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

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

A three-stage snow blower uses a pair of augers, a vertical accelerator auger, and an impeller to quickly and efficiently tackle compacted snow and ice. They are big, expensive, and powerful, with self-propulsion and large scoops. They are most suitable for large yards, cold climates, and commercial applications.

Anybody who finds themselves in the market for a snow blower quickly discovers that these machines are not one-size-fits-all.

There are three basic types of snow blowers – the most powerful of which is the three-stage snow blower.

We have put together this guide to give you all the information you need when looking at three-stage snow blowers.

What Is A Three-Stage Snow Blower?

A three-stage snowblower clears snow using a three-stage process – hence the name.

The Three Stages of The Snow Blower

In the first stage, the horizontal augers gather snow from the ground and move it into the scoop area. These augers can break up light to medium snow and pass it to the impeller.

The second stage, unique to three-stage snow blowers, comprises a vertical auger that crushes ice and compacted snow. The ice and compacted snow gets fed to this accelerator auger by the first stage augers. It feeds the crushed snow through to the impeller.

The third stage is the impeller, which accelerates the snow through and out of the chute.

If you want to see a three-stage snow blower in action, check out this video:

All the three-stage snow blowers we could find were gas-powered, and most had some kind of self-propulsion mechanism to offset the weight of the machine.

Advantages Of Three-Stage Snow Blowers

There are a few distinct advantages of three-stage snow blowers:

Clearing Width

Three-stage snow blowers have the greatest clearing widths. If you need to clear a large area of snow then the extra width will help speed up the job.

Clearing Depth

Three-stage snow blowers also have the greatest clearing depths. If you need to clear very deep snow then your only good choice might be a three-stage machine.

Compacted Snow & Ice

Three-stage snow blowers are designed to handle compacted snow and ice.

They do a much better job of clearing difficult snow patches than the other snow blower types on the market.

Throwing Distance

Finally, three-stage snow blowers have the greatest throwing distance. When working in large areas, other machines might not have the throwing distance required.

Limitations Of Three-Stage Snow Blowers

There are also some key limitations of three-stage snow blowers:


Three-stage snowblowers are the most expensive of all the types of snow blowers.

The high power, extra chopping power, and extra bells and whistles all come with an increased price tag.


Three-stage snow blowers are gas-powered and therefore require regular engine maintenance.

Be prepared to learn how to maintain a gas engine if you buy a three-stage snow blower.


Three-stage snow blowers are far bigger than other types of snow blowers.

Check the dimensions of any model you consider and ensure you have the space to store it during the summer.

Limited Range

Three-stage snow blowers are primarily aimed at the commercial market.

There are few options for residential models, especially compared to the wide range of two-stage snow blowers to choose from.

Pricing Of Three-Stage Snow Blowers

Three-stage snow blowers are the most expensive type of snow blowers available. At the low end, you can expect to pay at least $1100.

At the high end, you can expect to pay over $2000.

See the table below for a rough price guide for each available engine size, and the clearing widths available.

Power Clearing Widths Price Range

PowerClearing WidthsPrice Range
270 CC24"$1100 - 1200
350 CC26" - 28"$1400 - 1800
420 CC30" - 34"$1900 - 2800
Some of the powerful 420 CC models come with tracks rather than tires, which adds around $300 to the price on comparable models.

When To Buy A Three-Stage Snow Blower

The main reason to buy a three-stage snow blower is if you have to clear a large area of deep, compacted snow.

A two-stage or single-stage model will suffice for most driveways and residential yards, but if you want to clear a larger piece of land with sloped or uneven terrain, then a three-stage model is the way to go.

Furthermore, if you are looking for a snow blower for commercial property or public property like a school or bus yard, then choose a three-stage snow blower.

It can help you to save valuable time and prevent safety concerns from throwing blocks of ice.

However, if you are looking for a snow blower for use at home, there is a wider range of more reasonably priced single-stage and two-stage snow blowers that will be better suited to your needs.


We hope this guide has helped you understand what a three-stage snow blower is and what types of jobs it is best suited for.

These machines are not for everybody, but for some people, they are the only option that will get the job done right.

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

About Ryan Henderson

Ryan has more than ten years of experience of writing on power tools - use, reviews, and more. During his free time, he loves cooking and spending time with his dog.

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