What Size Snow Blower Do I Need? How to Know Which One to Buy

Shoveling snow is one of the worst chores in the world. No one wants to bundle up just to go outside and spend hours clearing their walkway and driveway from heavy, packed snow. Luckily, that is where snow blowers save the day.

A quality snow blower is a great way to remove the snow from your property without the aching back and wasted time. But do you know what size snow blower to pick up for your home?

If you answered no, don’t worry, we have you covered. This article will discuss the different sizes of snow blowers available today and how to tell which option is best for you.

The Different Types of Snow Blowers (3 Stages)

Before shopping for a snow blower, you need to know which stage you will benefit from the most. There are three stages available, each designed for different levels of the job.

Each stage provides a different amount of power, tackles various tasks, and is suitable for different situations.

Below are the three types of snow blowers and in what conditions they work best.

  • Single-Stage Snow Blower – Lightweight and easy to use in small spaces or for less than a foot of snow accumulation. This snow blower simply scoops the snow and tosses it out of the shoot.
  • Two-Stage Snow Blower – Made to tackle a lot of snow build-up and easily clear out driveways and sidewalks. This machine collects snow piles into the center of the housing unit, then forces it out of the chute at a high rate of speed.
  • Three-Stage Snow Blower – Designed to do the most damage on snow and ice. This machine can move heavy snow and slick ice, scooping it up, chopping it, and propelling it out of the chute.
Man using heavy duty snow blower to clear driveway

Which Stage Should You Buy? (A Quick Summary)

If you have a small lawn with a short driveway, you should only need a single-stage snow blower. These are typically lighter and can clean stairs and other harder-to-reach areas.

You should purchase a two-stage snow blower if you have a medium-sized yard or driveway and the snow typically comes down frequently, accumulating many inches throughout the day. 

Two-stage snow blowers are usually found in gas-powered options and can require a little more effort to use.

A three-stage snow blower is something to consider if you own a snow removal company or have a long driveway or large yard. You will only find this type of snow blower in gas-powered options, which will be heavier than the other two types.

Now, these three types of snow blowers you can select from will work in pretty much any situation. However, there are different features, uses, and needs that you need to consider before going out to get a snow blower of your own.

Pros and Cons of Each Snow Blower Type

Here is a quick recap of each type of snow blower and its pros and cons. This will help you quickly decide which size is best for your situation. 

Snow BlowerProsCons
Easy to use
Perfect for elevated areas
Great for small spaces
Only good for up to 6 inches of snow
Not good for thick snow
Two-stageGood for up to 18 inches of snow
Good on medium driveways
Heavier than a single-stage
Not easy to transport
Three-stageWorks on more than 20 inches of snow
Can break up and remove ice
Very heavy
Not good for small spaces

How Much Snow Do You Get?

The snow blower size you will need significantly depends on how much snow you usually see during the winter. 

If you get a ton of heavy, wet snow that comes off a body of water, you don’t want to use a simple single-stage snow blower to clear out your driveway.

A two-stage or even three-stage snow blower will be your best option in this type of weather. 

Follow this guide to determine the size you need based on the amount of snow you get.

Snow blowerSnow capacity
Single-stage snow blower8-12 inches of snow
Two-stage snow blower10-18 inches of snow
Three-stage snow blower18-20+ inches of snow

How Much Space Do You Need to Cover? 

The area you must clear on a frequent basis will also play a significant role in the size of the snow blower you need. Each machine can pick up and toss a certain amount of snow effectively. 

At the same time, you must decide what you can handle as the snow blower operator.

A single-stage blower is perfect if you are looking for something to clear off your steps, the walkway from your car to the front door, or your deck.

For those medium-sized lawns or driveways that require cleaning out multiple times a week, you should look for a two-stage snow blower.

You will want to invest in a three-stage snow blower for large areas like parking lots, long driveways, etc.

Snow blowerArea size
Single-stage snow blowerSmall lawn, steps, walkways, porch
Two-stage snow blowerMedium lawns, driveways, sidewalks
Three-stage snow blowerLarge lawns, long driveways, parking lots
Man using a gasoline-powered snow blower to clear area in front of garage

What Type of Power Are You Looking For?

There are three main ways to power your snow blower. You can use electricity, gas, or a battery. Each option is perfectly fine, depending on the size of space you need to clear out and your personal preference.

Electric Snow Blowers

Electric snow blowers are great for small spaces and short driveways and are good for the environment. These machines are lightweight and easy to move around. 

You can get an electric snow blower in a corded or cordless model, making them versatile for different uses.

The bad news is these options only come in single-stage, making them not viable options for areas that get hit with heavy snow.

Gas Snow Blowers

Gas snow blowers are the heaviest option of the three. They can be tricky to navigate but are powerful and work very well in most snow conditions. 

These machines are the most popular option and are frequently used in residential and commercial settings. 

A gas snow blower is an excellent product for those with large areas to clear or deep snow to move out of the way. However, they can be a little too much if you want to clean off the deck or remove a light dusting from your walkway.

Battery Snow Blowers

Like electric snow blowers, battery-powered options only come in single-stage. This makes them lightweight, even lighter than the electric version, and great for areas that don’t get heavy snowfall or a lot of accumulation.

Snow blowerUseNot Good For
ElectricUp to 12 inches
Stairs, walkways, sidewalk
Light snowfall
Large areas
Heavy snow
BatteryUp to 8 inches
Decks, stairs, paths
Light snowfall
Large areas
Heavy snow
Long-term use
Gas 12-20 inches of snowfall
Heavy snow
Large areas
Stairs, elevated areas
Small spaces

Engine Size

The size of the engine in your snow blower is going to determine how much of an area can be cleared and the amount of time it is going to take. The size will also help you determine how much horsepower with which the machine will operate and how much gas it will require to run.

  • A small engine (200 ccs): This will provide adequate performance for smaller areas like walkways, small driveways, and elevated areas.
  • A medium engine (200-400 ccs): This will offer enough power and stamina to clear a medium-sized driveway, yard, or sidewalk. 
  • A large or professional engine (400ccs +): This will be beneficial in commercial settings, parking lots, long driveways, lawns, etc.

Keep in mind that the bigger the engine, the more horsepower it will have and the more space the snow blower will cover in less time.

Other Things to Consider

We’ve already hit many of the most important aspects of snow blowers. Those tips will be helpful to know what size snow blower you need for your particular situation. However, there are other features and things to consider before making a purchase that can be pretty important.

Propel Style

If your home is situated on the side of a hill or you have a ramp attached to your entranceway, you might want to consider getting a self-propelled snow blower. 

These snow blowers typically come in a single-stage machine but are very useful when clearing snow from a steep incline.

Like self-propelled lawn mowers, these snow blowers will move forward for you. All you need to do is follow behind it and be a guide. 

Blade Size of Auger

The auger is the main part of your snow blower and is where the machine’s blades scoop up the snow and push it up through the shoot and out the top.

The size of your augur will determine how much snow it can collect at any given time. An average auger is around 24 inches in length but can range anywhere from 20 inches to 32 inches.

If you have a wide driveway, a 32-inch auger on your snow blower will offer a much quicker clearing. With that said, this size isn’t often found on a smaller machine, so you will need to grab a two- or three-stage snow blower. Chances are also good that it will be gas-powered.

Throwing Distance

Not many people think about the throwing distance when determining what size snow blower to buy. However, this specific detail will play a significant role in the time it takes to clear your space and the effort you put into it.

If you get a powerful snow blower that only shoots the snow a few feet away, you will struggle with simply blowing the mess to a location that needs to be reworked.

If you have a wide driveway, you must find a snow blower that can shoot the snow far enough to remove it from the area entirely. 

On the other hand, you don’t want to purchase a snow blower with a far propelling distance if you own a small slice of land. You don’t want to cover your neighbor’s driveway or the sidewalk in your leftover snow.

Snow Blowing Accessories

While most of the accessories listed below don’t relate to the size of the blower you need, they can make a huge difference in which machine you choose to buy.

Here are some of the most popular features to remember when looking for your new snow-blowing machine.

  • Single-hand use: Some manufacturers will offer snow blowers that only require one hand to navigate and guide the machine. This is ideal for freeing up the other hand to tackle the direction of the chute.
  • Heated handles: Consider a machine with a heated handlebar to keep your fingers from getting frostbite while cleaning your driveway or sidewalk.
  • Headlights: If you typically snow blow at night or early in the morning, headlights on the top and front of the machine can make the task so much easier. 
  • Tire chains: Tire chains are a great way to gain better traction when using your snow blower. It can keep your machine from slipping and sliding on the ice and compacted snow.

Summing Things Up

Before choosing which snow blower is best for your situation, you must consider the type of job it will face once you buy it.

You must always factor in the amount of space you need to cover when removing snow, how much snow typically falls, and how much power the machine will require. Getting a snow blower with helpful accessories and features will also make the job less stressful.


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