Love it or hate it, it’s pretty much guaranteed every year if you live in certain parts of the world.
And there are a lot of parts of the world where it’s a part of daily life for a big part of the year.
Personally, I think it’s wonderful in the mountains, horrible in the city.
That’s where owning a good snowblower is really advantageous. Clear the walkways, dig your car out, find your lost children.
The question is, which is better – a single-stage or a two-stage machine?
In this article, I’ll aim to cover the battle of the single-stage vs two-stage snow blowers in more detail, and hopefully point you in the right direction if you’re thinking of purchasing one.
You’ll find some sample reviews, a buyer’s guide and a FAQ section to get you started.
Let it snow!
- Short Answer for Single-Stage VS Two-Stage Snow Blower
- In-Depth Look at Single-Stage & Two-Stage Snow Blowers
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Each
- One-Stage vs Two-Stage Snow Blower Examples
- Things to Consider Before Making The Purchase
- Snow Blower Safety Tips
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Short Answer for Single-Stage VS Two-Stage Snow Blower
If you’ve just come for the quick answer before we explore the pros and cons of each and examine their differences and appropriate usage, here it is:
If you have deep snow to clear or you’re plowing over gravel or uneven surface – choose a two-stage model.
For snow between 8-12 inches and on a paved surface – a single stage will suffice.
In-Depth Look at Single-Stage & Two-Stage Snow Blowers
What is a Snow Blower?
A snow blower is an electric or gas-powered machine that is used to displace snow from unwanted areas. Most commonly it’s employed to remove the white stuff on driveways and sidewalks. And as you can imagine, there are different types of snowblowers to choose from.
If you live anywhere that suffers from wintry conditions, you’ll find snow blowers will be in regular operation throughout the season, be it in residential neighborhoods or otherwise.
Heavy-duty snow-blowers are used to the same effect on runways, railway tracks, and roadways. They can be incorporated into other vehicles, such as trucks or trains.
Jet engine snow blowers are used by transport authorities for colossal jobs. They were first introduced in Canada and Russia in the 1960s, and shortly after in certain regions of the US.
They cost a small fortune to run and are a little overkill for your driveway.
How Does a Snow Blower Work?
They’re quite ingenious machines, but if you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of how they actually work, I would suggest checking out the short, informative video below.
What is a Single-Stage Snow Blower?
Single-stage snowblowers use one auger to collect and throw the snow. It’s generally a smaller, lighter machine that is designed for shifting small to moderate snowfalls, up to eight inches or less.
It works by using either gas or electric power to rotate a visible auger at the front of the machine, which pulls the snow into the unit and simultaneously drives it out through a discharge chute.
A single-stage snow blower can usually throw snow somewhere between 30-35 feet – depending on the power source and size of the machine.
Single-stage snowblowers have a fixed scraping blade on the underside of the tool to help scrape and lift the snow and ice into the waiting grasp of the spinning auger.
As it comes into direct contact with the ground, it is recommended that you only use a single-stage snow blower on a paved, even surface. Using the tool on a gravel driveway will result in all kinds of hurt.
What is a Two-Stage Snow Blower?
Two-stage snow blowers also use the auger, but they have an added impeller rotor to suck up and throw the snow, so it can handle larger loads.
It effectively throws the snow twice – hence the name two-stage snowblower.
They’re designed for heavier snowfalls of up to two feet and more – depending on the size of the unit and power source.
Two-stage snow blowers are capable of discharging wet or heavy snow.
As they have an adjustable clearance level for the ground, you can use a two-stage snow blower on multiple surfaces. They’re more suitable for gravel terrain as they won’t scoop up unwanted material if they are set at the right height.
A two-stage snowblower can also throw the snow much further – sometimes up to 60 feet – which is an excellent advantage if you really need to get the stuff out of the way.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each
Let’s delve a little deeper into each machine now and work out the pros and cons (if you haven’t already) in our single-stage vs 2-stage-snow blower contest.
First of all, single-stage snow blowers are cheaper than any other kind. As far as garden and yard tools go, snow blowers aren’t cheap in general, but single-stage models won’t break the bank quite as much.
On the whole, they’re also lighter than two-stage versions. Single-stage snow blowers are much more maneuverable and easier to handle by the operator.
Designed to be compact, they have simple, manageable controls, and are ideally suited to clearing light snowfalls in smaller areas.
This is where they excel against a two-stage version – they can sometimes clear a pathway much faster than a heavier-duty machine, just because of their size and turning circle.
And providing the terrain is even – such as a concrete driveway, patio or another walkway – a single-stage snow blower should be able to clear the snow completely – without leaving a thin layer behind.
The main issue with single-stage snow blowers is that they can’t handle nearly as much snow as their two-stage counterparts.
Additionally, if said snow is also wet or heavy, then machines in this class are going to struggle. Snow, by its very nature, tends to be quite wet.
Due to the nature of the underside of the machine, single-stagers aren’t suitable for uneven terrain, or if you’re trying to clear any kind of surface with other materials present, such as a gravel driveway or grassy lawn.
There’s a very real possibility the auger will scoop up the top-surface with the snow and ruin both the machine and whatever is underneath.
They also have limitations when it comes to any kind of incline, so forget about using a single-stage snow blower on hilly terrain.
Two-stage snow blowers can handle larger amounts of snow than one-stage versions. The snow can be wet, heavy, and icy and it will still be dealt with by a two-stage machine.
The clearance is adjustable on a two-stage snow blower, so you can set the height you want to plow the snow. This means they’re much more suitable for use on gravel, turf or any uneven terrain.
They have a larger clearing width than most single-stage snow blowers, so you can cover a wider area in fewer passes.
The traction and wheel system is generally better on a two-stage machine, so you can be more comfortable on inclines or uneven terrain.
Most two-stage snow blowers will have a power-assisted/self-propelled drive function. This is very helpful for clearing large areas or up hills while minimizing operator fatigue.
Two-stage snow blowers often come with many other additional features to make the job even easier, such as LED headlights, extra controls, and adjustable speeds – among others.
While it might seem like two-stage snow blowers are an improvement on single-stage, that’s simply not the case. They have their fair share of disadvantages, too.
The most notable one is the expense. Two-stage snow blowers can be very pricey – even the battery-powered models.
Given their design with both an auger and impeller, there’s more that can go wrong with a two-stage snowblower. They’re likely to need a lot more maintenance than a one-stage model.
Weight and bulk can often be an issue – they’re not nearly as maneuverable as lighter, smaller models.
Finally, with a two-stage snow blower, you’re likely to leave a thin layer of snow. While they’re better for clearing uneven ground, they’re designed to not scrape up the terrain, and will nearly always leave a layer behind.
One-Stage vs Two-Stage Snow Blower Examples
Below you’ll find a selection of reviews on different types of snow blowers (single-stage and two-stage only, of course), with a variety of power sources so you can compare each one.
Greenworks 2600502 Corded Snow Thrower
This is a light-duty, basic single-stage corded snowblower from Greenworks.
It features a 13 amp motor and an adjustable directional chute you can rotate 180-degrees for more control over where you deposit the material. The snow will be discharged up to 20-feet, while the machine itself also has 7-inch wheels for greater mobility.
The compact design has folding handles so the unit is very easy to store. Ideal for smaller paved areas around the home, this is an easy-to-use and non-intimidating tool that is offered as a budget-friendly single-stage snowblower.
- Push-button start.
- Low maintenance.
- 10-inch clearing depth.
- Quiet operation.
- Not as powerful as other machines.
- Limited range with the electric cable.
- Dependent on socket positions.
Snow Joe iON15SB-LT Cordless Snow Blower
The single-stage, battery-powered snow blower example is this model from Snow Joe.
It’s versatile enough to tackle your driveways, walkways, and sidewalks, with a powerful 40-Volt, 2.5-Amp ion battery.
The power pack and charger are included, and the machine features a 180-degree directional discharge chute, eco-sharp technology for maximum performance over time, a temperature-resistant, durable plastic auger, and a clearing width of 15-inches.
You can have up to 30 minutes of super-quiet operation to clear your property of snow, thrown to a maximum of 20 feet. An adjustable handle provides comfort and control, while the scraper bar allows you to clear right to the ground so you don’t damage the surface or leave a layer of packed snow behind.
- Great price.
- Push-button start.
- Easy to use.
- 441 lbs of snow per minute.
- Run time is quite short.
- The plastic auger is not as durable as steel and won’t please everyone.
Troy-Bilt Squall 179cc Gas Snow Thrower
Troy-Bilt need little introduction as a quality power tool company. This is their 21-inch, single-stage, gas-powered snowblower, with a 179cc, four-stroke engine.
It’s designed to clear walkways with a width of 21 inches each pass, and snow as deep as 13 inches. Equipped with deluxe, reversible skid-shoes for more control, while the E-Z chute technology with manual pitch lets you adjust the direction of snow discharge up to 180 degrees.
Durable wheels give you traction and maneuverability, and the comfortable, ergonomic handle makes it a joy to use.
- Electric push-button start.
- Foldable handle for storage.
- Compact unit.
- Name to trust.
- Not ideal in wet or heavy snow.
Snow Joe iON8024-XR Snow Blower
Again, contrary to other review articles that claim battery-powered two-stage snow blowers aren’t available and don’t exist, here I present the Snow Joe, 80-Volt, two-stage snow blower for your viewing pleasure.
This is also why you should stick with us.
It’s packed with awesome features, including an illuminated display that tells you direction, speed, and battery levels, a four-speed, digital drive system, a steel auger that can move up to 1000 lbs of snow per minute, a large, 24-inch wide cutting path, and a thumb-controlled, 180-degree rotating discharge chute.
30-40 minutes of gas-free power at the push of a button. And they said it couldn’t be done.
- Powerful motor.
- Intuitive controls.
- Chute clean-out tool.
- LED headlights.
- Again, battery-life might be an issue.
- Wet and heavy snow will cause problems.
Husqvarna ST224P Gas Snow Blower
Husqvarna is another outdoor power-tool brand offering a myriad of quality products for taking care of your property. This entry is a powerful 208cc, two-stage gas snow blower with power steering and an electric start.
Designed for the real heavy-duty jobs that other models simply won’t be able to handle, it features a remote chute rotator, a 6.3 horsepower engine, a beast of an auger for blasting through heavy ice and snow, and a cleated track-drive system that delivers unbeatable propulsion on slippery surfaces.
This will go anywhere and handle whatever you or the weather decides to throw at it – because it’ll throw it right back.
- Superior quality.
- Name to trust.
- Heated hand grips.
- Cast iron gearbox.
- Ribbon augers.
- Independent track drive system.
- LED headlights.
- Large fuel tank.
- Very heavy.
Things to Consider Before Making The Purchase
To keep things nice and simple, below I’ve highlighted some points you should take into consideration before purchasing a snowblower – which should help you decide which model you need – or if you actually need one at all.
The Type and Size of Job
What’s it like around your way? Do you get a lot of snow? What kind of snow is it? Does it stop you from doing things you want to do? Is it the bane of your existence every winter?
Maybe you should consider a snowblower.
If you usually just have a light dusting of up around 8-12 inches, and you don’t have much more than a two-car driveway to clear, then a single-stage snow blower could be all you need.
For larger property, heavier snowfall, and/or clearing snow from gravel or earthy terrain, then look into purchasing a two-stage version.
Shoveling snow seems to get harder every year – none of us are getting any younger.
And while simply using a shovel is fine for small areas or if you’ve still got plenty of pep in your step, it certainly contributes to many back injuries every season.
While snow blowers aren’t a magic solution (you still have to do a bit of work) they’ll certainly take the grafting out of shifting snow – and maybe you’ll have a little fun doing it, too.
Always consider your health and physical ability when purchasing power tools – be honest with yourself that you can still handle it.
And if you’ve still got the strength of an ox and you’re a young spring chicken – then keep using the shovel. Exercise is good for you.
Electric vs Gas Powered
As with most power tools, snow blowers are available with a number of different power source options.
Electric models can either be corded or cordless. And contrary to some articles out there, both single-stage and two-stage snow blowers are available in this class.
Corded snow blowers are by far the cheapest, lightest type available, but they have obvious limitations when it comes to range and dependence on socket access.
Battery-powered snow blowers will be a little heavier. They offer much better freedom when it comes to range, but they will eventually need a recharge when they run out of juice.
Gas snow blowers will give you the best power overall, as well as superior run time. However, they’re much more expensive, heavier, and will require significantly more maintenance to keep running efficiently.
As far as outdoor tools go, perhaps with the exception of ride-on lawnmowers, snowblowers are up there with the most expensive pieces of kit you could own.
This is especially true of the two-stage gas-powered machines.
Even budget snow blowers can be pricey.
As ever, you should buy the best you can afford – but just make sure you can afford one and it’s suitable for the job you need it for.
Spending nearly $2000 just to clear a single-car driveway is a bit excessive.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
Wear eye goggles with side visors – you never know what the machine might throw up besides snow – and even that can be dangerous if you’re struck in the face.
Ear protectors are essential if you’re using any gas-powered machines.
Good-quality safety gloves should be worn for added grip and control.
Don’t wear loose clothing, such as scarves, ties, or anything that might suddenly get caught up and be pulled into the rotating blades. You don’t want the death of a Bond villain.
Never ever, EVER put your hand or arm into the auger region to clean out blockages. Most obviously when the machine is running, but even when it’s off. Use an appropriate tool that often comes with the machine.
Check to see if your model of snowblower has a deadman’s switch. This is a highly recommended safety feature that shuts off the machine if the operator becomes incapacitated or is not at the controls.
Never operate any kind of machinery while under the influence of any alcohol or drugs. Nor should you use it when feeling drowsy or on any kind of medication.
While some snow blowers have headlights to help keep you working that little bit longer, it is highly recommended that you only use them in daylight. Make sure visibility is also suitably clear and the weather isn’t going to hamper the job.
This is just scratching the surface. For more information on snowblower safety, check out the video below. It’s worth seeking out more literature on the subject, too.
Do I Need a Snow Blower?
That depends. Check the buyer’s guide above and consider your physical ability and how much snow you need to shift when it falls each year.
If you’re regularly snowed in and the thought of clearing it by hand is nightmarish (or you’re incapable of doing so), then a snowblower would be a very good investment.
Should I Choose a Single-Stage or Two-Stage Snow Blower?
Choose a single-stage snow blower if it’s just for clearing light snow over smaller areas – and if the terrain is paved.
For heavy snow, large areas, and gravel, grassy or hilly terrain – go for a two-stage model.
Which Is Better – a Gas-Powered or Electric Snowblower?
Environmentalists would say electric, as it offers zero emissions with an eco-friendly output and quieter operation.
They’re more suitable for single-stage snowblowers, so if that’s all you need, I would seriously consider purchasing a rechargeable or corded model.
But for sheer power, there is really no substitute for gas. Yes, it might be noisy, give off fumes, and be costly to maintain, but for heavy-duty jobs, nothing comes close. Well, apart from jet fuel.
What Is a Snow Thrower?
Exactly the same thing as a snowblower. It’s just a synonym for the same tool, so don’t be confused if that’s catching you out.
When Is The Best Time to Buy a Snow Blower?
Feel at liberty to purchase a snowblower at any time of year, but consumer reports suggest the actual best time is towards the end of winter. Professionals will say that March is the ideal time to find the best discounts.
However, with lawnmowers being the main focus in summer, there are bargains to be had through the hotter months, too.
It’s a good idea to have it ready to go when the first snows come, but if you’ve been caught out, there’s no time like the present.
Do I Need Safety Equipment When Using a Snow Blower?
Yes, you do. Safety is very important when operating any power tool, but particularly so with a snowblower due to its exposed, rotating auger – which is not too dissimilar from a combine harvester blade.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year there are nearly 6000 snow blower-related injuries reported that need medical attention.
See below for a number of steps you can take to make sure you don’t become part of that statistic.
While these two machines are both designed to do exactly the same job, depending on a number of factors, they both have their advantages and disadvantages over the other.
Therefore, in the single-stage vs two-stage snow blower contest – it is officially a tie.