Are ALL Snow Blowers Self-Propelled? (Explained)

Thick layer of snow close up

If you are considering buying a snow blower, the issue of whether you have to push it or not will probably play a big part in some people’s purchasing decisions.

So are all snow blowers self-propelled?

It will certainly be easier for a self-propelled snow blower to deal with heavy snowfall, than one you have to push yourself.

That is what we are looking into in today’s blog post.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Are All Snow Blowers Self-Propelled?

No. Single-stage snow blowers are not self-propelled, but two-stage and three-stage snow blowers are. They have power-assisted wheels that drive them through the snow, removing the need for you to push them. That means two-stage and three-stage snow blowers are much better for clearing deeper and heavy snowfall.

Are Single-Stage Snow Blowers Self-Propelled?

The answer to the question essentially lies within the sub-question of whether single-stage snow blowers are self-propelled.

Technically, the answer to that question is no, single-stage snow blowers are not self-propelled.

This means that obviously not all snow blowers are self-propelled.

That said, whilst single-stage snow blowers can’t be classified as self-propelled they do have a high-speed paddle, or auger, that scrapes snow off of the ground and flings it out of the chute.

The paddle drags the snow blower forward.

So no single-stage snow blowers are not self-propelled with driven wheels, but the augur or paddle does propel the machine forward as it spins.

So How Are Single-Stage Snow Blowers Different From Two-Stage Snow Blowers?

Single-stage snow blowers have one auger. This auger is used to scrape the snow and throw it out of the chute.

Two-stage snow blowers utilize an auger and an additional high-speed impeller.

The auger draws the snow into the blower, then the impeller throws it out of the directional chute.

Two-stage snow blowers have power-assisted wheels which help maneuver them through thick snow and make them a lot easier to handle.

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Do I Need A Single-Stage Snow Blower or Two-Stage Snow Blower?

This very much depends upon how much snow you typically get each year and the area you need to clear.

Single-stage snow blowers are cheaper to purchase and maintain, lighter and much quicker to maneuver and clear snow over smaller, flat areas.

Two-stage snow blowers are bulky and much heavier.

This means they do tend to be more tiring to use, but they are a better option for clearing heavy snowfalls.

Similarly, if you have a very steep drive to clear, then a two-stage blower comes into its own because it is self-propelled and will pull you up the incline!

And if you have a gravel area to blow the snow from, again a two-stage snow blower is better because the auger won’t touch the ground.

As a summary:

  • Single-Stage Snow Blowers
    Clear up to a depth of 8 inches of snow.
    Good for an area that is roughly up to two cars wide and two cars long.
    Good for flat spaces in areas of light to moderate snowfall.
  • Two-Stage Snow Blowers
    Clear up to a depth of 18 inches of snow.
    Good for an area that is roughly up to two cars wide and three cars long.
    Good for steeper spaces in areas of moderate to heavy snowfall.
    Good for clearing gravelly areas.
Big snow drift in front of house

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If you are somewhere on the fence between buying a single-stage or two-stage snow blower, note there are ways of essentially ‘making’ a single-stage snow blower self-propelled.

And it is very simple.

Let’s say you have a mainly flat driveway, with a small but steep incline at the end.

Just lift the handles and tilt the snow blower forward somewhat, and the paddle will come into contact with the ground and ‘pull’ you up the incline.

There are also some snow blowers that could be said to bridge the gap between single-stage and two-stage.

For instance the Simplicity SS922EX is classified as a ‘deluxe’ single-stage snow blower and does use a slightly different auger-assisted drive system, that does make moving the snow blower forward easier and quicker.

Toro’s also uses a Power Propel drive system in some of its smaller models such as the 721 Power Clear that it claims self-propels the snow blower through the snow.

So there are definitely some very solid single-stage snow blowers out there.

RELATED ===> Does Milwaukee Make A Snow Blower?

But What About Three-Stage Snow Blowers?

To confuse matters even more, there are also three-stage snow blowers on the market.

So let’s recap:

  • A single-stage snow blower has one auger.
  • A two-stage snow blower has an auger and an impeller.

So what about three-stage snow blowers?

  • They have two augers and an impeller.

In short, a three-stage snow blower is the most powerful kind of snow blower.

It has a slow-turning auger that collects snow, and then a second auger that moves the collected snow onto the impeller faster.

The additional auger works much faster than the impeller, which means three-stage snow blowers are even more powerful, more efficient and much quicker at clearing snow than two-stage snow blowers.

They can clear up to 21 inches of snow, and at a rate of up to 50 percent quicker than two-stage snow blowers might clear the same space.

If you regularly get large, heavy drifts of snow of over 16 inches in depth, then you might want to seriously consider buying a three-stage snow blower.

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Are All Snow Blowers Self-Propelled

As you can see from the infographic above, the question of whether snow blowers are self-propelled can be split into thirds:

  • Single-stage snow blowers are not self-propelled.
  • Two-stage snow blowers are self-propelled.
  • Three-stage snow blowers are self-propelled.

Both two-stage and three-stage snow blowers have power-assisted wheels, which means they do all the work with minimum effort from you!

This is obviously of real benefit if you have a steep or large area that you need to clear of regular, heavy snowfall.

If the area you need to clear is flat and smaller, and you don’t get heavy levels of snow then a single-stage snow blower will be perfectly adequate.

These types of snow blowers are also defined by their working parts. 

Single-stage snow blowers just have an auger, two-stage snow blowers have an auger and an impeller and three-stage snow blowers have two augers and an impeller.

In short, the heavier and more regular snowfall you get, the more likely you are to want a three-stage snow blower.

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