After a snowstorm, clearing up driveways and walkways is vital for safety. But tackling heavy snow with a shovel can be tiring. When it comes to snow removal, a high-quality snow blower is one of the fastest ways to clear your driveway and sidewalk. While it’s more of an investment than a simple shovel, the best snow blowers do all the heavy work for you, saving you both time and back pain.
To help you find the best snow blower for your own needs, we tested seven snow blowers on our own driveways and sidewalks over the course of two months. After each snowfall, we powered up the snow blowers and evaluated them based on their ease of use, performance, design, safety, and value. We considered whether the snow blower was a lightweight single-stage model best suited for light snowfall or a heavy-duty, two-stage model made to clear deeper, denser snow. In addition, we noted the machine’s power source, special features, and clearing width (how many inches wide it can clear in one pass). Lastly, we consulted Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, to understand what to look for in a snow blower.
“Regardless of your age, weight, height, or sex, know there's a machine that will fit your particular need,” Kiser says. “The snow needs in Minnesota are very different than the snow needs in Louisville, Kentucky. And what do you want to use it for? Is it just a walk, just a deck, or do you have a significant area to throw? Understand what your needs are and then buy the product that fits those needs.”
Ariens Classic 2-Stage 24-Inch Snow Blower
Why You Should Get It: This gas-powered pick can handle moderate to heavy snowfall, but it’s still easy to maneuver.
Keep in Mind: It’s a simple model without extra features, such as headlights.
This pick from Ariens’ Classic line is the best snow blower we tested. With the strength of a gas-powered model and the ease of an electric push-start, it’s truly the best of both worlds. While this mid-priced model doesn’t have all the bells and whistles included in higher-priced snow blowers, we found the effortless maneuverability and powerful throwing well worth its value.
Unboxing and assembling the snow blower was a breeze, and Ariens even provides detailed instruction videos that we found helpful during setup. Note that you’ll need to provide several of your own tools—multiple sockwrenches and needle-nose pliers—to complete the task. Once assembled, it was simple to start and operate. We love that it can be turned on with either a manual recoil start or a simple push of a button, a feature sure to be helpful on extra-cold days.
With a two-stage design, a 24-inch clearing path, and the ability to clear snow up to 20 inches deep, this blower is powerful enough to tackle moderate to heavy snowfall. What’s more, its self-propelling feature can be set to six forward speeds and two reverse speeds controlled by a lever, allowing you to easily change pace during operation, depending on your needs.
We like that this snow blower has a throwing distance of 40 feet, and with the chute’s 205-degree rotation that can be adjusted during operation, we felt fully in control of the direction we were sending the snow. We didn’t experience any clogging during testing (even with wet, heavy snow at the end of the driveway!), but it does include a tool to safely dislodge clogs in the chute if any were to occur. In addition, we appreciated the extra safety features like grip-activated auger control and a key for quick engine shut off.
While it may not have the bells and whistles of a more expensive model, we think that this mid-priced option is an all-around winner, making it our overall best snow blower.
Price at time of publish: $1,149
Product Details: Type: Two-stage | Power: Gas | Start Type: Push-button | Clearing Width: 24 inches
EGO Power+ 21-Inch Cordless Single-Stage Snow Blower
Ease of Use
Why You Should Get It: It’s affordable, lightweight, and includes extra features often found on more expensive models. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to store.
Keep in Mind: This single-stage model isn’t suitable for locations with heavy snowfall and doesn’t offer a self-propelling feature.
If you live in an area with light snowfall, we think this battery-powered model is the best snow blower on a budget. While on the smaller and more affordable side, this snow blower boasts extra features often seen on more expensive models, such as LED headlights, variable speed control, a chute-adjustment lever, and a grip-activated auger.
The setup and operation of this snow blower was the quickest of all the models we tested. It took us just 10 minutes to get the machine out of the box and running. Storing is also a breeze with its quick-fold handle and compact size.
As a cordless, battery-powered model, no extension cords or outlets are needed during operation. We liked that it uses both batteries simultaneously for a longer runtime, and each battery only takes about an hour to charge.
Note that this model does not have a self-propelling feature, so it may take a bit more effort to move and turn. But at just over 60 pounds, it was the lightest option we tested, and we found it very easy to control and steer, even for first-time users. It was also much more powerful than we expected from a smaller, single-stage model. During testing, it cleared dense snow in just one pass in all but one extra-heavy section that required two passes.
While this definitely isn’t the most powerful snow blower on our list, we recommend this affordable model for anyone in locations with smaller cleanup areas and minimal snowfall accumulation.
Price at time of publish: $699
Product Details: Type: Single-stage | Power: Battery | Start Type: Push-button | Clearing Width: 21 inches
Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Snow Blower
Why You Should Get It: This powerful pick efficiently clears heavy snow with minimal effort.
Keep in Mind: You’ll need ample storage space to store this large machine.
At over 250 pounds and with a 28-inch clearing width, this gas-powered, two-stage snow blower is a powerful pick for large driveways and heavy snowfall. Despite its size, we found that this was one of the best snow blowers to maneuver, thanks to its self-propelled transmission and auto-turn steering that “made turning this huge machine almost feel light,” according to one tester.
We found the manual choke start easy to use, but we also like that this model has an electric push-button option for an even simpler startup. During operation, the adjustable chute allowed us to direct snow exactly where we wanted it, something we especially appreciated when throwing snow on a windy day. The grip-activated auger proved useful when passing over areas that had previously been cleared. We also liked the LED headlights that provided better visibility during low-light hours.
While it’s on the pricey side, we think the features and power this snow blower provides makes it well worth the cost if you have a considerable area to clear and the space to store a large machine. However, if you live in a region with light snowfall or don’t have a large driveway, you’ll want to pick a smaller model.
Price at time of publish: $1,833
Product Details: Type: Two-stage | Power: Gas | Start Type: Push-button | Clearing Width: 28 inches
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EGO Power+ 24-Inch Cordless 2-Stage Snow Blower
Why You Should Get It: It has comparable power to a gas-powered machine with the convenience of battery operation.
Keep in Mind: It’s on the expensive side for an electric model.
Buying an electric snow blower doesn’t mean you need to give up all the strength of a gas-powered machine, and this two-stage model from Ego is proof. This eco-friendly pick is effective, quiet, and easy to assemble and use. And since it's powered by two batteries, you don’t have to mess around with outlets and extension cords.
With a 24-inch clearing width, this mid-sized snow blower is great for medium to large driveways without being too cumbersome to store. Its variable auger and self-propelling speeds makes it easy to operate, and we were easily able to clear 5 inches of wet snow during testing. We found that the skid shoes needed some adjusting to find the perfect height for our driveway, but once we found the sweet spot, operation was smooth sailing. The adjustable chute throws snow up to 50 feet, and the wet snow didn’t get clogged during our tests. It also has four bright LED lights for added visibility.
Overall, this is one of the best snow blowers for those who need a powerful, two-stage machine but want the convenience of an electric model (no dealing with messy gas or manual starts!). While it’s on the more expensive side, we think it’s worth its value.
Price at time of publish: $1,548
Product Details: Type: Two-stage | Power: Electric | Start Type: Push-button | Clearing Width: 24 inches
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Best for Heavy Snowfall
Cub Cadet 2X 26-Inch IntelliPower Snow Blower
Why You Should Get It: This heavy-duty workhorse comes with tons of features and is extremely easy to maneuver.
Keep in Mind: If you only get a few inches of snow each year, this machine is a bit overkill.
This snow blower from Cub Cadet’s X series is well-built, reliable, powerful, and feature-rich, making it the best snow blower for anyone who needs to clear heavy snowfall. Although this is a gas-powered unit, it does have an easy-to-use electric start, and we didn’t notice any foul fumes during our tests.
With seven drive speeds—six forward and one reverse—this machine plowed through snow without trouble, no matter the depth. While operating, the motor never chugged or clogged. The wide tires offer a strong grip on wintery surfaces, and we never felt like the machine was going to tip or slip. We found the speed and chute angle controls comfortable and easy to use. But our favorite part by far was how it turned with zero effort thanks to its steering assists.
In addition to its user-friendly operation, this snow blower also stands out when it comes to safety features. The grip-activated auger control allows for disengaging while still moving, and we found this reliable each time we let go of the handles. It also has a kill key to cut power quickly, which gave us peace of mind while testing. It comes with a tool to dislodge clogs, though we didn’t need to use it. The oil and gas tanks have secure caps and indicators that let you know they are fully filled. Lastly, LED headlights made it easy to see when clearing snow early in the morning.
This machine is definitely more than you need if you’re in a light snowfall area. But for those who regularly get heavy snow, this is a high-quality workhorse that can handle just about anything.
Price at time of publish: $2,078
Product Details: Type: Two-stage | Power: Electric | Start Type: Push-button | Clearing Width: 26 inches
The Bottom Line
After conducting thorough research and at-home testing, the Ariens Classic 24-in 208-cc Two-stage Self-propelled Gas Snow Blower is the best snow blower due to its ease of use and powerful operation.
Our Testing Process
To come up with a list of the best snow blowers, we first researched the top gas-powered, electric, and battery-operated options on the market. Then, we acquired top picks and tested seven snow blowers in our own driveways, sidewalks, and walkways after multiple snowfalls over two months.
Once the snow blowers arrived, we unpacked and assembled each machine, noting how long assembly took and how clear the instructions were. After completing setup and waiting for ample snowfall, we tested the snow blowers by clearing snow from a designated area. We timed how long it took to clear the area while evaluating each snow blower’s performance, design, and ease of use. We also noted any standout features we found during testing.
For battery-powered snow blowers, we timed of how many hours we got out of a single charge and how quickly the charge wore down depending on the amount of snow. For gas-powered snow blowers, we recorded how long the tank lasted before needing a refill. And for electric corded snow blowers, we noted the length of the cord. Lastly, we stored the snow blowers according to the manufacturer’s instructions to evaluate the amount of storage space needed for each snow blower.
What to Know About Snow Blowers Before Shopping
Gas-powered snow blowers are the most common type and for good reason. These durable machines are the best snow blowers to clear wet, heavy snow. However, between filling the gasoline tank, oil changes, filter changes, and spark plug replacements, they do require more maintenance than their electric counterparts. Gas snow blowers may also require a manual choke start, which can be difficult and take longer, especially on cold winter days. Luckily, many high-end gas-powered models do include electric push-button starts. Every gas-powered model we tested included an electric start.
Though you sacrifice some power, electric snow blowers like our best budget snow blower, the Ego Power+ SNT2102, have convenient features that often make them easier to use. Most obviously, they don’t need gas to operate, which can be messy and emit noxious fumes. And electric models are also typically lighter and quieter than gas-powered units. Throughout testing, we noted the electric models were significantly quieter than their gas counterparts, and we were even able to hear each other over some electric engines without shouting.
However, corded models also require taking some extra precautions. “Cords are just another hazard to be mindful of as you are clearing the snow,” says Cheryl Higley, education and content director at SIMA Snow and Ice Management Association. When using a corded model, always be sure to use outdoor-safe extension cords, and pay extra attention to where you’re walking and pushing the machine.
Lastly, battery-powered snow blowers have all the perks of electric, but without the frustration of a cord. These are typically considered the most convenient model, but they also have the shortest runtimes—and the amount of snow being cleared can significantly affect battery life. During testing, we charged our batteries fully before operating, and no battery-operated model ran out during the time it took us to clear the snow. However, if you have a large area to clear or a significantly heavier snowfall, this may be something to consider. When it comes to electric models, you’ll want to stick to clearing up lighter snowfall accumulations for the best performance.
When shopping for snow blowers, you’ll notice that each model is classified as single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage. The stage you need depends on the amount and type of snowfall you need to clear.
“It's all about the amount of snow you get, and the kind of snow,” Kiser says. If you get heavy wet snow, it's going to take a more significant machine.”
Single-stage snow blowers, sometimes called snow throwers, are the least powerful and are best for those who experience light snowfall (no more than 8 inches) and have a relatively small area to clear. A single-stage snow blower has a singular rubber auger that takes in the snow and throws it out in a single motion. The paddles come directly in contact with the ground, which provides a clean surface, but isn’t ideal for gravel or dirt surfaces as they can pick up debris. We tested one single-stage snow blower, the Ego Power+ SNT2102, and we found it powerful enough to clear most snow in one pass. It did require a second pass on denser snow at the end of our driveway, though.
Two-stage snow blowers are more powerful and can handle up to 18 inches of snow, making them ideal for regions with moderate to heavy snowfall and those with larger driveways. These machines have two metal augers that scoop up the snow and an impeller that throws the snow out. They do not make direct contact with the ground, so they will leave a very thin layer of snow on the surface, which can then be removed with a snow shovel or ice melt.
Three-stage snow blowers are similar to two-stages, but with a third auger that accelerates the rate of snow removal. These machines are the largest and most expensive of the three models, provide greater acceleration and power, and typically require professional maintenance. They are only recommended for those with large areas to clear and experience very heavy snowfall. We didn’t test any three-stage models, as they’re not a great fit for most homeowners.
Clearing Width and Depth
Clearing width refers to the surface area the snow blower can clear in one pass, while the depth explains how tall of snow banks it can tackle. Most single-stage blowers clear paths between 12 and 22 inches wide and under 12 inches deep, making them ideal for areas with lighter snowfall and small areas like walkways and shorter driveways.
If you experience heavy snowfall or have a large area to clear, you’ll want to opt for a snow blower with a larger clearing width, which will typically be a two-stage or three-stage model. These can offer clearing widths anywhere from 20 to 38 inches and intake heights up to 30 inches deep. Most mid-sized models, like our best overall pick, have a clearing width of 24 inches and an intake height of around 20 inches.
The point of a snow blower is to blow the snow away from the area you’re trying to clear. At the very least, this requires a throwing distance of at least 15 to 20 feet to ensure the snow lands in a different area so you don’t pass the same snow over and over. Most models boast throwing distances upwards of 40 to 50 feet and offer adjustable chutes to control where you’re throwing. The average throwing distance of our top picks was 45 feet, with the Ariens ST28DLE Deluxe topping the list at 55 feet.
Snow blowers are supposed to make cleanup easy, but they can also be extremely heavy pieces of machinery. Most two-stage snow blowers offer a self-propelled transmission so you can push and steer the machine without breaking a sweat. During testing, we found even the largest models were easy to maneuver with self-propelling. Most self-propelling snow blowers offer multiple speeds (both forward and backward) to adjust for how quickly you want to move and how much snow there is to clear.
- Headlights: If you often need to clear snow in the early mornings or evenings, purchasing a model with LED headlights can improve your visibility, aiding with safety. During testing, we appreciated using the headlights when we had them, as they allowed us to throw snow earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
- Grip-Activated Auger and Automatic Shutoff: A grip-activated auger allows you to disengage the snow blower’s auger while still pushing along with the self-propelling feature. For additional safety and control, look for snow blowers that automatically shut off when you let go of the handles.
- Heated Handles: You’ll only find this on high-end models with all the bells and whistles, but a bit of extra heat through your gloves makes the chore of clearing snow much more comfortable on freezing days. While a nice feature, we never found that heated handles were a deal breaker on any model.
Other Snow Blowers We Tested
Toro Power Max HD 1030 OHAE 30 in. 302 cc Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower with Electric Start
The Toro Power Max HD was one of the largest snow blowers we tested, and while we loved its features—like a built-in light, joystick, and hand warmers—we found the large size difficult to maneuver.
Ryobi Brushless Whisper Series 24" 2-Stage Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Snow Blower
Like the name suggests, the Ryobi Brushless Whisper Series snow blower was extremely quiet during our tests, something that impressed us immediately. And while we loved the additional features like heated handles, the assembly took us almost three hours—over two hours longer than any other model. This was the most expensive electric model we tested, and we thought it performed similarly to less expensive options.
Your Questions, Answered
What is the difference between single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage snow blowers?
The difference between single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage snow blowers is the number of operations the machine performs to clear the snow. When it comes to choosing which stage is right for you, it ultimately depends on how much snowfall you typically get and the area you need to clear.
Single-stage models are best for those who get lighter snowfalls of 8 inches or less. If you typically get between 8 and 18 inches or have a large area to clear, opt for a two-stage snow blower. If you regularly get over 18 inches of snow, a three-stage model may be right for you.
During testing, we found that the two-stage models cleared snow in one pass across the board. The single-stage model cleared most of the snow in one pass, but sometimes required a second pass on thicker snow, especially at the end of the driveway.
How wide should the clearance be on a snow blower?
Your ideal clearance width depends on the width of the surface you need to clear and how long you expect the task to take. A standard clearance width is 24 inches (the average of our top picks was 24.6 inches), but if you have a small driveway or less storage space, a smaller model may be more useful. The smallest option we tested was the Ego Power+ SNT2102 at 21 inches. For those with a large driveway to clear, a wider clearance, like 28 inches from the Ariens ST28DLE Deluxe can help clear your space faster.
Can you use a snow blower on a gravel driveway?
Yes, but only two-stage snow blowers should be used on a gravel driveway. Because the paddles on one-stage blowers make direct contact with the surface, you risk throwing loose rocks which can pose a risk to both the machine and anyone in the clearing path. Make sure to read your snow blower’s instructions before operating, though, as we found some two-stage models like the Ryobi Brushless Whisper Series Snow Blower stated to only use on smooth surfaces.
How can you use a snow blower safely?
Snow blowers are powerful pieces of equipment, and safety should always be top of mind when operating the machine. Dress for the weather, including eye and ear protection. While operating a snow blower, keep children and pets a safe distance away. But safety precautions can and should be taken before snow even hits the ground. “Look at the area that you intend to snow throw. Clear it up, because that machine will find the garden hose and the dog toy and sticks,” Kiser says.
If you face a clog, disengage immediately and turn the snow blower off completely before attempting to dislodge the snow. “Never put your arm in a snow chute,” Kiser says. “Use a clean out tool that comes with the machine.”
Who We Are
Jessica Comstock is an associate commerce editor at Better Homes & Gardens who writes about the best products for your home. For this article, she spoke with Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, to learn more about the types of snow blowers and safety risks they pose. She also consulted insights from our expert testers who tested these snow blowers over a two-month period and additional insights from Cheryl Higley, education and content director at SIMA Snow and Ice Management Association.
What Is BHG Recommends?
Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products and we let you know that we got it for free to remain as transparent as possible about our picks.
Looking for more products that have earned our BHG Recommends seal of approval? Check out our picks for everything from picnic blankets to humidifiers.