A Guide to Help You Decide Which Type of Snow Blower Suits Your Snow Removal Needs
After the first major snowfall of the season and an hour spent shovelling in the cold, you might be asking yourself, “Should I buy a snow blower?”
If you’ve decided to ditch the shovel and upgrade to a high-powered, durable snow blower this season, but you’re not sure which one to get, this article is for you.
Single-stage and dual-stage snow blowers are the most popular types available. While both will save you time and energy and help you avoid back-breaking work, there are key differences that make each one better-suited to different tasks and types of snow removal.
So to help you choose the best two-stage snow blower or the best single-stage snow blower for your snow removal needs, we’ve put together a comparison of our two most popular Honda snow blower options. Before we dive into the details, though, you’re going to have to ask yourself a few key questions!
Things to Consider
Before you even start looking at prices, consider the sort of snow removal you’ll be doing most often. Ask yourself the following questions to get a better idea of your needs:
- How large is the area you need to clear? Do you have a single-, double-, or four-car driveway, or something larger?
- How deep is the snow, usually? Do you typically get light-to-moderate snowfalls (less than 8 inches)? Or heavy snowfalls, 8 to 16+ inches?
- What kind of snow do you have to clear? Is the snow light and powdery? Or wet and heavy?
- What type of terrain is the snow on? For level surfaces, auger-assisted, push-propelled snow blower models will work. For sloped terrain, you’ll need a blower with engine-driven wheels. That said, tracks can improve traction in all terrain conditions.
What Is A Single-Stage Snow Blower?
A single-stage snow blower, also known as a snow thrower, blows snow out of a chute in one continuous motion. It uses a spinning auger, a corkscrew-shaped component, to pull in snow from the front as it moves.
The tapered auger housing condenses the snow into a smaller area and pushes it through an opening in the back of the housing. The snow is then pushed up and out of a chute before it’s launched in a direction away from the path that is being cleared.
Key Features of Single-Stage Snow Blowers
- Often electric/battery-powered
- Easy start thanks to electric starter
- Gas-powered single-stage snow blowers are cordless with good mobility and wide clearance
- Lightweight builds
- Easy to handle
- Auger directs snow through the discharge chute
- Auger touches the surface of the ground, providing some forward-drive
- Deadman control—a safety feature that stops the auger when you release the handlebar-grip controls
- Handle to control the direction and height of the chute
- 20- to 22-inch-wide clearance
- Wheels are not engine-driven
- Some models have headlights for better visibility
Best Uses for Single-Stage Snow Blowers
Single-stage blowers are best for clearing light-to-moderate amounts of snow from mid-sized areas, such as small- to moderate-size two-car-garage driveways and in snow depths of up to 8 inches.
Since the auger in these blowers touches the ground, these snow blowers are best to use on paved surfaces instead of gravel. Use on gravel means the auger may pick up rocks and gravel, launching them along with your snow!
What Is A Dual-Stage Snow Blower?
Dual-stage snow blowers use a two-stage process for clearing snow, as their name suggests. First, a serrated auger collects the snow. Then the impeller fan discharges (or blows) the snow through the chute. This two-stage process removes snow faster than single-stage blowers. The more powerful serrated auger can cut through and break up hard and heavy snow and ice.
Key Features of Dual-Stage Snow Blowers
- Gas-powered combustion engines
- Engine-driven wheels to handle uneven terrain and reduce operator fatigue
- Auger collects snow
- Impeller fan discharges snow through chute
- Impeller prevents clogging of heavy snow
- Serrated augers cut through ice
- Skid shoes elevate auger for use on unpaved surfaces
- Clearing width of 20 to 36 inches, depending on the model
- Some models have a single joystick lever to quickly adjust the chute, changing the direction and height of the snow
- Trigger drive releases allow for easier maneuverability
- Easy starting with electric starters
- One-handed drive/auger control on some models
- Some models have LED headlights for improved visibility first thing in the morning or later in the evening
- Drive disengagement to ease steering
- Deadman control to stop the auger and impeller when you release the handlebar-grip controls
- Clean-out device—a stick to remove blockages in the impeller, so you don’t have to reach in with your hands
Best Uses for Dual-Stage Snowblowers
Dual-stage blowers are best for clearing large areas with deep snow, such as larger driveways over 60-feet long or gravel driveways. These blowers can handle more than 8 inches of snow, up to depths of 16 inches or more. They’re also powerful enough to remove ice, heavy, wet snow, and hard-packed snow.
What are the Main Differences Between These Models?
Function & Power
As discussed earlier, the main difference between these two types of snow blowers is how the snow is moved through the blower after the auger gathers it. The auger in a single-stage blower is responsible for gathering and pushing the snow through and out of the chute.
But in a two-stage or dual-stage blower, the auger gathers the snow and pushes it to a high-speed impeller. The impeller grabs the snow and blows it out of the chute. The impeller is powerful, and moves much faster than the auger, making snow removal much quicker and launching the snow much farther from the machine than with single-stage blowers.
Size & Weight
Dual-stage snow blowers are heavier and larger than single-stage blowers. And while this makes single-stage blowers easier to maneuver for some jobs, the added weight makes dual-stage blowers easier to use on inclines. These heavier, larger, and more powerful blowers pull themselves through the snow, so the operators won’t wear themselves out from pushing. What’s more, the taller intakes mean these blowers can work through deeper snow.
What are the Advantages/Disadvantages?
Both types of blowers allow for rapid and efficient snow removal to save you time and energy. Dual-stage blowers are much heavier and take up more storage space, but are more powerful and useful for tougher and bigger jobs. Single-stage blowers are smaller, lighter, and easier to maneuver, but are not powerful enough to tackle large snow removal jobs. No matter the type of snow blower you choose, for your safety please always follow the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance manual and safety instructions.
If you only plan to remove snow from paved small- to medium-sized driveways and walkways, and you typically get snowfalls that are less than 8 inches, a single-stage snow blower should get the job done. But for larger areas with heavier snowfalls and steep slopes, the more powerful dual-stage blowers will save you plenty of time and energy this winter.