In Brief: Snow Blower vs Snow Thrower
Snowblowers are bigger, more complex versions of snowthrowers. Both can use gas engines, but only snowthrowers can use electric motors. Snowthrowers have limited intake capacity and can only deal with light, dry snow. Snowblowers eject the snow further due to higher power, but require more maintenance and cost more to buy.
However, these are two different types of machines that people often get confused with each other.
This guide will help you to understand the key differences so that you know which one you need.
Differences Between Snow Blower and Snowthrowers
|Feature||Snow Thrower||Snow Blower|
|Price||$100 to $500.||$500 +.|
|Design||Single-stage.||Two- or three-stage.|
|Snow Depth||Up to 16" maximum.||20" or more.|
|Clearing Width||Up to 20" maximum.||24" or more.|
|Type of Snow||Light, dry snow.||Heavy, wet snow and ice.|
|Terrain||Flat pavement only.||All terrains and slopes.|
|Chute Distance||Up to 35'.||50' to 60'.|
|Power Type||Electric or gas.||Gas.|
|Storage||Minimal storage requirements||More space is required.|
|Maintenance||Minimal maintenance.||Significant maintenance.|
How It Works
While snowblowers and snowthrowers may appear similar, they function in different ways.
Snowthrowers are simple machines. An auger, mounted on the front, collects the snow and directs it straight up, through, and out of the chute in one motion. In other words, the auger “throws” the snow.
Snowblowers also have a front-mounted auger, but it does not direct the snow straight out of the chute.
Instead, snowblowers utilize either a two-stage or three-stage design.
In a two-stage snow blower, the auger directs the snow up into an impellor. The impellor functions like a powerful fan, blowing the snow out through the chute.
A three-stage snowblower does the same thing, except that it includes a second auger within the machine housing.
The second auger breaks up chunks of ice and condensed snow before it is ejected through the chute.
The impellor fan “blows” the snow through the chute.
Intake Size & Snow Depth
Snowthrowers and snowblowers have different ideal use cases.
Snowthrowers tend to be smaller with a limited intake size.
Not only is the width of the intake less than on a snowblower, but it also has a shorter intake height which limits the depth of snow that it can handle.
Snowblowers, on the other hand, often have large intakes that can handle deeper snow in fewer passes.
Snowthrowers can typically handle snow depths of up to 12”, though some can handle depths of up to 18” at a push. In comparison, a snowblower can often deal with snow depths over 20”.
The snow ejects through the chute to a distance dictated by the power of the machine. As snowblowers use an impellor, the distance the snow can be ejected is further.
On a snow thrower, the maximum chute distance is typically 30’ to 35’, depending mostly on the power of the auger.
On a snowblower, the maximum chute distance ranges from 50’ to 60’, with three-stage snowblowers boasting the largest distances.
Type of Snow
Snowthrowers are great at tackling light, dusty snow. Compared to heavier, denser snow, light snow can be thrown more easily and does not require the large engine or impellor of the snowblowers.
However, trying to tackle heavy snow with a snow thrower is difficult at best and impossible at worst.
If you need to clear dense snow and ice from a driveway, only a three-stage snowblower will adequately deal with it.
The secondary auger breaks up chunks of ice and dense snow, which is vital because you do not want to eject heavy chunks of ice at speed.
One design difference that has not yet been mentioned is the auger depth.
On a snow thrower, the auger sits almost flush with the pavement, which allows it to clear down to the ground.
While a snow thrower might be perfect for the sidewalk, you cannot use it on a gravel driveway as it would pick up stones and pebbles, propelling them through the chute and endangering any passers-by or nearby buildings.
On snowblowers, the auger is elevated off the ground, which makes it unable to completely clear to the pavement but does allow it to function on gravel and dirt.
Snowthrowers use less powerful engines than snowblowers and therefore have a lower snow clearing capacity.
For a small driveway, a snow thrower will usually be powerful enough. However, for a larger area, you might find it lacking.
Gas models have more power than electric models, and snowblowers typically only come in gas versions.
Corded vs Cordless vs Gas
Snowthrowers come in corded electric, cordless electric, and gas models. Snowblowers only come in gas versions.
Corded electric snowthrowers have their advantages. You do not have to consider refueling or changing the battery as the machine plugs straight into a household outlet.
You do have to think about the cord, which can limit mobility and poses a safety risk if you lose awareness of where it is.
Cordless and gas machines require you to think about batteries or fuel, but they do offer increased mobility.
Gas models are more powerful, whether you go for a snow thrower or a snowblower.
Push vs Self-Propelled
Nearly all snowthrowers are designed to be pushed by the user. Many snowblowers use the engine to power a self-propelling mechanism.
A self-propelling feature does more than just reduce fatigue in the user, it also helps to tackle terrain with an incline.
Going uphill through heavy snow with a big snowblower would be difficult on muscle power alone, especially for people with physical limitations.
On difficult terrain, the advantages are multiplied, making a snowblower the tool of choice for a slope on a gravel or dirt surface.
Size & Weight
Snowthrowers are typically lightweight due to their smaller intake size, engine, and the lack of an impellor or secondary auger.
They are, therefore, easier to carry around and require less storage space during the summer months.
Snowblowers, especially the three-stage models, take up significantly more space.
The largest models rival a lawn tractor in size and will require a large shed or garage to accommodate.
For snowblowers without a self-propelling mechanism, the added weight of extra machinery can limit its use to people who are physically fit, precluding use by the elderly or those with physical disabilities.
Snowthrowers are much cheaper than snowblowers across the board.
You can pick up a corded electric model for around $110 at the budget end, with cordless and gas models commanding a higher price up to around $500.
Snowblowers, on the other hand, can cost anything from $500 up into the thousands. The three-stage models are the most expensive, with some models costing up to around $3000.
The relative cost of a snow thrower versus a snowblower outweighs the advantages of the latter for many people.
One other advantage that snowthrowers have over snowblowers is the relative ease of maintenance.
Electric snowthrowers require very little maintenance. As long as they are kept in a dry, safe place when not in use they will continue to work.
On the other hand, gas snowthrowers and snowblowers require fuel. Models with 2-cycle motors also require oil, though models with 4-cycle engines do not.
The extra stages present within snowblowers also add more points of failure, and the size and build quality of the bigger machines tend to make repairs more costly.
There are many ease-of-use and additional features available on snowblowers that do not often show up on snowthrowers due to their relative price points.
Features like LED work lights, hand-warming handles, remote- or joystick-controlled chutes, and power steering all make the job of clearing snow a bit more comfortable.
On a budget snow thrower, you will be very lucky to get any of these features.
However, on a high-end snowblower, these features tend to come as standard. Snowblowers are often used for longer periods, so that is when these features come into their own.
What Is A Snow Thrower?
A snow thrower sometimes referred to as a single-stage snowblower, is a snow clearing machine that uses an auger to direct snow straight up through a chute.
They are not as powerful as their snowblower cousins but tend to come with a more reasonable price tag.
Snowthrowers require little maintenance and are simple to use.
They are most suitable for people who need to periodically clear light snow in a relatively small area.
What Is A Snow Blower?
Snowblowers come in two-stage and three-stage variations. Both use an impellor to blow snow through the chute, with three-stage models using a secondary auger to help break down large chunks of ice.
They are more powerful and expensive than snowthrowers. They also require more maintenance and storage space.
Snowblowers are more suitable for clearing heavy snow from large areas, especially on difficult terrain.
We hope this guide has helped you to understand the key differences between snowthrowers and snowblowers.
Now that you know the difference, you can decide which of these two snow clearing machines will best suit your needs.
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or snow clearing machines in general, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.