Gas beats electric in power, and two-stage is the most popular type for a good reason.
You need a snow blower! They say global warming is making snowfall totals higher, and you’re already tired of shoveling. The increased snow happens because global warming results in more moisture, which translates to more snow when temperatures are low. Sort of like lake effect—but on caffeine.
One aside: It’s December as I write this. Years ago, I bought my husband a snow blower before Thanksgiving. When we went to pick it up the day before Thanksgiving and there wasn’t a snow blower to be seen without a “sold” sign on them. So, at this point, you may want to consider using our Plowz n Mowz app to hire someone to plow for you this year, while you sit by the fire and learn about snow blowers, opting for a great sale or an early-season snow thrower purchase in the fall.
Our advice is to skip anything that needs an extension cord unless you have a short sidewalk that sits within 15 feet of a power outlet and experience snowfalls under 6 inches, so we’re not even talking about that option.
Battery power is stronger than ever, though, and a great option. While it still can’t give you the same amount of power at gas—and definitely not for the same amount of time—it is a green choice (remember global warming?), and it is perfect for those who do not understand gas engines and/or don’t want to do all the maintenance (there’s a lot more to it than pour in the gas and hit start). Always have a spare battery available, as a battery can sometimes take 30 minutes or more to recharge. And, the deeper the snow, the harder the snowblower works, so the more power it goes through. If you have a lot to do, two spare batteries is not a bad idea.
Overall, if you can do gas, go gas for the power. With many gas-powered snowblowers, you can get a self-propelled model, which is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, gas-powered snowblowers can weigh up to 400 pounds. Battery power models top off at about 70. This could be a consideration if you get stuck in the snow (can you manage to wiggle it free?). So, if the weight and maintenance of a gas engine overwhelm you, go with an electric snow blower.
Snowblowers generally come as single stage, two stage, and three stage. Yes, the power level—the snowblower’s ability to toss snow—goes up with each stage.
A single-stage snowblower has an auger that shoots the snow out of a chute. It is going to be good at 6 to 10 inches of snow and is best for smaller pathways.
A two-stage snowblower, with a serrated auger, cuts through snow faster. The snow goes into the machine through the auger, which pushes the snow up into an impeller. The impeller is there to add some thrust into the chute, so that snow flies farther out as it leaves the chute. A two-stage will get you through about 15 to 18 inches or so. (Yes, you may read higher snow amounts in some places, but we’re realistic.) Beyond that, you need a three-stage.
A three-stage snowblower is probably the one that would have Tim the Tool Man (remember the old Tim Allen show, Home Improvement?) do his grunt! A three-stage snowblower has an accelerator that works with the auger to get snow into the machine more quickly and helps more when the snow is rather icy. The snow then moves to the impeller at a faster rate so it gets tossed out even farther through the chute, possibly up to 40 or 50 feet. So, the three-stage will toss more snow more quickly and make your job faster and easier, but you probably don’t need it. If you think you need a three-stage snowblower, you probably would be better off hiring someone to plow (using Plowz & Mowz, of course). At this time, most all three-stage snowblowers are gas.
Overall, if you remove the maintenance associated with a gas engine, most maintenance—broken pins, replacing belts, etc.—are very similar. And the width of the snowblower is a no-brainer, the wider it is, the more snow you gobble up and toss. Reminder: If you have a pathway or fence that’s only 24” wide, you may find a 30” snowblower won’t fit.
A nice add-on is a gas-powered snowblower that includes an electric start. Many do, and they’re worth the few extra dollars for those times you’re in a hurry, but the gas engine just won’t turn over on its own.
While some “best choices” reviews get down to the exact model they think you should buy—and often have “buy here” buttons because they get a commission—we don’t do that. You need to decide your power type and the size you need (you should have determined that a two-stage snowblower is probably all you need). There’s no point in recommending a 30” snowblower for someone with a driveway that’s 12 by 10 feet. So, our recommendations are by brand, and everything is dependent on the maintenance you provide.
The best battery-powered equipment choices are from EgoPower and Greenworks, with EgoPower having a bit of an edge in snowblowers, according to most reviews. Snow Joe is making a lot of noise, too, especially with attractive prices. Snow Joe also offers a snowblower that allows you to use either gas or battery, much like a hybrid car. They aren’t the only ones to do that, of course, but they are the only ones we saw at an amazing rating—and they appear to be mostly sold out.
Ariens has been a top brand in snowblowers since the early 1960s, and they’re still one of the best. They’re expensive, though. That said, in my family, my Dad had one snowblower for three decades. When it was time to surprise my husband with a snowblower, I went with an Ariens. That was in 1998. That snowblower is still running. The other powerhouses in gas snowblowers are Cub Cadet, Troy-Built, Toro (Power models), and Husqvarna. And don’t forget about that hybrid Snow Joe.
Posted on December 17, 2022
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