There are many choices when buying a snowblower. You can narrow down your options by asking yourself two key questions: How much snow am I dealing with? And how easily can the snowblower be operated or maintained?

How much snow am I dealing with?

Each snowblower has its limits on the amount of snow it can throw. Depending on how much the snow stacks up at your house, choose appropriately. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  • Single-stage: The smallest type of snowblower, it is ideal for clearing 8-12 inches of snow. It works best for light, fluffy snow on decks, small driveways or steps. A single-stage snowblower works best where the larger models won't fit.
  • Two-stage: Two-stage models handle wet snow from 8 inches to 23 inches, depending on the specific snowblower you buy. They throw the snow twice as far as a single-stage version, and can even tackle snowdrifts.
  • Three-stage: The greatest perk of the three-stage snowblower is its speed. It can clear 16 to 21 inches of snow and throw it 50 feet 10 times faster than the other models. Its powerful accelerator means that it can handle heavy, wet snowdrifts in no time at all.

How easily can the snowblowers be operated and maintained?

  • Single-stage: Single-stage snowblowers come in an electric cord, electric cordless and gas models. Electric is the ultimate no-maintenance snowblower — you plug in the cord, or push the button, and it runs. All you need for a corded model is a cold-weather extension cord and access to an outlet. For a cordless model, you push the button and go, free of any cord. A gas model shares the same mobility as an electric cordless model and usually clears wider paths and greater heights of snow. No single-stage snowblower can operate on gravel.
  • Two-stage: These snowblowers are all gas-powered, so they do require regular fill-ups. Operating them on uneven surfaces is no problem, and with engine-driven wheels, they don't tire you out as much as pushing around a single-stage model. Any surface works for two-stage snowblowers — if you want them to work on gravel, simply put skid shoes on the tires.
  • Three-stage: Much the same as the two-stage, three-stage snowblowers are gas-powered (needing fill-ups), cordless and operate on any surface. Their efficiency cuts down on the amount of time spent shivering in the snow too.

If you still don't like the idea of owning a snowblower, or your driveway is just too long, there are other options. Provided you have a truck or SUV, buying a snowplow attachment starts at $400. Or you may want to go all in and buy a heavy-duty skid steer to be sure the job gets done. You're still doing the work, though. Perhaps hiring a snowplow service to save you labor and give you peace of mind is best for you.

Civic responsibilities

Remember, your local government may require you to remove snow from sidewalks in front of your house. Be sure you choose the option that accounts for that area too. Also remember your responsibility to the environment: Use gas stabilizers to keep gas usable between seasons instead of burning it off, and follow any Environmental Protection Agency recommendations. The EPA reminds snowblower owners to change their oil regularly, maintain your snowblower correctly and, if possible, reduce operation time by only snow blowing larger areas. Consider also buying an EPA-approved snowblower.

Snowblowers may seem complicated and unknowable at first glance, but each type is specialized for the job it performs. If you want to save yourself some work by getting a snowblower, get the model that suits your needs. Choosing a snowblower is as simple as deciding 1, 2 or 3!


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