Shoveling a snowy walkway once or twice a year isn’t so bad. But if you live in a snow-prone region, winter is shovel season, and it gets old fast. However, you can’t ignore it. A snow-covered walkway or driveway is dangerous and could turn into an ice-covered walkway or driveway, which is even worse. So, if you’ve had it with the shovel, it might be time to upgrade to a snow blower. These magical machines scoop up inches and inches of snow and blast it out of the way, leaving your sidewalk, patio and driveway tidy and clear. Like a leaf blower, there are a lot of choices when it comes to snow blowers. It’s important to buy the right one for your needs and snow accumulation. We’ve created a handy shopping guide below with the best snow blowers for every size and budget, from electric to gas to gas with an electric start. Read on to see which snowblower is right for you and your home this winter.
The first thing to consider when shopping for a snow blower is snow accumulation in your area and how often you plan to use your snow blower. Machines are measured in stages of snow. Stage 1 snow means a snow blower can handle around six to eight inches of snow. Stage 2 and 3 snow means a snow blower can handle more than 10 inches of snow and can often operate on unpaved, gravel surfaces, too. Gas snow blowers are available in all stages whereas electric snow blowers are only made for Stage 1 snow and should never be used on an unpaved surface.
Another difference in the snow stages and snow blower design is the auger. This corkscrew-shaped piece is how the machine pulls snow up from the ground. In a Stage 1 snow blower, the auger both pulls the snow and throws it out, usually up to 36 feet away. Because of this, sometimes a Stage 1 snow blower is called a snow thrower. However, in a Stage 2 or commercial Stage 3 snowblower, the auger only pulls the snow. An additional, more powerful piece called an impeller takes the picked-up snow and shoots it as far as 60 feet away.
Like other outdoor yard equipment, gas can tackle a big job and will give you more power than electric, but there are other features to look for as well. Like a lawn mower, snow blowers come in manual and self-propelled. Many snow blowers are outfitted with a headlight since the days are so short in the winter. If you need the power of gas but want the quick-start of electric, there are now hybrid snow blowers with engines that run on gas but feature an electric push-to-start button. It’s the best of both worlds.
For smaller jobs like maintaining a walkway or patio, this Sun Joe is your buy. We almost named it the best budget snow blower and consider it the best budget electric snow blower. More than 2,000 Amazon shoppers agree and say this model is perfect for clearing decks, walkways and more.
If you need a snow blower for the driveway, this EGO machine is a great all-around buy. It’s cordless, so long driveways aren’t a problem. And for under $700, you get an average clearing width of 21 inches and a chute that can spray 35 feet away.
Gas engine with an electric start. This Toro Stage 1 snow blower is the best of both worlds, and it makes the job so much easier with a self-propelled assist. If you’re looking for a gas snow blower for weekly winter driveway and sidewalk maintenance, this is your best buy.
If you have a wide driveway, it doesn’t matter how much power you’ve got. What you need is more clearing width. At 27 inches wide, this Stage 2 Champion Power Equipment snow blower can tackle a big driveway with tons of snow in no time. This could also be considered our pick for the best Stage 2 gas snow blower.
Gas snow blowers can cost as much as $3,000 (Yes, really!) so we were shocked to see this top-rated Stage 1 gas snow blower from Toro under $450. It’s on the smaller side for clearing width at just 18 inches, but it’ll make up for time and extra passes with its top-rated Toro engine.
Sometimes called an electric snow shovel, this tiny little snow blower is great for urban homes with small walkways. And at just 10 pounds, it’s great for storage, too.