How to Choose a Snow Blower: Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage

If you’re a first-time buyer or looking to make the switch to a more reliable machine, trying to choose the most suitable snow blower can be tricky if you are not well-versed in the variety and differences between products.

Luckily, Joe has put together a set of helpful guidelines to assist you in deciding which type of snow blower is right for you. It’s also good to make an assessment of your residential property. Will you be clearing only small sidewalks and walkways? Or do you have more acreage, and need to clear larger driveways? Check out this guide for estimating your property’s square footage.

Perhaps you are looking for a lightweight snow blower for quick snow pickups rather than a heavy-duty snow blower for more intensive jobs? These are important considerations before making your snow blower buying decision.  You may also want to check out the snowfall typical to your local region to decide which type of snow blower is right for you.

Snow Joe offers snow blowers in an assortment of single-stage and two-stage configurations.

Drive System

Single-stage snow blowers rely solely on the auger to both pick up and expel snow. These units come equipped with a manual system, which requires the user to supply some of the power needed to keep the machine moving forward. The auger assists to help push the snow out of the throwing chute.

Two-stage models have an additional piece, called an impeller, which is situated behind the auger and discharges the snow through a directional chute, which can typically be rotated up to 180 degrees to allow the user control of the snow stream.  The auger’s primary function in a dual-stage machine is to pick up the snow, while the impeller works to project the snow up and out of the chute This division of labor gives the machine more power, making it suitable for more intensive snow removal and heavy duty snow cleanup on large driveways and walkways.

Unlike single stage snow blowers, two stage snow blowers come equipped with a self-propelled drive system, which requires little to no force from the user to maneuver the unit, and aids in propelling the machine forward. Unique to Snow Joe’s latest innovation, the two stage battery powered iON24SB-XR snowblower, is a completely digital drive by wire system, which relies on a digital push button control panel and an built-in computer system to engage the unit and propel it either forward or reverse automatically.

Power

The largest difference between single-stage and two-stage snow blowers is power.

Single-stage machines easily clear light, dry snow, but do not have the muscle to push through heavier wet snow.

 

Snow Joe single-stage electric, cordless and hybrid snow blowers perform best in 8-12 inches of light to moderate snowfall and are ideal for light to medium duty jobs.

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Wetter and more densely packed snow calls for more power. Two-stage snow blowers have the added strength to clear deeper, heavier snow, thanks to their increased pickup, throwing abilities and self-propulsion.

Snow Joe two-stage cordless snow blowers cut a swath 24 inches wide by 13 inches deep, plowing up to 1,000 pounds of snow per minute, making them ideal for handling heavy duty snow removal and tough wintry mixes.

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Clearing Width and Clearing Depth

Snow blowers also differ greatly in terms of their respective clearing abilities.

Our single-stage machines can clear an area ranging from 15-21 inches wide to 8-12 inches deep , depending on the model. This is ideal for walkways, but may require multiple passes to clear driveways.

Snow Joe two-stage blowers are wider, clearing 24 inches wide and 13 inches deep, making them ideal for quick snow clearing on large driveways.

Surface Type

Single-stage snow blowers’ augers make contact with the ground upon which they act. This can be both an advantage and a limitation. The contact between the auger and the ground pulls the machine forward, resulting in a degree of self-propulsion. Of course, the operator still needs to supply some force to guide the machine. This direct contact with the surface also results in thorough clearing right down to the ground. However, this also means that single stage machines should not be used on unpaved or gravel driveways, as they will pick up rocks and fling them through the chute – causing damage to the machine and posing a safety hazard to others.

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In a two stage snow blower, the auger never touches the clearing surface. Instead, the operator can adjust the blower’s height by moving the metal plates on which the blower sits. Thanks to this adjustable height feature, two stage snow blowers are suitable for almost any surface, including gravel and crushed stone driveways. Unfortunately, this also means that the blower will not remove every last flake of snow from the surface in question. Two stage snow blowers leave a thin coating of snow behind on the cleared surface, so you may have to get out a handy back-saving snow shovel like the Snow Joe Shovelution to get a completely cleared path.

Power Source

Another key difference between single stage and two stage snow blowers is the power source that is used to run each type of unit.

Single stage machines come in gas-powered, corded electric, cordless electric, or hybrid models, the latter of which combines both electric and battery power sources.  Choosing the type of power source your snow blower runs on will require you to factor in several considerations.

Gas-powered snow blowers require gas, oil and seasonal tune-ups, since the gas and oil mixture must be removed after every winter season to not risk damaging the motor. The gaseous emissions always pose harm to both the user and the environment, so if this is a consideration for you than gas power should be avoided.

Corded electric models can be convenient for small walkways and driveways where cord length is not too much of an issue.

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And, if you want to free yourself of an electric leash and move entirely off the grid, opt for a high-performance lithium ion battery powered single stage unit like the the Snow Joe iON21SB-PRO.  Hybrid varieties of these units that offer the flexibility to switch from electric power when you need it to unplugged when you don’t are also available.

Historically, all two stage snow throwers have been gas-powered, However, that has recently changed with the launch of the Snow Joe iON24SB-XR two stage snow thrower, which runs on two 40 volt lithium ion batteries to deliver up to 80 volts of power. Now those who are looking to buy a two stage snow thrower now have the option of choosing to go emission-free with a battery powered unit that blows up to 1000 pounds of snow per minute. Try lifting that with a shovel!

Features

Many two stage snow blowers come with features that are not available on smaller models.

For instance, the Snow Joe iON24SB-XR comes equipped with a digital push-button control panel with a speed selection dial featuring 3 forward speeds and reverse function, dual LED highlights for nighttime visibility, a durable serrated steel auger and all-terrain wheels.

Cost

Of course, with a two stage snow blower’s increased power and added features comes an increased cost.

Single stage snow blowers are significantly more economical. Buyers must also take into account the size of each model and the availability of storage space when selecting a snow blower.

Two stage blowers are bigger and heavier, which can make transportation and storage difficult. Single stage snow blowers are still relatively large machines, but are easier to carry and take up less space.

Some like the battery powered Snow Joe iON18SB and the electric Snow Joe SJ623E even come with a collapsible handle for even more space-saving storage benefits.

When selecting a snow blower, it is important to keep all of these factors in mind. Single stage snow blowers are less expensive and are easier to transport and store, making them fine options for homes with limited snowfall and limited space to clear. Two stage snow blowers are larger, heavier and more expensive. For homeowners who need to clear heavy snow from a large area, though, a more powerful machine can be well worth the additional cost.

For more information, check out Joe’s buying guide for snow blowers here.