As an Amazon Associate and affiliate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Snow Blower Vs Shovel: Which One To Choose?

Which to get, a snow blower or shovel? Or maybe an electric shovel? A snowblower clears large amounts of snow fast and doesn’t require a lot of physical work. But a regular shovel will give you some good exercise. It doesn’t need any maintenance and is a much cheaper alternative.

Can’t decide if you should opt for a snow blower, an electric shovel, or just stick with the good old shovel? I am here to help you figure out which is better – a snow blower vs a shovel?  

Keep on reading if you want to know more! I’ll explain in detail which option is best for you!

Snowblower Vs Shovel: Up Close

Snowblowers: A Review

An old man getting rid of snow from his yard with a snow blower

A snow blower is a powered machine designed to pick up snow from the ground and throw it to the side. Snowblowers are used for clearing snow from paved and unpaved surfaces, such as driveways, sidewalks, and pathways

How Does A Snow Blower Work?

An old man clearing snow from his yard with the use of a snow blower

It doesn’t take rocket science to understand how a shovel works! Snowblowers, on the other hand, are more complicated. That said, their operation is still easy to understand.

The working mechanism of a snowblower can be as simple as basically relocating snow from one area to another, or it can have multiple stages. That’s why we divide snow blowers into these categories:

  1. Single-stage snow blowers
  2. Two-stage snow blowers
  3. Three-stage snow blowers

Single-stage snow blowers remove snow in a single step. The auger is responsible for picking up the snow and also throwing it to the side

Two and three-stage snow blowers both have an impeller that takes on the role of blowing the snow through the discharge chute. Three-stage snow blowers also have an accelerator, which speeds up snow removal.

A single-stage snowblower, aka snow thrower, performs best on light and dry snow. It is a great upgrade to a shovel if you get light but consistent snowfall in your area. They are not that expensive either! 

Two and three-stage snow blowers can handle heavy and wet snow. They are equipped and prepared for more demanding cleanup jobs. They prove to be the best investment in areas with heavy winters. We explain how they work with wet snow in this review post.

This video explains how a snow blower works: 

Benefits Of A Snow Blower 

A young man clearing some snow with the use of a gas-powered snow blower
Image credit: flickr.com

I’m not surprised why so many people are retiring their shovels. Snowblowers make snow removal a whole lot easier

A snow blower will clear snow off your driveway and sidewalk for you. Your biggest job is operating the machine. You don’t even have to push it forward if the snow blower is self-propelled

Since snow blowers absolve a person from physical work, they are, in my opinion, an excellent gadget for people who are no longer able to shovel snow manually. Elderly people love to use them!

The main reason why I love using a snow blower is that it clears snow faster than a shovel. The wider the intake housing of the blower is, the quicker you will finish clearing your driveway. 

Single-stage snow blowers clear 12 to 21 inches wide. Two-stage models clear 21 to 30 inches wide. Three-stage machines clear 30 inches wide and above. The clearance of your snow blower will depend on the model.

Some Drawbacks

An old man clearing snow from his drive way using a snow blower
Image credit: flickr.com

AWhile there’s a range of benefits related to using a snow blower, there are also some drawbacks I have to mention. A snow blower is not as reliable as a shovel. It is not ready for immediate use. You first need to either gas up the machine, plug it in the nearest outlet or charge the batteries beforehand for it to work. 

What I also find problematic at times is that snowblowers sometimes don’t start immediately. They need a little warming up if kept in an unheated garage. People most often have trouble starting their machines at the beginning of each winter. The number one reason why snow blowers fail to start after summer is stale fuel blocking the system.

This brings us to maintenance! All snow blowers require upkeep, especially gas-powered models. Their oil, air filter, spark plug, and carburetor need to be changed every so often. 

One of the things I believe some people would find problematic is that snowblowers are heavy and bulky. They are more difficult to store and take out of storage. They often can’t reach tight corners or go in between narrow passages. You may still have to use a shovel on the stairs and your porch. 

Pros

  • Clears snow fast
  • Efficient way of removing snow
  • Less physical labor
  • Self-propelled types available
  • Big selection to choose from
  • Most have a warranty

Cons

  • Requires maintenance
  • Can be difficult to store
  • Can be loud
  • More costly than a shovel

Shovels: A Review

An old man with a shovel posing for a picture beside a pine tree

I’m pretty sure snow shovel doesn’t need a detailed introduction. We have all seen one and most likely held one. There are many types of shovels sold on the market, but today we are here to talk about a snow shovel. Let’s see what a snow shovel has to offer! 

How Does A Snow Shovel Work?

An old woman scooping some snow using a shovel

A shovel has a tried and proven design that has been around for ages. Shoveling is pretty easy to master. You don’t need a lot of skill, just a lot of elbow grease.

Snow shovels are designed for the purpose of removing snow. Their design is tailored to achieve maximum efficiency and comfort during work. 

Snow shovels come in two basic shapes. They either have a round or rectangular blade:

  • A round blade is better for picking up the snow and throwing it to the side, off the driveway. 
  • A rectangle blade is better for pushing the snow off the driveway. The straight and wide edge does a great job of scraping hardened snow off the surface. 

Snow shovels are available in a variety of sizes. Round-shaped shovels are 12 to 18 inches wide. Rectangular shovels can be anywhere from 12 to more than 24 inches in size.

When buying a snow shovel, you will also have to settle on the material. The blade of a snow shovel can be either made of plastic or metal. I personally like metal blades more as they are more durable and can cut through snow and ice much better. However, they’re heavier and may add to back strain.

You can buy a combination shovel that has a blade made of plastic with a metal edge. This way, you get the cutting power without the added weight. For me, it’s a win-win!

This video shows you a technique for efficient shoveling:

Benefits Of A Shovel

A young man shoveling off some snow off

There are many hidden perks to using a shovel over a snow blower. Instead of seeing the glass half empty, try finding the positives in owning and using a shovel. At least that’s what I do!

Yes, shoveling can be exhausting, but I look at it as a form of exercise. It will keep you healthy and fit in the long run. If you are unmotivated to go to the gym or go for a run, a shovel will get you to do some physical activity.

A shovel is also ready for immediate use. It doesn’t need to be gassed up, plugged in, or started. All you have to do is grab the handle and go for it. No maintenance is usually required either, and that’s one of the reasons I like it.

Shovels are also more portable. You can carry it from one end of the driveway to the other with ease, especially collapsible ones. Because of their size and weight, they are easier to store. They can reach into corners and tight spaces too, which I find very handy!

Some Drawbacks

A man clearing some snow from the drive way using a shvel

The most obvious drawback to using a shovel is, in my opinion, physical exhaustion and the risk of getting injured. Shoveling can run down even a perfectly healthy and fit person. People of poor health and the elderly are most likely to face challenges when clearing snow the old way. 

How difficult shoveling is depends on your physical readiness, the size of your driveway, and the amount of snowfall. Think about it carefully! You might be better off buying a snow blower from my review list

A shovel also can’t clear snow as fast as a snowblower. Removing snow by hand will take much longer than if you used a powered tool. You will spend a lot longer outdoors in the cold.

If you are not quite ready to buy a full-on snowblower but would like an upgrade to a shovel, buy yourself a snow thrower or a cordless snow shovel. Read the whole snow blower vs snow thrower comparison here. 

Pros

  • Keeps you in shape
  • Easy to store
  • Easy to carry around
  • Can reach tight spaces
  • Variety of types and sizes available
  • No maintenance required
  • Cheaper 
  • Eco-friendly

Cons

  • Requires physical labor
  • Can’t clear snow fast
  • Not suited for some people

Snow Blower Vs Shovel: Features Face To Face

Efficiency

An old man clearing snow by the fence using a gas-powered snow blower

If you live in a particularly snowy area, like me, it is in your best interest to get yard tools that are as efficient as possible. Trust me, with an improper tool, you won’t be able to keep up with the snowfall, and you will get overwhelmed

Between a snowblower vs shoveling, it is pretty clear which snow removal method wins the race, I guess. A snowblower is much more efficient at removing high amounts of snow than a shovel. Why wouldn’t it be? It is a powered tool that doesn’t get exhausted like a human.

For instance, a single-stage snow blower can remove 800 lbs of snow per minute. If a machine this size can process so much snow, now imagine what two and three-stage blowers can do!

If you are afraid that operating a snowblower might be too difficult for you, check the models suitable for women or for the elderly.

Winner: Snowblower

Maintenance

Motor oil being poured to an engine

Snowblowers and shovels are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to maintenance. Snowblowers need regular maintenance, while shovels don’t need it at all unless you need to replace the handle.

First and foremost, electric and gas-powered snow blowers need to be stored properly, preferably in a heated garage, for them to start on the first try. 

Gas snow blowers need a lot more upkeep than any other type of snow blower. Their system needs to be drained before the end of the season. 

You will also need to regularly change the oil, change the air filter, check for gas leakage, clean the carburetor, change the spark plug, and much more. Most of these tunes up can be done at home for less. But for bigger repairs, you will have to take your machine to the shop. 

Shovels, on the other hand, don’t need much babysitting, and that’s one of the things I like about them. All you have to do is store it in a dry space and occasionally tighten a screw or two. That is basically it!  

Winner: Shovel

Cost

garden tools and shovels being kept in the shed

A snow blower is an investment. It is much more expensive than a shovel. You can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to over $3,000 on a snow blower, depending on the size, features, and brand. 

Many people forget that there are hidden expenses to owning a snowblower. You will have to pay for the gas, oil, and electricity that the machine uses. 

There is also maintenance. A new carburetor, spark plug, air filter, and fuel stabilizer all have a price. These are just minor repairs. To fix bigger defects, you will have to spend a lot more.

Shovels are way cheaper than snow blowers. You can pick up a basic snow shovel for $15 to $20 at any home improvement store. Instead, you can spend a little bit more on a high-end snow pusher. It will last you longer.

Best of all, snow shovels don’t have any hidden expenses. They are maintenance-free. You may have to change a screw if it breaks, but you have plenty of those in your storage already!

Winner: Shovel

How About an Electric Snow Shovel?

If you get light snow in the area you live in, you can get away with using an electric snow shovel. Spending hundreds of dollars on a heavy-duty machine you will hardly ever use is not worth it!

Electric Snow Shovels: A Review

Removing some snow with an electric snow shovel

An electric snow shovel doesn’t look a whole lot like a regular shovel. It operates differently, as well. An electric snow shovel picks up snow and throws it to the side for you, unlike a manual snow shovel. It is, in many ways, more similar to a snow thrower.

Is a snow thrower similar to a snow blower? What’s the difference? Find out here!

Back to the topic! Let’s see what an electric snow shovel is and how it compares to a snowblower.

How Does An Electric Snow Shovel Work?

A man operating an electric snow shovel

An electric snow shovel operates simply and doesn’t take rocket science to understand. So, how does it work? An electric snow shovel works like a single-stage snow blower, only on a smaller scale.

An electric snow shovel features a single or double-blade auger that picks up snow and throws it through a discharge chute. The whole process is done in a single motion. The rotating paddle auger is responsible for scooping up the snow and throwing it away.

All electric snow shovels have the same basic operation. There aren’t single, two, or three-stage snow shovels. You won’t find a gas-powered snow shovel on the market, either. You can, however, buy a:

  • Electric corded snow shovel
  • Electric cordless snow shovel

Corded snow shovels are very reliable and have a quick start. They need to be plugged into an outlet to work. They offer more run time than cordless units but are, unfortunately, limited by the length of your extension cord.

Cordless snow shovels are powered by a rechargeable battery that gives roughly an hour of run time, depending on the model. This should be enough time to clear smaller areas around your house before the machine dies on you.

Cordless snow shovels are very eco-friendly. They, however, are not as powerful as corded models and have a limited run time.

Benefits Of An Electric Snow Shovel

An adult man clearing some snow with an electric snow shovel
Image credit: flickr.com

An electric snow shovel is a lighter and smaller version of a snowblower. It is easier and safer to operate. This tool won’t strip you of your energy when pushing it forward, despite not having a self-propelled feature.

Based on these advantages alone, I can say that an electric snow shovel is an ideal snow removal tool for the elderly and those who don’t have the body strength to operate big machines.

Since an electric snow shovel is compact, it’s easy to store and take in and out of storage. You can hang it on the garage wall or simply place it in a corner.

Its small size makes it perfect for getting into nooks and crannies that a snowblower can’t reach. Electric snow shovels can clear 10 to 16 inches wide – just enough to create a footpath in a single pass.

Best of all, electric snow shovels require less maintenance than snow blowers. They are also more affordable. An electric snow shovel won’t break your bank to buy and maintain.

Some Drawbacks

A pathway cleared with snow

The biggest drawback of an electric snow shovel is that it can’t stand up against heavy and deep snow. These small machines can handle light snowfall and light-clearing jobs.

If you use an electric snow shovel on snow that is more than a foot tall, you will spend more time removing the jams and you may even break the machine. So, if you get a couple of feet of snow at a time, consider buying a snow blower or continue using a manual snow shovel.

I also have to mention that electric snow shovels have a discharge chute that only faces forward. This may be a design flaw. It is kind of counterproductive to shoot snow that you are trying to clear in front of you.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Ideal for light clearing jobs
  • Can reach tight and narrow spaces
  • Easy to store
  • Require less maintenance
  • Different sizes available
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Less powerful than a snowblower
  • Can’t remove heavy and deep snow 
  • Can’t throw snow as far 
  • No gas models are available
  • Throws snow in front of you 
  • Three-stage snow blowers

Electric Snow Shovel Vs Snow Blower: Features Face To Face

Efficiency

2 men clearing snow in the streets with a snow blower
Image credit: flickr.com

Single-stage snow throwers are the closest to electric snow shovels. They clear 12 to 21 inches wide, while electric snow shovels max out at 16 inches wide.

For instance, the Earthwise SN70016 electric corded snow shovel can clear 430 lbs of snow per minute. For comparison, the Snow Joe SJ625E single-stage snow blower removes almost twice as much snow. Now imagine what two and three-stage blowers can do!

Winner: Snowblower

Maintenance

Electric Snow Shovel Vs Snow Blower: Which One To Choose?

Generally speaking, snow blowers require more maintenance than electric snow shovels. That’s because they are bigger machines and have more parts to the system that need regular care.

Now we can’t throw all the snow blowers in the same basket. Electric corded and cordless snow blowers are more forgiving than gas-powered models. They require a similar amount of maintenance as electric snow shovels. The most important thing is to keep your electric and battery-powered machines in a heated garage during winter.

Winner: Electric snow shovel

Cost

Electric snow shovels are generally cheaper than snow blowers. They cost from $60 to $250. It is rare to come across a snow thrower that costs less than an electric snow shovel.

Best of all, electric snow shovels require less maintenance. They run on electricity and don’t need gasoline, motor oil, or engine tune-ups.

Winner: Electric snow shovel

FAQs

Is a snow blower better than a shovel?

A snow blower is better than a shovel in terms of efficiency. A snow blower clears snow much faster than a shovel. It requires little physical labor to operate. It is an ideal investment for those who are no longer able to do the work manually.

Do I really need a snow blower?

You don’t really need a snow blower if you don’t get a lot of snow in your area. If snow is a rare occasion where you live, you can keep using your shovel. Spending hundreds of dollars on a snowblower that will sit in the garage is not worth it.

Are electric snow shovels effective?

Electric snow shovels are effective on light and shallow snow. They can clear snow 10 to 16 inches wide and up to a foot tall. They can’t clear heavy snowfall as snow blowers can. They are more suited for clearing steps, decks, and other near-house areas.

Deciding Between Snowblower Vs Shoveling: The Final Word

You can now see that both a snowblower and a shovel have their pros and cons. The best way to decide between the two is to assess the size of your driveway, the average snowfall, and your physical capabilities. 

If you still can’t decide between a snow blower vs shovel, follow these last guidelines:

Buy a snow blower if:

  • You have a lot of ground to clear.
  • You live in a snowy area.
  • You would like to clear snow fast.
  • You don’t mind the maintenance.
  • You have enough storage space.

Buy a shovel if:

  • You don’t mind the physical challenge.
  • It rarely snows in your area.
  • You have a small driveway. 
  • You have limited storage.
  • You are on a budget.
Photo of author

About The Author

Brett Jones

Brett is a private yet hardworking office assistant, who resides in Raleigh with his wife Nadya. He has a passion for backyard projects and spends much of his free time working on landscaping, gardening, and building outdoor furniture. Though he shies away from being in the spotlight, he plays an important role in Nadya's blog by providing her with "raw" content. Brett's knowledge and creativity of backyard design and DIY projects give Nadya material to come up with unique and interesting posts for her blog. On occasion, Brett also contributes to the site showing his tech expertise, particularly when talking about snowblowers and other tools. Follow him on Twitter.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.