When it comes to clearing out snow from long driveways, the selection of weapons available to us has to be narrowed down to suit the scale of the task. It just isn’t feasible or realistic to dig through all that distance with a snow shovel, and one stage snowblowers, both electric and gas, simply don’t possess the firepower to do an effective job, unable to run as swiftly or as efficiently as you’d need a machine to run when you’ve got so much ground to cover, and so much snow to take care of. In fact, for longer driveways, electric snowblowers – unless they’re battery operated – are out of the question, since to our knowledge, no one has invented an extension cord long enough to let us plug the machine in and reach the farthest end of our property.
And besides, wet snow and electricity are a risky, potentially lethal combination in the first place, and not something we wish to dabble in when we’re going to be wading around in a lot of slush. Pick the right gas-powered, two-stage option, though, and the process becomes much simpler. Two stage models are armed with an impeller behind the high-functioning augur to suck snow up and throw it out faster, and propelled by a gas engine, unhindered by cables or power cords, have more power than electric and battery options. Self-propelled, these also take the muscle-work out of driveway clearing – the most you’ll have to do is set the direction of the chute to expel churned out snow, and steer the machine in the direction needed. So which heavy-duty snowblower is the right pick for your long driveway? Here are a couple of our suggestions.
Husqvarna ST224P Two Stage Snowthrower
How rugged a machine you’ll need often depends on the amount of snowfall you’re expecting – you could be getting anything from 6 inches to over 12 inches, and having a machine that can tackle the higher extreme rather than the optimistic lower is usually the safer bet. Expected snowfall aside, though, the problem of clearing out long driveways is oftentimes the effort required – but with a gas-powered unit such as this one, that’s one less thing to worry about during the winter. Armed with the rugged strength of a Husqvarna 208cc OHV gas engine, the heavy-duty machine can clear swaths of 24 inches in a single pass, working effectively with depths of snow up to 30 centimeters (almost 12 inches) with complete ease.
Friction-disc transmission allows for six adjustable forward speed options and one reverse speed, the engine-propelled wheels (15-inch rubber tires with heavy treads for the needed friction when maneuvering through snow) and height adjustable handles making this monster of a snowblower intuitively simple to use. Adjustable skid shoes and a high-speed impeller make the process of biting through thick layers of snow a breeze. Power steering and a 180° rotating remote chute also give you more control and precision during the whole process, handy features like LED headlamps letting you work after daylight hours and heated handlebars a blessing in the cold enhancing the unit’s impressive user-friendliness. An electric start system eliminates the need to yank at pull-cords to get the unit fired up.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Briggs & Stratton 1696610 Dual-Stage Snow Thrower
Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 208cc gas engine with friction-disc drive transmission, this unit is ideal for tackling light to medium snowfalls, with 6 forward and 2 reverse speeds letting you plow through the ice and slush building up on your drives. An electric start-up means you don’t have to expend any effort to get the engine started, and then you’re off – with a clearing width of 24 inches and height of 20 inches, this unit is great for handling long, wide paths, reversible and adjustable skid shoes letting you adjust to the height of snow you’re plowing through so you don’t end up scraping off gravel or earth. A manual chute deflector operated by a simple to use handcrank lets you control the direction you expel churned out snow. Though lacking in a couple of handy additional features, like headlights or power-steering, this is nonetheless a very functional and rugged unit, doing what it’s intended to do while going easier on your wallet.
Craftsman Gas Snow Thrower
The unit boasts some pretty impressive specs, from the heavyweight 212cc gas engine with electric start-up to clearing swaths of 26 inches. Combined with a clearing height of 21 inches, this unit can handle heavy snowfall without breaking a sweat, 6 forward speeds and 2 reverse speeds letting you work the machine up and down long drives at your convenience without getting slowed down by caked-up slush. Rugged, heavy tread 13-inch snow tires give you the traction you need, while adjustable metal skid shoes let you alter the height of the scooper to adapt to different surfaces, like gravel pathways and soft earth. The self-propelled unit comes with a 180° rotating remote chute to get rid of chewed up snow, with a throwing distance of 30 feet, and though it does not come with power steering, it’s fairly easy to steer the unit manually. A headlight improves your ability to work through poor visibility and after daylight hours.
Poulan PRO PR271 Two Stage Snowthrower
Armed with a 254cc Poulan PRO OHV engine and power steering with 6 forward speed options and 1 reverse speed available thanks to the friction-disc drive transmission, this unit can effortlessly plow through heavy snowfall and hardened ice with minimal effort required from you. A console bears intuitive chute and deflector controls to let you direct the plowed-up snow where you want it thrown out, the rugged machine clearing swaths 27 inches wide in a single pass. A literal beast of a machine, it’s built for handling deep piles of heavy snowfall, capable of tackling long driveways, sidewalks and gravel paths, the height of the scraper adjustable for different surfaces thanks to heavy-duty plastic skid plates, with deep-tread snow tires to give you the right friction you need to stably navigate icy terrain.
- Husqvarna: http://www.husqvarna.com/
- Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/snow-blowers/buying-guide
- Poulan Pro: http://www.poulanpro.com/us/
- The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/difference-between-single-and-two-stage-gas-snow-blowers-2132978