How Does A Snowblower Work? (A Quick Guide)

In Brief: How Does A Snowblower Work?

Single-stage snowblowers use a rubber auger to feed snow directly through the chute. Two-stage snowblowers use a steel auger to feed snow into an impellor, which blows the snow out of the chute. Three-stage snowblowers add an extra auger to direct the snow into an induction accelerator, which chops up heavy snow and ice.

Have you ever wondered how a snowblower works?

Arthur Sicard introduced the first practical snowblower in 1925, but technology has moved a long way since then and today’s snowblowers use advanced, modern technology to help you clear your driveway.

This guide will help you understand how your snowblower works, and how the various types of snowblower differ in design.

How Does A Snowblower Work?

Snowblowers follow three basic designs:

  • Single-stage snowblowers, sometimes called snowthrowers, use an auger that scoops and “throws” the snow directly up through the chute.
  • Two-stage snowblowers utilize an impellor to “blow” the snow through the chute, which lessens the stress on the auger and increases its efficiency when picking up snow.
  • Three-stage snowblowers are the same as two-stage snowblowers, except that they use a secondary auger to help break up ice and dense snow before feeding it to the impeller.

Almost all modern snowblowers of all types use an electric start, but some older designs use a cord start similar to that you would find on a gas lawnmower.

Single-Stage Snowblowers

The simplest snowblower design is single-stage.

The auger, common to all snowblowers, collects the snow and feeds it into the machine. In a single-stage machine, the snow moves straight up through the chute from the auger.

The auger itself sits close to the ground. It is often made of rubber so that it can scrape small amounts of snow straight off the pavement without damaging the surface.

For that reason, you cannot use a single-stage snowblower on gravel. The stones would be collected and thrown through the chute, causing damage to anything they hit.

The auger also must be made of rubber to protect the pavement. Compared to serrated steel augers, rubber augers are less effective at breaking up snow so are primarily designed to move light, fluffy snow.

A single-stage snowblower can be electric or gas-powered.

All snowblowers eject snow through a chute. On single-stage snowblowers, the chute is fed directly by the auger so the distance the snow can be thrown is limited.

The chute tends to be manually adjustable on budget models.

Two-Stage Snowblowers

Two-stage snowblowers also use an auger to collect the snow, but it then feeds through to an impellor that propels the snow out through the chute.

As a result, the chute ejects the snow a lot further.

The auger typically sits in an elevated position above the ground. Because it does not contact the ground, it can be made of serrated steel which allows it to break through thick snow.

It takes the snow in more efficiently because the auger does not also have to eject it through the chute.

However, it does not collect snow flush to the ground. On the other hand, it does allow the snowblower to function effectively on gravel and dirt surfaces.

Check out this video from Ariens where they show the difference between single-stage and two-stage snowblowers:

Most two-stage snowblowers are gas-powered because the engine requirements are greater.

The chute on a two-stage snowblower can propel the snow much further, often up to 50 feet.

They often include remote or joystick controls as well as manual controls for directing the chute.

Some two-stage snowblowers have a self-propelling feature that uses the engine power to help drive the machine forwards.

Three-Stage Snowblowers

Three-stage snowblowers are bigger machines that can handle larger amounts of denser snow.

Unlike the other designs, three-stage snowblowers use two augers to help break down ice and dense snow. The two augers sit on either side of an induction accelerator.

The induction accelerator breaks up the ice and snow before it is fed to the impellor which, like in the two-stage designs, ejects the snow out of the chute.

The induction accelerator chops up dense snow and ice at ten times the rate of the augers.

Check out this video from Troy-Bilt, detailing how their three-stage system works compared to a two-stage system:

Three-stage snowblowers tend to have larger engines, which allows the impellor to propel the snow up to 60 feet on some models.

The machine uses some of that extra engine power to propel itself forward, using a self-propelling system.

The extra weight of three-stage snowblowers necessitates the assistance, and you will often find power steering systems too.


We hope that this snowblower guide has helped you to understand how the different types of snowblowers work.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide or snowblowers in general, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

About Karen Taylor

Karen is an expert woodworker. He has been working as a professional in the domain for more than 12 years now. She has experience of working on a variety of power and other tools while working on her projects.

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