Anyone that has had to clear snow from their driveway or sidewalk after a hard snow understands the clear limitations that come with the old-fashioned shovel method. Not only is it a back-breaking task that can lead to cardiac arrest in those of us with heart problems, but it can only be so effective, especially when dealing with compacted snow and ice.
Whether you’re a homeowner, a property manager, or a snow removal business, if you live in a region that gets a lot of snow in the winter, then it behooves you to invest in a snowblower to make that season a little bit easier to manage. What a snow shovel would take hours to do (or not be able to do at all!) a snowblower can do in half an hour’s work. However, it’s best to understand the most popular types of snow blowers on the market and what they offer, as well as which brand is the best within each category.
Toro Power Clear 821 QZE
Single-stage snow blowers are great for normal snowfall and clearing small driveways
5 out of 5 stars | $$$$
The single-stage snowblower, when it’s manufactured reliably, is just about perfect for the average homeowner with a modest driveway. If you live in a region that gets less than a foot of snow at a time (on average) then single-stage is probably the “goldilocks” option for you. If you’re somewhere that falls victim to lake effect snow or other severe winter weather, then you may be better off getting something a little beefier.
We’ve found the Toro Power Clear 821 QZE to be the best single-stage blower on the market that hits the sweet spot between price and reliability. Toro’s powerful 4-cycle engine can throw your snow up to 40 feet away, making displacement much easier in tight residential areas. Best yet, it sports an “easy start” ignition that allows you to start the engine with a simple push of a button—no fiddling around with a recoil start with freezing hands and low light.
Ariens Deluxe 28
Two-state snow blowers are a versatile tool for both homeowners and snow removal services—powerful yet portable
4.5 out of 5 stars | $$$$
Think of a two-stage blower the same way you’d think of a Vitamix blender. It’s pricey, it’s probably overpowered for those morning smoothies you bought it for, but you know it’ll last you forever and, if push comes to shove, a two-stage snow blower will rise to the challenge when that big blizzard blows in.
Ariens might not have the name recognition of Honda and Toro, but they’re known as one of the best snow blower makers in the market. The Ariens Deluxe 28 is no exception—it’s powerful engine will throw snow up to 50 feet away and its 28” width will move 65 tons of snow in an hour. It’s a great, overpowered tool that’ll make you the savior of the block when you bring it out after 2 feet of snow are dumped in your area. And if you’re in the business of snow removal, it’s clean, the imposing look goes well with its power to not only make you look good but give you the performance that’ll impress your clients.
Toro 1800 Power Curve
Electric snow blowers are a simple and light-duty solution that requires no gasoline but may lack the power gas provides
4 out of 5 stars | $$$$
Electric snow blowers can go hand-in-hand with electric lawnmowers. You’re not buying them for their power so much as for their convenience. They’re the kind of power tools made for people that might not have the storage space for a can of pre-mixed gasoline and who might need it infrequently enough that they can get by with a smaller, lighter, electric version that can be tucked away until it’s next needed.
The Toro 1800 Power Curve combines electric power and reliability in a near-perfect proportion to deliver effective snow removal in a simple package. It will clear a reasonable 18″ wide path and Toro claims it can dig through up to 12 inches of snow, though you may be pushing it. The 1800 Power Curve the kind of snow blower you can forget about until a few inches of snow grace your driveway. And then, it’s one simple outlet away from doing its job before you can once against tuck it away in your shed or storage room. Would you want to rely on an electric blower in blizzard conditions, or as a tool for your snow removal business? Probably not.
Honda HSS1332AT (Two-stage, track-driven)
Powerful and all-terrain, track-driven snow blowers are great for rugged terrain or anyone with a serious snow removal business
4.25 out of 5 stars | $$$$
Most of us choose to live out in the boonies due to the rugged wilderness it provides. However, that same ruggedness can be a total pain when it comes to snow removal. More than likely, if you’re the kind of person that needs a track-driven snow blower then you already appreciate the benefits of an all-terrain, track-driven power tool. They’re as expensive as they are powerful, but you get what you pay for.
Honda must not be one for catchy names—their HSS1332AT track-driven, two-stage snow blower has a forgettable and complicated name. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerhouse! With a whopping 32-inches of clearance and a durable track-driven system that’ll traverse even the harshest terrain, this snow blower will get you out of the deepest snow and back to the comforts of your cabin in the middle of nowhere.
Ariens Power Brush 36
The most versatile tool out there—it functions as a snowblower and year-round debris clearer. Perfect for your all-season landscaping business.
3.5 out of 5 stars | $$$$
Power brush snow blowers are one-of-a-kind tools that no other variety can compete with. Rather than relying on a standard auger design to scoop and throw snow, power brush snow blowers instead feature powerful brush heads that sweep away snow rather than dig through it. Because of their unique design, they also function all year long as powered-sweepers to clean sidewalks and driveways. If you’re a homeowner, you may not want to get bogged down in power brush technology. However, if you’re a landscaping and snow removal business, power brush snow blowers might be a useful year-round tool for you to invest in.
The Ariens Power Brush 36 is a behemoth with a 40” brush head, heated handgrips (keep your hands toasty!) and an adjustable brush height to help you deal with deep snow. While the Power Brush 36 is a powerful tool, it’s not going to be as effective as two-stage or even single-stage auger blowers but it’ll get most jobs done while still being useful to you in the spring, summer, and fall.