What Size Snow Blower Do I Need?

by Raymond Archambault
man using snow blower

When frost creeps in, the grueling task of shoveling heavy snow off paved surfaces and driveways returns to your to-do list. Although using a shovel is a tested and tried technique, it takes up immense energy and time that you can channel elsewhere.

If snow removal is a tedious task for you, it might be time to bring in the big guns – an electric shovel or a snow blower. In this guide, we’ll explore the answer to the commonly asked question, ‘what size snow blower do I need?’

Types of Snow Blowers

It’s an outdoor appliance that comes in handy when the harsh winters roll around. A snow blower is designed to suck up packed snow at high speed and channel it elsewhere. It’s often mistaken for an electric snow shovel and a snow thrower.

Although there are variations between these appliances, they serve the same purpose. Nevertheless, each aids in making it easier for you to clear snow on your lawn and driveway.

They do this by allowing you to shovel your driveway with ease. However, it boils down to choosing the right unit and maintaining it properly.

A Guide to Snow Blower Sizes

These blowers vary in size based on their capacity for snow clearing. To permit an informed decision, we’ll delve into the various blower sizes depending on the depth of snow cover you experience in your area.

6 Inches of Snow

An electric snow shovel is a wise investment when the snow drifts in your area is up to 6 inches in depth or if you have small areas to clear. It’s closely similar to a snow blower but with a few differences. Just as the name implies, this handy tool is powered by electricity as opposed to gas. It also has a comfortable built-in rod and is easy to maneuver in smaller spaces.

You can plug an electric snow shovel into a power outlet or opt for a cordless (battery-powered) counterpart. Armed with this powerful device, you can effortlessly push through wet snow, suck it up, and push it yards away. An electric snow shovel is best suited for clearing light snow and flat terrain – great for anyone with a small driveway.

12 Inches of Snow

A snow thrower is your holy grail for areas with snowfall of up to 12 inches in depth. Also referred to as a single-stage snow blower, this handy device is powered by electricity or gas. It functions by sucking snow and throwing it off the surface of your path in one motion.

A single-stage model is right up your alley for clearing paved surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways. Its lightweight nature makes it easy to maneuver despite the big push handgrips and drive wheels.

18 Inches of Snow

For any amount of snow up to 18 inches deep, a two-stage snow blower is just what the doctor ordered. It has the uncanny ability to tackle heavy-duty tasks and thick snow on uneven ground or inclines, courtesy of its high clearance and bigger wheels.

A two-stage snow blower sucks up snow and utilizes the auger to disintegrate compacted material and discharge it through the discharge chute. Although this unit gets the job done effectively, it’s costlier, high maintenance, and bulkier.

19 Inches of Snow

For areas with snowfall that exceeds 18 inches, a three-stage snow blower is right up your alley. It will save time by swiftly working through heavy and wet snow. Its powerful chute control is a beast at sucking up snow and throwing it far away.

The blower’s powerful engine efficiently gets the job done on sloped driveways, rough terrain, and unpaved surfaces. As seen with the two-stage counterparts, a three-stage snow blower sucks up snow and utilizes two augers to disintegrate heavy chunks. The third stage is a lifesaver in propelling the snow out quicker through the chute.

Other Factors to Consider

To answer the frequently asked question, what size snow blower do I need?’ consider the factors below.

Power Source

A battery-powered or cordless snow blower features a lightweight and compact design. While there’s a growing market for this unit, it’s not as traditional as its gas and electric models. A battery-powered blower has the uncanny ability to clear low quantities of snow cover as a single-stage unit.

An electric snow blower is larger than its cordless counterpart. While it packs in a more potent punch due to a more consistent and superior power source, it also comes as a single-stage snow thrower because of the limited snowfall elimination capacity.

A gas snow blower is the most powerful and can cover larger areas if needed. Given that it houses a fuel tank, it’s unarguably larger than its cordless or electric start counterparts.

snow blower in action

Source: Pexels

Area to Cover

The area of snowfall to cover determines the size of the snow blower you need. If you want to get rid of snow from a few walkways or a single-car driveway, then a small-sized unit is all you need.

If you want to eliminate snow from a larger multi-car deck or driveway, you’ll need a medium-sized blower. Homeowners usually don’t require large snow blowers. Therefore, the only time it would come in handy is when clearing snow from a wide area of hundreds of feet.

Inlet Size

It might be the most crucial factor to consider when finding the ideal-sized unit for your snow-blowing needs. Instead of choosing the perfect overall size, it’s advisable to opt for the ideal inlet size.

The inlet height determines the depth of snow that the machine can suck in at a go. It’s worth keeping in mind that the height intake is close to the inlet height by 75% to 80%. Therefore, if you want your snow blower to clear snowfall up to 8 inches deep, a unit with an inlet height of 12 inches is right up your alley.

It’s worth considering that the inlet width determines the passes required to cover an area. It’s the inlet height that’s of utmost importance. If you want to clear a 10-foot wide driveway using a snow blower with a clearing width of up to 24 inches, it’ll take 5 passes to get the job done. If the width were 12 inches, you’d need 10 passes to clear the snowfall.

The time and efficiency required for snowfall elimination boil down to the inlet size.

Engine Size

A single-stage blower has a 200cc engine, whereas the two-stage counterparts have 300cc engines. A three-stage unit has a horsepower of 400cc or more. In a nutshell, more powerful engines imply large snow blowers. Additionally, powerful engines guzzle more fuel as they have bigger tanks.


Here are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions on snow blowers.

1. Which is the better option between a three-stage blower and the two-stage counterpart?

It’s a no-brainer that a three-stage model is superior to a two-stage snow blower. Although it gets the job done more efficiently, it’s pricier. Therefore, if you want a unit for residential use, then the two-stage model is ideal.

2. How do you select the ideal snow blower width?

Although a one-stage blower model varies from one brand to another, most have a width that ranges from 18 inches to 22 inches and can handle snow of up to 12 inches in depth. Nevertheless, the most restricting factor is the height rather than the width.


Although there’s no harm in factoring in the size of a snow blower before hastily buying the first one that catches your eye, the overall performance and features are equally as important.

Granted, it can be a great starting point when ruling out unfit models out of the wealth of options available. However, the final decision shouldn’t solely be based on size. Regardless of your decision, a new snow blower will lead to less time spent clearing your driveway.


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