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    Best Snow Blowers of 2023—and the Worst

    The top-performing machines from Consumer Reports' tests make quick work of clearing snow

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    From left: Greenworks 2600602 Snow Blower Power Shovel, Cub Cadet 3X 30" HD Snow Blower, and Toro Power Clear 821 QZE 38757 Snow Blower
    CR has tested more than 70 snow-removal machines, including (from left) the GreenWorks 2600602, the Cub Cadet 3X 30" HD, and the Toro Power Clear 821 QZE.
    Photos: Greenworks, Consumer Reports, Toro

    Whether you’ve yet to receive your first inch of snowfall, or you’re on your third blizzard, it’s never too late or too early to consider a snow blower. In general, low snowfall can often translate to sales on snow blowers, and as we head deeper into the season, manufacturers and retailers alike look to clear inventory before spring. Keep in mind, too, that a snow blower isn’t a single-season tool—many last a decade or longer with proper maintenance, meaning you’re not just buying it for this winter, but for the next 10 or more.

    At Consumer Reports, we’ve tested more than 70 snow blowers (or snow throwers, as they are sometimes called). We’ve found that the best snow blowers will clear your driveway in about a quarter of the time it would take you to shovel it. Some models can slice through 18 inches of snow and hurl it 40 feet or more, clearing a path as fast as you can push the machine along.

    Snow blowers are either gas powered (which are typically loud and require hearing protection) or electric. They are also categorized by stages: Single-stage machines use a corkscrew-shaped auger to scoop and shoot snow out. Two-stage machines have an impeller, or a small fan, that helps suck up additional snow and shoot it farther. Three-stage machines add an accelerator—an additional motor to help the auger and impeller suck up and discharge even more snow. For more about snow blower stages and power sources, start with our snow blower buying guide to find the style that’s best for you.

    CR members can also jump right to our snow blower ratings to compare models. Below, we’ve highlighted the best snow blowers from our extensive tests, plus a few snowblowers to avoid.

    How Consumer Reports Tests Snow Blowers

    No two snowflakes are alike, and that presents a problem for CR’s testing protocol. "We need to run our tests with something we can standardize, for consistency," explains Dave Trezza, who oversees snow blower testing at Consumer Reports. That’s why he and his team use a mixture of a certain type of sawdust, saturated with water, in place of snow. It’s a combination that can simulate a standard snowfall or be molded into a mound, similar to a plow pile, like the kind that town plows leave at the end of your driveway.

    More on Snow Blowers

    In each test we time how fast a model cuts through the dense mixture and note how far the sawdust is thrown and how clean the surface is. The Overall Score for each model combines results from these performance tests as well as results of our survey of thousands of CR members, which informs our brand reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.

    We test single-, two-, and three-stage gas snow blowers from brands, including Ariens, Troy-Bilt, Honda, Cub Cadet, Craftsman, Husqvarna, and Toro. And we look at lighter-duty, single-stage and two-stage electric blowers from brands like Snow Joe and Ego, as well as power snow shovels from brands like Greenworks and Toro. We also test power snow shovels in the same way we test snow blowers, but we use far less of the sawdust mixture—because for anything deeper, you’ll want a traditional snow blower.

    How We Picked the Best Snow Blowers

    The experts at Consumer Reports look for snow blowers that do the job quickly and efficiently—and that will prove reliable season after season. Here’s what our top picks have in common.

    • They’re capable. All the models selected here can work through 6-to-18-inch-deep snow, depending upon its number of stages.
    • They throw snow far. The best snow blowers hurl snow a suitable distance so you won’t have to make extra passes to clear a path or driveway.
    • They’re quick. The gas models here work through snow quickly.
    • They can handle a plow pile. All of the best models can tackle a large mound of snow that a snow plow might leave at the end of your driveway.
    • They’re reliable. Top models are only worth the investment if you can count on them season after season.

    Best Three-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

    These powerful machines can tackle heavy snowfall as deep as 18 inches.

    Best Two-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

    These models are just right for heavy snowfall up to 16 inches deep.

    Best Compact Two-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

    If storage space is an issue, these slimmer machines are still more than adequate for removing heavy snowfall of up to 16 inches deep.

    Best Single-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

    These machines do a stellar job in areas that rarely receive more than 9 inches of snow.

    Best Battery-Powered Snow Blower

    The top scorers in this category can work nimbly in a range of conditions. Expect quick clearing of snowfalls up to 9 inches, and a little more time if the depth approaches 16 inches.

    Best Power Snow Shovel

    This category is capable of clearing dustings of up to 6 inches.

    Worst Snow Blowers

    Performance varies from machine to machine. The exceptions are three-stage models, which perform uniformly well across brands and individual models. And corded electrics—which perform uniformly badly in our tests. In fact, we think no corded electric snow blower is worth buying because they’re so underpowered.

    But you’ll see more variation across brands and models when it comes to single-stage gas and single-stage battery-powered snowblowers.

    Case in point: The Ariens S18. This single-stage gas model is slow to clear, struggles to get through heavier snow, and can get bogged down making it infuriatingly slow when used to tackle a mound of snow. It earns a poor rating in our plow pile test. You’re better off spending a few hundred dollars more on the top-rated single-stage gas tool from Toro, which sits an astonishing 44 points ahead of the Ariens.

    Then there’s the single-stage battery-powered Greenworks 2600402. It bombs most of our most crucial tests, proving insufferably slow during use. It’s also incapable of working through even 6-inch-deep simulated snow or throwing it an acceptable distance. It earns an Overall Score of just 29.

    Snow Blowers 101

    Not sure what the difference is between a single-stage and a two- or three-stage snow blower? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, CR expert Dave Trezza explains to show host Jack Rico everything consumers need to know about these snow-tossing machines.

    Paul Hope

    As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.