Both a snow blower and a snow thrower will assist in removing snow from your driveway and sidewalks. However, for the homeowner looking to acquire a machine for snow removal it is important to understand the several differences and nuances in how they operate to make the best choice for their needs.
Depending on your local weather and the size of areas on your property that require snow removal one device may be a better a choice of the other.
The following guide answers the big questions: Snow Blower vs. Snow Thrower: What’s the Difference?
There are key Differences between Snow Throwers and Snow Blowers, let’s dive in.
Snow Thrower vs. Snow Blower Stages
Basically with snow removal machines there are single stage, two-stage and even three-stage machines.
Single stage snow removal machines are commonly referred to as snow throwers, whereas two stage and three stage snow removal machines are considered snow blowers.
People often refer to all three stage types as snow blowers, but there is a unique difference between the two machines.
Single stage devices rely on the auger that collects the snow to also eject it, while the two stage or three stage machines rely on the auger to collect and internal impeller that forces the snow out the device.
Snow Thrower Vs. Snow Blower Power Source
Most products on the market are gas powered. However, there are options that are electric that connect with an extension cord and even lithium-ion battery styles that get recharged on a charging base in the garage.
The electric versions generally are the smaller size single stage snow throwers.
Snow Thrower Vs. Snow Blower Propulsion
Most snow thrower devices are wheel-based devices that are manually operated by the user. The heavier duty snow blower two stage and three stage devices are also generally moved on wheels some of the largest versions may be equipped with tracks for extra stability and traction for operating on ice and deep snow.
Snow blowers generally have a self-propelled capability to make moving the machine in the snow significantly easier than pushing it manually.
Quick Overview of the Differences Between Snow Throwers and Snow Blowers
Always refer to the product specifications for the exact models you are reviewing as these are general guidelines on the two product types.
|Features||Snow Thrower||Snow Blower|
|# of Stages||1||2 or 3|
|Power Source||Gas, Electric, & Battery||Usually Gas Only|
|Self-Propelled Capability||Usually No||Usually Yes|
|Snow Depth for Operation||Up to 9 inches||15 inches or deeper|
|Distance Shoots Snow||15- 25 feet||35 feet or more|
|Snow Removal Width||Paths between 10 – 20 inches||Up to 26 inches or wider|
|Cost||More Affordable Options||More Expensive / Higher End|
Features of the Snow Thrower
- The snow thrower is a single stage machine, the auger that collects the snow sends it out the shoot in one direct motion. Depending on the power and speed setting of the auger in your snow thrower it can shoot the snow between 15 and 25 feet away.
- The snow thrower is ideal when working with lighter snow accumulations. Snow throwers are less powerful than the larger sized snow blowers and are designed to work with snow that is no deeper than 9 inches. For many homeowners that keep the snow levels maintained and do not get frequent accumulations of snow deeper than 9 inches this may be the right option.
- Snow throwers being smaller in size than snow blowers mean they also remove a smaller pathway in a single pass. Each model will describe the path size that they are capable of clearing and for most snow throwers the width will be between 10 and 20 inches. This is perfect for clearing single paths, small driveways, and residential sidewalks.
- Most single stage snow thrower machines are electric or powered with lithium-ion batteries that you recharge in a base station in the garage. Corded snow throwers reduce the range that you can easily operate the machine with, and rechargeable batteries also limit the total time that the machine can operate for generally around 30 – 45 minutes of operation at a time.
Features of the Snow Blower
- The snow blower is a two-stage machine. The auger that collects the snow from the ground feeds the snow into an impeller which is like a high-speed fan that sends the snow flying away. Snow blowers can shoot the snow 35 feet or more away from the worksite. Large snow blower machines may even contain a third stage which assists when processing large amounts of snow and ice. Most homeowners will not need the 3rd stage for their snow removal needs.
- Snow blowers are enormously powerful and capable of removing relatively deep layers of snow. Due to front intake and higher placed impeller for ejecting the snow, snow blowers commonly can remove snow drifts that are 15 inches or deeper. Of course, operating in deep snow drifts is not simple and can be physically demanding, which is why the most common snow blowers available have some type motor-based assistance or self-propelling that make it easier to operate.
- Snow blowers have wider base than most snow throwers and can clear a path up to 26 inches, with some versions being designed to clear up to 30 inches of snow in a single pass. When clearing large driveways, parking areas, and sidewalks the wider distance of a snow blower will mean the job gets done much quicker than a snow thrower, which often will require two or more passes to remove as much snow as a single pass from a snow blower.
- Snow blowers are almost all exclusively gas powered giving them the ability to travel farther distances than corded snow throwers and can run all day long avoiding the problems associated with lithium-ion rechargeable battery-operated devices. When you have large areas that need to be cleared or the job will take more than half an hour to complete it is wise to go with a fuel powered machine.
Pricing Differences of Different Snow Throwers
- Gas powered snow throwers can range in price from $275 on the low end to as high as $750 depending on the size of motor and features. Lower cost options will have a manual pull cord style motor starter and higher end models will include push button starters and even headlights for operating in low visibility weather.
- Electric powered snow throwers can be as low as $100 and run to the mid $300’s depending on the motor power and additional features.
- The battery power operated options will be more expensive than the traditional corded electric option and the price relates to the size of the batteries for the size of motor and length of active use it can provide. Ranging between $250 and as high as $1000 for the highest end models available.
Pricing Differences of Different Snow Blowers
- A snow blower with two stages on the lower end will cost around $550 and could be as high as $2,000 for a very high-end model with lots of power in the motor and self-propelled engine with additional features. Expect your snowblower to come with a deadman’s switch for safety if you happen to lose control of the snow blower, headlights for operating in low light conditions and comfortable grips for maintaining control while operating the machine.
- Snowblowers that contain the third stage for managing large volumes of ice and very deep snow drifts can run well over $1,000 dollars on the low end and up to $3,000 for commercial snow removal use. Most homeowners will not need the extra power and features associated with a three stage snow removal machine, however if you have a huge driveway or private road on your property, or are a business owner with a parking lot to maintain they can be wise investment depending on the amount of snow you need to remove each year.
Which One Is Right For You
The average homeowner can probably get by with a lower end snow thrower to quickly and efficiently remove the snow from their paths around the house, driveway, and sidewalks without needing to mess with a larger gas powered machine.
Individuals that have to remove snow more than a few days per year though can really gain a lot of benefits from the investment in a quality snow blower that self-propels making the work easier and capable of covering a much larger area without being tethered to a cord or needing to recharge batteries half way through removing the snow.
No matter what you choose between a snow thrower or a snow blower, at the end of the day either is better than using traditional snow shovel and manually scooping the snow out one shovel full at a time.