While the appearance and general functions of snow throwers and snowblowers are similar, there are major differences between the two types of machines including their design, capabilities, and the types of snow removal jobs for which each machine is best suited. Understanding these differences and how they apply to specific variables in snowfall and the areas/surfaces where snow will be removed can make the difference between easy and efficient jobs and chores that require a lot of work and take more time than they should.
In terms of design, snow throwers are configured to pick up snow and throw it in what is basically a single motion. Also known as single stage snowblowers, these machines employ a spinning auger which pulls snow off the ground, moves in upward toward the bottom of the discharge chute and then ejects it at distances that can reach over 25 feet. Snowblowers, on the other hand, use a two-stage process starting with an auger that collects snow from the ground. The auger then transfers the snow into a second mechanism called an impeller that shoots the snow out of the discharge chute. Two stage snowblowers, with separate mechanisms for pulling and ejecting snow, have a discharge distance that is roughly twice that of snow throwers.
The differing designs of snow throwers and snow blowers also result in different capabilities. Snow throwers are best used with lighter snow accumulations of twelve inches or less. These machines will clear a path that measures approximately 20 inches wide. Two stage snowblowers are built for heavier snow accumulations of 20 inches or more and can clear at a width of approximately 28 inches. Two stage snowblowers are also self-propelled with either a wheel drive or a track drive, which makes the removal of ice and heavy snow much easier.
Built for lighter-duty snow removal jobs, snow throwers are ideal for clearing walkways and smaller driveways. A tighter turning radius can give snow throwers a handling advantage over larger two stage machines in tight quarters. A shorter throwing distance, however, may limit these machines’ efficiency when removing snow in larger areas. Snowblowers, with wider clearing paths, wheel/track drive, and greater throwing distance, are suitable for snow removal jobs in larger areas as well as those with pitched terrain that requires greater operator control.
Snow throwers, with their lighter construction are generally less expensive than two stage snowblowers, but buying on that criteria alone can result in a lot of frustration and a shorter usable life of the machine if snow accumulations prove to be too heavy or areas are too large. Instead, consider all the relevant factors of your snow removal circumstances and buy the machine that is best suited for the job.