What Is A Single-Stage Snow Blower? Advantages, Limitations & Price

In Brief: What Is A Single-Stage Snow Blower?

Single-stage snow blowers are the simplest type of snow blower. They use a rubber auger to collect snow down to the ground and eject it through the chute in one motion. They are lightweight, affordable, and easy to use. However, they cannot deal with gravel surfaces, heavy or wet snow, or difficult terrain.

If you are looking to buy a snow blower then you have probably already discovered the wide range of options available to you.

Single-stage snow blowers are one of those options, but how do you know if it is the right machine for your needs?

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about single-stage snow blowers so that you can make that decision for yourself.

What Is A Single-Stage Snow Blower?

A single-stage snow blower uses an engine-driven rubber auger to collect snow and propel it out of the chute.

The name “single-stage” refers to the fact that the snow is collected and thrown with the same mechanism. In a single-stage machine, the auger does all the work.

This contrasts with two- and three-stage snow blowers, which utilize an impeller to accelerate the snow through the chute.

The rubber auger on a single-stage snow blower reaches down to the ground, which is unique amongst the various types available.

They are also available in both gas and electric versions, which the larger types of snow blowers do not.

If you want to see what a single-stage snow blower looks like in action, check out this video from Toro:

Advantages Of Single-Stage Snow Blowers

There are several key advantages single-stage snow blowers hold over their two- and three-stage cousins:

Lightweight & Compact

Single-stage snow blowers are much lighter and more compact than other types. As a result, they are easier to store and push around.

Clears To The Ground

Two-stage and three-stage snow blowers do not clear snow down to the ground.

Single-stage snow blowers, with their rubber augers designed to clear down to the paved surface, do not present such a problem.

Easy To Use

Single-stage snow blowers have simpler controls and fewer moving parts. Not only are they easier to operate, but they are also much easier to maintain.

Electric Versions Available

Unlike two- and three-stage models, single-stage snow blowers are available in both gas and electric versions.

If you do not want the hassle of maintaining a gas engine, an electric snow blower may be the right choice for you.

Limitations Of Single-Stage Snow Blowers

There are also some important limitations of single-stage snow blowers:

Cannot Operate On Gravel & Dirt

Because the rubber auger comes into contact with the ground, you cannot operate a single-stage snow blower on gravel or dirt surfaces.

Doing so could damage the machine, not to mention that throwing gravel through the chute poses a safety risk to yourself and others.

Limited Throwing Distance

The lack of an impeller on single-stage snow blowers means that the distance they can throw the snow is drastically reduced.

If you have a big area to clear then you could run into problems.

Limited Clearing Depth

A similar problem exists with clearing depth.

If you get snowfall that reaches over 8 inches deep then a single-stage snow blower may not be able to handle the jobs you need it to.

Not Engine-Propelled

One of the reasons single-stage snow blowers can be so compact is their limited engine size.

As a result, few if any single-stage models have engine-driven wheels, so you will have to manually push it through the snow.

Many have auger-assisted propulsion to help.

Pricing Of Single-Stage Snow Blowers

The pricing of single-stage snow blowers generally increases with engine size and clearing width.

Once you are above 200 CC, features like electric starters, headlights, and remote-controlled chutes start to increase the price further.

Refer to the table below for a rough price guide for common engine sizes and clearing widths.

Engine Size Clearing Widths Price Range

Engine SizeClearing WidthsPrice Range
90 CC18" - 20"$225 - $300
120 CC18" - 22"$350 - $425
200 CC21" - 24"$350 - $780
250 CC21" - 24"$680 - $880

When To Buy A Single-Stage Snow Blower

Most people who need to buy a snow blower will be best served by a single-stage model.

They are far more affordable than other types and can handle the type of snowfall that most people will experience.

If you have a narrow two-car driveway or smaller, and only need to clear snow from level paved surfaces, then a single-stage snow blower will be all that you need.

If you have a gravel or crushed stone driveway, have a large area to clear, or need to tackle deep, compacted, or wet snow, then you may need to consider a two- or three-stage model instead.


We hope this guide has helped you to decide if a single-stage snowblower is a right fit for you.

Now that you have all the information you need about these machines, you can make a buying decision with total peace of mind.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide or single-stage snow blowers in general, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

About Linda Johnson

Linda has been working with power tools since she was 13 years old. As DIYer she works on wood and metal to develop artworks that she puts on sale. She loves traveling.

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