single stage vs two stage snow blower

Single Stage vs Two Stage Snow Blower: An In-Depth Comparison

As you prepare for the winter season, you will come across terms like single stage vs two stage snow blower.

Both are useful tools that can make the dreadful task of clearing snow look easy.

However, unless you have the budget for both of them, you would have to choose just one.

To do this, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each machine.

That is where this comparison comes in.

We will discuss the key differences that set one type of snow blower from the other.

After reading, you should be able to decide with more confidence which is best for you.

Single Stage vs Two Stage Snow Blower

Clearing several inches of snow is a back-breaking task if you use a shovel alone.

That is why most homeowners spend long hours searching for the perfect snow blower.

If you are in the same situation, here is a closer look at the two most common versions of this machine:

Snow-Clearing Process

Both types of machines serve the same purpose, which is to remove snow and clear your driveway or pathway.

However, they go about their jobs a bit differently.

A single-stage snow blower features a horizontal spinning auger, which is a spiral-shaped component that looks like a giant screw.

As it turns, it scoops up the snow through an opening at the front of the machine.

At the same time, the auger's rotating motion tosses the snow through a chute.

This single step drives the whole process of removing snow and throwing it away.

A two-stage blower also features an auger that gathers snow that is in the machine's way.

The difference is that it also has an impeller, which acts like a fan that blows the snow at a greater distance.

The auger feeds the snow to the impeller, and this makes up the first stage.

The impeller then takes care of the rest, and this comprises the second stage of the process.

Type of Auger

Another major difference between the two types of snow blowers is the auger they use and how they use it.

For single-stage units, the corkscrew part contacts the ground, which is why they typically come with rubber augers.

This additional layer of material protects the surface that you are working on from being damaged.

On the other hand, the auger on a two-stage model only scoops up the snow and does so without touching the ground.

Since it does not come into contact with any paved or uneven surfaces, there is no risk of causing damage to them.

That is why two-stage snow throwers usually come with metal augers.

Depth of Snow Cleared

The single-stage machine is more compact than its two-stage cousin. With its smaller size, it understandably has a lower capacity for clearing snow.

A typical single-stage snow blower only has a maximum clearing depth of eight inches.

What is more, it generally throws snow at a distance of around 15 feet through its discharge chute.

On the other hand, two-stage snowblowers can clear snow accumulations that are up to two feet deep.

In addition, the impeller fan discharges snow at a greater distance of up to 35 feet, sometimes more.

Another notable difference between the two types of machines is that the single-stage unit has a narrow clearing path compared to a two-stage unit.

The former has a maximum clearing width of 22 inches, while the latter can go as high as 26 inches.

Driveway Surface

If you have a paved surface, you can use either a single or a two-stage snow blower.

However, the single-stage unit is no longer serviceable when it comes to unpaved surfaces.

That is because its rubber auger sits too close to the ground and might end up getting damaged or causing one.

On the other hand, the auger of the two-stage model can be elevated thanks to its built-in skid shoes. Also, the auger itself is set at a certain angle.

So even if you use the machine on an uneven surface or gravel drive path, you do not have to worry about any damage, whether to the machine or the surface.

Single-Stage Snow Blower Pros and Cons

A single-stage snow blower is smaller in size and capacity, but it has a lot of other things going for it.

For instance, it is the more affordable option between the two.

So if you have a limited budget, you should consider using the single-stage unit.

Another thing you need to know about this type of snow blower is that it has excellent surface clearance.

Since the auger is in contact with the ground, it will be able to gather snow more completely.

The lighter, more maneuverable, single-stage unit is also easy to handle.

It is not self-propelled, but the motion of the auger helps push the machine forward, but it is a bit difficult to push over sloped terrains.

On the flip side, a single-stage unit won’t be able to do anything against very deep snow or unpaved surfaces.

Also, its discharge distance and clearing width are a bit limited compared to its two-stage counterpart.

single stage vs two stage snow blower comparison

Two-Stage Snowblower Pros and Cons

Two-stage snowblowers are heavy-duty machines that can help you clear all types of snow over any type of surface.

They have a higher clearing width, snow depth, and discharge capacity.

While these machines are bulkier and heavier than single-stage units, they are self-propelled and offer different speed settings in both directions.

So you won’t have any trouble navigating uneven or inclined surfaces with it.

Two-stage snowblowers are also equipped to deal with a gravel driveway, which the single-stage unit is not.

That is because the machine has adjustable skid shoes that can elevate the auger if needed.

Some models even have extra features like one-handed drive/auger control or a single joystick for quick chute adjustments. 

That said, all these functionalities come at a price. Also, the equipment would occupy more space in your garage or shed.

Gas Powered Engine vs Electric Snow Blowers

There are two types of power sources for snow blowers: gas and electric.

Both single and two-stage units have gas-powered models, while electric snow blowers are available in the single-stage option only.

Each power source comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Gas-powered snow blowers are more powerful and offer long uptime.

They also give you more mobility since you are not tied down by a power cord.

However, they emit toxic fumes, and storing gasoline carries some risks.

On the other hand, electric models can be broken down further into two categories: corded and battery-powered.

Corded models provide continuous operation, but you’ll find that operating a machine with a power cable takes some getting used to.

If you lose track of the cord, you could easily trip over it or run it over with your snow blower.

Battery-powered snow blowers are more mobile, but they do not pack as much power as their gas-powered or even corded cousins.

Also, the machine’s uptime will be limited by the capacity of its battery.

You could buy additional batteries and use them as spares, but this would mean additional expenses on your part.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Snow Blower

Now that you know each type of snow blower more intimately, you will be able to choose which one to buy with more confidence.

On top of this, you could make your decision-making process easier by asking the following questions first:  

Do you get light snow or heavy snow?

One of the first things you should consider is what type of snow falls in your area.

You can get away with using a single-stage unit if you get light and powdery snow that does not get too compacted.

On the other hand, if you get wet and heavy snow, you need the serrated steel augers of a two-stage unit.

How much snow usually falls in your area?

If you rarely see snow in your region pile up higher than eight inches, it's best to consider getting a single-stage unit.

Anything higher than that, and you would need the bigger two-stage model.

Do you have a small or a big driveway?

Two-stage models have a wider clearing path, allowing you to cover more ground when clearing snow.

Also, most models come with four speed settings for forward and two speed settings for reverse.

This feature allows you to go faster if the situation allows it.

As such, if you have a sizeable driveway, it is best if you invest in this machine.

Do you have a paved or gravel driveway?

Another question you need to ask is whether you have a gravel driveway.

If you do, then you can’t get a single-stage snow blower. 

Which Snow Blower Should You Choose?

Each type of snow blower comes with its own list of pros and cons.

The single-stage unit is more affordable, but its capacity is a bit limited.

Two-stage units are more expensive, but you can be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.

That said, choosing between the single stage vs two stage snow blower will all boil down to your situation, budget, or preference.

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