Snow Thrower Reviews

 

Is It A Snow “Thrower” Or A Snow “Blower” ???

Most folks are used to calling this machine a snow blower.  But, that is not factually correct.  The word “blower” conjures up visions of a vacuum hose type affair that literally sucks the snow up and blows it out of the path being cleared.

In actuality, this contraption moves the snow using a rotating auger that pushes the frozen white stuff up and out through a discharge chute – making it actually a “snow thrower.”

 

Say ‘Thank You’ To Arthur Sicard

Thanks, Arthur!

Why?

Sicard Snowblower

Mr. Sicard, a Canadian, invented the first easy-to-use snow throwing machine – in 1925 – after over 30 years of research and trial and error.  He called it the “Sicard Snow Remover Snowblower.”

Using the concept of a farmer’s grain thresher to create this marvelous invention, Arthur originally intended the snow thrower to help farmers quickly clear their fields of snow so their cows could feed easily.

Updated models of the Sicard Snow Thrower are still in use – in major cities in both Canada and the U.S.A.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that smaller, more portable snow throwers were being produced that could be operated by one person – on a small scale.  This really helped homeowners and small businesses who were in areas of outrageously heavy snowfalls – where snow shovels couldn’t even begin to keep up with the amount of white stuff dropping out of the sky.

 

Types Of Snow Throwers

 

Single-Stage Gasoline and Electric Snow Throwers

Single-stage gas-powered snow thrower

These snow throwers are lighter and easier to maneuver.  If you have a small to medium size area to cover – like a short driveway or sidewalk – or you live in an area that gets only light snowfalls – then these would be more than adequate.

The auger – fashioned like a paddle – pulls in snow and shoots it out a discharge chute.  Since the auger contacts the ground, it is best used on smooth, paved surfaces.  Using a single-stage machine on unpaved areas, uneven ground, or gravel is not recommended or advised.  You don’t need the auger gathering up rocks or other debris and jamming up the machine.

Single-stage snow throwers are limited to picking up snow less than 8 inches deep – and the path they clear is equal to or less than 21 inches wide.

Electric snow throwers are available in both corded and cordless versions.  Since I don’t recommend using anything with an electric cord in wet or snowy weather, I will only review the cordless models.  It is worth remembering that, just as any other outdoor piece of equipment – electric models can’t hold a candle to gas-powered equipment when it comes to power, speed, and durability.  That’s why most electrics are significantly lower in cost – and, they are characteristically lighter than the gasoline versions.

 

Two-Stage Gasoline Snow Throwers

Two-stage gas-powered snow throwers

Two-stage snow throwers are great for larger areas – like long, double-wide driveways and sidewalks.  They will move snow – even if it is heavy and wet – a lot more quickly and efficiently than their single-stage counterparts.

The auger on a two-stage machine will pull snow into the snow thrower and direct it through a high-speed impeller fan that sends the snow out through a discharge chute.  The auger does not contact the ground – which makes them ideal for unpaved, uneven, or gravel covered surfaces.

A large area covered with 16 inches of snow is not a problem for a two-stage snow thrower and most of them will cut a path anywhere from 24 to 45 inches – depending on the model.

 

Three-Stage Gasoline Snow Throwers

Three-stage snow throwers operate the same way as the two-stage models.  They are a lot more powerful because of the added use of an accelerator along with the impeller and augers of the 2-stage machines – so, they move more snow out of the way many times faster.  Plus, they are much more adept and efficient when moving heavier, wetter, snow.

SAFETY TIP

Snow throwers are prone to getting jammed up with snow and ice.  It is inevitable that clogs will happen – and, probably, often.

NEVER stick your hand anywhere near an auger to remove a snow jam.  Turn off the machine, disengage the clutch, and use a wooden stick – like a broom handle – to clear the obstruction.  Make this your “rule of thumb.” (Pardon the pun.)

Don’t be one of over 5,700 Americans who lose a piece of a finger or a hand in a snow blower – each and every year.

 

A Word About Rock Salt And Ice Melt

It’s a good idea to have a few bags of rock salt or ice melt handy – especially in heavy snow areas.  Personally, I don’t use rock salt due to its corrosive properties – it will most certainly scar a driveway and can poison any plants or animals that it comes in contact with.  So, I choose ice melt – a variety that is both plant and pet friendly.

If snow is heading my way, I try to spread a thin layer of ice melt over my sidewalks, driveway, and front steps – in advance of the frozen onslaught – to give all traversed surfaces a head start for the eventual melting.  Oftentimes, I may not even have to get out the snow thrower in a light snowstorm – if I through some ice melt down first.Snow Joe Ice Melt

If the snow gets here before I can spread the ice melt, I will lay down a layer after running my snow thrower – to make sure that any ice patches are dispensed with.  There is nothing worse – or more humiliating – than slipping on a small slippery ice spot and ending up on my backside in a snow drift – or, in a mud hole.

Here are the best, pet and plant friendly ice melt products that I’ve found:

Snow Joe Ice Melt – Comes in a 25 pound flip-top bucket with a scoop.

Safe Pet Snow and Ice Melter

Safe Pet Snow and Ice Melter – This is the most economical deal.  You get 60 pounds – three 20 pound bags – to use on driveways, sidewalks, and parking areas.  One strong snowfall of a couple of inches will probably use up a bag or two – at least.

 

 

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

 

It doesn’t hurt to keep these Hot Hands Hand Warmers nearby, too.  They are air activated heat packs that I use inside my gloves and my socks.  They keep my hands and feet comfortably warm even in the most frigid temperatures.  Since I discovered how wonderful they are, I don’t go out into the cold without them!

 

Let’s Get Right To It

Here are my top picks for the best snow throwers in each category…

 

Electric – Cordless

Ryobi RY40850 20-inch 40-volt Snow Blower

Ryobi RY40850 20-inch 40-volt Snow Blower – This lightweight little machine can handle powdery, fluffy snow quite well in depths of up to 10 inches (per the manufacturer).  But, if you have a lot of heavy, wet snow to deal with, move on up to a single-stage or, preferably, a two-stage gas-powered machine.

 

Snow Joe iON8024-XRP Cordless Electric Snow Blower

Snow Joe iON8024-XRP Snow Blower – Forget what I said earlier in this article about how weak electric snow throwers / blowers are when compared to their gas powered counterparts.  It doesn’t apply to this voracious beast.  This Snow Joe is a unique 2-stage machine that delivers the power needed to clear a pile of snow and it’s so quiet, you can easily hear the dinner bell ring.  Don’t miss this one!

 

Single-Stage – Gasoline

Ariens 938033 Path-Pro Snow Thrower

Ariens 938033 Path-Pro Snow Thrower – The toughest little single-stage gas-powered snow thrower available.  This baby digs a lot deeper than the manufacturer certifies – based on customer comments.  Worth a look-see for sure!

Two-Stage – Gasoline

Briggs and Stratton 1696807 Snow Thrower

Briggs and Stratton 1696807 Snow Thrower –  This 24 inch steerable 2-stage snow thrower packs a heckuva wallop when it attacks and chews up dry, light snow – wet, heavy snow – and slushy ice.  If you end up trying to move piles of snow close to a couple of feet high, this baby is for you!

 

Three-Stage – Gasoline

CUB CADET 3x26 Snow Blower

CUB CADET 3X26 Snow Blower – This is one big monster!  Imagine barreling through soft snow, hard snow, slushy snow, ice – even the piles pushed in front of your driveway by the city snowplows.  You can do it with this behemoth!

 

 

Troy-Bilt Vortex 2690

Troy-Bilt Vortex 2690 – They call this one “the neighorhood beast” because, when the neighbors can’t get rid of that hard, compacted snow – left by the city snow plows – at the end of their driveways, the Vortex 2690 comes to the rescue.  You will love it!  After all – it’s TROY-BILT!

 

One – Or Two – Last Words

Winter in Jed's cow pasture.

My neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer, came by the other day as I was finishing up this snow thrower review post and he told me about one winter – back on the farm – when it was “so dang cold” – that when he milked the cows, he got ice cream!

Comment below or email me with ideas, thoughts – or whatever comes to mind!

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com

12 thoughts on “Snow Thrower Reviews

  1. Matt's Mom Reply

    Ok, I lived in Alaska for 22 years and had never heard the term “snow thrower” .  We all owned snow blowers!  LOL  I can see that a snow thrower is really the correct terminology, but it is hard to consider the change when snow blower is ingrained in my head 🙂  My dad is getting up there in age, and I was just visiting him and did a lot of snow shoveling.  Which snow “thrower” do you recommend as being the easiest to operate?

    • Jim Reply

      Hey there, Matt’s Mom,

      I have a hard time saying, “snow thrower” instead of “snow blower”, too.  That’s just the way I was brought up – everyone around me called them blowers.

      Since you’re in the land of heavy snow, Alaska, I would suggest one of the 3-stage snow throwers – either the Troy-Bilt Vortex 2690 – or, the CUB CADET 3X26.  They’re both excellent machines and can tackle just about any type of snow situation but, I lean towards the Troy-Bilt 2690.  I am a bit spoiled because I have had such good success with Troy-Bilt – and Briggs and Stratton – machines.

      Jim

  2. Nicole Stiles Reply

    I grew up in an area where heavy snow fall is expected during the winters. We had a single engine snow blower and a non-paved driveway. It worked out just fine. We didn’t plow all the way down to the dirt. We always left a layer of snow, more out of accident than intentional. The layer of compact snow meant we didn’t have to worry about rocks or anything getting into the snow blower.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Nicole,

      I’m assuming that, when you say, “single engine”, you actually mean “single-stage” – and if that’s the case, then I’m surprised that it met your expectations in an area that gets heavy snow.

      I tried doing the same thing you did – angling a single-stage snow blower to leave a thin layer of compacted snow over the gravel.  But, it still picked up a few rocks and – finally – they took out a kitchen window.  Boy, the boss (my wife) was madder than a hornet!

      I’ll never do that again.  I immediately traded it in for a 2-stage model – very similar to the Ariens 938033 that was designed for something beyond simple, flat driveways and sidewalks.

      Jim

  3. Clement Reply

    Thank you for this informative post.

    I couldn’t agree more with you that we owe Arthur Sicard a lot in inventing the snow blower. A big thank you to him.

    I have a question.

    How can a snow and ice jam be avoided when using the machine?

    I look forward to your answer.

    Thanks.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Clement,

      Every year when I trudge outdoors to remove that white stuff from my driveway and sidewalks, I always give a big thank you to Mr. Sicard.  Otherwise, I would be reduced to my Teflon-coated snow shovel – and what a strain on my poor back muscles that is.’

      Snow and ice jams are inevitable with any snow blower / thrower.  The smaller the machine – the more times it will clog.  Opt for a 2-stage machine or, better yet, a 3-stage machine to minimize ice and wet snow stopping up the discharge chutes.

      Another common mistake is trying to walk too fast.  Take it slow and easy – give the machine more of a chance to break up the snow debris.  If I follow this principle – and have the right machine for the job – I very seldom have to stop and unclog my snow machine.

      Jim

  4. Babsie Wagner Reply

    I can’t believe that almost 6,000 people lose a piece of their finger every single year from a snow “thrower” (yes, I have always called it a snow “blower” – guilty as charged!!)  That’s pretty scary, and we are now thinking of buying one, so I will take your advice to heart and pass this information onto my sons to ensure that none of us make it to the one of 6,000 people!  Thanks for that bit of advice, and a great write-up on the different types so we know what the heck we’re looking for as far as which type would meet our needs best.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Babsie,

      I was difficult for me to believe that number, too.  But, I guess when folks are out in the bitter cold and trying to go too fast, mistakes WILL happen.  Just like the old saying, “The hurrier you are – the behinder you get.”

      I’m sure you can find the perfect snow blower for your needs from those reviewed here.  I only look at the best in each category – be it electric-cordless or – gas – single-stage, 2-stage, or 3-stage.

      Jim

  5. Jill Reply

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the laugh about your neighbor and the ice cream. We all need to laugh a bit, especially gardeners when we have slugs, caterpillars, worms, and other creepy crawlies to deal with as they chew through our once beautiful plants.

    The snow thrower looks to me like just the thing needed, particularly with getting rid of snow that will melt, become ice, and cause a fall. Be it undignified or not, a fall on the ice can be very painful.

    I am also not a fan of using electrical implements in my garden, it is so easy to cut the cord or worse. 

    I can’t believe how dangerous these machines can be with so many accidents, when there isn’t a good sturdy stick in sight. It is so tempting to stick one’s hand inside to loosen what is jamming the thing up. My husband did that with the shredder and also nearly lost part of his finger. He didn’t do it again.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Jill,

      My neighbor, Jed, always brightens up my day with his jokes, stories, and witticisms.  Many times I see him sitting on his back porch sipping a cold drink and watching me sweat in my garden.  Then, when he sees that I finished my work, he ambles over and imparts a few tidbits of his wisdom.

      I also shy away from using anything electrical – anywhere outdoors – if I can avoid it.  If it’s electrical, I choose something cordless.

      After your husband’s near accident with the shredder, I’m sure he won’t be trying the same thing with a snow blower / thrower.  Hopefully, he won’t become one of those statistics about accidents that really shouldn’t happen.  If folks took the time to use their common sense, I doubt if there would be so many.

      Jim

  6. Dale Reply

    Some of these machines can be rather pricey.  However if you live in a place like where I live I really don’t know how some people live without a snow blower.  Yes shoveling can be great exercise but it can also get old in a hurry when all it does is snow.

    Honestly there are better ways to get exercise.  In fact more people end up having heart attacks from shoveling than when they get regular exercise in other ways.

    This was a great article and honestly if you live someplace that gets quite a bit of snow then one of these snow throwers is something you really should consider.

    Dale

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Dale,

      Actually, when you think about how convenient these snow blowers / throwers are – and, how they can be a god send to anyone who can’t or shouldn’t be out there shoveling the white stuff – the prices are not so bad.  And, the machines I am reviewing – listed above – are top-notch quality and very efficient.

      For all of you living in a frozen winter environment, you really should take a closer look at these tools – to get you through those heavy wintry days!

      Jim

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