Are you tired of shoveling snow? Me too! It’s early December as I write this, there’s no snow yet but winter is here and it’s time to be prepared. Being prepared this time of year means being equipped to deal with the inevitable snow.
For as little as $200 you can purchase a basic snow blower (also known as snow throwers). Cheap snow blowers like this are fine for light snowfalls. If where you live is prone to much heavier snowfalls then you will need one of the top snow blowers that may cost you up to $1000 or more.
In this article, I will introduce you to best-rated snow blowers and tell you what features to look for and help you to choose the best one for your home.
- 1 What are the Different Types of Snow Blower?
- 2 Electric vs Gas
- 3 Single vs Two vs Three Stage Snow Blowers
- 4 Which is the Right Snow Blower for Me?
- 5 What is the Best Snow Blower for my Needs?
- 6 Short Level Driveway with Less Than 6 Inches of Snow
- 7 Mid-Sized Level Driveway with Less Than 9 Inches of Snow
- 8 Long Driveways With Up to 16 Inches of Snow
- 9 Long Driveways with More Than 16 Inches of Snow
- 10 What about Gravel Driveways?
- 11 What if the Blower Hits Something Hard?
- 12 What Features Should I Be Looking For?
- 13 What about Gas Blower Maintenance?
- 14 The Best Snow Blowers – My Recommendations
- 15 Snow Joe iON18SB Review – Cordless Snow Blower
- 16 Where Can I Buy the Snow Joe iON18SB?
What are the Different Types of Snow Blower?
Snow blowers are either electric or gas powered and are categorized as being single, two or three stage. But what is the difference between a single and a two stage blower? Let’s take a look at the different types of blower so that you can help identify by the best model for your home.
Electric vs Gas
The main difference between electric and gas powered snow blowers is the amount of power! Gas powered snow blowers are far more powerful and can cope with deeper snow and can operate in larger gardens/yards. Electric snow blowers, on the other hand are fine for ankle deep snow and operate well on level ground. If you have any steep slopes in your garden you will want a gas powered blower.
If you have a small walkway and driveway and you don’t usually get heavy snowfalls then you can get away with an electric blower. Not surprisingly electric blowers are much cheaper due to their limitations and they have much more basic features as they are all single stage (we will discuss the difference between stages next).
As well as lacking in power, electric blowers are also limited by the length of their power cords. There are however rechargeable battery powered blowers that overcome this limitation by being cordless.
You will find that the lack of power provided by an electric snow blower means that you will have to go back and forth over the same area several times.
Single vs Two vs Three Stage Snow Blowers
There are three different snow blowing features that are incorporated into snow blowers and these are known as stages. The first stage is present in all types of snow blowers and that is an auger that sucks in the snow and ejects it out of a chute. Single stage blowers are a lot smaller than two and three stage blowers and are about the size of a lawnmower.
Two stage blowers feature an auger-like single stage blowers but behind the auger is an impeller. This is like a fan that adds additional power to suck up even more snow and throw it out of the chute. With two-stage snow blowers the engine also powers the wheels so they take far less effort to operate.
Three stage blowers have an auger and impeller just like two stage blowers, but they also feature a device called an accelerator. The accelerators speeds up the snow clearing process increasing the rate at which the snow is transferred from the auger to the impeller.
A two stage blower is larger than a single stage blower and a three-stage blower larger still. This increase in width means that you a clearing a larger area of snow as you go and will get the job done quicker.
Which is the Right Snow Blower for Me?
There are three main factors in determining the type of snow blower you require.
- Size of driveway or walkway or other area that you wish to clear.
- How flat the area you want to clear is.
- How much snow you expect to fall.
What is the Best Snow Blower for my Needs?
Your requirements will most likely to fall into one of the following scenarios and for each one there will be a snow blower that best fits your needs. Later on, I will recommend the best snow blowers in each of the different scenarios.
Short Level Driveway with Less Than 6 Inches of Snow
If you are only expecting a light dusting of snow and you have a small area to keep clear then an electric single stage snow blower will suit your needs. They are effective for snow falls up to 6 inches deep. They don’t work so well if the ground isn’t level as the wheels aren’t motorized. For this scenario, my top rated snow blower would be the Snow Joe iON18SB. You can read my verdict on this blower later in this article.
Mid-Sized Level Driveway with Less Than 9 Inches of Snow
For this scenario, I would still recommend a single stage snow blower but this time I would suggest that you get a gas powered one rather than electric. The gas engine means that you aren’t restricted by the length of the power cord and it gives you additional power to cope with deeper snow. They will still struggle however if you try to operate them on a steep slope.
Long Driveways With Up to 16 Inches of Snow
For long driveways and deep snow then I would recommend a two stage gas as being the best snow blower to buy. You will need the additional power for the deeper snow and the powered wheels will help you immensely when clearing a larger area. The extra power will be able to cope with any steep slopes as well.
Long Driveways with More Than 16 Inches of Snow
If you live in area that is prone to very heavy snowfall and you have a large area to clear then you may want to consider a three-stage blower. These are the best type of blowers for large areas of very deep snow. They are however much larger and more expensive.
Three stage blowers are capable of clearing a width of around 30 inches at a time. However, if storage space is an issue there are some compact three stage blowers available that will clear 24 inches.
What about Gravel Driveways?
I would not recommend single stage blower for a gravel driveway as they will struggle and are likely to suck up gravel along with the snow. Two stage blowers allow you to adjust the distance between the auger and the ground. This will help to reduce the risk of gravel being sucked up along with the snow.
What if the Blower Hits Something Hard?
Snow blowers use shear pins as a safety feature that protects the engine in the event that you run the blower over a hard object such as brick. These shear pins will break in such an incident in order to prevent damage to your snow blower. You should always have a supply of spare shear pins.
What Features Should I Be Looking For?
Deadman Switch – This is a very important safety feature that will shut off the blower as soon as you release the grip. It will stop the snow blower from racing off by itself if you let go of the handle. This feature should be standard. If not, then I would choose another snow blower.
Pull vs Electric Start – Gas powered blowers usually have an electric start feature in additional to a pull cord. It’s not essential, but it sure beats trying to yank a cord in the cold.
Headlight – Many snow blowers feature a headlight that allows you to clear snow in the dark.
Multi-Speed – Two and three stage blowers usually have several speeds for the drive wheels. They will usually have between and four and six speeds as well as being able to operate in reverse. Being able to speed up the drive wheels is important in deep snow.
Adjustable Chute – Most blowers with allow you to change the angle and direction of the discharge chute. You don’t want the snow to be discharged all over an area that you have already cleared. Being able to adjust the chute means that you can discharge the snow onto your lawn instead of back onto your driveway.
What about Gas Blower Maintenance?
The downside to owning a gas powered snow blower like anything mechanical is that they need maintenance. You will need to change the oil every so often and tighten the belt. If you don’t perform these tasks you reduce the lifespan of your snow blower.
The Best Snow Blowers – My Recommendations
Previously I discussed the different scenarios for which I would recommend the different types of snow blower where I tried to match up the size of your property and expected snowfall with the best type of snow blower. Here I will look at in detail my recommended snow blower for each of the scenarios.
Snow Joe iON18SB Review – Cordless Snow Blower
If you have a small property and don’t get a great deal of snow and only have limited storage space and budget then my best small snow blower recommendation would be the Snow Joe iON18SB. This is a cordless snow blower.
The Snow Joe operate best in snow up to 8 inches deep. It will clear an area of 18 inches width in a single pass. You get the advantage of not being limited by a power cord. The downside is that you only get about 50 minutes operation on a single charge. However, that should be long enough to clear your snow. If not, then it will take about 3 hours to recharge it fully. If that is too much of an inconvenience it is possible to purchase an additional battery pack and just swap them over.
The iON18SB will throw snow up to 20 feet away which means that it should be plenty enough not to land back on areas that you have already cleared.
Weighing only 32 pounds it is easy to maneuver, especially as the augers help to propel the blower forwards. There is a lever on the handle which rotates the discharge chute and it is very easy to operate whilst operating the blower.
The blower features a dead-man switch handle that stops the augers from spinning as soon as you release your grip on the handle. Also featured is a 3-watt headlight that helps you to see when operating the machine in the dark.
Snow Joe offer a 2 year warranty which seems to be pretty standard when it comes to snow blowers.
If you don’t need the additional power that you get from a gas powered snow blower, then the Snow Joe iON18SB is a great choice. The fact that it is cordless frees you from one of the main limitations of owning an electric blower. Considering it is battery rather than mains powered, I was impressed by just how powerful it is. The main downside though is the mere 50 minutes you get from a single charge. When it comes to electric, Snow Joe are definitely one of the best snow blower brands.
Where Can I Buy the Snow Joe iON18SB?
You can purchase Snow Joe blowers on Amazon where this particular model is currently a bestseller with well over 400 customer reviews. It has an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars with 50% of customers giving it a full 5-star review. It is one of the best-rated snow blowers in its price range.