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The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping which means only one thing – winter’s coming! And that means snow, and if you’re in certain parts of the country that equals a lot of the white stuff.
Clearing paths and driveways can be a drag, it takes precious time and is no fun if all you’ve got is a snow shovel. And what’s worse, you’ll have cleared a path and overnight, it’ll be covered again! Time to think of a longer-term solution that will make the job quicker and easier.
Maybe it’s time to consider a snow blower. These practical machines can drastically cut down on the time you spend shovelling snow and will leave your path, driveway or section of the sidewalk, clear in no time.
Best Single Stage Snow Blower
Power Clear® 518 ZE
Best Budget Single Stage Snow Blower
Cub Cadet 1X™ 221 LHP (208cc)
Best for Light Snow
This article will be looking at the practical and efficient Single Stage Snow Blowers which are great for domestic use in areas that get fluffy, light snowfalls. Single stages are lightweight and easy to use so are the ideal entry-level snow blower if you don’t have a large area to clear.
If, however, you get more than around 4” of snow or have a large area to plough, especially if it’s on uneven or sloped ground, then you probably need a machine with more capabilities than a single stage. Take a look at our articles on Two Stage Snow Blowers and Three-Stage Snow Blowers for details on how these differ to a single stage and tips on choosing the right model for your needs.
Just want to dive straight into our pick of the best single stage snow blowers and read reviews? Take a look at our comparison chart above for our top picks and the quick navigation section to jump to any of our single stage snow blower reviews.
If you want to find out more about snow blowers and are not sure where to begin your search, read our in-depth Buyer’s Guide which is under the reviews. The Buyer’s Guide has information on the different types and what to look for when choosing the machine that’s right for you. Plus there are some helpful hints things like the correct storage etc. to help you get the most from your new snow blower.
Toro SnowMaster® 724 QXE - Best Single Stage Snow Blower
Founded in 1914 the Toro Company manufacturers products that cater to "turf maintenance, snow and ice management, landscape, rental and specialty construction equipment, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions."
Take a look at many popular home improvement stores or online retailers and you'll find Toro mentioned and highly praised for their snowblowers. The SnowMaster® 724 QXE is no exception.
"Powered by a Toro Premium 212cc OHV 4-cycle, it's ideal for concrete and asphalt surfaces that can park up to 4+ cars."
This snowblower is suitable for flat and slopped terrain and can handle everything from light, heavy or wet snow making it ideal for most homes. An excellent product that earns the best single stage snow blower title in this article.
Quick Stick® Chute Control
Change your chute direction and angle on the go with the handy Quick Stick® Chute Control.
Personal Pace® Self Propel
This innovative feature allows you to walk at your own pace as the self-propel drive system adapts to your pace.
- 24" (61 cm) clearing width
- 18” (46 cm) intake height
- Up to 40' (12 m) throw distance
- Electric start
- 11” ( 28 cm) tires
- 2.3 Quarts (2.2 L) fuel capacity
An excellent single stage snow blower for those with concrete or asphalt surfaces. This model can handle 6 - 18" (15 - 46 cm) of snow at a time.
Just like other single stage snow blowers this is not suited for uneven ground (lawn and gravel etc.)
Toro Power Clear® 721 E - Runner Up
Another great choice (from Toro again) is the Power Clear® 721 E. This model is less powerful then the model above and is more suited for clearing 2 - 9" (5 - 23 cm) of snow at a time.
Power Curve® Technology
The curved rotor and inverted funnel housing design helps to decrease clogging and speed up snow blowing.
This is an excellent runner up snow blower that's more suited to flat surfaces and shallower snow. In addition those with limited storage or looking for a lightweight snow blower will benefit from this smaller snow blower.
This model is suited for those with lighter snowfall and flat paved (asphalt or concrete) surfaces.
Toro Power Clear® 518 ZE - Budget Option
Another Toro?! Yes, and for good reason. They make great snow blowers for all budgets. The Power Clear® 518 ZE is the ideal single stage snow blower for those on a budget or with a small, flat drive/walkway.
Power Curve® Technology
The curved rotor and inverted funnel housing design helps to decrease clogging and speed up snow blowing.
An ideal snow blower for those looking to clear 2 - 9" (5 - 23 cm) of snow at a time on a flat and paved surface.
Not much to fault here other than this is not suited for unpaved, deep snow and inclined surfaces.
Cub Cadet 1X™ 221 LHP (208cc) - Best for Light Snow
This Cub Cadet snow blower is an excellent choice for those with light snow. It has some great features not seen on other snow blowers listed in this article.
A simple feature to have included but one that is not mainstream on other brands and models of snow blowers. The in-dash headlight provides increased viability and safety.
This snow blower provides extra visibility and safety thanks to its in-dash headlight. Ideally suited for those with 6" of snow or less.
This is suited for light and shallow snow. Those looking to tackle deeper, heavier and wetter snow should look at other snow blowers (such as those mentioned above).
Honda HS720AS - Honorable Mention
Last but not least on this best single stage snow blower list is the Honda HS720AS. An excellent choice if the Toro 724 (as mentioned above) is not in stock or available.
This model has a clearing width of 20", a 4 cycle, 190cc Honda OHC engine, clears up to 1800 lb./min and can handle snow 12" deep.
Snow Director™ Chute Control
The easy to use chute control is conveniently located and the deflector can be adjusted from left to right 204 degrees.
This snow blower can handle a lot and is feature rich.
This model is more expensive then some of the other models reviewed in this article, however its great design and features make this snow blower a good value purchase.
What are snow blowers?
If you are in a part of the country that gets heavy snowfall for a continued period over the winter months and you own or rent a property with a yard, pathway, porch or large piece of land, a snow blower might just be one of the best things you buy this year.
Instead of spending hours shovelling snow only to have your pathway completely covered the next morning, a snow blower can make the job quicker and easier. Now we can’t stop the snow from falling so you’ll no doubt have to plough your path each morning but at least it’ll be faster than a shovel!
How do snow blowers work?
Single-stage snow blowers are simple machines which look and function a bit like a lawnmower only instead of grass clippings, they spit out snow! This is done using a rotating auger (the corkscrew like blade at the front of the machine) which picks up the snow and pushes it back into the discharge chute. The discharge chute forces the snow out and away depending on which direction you set up the chute to aim.
How do I know which one to pick?
Think about this first, it should help you to decide if a single-stage machine is the best choice.
- Do you get less than around 4” of snow?
- Do you have a small area to clear?
- Is the area concrete, decking, pathways etc? (No loose gravel or chippings for example).
- Is the area flat and even?
- Do you have access to an electrical outlet that will cover the area you want to clear?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, the chances are that a single-stage snow blower will suit your needs - always consult the manufacturer’s item description to determine if their machine is suitable for your property. The recommendations in this article are for guidance only.
These lightweight, smaller machines, are easy to handle and are great for smaller properties with lighter snowfall. They are best suited to even surfaces which aren’t sloped and don’t contain loose materials such as gravel.
Single-stage snow blowers are typically either electric or cordless but you can also get gasoline models.
What do snow blowers run on?
- Electric - often seen in single-stage machines which don’t require a lot of power. Remember you are tied to a cable with an electric snow blower and you won’t be able to use it if there’s a power outage - unless you have a backup generator or other electrical power source.
- Cordless - this gives you greater flexibility over an electric model but you are restricted but the length of the charge of the batteries.
- Gasoline - typically used in the two-stage and three-stage models as these have larger motors and require more power to run efficiently. The great advantage of using a gasoline model is the flexibility it gives you. You aren’t reliant on a power outlet and it can be used for as long as needed unlike a cordless which will give you only limited running time. But they will be bigger, heavier machines with additional maintenance requirements.
Electric snow blowers
- Cost less than gasoline models.
- Are lightweight.
- Quiet to run.
- Typically require less maintenance than a gasoline model.
- Easy to store as they tend to be smaller than their gasoline counterparts.
- No emissions.
- Aren’t as heavy duty as a gasoline model.
- Unless the model offers self-propel, you must bare the weight of pushing the snow blower.
- If you don’t have a backup generator and you suffer a power out, you’ll not be able to use this type of snow blower which may present a problem.
Cordless snow blowers
- Offer more versatility than a corded model as you aren’t tied to a cable.
- Quiet to run.
- Can be used (if batteries are fully charged) during a power out.
- Easy to store.
- No emissions.
- If you have a large property you might not have enough on a single charge to cover the ground you need to.
- Replacement batteries can be expensive.
- Batteries can be vulnerable if they are kept in either extreme hot or extreme cold conditions.
The power of a cordless blower will be given in watts. As a comparative example, a decent snow blower will work at approximately 2500 watts which equates to a gas-powered snow blower of around 5-6 horsepower. So, today’s better engineered cordless blowers can match their gasoline guzzling counterparts in the torque department.
A full charge will give you approximately 30-40 minutes of run time which should be sufficient for a small property. If you’re going to be needing longer than this, consider purchasing a second set of batteries so you’ve always got a pair ready to use when the others run low. However, batteries are expensive and you might be looking at $150+ for a second set!
You’ll need to charge the batteries regularly and this takes anywhere from 1 hour to several for a full charge. But if your snow blower runs out of charge mid-way through, you could always pop in for a cup of coffee and a slice of toast as they charge up again! Check the manufacturer's item description for details of their specific charge times.
For more flexibility some machines can be run with only one battery but you will have to sacrifice either performance or speed if you go for this option. But it might just get your path cleared if you’re in a hurry.
Hybrid machines give you the best of both worlds - the freedom of a cordless with the ability to plug it into an outlet one the batteries run out.
Gasoline snow blowers
- As long as you have gasoline you’re good to go making them ideal for larger properties and those in rural settings who are off the grid.
- You’re hindered by a power socket and can cover large areas on a single tank.
- Easy to start especially with electric start feature.
- Ideal over a varied terrain.
- Can cope with deeper, wet snow and ice.
- Heavy duty.
- More expensive to purchase.
- Gasoline costs are ongoing.
- Larger and heavier than electric and cordless versions.
- Maintenance costs tend to be higher than an electric model.
Because the majority of single-stage snow blowers are either electric or cordless, we’ve not delved too much into the gasoline powered models. But, to find out more read our articles on 2 Stage Snow Blowers and Three-Stage Snow Blowers.
What specifications should I look for?
Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking at the different models.
- How powerful does the snow blower need to be?
- What fuel do you want to use?
- What fuel do you have access to at and around your property?
- On average, how much snow is there in your area?
This will help you decide how much snow moving capacity you need.
Snow moving capacity is calculated in pounds per minute.
- How wide a machine do you need?
- What’s access like at your property? If you’ve got narrow pathways look for a machine with a narrower inlet.
- How far does the machine throw the snow?
You might want to consider where the snow will end up after you’ve blown it out of your way, you don’t want to dump it on your neighbors drive!
- What’s the voltage and will this be high enough for the amount of snow you’ll need to move?
- How heavy is the snow blower? Remember, unless you have self-propel you’ll be pushing the weight of the snow blower!
A self-propelling machine will drive the snow blower forward rather than you having to push its weight. This is extremely helpful if you have to drive it through thick heavy snow.
- A brushless motor is more efficient than a brushed motor and is likely to last you longer.
The width which is cleared as your snow blower passes over the snow. If you’ve got a narrow pathway you’ll need to ensure any snow blower will fit. Don’t forget to allow for the turning of your snow blower too.
Widths are typically between 10” – 45”.
Control and moveability
The ability to move and turn your snow blower quickly and easily, is really important. Traction is crucial especially if you’ve got garden ornaments, cars or frozen bikes to contend with!
This is where all the snow gets expelled. You can determine in which direction either through a mechanical or manual chute handle. A discharge chute direction that can be moved at least 1800 is important as it gives you the flexibility to change the direction and safely dispose of the snow into a convenient location.
You can also change the speed at which the snow is expelled via the chute, another great safety feature.
- Adjustable handle height - the correct handle height means less stooping or reaching and an allover more ergonomic experience. Now, if you’re only ploughing for a short time, this might seem unimportant but, if you’ve got a large property it becomes crucial.
- Heated handles - again, this might not seem so important if you’re only out for a short time but, if you’re going to be out for a while, this is another crucial feature you’ll definitely want to consider.
- Headlights - this may be a necessity rather than an optional extra for those living in unlit, rural areas with limited lighting. Allowing you to see the path ahead and others to see you.
- Power steering - just like in your vehicle, power steering on your snow blower gives you better control and makes it easier to handle.
- Skid shoes - these prevent the auger from hitting the ground and becoming damaged. The level can be adjusted depending on your ground surface. This is important if you’re using your machine over gravel as you don’t want the auger to kick this up as it moves over the ground.
- Rust resistant - helps prevent rust from corroding the machine both while it’s in use and when it’s in storage.
- Self-propelled - as mentioned above, self-propelling machines feature a drive wheel that powers the movement of the snow blower with the motor rather than you. If you have a large property, uneven ground or sloping terrain, this will become extremely useful.
- Remote deflector control - rather than manually changing the chute direction, the remote deflector enables you to do so quickly and easily while still running the machine.
- Electric start - an electric start enables you to plug in your gasoline machine and simply push a button to start the motor instead of having to pull on the handle. Great in the depths of winter when crank handles can be a little temperamental.
The price you pay will vary depending on whether it’s a single, two or three-stage model and what fuel it runs on. Pus the size and additional features and which manufacturer and model. Here’s a few things to consider.
- How frequently are you likely to use the machine?
- How many months of the year does it snow in the area you live?
- How deep is the snow?
- How big is the area I need to clear?
- And probably most importantly - what’s my budget?
Along with the actual purchase price don’t forget that there will be ongoing costs including:
- Repairs and parts.
Expect to pay between $450 - $900 for a single-stage snow blower.
The correct maintenance of your snow blower is essential and is something you should budget in for along with the purchase price and any ongoing fuel costs.
In general an electric or cordless model will require less maintenance than a gasoline model.
As with any piece of machinery you should do a visual inspection before each use just to make sure that everything is in order, there aren’t any loose parts and there’s enough fuel (gasoline) or it’s sufficiently charged (cordless models).
There may well be a lot of maintenance that you can undertake at home such as checking the oil level or lubricating the machine (follow the instruction manual to find out the correct oil or lubricant to use and how to carry it out), changing spark plugs etc. But unless you feel confident around machinery get an expert to service and maintain your snow blower.
It’s vital that you follow the guidelines laid out in your owner’s manual and pay attention to any safety advice they give you on the correct way to use and to maintain your machine.
Look after your batteries and they should last you over many seasons. Remember a replacement set of batteries will likely cost $150+ so it’s worth it.
Here’s a few tips:
- Try not to leave your batteries fully uncharged for too long. Batteries have an in-built lower safe limit of charge, once they’ve dropped below it they won’t re-charge again and you’ll have no choice but to purchase a new set of batteries. Following on from this,
- During the off-season it’s vital, for this very reason, that you keep an eye on your batteries and regularly charge them a little to prevent this dangerous drop in charge.
- Do not store batteries in a hot area or somewhere that might become hot so consider where you are going to be storing your machine during the off-season with this in mind. But on the flip side,
- Do not store batteries in extreme cold either. So, again if your snow blower is stored in a garage or outhouse that gets frigid overnight, remove the batteries and keep them indoors (but not in a room that will be overly hot) overnight to protect them.
Refer to the owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean your machine.
As a single-stage machine is likely to be either an electric or cordless one, you shouldn’t find storage too much of a problem. These models tend to be smaller and lighter than their gasoline counterparts.
Machines which feature folding handles should cut down on their size and make it easier to store.
You can purchase specially designed covers for your snow blower which should offer a snug fit and keep your machine protected.
End of season storage
- Store your machine in an area that is both clean and dry.
Follow the manufacturer's guidance on the correct way to store the machine, including any necessary preparation to the fuel system.
- Store away from any corrosive materials and ensure that nothing can drip onto your machine.
- Clean your machine and ensure it’s been serviced and maintained before you store it for the off-season.
- Ensure your machine is fully cooled down.
- If you are storing your machine in an unventilated space use either a silicone or light oil to keep rust at bay - read the manufacturer’s instructions first to ensure you use the most appropriate lubricant.
- If you store your machine with a fuel/stabilizer mix in the fuel tank, make sure it’s in a place where there is no risk of sparks or flames.
It goes without saying that you must read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the safest way to use their machine.
- Always wear the appropriate safety equipment including safety goggles, hearing protection, a decent pair of sturdy boots and gloves. Flying debris is a real hazard as you can’t see what’s beneath the snow you are blowing.
- Avoid loose clothing which may become trapped in the machine.
- Ensure that no one is in your path, behind you or to the side of you, especially on the side that the snow blows out towards.
- Keep children and pets indoors when using a snow blower.
- Be mindful of the area into which your snow is being expelled and ensure you aren’t going to damage your windows, panels, or vehicles which may be hit by flying debris.
- If there is a blockage in either the auger or chute, NEVER clear it with your hands - use the tool provided with your machine.
- Always turn off your snow blower at the outlet socket before attempting to clear any blockage.
- Ensure your snow blower has the correct fuel and oil and has been properly serviced and maintained.
- Always read and retain the instructions for future reference.
Electric snow blower additional safety note
When using an electric snow blower it is advisable to use a circuit breaker or other such device that will immediately cut the electric if, for example – the cable is cut or becomes overloaded.
If you live in California you’ll likely be well versed with the California Air Resources Board which ensures that machines meet stringent air quality standards. For more information please read more here.