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Snow Blower Vs Shovel: Which One To Choose?

Which to get, a snow blower or shovel? A snowblower clears large amounts of snow fast and doesn’t require a lot of physical work. But a 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 upgrade to a snow blower or just stick with the good old shovel? I am here to help you figure out which is better – a snow blower vs shovel? 

A snow blower is the best solution for people who get consistent snowfall in the winter.

It will help you keep up with the weather without breaking your back. But, if you get snow only on rare occasions, you may want to hold on to your shovel. Spending hundreds of dollars on a machine you will hardly use is just not worth it. 

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 the 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

Let’s see how snow blowers work and what they offer!

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. 

All snow blowers have the same basic operation. They scoop up the snow from the ground with an auger and discharge it through the snow chute. They basically relocate snow from one area to another.

The working mechanism of a snowblower can be as simple as that, 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 snowblowers 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 the 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:

It is quite obvious 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 an excellent gadget for people who are no longer able to shovel snow manually. Elderly people love to use them!

A snow blower 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 snowblowers 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:

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. 

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 the maintenance! All snowblowers require upkeep, especially gas-powered models. Their oil, air filter, spark plug, and carburetor need to be changed every so often. 

Snowblowers are heavy and bulky. They are more difficult to store and take out of the storage. They often can’t reach tight corners or go in between narrow passages. You may have to still use a shovel on the stairs and your porch. 


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


  • 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

A shovel doesn’t need a detailed introduction. We have all seen one and 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 the 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. Metal blades 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 its blade made of plastic with a metal edge. This way, you get the cutting power without the added weight. It is 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.

Yes, shoveling can be exhausting, but it is 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.

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!

Some Drawbacks

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

The most obvious drawback to using a shovel is 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. 


  • 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


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

Snow Blower Vs Shovel: Features Face To Face


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

If you live in a particularly snowy area, it is in your best interest to get yard tools that are as efficient as possible. 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. 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!

The clear winner of this battle is the snow blower. It clears snow more efficiently.

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

Winner: Snowblower


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. All you have to do is store it in a dry space and occasionally tighten a screw or two. That is basically it! 

The clear winner of this versus battle is the shovel. It requires little to no maintenance. 

Winner: Shovel


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!

The clear winner of this comparison is the shovel. It is more cost-effective. 

Winner: Shovel


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.

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.

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