Single Stage Snow Blowers vs Two Stage Snow Blowers

When selecting a snow blower, it is important to understand the different types of machines. Snow blowers come in both single stage and two stage varieties, and each variety has its advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the differences between these varieties will help you to decide which blower to purchase in a given situation.

A single stage snow blower relies on just one piece of equipment, the auger, to both pick up and expel snow. This auger can be made from hard plastic or metal, depending on the model of snow blower. Two stage models have an additional piece, called an impeller, which sits behind the auger and discharges the snow; the auger’s only purpose in a two stage snow blower is to pick up snow. This division of labor gives the machine more power, making it suitable for more intensive work.

By far the biggest difference between the two varieties lies in the machines’ power. Single stage snow blowers can easily clear relatively light, dry snow, but do not have the power to push through large amounts of wet, packed snow. As a rule a single stage snow blower can handle up to five inches of accumulated snow, but this varies depending on the type of snow in question. The wetter and heavier the snow, the more power a blower needs to remove it. Two stage snow blowers have the added horsepower to clear deeper, heavier snow, thanks their increased pickup and throwing abilities and their self-propulsion.

Single stage and two stage snow blowers also differ in terms of their respective clearing areas. Single stage machines can clear an area ranging from 12 to 22 inches across, depending on the model. That is fine for a sidewalk or walkway, but will require multiple passes to clear a driveway. Two stage machines are wider and can clear an area up to three feet across, again depending on the model. For homeowners with a lot of space to clear, a two stage blower can be a big time-saver.

In a single stage machine, the auger makes direct contact with the surface being cleared. This can be both an advantage and a hindrance. 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 guide the machine. This direct contact with the surface also results in thorough clearing, blowing away snow right down to the ground. However, this also means that single stage machines should only be used on smooth surfaces, such as pavement.

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, 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.

Another key difference between single stage and two stage snow blowers is the availability of electric models. Single stage machines come in both gas-powered and electric models, the latter of which can be convenient for small walkways and driveways where cord length is not too much of an issue. However, all two stage snow blowers run on gasoline.

Many two stage snow blowers come with features that are not available on smaller models. Some include heated handgrips or electric start mechanisms, others have hydrostatic variable-speed transmissions and drift cutters for deep snow. Some models even come with vinyl cabs to protect the operator from the cold. All of these features vary by model and manufacturer, but as a rule, two stage blowers come with many more features than single stage machines.

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.

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 effort.

Ralph Helm Inc is a proud dealer of various brands of snow blowers. Whether you’re

looking to buy a new snow blower, parts or service your used equipment, we have a huge inventory of Toro, Cub Cadet, and Honda snow blowers. For more information and money saving coupons visit us online at, call or visit us at any of our two convenient locations:

Elgin, IL (815) 788-1616 and Crystal Lake, IL (847) 695-1616

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