A breeze to run, despite formidable size. Although the Ariens Deluxe 28 doesn't have power steering, a wheel lock on the handle quickly disengages one or both drive wheels to make the machine easier to maneuver -- just squeeze a lever. It also features single-hand operation, so your other hand is free to use the crank that controls the chute.
Owners love how this blower handles for such a large machine, and it receives high marks for handling and controls in a comparative expert test. An electric starter, and six forward and two reverse speeds facilitate easy operation, although one owner says a lower first gear would come in handy when going down hills. Several users call the Deluxe 28 "stout" and "well-built."
The Ariens Deluxe 28 has a halogen headlight, a feature that most owners appreciate. It's loud, however, so hearing protection is recommended.
Although the Ariens Deluxe 30 (*Est. $1,400) isn't identical to the Deluxe 28, it's similar enough that they can be discussed together. The Deluxe 30 is 2 inches wider and comes with directional tires, hand warmers and a more powerful 342cc engine. Otherwise, the blowers are essentially the same and receive near-identical scores from both experts and users. The Ariens Deluxe 28+, which adds hand warmers and directional tires, costs about $100 more than the Deluxe 28.
This thing laughs at snow. The manufacturer recommends the Deluxe series for clearing areas of up to 1,200 square feet, and owners regularly put this model to the test clearing 100-foot driveways or several driveways in the area; one reviewer says seven houses in his neighborhood share the use of a single Deluxe 28.
Experts say the Ariens Deluxe 28's powerful engine, 28-inch clearing path and 14-inch serrated steel auger excel at clearing snow. Its 21-inch-high intake handles drifts and snowplow piles easily; owners report no problems clearing even wet, heavy snow. "These machines are built to handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way, and these can throw the snow better than anything else on the market," writes a user at HomeDepot.com who has had his Deluxe 28 for six years. His father, he adds, has an Ariens blower from 1968 that's still running strong.
One owner says, "I have a long driveway with a steep incline, and this machine handled it superb." Still another reports running his Deluxe 28 through several feet of compacted snow in his backyard: "With compressed snow coming over the top of the opening, the 249cc Briggs just kept throwing the snow exactly where I wanted it." The only complaint we found is that this unit's traction sometimes suffers in slick, packed-down snow.
If you need a big, powerful snow blower, this is it. The Ariens Deluxe 28 is one of the few blowers that earns consistent kudos from both experts and owners. It's definitely too much power for some, and at 220 pounds, lugging it around to clear a small patio is impractical. However, if you must consistently clear large areas of 6 to 12 inches or deeper snowfall, the Deluxe 28 is the unanimous favorite.
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Excellent In all, ConsumerReports.org provides comparative ratings of more than 75 snow blowers, including electric and gas, single-stage and two-stage models. Their rankings are based on the results of objective tests. The Ariens Deluxe 28 is ranked among 19 large two-stage gas blowers, as is the near-identical Deluxe 30.
Review: Snow Blowers Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of September 2012
Good More than 200 owners review the Ariens Deluxe 28 on HomeDepot.com, giving it 4.7 stars out of 5; 95 percent say they'd recommend it. One says he used it in "about 16 inches of sticky, wet snow" that were "no match for this machine. It performed fantastically."
Review: Ariens Deluxe Series 28 in. Two-Stage Electric Start Gas Snow Blower, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of September 2012
3. Snow Blowers Direct
Good Nearly 70 owners post reviews of the Ariens Deluxe 28. They give the machine 4.8 out of 5 stars and feedback is overwhelmingly positive. A typical comment reads, "Startup is a breeze, and it cut through 18 inches like a hot knife through butter. No going back and forth like with my other blower."
Review: Ariens Deluxe ST28LE (28") 250cc Two-Stage Snow Blower, Contributors to SnowBlowersDirect.com, As of September 2012
4. Snow Blowers Direct
Good The 30-inch model of Ariens' Deluxe line gets an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 from more than 40 owners. The two blowers aren't exactly the same, but they're so similar that they merit being discussed together.
Review: Ariens Deluxe ST30LE (30") 342cc Two-Stage Snow Blower (2013 Model), Contributors to SnowBlowersDirect.com, As of September 2012