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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Two Stage Snow Blowers Reviewed

Use this guide to help choose a larger snow clearing machine when maneuvering those heavy snowfalls.

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What is a two stage snow blower? It is a motorized apparatus that picks up snow, grinds, and aerates it through 2 systems of rotating blades (an auger, then an impeller) and ejects the snow with enough force to transfer it off the ground and direct it some distance away. Snow blowers are a great alternative to shoveling for people living in snow-prone regions.

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Model

Engine Cylinder Size

Drive System

Check Price

No products found.

Ariens 926071 Professional

420cc

6 forward; 2 reverse

Husqvarna ST227P

Husqvarna ST227P

254cc

6 forward; 1 reverse

Husqvarna ST224

Husqvarna ST224

208cc

6 forward; 1 reverse

PowerSmart DB72024PA

PowerSmart DB72024PA

208cc

6 forward; 1 reverse

Poulan Pro PR241, 24 in. 208cc LCT Two-Stage...

Poulan Pro PR241

208cc

6 forward; 1 reverse

Briggs & Stratton 1024 Standard Series 24-Inch...

Briggs & Stratton 1696610

208cc

6 forward; 2 reverse

Honda Power Equipment HSS1332AAT 389cc Two-Stage...

Honda Power Equipment HSS1332AAT

389cc

Infinitely variable

Snow Joe iON8024-XR 80-Volt iONMAX Cordless Two...

Snow Joe iON8024-XR

N/A

3 forward, 1 reverse, 3 transport

Benefits of Two Stage Snow Blowers

Snowblowers are not just an expensive way to avoid shoveling. Two stage models almost always move snow many times as fast as the most industrious shoveling human. In this way, they are a must-have for jobs too big for one person to complete with a shovel.

Furthermore, shoveling can be hazardous for some, especially the elderly. For an older or injured person, a small two stage snow blower is a safer option.


Buying a Quality Two Stage Snow Blower

Power Source

Generally, two stage gas snow blowers are more powerful and efficient. However, electric units are likely to become more popular as they improve in power and features. Some plug directly into an outlet (which might or might not be convenient), but others are rechargeable-battery powered, which allows emissions-free, cord-free use.

Motor Size

A common way that gas 2 stage snow blower motors are sized is by engine displacement in cubic centimeters (cc). Since forceful rotation is critical to snowblower functionality, the torque also is often reported (ft.-lb.). Sometimes, horsepower (HP) is given, as well. Electric 2 stage snow blowers only have torque and horsepower.

Usage

Generally, using a snow blower on uneven ground is not recommended. However, with the right features, it is doable: Hilly terrain demands large wheels with traction tires or tracks (like a tank). Gravelly paths require that the auger housing be elevated from the ground—all units in the two stage snow blower reviews below have this adjustment feature.

Clearing Width

Wider clearing paths is what it sounds like, plus it coincides with greater snow depth capacity, too. Therefore, the larger your driveway (or desired clearing area), the wider the clearing path you want your snowblower to have. However, you might also want to consider a unit with a broader clearing path for small areas if you anticipate a very deep snowfall.

Speaker Specifications

How the speakers within the enclosure are set up will also impact the clarity and volume of the audio produced by the speakers. Whether the speaker is a 2-way or 3-way speaker will also affect the clarity and ability to differentiate between the frequency ranges in the speaker. A 2-way speaker has a tweeter and woofer to handle the highs and lows, respectively while a 3-way speaker adds a mid-range component that amplifies the area between the woofer and tweeter.

Wheels vs. Tracks & Power Steering

  • Traction:
    Two-way speakers have a tweeter and a woofer in a single speaker basket, and usually, they’ll be combined using a crossover to help prevent certain frequencies from crossing over.
  • Power steering:
    Power steering is a mechanism by which the machine automatically activates the proper wheel motions for a turn, upon a simple motion from the user. Normal residential users might not need power steering, but it becomes more important in large snow blowers.

Speed Control & Discharging Chute Control

  • Speed control:
    Unlike 1-stage snow blowers, most 2 stage snow blowers are motor-propelled and can move at multiple speeds, even in reverse. These speeds do not impact the work of the auger or impeller moving the snow. (Therefore, in deep or dense snow, it is advisable to select a slow speed to give the mechanism time to eat through the snow pile.)
  • Discharging chute control:
    Discharging chute control is usually remote (from the dashboard); most can rotate at least 180 degrees. The deflector (top of the chute) often is adjusted remotely too and allows snow to be directed up or down—creating greater or lesser throw distance, respectively.

Electric Starter

All units reviewed in this article are 2 stage electric start snow blowers. An electric starter is the only start mechanism for an electric snow blower; however, the majority of gas-powered 2 stage snow blowers also have an electric starter as an alternative to the recoil/pull-chain mechanism. To use the electric start on a 2 stage gas snow blower, you must plug the unit into an outlet while starting the engine.

Extra Features

  • Clearing tool:
    The most important extra feature is a clearing tool, usually mounted to the auger housing. It is never safe to reach an arm or hand inside the auger/impeller mechanism; so, if your snowblower does not come with a clearing too, purchase one and keep it with you as you work.
  • Adjustable skid shoes:
    The second most crucial extra is adjustable skid shoes. Usually made of steel, skid shoes keep the auger housing a small distance from the ground during operation. You can raise the height for safer use on uneven/gravelly ground.
  • Drift cutters:
    If you are working with deep snow piles, be sure to have drift cutters—steel bars that can be affixed to the front of the auger housing to do a pre-cut before the auger hits the snow.
  • Headlights:
    Snow blowing happens in the winter when the days are shorter, so it is nice (and safer) to have extra light.
  • Handlebar features:
    A few users like to have heated handlebars; however, most find that, with gloves, this feature is rarely helpful. Foldable handlebars are a great feature to seek if you have limited storage space.
  • Single-hand interlock control:
    Another helpful feature is single-hand interlock control—this allows you to keep the snow blower moving and churning snow without having to keep both hands on the handlebars. Without this, chute adjustment would be tedious, because you would not have enough hands to control everything at once.

Budget & Warranty

The best two stage snow blowers are almost always going to be at least $800. Fortunately, most have at least 2 years of limited warranty coverage. However, note the complication of snow blower warranties. Sometimes, companies use engines made by a different manufacturer—which has its own warranty. Also, different categories of parts can be under different warranties: you cannot assume that every little part is under the listed warranty.


8 Best Two Stage Snow Blowers Reviewed

1. Ariens 926071 Professional

No products found.

Best Two-Stage Snow Blower

Dimensions

51 x 40.5 x 40 inches

Weight

382 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

32 inches/24 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

420cc

Drive System

6 forward; 2 reverse

Plowing Capacity

3033 lbs./min

Warranty

3 years (residential); 1 year (commercial)

The Ariens Professional is the best two stage snow blower for large spaces and our top pick. This gas-powered blower offers an unusually wide 32-inch clearing width, a 23.5-inch max depth, and a maximum throw distance of 60 feet. Furthermore, it is engine-propelled, has an intuitive interlock system in the handlebar controls, and has effective power steering allowing easy U-turns—all which make it easy to maneuver despite its large size. Even the chute and deflector orientation are adjusted from the dashboard. 

Unlike others, the hand warmers on this unit actually work—in fact, users report having to turn them off because they are too hot. Also, for safety and convenience, this unit has a large prominent headlight, and large 16-inch-diameter, 6.5-inch-deep treaded wheels. While most users are happy with the recoil-start system alone, some will like that this unit has an electric start option, too.

Users unanimously agree that this Ariens two stage snow blower is powerful—it has a serrated steel 16-inch auger and 14-inch impeller, driven by a 21 ft.-lb. torque motor.

While you can still get this 926071 model on Amazon, the closest Ariens offers now is the model number 926076—mostly an equivalent machine. The Ariens brand specializes in both dual- and single-stage snow blowers, along with riding and walk-behind lawnmowers—and accessories for all of these; relevant here are its Snow Blower Protective Cab and Gear Lube.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Powerful
  • Easy to use
  • Effective hand-warming
  • Headlight

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Excessive for most residential users

2. Husqvarna ST227P

Best two stage gas snow blower

Dimensions

59 x 27 x 40.5 inches

Weight

212 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

27 inches/ 24 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

254cc

Drive System

6 forward; 1 reverse

Plowing Capacity

Not given but likely 1667 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Husqvarna ST227P is the best two stage gas snow blower for moderate-to-heavy residential needs and among those rated by Consumer Reports. Not surprisingly, users praise its power and efficiency. It as a 12.5 ft.-lb. torque engine that drives not only the auger and impeller—but also the rugged X-track treaded tires, making this unit self-propelling and stable. It has power steering that allows U-turns, and it has an interlock system on the driving and auger triggers on handlebars, allowing you to use a free hand to control the chute/deflector orientation lever on the dashboard.

Aside from fundamentals, this unit has every feature you could want on a snow thrower of this size and quality. It has adjustable handle height, heated handles (though users indicate that the heat is barely noticeable), headlights, a conveniently mounted clearing device for jams, choice of electric or recoil start—including safety ignition key and choke control (for cold engine start), and it has a choice of 7 driving speeds, including reverse. Furthermore, the engine meets ANSI safety requirements.

Surprisingly, users find this feature-rich unit relatively quick and easy to assemble, with some even claiming to take as little as 15 minutes using the included instructions. Husqvarna offers an excellent selection of accessories for snow blowers, such as tire chains, cab, and drift cutters.

Pros

  • Great value for cost
  • Easy assembly
  • Impressive capacity
  • Safe engine
  • Adjustable handle height

Cons

  • Complicated warranty

3. Husqvarna ST224

Best 24 inch two stage snow blower

Dimensions

58.5 x 24 x 40.5 inches

Weight

198.6 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

24 inches/12 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

208cc

Drive System

6 forward; 1 reverse

Plowing Capacity

Not given, but likely about 1333 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Husqvarna ST224 is the best 24 inch two stage snow blower for homeowners. Its engine size and clearing width are smaller, compared to the units above. However, for most residential users—especially those in medium-to-light snowfall areas—it is more than enough. In fact, one might even prefer a slightly smaller unit if storage space is limited; also, consider a matching cover for added protection during storage.

For its size, the ST224 is powerful. It has a 9.5 ft.-lb. torque gas engine and 15-inch treaded tires. Many users find that they can use it with over 1 ft. of snow. It also has all of the dashboard features one would expect on larger units. It has two levers to control the chute direction and deflector orientation, respectively; an interlock feature on the handlebars to allow easy chute/deflector adjustments; two prominent LED headlights; adjustable handlebar height; and hand-warming in the handlebars.

Unfortunately, some users claim that the parts give out too quickly and that warranty/repairs get cumbersome. However, other users argue that the company has resolved these issues and that the complaining reviewers might have made assembly errors. That said, most do not find the ST224 difficult to assemble. Many users like to have extra shear bolts on hand, especially during times of heavy use.

Pros

  • Great value for cost
  • For normal residential driveway
  • Easy to use
  • Headlights
  • Hand warming

Cons

  • Confusing warranty
  • Parts sometimes break quickly

4. PowerSmart DB72024PA

Best cheap 2 stage snow blower

Dimensions

34 x 30 x 25 inches

Weight

187 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

24 inches/21 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

212cc

Drive System

4 forward; 2 reverse

Plowing Capacity

Not given but likely 1300 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—2 years

The PowerSmart DB72024PA is the best 2 stage snow blower under $800. It is also space-saving, being among the best small 2 stage snow blowers. Plus, its handles fold up for even easier storage.

With no hand warming or headlights, this unit has a basic design. However, when it comes to essentials, this gas-powered unit is not weak. It has Power Assist (power steering), a self-propelling engine with 6 speeds total, dashboard controls for both 180-degree chute direction and up/down deflector orientation, for a maximum 40-foot snow throw distance, 13-inch traction tires, and both recoil and electric push-button start options.  

Users find this unit to be reliable and competent in light-to-medium snow; they find the Power Assist actually works as promised, making the unit easy to maneuver. Most users find it easy to start. Furthermore, this unit is reportedly easy to assemble, often taking less than a half-hour. Some complain that the included instructions did not help them much—however, they sought help from online videos and were successful.

This unit possibly is not made anymore—the closest unit to it in features on the PowerSmart site is the DB7624E model. PowerSmart sells accompanying parts for its snow blowers, such as a SmartPower upper drive cable or a PowerSmart pair of skid shoes with accompanying hardware.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great value for cost
  • Easy to use
  • Responsive customer service
  • Compact

Cons

  • Sometimes parts do not last long

5. Poulan Pro PR241

Best two stage snow blower for the money

Dimensions

52.3 x 28.5 x 35 inches

Weight

240 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

24 inches/23 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

208cc

Drive System

6 forward; 1 reverse

Plowing Capacity

Not given but likely 1300 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Poulan Pro PR241 is the best two stage snow blower for the money—while it is not the cheapest on this list, it is arguably the best value: This gas-powered unit has a 9.5 ft.-lb. torque engine, interlock handle triggers for easier use, 13 x 4 inch deep-treaded tires, headlights, dashboard controls for chute and deflector orientation (180-degree rotation), and a 12-inch auger and impeller.

Furthermore, its handles are height-adjustable; users find it easy to assemble, stable (hard to tip over), and easy to start—with either the recoil or the electric start. It does not, however, have power steering; that said, there are no complaints about this—users generally find it easy to maneuver and are pleasantly surprised by the features and effectiveness of the Poulan Pro PR241.

With only a 24-inch clearing width, it is amazing that this unit can handle 23-inch depths and sizable clearing areas, such as 3-car-width driveways, and tricky surfaces (like gravel). The only complaint from users is that, sometimes, the parts give out too quickly—however, other highly-impressed reviewers are baffled at this and suggest that reported problems must be due to the poor assembly by the owner.

For convenience, Poulan sells shear bolts, a dual-stage drive belt, and other replacement parts for its snow throwers.

Pros

  • Very great value for cost
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to assemble
  • Effective for its size

Cons

  • Sometimes parts break quickly

6. Briggs & Stratton 1696610

Best 2 stage snow blower under $1000

Dimensions

53 x 26 x 38 inches

Weight

175 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

24 inches/20 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

208cc

Drive System

6 forward; 2 reverse

Plowing Capacity

Not given but likely 1100 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Briggs & Stratton 1696610 is the best 2 stage snow blower under $1000. While it does not have every possible feature, this gas-powered unit has all you need for light-medium use. Its 9.5 ft.-lb. torque engine can throw a maximum 35 feet and go through 1.5 feet of snow easily. It is stable, with 13 x 5 inch treaded tires, and easy to start with either recoil or push-button electric start mechanisms.

This unit does not have the nice extras (headlights, hand warming, power steering, or interlock handlebar triggers). Still, it does have a 12-inch serrated auger, 8 total driving speeds, and 200-degree chute rotation (controlled from the dashboard). Generally, users are not fazed by the absent features but are impressed by its effectiveness and ease of use.

The Briggs & Stratton brand has an illustrious reputation in the world of gas-powered engines—it even makes engines for other brands. The company offers a unique guarantee that their engines can start at -20 degrees F (or will repair for free, otherwise).

For an upgrade, consider the 1696614 model from Briggs & Stratton. It has the same features as the 1696610, plus interlock handlebars, LED headlight, and slightly larger tires. It is no surprise that both of these models are Consumer Reports rated. The company recommends its Advanced Formula Fuel Treatment & Stabilizer to prevent stale fuel from undermining Briggs & Stratton engine effectiveness.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great value for cost
  • Sufficient capacity for smaller jobs
  • Easy to use
  • Uncomplicated warranty

Cons

  • Can be difficult to get repairs/replacements
  • Assembly instructions not so helpful

7. Honda Power Equipment HSS1332AAT

Top of the range

Dimensions

58.5 x 32.9 x 43.5 inches

Weight

275 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

32 inches/22 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

389cc

Drive System

Infinitely variable

Plowing Capacity

2750 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Honda Power Equipment HSS1332AAT is top of the range among residential gas-powered snow blowers. It has a Honda GX390 engine and an automotive-grade steel exterior. Unlike others reviewed here, it has cleated tracks wrapped around two wheels for greater traction surface area than tires can provide. Also different is the auger height adjustment; a pneumatic pressure system makes springing between auger heights easy.

Another feature that makes this Honda 2 stage snow blower a star snow thrower is the hydrostatic transmission: There are no separate speed levels—you just shift up and down on the dashboard to make intuitive changes in speed. Besides, there is an independent throttle control to give you yet more speed control.

This machine can throw snow a whopping 56 feet. Also phenomenal, the chute can be rotated 198 degrees and is double articulated (rather than just having an up and down joint at the deflector), so the joystick-controlled direction is quite precise.

While this unit does have interlock handlebars and a great dashboard of features, it is large and a bit cumbersome to steer—one must be careful using it around personal property. While the lack of an electric start option might seem like a fault, most users do not miss it and have no trouble starting it with recoil.

While Honda is typically associated with cars, it also produces a range of engine-powered devices: lawnmowers, generators, etc. It even sells accessories (snow thrower cab, cover, and drift breaker).

Pros

  • Comes fully assembled
  • Headlight
  • Infinitely variable speed control
  • Powerful engine
  • Precise throw direction control

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too big for most homeowners

8. Snow Joe iON8024-XR

Best two stage electric snow blower

Dimensions

47 x 25.7 x 40 inches

Weight

105.8 lbs.

Clearing Width/Depth

24 inches/13 inches

Engine Cylinder Size

N/A

Drive System

3 forward, 1 reverse, 3 transport

Plowing Capacity

1000 lbs./min

Warranty

Yes—2 years

The Snow Joe iON8024-XR is the best two stage electric snow blower for residential use. The lightest reviewed here—it is one of the best small 2 stage snow blowers—it is perfect for older or less confident users. Furthermore, as an electric unit, it is quieter than its gas-powered peers. In addition, users agree it is easy to assemble.

This unit is only recommended for light-medium use, but for many, this is all that is needed. The iON8024-XR has an array of dashboard features—indicator lights showing charge of each battery individually, a choice of 4 operation speeds and 3 transport speeds, and remote chute direction control (180-degree range). It has 2 LED headlights that, remarkably, can be adjusted to whatever angle you want.

The two 5-Ah batteries (80 V combined) and accompanying charger take about 3 hours to get a full charge. (The charger has indicator lights to let you know how charged the batteries are.) Depending on how hard the machine is worked, a full charge can last 20-50 minutes. Most users are happy with the amount they can get done in that time. Furthermore, this unit requires no cord and creates no emissions.

Snow Joe (including Aqua Joe and Sun Joe lines, depending on the product) sells a wide range of battery-powered devices, many of which can use the same batteries and chargers. Its chargers are ETL-approved and Energy Star-certified.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • No-questions-asked warranty
  • Easy to use
  • Quiet operation
  • Attentive customer service

Cons

  • Batteries are expensive
  • Tedious dashboard controls

Electric vs. Gas-Powered Snow Blowers

Gas-powered two stage snow blowers usually are more powerful, but also louder, than electric two stage snow blowers. Demand for quiet, emissions-free machines is stirring development of improved electric motors and devices, and so stronger electric 2 stage snow blowers are on the way.

Gas and electric snowblowers have different needs. Gas motors need sufficient fresh fuel and oil to run properly. Electric motors must be plugged into an outlet or have batteries installed, and batteries must be recharged in a charger (connected to an outlet). You must dispose of worn-out batteries appropriately, or they become an environmental hazard.


Single Stage vs. Two Stage Snow Blowers

The main difference between single stage and two stage snow blowers is that single stage snow blowers do not have an auger-to-impeller system; instead, an auger alone takes up the snow and moves it to the chute. Therefore, the 1 stage snow blower is lighter and smaller, but much less powerful and efficient. As a result, single stage snow blowers are ineffective for big jobs—they are ideal for small areas with light snow cover. When considering 2 stage vs. 1 stage snowblowers, note that a single stage is more like a shovel replacement.


Two Stage vs. Three Stage Snow Blowers

Three stage snow blowers have an additional impeller working with the auger system, allowing them to throw farther and faster. Unfortunately, 3 stage blowers are bigger and pricier than their 2 stage counterparts. The Consumer Reports video below lays out the differences among 1-, 2-, and 3-stage snow blowers (plus more helpful information).

Both two stage and three stage snow blowers are more than just shovel replacements—they allow you to move snow on a level you could not otherwise. When considering 2 stage vs. 3 stage snow blowers, realize that 3 stage snow blowers are designed for those with large areas of deep snow (at least 1.5 feet).


How to Use Two Stage Snow Blowers

Most users take no more than 1 hour to assemble their two stage snow blower—generally, this is just superficial attachments and adjustments; large components come already assembled. However, because of the size, be sure you have appropriate delivery and transport arrangements. All two stage snow blowers come with thorough usage, safety, maintenance, and assembly instructions.

Be sure the engine has sufficient fuel and oil in the respective tanks. For gas units: If you choose to use an electric start, you can simply plug the unit into a standard 120-V outlet. For battery-powered units: Be sure to purchase batteries suitable for your snow blower, and be sure to get a charger that matches the batteries. Most chargers plug into a standard 120-V outlet.


Safety Tips and Maintenance Guidelines

Because these machines have forceful rotating blades and electrical components, it is especially important to read the included instructions and heed any warnings concerning proper storage and use.

For gas-powered units, fresh fuel (standard gasoline is fine), and 5W-30 oil are the most important parts of maintenance. You should periodically check the oil, as you would for a car. Either drain/deplete the fuel tank after a high-usage period or add a fuel stabilizer to keep gas from getting stale.

For battery-powered units, generally avoid depleting batteries to 0% charge, and avoid storing batteries for long periods, as they will discharge. Self-care is also essential. Wear insulating clothing to keep warm and dry—especially gloves (and women’s), socks (and women’s), and boots (and women’s). Consider wearing ice shoes, too.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Who makes the best two stage snow blowers?
Who makes the best 2 stage snow blower for your usage depends on which extra features you prioritize. However, Ariens and Husqvarna are the top brands. Briggs & Stratton and Honda snow blowers are well-rated, as well.
When’s the best time to buy a snow blower?
The best time to buy a snow blower is in the spring/summer before you need it, and before there is a run on snow blowers in the winter. You are more likely to get a better price and be prepared when the snow comes.
Ariens vs. Husqvarna snow blowers – Which is best?
Overall, it is a draw. It ultimately comes down to combinations of extra features and just what feels more right to you, but some argue that Ariens has a slight edge in the quality of parts.
What is the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower
There is no difference—just two names for the same apparatus.
Where is the best place to buy these two stage snow blowers?
Amazon has all of the best two stage snow blowers for sale, plus accompanying parts and accessories. Snow Blowers Direct, Ace Hardware, Grainger, and Lowe’s are also good sources.

Conclusion

The first of the 2 stage snow blower reviews above—the Ariens 2 stage snow blower—has the biggest motor and the highest capacity of all blowers reviewed here, putting it among the best two stage snow blowers.

However, the others may give you more than enough capacity for your purposes—in a smaller, lighter machine. Plus, number 4 on the list—the PowerSmart—is arguably the best cheap 2 stage snow blower. If snow removal has been overwhelming for you, a great two-stage snow blower is the solution.

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