Unless you live in a region that's regularly slammed with substantial snowfall, there's little need to spend more than $500 for a snow blower that will see only occasional use. A cheap snow blower can reliably clear small to medium-size driveways, walkways, decks, and patios of around half a foot of snow, or more if you're willing to make multiple passes. The cheapest sub-$200 snow blowers are usually corded electric models, but spending a bit more -- over $300 -- can buy the cordless convenience of a battery-powered blower or the added power of an electric start gas snow blower.

See full Buying Guide

Our Top Pick

Craftsman 88780

Craftsman 88780 Review

Available from Sears

Our Picks
Craftsman 88780

Craftsman 88780 Review

Available from Sears

Pros:

  • Enough power to manage heavier snowfalls, including icy deposits, users say in online reviews.
  • 21-inch clearing width.
  • Convenience features include self-propulsion and push-button start.
  • Excellent or very good marks in expert tests for handling, plow-pile removal, and surface cleaning.
  • 4-cycle engine with separate tanks for fuel and oil; no premixing required.

Cons:

  • Some reviews suggest that the throwing distance is not very far; deep snow may further shorten the range.
  • As a single-stage snow blower, it's not designed for use on gravel or rough surfaces.
  • Some reviewers complain of vibration and others say the build is not as sturdy as it could be.

Takeaway: Users say this Craftsman singlestage gas snow blower is adept with fairly hefty accumulations of up to about a foot on smooth surfaces. Because it's self-propelled and easy to handle, this electric start gas snow blower is a good pick for buyers who need a powerful snow thrower but can't manage a heavier two- or three-stage gas model.

Greenworks 2600502

Pros:

  • Longer warranty (4 years) than most snow blowers, gas or electric.
  • Very lightweight and easy to maneuver, at only 32 pounds, and compact for easy storage, users say.
  • Clears a 20-inch path, slightly wider than other cheap electric blowers, so fewer passes may be necessary.
  • Less maintenance than a gas blower.
  • Relatively quiet; owners compare the noise to a loud vacuum cleaner.

Cons:

  • Too many plastic flimsy plastic parts to stand up to long-term use, many users say; some reports of units that were dead upon first use.
  • Models that come with an outdoor extension cord are more expensive.
  • Recommended 50-foot cord length may not be sufficient for long driveways and sidewalks.

Takeaway: Budget-conscious buyers who don't regularly battle blizzards should be pleased with the Greenworks 2600502. Users who've gotten used to managing the cord praise the ability of this lightweight electric blower to clear snow up to about 8 inches. Even with some complaints regarding durability and construction, the majority consensus is that, among sub-$200 snow blowers, this snow thrower is hard to beat.

Snow Joe iON 18SB

Pros:

  • Battery means no fussing with a power cord.
  • LED headlight.
  • Very lightweight, at only 32 pounds, making it easy to lift and maneuver.
  • Good marks for surface cleaning in expert tests.
  • 8-inch snow intake makes it well-suited for occasional use and light accumulations.
  • Less noisy than gas models.
  • Energy Star certified.

Cons:

  • Not enough power to deal with heavy snow; don't expect to easily clear more than 3 to 4 inches at a time, several owners warn.
  • Many say this blower clogs easily and has a limited throwing distance.
  • With up to 50 minutes of run time per charge, the battery might not last long enough for larger jobs.
  • Some complaints of long recharge times.

Takeaway: Although the battery-powered Snow Joe iON 18SB can't compete with other snow blowers on power, many owners say this Snow Joe snow thrower has the chops to chew through lighter snowfalls on smaller driveways and sidewalks. They also say it's hard to beat the quiet engine and cord-free, lightweight maneuverability compared with bulkier gas blowers.

Toro Power Clear 518 ZE

Toro Power Clear 518 ZE Review

Also available from Home Depot

Pros:

  • Very light for a gas blower, at 58 pounds.
  • Locking deflector to direct snow high or low and a discharge chute that rotates 210 degrees to throw snow where users want it.
  • Backup electric starter and variable speeds.
  • High marks in expert tests for throwing distance, surface cleaning, and handling.
  • Collapses for easy storage.
  • 4-cycle engine with separate tanks for fuel and oil; no premixing required.
  • 2-year, guaranteed-to-start (in one or two pulls) warranty in addition to a 2-year full-coverage warranty.

Cons:

  • Struggles somewhat with wet snow, according to reviews.
  • Rubber paddles don't make much of a dent in tightly compressed snow, some users say.
  • Reports of paddles breaking and screws loosening or falling out.
  • Some users complain that the oil tank is awkwardly positioned, making refills difficult, and the gas tank lid can be hard to remove.

Takeaway: This single-stage Toro model is light, compact, and cheap for an electric start gas snow blower. While the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE doesn't have the oomph of more expensive blowers, users say it's plenty adept with snowfalls of up to about a foot. Its modest weight and ease of operation are top selling points for consumers who want an entry-level gas blower that's simple to use from start to finish. Experts say the brand deserves the positive feedback it receives from bargain-minded consumers.

PowerSmart DB5023

PowerSmart DB5023 Review

Also available from Sears

Pros:

  • 8-inch intake height easily clears up to 6 inches of powdery snow, owners say.
  • 30-foot throwing distance is farther than competitors.
  • Quieter and lower-maintenance than a gas blower.

Cons:

  • At 37 pounds, it's a bit heavier than comparable electric blowers.
  • Too many flimsy plastic parts, reviewers say.
  • 1-year warranty is half the industry standard.
  • Requires an outdoor extension cord that can be pricey.

Takeaway: Very inexpensive but effective for lighter accumulations, the corded electric PowerSmart DB5023 suits buyers who need a snow blower only occasionally and are willing to drag along a power cord. Users say this electric single-stage snow thrower has surprising power and clears small driveways and walkways with minimal effort, as long as the snow's not too wet or too deep.

Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E

Pros:

  • 15-amp engine is on the powerful side for an electric blower.
  • Handles up to about 10 inches of powdery snow with ease, users say.
  • 4blade steel auger
  • Very lightweight, at just over 32 pounds, making it easy to push and maneuver.
  • Earns high praise for quick and easy assembly -- less than 5 minutes by most accounts.
  • Requires little maintenance and folds up for storage.

Cons:

  • Lacks the power to deal with wetter snow, many users say, leading to clogging and reduced throwing distance.
  • Requires an outdoor extension cord that can be pricey.

Takeaway: The corded electric Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E does a fine job even on heftier accumulations of powdery snow, owners say. They love the lightweight frame and no-hassle upkeep of this Snow Joe electric blower. Many say it's good for clearing off a deck. Reviewers warn that this electric single-stage snow thrower is underpowered for wet snow, or that the cord gets in the way, but those are complaints levied against all electric models. Users say it beats a snow shovel any day and score the Snow Joe brand tops among electric blowers for reliability.

Ego SNT2102

Pros:

  • More powerful than cheaper cordless blowers, with two 56-volt batteries.
  • High-efficiency brushless cordless-electric motor
  • Can handle up to a foot of powdery snow and smaller accumulations of wet snow, users say.
  • Top marks from experts for surface cleaning and handling.
  • 35-foot throwing distance means snow won't pile up where users don't want it.
  • No fussing with extension cords.

Cons:

  • Heavy for an electric blower, at 64 pounds.
  • Some experts and owners claim it's hard to manage on rough surfaces or in heavier accumulations.
  • Still slower and less effective than gas blowers, experts say.

Takeaway: The Ego SNT2102 is for consumers who long for a low-maintenance cordless snow blower with the power of a gas model. Although it comes with a comparatively hefty price tag, this is one of the only electric models we researched, corded or cordless, that users say is capable of slicing through up to a foot of powder without getting bogged down. The mix of convenience and performance that compares favorably with an electric-start gas snow blower might be well worth the added expense.

Troy-Bilt Storm 2410

Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 Review

Available from Home Depot

Pros:

  • Tackles wet, icy snow and accumulations up to a foot with ease, users say.
  • Convenience features include self-propelled drive, push-button electric start, and remote chute control.
  • Six forward speeds, two reverse speeds.
  • 24-inch clearing width.
  • Experts give it very good marks for speed, plow-pile removal, surface cleaning, and handling.

Cons:

  • Heavy, at 195 pounds.
  • A twostage gas snow thrower can be overkill in many parts of the country.
  • Remote chute control can be finicky, reviewers say.
  • Experts warn that a lack of freewheel steering can make it more difficult to turn.

Takeaway: Though just outside the Cheapism price range, this Troy-Bilt snow blower is one of the best values on the market for buyers who want a two-stage snow blower for quick snow pickups of even heftier snowfalls or to clear rough surfaces like gravel or dirt. The Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 twostage electric-start snow thrower receives kudos for relatively rugged construction, with several users saying it will last for years with proper maintenance.

Cub Cadet 3X 26"

Pros:

  • Can handle even the biggest snowfalls and be used on gravel, dirt, or hilly terrain, users say.
  • Extra-wide 26-inch clearing path.
  • Dual augers and an induction accelerator break up snow and push it into the impeller, helping make cleanup quicker.
  • Convenience features include heated hand grips, trigger-controlled power steering, push-button electric start, and a headlight.

Cons:

  • Heavy, at 267 pounds.
  • Shear pins that protect the gearbox break too easily, some users grouse.
  • High-speed accelerator may make a mess with smaller amounts of snow, experts say.

Takeaway: This Cub Cadet snow blower is pricey, no doubt, but a solid value for a three-stage blower that's powerful and fast enough for large, frequent snowfalls. This electric-start gas snow blower is also in another league when it comes to features, with a headlight, heated hand grips and power steering to make it easy enough to maneuver with one hand despite being relatively heavy. If you need more snow clearing power than a singlestage gas snow blower, or even a twostage gas model can deliver, the Cub Cadet belongs on the top of your list.

Toro Power Shovel

Toro Power Shovel Review

Also available from Home Depot

Pros:

  • With a 6-inch intake, this electric shovel easily clears up to 4 or 5 inches of powdery snow, users say.
  • High marks for clearing snow down to the surface in expert testing.
  • Much lighter, less bulky, and easier to control than a full-size snow blower.
  • Fits in areas a snow blower can't reach.

Cons:

  • Not enough power for densely packed or icy snow.
  • Front-only discharge might leave users covered in snow, depending on the wind.
  • "On" switch must be pressed continuously while operating.
  • Some complaints about weight given the lack of wheels.
  • Some gripes regarding cheap materials and reports of broken handles.

Takeaway: Although it's definitely not meant for heavy-duty work, the Toro Power Shovel is a lightweight alternative to a snow blower that is especially adept at clearing snow from small decks or walkways where a larger blower would be a no-go. Users say it's best for small amounts of powdery snow, although some reviewers have used it to clear deeper accumulations a little at a time.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Snow Blower

Several familiar and a few not-so-familiar names rule the cheap snow-blower market. Some are are brands with well-established reputations in selling power tools like leaf blowers, string trimmers, power washers and even log splitters. Among those brands with models in the Cheapism price bracket are Toro and Troy-Bilt, which make a range of electric and gas blowers. Cub Cadet, Poulan Pro, Dirty Hand Tools, and others offer some inexpensive singlestage gas snow-blower models, while Snow Joe and Greenworks make cheap corded and battery-powered electric blowers. Big names including Honda, Husqvarna, and Ariens focus on pricier, higher-end gas models, while Ego makes a higher-end cordless blower.

As with many appliances, there are a lot of brand names but not a lot of outdoor power-equipment manufacturers. The Ohio-headquartered company MTD makes Craftsman, Remington, Troy-Bilt, Yard Machines and Cub Cadet snow throwers. Husqvarna makes Poulan Pro, while Ariens makes Sno-Tek.

Electric vs. Gas Snow Blowers

It's important to carefully consider your needs before deciding between electric and gas. Corded electric snow blowers, like the Snow Joe SJ622E electric single stage snow thrower, are lighter and lower maintenance than their gas counterparts, but require access to a power outlet and an extension cord that can stand up to the elements (generally not included). Buyers can opt for a cordless model, but expect to pay a premium for that convenience -- and there's the risk of dealing with a dead battery before the job's done.

However, if you live in northern climes, where snows are deep and heavy all winter long, an electric blower is probably not the best option. A singlestage gas snow blower is typically a bit more powerful than electric blowers of the same type, and in some instances, the greater clearing ability of a twostage gas snow thrower or a threestage snow blower could be a necessity. While a cord or a dead battery is not a worry, the tradeoff is that users must stay on top of routine maintenance, such as checking oil levels and replacing fuel filters. Some find that starting a manual gas snow blower to be challenging, making stepping up to an electric-start gas snow blower model to be a worthwhile upgrade.

In our roundup of the best cheap snow blowers, we recommend three corded electric models. The Greenworks 2600502 (starting at $123) makes it onto many reviewers' lists as one of the best electric snow blowers around. Its light weight and the brand's overall reputation for high-quality products at reasonable prices make it our top pick. There's also the Snow Joe Ultra SJ622E (starting at $167) and the PowerSmart DB5023 (starting at $129). All of these sub-$200 snow blowers have shorter warranties than our top choice and a bit more heft, but each presents enough positives to earn their places among the best budget snow throwers.

The Snow Joe iON 18SB (starting at $278) is a cordless electric snow blower that's a good option for homeowners facing lighter loads and willing to sacrifice a bit of power for easy portability. While it's a top choice among affordable snow blowers, cordless converts who want more power than the Snow Joe can deliver should consider stepping up to the Ego SNT2102 (starting at $599). Buyers might want to steer clear of the Greenworks Pro 2600402 (starting at $254). Complaints concerning reliability dog this battery-powered snow blower.

Snow blower reviews suggest that anyone who regularly receives up to a foot of powder or significant amounts of wet snow should spend extra for a gas model. Our pick for best cheap gas snow blower is the Craftsman 88780 (starting at $450). This electric-start gas snow blower can power through fairly substantial piles of snow with relative ease. Another gas blower we recommend is the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE (starting at $399), a compact electric-start gas snow blower model that users say is one of the best small snow blowers, yet it is still mighty and can clear snow deeper than its 12-inch intake suggests. We're a bit wary of the gas-powered Poulan Pro PR100 (starting at $350). Reviewers indicate it suffers from durability issues, has a manual starter, and its maneuverability is below par.

If you live in a region where snow falls are regularly measured in feet rather than inches, a twostage electric start snow thrower like the Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 (starting at around $700) or even a threestage snow blower like Cub Cadet 3X 26 (starting at $1,400) might be the best snow blowers for your needs. These electric-start, self-propelled snow throwers are anything but cheap, but may be what you ultimately need as the accumulations of snow pile up.

Expensive vs. Cheap Snow Blowers

All electric snow blowers and most cheap gas blowers are single-stage models that rely on augers (usually rotating rubber paddles, though even some cheap throwers have steel augers) to gather up snow and send it through the discharge chute while helping pull the machine along. The auger in a gas or electric single-stage snow blower scrapes the ground, so it should be used only on paved/smooth surfaces.

Those who get a bit more snow or have rough surfaces to clear may want to step up to a gas-powered two-stage snow blower like the Troy-Bilt Storm 2410 (starting at $599). Twostage gas snow throwers use an auger (usually made of serrated metal) to churn up snow and an impeller to help send it out the chute. They can handle heavier snowfalls and uneven terrain or gravel because the auger doesn't contact the ground. Three-stage snow blowers, the most expensive of the bunch, work like twostage gas snow thrower models but are much faster. They are the best snow blowers for users who get a lot of snow and want to deal with it as quickly as possible. The Cub Cadet 3X 26" (starting at $1,199) is one of the best values among three-stage gas blowers.

For the most part, two-stage snow blowers are $500 and up, while three-stage blowers run at least $1,000. With the exception of some cordless snow blowers, most electric snow throwers and singlestage gas snow blower models are sub-$500 snow blowers. At the bottom end of the spectrum is the lightweight, inexpensive Toro Power Shovel (starting at $99) for those who want assistance with small snowfalls in tight areas.

What We Considered

To research and compare snow blowers, we consulted snow blower reviews from expert sources such as Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, and MovingSnow.com, all of which do product testing. We also plowed through thousands of online reviews from current and past owners of cheap snow blowers on the websites of retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and Sears. Most reviews focus on performance, maneuverability, durability, and ease of use. All in all, reviews indicate that buyers who match the specs to their particular needs and have realistic expectations are satisfied with cheap snow blowers.

Power

Manufacturers often indicate the power of a snow blower in cubic centimeters (CCs) for gas models and amps for electric blowers, which can make it confusing to compare models. CCs refer to the volume of piston displacement in a gas-powered engine. The greater the displacement, the more powerful the engine. The same is true for the amp rating in an electric motor -- the more amps (a unit of measure for electric current), the more powerful the motor. In the case of battery-powered blowers, higher voltage means more power.

Reviews indicate that more power doesn't necessarily mean better performance. Indeed, a slew of satisfied reviewers say many of the less-powerful, sub-$500 snow blowers we researched do just fine for light snowfall on small, paved areas and deftly blow away top layers of deep snow.

Still, expectations are usually higher for gas snow blowers, and users' satisfaction often depends on how well they have matched a snow blower's capabilities with weather conditions in their area. While an electric or single-stage gas blower could be the best snow blowers for lighter use, they could struggle when it comes time to clear a snow pile left at the end of the driveway by snow plows, and buyers who live in very snowy climates should seriously consider a two- or three-stage gas model instead.

Clearing Width and Intake

The amount of snow that the best snow blowers can clear also depends largely on their design. The clearing width affects how many passes you have to make to clear away the snow. A wider path gets the job done faster. The clearing width for the cheap snow blowers we researched ranges between 18 and 21 inches. More powerful gas models, especially two- and three-stage machines, are more likely to clear wider paths.

A related feature is the intake height, which determines how much clearing depth the snow blower cuts during each pass. If you live in a region where the snow really piles up, you'll be frustrated constantly if the intake isn't high enough. A low intake in high snow means making several passes over the same area and removing the snow in layers, or venturing outside during a storm several times to clear the snow before it gets too deep. A good rule of thumb: The intake should be at least 2 inches higher than the depth of the snow.

On most cheap snow blowers, the intake ranges from 9 to 13 inches. Although that means they have a clearing depth of nearly a foot of snow at a time, single-stage snow blowers and power shovels generally are best for light duty on smooth surfaces with accumulations up to about 6 inches. Reviewers who expect these machines to power through larger amounts or manage very wet, heavy snow are often disappointed when they find they need to make several passes with even the best budget small snow blowers. A higher intake generally comes with a higher price tag. On two- and three-stage blowers, the intakes typically range from 16 to 23 inches.

Weight and Maneuverability

If light weight is a key requirement, it's no contest: Electric snow blowers win out big time as the best budget snow throwers. The electric models on our list start around 32 pounds. The heftiest, a battery-powered model meant to compete with gas blowers, tops out at 64 pounds. For an even lighter option, a power shovel can make quick work of smaller, tighter areas where a blower would be too awkward.

The lightest (and least powerful) gas snow blower among our picks is just under 60 pounds, while the three-stage model we favor tops out at a hefty 267 pounds. Fortunately, a gas blower is also more likely to feature some form of self-propulsion and power steering, making it less of a beast to move. Still, gas blowers are likely to be bulkier, so users who need help clearing snow in tight areas will want to stick to an electric model -- or a tried-and-true snow shovel, electric or otherwise.

Throwing Distance and Discharge Chutes

Once the snow is churned up and compacted, it has to go somewhere. Specs detailing the throwing distance and chute rotation of a snow blower give a good indication of how far the snow will go and where it will land. Look for a model capable of blasting snow at least 20 feet. The maximum throwing distance of the blowers we researched ranges from 20 to 35 feet, although a few manufacturers don't provide this spec. Note that advertised throwing capabilities are only rough estimates. Reviews indicate that the amount and weight of the snow affect the throwing distance -- for example, the heavier or wetter the snow, the shorter the distance.

These days, the chutes on most snow blowers are adjustable -- typically offering a chute rotation of at least 180 degrees -- which means you can aim the discharge in almost any direction (ideally not onto a neighbor's property). Blowers with adjustable deflectors can also shoot the snow high or low.

The discharge chutes on cheap snow blowers are invariably made of plastic, which some consumers report is prone to cracking in cold temperatures -- although, on the other hand, it doesn't rust. Also, the chutes tend to clog with snow, which means having to turn off the machine and clear it out. (Never, under any circumstance, try this while the machine is running.) Some snow throwers come with a scoop for this purpose. Spraying the interior of the chute with WD-40 or silicone can also minimize buildup. Keep in mind that less powerful snow blowers are more prone to clogging simply because their engines aren't as capable at pitching the snow, particularly wet snow, out of the shoot as quickly as necessary to avoid backups.

Ease of Use

User-friendly touches can make a demanding winter chore easier, if not fun. Buyers who have switched from gas to electric snow blowers prize the ability to plug in and go for quick snow pickups rather than mess with a fuel tank and pull start. Apart from a few users who feel hampered by the cord (which can be run over, if you're not careful), most say electric blowers are easy to manage once you get the hang of it, which happens pretty quickly.

Even easier to manage are battery-operated cordless snow blowers that don't require an outdoor extension cord or a well-placed outlet. However, a significant downside to cordless snow blowers is that their batteries can run out of juice before the snow-clearing task is done, so you might want to have charged spares on hand. High-efficiency brushless cordless electric motors found on some models can extend run time. Other features reviewers appreciate include small touches like easy-to-operate power buttons that don't require constant engagement and snow-discharge chutes that are easy to aim. Bells and whistles like headlights, heated handgrips, and remote chute control are nice but uncommon on the cheapest blowers.

Gas snow blowers require more user engagement than electric snow blowers. Oil and fuel levels must be checked throughout the season, and the engine should be cleaned when snow is done for the year.  A pull cord or recoil start demands priming the engine and setting the choke, and some users find the recoil action awkward, if not impossible.

But technological improvements have made the top gas snow blowers quite user-friendly. For one, the four-cycle engines now common at the cheaper end of the snow-removal equipment market have separate compartments for oil and gasoline, so there's no need to premix the two, as you would with a two-cycle engine. Several users report that their clothes no longer have the telltale odor that inevitably comes with a two-cycle model. In addition, opting for an electric-start gas snow blower model can eliminate any struggles with the pull cord. Many top snow throwers have that feature.

Durability

The best budget snow blowers can last for many years -- if properly maintained. Most of the snow throwers we researched come with two-year warranties, although we did see coverage as short as one year (primarily for sub-$200 snow blowers) and as long as five years. Regardless, a warranty doesn't mean much when there are 6 inches of snow on the driveway and the snow thrower won't start or a critical component shakes loose mid-clearing.

Long-term durability data on most of the snow-removal equipment on our list is scant. However, we did come across some reports of lemons that were defective from the get-go. There are also plenty of complaints about components breaking after a couple of snow-clearing sessions. Blowers that employ a lot of plastic parts particularly draw users' ire. Some reviewers say they just aren't strong enough to stand up to Mother Nature. Finally, there are countless reports of gas blowers that wouldn't work when pulled out of storage. Experts suggest this is often the fault of improper upkeep, as opposed to engine defects.