that, of course, but you’ll be able to do much more than just steps and walks with this model. It can easily compete with most one-stage gas blowers, although you may find that if you get too ambitious with deep coverings, you may experience some clogs in the chute. By the way, that chute is adjustable over a 180 degree range. Being on the low price range, this machine is a keeper.
2. GreenWorks 2600502
The specs on this blower are similar to the Snow Joe SJ625E’s, with a 13-amp motor and a nominal 20-inch auger (as well as a rotatable chute), but you’ll find there’s less oomph in its performance. One obvious reason is that the auger is really 18″ and it’s just enclosed in a 20-inch housing, and the other is that the 2600502’s motor is 13 instead of 15 amps. Quite honestly, though, we’d expect more from a SnowJoe than a GreenWorks. This is still a good thrower for up to about four-inch snowfalls, though, and it’s cheaper than the SJ625.
3. Toro 38361
It’s not just the name Snow Joe that automatically gives you a level of comfort with a snow blower – Toro does, too. The company’s smaller units are some of the finest you’ll find anywhere and the Toro 38361 upholds the tradition, providing outstanding performance from its 7.5 amp motor on small jobs and lighter coverings that’s four inches deep. The plastic auger only clears a swath of about 12″, and the chute expels directly in front of the thrower, but it’s very easy to maneuver since the unit weighs just 13 pounds. “Power shovel” is the perfect name for this Toro and what it can do.
4. Power Smart DB7651 24-Inch
Here’s one of the two exceptions to our rule: a two-stage machine, which we include not because of the manufacturer’s name, but because of its value for a real workhorse. The DB7651 Smart features a 208cc gas engine with four forward and two reverse speeds, electric start, and a 24-inch steel auger. The intake height is 21″, so you can easily use this blower on heavy and 18-inch snowfalls. You’d pay a whole lot more for a comparable Toro or Snow Joe. One important fact: this thrower does not meet California emission standards.
5. Snow Joe iON18SB Cordless Snow Blower
Small snow clearing jobs usually don’t take longer than 45 minutes, and this Snow Joe is the machine for those jobs if you don’t want to be tethered to AC power. Utilizing a 40-volt lithion-ion battery, the steel auger clears 18-inch swaths with ease, in depths up to six inches or perhaps even more (Snow Joe claims it’s eight inches). It also has a rubber scraper bar at the base of the machine to protect decks or other wooden structures. It’s quiet, convenient, and could even give some lower-level one-stage gas machines a run for their money at a much lower price.
6. Snow Joe SJ621
The SJ621 is basically a lower-level version of the SJ625E we’ve already reviewed. It clears 18″ at a time instead of 21, and isn’t quite as powerful (13 vs. 15 amp motor), but its steel auger and rotatable chute provide the same functions, user experience and results on slightly lesser snowfalls – six inches shouldn’t be an issue. If you want electric and don’t need “all” of the 625E, the 621 is worth a long look.
7. Toro 38381
The Power Curve is one of Toro’s best selling lines, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s durable and powerful (for an electric blower) yet lightweight at just 25 pounds. “Power Curve” refers to the curved rotor and funnel housing, which can move more snow with fewer clogs. Don’t expect miracles, though, because its auger only clears an 18 inch path and it isn’t built to handle tightly packed snow or depths of more than about ten inches. The chute can rotate 160 degrees and there’s an ergonomic, adjustable handle to make life easier.
8. GreenWorks 26022
Your mission is to find a good electric snowblower that’s easy on the pocket? Here it is. This lightweight GreenWorks model has a ten amp motor and a 16-inch auger, and can remove lighter coverings that’s four inches deep (the company claims six inches) without breaking much of a sweat. To be sure, it’s not the equal of a gas-powered one-stage unit, or even the Snow Joe models we’ve reviewed. But it’s going to clean your walk quietly, easily and at a very friendly price.
9. Snow Joe SJ622E
This Snow Joe is almost identical to the SJ625E at the top of these reviews; the only real differences are a smaller auger, four pounds less weight, and the price. It’s a solid machine and will do the job, but we’d choose the SJ625E unless we had to clear steps or paths that are only 18″ wide, rather than the 21″ the bigger unit can handle.
10. Husqvarna 961830003
Here’s our one-stage gas-powered value choice, a Husqvarna machine. It’s powered by a 208cc engine, has a 21-inch clearing path, a rotating chute, and will charge through snow up to six inches deep. It’s definitely not the machine we’d select if we lived in the snow belt, as Husqvarna makes much bigger, and frankly, better blowers than this one. But the company has a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its snowblowers and heavy equipment, and it’s unusual to be able to pick up “anything” made by the company at a price like this. One thing we didn’t like: they charge extra if you want a blower with a headlight. Most machines come standard with them.
If you’ve ever tried to find an air conditioner (or even a fan) in the middle of a heat wave, you know there’s no sense waiting until winter to buy a snow blower – you won’t be able to find a good one, and may not even find one at all. The time is now, while you’re thinking about it, to take an honest look at the type of snow you typically receive each winter and the areas you need to clear. Then, armed with the information in this rundown of best snow blowers, you’ll be ready to buy the electric, one-stage or two-stage snowblower that fits your situation before you really need it.