I've lived in areas with a medium to high amount of snow density my entire life.
I really enjoy the snow and all the fun it brings, but the snow pack on our driveway can often be difficult to maintain.
This past year I finally broke down and bought a two stage snow thrower to deal with the higher snowpack we were regularly getting on my driveway.
I definitely should have done it earlier. Getting rid of the snow is now a job I can do under an hour instead of four with my single stage.
Having owned both types of snow blowers I can honestly say there are advantages and disadvantages to each. In this post I'll discuss this as well as give you a look at some of the top rated snow blowers on the market at the end of 2016.
How Two Stage Snow Blowers Work:
A two stage snow blower has both an auger, to pick up or chop the snow, and an impeller to expel it.
How Single Stage Snow Blowers Work:
A single stage snow blower has a spinning auger which breaks the snow and discharges it through the chute.
4 Good Two Stage Snow Throwers for the Money
Looking for the snow thrower that will give you the best value for the money you spend? Here are a few that should make your shortlist.
A Good Dual Stage Snow Thrower Around $600
1. Power Smart DB7651
In this category there's one model that really sticks out to me, the Power Smart DB7651. With a 208cc engine and a 24 inch clearing width it's more than capable of handling most driveways. In addition the 12-inch serrated steel augers do a good job of breaking up the ice.
One thing I like personally is the 180 Degree Chute Rotation. This saves me a lot of time by allowing me to blow each of my driveway off to a different side. We recently had around 10 inches of snow that it cleared through without a problem.
Overall, this is one of the better values you'll find and is the model I personally use. My driveway is long and even has a third car port and we don't have any issue with it. Assembly was simple and took less than an hour.
Dual Stage Snow Blowers Under $1,000
If you've got a lot of snow to clear out, here are a few more models that will get the job done quickly.
If you've got around $1,000 to spend, I like the Husqvarna ST224P.
2. Husqvarna ST224P
Husqvarna is known for its reliable products and the Husqvarna ST224P is for those willing to spend a little more on a product that has a few more bells and whistles and should last a long time.
Shipping is a breeze on this model as it comes in a crate and can be delivered within a couple of days. Assembly takes under an hour as you install adjustable handles. This is one of the only models I know that has that.
Getting the ST224P started is about as simple as it gets. For those of you who are familiar with older models, you'll truly think you're in heaven with the electric start.
Using it is fairly easy and you can really blow the snow where you want to with this model as it shoots even 8 inches of snow around 20 feet. After you use the power steering and heated hand grips, you won't be able to use another blower without it!
If you've got a lot of snow to deal with, this is a good option to use. It's also one of the better values you'll find under $1,000. We took ours up to our family cabin as it has more snow up there than where we live.
3. Briggs and Stratton 1696619
If you need a little more power, and a bit more clearance, check out the Briggs and Stratton 1696619.
With it you get a heavier duty 250cc LCT engine with 11.5-foot-pounds of torque, a 12" steel scroll auger, and a 27" wide clearing path.
The step up from 24 to 27 inches allows you to clear off sidewalks with one pass-through and it expels the snow far enough for even the widest of driveways.
Even though it's bigger this engine is even easier to control than some of the smaller models. The Free hand control allows you to basically use it with one hand.
This is a proven winner when it comes to reliability and is definitely the best value at this price point. This Briggs and Stratton model comes with a 3 year engine and equipment warranty.
Dual Stage Snow Throwers Under $1,500
This model is only necessary where you not only have heavy snowpack, but also where it'll need to be chopped up.
4. Husqvarna 1830HV
With a 30 inch clearing width and a 414cc engine it easily moves heavily packed snow and slush.
At $1,250 you get about a quarter more power than the Poulan Pro model at $1,000, for $250 more. Again, the additional price is only worth it if you have thick icy snow.
Choosing a Snow Blower Guide - Two Stage Vs. Single
Snow Blower Weight and Storage:
Because two stage snow blowers typically have a bigger motor, more parts, and wider clearance, they are mostly heavier than single stage snow throwers. In lighter snowfall areas this makes them much easier to maneuver and use. With a smaller clearance and fewer parts, single stage snow blowers typically require much less room to store.
While single stage snow blowers typically have a clearance width of 21 inches or less, two stage snow throwers regularly come in 24, 30, or even 45 inches for prosumer models. A larger width cuts the chore time down considerably in large removal areas. As shown in this graph from Lowes.com areas with snow accumulation of 12 inches at a time and 40 feet should consider a 24 inch clearance while those who have a total of 60 feet or more of accumulation should probably consider a 28" clearing width two stage. In areas with heavy snowfall in excess of 16", you may want to consider a snow thrower with a 30 inch clearance.
What type and how much snow fall do you receive?
I've seen a lot of reviews that make the amount of snowfall you receive pretty cut and dry as far as what you should purchase. While it is true that in general, areas with lighter snow fall of 2-6 inches should probably go with a single stage thrower, you should also take into consideration what type of snow you get. Wetter snow and slush, for example, is easier to discharge through a two stage thrower.
Also, if you're the type of person that goes out of town and lets snow accumulate, then even if you don't get more than 6 inches at a time it may still be wise to consider a two stage model.
What size is your driveway and what type of terrain are you pushing through?
Another reason to consider a two stage snow blower would be if you have a large driveway where additional width would be necessary. While the general consensus is 40 feet long you may also want to consider the size of a third car pad or other cement areas you need to cover like walkways.
One of the reasons I personally got a two stage is because we live in a corner lot that has a walkway on the front and sides. The wider clearance allows me to make 2 passes instead of 3 and because my two stage has self-propelled wheels it's much easier when I have to go uphill.
Also consider the type of driveway you have. Two stage snow blowers are typically better for gravel driveways because they don't typically have to touch as near to the ground.
Snow Thrower Price Considerations:
Single stage snow blowers typically range from around $150 to $600 where 2 stage snow blowers begin at around $500 and go to around $2,000 for prosumer models.
Because the construction of two stage snow throwers is a bit more complicated they are a bit pricier to maintain or fix. For both single and two stage look for a cast-iron gear case for additional durability.
If you have a wide driveway, then the snow discharge is typically easier to manage with a two stage snow thrower not only because of the distance it can throw the snow, but also because of the various directional options that come with them. When I had a single stage snow thrower I typically left snow on my third car pad simply because I didn't want to have to clear twice. With a two stage I can easily throw the snow beyond that mark without having to clear it off twice.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Brandon Hart
Snowblower and Thrower Open Discussion Area for Readers
Edward Morrison from Califonia on November 18, 2018:
I love my ariens. It’s an absolute tank. It can go through 2 feet of snow, which means for most storms, I just wait until it’s over and take care of everything in one pass. Make sure you get at least the deluxe, if not the platinum because they have the torquier motors that just chugs away at the heavy stuff. I’ve had it for three years and have never successfully stalled it.
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