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Snow Blower Reviews

By: Carl Laron on December 09, 2016

Editor's Note:
The Ego SNT2102 is redefining what to expect from a cordless snow thrower, making it a top consideration, in our view, for many buyers. We also found a bevy of other good performing throwers, from lightweight corded electric machines for urban dwellers, to behemoth gas blowers for those with big spreads in the snow belt.

Ego SNT2102 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Clearing width -- 21" Intake height -- 13" Throwing distance -- 35' (max)

Best cordless electric snow blower

The Ego SNT2102 is the first electric snow blower -- corded or cordless -- that experts say can measure up performance-wise with a gas model. It's still best for suburban properties in areas where snowfall is moderate rather than severe most seasons, but this single stage blower can easily clear a 50 foot two-car driveway before needing a recharge. Maintenance requirements are minimal, storage is easy, and the warranty is long (5 years). See our full review »

Toro 1800 Power Curve 38381 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Clearing width -- 18" Intake height -- 10" Throwing distance -- 30' (max)

Best corded electric snow blower

The Toro 1800 Power Curve 38381 is a terrific choice for those who live where snowfall tends to be light. There's more than enough power for moderate accumulations of 8 inches of powder snow, without the muss and fuss that a gas-powered snow blower entails. It's terrific at clearing walkways and driveways almost to the bare surface, and its light weight -- just 25 pounds -- makes it easy to handle. See our full review »

Toro Power Clear 721 E 38742 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Clearing width -- 21" Intake height -- 12" Throwing distance -- 35' (max)

Best single-stage gas snow blower

The Toro Power Clear 721 E 38742 is powerful and efficient, using a four-stroke engine to tear through packed and wet snow without bogging down. Exceptional handling features include a self-propelling drive to pull the blower effortlessly, a variable-speed transmission to precisely control the pace, and user-friendly chute adjustments. Toro has a solid brand reputation and includes a better-than-average warranty. See our full review »

Craftsman 88173 Snow Blower Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Clearing width -- 24" Intake height -- 21" Throwing distance -- Not specified

Best two-stage gas snow blower

The Craftsman 88173 offers a compelling combination of power and value. Though this snow thrower is small in stature compared to some two-stage snow blowers, it makes short work of even heavy snow falls, clearing a 24-inch-wide path and snow up to 21 inches deep in one pass. Its 12-inch serrated steel auger and high-speed impeller tear through packed snow piles without bogging down. See our full review »

Ariens Deluxe 28 921046 Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Clearing width -- 28" Intake height -- 21" Throwing distance -- 50' (max)

Large two-stage gas snow blower

While compact two-stage snow blowers are fine for most residential properties, if you have more to clear, the beefy Ariens Deluxe 28 921046 snow blower should be at the top of your list. Its 28-inch wide intake makes fast work of even the largest driveways. It excels in most snow moving tasks, though it doesn't scrape down as close to the surface as some snow blowers. Handling is first rate thanks to an assisted steering system that lets users effortlessly change directions on a dime.

True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Blade length -- 14.5" Blade width -- 19" Weight -- 3 lbs.

Best snow shovel

If a snow blower is overkill for your snowfall, property or budget, or if you need a snow shovel to finish off spots where your snow blower won't go, the 18-inch True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover is a terrific choice. It hits most of the design points that experts say make for a good all-purpose snow shovel, including an ergonomic shaft with just the right amount of bend. It lacks a lower handle, but add an accessory one, such as the Trentco ProHandle (Est. $20), and you have a snow shovel that blew away the competition in one expert hands-on test.

Snow blowers make fast work of clearing snow

A snow blower takes the place of a snow shovel, quickly clearing your porch, sidewalk and driveway in less time and with less effort. Using an auger mounted in front of the machine, a snow blower scoops up snow as you walk and fires it through a chute to collect in your yard (or wherever you aim).

Snowy conditions create enough problems for traction and maneuvering, so you won't want to add to them with a cumbersome snow blower. Experts say buying a machine that's easy to handle, has glove-friendly controls and starts on demand is key to owner satisfaction. It's also important to select the type best suited to your region's winter. If you wind up with a snow blower -- also called snow thrower -- that's not powerful enough to tackle your typical snowstorm, it will bog down -- or even fail -- under the strain. Keep the size and extent of your walkways and driveways in mind as well. A lightweight machine with a narrow intake is fine for a city property, but can mean extra passes for suburban and rural dwellers.

Types of Snow Blowers

Cordless Electric Snow Blowers

Cordless electric snow throwers cut away the tether of a corded electric snow blower and do away with the muss and fuss of dealing with a gas-powered tool. Up until recently, these offered only limited run time, but some new lithium-ion battery-powered tools can provide enough snow clearing ability to handle most suburban properties. But these higher-powered snow blowers can be pricy -- $600 or more, including batteries. Less expensive, and less powerful, cordless snow blowers are available, too, but these are most suitable for smaller properties and areas where snow falls don't often exceed 8 inches or so. They are still pretty expensive -- figure $250 and up with batteries -- but their convenience makes them a hit with many owners.

Corded Electric Snow Blowers

Most corded electric snow blowers weigh less than 40 pounds and are compact for uncomplicated maneuvering and storage. Like cordless models, their electric motors are fume-free, quieter than gas engines and don't require regular servicing. The most powerful corded electric snow blowers can move about 8 inches of powder; half that if the snow is packed or wet. These are the least expensive type of thrower -- expect to pay $100 to $300 -- but don't forget to add in the cost of a separate heavy-duty extension cord that's long enough to reach your entire walkway or driveway from an electrical outlet.

Single-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

In a single-stage snow blower, the auger scoops up the snow with enough force to blow it out the chute. With no extension cord tethering them, or batteries to limit their run time, single-stage gas snow blowers can cover more ground than electric models. They are also more powerful, throwing snow farther, clearing heavy snowfall faster, and breaking up packed berms left by the snowplow. Gas engines require more time and money to maintain, but many users say it's worth it for the added power. Most single-stage gas snow blowers weigh between 60 and 90 pounds and cost about $300 to $800. They are generally suitable for cleaning up snowfalls of up to 10 inches.

Two-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

These are bigger, heavier and able to move more snow than single-stage throwers. Two-stage snow blowers add an extra component; after the auger shovels the snow into the chute, a corkscrew-like impeller shoots the snow as far as 40 feet away. Because the augers on two-stage machines don't brush against the ground, this is the best option for clearing snow off gravel or off of a wooden deck without fear of damaging it. Compact versions have a smaller body for easier storage, but are still beefy enough to clear snow up to 20 inches high. Expect to pay at least $600 for a well-built compact two-stage gas snow blower and more than $1,000 for a full-sized one. Three-stage snow blowers are also available; these use a design that can increase snow-clearing speed compared to a manufacturer's two-stage models, but cost more ($1,000 and up) and are can be a pain to stow. As these are best suited to commercial use or for the largest residential properties, we do not cover any three-stage snow blowers in this report.

Snow Shovels

Don't forget the original "manual' snow thrower, the snow shovel. Yes, shoveling snow can be back-breaking work, and is definitely not advised for those in less-than-good physical shape, but if you live where snow is light, and/or on a property with not much sidewalk to shovel, they are a cost effective alternative. Even better, the top choices among modern snow shovels offer improved ergonomics to make the task of clearing snow by hand a lot easier than ever before. A well-designed, well-made snow shovel will run roughly $30 to $50.

Finding The Best Snow Blowers
Our Sources
"Snow Blowers Ratings"
"The Twenty Best Snow Blowers – October 2016 – Which Snow Blower Is Best For You?"
"The Best Snow Blowers"

We evaluate both expert tests and owner feedback to select the top snow blowers and shovels. ConsumerReports.org conducts side-by-side comparisons of snow blowers, and its coverage is both comprehensive and detailed, with hands-on testing that looks at performance, handling and more. MovingSnow.com is also helpful. Though site owner Paul Sikkema doesn't cover nearly as many models as ConsumerReports.org, and his testing isn't always well defined, his expertise provides valuable insights on which snow blowers to buy and which to skip. TheSweethome.com's coverage is more limited, but there's extensive hands-on testing of its top recommended model; they also have a report on snow shovels for those who want to clear snow the old fashioned way. Owner reviews at sites such as HomeDepot.com and Amazon.com help fill in the picture, reporting on issues -- such as long-term durability -- that experts can't address in the limited time they have to test products. The results of our intensive research are the snow blowers and shovels that are top performers, very durable and handle easily.

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