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Snow Blower vs Snow Thrower: What’s the Difference?

snow-blower-vs-snow-thrower

snow-blower-vs-snow-thrower

Given that we are in the midst of one of the snowiest winters in recent years, you may be needing a tool to help you move snow. Two popular options are snow blowers and snow throwers. Since these two tools serve the same function, many people use the terms synonymously, even though they are totally different tools.

To put it simply, snow blowers are more powerful than snow throwers, making them more suitable for compact snow and icy conditions. Still, snow throwers are highly useful in lighter or fluffier snow. The difference between these two models largely depends on the stage description and fuel source.

To find out more about the difference between a snow blower and snow thrower, read on.

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Overview of Snow Blower

A snow blower works in two stages. It uses a rotating auger to scoop the snow up. From there, the snow goes through an impeller, similar to a large fan. That impeller launches the snow about 35 feet away or more from the original site. Some snow blowers are so powerful that they are three-staged, meaning that it includes in accelerator to handle hard snow and ice.

A snow blower is going to be the best option for you if you have more difficult snow or need to move it further away. Given that snow blowers are two-staged, they are more powerful than single-stage options. Obviously, this comes with the drawback that they will be more expensive, larger, and require more maintenance.

PowerSmart Snow Blower PSSAM24

Power

In terms of power, snow blowers are tough to beat. Even smaller models are likely able to launch snow 30 feet away, but more powerful models can move snow up to 50 feet away. Not to mention, snow blowers can often handle hard-packed snow and ice. This makes blowers highly powerful, especially for those with intense snow blowing needs.

Pass Width

Because of the enhanced power of the snow blower, they often have a wider width. The specific width will depend on the model you use, but most two-staged snow blowers move around 26 inches of snow. Three-staged snow blowers are even more impressive in that they can remove a swath around 30 inches.

Fuel Source

You may be wondering why snow blowers are so powerful. That is because they are normally powered by fuel, along with the two-stage design. Using gasoline or diesel as a fuel source is advantageous in that it makes the device more powerful, portable, and easier to clear. This source does come with a drawback in that you will have to buy more fuel.

Price

Though price will depend on the exact model you select, snow blowers tend to be on the more expensive side. You will likely be able to find an affordable model for as little as $600. For more powerful and industrial options, you can expect to pay as much as $2,000. If you go for a three-stage option, most will be over $2,500.

Though this price is high, almost all snow blowers include luxury features such as electric start buttons, self-propelled, and headlights. Some models even come with other features such as heated grips.

Best For:

Given the sheer power of snow blowers, they are ideal for people who frequently move a lot of snow. This is especially true if the snow is hard-packed and contains ice. If you only get the occasional dusting, a snow blower will largely be overkill for your needs.

Pros
  • Highly powerful
  • Can handle hard-packed snow and ice
  • Large passing width
  • Increased maneuverability without a cord
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Must pay for gas
  • Overkill for light snow

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Overview of Snow Thrower

A snow thrower is a single-stage machine, which means that it gathers and tosses the snow through one shoot in one motion. Normally, a snow thrower will be powered by a horizontal spinning auger, allowing the device to pick up the snow and expel it out of the chute. Most models will shoot the snow 15 to 20 feet away.

People with light snow will find a snow thrower more advantageous. They tend to be more affordable and lightweight, making them ideal for light dusting or snow accumulation. With that in mind, snow throwers are not the best for hard-packed snow and ice.

Snow Joe SJ625E Electric Single Stage Snow Thrower

Power

Since snow throwers work in one motion, they are not as powerful as snow blowers. More powerful snow throwers will only throw snow a distance of around 25 feet away, which is around 10 feet shorter than the average snow blower.

Pass Width

In addition to a lighter power, snow throwers tend to have a narrower single path swath. Most single-stage throwers will have swath widths that range between 11 and 22 inches. The exact width will depend on the model you select.

Fuel Source

One of the bigger benefits of snow throwers is their fuel source. Unlike blowers that need gas for fuel, most throwers are corded, or battery-operated. This makes them more lightweight and maneuverable. Of course, corded options will limit maneuverability since you need to be close to an outlet. Still, the lightweight of corded models offsets the limited range of motion for some people.

Another benefit of a corded or battery-operated thrower is that they are easier to maintain. You will not need to add oil or change any filters. For the most part, you will need to clean off the thrower and change the batteries when needed.

Price

Another benefit of snow throwers is the price. Even though there are fewer models to choose from, almost all of them are more affordable than snow blowers. This makes them a great choice if you are on a tight budget.

Most corded electric snow throwers will cost between $100 and $300. Most of these models will have a simple On/Off switch, while more expensive options may have a headlight or a padded comfort grip.

As for battery-operated snow throwers, they are a bit more expensive than corded options. The prices will range between $250 and $1000. Like the other options, more expensive battery-operated blowers have additional features like headlights and a dead man’s release.

Best For:

Even though snow throwers are less powerful than snow blowers, they definitely have their place on the market. These options are best for people who get light or infrequent snow. The power will be suitable for light accumulation and dusting. Additionally, snow throwers are better for people on a budget since they are less expensive.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to maintain
  • Maneuverable
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for light and infrequent snow
Cons
  • Not powerful enough for hard-packed snow or ice
  • Narrower single pass width

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How to Choose Between a Snow Blower and Snow Thrower

Scenario Which to Choose
Heavy, compacted, or icy snow Snow blower
Light or fluffy snow Snow thrower
Frequent snow Snow blower
Infrequent snow Snow thrower
You need to cover a large area Snow blower
You do NOT need to cover a large area Snow thrower
You do not have access to an outlet Snow blower OR battery-operated snow thrower
Budget Snow thrower

Even knowing all of the differences between these two snow-moving devices may not help you when it comes to deciding between a model. Luckily, you only need to consider three factors when it comes to choosing between a snowblower and a snow thrower:

man using snow blower
Image Credit: Pixabay

1. Snow Type

Since snow blowers and throwers have different power outputs, the first factor to consider is the snow type that you will likely be moving. Will your driveway be covered with light snow accumulation? Or will it be covered in densely packed snow with a little bit of ice?

If you only expect to move lighter snow, then a snow thrower is the best option for you. Especially if the snow is under 9 inches thick, a snow thrower will have more than enough power to move the snow without killing your budget.

In contrast, select a snow blower if you live in an area where it snows frequently, and the snow often freezes. The snow blower will have enough power to move compacted and icy snow in a way that snow throwers simply cannot compete.

2. Frequency of Use

In addition to the type of snow you intend to move, also consider how often you intend to use the device. Some areas only get snow a few times a year. If you live in an area with infrequent snow days, get a snow thrower. It is completely pointless to invest in a snow blower if it doesn’t snow that much in the first place.

Some towns experience snow and ice all winter long. If that’s the case for where you live, invest in a snow blower. Snow blowers tend to be more durable and long lasting, meaning that they are more suited for intense and frequent needs.

3. Area You Need to Cover

The last factor to consider is how much area you need to cover at one time. As we already discussed, snow blowers and snow throwers have different passing widths. If you do not need to cover much area, then a snow thrower will work just fine.

However, select a snow blower if you need to move snow over a large area. Though the swath width may not seem like much, getting a model that can move more snow at one time will save you a whole lot of time. Invest in a snow blower if you need to cover more area.

Fuel Source: Fuel Vs. Battery-Operated Vs. Corded

As we mentioned above, there are three potential fuel sources for your snow mover: fuel, battery, or corded. Most snow blowers will be fuel powered, though you can find battery-operated or corded models too. Conversely, most snow throwers are battery-operated or corded. Does the fuel source matter? Yes.

Fuel

Fuel is the best energy source if you need a powerful model. It ensures that the device, most likely to be a snow blower, has enough power to move heavy packed snow and ice. Fuel is also advantageous because you are not limited by a cord.

Using fuel does come with some disadvantages. Most obviously, you will need to buy gas and refill the tank. Additionally, gas powered models require more maintenance, such as oil. They also tend to be heavier, making them less suitable for those with little muscle.

Battery-Operated

If you need a super lightweight and maneuverable option, then you should get a battery-operated mover, most likely to be a snow thrower. Battery-operated models are some of the easiest to handle and store.

However, battery-operated snow throwers tend to be the least powerful models. The power provided by the batteries will not be powerful enough for compact snow or ice. Only select this option if you don’t experience frequent or heavy snows.

Corded

A corded option will be a good middle ground in terms of power. Though corded snow throwers are not normally as powerful as fuel snow blowers, they tend to be more powerful than battery-operated models.

The cord does inhibit your movement, though. You can only move so far as the cord allows. It is also easier to trip over the cord if you are not careful.

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Conclusion

Snowblowers and snow throwers are not the same thing. Snowblowers are normally two-staged, making them more powerful and suitable for icy conditions. Snow throwers, on the other hand, are single-staged, making them better for light snow.

Overall, a snow blower will be able to move most snow, but you shouldn’t invest in one if it’s not worth the money. At the same time, you should not buy a snow thrower if you have serious snow needs since it will likely not be powerful enough to get the job done.

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