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A snow blower can be a lifesaver in cases of snow buildups. In an emergency, it’s probably the quickest and most efficient way to shift unwanted snow out of your driveway or garden.
Snow blowers are even used for large-scale tasks such as clearing snow off railway tracks and roads.
However, it’s important to note that not all snow blowers are alike. In fact, there are 3 main types of snow blowers: single-stage, 2-stage, and 3-stage.
If you’re planning on investing in a snow blower yourself, you’ll need to understand the differences between these subtypes so that you can make a choice that’s tailored to your needs.
In this article, we’re going to be focusing specifically on the difference between 2-stage snow blowers and 3-stage snow blowers.
We’ll start with a general introduction to how snow blowers work before progressing onto comparing 2-stage and 3-stage models. You can find out how single-stage snow blowers differ from 2-stage snow blowers here.
How does a snow blower work?
The specifics of how a snow blower functions will vary between 2-stage and 3-stage models, but it helps to go into these comparisons with a general understanding of what these machines are all designed to do.
The purpose of any slow blower is to move accumulated snow out of a certain area and into another, more convenient one.
We should point out at this stage that snow blowers, contrary to their name, don’t actually blow the snow away.
Instead, they use something called an auger, which is a helical screw blade that ‘drills’ downwards while rotating on an axis to lift the snow out of the area that is being dug into.
The snow is then fed into the machine and disposed of through what is called the discharge chute.
Now, let’s take a look at how this process varies in 2 and 3-stage snow blowers.
What is a 2-Stage Snow Blower?
A 2-stage snow blower has 2 augers that work simultaneously to clear away snow. These augers drill into and pick up the snow (the 1st stage of the process) and feed it towards an impeller.
If you don’t know what an impeller is, you may actually have seen one in your washing machine at home. An impeller is a rotary mechanical component that increases fluid pressure.
In a 2-stage snow blower, the impeller is what pushes the collected snow through the machine and out of the discharge chute (the 2nd stage).
Lighter and less expensive than 3-stage snow blowers (see below), these 2-stage models are probably the best choice for buyers who regularly deal with moderate snow accumulation around their home or workplace.
However, in severe snowfall or where a really heavy amount of snow has built up, a 2-stage snow blower just might not cut it.
This is because 2-stage snow blowers may not be able to work fast enough to keep up with very large quantities of snow without needing to stop and start.
Some 2-stage snow blower owners report that their machine either lurches or shuts down at intervals when faced with too much snow.
This, of course, isn’t what you want when you need to clear away a lot of snow quickly, which is where the 3-stage snow blower comes in.
What is a 3-Stage Snow Blower?
3-stage snow blowers take the snow-shifting process a step further with a 3rd auger (otherwise called the accelerator).
The accelerator’s job is to feed the snow to the impeller more quickly so that larger quantities of snow can be processed in less time.
The basic mechanics of the machine remain basically unchanged, but 3-stage snow blowers are able to shift snow at a faster pace than either single-stage or 2-stage models.
3-stage snow blowers are designed to be able to meet severe snow buildups head-on and deal with them quickly with no need for all the lurching or stopping and starting that 2-stage snow blower users might experience.
Although this extra step in the process might seem to make a 3-stage snow blower the obvious choice out of the 2, it’s worth noting that a 3-stage machine won’t necessarily be the most economical or practical purchase for everyone.
3-stage snow blowers are normally heavier than their 2-stage counterparts, making them more difficult to handle and maneuver. They’re also typically more expensive.
Maintenance for these machines also isn’t the most straightforward. Unlike with a 2-stage snow blower, which you might be able to repair by yourself in a pinch, a 3-stage snow blower will definitely require a professional service if it begins to malfunction.
With that being said, 3-stage snow blowers come out on top where heavy-duty, time-sensitive snow removal tasks are concerned. This is why 3-stage models are usually favored over 2-stage models when it comes to things like railway and road clearance.
- More affordable
- Easier to maintain
- Not as fast
- Works faster
- Smoother operation
- Better for heavy-duty use
- More difficult to maintain
- More expensive
All in all, it’s clear that 2-stage and 3-stage snow blowers are both very useful machines in their own rights.
Although one model might have a more complex internal mechanism and a faster performance rate than the other, each type of snow blower is best suited to different tasks.
While a 2-stage snow blower might not work quite as quickly or be able to deal with the extreme snow buildups that a 3-stage snow blower can, it’s definitely the more convenient option in certain situations.
The 2-stage snow blower is the perfect choice for any homeowners out there looking for a reliable and efficient way to deal with moderate amounts of snow.
The 3-stage snow blower, despite being heavier, more expensive, and harder to maintain, is ideal for heavy-duty or commercial use, particularly where large buildups of snow are involved.
Ultimately, whether you should invest in a 2-stage or 3-stage snow blower will be dependent on how much snowfall you experience on a regular basis, the area(s) you’ll need to clear, and how fast you’ll need to clear them.