Gone are the days when you had to shovel snow from your driveway by hand. We now have electric and gas-powered snow blowers. Since the invention of the motorized snow thrower life has become a lot easier for snow-bound home and business owners. But knowing which type of snow blower is the best fit for your needs can be difficult due to the variety of machines on the market?
In the battle of the single stage vs dual stage snow blower which one is the best fit for your needs? A single stage snow blower is either an electrical or gas-powered machine that is great for standard residential use but has many limitations. A dual stage snow blower is a much more powerful machine that is capable of handling tougher snow clearing jobs. Let’s look at the differences between each stage to see which one is better for you.
Snow Blowers or Snow Throwers?
Traditionally only single stage machines are known as snow blowers while two stage and three stage machines are known as snow throwers. However, it is becoming common to use the two terms interchangeably even within manufacturers’ circles.
The humble snow blower was designed because there was a growing need in the market for a mechanical solution to snow clearing, especially for home owners.
Snow blowers are machines that are used to remove snow from areas such as a driveways, sidewalks, roadways and other areas where traditionally the snow was cleared with a shovel and a lot of manpower.
On most snow blowers the snow is moved using an auger or an impeller.
Before you think about buying either a single-stage or dual stage snow blower you will probably want to know the main differences between the two.
Single Stage Snow Blowers
Most residential snow blowers are single stage machines.
A single stage snow blower can use either electric power via a cord or cordless battery or a gasoline or diesel engine.
However, two stage machines are always gas-powered because they require more power to run.
These small snow blowers were designed specifically to help clear light to medium snowfall on level even ground.
They are best suited to residential use or for use on small business premises.
Although they have many limitations a single-stage snow blower will clear away snow fast and efficiently saving a lot time compared to manual shoveling.
Power & Handling
Single-stage snow blowers require much less power than their big two-stage brothers.
A single-stage snow blower can be either electric or gas-powered.
The electrically-powered models come in 2 types:
The corded electrically-powered single-stage blowers draw their power via a cord that is connected directly to an electrical outlet socket like any other electrical device.
A cordless rechargeable electrically-powered snow blower has an inbuilt battery that needs charged before each use.
Cordless electrical snow blowers are usually not as powerful as corded machines (but not always) and have very limited running time.
On average you can expect to get between 20 minutes to 50 minutes battery life from a cordless snow blower depending on the difficulty of the task you are using it for.
Gas-powered single-stage snow blowers are usually more powerful than either of the electrical type.
If you have to clear larger areas or run your machine for longer periods of time then a gas-powder single-stage snow blower is preferable over an electric one.
Single-stage machines require you to push them manually so it is easier to use an electrically-powered single-stage machine simply because it is lighter.
When the auger scrapes the ground it does provide a small amount of forward momentum to the machine but it is negligible and most of the forward momentum really comes from your own pushing.
As you are pushing the machine on a slippery surface this is not as difficult as it sounds but be are that, unlike a dial stage snow blower, it does require physical effort to move a single-stage machine.
Single-stage snow blowers are compact and can easily handle small areas with light to medium snow fall and can clear snow that is a maximum of 6″ deep.
Single-stage machines work with very simple but effective technology.
Unlike the larger stage snow blowers a single-stage snow blower has just one auger that turns at a high speed to scrape the snow directly from the ground.
The machine then propels the scraped snow, at speed, up a chute where it is blown several feet away.
Almost all snow blowers regardless of the stage will have a multi-directional chute but single-stage machines are usually limited in their chute’s turning radius.
On a single-stage snow blower you usually have to adjust the chute’s direction manually.
Although a really good single-stage snow blower will be able to break up shallow compacted snow it is not great at it and many times the user will have to manually break-up compacted areas before using the snow blower.
Single-stage machines are not suited to areas with very heavy snow fall as they can’t handle snow that is deeper than 6″.
Single-stage snow blowers are extremely budget-friendly as they are entry-level machines designed for small residential use.
If you live an an area that gets enough snowfall to warrant the purchase of a snow blower but you only get light to medium snow fall then a single-stage machine would be perfect for the job.
Not Incline or Heavy Snowfall Friendly
Unfortunately, if your area gets a lot of heavy snow fall or you have to tend with very compacted snow then a single-stage machine will probably not be the most suitable choice.
Likewise, these machines are not a great choice if you have steep areas that need cleared.
A single-stage machine is not self-propelled and requires human manpower to push it. If you have a steep driveway, path or other are to clear that requires going uphill then you will probably struggle using a single-stage machine.
Dual Stage Snow Blowers
Dual stage snow blowers, more commonly referred to as two-stage snow blowers, were deigned in response to a market need for more powerful machines.
On a dual two-stage blower, unlike a single-stage machine, the auger does not touch the ground and does not send the snow directly to the chute.
A single-stage machine sends the snow directly to the chute but a two-stage blower first sends the snow to a central impeller to get pulverized into smaller particles and then it sends the snow through the chute as very fast speed.
Through this method a two-stage snow blower can not only break-up harder more compacted snow but it can also move the snow faster and will usually throw it farther away than a single-stage machine is capable of doing.
There are other differences as well.
On a dual stage snow blower the auger never makes contact with the ground (while a single-stage auger actually scrapes the snow from the ground) making it a safer option if you need to clear snow lying on gravel or dirt.
Power & Handling
A dual stage snow blower is always gas-powered because its functionality requires a powerful engine.
These more powerful machines are bigger and therefore much heavier and than single-stage snow blowers.
For this reason two-stage snow blowers come with a self-propelled mechanism to make pushing them possible – without a self-propelled action it would be almost impossible to move these machines through heavy snow.
However, although two-stage snow blowers are heavier and bigger than their single-stage brothers they are actually easier to handle.
In fact, the latest models have a one-hand power-steering mechanism for effortless handling. This mechanism allows you to push the snow blower with just one hand while your other hand is free to work the controls.
A standard dual stage snow blower can easily handle snow at a depth of up to 32″.
Two-stage blowers also come in a variety of different width sizes but they are usually much wider than single-stage machines.
These machines are also considerably wider than the single-stage models and thus can handle much larger areas and clear them a lot quicker than their little brothers.
Many two-stage snow blowers are capable of throwing snow up to 50 feet away.
They usually have 360 degree easily-altered remotely controled directional chutes so you can easily throw the snow wherever you want.
Two-stage snow blowers are also gas-powered as they require much mower power than an electric engine can currently provide.
Two-stage snow blowers have no problem breaking down heavily compacted snow though they cannot handle wet snow.
Incline & Heavy Snowfall Friendly
Two-stage snow blowers can easily handle steep areas because they are self-propelled.
Almost every machine has at least one reverse gear as well.
Two-stage machines can handle snow that is almost 4 times deeper than a single-stage machine can handle and they can do it much faster.
So not only are two-stage snow blowers faster and able to handle larger snowfall as well as more compacted snow but they can also easily blast through steep inclines and very large areas.
Three-Stage Snow Blowers
There is also an other type of snow blower called a three-stage snow blower which can handle even tougher jobs.
A three-stage snow is the next generation in snow clearing as it works 10 times faster than a two-stage machine and can also handle wet snow .
To learn more about three-stage snow blowers read our article Two Stage vs Three Stage Snow Blowers.