Basic features usually perform well, but handling is so-so. The Ariens Compact 24 receives only average handling scores in one expert evaluation, but owners still like its one-handed operation and the ability to unlock one wheel for easier steering. "It is very easy to control the chute, even without stopping, and you can put the snow exactly where you want it," writes one user on HomeDepot.com. "The remote control for the top of the chute was wonderful!" says another. The 205cc Briggs and Stratton engine requires only routine maintenance.
Although most owners are thrilled with how this machine operates, it lacks a few high-end features such as power steering and heated hand warmers. In a very small smattering of user complaints, one says the ignition key kept falling out, so he wired it in; another gripes that the headlight design "will blind you at night," so he shimmed the headlight bracket in place with a washer. The Ariens Compact 24 is very noisy, so hearing protection is recommended.
Powerful despite its size -- it clears everything. Experts and owners agree that the Ariens Compact 24 handles all snow conditions with ease. It receives very good scores for both surface removal and clearing berms in one expert evaluation, although it's not the fastest blower tested. Owner reviews at SnowBlowersDirect.com are similarly enthusiastic, reporting how much snowfall their Compact 24 tackled on the first use. One says the blower "ate right through" 18 inches of wet snow and adds, "For the thick stuff, I found that as long as I slowed down the drive speed, no problem getting through it."
That said, the Ariens Compact 24 isn't perfect. Although we found no user complaints about bogging down, a few owners acknowledge that clearing deep snow and large areas could be "a little easier and less time-consuming with a bigger and more powerful blower," as one writes at HomeDepot.com.
Impressive performer, best for smaller areas. At 24 inches wide, the Compact 24 is fairly, well, compact. But that doesn't stop it from putting on an impressive snow-clearing performance. A few owners even recommend it for clearing larger areas, although a wider and more powerful model like the best-reviewed Ariens Deluxe 28 (*Est. $1,100) is ultimately more efficient. The Deluxe models also handle more easily, thanks to their free-wheel steering.
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Excellent The editors of ConsumerReports.org test more than 70 snow blowers and assign each a comparative ranking. The blowers are evaluated on criteria such as handling, snow-clearing speed, and how well they clean down to a bare surface. Complete details are available to subscribers, although the general overview of snow blowers is free to all.
Review: Snow Blowers Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of September 2012
Good More than 180 owners weigh in on the Ariens Compact 24, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. Most say it handles even wet, heavy and drifted snow very well.
Review: Ariens Compact 24 in. Two-Stage Electric Start Gas Snow Blower, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of September 2012
3. Snow Blowers Direct
Good Here the Ariens Compact 24 gets a high average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 from more than 50 users. They're uniformly enthusiastic about how well the blower plows through the remains of heavy storms.
Review: Ariens Compact ST24LE (24") 205cc Two-Stage Snow Blower, Contributors to SnowBlowersDirect.com, As of September 2012