Snow Blower Reviews : Understanding the different types of snow blowers and snow throwers

by Martin

in Choosing a snow blower, Top Rated Snow Blowers

When choosing a snow blower, reviews such as those you will find on this site will help you identify the one that will suit you best.

However, our reviews, or indeed any snow blower review, can only really help you if you understand the terminology used and the different types of machine those snow blower reviews may refer to.

Here, therefore, we set out a comprehensive review of snow blowers and snow throwers and introduce you to how they work and how to choose the one to match your needs.

Types of snow blowers

There are five basic types of snow blowers:

  • The hand held electric ‘power shovel’;
  • The single stage electric walk behind snow thrower;
  • The single stage gas powered walk behind snow thrower;
  • The two-stage gas-powered walk behind snow blower; and
  • The tractor/lawn tractor mounted snow blower.

Whether an electric, or a gasoline-powered snow blower is a good fit for you, depends on your individual circumstances.

Small electric blowers are called power shovels and are not dissimilar to garden string trimmers. They are portable and light and do not require great strength to operate.

Electric snow blowers and throwers are available only as single stage machines and suitable for smaller areas and lighter conditions. Some machines propel forward when the auger comes into contact with snow or the ground and others require a push to move ahead.

There are larger electric walk-behind machines but they are for moderate snow conditions at best. The advantage of these is their ease of maintenance. Electric snow throwers are a cheap option and are environmentally friendly.

Gasoline or diesel operated machines are more common, generally more powerful and come in a much wider range of choice.

Here we look more closely at the different types.

Power Shovels

If where you live receives light snowfall only and you have small and fairly level areas to clear, consider a power shovel. The Toro power shovel is a good example.

snow blower reviews - Toro electric snow blower

A Toro electic snow blower

These are lightweight units that you push along, are easy to handle and clear snow easily out of the way. These powered shovels work best with light snow conditions, with some models shooting snow up to 30 feet away.

  • For areas with light snowfall and small areas such as walkways, small drives and patios;
  • Can cost $100 or less;
  • Some models can be used as power brooms during summer months;
  • Better suited to level surfaces;
  • Will clear up to 6” snow depth.

Electric Snow Throwers

Suitable for small to medium use on larger areas than power shovels can deal with, electric snow throwers can handle moderate snowfall with ease. They are more economical, lighter to operate and therefore more maneuverable than the heavier gas models of similar specification.

Limited by the length of its cable and extension cord, an electric snow blower is therefore more suitable for ‘closer to home’ applications. Ensure that the machine you buy comes equipped with (or consider buying) a reinforced heavy-duty power cable both to reduce power drop over long distances and for safety. As with all outside electrical appliances, it is advisable to use an RCB (Residual circuit breaker).

  • Electric blowers / throwers operate quietly;
  • Good for medium sized driveways, yards and walkways;
  • Require minimal maintenance;
  • Work best on level surfaces;
  • Will clear up to 10” snow depth.

Popular electric snow blowers include the Toro Power Curve, the Snow Joe Ultra and the Worx electric snow thrower.

Single Stage and Two Stage Gas Snow Blowers and Throwers

There are two types of gas powered machine, as follows

  • Single stage snow blowers: Snow is broken down by an auger, and is then lifted and dispersed to one side. The name is name is derived from this single action of drawing in the snow and then dispersing or throwing it out. These are often smaller than the two-stage variant and are properly called ‘snow throwers’.
  • Two stage snow blowers: The first stage of operation breaks up the snow and draws it into the machine by way of its auger(s). The snow is then moved to the impeller, which blows the snow out through the discharge chute. Because these machines have a blowing action, they are the true ‘snow blowers’.
snow blower reviews - Snapper 2 stage snow blower

Snapper 2 stage gas-powered snow blower

Gas snow blowers tend to cost more than electric ones. They are heavier but can be used in more ‘remote’ situations, as there is no power cable to manage. They do require more maintenance and there is also the cost of gasoline to consider.

Single stage blowers are useful for up to medium sized properties, and two stage machines for larger areas.

Some two stage machines can cut a swathe approaching 3ft wide and can handle rougher terrain and unpaved areas. Since the auger does not come into contact with the ground they can be used on gravel driveways and other areas where there is loose material.

Two stage snow blowers are good for heavy-duty use and can break up / remove ice. They have wide augers and an extended throw range through the impeller.

Most two-stage blowers have at least four forward speeds, which is useful in preventing clogging. Larger gas powered two stage models typically have electric start, variable speed controls and drive to both wheels, which aids traction. Most include individual trigger release, which allows you to control each wheel.

  • Wide range of clearing widths available;
  • Available in 2 stroke engines (requiring a gas / oil mix but no oil change necessary);
  • Available in 4 stroke engines (gas only, but require oil changes as per manufacturers’ instructions);
  • The single stage gas model will clear a depth of up to a foot of snow;
  • The two stage gas model will clear up to a depth of 20 inches or more.

Popular single stage machines include the Toro Power Clear 418ZE and the Poulan Pro 621ES.

Popular two stage snow blowers include the 27 inch Poulan Pro PR627ES, the 27 inch Husqvarna 12527HV and the huge and impressive Ariens 36 inch Professional Series snow blower.

Here is a useful video on the difference between single and two stage snow blower:

Tractor Mounted Snow Blowers

These are typically larger that the walk-behind machines and can have a clearing width up to 57 inches or more (nearly five feet).

They are usually fitted to the front of the tractor or lawn tractor, utilizing an available power take off (PTO), and basically work in the same way as the two stage machines referred to above.

Tractor mounted snow blowers, like those from John Deere are for large areas or for quick snow removal.

snow blower reviews - lawn tractor mounted snow blower

2 stage lawn-tractor mounted snow blower

Please take time to check the snow blower reviews on our other pages. You will find all the information you need in order to choose a suitable snow blower.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Geist

I appreciate this site for helping me decide what kind of a snow blower/thrower I need. I want to think about all aspects of what should be considered. Some sites, that only sell certain items will not tell you the downside to them. Whatever I get needs to last me for years and years to come, so it’s important to get it right…right now.
Thanks… Tom Geist…Lincoln,NE



Hi Tom
Thanks for those kind words.

That’s certainly what this site aims to be all about.

Let us know what you choose – maybe you could even do a review of your choice for publication on the site?


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