Best and Worst Snow Blowers of 2021

The top-performing machines from Consumer Reports' tests make quick work of clearing snow

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snow blower testing
CR's test engineers use wet sawdust to simulate snow for testing.
CR

A good snow blower will clear your driveway in about a quarter of the time it would take you to shovel it. The very best models can slice through 18 inches of snow and hurl it 40 feet or more, clearing a path as fast as you can push the machine along.

Although all snow blowers scoop up snow and shoot it out a chute, Consumer Reports has found significant differences in how they perform.

You can see our snow blower buying guide for more about the different types of blowers, also called snow throwers. CR members can also jump right to our snow blower ratings to compare models. Below, we’ve highlighted the very best models from our extensive tests, plus a few snowblowers to avoid.

How We Test Snow Blowers

It's fascinating that no two snowflakes are alike, but that presents a problem for Consumer Reports' testing protocol. "We need to run our tests with something we can standardize, for consistency," explains Dave Trezza, who oversees snow blower testing at Consumer Reports. “That's the reason we use a mixture of a certain type of sawdust, saturated with water, instead of snow."

The mixture we use can simulate a standard snowfall or be molded into a mound that simulates a plow pile, like the ones the town plows leave at the foot of your driveway.

More on Snow Blowers

In each test we time how fast a model cuts through the dense mixture and note how far the sawdust is thrown and how clean the surface is.

The Overall Score for each model combines results from these performance tests as well as results of our survey of thousands of CR members, which informs our brand reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.

We test single-, two-, and three-stage snow blowers from brands, including Ariens, Troy-Bilt, Honda, Cub Cadet, Craftsman, Husqvarna, and Toro. We also look at lighter-duty, single-stage and two-stage electric blowers from brands like Sun Joe and Ego, as well as power snow shovels from brands like GreenWorks and Toro. Two-stage and three-stage snow blowers are the most powerful and can clear 16 to 18 inches of snow in one pass. They range in width from 24 to 30 inches, and models at the narrow end of that spectrum are considered "compact." Single-stage models are typically 21 inches wide and can clear snow up to 9 inches deep in a single pass.

Smaller and lighter, power snow shovels are designed to go places where a snow blower would be overkill (think: along a very short walkway or on an elevated deck). They're corded or battery-powered and can generally clear up to 6 inches of snow. We test them just like snow blowers, but we use far less of the sawdust mixture—because for anything deeper, you'll want a traditional snow blower.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of the top-performing gas- and battery-powered models from our latest tests.

Best Three-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

Best Two-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

Best Compact Two-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

Best Single-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

Best Battery-Powered Snow Blower

Best Power Snow Shovel

The Worst Snow Blowers

Again, for the most part, performance varies. The exceptions are three-stage models—all of which we recommend—and on the flip side, corded electrics—none of which we think are worth buying because they're so underpowered.

For the remaining two types, battery-powered single stage and single-stage gas, here are the worst in class.

The Power Smart PSS1210M sits nearly 50 points behind the best single-stage gas snow blower in our ratings. This model is slow to clear, fumbles, and can get bogged down when used to tackle a mound of snow. It earns a rating of Poor in our plow pile test. Save your money.

Then there's the Ryobi RY40850. It lacks the power to clear quickly or tackle a plow pile. All told, its performance in our test nets it an Overall Score of 30.

Snow Blowers 101

Not sure what the difference is between a single-stage and three-stage snow blower? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, CR expert Dave Trezza explains to show host Jack Rico everything consumers need to know about these snow-tossing machines.


Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.