How to Choose the Right Stage Snowblower for your Needs?
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The Stage Does Matter

If I’m being honest I have to admit that, when I first started my research into what type of snowblower was right for me, I had no idea what the difference was between a single-stage snowblower and a two-stage snowblower. It got really confusing when I found out that there is actually also a three-stage snowblower. Fortunately, it’s not really a difficult concept once you’ve done your homework. Once you figure out each type of snowblower’s capability, the question then becomes: Which one is better for you?

You might intuitively think the three-stage snowblower must be the best and that may be true, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you. There is such a thing as overkill; if you live in an environment where you average 1 or 2 inches of snowfall a week you really have no need for a three-stage snowblower. Look at it this way, snow tires might be great in the winter for extra traction, but if you live in a climate where it almost never snows, what an earth would you buy snow tires for? The same analogy applies to snowblowers – if you live in a climate with very little snow, buying a three-stage snowblower is simply a waste of money.


Single-stage snowblowers are generally less expensive than the other models we’ll discuss here. The reason for this is pretty simple – they have less moving parts. A single-stage snowblower handles the snow in one fluid process. Essentially, that means everything happens at once. The engine spins the auger, which then sucks in the snow and throws it out the chute. There’s just the one blade, or auger if you prefer, and this does all of the work. As these machines are less complicated they tend to be less expensive, and they come in both electric and gas powered models.

Single-stage snowblowers are more than adequate in areas where snowfalls tend to be less than 6 inches. If you get into accumulations much larger than this you’re likely to run into some trouble with the machine bogging down under the stress. They’re better with the light and fluffy stuff – not the wet and heavy stuff.

Poulan Pro
Single Stage

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Two-Stage Snowblowers

As you’ve probably figured out by now, a two-stage snowblower separates the snow handling business into two separate operations. Initially there isn’t a lot of difference between how it works and the process we’ve already described for a single-stage snowblower. In this first stage the auger pulls the snow into the machine, but that’s where the process changes. After the auger pulls the snow into the machine an impeller, which is a different type of blade, then throws the snow out the discharge chute. This separation of function helps to prevent the machine from getting bogged down, and also has the added bonus of allowing the machine to throw the snow a little further.

These two-stage snowblowers are much more effective if you live in a climate with average snowfalls in the 6-inch to 1-foot range. They’re also more capable of handling heavy, wet snow than a single-stage snowblower. Of course, they’re also more expensive.

Two Stage

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The Three-Stage Snowblower

This last type of snowblower tends to be the most expensive of all, and you won’t find one in an electric model. These machines are best suited for heavy-duty use in areas where there is a lot of snow and it tends to be wet and heavy. Don’t waste your money, though, if you live in an area that generally doesn’t receive a lot of snow – yes, this machine would do the job, but it’s overkill and a waste of money.

A three-stage snowblower separates the snow-clearing process into three stages. In the first stage there are two augers that pull the snow and ice into the machine and slowly move it towards the center, where there’s another part that actually breaks up the snow and ice before it’s pushed into the impeller. The impeller then expels the snow from the machine just like it does in a two-stage snowblower. This is a much more efficient process, and by the time the snow reaches the chute it tends to be nice and light and easy to deal with.

So Which One Is Right?

The answer to the question of which snowblower is right for you is simple – it depends. No, this isn’t a copout; it really does depend upon the particular climate you live in. As we’ve mentioned above, a three-stage snowblower is undoubtedly a fantastic machine, but if you live in an area with light and fluffy snow you won’t have any need for one of these machines. When you make your decision, consider your own budget and your environment.

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