It is winter time again, and before you know it, your driveway and sidewalk will be covered in snow. This year, do yourself a favor and buy a reliable snow blower to clear the driveway and sidewalk without the backache.
Why Trust This Snow Blower Buying Guide?
I poured through the reviews on Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, and Sears websites as I normally do, when I am personally in the market for a new gadget, I fired up a spreadsheet and started taking notes on the most popular machines out there.
Popularity to me is reflected by how many reviews the machine has online. It is my opinion that people only write reviews when they are really happy, or really angry about a product. That's why the machines you'll find below, deserve your full attention.
You can read the reviews for yourself by clicking on the snow blower model # to be transported to the website that sells it.
I weeded out the bad apples from each site for your convenience, and created a list of snow blowers and snow throwers that I personally would buy in a heartbeat. In fact I just bought the Sno-Tek Model # 920402 24 in. Two-Stage Electric Start Gas Snow Blower this November! I'll post a comment below, after I get to use it to plow through some snow.
How to Find The Right Snow Blower For You
Not sure which snow blower or snow thrower is right for you? No problem, I'll explain to you how to chose the right machine for your needs. It all comes down to where you live, how much storage space you have, and of course how much you are willing to spend.
Snow Blower Types
These are the smallest snow throwing machines you can buy. They feature a rubber lined auger which throws the snow and it is also responsible for propelling the machine down your driveway. With that being said, this is not the blower to buy, if you have a gravel based driveway because it will suck up rocks and throw them!
These are great if you live in an area where snow falls do not exceed 8 to 10 inches. They are more powerful than their electric cousins, but they are also propelled by the auger instead of having powered wheels, so stay away from gravel driveways with these as well.
Two-stage / Dual-stage Gas
Two-stage gas snow blowers are popular for long or wide driveways and in areas that exceed 8 inches of snow. The two stage refers to the different methods used to handle the snow. Stage one being the auger which gathers the snow and stage two being a fan like impeller (paddle) that throws the snow out of the chute at high speeds. These blowers have an auger that doesn't touch the ground, so it is a must for people who have gravel driveways to clear. Another feature on these is that the engine powers the wheels, a fantastic feature especially in really deep snow falls. Just push a two-stage snow blower in one foot of snow without the aid of the powered wheels and you'll quickly realize how extremely hard it is to do, especially if the surface your working on is slippery.
These are the largest snow blowers you can buy and they are the most efficient at clearing snow and ice from your driveway. They have every feature that the two-stage models have with the exception of having two augers that scoop up heavy snow and ice into the chute where the impeller launches it out at high speed. Some 3-stage snow blowers are capable of launching snow and ice 50 feet away! Most homeowners will not be buying one of these because of their high cost, unless they really need one because they have a large driveway and a storage shed to store these monsters. Three-stage snow blowers are used more for commercial reasons then they are for residential purposes, so we have not included any in our Snow Blower Buying Guide below. However if you think these belong here, let us know on our Google + Page.
The Buying Guide Chart below provides a quick rundown of all the models that we felt were good enough to make it to the list. Here's the criteria we looked at:
1. Needs to be a good seller because this provided us a large amount of customer reviews to analyze.
2. Needs to maintain a high average review score because this indicates good quality, customer service, and reliability.
3. Needs to be priced for the average consumer, we were not interested in the Ferrari of snow blowers mainly because of their price tag.
4. Needs to have a good reputation according to the customer reviews
As you could see by our criteria, this list of snow blowers and snow throwers is one of the finest out there. We have even included snippets from Consumer Reports for each model, if the blower made it to the list, we list the actual number it landed based on their ratings for each category. The lower the number the better. If the blower won some type of Consumer Reports designation such as a "Best Buy" or "Recommended Buy", we noted that designation in the downloadable spreadsheet as well. The chart below includes the bare minimum information you need to make a proper buying decision, while the downloadable spreadsheet will provide you with a little more detail . Any snow blower from our buying guide will satisfy your needs as long as you buy from the proper category depending on your snow removal needs and geographic location.
Single-Stage Electric Snow Blowers
|Snow Joe SJ620||227||4.3||$141||13.5||flat||paved||18"||10"||light|
Single-Stage Gas Snow Blowers
|Poulan Pro PR621||79||4.1||$449||208||all||both||21"||13"||light|
|Cub Cadet 221-LHP||33||4.4||$649||208||all||paved||21"||13"||light|
Two-Stage / Dual-stage Gas Snow Blowers
|Troy-Bilt 3090 XP||51||4.2||$1,199||357||all||both||30"||21"||wet|
Hey, I just recorded some killer multi-cam footage of my Snowtek Snow Blower in full blown action, going through snow over 24" deep. I will be posting the review video on my ProvenHelper YouTube Channel very soon. Subscribe if you like how I do things, or if you want to see me put my snow blower through 2 1/2 feet of blizzard depth snow. The Snotek even surprised me, you'll see why in the video.
Sno-Tek 24 Snow Blower Review
Snow Blower Buying Chart Key
|Brand||Manufacturer||Model||Model number identifier|
|Reviews||The largest amount of reviews found on the web for this blower||Engine cc
||The size of a gas engine rated in cubic centimeters|
|lbs/min||An estimated figure of how much snow in pound the machine moves per minute||Throws
||Distance in feet that the machine can throw snow|
|Surface||Usually single stage snow throwers are propelled forward only by the auger, which prevents them from clearing gravel driveways||Handling||How easy the machine is to maneuver around|
|Chute Angle||The amount of degrees you can turn the chute||Swath Width||The clearing width of the enclosure|
|Depth||The clearing height of the enclosure||Duty||Choices of usage are Light, Medium, and Heavy Duty|
|Snow||The type of snow the machine can handle||Light||Headlight feature|
|CR||The distinction if any that Consumer Reports has given the blower or the number it made on their list|
More specifications can be found in the downloadable guide.
* indicates an estimated figure.
Download & Print the 2014 - 2015 Snow Blower Buying Guide
Single Stage Electric Models
|Snow Joe SJ620 13.5 Amp 18" Corded Snow Thrower
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
The Snow Joe SJ620 is a well liked snow thrower on Amazon. You can use it on mid sized driveways and sidewalks without any problems. This little guy can move 650 pounds of snow per minute, which is probably 550 lbs more than the average person can do in the same amount of time.
The chute is 18 inches wide by 10 inches tall, so it's big enough for most snow storms even in the northeast. Great snow thrower for those who don't have much storage space left in their sheds or garage.
Top 8 Comments From Amazon Customers
|Positive Comments Made||Negative Comments Made|
|Does a surprisingly good job for its size and price.||I don't like it. This was a waste of money.|
|Great little snow blower.||not well for heavy wet snow,looking for gasoline power blower|
|This guy works and works hard!||cant handle ten inches of snow but ok for light snow|
|Works like a champion!||Not a strong as I had hoped.|
|It does a great job clearing the snow down to the concrete,||Works for a few seconds then gets clogged. Throws snow about 2-3 feet not any further. Very dissatisfied.|
|Really works great and throws the snow a long way||It was not as easy to handle as described. we had to clean on spot 2-3 times in order to remove the snow.|
|Love it! Great for 3"-4" of snow||I'm going out today and buying a REAL snow blower, which shouldn't cost less than $500. Our "Snow Joe" will be on the bottom of our driveway with a "FREE" sign.|
|Great, Will even do more now than advertised, Just go over it again||It is a good little snow blower but the cord portion is kind of annoying|
After reviewing the positive and negative comments on Amazon, I have mixed feelings. Most people love this machine, but like most products these days, you will find negative reviews. It does make the buying decision hard for those who want perfection in order to pull the trigger on this purchase. I personally would buy the Snow Joe Sj620 from a store like Lowes or Home Depot, as long as their return policy allows me to return it, if I am not satisfied from the first use.
I think most people would like this little machine, even though sometimes you will have to go over the same path twice. If your budget is limited for a snow blower, try this one out. You never know, you might just love what it can do for you!
|Toro 38381 15 Amp 18" Corded Snow Blower||
Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Toro 38381 is an easy to use snow blower by America's favorite electric snow blower brand. This mighty little machine can clear 700 pounds of snow in one minute! It is available in 2 more smaller sizes, if this 18" wide by 12" tall scoop is too much blower for you. A great feature on this Toro is the fact that you can fold it up into a much smaller footprint for storage, a feature that we can all truly appreciate.
Top 8 Comments From Amazon Customers
|Positive Comments Made||Negative Comments Made|
|Overall excellent!! It takes the snow right down to the ground and even gets the hard compacted snow from where the cars enter the garage without a problem.||I have a 150ft driveway and it proved too much for this little guy|
|Punches above its weight - cleaned up after blizzard "Nemo"||It's next to impossible to direct the snow. The instructions say to just lean it to one way or the other, but that certainly didn't work for me.|
|Wonderful time saver and especially wonderful for elderly who have decreased endurance and back problems.||Good for Light Work on Powder Snow - Don't Push it too Hard|
|For snow that is 6-8" deep or less, and that isn't of the wet, heavy variety, it cuts through quickly, and gets down to bare pavement easily.||I had to assemble it upon delivery and there were springs missing. I had to buy them at a local hardware store.|
|It would have taken me at least 1/2 of a back breaking day to do this with a shovel.||It takes more time to mess with this then to use a shovel because of the angle of the blower.|
|Outstanding snow blower! Light enough to use as a shovel!||Broke the second time I used it!|
|This is my third winter with the 12 Amp Power Curve and I really like it. It will serve you well, if you understand it's limitations.||Bought it as a Christmas present and the thing broke within the first 10 minutes!|
|Great for walkways and decks. Something you can't do with a gas blower is a deck clearing.||Please, please don't buy this, it will break your back and will leave you frustrated in the snow.|
Wow, I just finished reading some very interesting experiences that people were having with this Toro 38381. Some swear by it as it helps them deal with winters chore. Others seem to swear right at the machine becuase of breakdonws, useability problems, and because the snow fall they used it in, proved to be too much for this little blower.
What About The Numbers?
There are over 1,000 reviews on Amazon about this blower and most of them are good. Sometimes in life you just have to take a risk. There's a 80% chance you will be a happy customer based on the average review rating, and in most peoples book, those are pretty good odds.
|GreenWorks 26032 12 Amp 20" Corded Snow Thrower||
Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Top 8 Comments From Amazon Customers
|Positive Comments Made||Negative Comments Made|
|Couldn't be happier with the little guy!||Heavy and hard to push,|
|Works Great Works Green, GreenWorks||it is hard to shovel snow over 5"|
|Works better than my 8 year old Toro 1800.||You Get What You Pay For,|
|I have used this product for one winter and have been pleasantly surprised.||Warranty NOT honored. Parts break after 1st year. Don't Trust the 4 Year Claim|
|May not be as robust as the two stage gas models but worked fine for me,||WORTHLESS PIECE OF GARBAGE|
|Better than my entry level 2-cycle gas thrower||Miserable waste of money|
|Several of my friends and family have also purchased this machine knowing how much I like it.||It does not work on the first day|
|By chipping away a bit at a time, I was able to clear the 12' wide by 3' deep (front to back) foot-high pile.||Built like a toy|
I'll be updating this article every year with new model numbers. Checkout my personal snow blower story.
Recently I posted a link to this guide on Facebook and someone had a great comment to add about a machine they purchased. After the conversation, I realized that I might have bought a different machine entirely if I already known the real world difference between a 30" and 24" snow blower.
Marduke: I picked up the Troy-Bilt 3090 XP three years ago.
It goes through snow like a hot knife through butter. When we had that three foot of snow I was the only one in our neighborhood that had their driveway clean, the same day when the snow stopped. Even did my neighbors since his snowblower broke. Everyone else took a few days to get theirs done. The thing runs like a champ never had any issues always starts up quick. Even my wife is able to use it without any problems, using the power steering feature. Also love the handle warmer, and chute joystick features.
Voitek Sounds like a great machine to add to my list, Consumer Reports noted your blower as a recommended buy. My wife and I just bought a house that needed more work than we budgeted for, thanks to a lazy previous owner, so I had no plans to actually buy a snow blower this year. However, I also have a back injury so my wife convinced me to get one anyway. My criteria was simple, it had to be small enough to fit in a garage with both cars and a riding mower, so I originally thought I would have to buy a small electric blower that collapses into a smaller footprint. Luckily, I moved some stuff around and fit the new blower in nicely behind my Mustang with only a few inches to spare.
We ended up buying the Snow-Tek 920402, because it's built by Ariens and it has more than 1,200 positive reviews on the Home Depot website.
I was already a fan of Ariens because my dad owned one for 20 years, and the only thing that ever broke on his was the little cotter pin that locks the hub for two wheel drive. My only complaint for my snow blower is that the handles seem small, which cramps my hands probably because I work on the computer constantly. Other than that, it really does seem to throw the snow at the rated 40 feet which is much farther than my dads old blower that's much larger. I never pull stated mine, but the electric start works great every time. It actually seems to do a much better job than my dads, but then again, his is over 20 years old now. I occasionally drive mine into the 2 foot + snow banks the plows create by the curb because we have a ride-up mailbox. I have to go slow through those, but it does the job well.
Anyways, if you're in the market for something for your house like a lawnmower, let me know. I'm always looking for content ideas for my home improvement site, if I don't already have a worthwhile piece handy.
Right now I'm researching solar energy including all the different solar powered devices most people never heard of that could be purchased or easily built in a couple of hours using simple tools. And if you know of anyone about to do a solar lease, stop them if you can. It's the most expensive way to buy solar power and the contracts are horrible.
Marduke: My neighbor just got the Ariens snow blower, it seems good he likes it so far. I also have a bad back as well, and previously we had a 24" Honda Snow Blower. It hurt my back try to keep the thing to go in a some what straight line. It get shifting l eft and right, basically where the snow took it. That is why I went with a blower with the bigger with power steering. It helps keep the snow blower in line by taping the steering shifter on the bottom of the grip.
i also like the joystick shut adjuster. I know that is one feature my neighbor with the Ariens is Envy of. I could tell he hate constantly turn the know to adjust the direction of the shoot.
Voitek: Now that you mention it, I have the same problem with my 24" blower shifting around instead of keeping perfectly straight. I just let it do its thing now, as long as it goes in the general direction. I think one of the first times I used it, I had wick ed back problems later, and didn't even think about that tracking issue, but it makes perfect sense now. I know my dad's snow blower tracks perfectly straight because I used it many times before; it's a 30" model like yours.
I have to look at a Youtube video of your blower to see what that joystick is about. I only used my blower about 4 times this year and I often forget which way to turn the handle for the chute angle.
I guess most 24" models probably have the same tracking issue, and it must get a lot worse with smaller electric blowers as well. I'm going to have to update that article with these notes, because it might have swayed me towards a bigger blower knowing about the tracking issue.
I still can't believe I fit a full size lawn tractor, snow blower, and two cars into my average size garage.
1. A snow blower with a tracking issue, meaning an issue where it takes effort to keep the machine going in a straight line, can cause back problems to aggravate if you are constantly using force to adjust the trajectory.
Thanks to Marduke chiming in on my Facebook post I learned something very important from our conversation that I wanted to share with you.
2. I think it's safe to assume that most 24" snow blowers might have the same tracking issue in deeper snow falls. Even though Marduke had a 24" Honda Snow Blower before, and I have my 24" Snow-tek doesn't seem to be a large enough sample, but you have to figure that most 24" models have roughly the same engine size and roughly the same wheel size, and weight. It's all these factors that lead to tracking problems for smaller machines. In reality, I guess I could have fit a 30" snow blower, but I'm happy with what I have, I'll simply have to stop my OCD from forcing me to make straight passes down the driveway. What I do now is let the machine wibble and wobble it's way through the passes while I walk slowly behind it.
Snow Blowers - Which One Is Right For You Video
This Is Not The YouTube video I was talking about above. In this video, I talk about all the snow blowers I read the reviews on, and what I learned about them. I also talk about the pros and cons of each snow blower type, including storage space and how much money you are comfortable spending on one.
Snow Blower Buying Guide Video