Has the time come for you to think about buying a snowblower?
With a variety of different sizes and power options available, there’s a lot to consider before you make your purchase.
Big, self-propelled, two stage machines are great for large snow drifts and heavy, wet conditions – or if you’re one of those generous types that likes to clear for your neighbors too.
But they’re a bit over the top if you only get the occasional, light snowfall. That’s when you might want to consider a smaller, single stage gas blower or even one of the electric models, which are also ideal for clearing decks and patios.
And your terrain also plays a role in your decision making process too. If you’ve got a long, sloping drive, you’ll want to look at some self-propelled models and give the tires a once over – because good snowies are a must for traction and to avoid getting bogged down in wet, slushy snow.
To help with your search, we’ve narrowed down the field. Join us now for a look at nine of the best snowblowers to get the job done right – whatever your weather conditions might be!
I’ve also put together a buying guide to help you through the process of choosing the right model for your landscape.
9 of the Best Snowblowers
- Ariens Deluxe 28
- Cub Cadet 2X 26 HP
- Ryobi 20 Corded RYAC803-S
- Snow Joe Ion 18SB
- Toro Power Clear 721 QZE
- Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE
- Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30
- Troy-Bilt Storm 2665
- Yardmax 24 YB6270
1. Ariens Deluxe 28
For no-nonsense, heavy-duty two-stage performance, the Ariens Deluxe 28, available via Amazon, delivers consistent power plus easy handling in the worst winter conditions.
It features a 254cc EFI (Electronic Fuel Injected) engine for consistent speed without any power slumps. With an electric governor, it cranks up the engine in tough or wet conditions where carburetor engines can stall or get “bogged down.”
And dual belts deliver more power from the engine, driving the 14-inch serrated steel augers and three-blade, 14-inch impeller to powerfully throw the discharge up to 50 feet.
With a 28-inch clearance width and 21-inch intake, minimal passes are needed for efficient clearing of snow up to 16 inches deep.
A large joystick gives remote control of the chute which rotates 205 degrees, and both pitch and direction can be controlled for precise discharge placement.
An exclusive Auto Turn steering system and the self-propelled drive with six forward and two rear speeds make for effortless handling.
Large, 16-inch directional lug snowies provide agility, traction, and superior grip in icy conditions.
The push button electric start instantly powers up the engine, and an in-dash, halogen headlight lets you operate safely after dark or in low light conditions.
Partial assembly is required, and this unit weighs 249.8 pounds.
Ariens provides a three-year warranty with five years for the cast iron auger gear case.
2. Cub Cadet 2X 26HP
When you want powerful performance and easy handling for heavy, wet snow and deep drifts, the Cub Cadet, available at Home Depot, delivers nimble handling in a brawny package.
It features a 243cc, OHV (overhead valve) engine and two stage, serrated steel augers that make short work of snow up to 12 inches deep or the chunky mess left behind by plows.
The well-designed dash features two LED headlights for clearing after dark or working in low light. Plus, an electric start that powers up instantly, even in frigid temperatures.
It has a 26-inch clearing width with a tall, 21-inch intake plus an adjustable shave plate that makes clean, tidy sweeps.
A large, remote lever provides easy four-way chute control that adjusts both pitch and direction to throw the discharge up to 40 feet.
A trigger-controlled Zero-Turn Posi-Steer power steering system gives effortless handling and the self-propelled drive has six forward and two reverse gears which lets you set the pace to handle all conditions – and challenging terrain.
The Cub Cadet is equipped with robust 16-inch X-Trac tires for a sticky grip and excellent traction and sturdy, poly skid shoes glide over surfaces for smooth, scuff-free maneuverability.
This unit weighs 227 pounds, and requires minor assembly.
The Cub Cadet includes a three-year warranty and five years for the cast aluminum gearbox.
3. Ryobi 20 Corded RYAC803-S
A corded electric blower, the Ryobi 20, which can be purchased at Home Depot, delivers dependable, light-duty performance on precipitation of six to eight inches deep.
The 13-amp electric motor provides plenty of steady power to the single stage, 10-inch plastic auger and delivers a throwing distance of up 25 feet.
Lightweight at just 46 pounds, and easy to handle, it’s convenient for use on decks and patios as well as drives and walkways and has a clearing width of 20 inches with an intake height of 14 inches.
A push button electric start delivers instant power and a cord retainer prevents your extension cord from being pulled loose while in operation.
Plus, the maintenance-free engine means there are no fuel stabilizers, gas cans, oil changes, or tune ups to deal with.
The remote chute rotation lever adjusts the chute direction up to 180 degrees and the pitch can be adjusted manually. For extra convenience, the handle folds down for compact storage.
You’ll need an outdoor-rated extension cord, such as this one, also from Home Depot. It’s 100 feet long.
This model is backed with Ryobi’s three-year limited warranty.
4. Snow Joe Ion 18SB
The Snow Joe Ion 18SB, available at Home Depot, is a convenient, cordless electric blower that provides efficient, light-duty clearing.
It’s powered by a rechargeable, 40-volt, four-amp lithium-ion battery. The single stage, eight-inch steel auger with rubber blades delivers effective removal of snow up to eight inches deep, and throws the discharge up to 20 feet.
Much quieter than gas machines, the lithium-ion battery provides up to 45 minutes of clearing with no gas, oil, carbon emissions, or tangled electric cords to deal with.
Startup is instantaneous with the electric push-button starter.
It has a clearing width of 18 inches with a 14-inch intake height and the rubber scraper clears to the ground for clean sweeps.
A handle-mounted joystick provides fingertip adjustment to the discharge chute of up to 180 degrees, and the pitch can be manually adjusted with an easy-to-grip fluted poly knob.
An LED headlight improves visibility for pre-dawn or after dusk clearing and the lightweight design that weighs only 32 pounds makes it versatile and portable, ideal for clearing decks and patios.
Simple assembly is required without the need for any tools.
The Ion 18SB is Energy Star certified with CSA and ETL certification and comes with a full two-year warranty.
5. Toro Power Clear 721 QZE
For reliable performance in light duty conditions, the Toro Power Clear provides easy handling and efficient clearing in a single stage model, available at Tractor Supply.
It features a 212cc OHV (overhead valve) engine and a curved rubber paddle auger that reduces clogs to help you clean quickly and efficiently, throwing the discharge up to 35 feet. This model is suitable for six to eight inches of snow.
The single gear, self-propelled drive thrusts the blower through the snow for easy handling while the compression scraper is in constant contact with the ground for a clean sweep.
Powering up is easy and reliable with the electric push button starter. And the chute direction, which can pivot up to 210 degrees, can be swiftly changed with a quick-shoot trigger.
Weighing in at just 87 pounds, it is lightweight and deft, the gear box, housing, and Power Curve paddle system are all constructed of heavy-duty plastic.
It has a clearing width of 21 inches, the paddle is eight and a half inches in diameter, and the intake is 12.5 inches.
Minor assembly is required.
Toro provides a two-year full warranty.
6. Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE
To tackle drifts or wet precipitation, the Toro SnowMaster 824 ZXE, which can be purchased at Tractor Supply, has a tough build, power, and nimble handling.
It has a premium 252cc OHV (overhead valve) engine and two stage auger to power through tough conditions, including tall drifts and heavy, wet snow up to 12 inches deep, and effectively throws the discharge up to 40 feet.
An electric push button starts the engine promptly, even in cold conditions and inclement weather. And the rear wheel drive, automatic steering, and self-propulsion gives it precise handling with deft maneuverability.
It has a clearing width of 24 inches with an 18-inch intake and steel, 10-inch spiral augers to quickly move tough loads.
Designed for convenience, the Quick Stick chute control changes the direction and pitch of the plastic discharge chute and deflector in a single motion.
The 11-inch deep-lug tires provide steady traction with a strong grip on slippery surfaces. And the metal reinforced poly skid shoes prevent scuffs while aiding navigation, slightly lifting the auger for an easy glide as the compression loaded scraper cleans down to the surface.
This product weighs 131 pounds and requires minor assembly.
Toro provides a limited three-year warranty with a lifetime guarantee for the chute and deflector system.
7. Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30
When you need a big, tough machine for heavy-duty performance in deep or wet, heavy snow, the Arctic Storm 30 has the size, power, and user-friendly features for the job. And it’s available at Home Depot.
It has a robust 357cc OHV (overhead valve) engine and two stage, serrated steel augers that powerfully cut through all precipitation textures, from tall drifts to heavy and wet snowfalls.
With a generous clearing width of 30 inches and a tall, 23-inch intake, the rugged 14-inch augers and impeller quickly clears snow and ice for easy removal while the rugged poly skid shoes leave a clean, scuff-free trail.
The push-button electric start instantly powers up the engine and a dash joystick provides fingertip control to the chute position, with four-way adjustments to the direction and pitch.
The Touch ‘N Turn power steering and self-propelled drive gives easy, single-handed operation and speed control, and large, 16-inch X-Trac tires provide steady traction.
The self-propelled transmission has six forward and two reverse gears to routinely handle large drifts and chunky ice mixtures, and a throwing distance of up to 40 feet.
Heated hand grips keep your fingertips toasty warm even in freezing temperatures, and an in-dash headlight makes for safe operation after dark or in low light conditions.
You’ll need a pair of needle-nosed pliers and an adjustable wrench or socket set to assemble this model, which weighs 352 pounds.
Troy-Bilt provides a limited three-year warranty with five years for the heavy duty, cast aluminum auger gearbox.
8. Troy-Bilt Storm 2665
Another sturdy performer in gnarly weather, the Troy-Bilt Storm 2665 is designed for easy handling in tough winter conditions and is available at Home Depot.
Powered by a reliable 243cc OHV (overhead valve) engine and two stage, 12-inch serrated steel augers, drifts of up to 16 inches deep and ice are quickly broken up for fast removal.
It has a clearing width of 26 inches, an intake height of 21 inches, and a throwing distance of 30 feet.
The self-propelled, all-wheel-drive provides a choice of six forward and two reverse gears to deftly move over tricky terrain while the deep lug, 15-inch X-Trac tires deliver steady grip and traction. High impact poly skid shoes give extra maneuverability and prevent scuffing.
The Just One Hand system allows for precise chute adjustment without disengaging the drive and pivots the chute up to 200 degrees.
A push button electric start makes ignition easy on cold days and an in-dash headlight adds a bright beam for working after dark or in low light conditions.
Minor assembly is required, and this product weighs 210 pounds.
Troy-Bilt provides a two-year limited warranty with four years for the chute.
9. Yardmax 24 YB6270
A mid-sized machine that delivers efficient cleaning of drifts or coarse snow and ice, the Yardmax 24, available at Home Depot, gives steady performance in harsh conditions.
It has a 208cc engine and a two stage, 12-inch serrated steel auger and impeller that clears precipitation in excess of 12 inches like a pro, with a throwing distance of 30 feet.
For greater versatility in changing conditions, the pin-lock axle provides two options: two wheel drive adds increased traction for use on slippery slopes and packed or icy conditions, while the single wheel drive gives greater maneuverability for deft handling.
Self-propelled with six forward and two reverse gears allows optimal control and speed, and the remote crank control makes chute adjustments quick and easy.
Electric push-button start makes it easy to get going in cold weather, and it also features a backup pull-cord start.
It has deep-lug, 14-inch tires for sure and steady traction, and the scraper and skid shoes improve ground contact and prevent scuffs. The clearing width is 24 inches, with an intake height of 21 inches.
The durable steel housing and chute plus a cast aluminum gear box provide long-lasting performance.
Minor assembly is required, and this model weighs 161 pounds.
Yardmax provides a two-year warranty to be free of manufacturing and material defects.
Snowblower Buying Guide
Depending on the size of your property and the amount of snowfall in your region, you’ll need to decide between a single stage or a two- or even three-stage gas blower.
Electric and battery powered units are only available as single stage.
Single stage models can typically clear up to about eight inches of snowfall and are not suitable for uneven terrain or wet snow.
Two stage units pack a lot more power and can clear up to 20 inches of snow, depending on the model. They typically handle wet conditions better, and can clear a larger swath of ground in one pass.
Three-stage blowers are generally for commercial use.
Your choice will come down to the volume of snow you expect, and the size of the area you need to clear.
Let’s check out the differences:
Sometimes referred to as a “snow thrower,” the single stage model is so named because as you push it forward, the auger scoops up the snow and throws it out in one step.
Typically about the same size as your average lawnmower, a single stage gas blower is suitable for use in snow up to nine inches deep.
Equipment of this grade is considered “entry level.” Augers of rigid plastic paddles or metal blades scrape the ground and are not intended for use on uneven or unpaved surfaces.
The wheels are not engine-driven, so clearing slopes is ill advised. The unit is propelled forwards by the auger hitting the ground but you’ll still need to push it. Starters are usually a manual recoil, but some units have an electric starter.
Models of this type typically have basic components made of plastic, aluminum, and steel.
Light and easy to handle, a single stage gas snowblower is intended for light to moderate precipitation, and small to mid-sized paved driveways, walkways, patios, and decks.
They are not recommended for unpaved surfaces, as they may scoop up and throw gravel.
Suitable for use in snow up to 18-20 inches deep, the two stage snowblower is faster and more powerful than the single stage units.
In addition to the auger which scoops the snow, these models also have an impeller fan that forces the snow up and out through the chute. The impeller helps the unit to collect the snow quicker and propels it further.
Two stage models are faster, and suitable for use on uneven terrain and unpaved surfaces, as the auger does not touch the ground – but this does mean it may leave behind a very thin layer of snow.
Although the unit is much heavier than a single stage snowblower, the wheels are engine-driven, so you can use it on slopes as well.
These models usually include power steering, and shear pins protect the engine by breaking off as a warning when something hard is struck in the working parts.
They typically feature electric starters, a reverse gear, and added comforts like heated handgrips, as well as lights for working after dark.
At this stage, we’re talking about an upgrade to “professional level.” These models can handle over 20 inches of snow. They are large, heavy, and suitable for homeowners with a very big yard or uneven terrain to contend with.
An accelerator moves snow up to 10 times faster than the augers of a dual stage model. A metal auger collects the snow and the accelerator forces it into the impeller and out of the chute.
Models of this type have top of the line commercial-quality parts like cast iron gear cases and steel frames. Features like engine-driven wheels, halogen lights, interlocking controls, power steering, and heated handgrips are usually standard.
They can cut through winter’s worst, throwing snow a whopping 50 feet away.
Traditional gas-powered models are rugged workhorses that handle heavy, wet precipitation with relative ease.
Unlike electric and battery models, gas-powered units are noisier and require maintenance. If you choose this type, you’ll soon become well-versed in the gas, oil, fuel stabilizer, spark plugs, belts, and pins that this equipment requires.
You will need to follow the maintenance instructions in the user manual or it could void your warranty.
The advantage of gas powered blowers is that they are typically much more powerful than electric or battery models, and you don’t need to be tethered to an electrical outlet or suffer from a dead battery halfway down your drive.
Electric types require a power cord, and care must be taken not to push over and sever it while operating the unit.
Power cords are not usually included with these products. If you purchase this type, you will also need an outdoor, low-temperature rated extension cord as recommended by the manufacturer. It’s crucial that the correct cord is used or the unit will not operate at full capacity.
Before you purchase a power cord, make sure you measure what length you require, as it’s not recommended to connect two extension cords together. If you need more than 100 feet of cord, you should probably consider a gas-powered unit instead.
If you’re considering an electric model, remember that if your power goes out, you won’t be able to use it.
Electric models operate in a single stage, making one pass and expelling through a chute. The auger touches the ground, which makes these types best for paved, even surfaces.
These environmentally friendly models are for light-duty snow removal of up to six inches deep. They start with the push of a button, operate quietly, and require no maintenance.
This type of unit is useful in light, powdery precipitation where you need to clear a deck or short walkway.
Unlike electric models, you do not need a cord attached to a power source with battery-operated units.
They run on lithium-ion batteries that require several hours to charge and operate for approximately one hour – or less. Batteries and chargers are usually included with the unit. If not, you’ll need to plan for an additional expense.
It’s a good idea to purchase an extra battery as a backup.
These models are also single stage, making one pass that scoops and throws.
Battery-powered snow removal tools are like electric types, in that they are environmentally sound, run quietly, require no maintenance, and are best suited for small jobs.
The clearing width, typically between 20 and 30 inches, refers to how wide of a path the unit can clear in a single pass.
If you’re clearing a driveway, 24 to 30 inches is ideal. The 20-inch models are really only suitable for smaller walkways, and decks or patios.
A 30-inch model should clear a typical residential sidewalk in one pass.
As we’ve discussed, the way the snowblower works is to pick up the snow and expel it out of a chute – which means it’ll have to pile up somewhere.
In general, the further the unit can throw the snow, the better.
The chutes can be adjusted to aim the snow in the desired direction, such as on to your neighbor’s driveway – just kidding! – so you can control where the piles of snow end up.
Top Tips for Safe Operation
According to David Shapiro, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic, snowblowers are responsible for over 5,000 serious injuries each year.
Many of these injuries are preventable with a bit of preparation.
Here are our top tips to stay safe when operating your snowblower:
- Gas powered machines require regular maintenance, as well as fresh oil and gas. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and keep your blower in top condition.
- Check any electrical cords and ensure they are not damaged prior to use.
- Before it snows, remove any large rocks, debris, hosepipes, outdoor electrical cords, or other items that may clog or damage your machine. Mark border edging, sides of your driveway, or large tree roots in advance.
- Have a plan and know where you’re going to blow the cleared snow. You don’t want to propel it onto cars, the street, your home, pets, or pedestrians.
- Before you get started, use a silicone spray on the auger and chute to help prevent snow from building up and clogging the machine. You can find Snow Jet spray available on Amazon.
- Go slowly! If you try to clear large amounts of snow too quickly, this can clog the machine.
- Never try to unclog the machine with your hands – even when it’s switched off. Always use a snow removal tool such as the Snostik Snow Removal Safety Tool, available on Amazon, or take your unit to a professional to unclog.
- After use, clean your machine – not with your hands! – and store it safely.
In addition, remember that working outside in cold temperatures can be dangerous, so make sure you’re wearing appropriate cold-weather gear, gloves, safety glasses, and waterproof clothing.
Let It Snow!
Now that you’ve considered some of the best options available, have you decided which model will suit your needs?
For extreme conditions, large areas, or long slopes, go with one of the big, two stage gas powered beasts – the self-propelled drive and power steering makes their brawny size quite manageable.
In lighter conditions, small drives, or decks, consider a single stage model – the gas and electric powered units deliver reliable performance in smaller, lighter packages.
So, whether you get just a few light, fluffy flakes or deal with monster drifts, when you have the right equipment to remove it, let it snow!
Do you use a snowblower? Have you got a favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.
And if you are looking for more tools to add to your shed, check out these guides next:
- Your Must-Have Tool This Winter: 7 Top-Rated Snow Shovels
- Blowin’ in the Manmade Wind: 7 of the Best Leaf Blowers
- How to Pick the Best Splitting Maul for the Job
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 8, 2017. Last updated 10th November 2020. Product photos via Ariens, Cub Cadet, Ryobi, Snow Joe, Toro, Troy-Bilt, and Yardmax. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Revised and expanded from an original article by Nan Schiller. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom.
About Lorna Kring
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!