Best Snow Blowers for Quick Clearing

Standouts from our tests of more than 60 models

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Snow blowers are a luxury item for most would-be buyers. They’re expensive, but they’re designed to spare you from backbreaking shoveling sessions. We consider how fast a snow blower can clear snow the most important attribute, but that can send prices from a few hundred dollars to more than $3,000.

And unlike, say, a lawn mower, there’s no guarantee you’ll need one routinely each winter. Even in the coldest corners of the country, you might use a snow blower only a few times each winter.

More on Snow Blowers

The number of snow blower purchases tends to surge after large snow storms or when multiple snowfalls hit an area early in the season. For much of the country, that hasn’t happened yet this year, which means retailers are getting anxious to unload inventory before they start accepting deliveries of lawn mowers and string trimmers later in the winter.

“The mild weather across much of the country means retailers will start cutting prices, or holding over lower prices typically reserved for preseason sales,” says Courtney Pennicooke, CR’s market analyst who oversees snow blowers. “It also means that you should still have a great selection of models.”

How We Test Snow Blowers

In order to rate snow blowers every year in time for you to buy one early, Consumer Reports had to get creative in how we test them.

Because we don’t get enough snow early enough in the season at our facility in Yonkers, N.Y., we use hundreds of pounds of sawdust, soaked in water to mimic deep, heavy snow. This approach allows us to manipulate the mixture, creating deep piles and snowbanks for our rigorous battery of tests for removal speed, throwing distance, and surface cleaning.

And unlike snow, sawdust doesn’t melt or change consistency with the weather, which makes for fair comparisons.

To identify the top performers in the marketplace, we test models from a wide swath of brands, including Ariens, Briggs & Stratton, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Ego, Honda, Husqvarna, Poulan, Snow Joe, Toro, Troy-Bilt, and Worx. We rate one-, two-, and three-stage blowers, and there are more than 60 models in our current ratings. (If you’re not sure which type you should consider, check out CR’s snow blower buying guide.) Members can read on for CR’s ratings and reviews of the best models for quick clearing from our current rankings.

Here, we’ve highlighted some of the quickest-clearing models in our ratings. Each rates either Very Good or Excellent in our removal speed test. They also prove to be capable at throwing snow a sufficient distance, and tackling a plow pile left at the end of your driveway. Only gas-powered models are featured here because none of the corded or battery-powered electric models in our ratings clear fast enough to earn Very Good or Excellent ratings.

Best Two-Stage and Three-Stage Snow Blowers for Quick Clearing

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.