snow thrower vs snow blower

Snow Thrower vs Snow Blower: Which Is Better for You?

If you want to be ready for the upcoming winter season, you should invest in the appropriate snow-clearing machine.

This snow thrower vs snow blower comparison might help you make the right choice.

They are two of the most common tools you would see come wintertime.

Apparently, they serve the same purpose and look somewhat similar, so it isn't surprising that many confuse one with the other.

Some even think they're the same equipment.

However, these machines are very different in terms of features like mechanism, capacity, and power source.

Thus, you must understand their differences and similarities before you make the purchase.

This way, you get the best possible solution for your unique situation.

Snow Thrower vs Snow Blower

Snow blowers and throwers help you make quick work of inches of snow.

They are more effective than a snow shovel, scraper, or any other crude snow removal tool.

As a result, people are happy to spend more money on them.

Many homeowners use the two terms interchangeably, which is understandable because of their similarities.

That said, you should avoid making the same mistake if you plan to buy a snow-clearing machine.

Here are the key points in this snow thrower vs snow blower comparison:

The Mechanism for Clearing Snow

The term “snow thrower” comes from how the machine operates: it gathers snow and tosses it instead of blowing it away.

Inside the unit, you will find a horizontal auger that rotates at a certain speed.

This rotating auger gathers snow through one opening and then throws it out through another opening.

In other words, everything is done in one fluid motion. That is why the machine is sometimes called a single-stage snow blower, which might be the reason behind the confusion.

On the other hand, snow blowers also feature a horizontal spinning auger, but its job is to pick up snow and feed it to a spinning impeller.

This impeller acts like a fan, only it is more powerful. It blows away the snow from the auger, clearing a path for you or your vehicle.

This machine comes in two types: two-stage snow blowers and three-stage snow blowers.

A two-stage unit comes with one standard auger and one separate fan-type impeller.

The three-stage snow removal machine has an additional impeller that serves as an impeller accelerator.

It also helps break up hard-packed snow or ice, if necessary.

Snow Clearing Capabilities

Of the two types of snow-clearing equipment, the single-stage machine is simpler in operation. As expected, it is smaller and has a lesser clearance capacity.

Most models can clear a path that is six to 12 inches wide, while two-stage and three-stage snow blowers are capable of clearing paths that are over two feet wide.

This machine allows you to open up your driveway much more quickly than with a single-stage snow thrower.

That said, a single-stage snow removal machine is a much better option than a snow shovel alone.

In terms of snow discharge distance, larger models like two-stage gas snow blowers also trump single-stage snow blowers or snow throwers.

Since a two-stage unit has an impeller accelerator, it can blow snow to distances of up to 35 feet away.

This feature will come in very handy if you have a very wide driveway or outdoor space to clear.

In comparison, a single-stage unit relies solely on the action of the rotating auger.

It has no additional augers to help toss snow farther or at a higher velocity.

Finally, snow blowers have the advantage over snow throwers when it comes to the depth of snow cleared.

Typically, snow throwers can clear up to eight inches of snow, while a snow blower has a 24-inch maximum snow depth.

snow thrower vs snow blower comparison


Since snow throwers are smaller, they pack less amount of power. Consequently, they are more suited for removing light snow buildup.

However, this type of equipment is typically not self-propelled, so you must manually push it through the snow.

So even if it is the lighter of the two, using it can be very challenging, especially if the snow accumulation is a bit thick.

On the other hand, snow blowers are generally bigger than snow throwers.

However, they are self-propelling, so you do not have to push them through the snow manually. You can even adjust how fast the machine moves.

Most two-stage models come with four different speeds forward and two in reverse.

Larger three-stage units can even offer up to six different speeds.

This feature gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes to clearing snow accumulations.

Another difference between the two types of snow-clearing machines is that snow throwers are generally effective on paved surfaces only.

That is because loose gravel and uneven terrain might damage the rubber that protects the auger, which sits close to the ground.

On the other hand, the snow blower's auger does not contact the ground, so you do not have to worry about gravel or dirt surfaces.

However, it will leave a thin sheet of snow or ice, which you can deal with a shovel or ice melt.

Engine Power Source

Snow throwers are compact and often powered by electricity, and they can come with either a power cord or a rechargeable battery.

This feature has a lot of key benefits. First, it means that you do not have to worry about storing gasoline, which is highly flammable.

At the same time, you won't be generating any toxic fumes while using the machine.

That said, both battery-operated and corded snow throwers have one significant limitation.

You could only do a few laps of the driveway when using either of them.

The good news is that there are a few simple solutions, like getting a very long extension cord suitable for outdoor use or spending money on spare batteries.

However, doing either one would mean additional expenses on your part.

Also, it might be a bit difficult to keep track of the power cord once you start working through the snow.

It could end up tripping you, or you might run over it with your machine.

Snow blowers are bigger and typically feature a gas-powered engine.

It means that you can operate it continuously without getting distracted by wires or limited by battery capacity.

One thing to note is you would have to refuel it after over an hour.

Still, you would have cleared a lot of snow by that time.


Part of your responsibilities if you own a snow-clearing machine is to keep it in excellent working condition.

This way, it won’t bail out on you at the worst possible moments, like when you’re knee-deep in snow already.

The good thing about snow throwers is that you do not have to do much in terms of maintenance.

Just make sure that the battery is charged before you use it, or check that the power cord is not damaged, and you’re good to go.

As for storage, snow throwers are more compact and do not eat up too much space in your garage or shed.

On the other hand, a gas-powered snow blower is a complex piece of equipment that needs more care.

You must do oil changes, replace the gas filter, or monitor the spark plugs.

What is more, you will find that repairing a snow blower generally costs a lot more than having a snow thrower fixed.

That is because the parts of a more complex machine are typically more expensive.

Thus, it is best if you invest in a solid maintenance plan if you decide to get a snow blower.

Price Span and Extra Features

Another advantage that snow throwers have over snow blowers is that they come with a more budget-friendly price tag.

A good-quality single-stage unit will typically set you back anywhere between $100 and $400.

For instance, the Snow Joe SJ619E, which has a decent cutting path of 18 inches, costs under $200.

You can use it on mid-sized driveways, but it won’t need tune-ups or oils to run well.

While it is pretty powerful for a battery-operated machine, it is still no match for a gas-powered snow blower.

Take, for example, the PowerSmart PS24 Snow Blower, which has a snow-clearing width of 24 inches.

It costs a bit under $600, which is within the typical price range of snow blowers.

However, with the higher price tag comes additional features.

Aside from delivering 2,400 pounds per minute of snow, it has an intake height of 20 inches, blows snow 40 feet away, and is self-propelled with six speed settings.

It even has an electric push start button for maximum convenience.

So you might be paying more upfront with a snow blower, but you will definitely get your money’s worth.

Which Snow Removal Machine Should You Choose?

When choosing between a snow thrower and a snow blower, your decision ultimately depends on your situation. 

Getting the single-stage unit would make more sense if you have a paved mid-sized driveway and the snow is not that deep.

However, you should invest in a snow blower for heavier snow removal needs.

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