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Snow Blower or Snow Thrower: Which Is Best?

Snow blower for power. Snow thrower for versatility.

Preparing for the next cold season is wise, especially if you regularly get a lot of snow. But how do you decide which tool is the best? Making the wrong choice between a snow blower and a snow thrower could be costly, especially if you choose an underpowered machine.

We compare snow blowers vs. snow throwers for power, capacity, throwing distance, and cost.

Key Takeaways

  • Snow blowers are two-stage machines with more power, suitable for heavy snowfall and larger areas.
  • Snow throwers are single-stage machines, lighter and more affordable, ideal for light snowfall and smaller areas.
  • Two-stage snow blowers have a wider clearance width and plowing depth, while single-stage snow throwers are easier to maneuver.
  • Snow blowers require more maintenance and are typically more expensive, while snow throwers are budget-friendly and require less upkeep.

Snow Blower Vs. Snow Thrower

There are distinct differences between the two that are clear in their functions, capabilities, and power. Let’s take a look in more detail.

Features Snow Blower Snow Thrower
Clearance width 22 to 30 inches 12 to 22 inches
Plowing depth 12 to 20 inches 6 to 12 inches
Power source Gas Gas/electric/battery
Throwing distance 30 to 40 feet 20 to 30 feet
Weight 100 to 200 pounds 20 to 50 pounds
Single or two-stage Two-stage Single-stage
Usage Heavy snowfall Light/medium snowfall
Price $$$ $$

What Is a Snow Blower?

Standard Snow Blower

Snow blowers are typically two-stage machines, which means they have an auger and an impeller. The auger is the large blade at the front of the blower that cuts through the snow and feeds it into the belly of the machine.

The impeller projects the snow out of the chute, blowing it up to 30 or 40 feet in distance. Snow blowers are heavier and more expensive to buy, but they produce more power, which increases your snow clearing capabilities.


  • You get more power, which increases your rate and clearance capabilities.
  • Superior throwing distance allows you to clear wider areas.
  • The auger and impeller share the load, decreasing the strain on the working components.
  • Allows you to cut through thicker snowdrifts.
  • The auger slices through wet and icy snow, making it easier to clear.
  • You get adjustable forward and reverse gears making it easier to maneuver.


  • Snow blowers are heavier than snow throwers.
  • Two-stage machines are more expensive to buy.
  • Snow blowers are typically gas-powered, so you need gasoline and oil for maintenance.
  • These machines require a more intensive maintenance regime.
  • The auger sits in an elevated position and leaves a small layer of snow.

Choosing a Snow Blower

Snow blowers are more powerful machines that utilize a dual-stage system to scoop up the snow and blow it out of the exhaust chute. The auger cuts through the snow, and the impeller shoots it out the top of the snow blower.

If you expect to get significant snow covering, then a snow blower is better equipped to handle more extreme conditions. Most two-stage snow blowers are wider, with some measuring up to 30 inches of plowing width.

It means you get a wider clearance path, saving you time and effort because you only need to make one sweep. Plus, you get a superior plowing depth, so when you look out your window first thing in the morning and see over a foot of snow, you know your snow blower can cope.

Also, the auger and impeller share the load, increasing the longevity of your machine. Most two-stage snow blowers come with adjustable forward and reverse speeds, so getting the blower moving is a lot easier, especially given their size and weight.

These models are excellent at chewing through wet and icy snow, thanks to the added potency that comes with the auger and impeller. Snow throwers would struggle in these conditions.

There are downsides to choosing a snow blower. First, they are more demanding when it comes to maintenance. And with more moving parts, you are likely to experience malfunctions more frequently.

Plus, these machines are expensive when compared to single-stage snow throwers. Sometimes you could pay two or three times the price of a snow thrower, so if you don’t need the extra power, it might be better to get a smaller and cheaper machine.

Finally, snow blowers are two-stage machines, so more likely to be gas-powered. You don’t get the same choice options as you do with snow throwers.

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What Is a Snow Thrower?

Standard Snow Thrower

A snow thrower looks almost identical to a snow blower, with one distinct difference; it only has an auger to scoop the snow and force it out of the chute. For this reason, these types of snow clearing tools are single-stage machines, often referred to as “single-stage snow blowers”.

Snow throwers are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than snow blowers, but you do forfeit power and snow clearance capabilities because they are better suited to lighter snowfall.


  • Snow throwers are lighter and easier to control and maneuver.
  • These machines are a great budget option as they retail for less than snow blowers.
  • Requires less maintenance, which is better for the less mechanically minded.
  • Clears snow close to the ground, removing all traces of snow.


  • Reduced capabilities, so they are only suited to lighter duties.
  • Reduced plowing width and depth.
  • Doesn’t throw the snow as far.

Choosing a Snow Thrower

Snow throwers are the babies of the bunch. They are the perfect tool to choose if you only get light snowfall or have a smaller plot to clear. They typically come in gas and electric versions, so you get a broader choice.

Electric snow throwers are more affordable, sometimes costing less than half the price of a snow blower. You can also get cordless versions that give you the freedom of a gas model without all the maintenance and running costs.

If you live in an area where the snowfall is limited, a smaller and lighter snow thrower is the ideal tool. It is also perfect for clearing smaller plots. A snow thrower gives you options because it saves you from spending big bucks on a larger snow blower.

Snow throwers are lighter, cheaper, comfortable to maneuver, and easier to store away. The downside is they have limited capabilities, with a slimmer plowing width and depth. You typically get between 12 and 22 inches of clearance width and 6 to 12 inches of height.

Snowblower vs. Snow Thrower

Are Cheap Snow Blowers Worth It?

Cheap snow blowers can be worth it, but it depends on how much snow you want to clear. Because of their low cost, they are worth considering if you’re on a tight budget, but you shouldn’t go out and buy the cheapest one you can find without researching first.

They can handle infrequent or light snowfalls but aren’t suitable for areas with heavy snowfall. That’s because they lack the powerful engines found on more expensive models.

Also, many cheap snow blowers are made with lower-quality materials and lack some of the features you might find useful. These include heater handles and adjustable chutes.

How Long Do Snowblowers Last?

The lifespan of a snowblower depends on the type, the quality of the materials, and how well you take care of it. For instance, a two or three-stage snowblower can last up to 25 years if it’s made from quality materials and you care for it and store it properly.

Multiple factors come into play that can influence the lifespan of a snowblower. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, your snow blower is subjected to more wear and tear, which can cause premature damage.

When Should You Not Use Snowblower?

Avoid using a snowblower in areas filled with rocks and debris. They might get caught up in your blower and damage it. You also risk injuries if gravel is flying all over the place. If your yard has slopes, it’s not a great idea to use a snowblower, either.

If you have a weaker snowblower and you’re trying to remove a lot of snow, you might want to use a shovel and manually remove some of it.

A potential workaround is to use the snowblower in stages while it’s snowing. This way, you can avoid snow buildup that your blower might not be able to handle.

How Much Snow Can a Snow Thrower Handle?

How much snow your snow throw can handle depends on the type of machine in question. If you have a single-stage snowblower, you should be able to remove between 6 and 9 inches of snow in a single pass.

What Do You Do with Your Snowblower At the End of Winter?

Once winter is over, you must properly store your snowblower to protect it and increase its lifespan. If you have a gas-powered blower, you must empty the fuel tank prior to storing it. Change the oil to prevent contaminants from seeping into and damaging the engine.

Remove the battery and store it according to the manufacturer’s instructions for battery-powered units. Keep it away from humid places and ensure it’s not stored in direct sunlight.

Remove any debris clogging your blower and remove snow or ice that hasn’t yet melted. You can clean your snowblower simply using water, soap, or a degreaser. Check to see if the unit has any damaged parts. That includes loose screws or worn-out belts.

When you store your snowblower, choose a dark and cool place. If you have a shed or a garage, these make fine storage places.

What Is the Best Brand of Snow Thrower?

It depends on what unit you want to buy: an electric or a gas-powered snowblower. Regarding electric snow blowers, the name Greenworks is synonymous with quality and dependability.

Their electric snow blowers are available in various widths and power ratings to meet various applications and weather situations.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.