Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (2024)

A dusting of snow — a thin layer you can shovel by hand — is fine. But when we get into ankle-deep snow, it’s time for you to roll the snow blower into action.

The driveway leading up to my home is a reasonable size when you include the parking space. So it was money well spent when I invested in a dual-stage blower of my own. But should I have sprung for an upgrade and purchased a 3-stage blower instead?

In hindsight, I had a few questions: What is the difference between a 2- vs 3-stage snow blower? And, are 3-stage snow blowers worth it?

So, I decided to find out…did I really buy the right snow blower?

Table Of Contents

  1. Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It?
  2. 2 Stage Vs. 3 Stage Snow Blowers
  • What Is a 2 Stage Snow Blower?
  • What Is a 3 Stage Snow Blower?
  • Differences Between 2 Stage and 3 Stage Snow Blowers
    • Snow Blowing Capacity
    • Forward Propulsion Speed
    • Augers and Impellers
    • Blower Accelerator
    • Maintenance and Service
    • Snow Blower Size
    • Which Snow Blower Blows the Farthest?
    • Price Comparison
  • Which Is Better: A 2 Stage or 3 Stage Snow Blower?
  • Verdict: Should You Invest In a 3-Stage Snow Blower?
  • Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It?

    For most homeowners, a good quality 2-stage blower should be more than adequate for clearing regular snowfall up to 12 inches deep. However, if you experience extensive and regular snowfall over 15 to 18 inches, a commercial 3-stage model will be worth purchasing. Here are a few pros and cons of this high-powered style of snow blower:


    • Clears snow 100% faster
    • Can clear snow and ice over 18 inches deep
    • Throws snow over 50 feet clear


    • Higher initial purchase cost
    • More expensive to run and maintain
    • Requires more storage space

    That all sounds great. But I think the more important question is how these pros and cons stack up against a standard 2-stage model.

    2 Stage Vs. 3 Stage Snow Blowers

    First off, let’s outline the key differences between 2- and 3-stage blowers. Some of these differences are relatively minimal. But there are a few functions and features that are notably different and could affect your purchasing decision.

    What Is a 2 Stage Snow Blower?

    The dual-stage snow blower gets its name from the two stages, or operations, performed when clearing and blowing snow.

    Stage 1

    In the first stage, the snow blower gathers and breaks down snow and ice with an auger.

    Stage 2

    In stage two, the snow is transferred into the impeller and then thrown from the machine via the discharge chute.

    I think it’s fair to say that these snow blowers could be considered the domestic standard for clearing snow in residential settings. Nine times out of ten, if you ask your neighbor what type of snow blower they have, their response will be, “A 2-stage one.”

    Let’s just say they are big enough and powerful enough to do the majority of clearing for most people.

    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (1)

    Most two-stage snow blowers can be operated with one hand and feature comfort functions such as electric hand warmers, headlights, and other helpful features. It’s common for high-end models to be self-propelled, making it easier for homeowners to use the blower over prolonged distances or for longer periods of time.

    You’ll be able to clear snow and ice over 12 inches deep with little to no concern. These tools are relatively easy to operate and do a solid job at removing snow and ice from residential areas.Many blowers even allow you to adjust the chute while you’re moving.

    What Is a 3 Stage Snow Blower?

    Stage 1

    In the first stage, the snowblower will gather and break down snow and ice with an auger.

    Stage 2

    In stage two, the snow is transferred into the impeller and then thrown from the machine via the discharge chute.

    Stage 3

    Stage three refers to the snow blower’s accelerator which increases the speed of the impeller to cut through snow and ice faster. This can half the necessary time to clear a given area.

    Even though these snow blowers have been around for over 40 years, many people still consider these tools to be new technology.

    Most 3-stage snow blowers are considered commercial tools. Your typical model features an electric starter, runs on gasoline, and boasts a 4-cycle engine.

    Professionals favor these powerful tools. But homeowners should keep in mind the engine capacity, complexity, size, noise level, and extensive maintenance that come with operating such snow blowers.

    This isn’t to say that someone who has the time and energy to maintain these tools can’t but, for most people, regularly checking to see if the snowblower is working properly and storing it well at the end of the season is more hassle than the average person needs.

    Ideally, 3-stage snow blowers are used in areas where snowfall is incredibly heavy or when someone wants to remove accumulated snow as quickly as possible.

    Differences Between 2 Stage and 3 Stage Snow Blowers

    There are several differences between these snow blowers, many of which some people may not notice without looking deeper. The most obvious difference is the number of stages. But there are several other factors to consider when comparing these snow blower models:

    • Snow Blowing Capacity
    • Forward Propulsion Speed
    • Augers and Impellers
    • Blower Accelerator
    • Maintenance and Service
    • Throwing Distance

    So, let’s look at each element and see how they compare.

    Snow Blowing Capacity

    A 3-stage snow blower takes first place in capacity. These blowers can remove snow and ice from more extensive land areas than 2-stage blowers. If you live in an area that sees light to moderate snowfall, a 2-stage blower can handle the job with ease.

    The snow-blowing capacity will vary depending on the snow blower you purchase. A 2-stage snow blower can typically handle depths of snow that reach a little more than 12 inches. If you don’t see snowfall that exceeds 12 inches regularly, a 2-stage blower may be the best option on your pocket and in practical use.

    You’ll want to keep in mind that even if you see one or two days of more than 12 inches of snow, but the rest of the season is less than that, a 2-stage model will still be the better option.

    If you live in an area where you regularly see 18 inches plus of snow in the winter or colder months of the year, a 3-stage snow blower will definitely be worth considering. These snow blowers can handle heavy snowfall with ease, whether it’s on your driveway or throughout your yard.

    Forward Propulsion Speed

    Most 2-stage models are self-propelled. However, most 3-stage snow blowers also have a self-propelling function.

    I strongly recommend you check the weight of a 3-stage snow blower before buying it. Whilst the majority of 3-stage blowers have a self-propulsion feature, not all of them do. So, pushing one of these beasts manually could be way outside of your comfort zone.

    If the snow blower is a lightweight machine with self-propulsion, it will be very easy on your back. If the machine is heavy and does not have the self-propulsion feature, it can cause strain or injury, even in short bursts.

    Augers and Impellers

    Both types of snow blower have an auger and impeller. While 2-stage machines have two augers, 3-stage machines have three augers.

    Augers are corkscrew-like barrels that rotate to break and lift snow and ice. They work by pushing the snow towards the impeller, which then ejects the snow through the chute.

    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (2)
    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (3)

    The third auger on a 3-stage blower can work around ten-times faster than the tool’s impeller. The faster third auger contributes to the device blowing snow much quicker than a 2-stage.

    Blower Accelerator

    An accelerator is the most significant functional difference between 2-stage and 3-stage snow blowers. The accelerator plays the most prominent role in why 3-stage models are faster at clearing snow.

    An accelerator is not an essential function but more of an add-on or upgrade that is useful to get the job done faster. When using a 3-stage snow blower, you’ll be able to remove snow about 50% faster than with a 2-stage.

    Maintenance and Service

    It’s important to note the difference in the maintenance of a 2-stage and 3-stage snow blower.

    Due to the extra complexity of a 3-stage blower, you cannot expect to keep your snow blower maintained without professional assistance on this commercial power tool. No doubt some of you will who have the technical understanding to service and maintain your power tools but the average person will need professional help.

    Whereas a dual-stage blower is easier to maintain, meaning you will have a lower running cost over the lifetime of the tool, it will still need engine maintenance and basic good housekeeping.

    Snow Blower Size

    Storage should be a serious consideration when choosing your snow blower. The potential size of a snow blower may have a bearing on whether you can fit it into your garage or not. 3-stage blowers will often turn out to be a bigger unit, with a wider intake, and consequently wider body.

    However, 2- and 3-stage blowers do come in all shapes and sizes, just be sure to check it out.

    Which Snow Blower Blows the Farthest?

    Most 3-stage snow blowers can blow about 50 feet away. Although, due to their larger size and weight, some may blow less than 50 feet.

    Typically, 2-stage snow blowers can blow snow anywhere from 20 to 50 feet, dependent on the specification of the product you purchase.

    The last thing you want is to have purchased a 3-stage blower to clear your huge driveway, only to find it throws the snow 5 feet onto the area you just cleared…right!

    Therefore, it stands to reason that commercial grade 3-stage snow blowers will throw the snow farther than most 2-stage tools.

    Price Comparison

    The price difference between a 2-stage and 3-stage snow blower will vary by specification, features, and brand. So the best way to express the price gap is to pick out two products with identical specifications from the same brand. The only difference being one is 2-stage and the other is 3-stage.

    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (4)

    Price Comparison

    Cub Cadet 2-Stage Power 30″ Max


    Cub Cadet 3-Stage Power 30″ Max


    The price difference is around $600, which is representative of most other brands, but are 3-stage snow blowers worth the money?

    Which Is Better: A 2 Stage or 3 Stage Snow Blower?

    It’s difficult to give a straight answer to which type of snow blower is better because they’re both excellent power tools depending on your situation.

    A 2-stage snow blower is excellent for average domestic use where snowfall is generally under 12 inches. A 2-stage will take longer to clear the snow, but it’s a more affordable option at initial purchase and in servicing and maintenance.

    A 3-stage snow blower will clear snow around twice as fast and typically throw over 50 feet. If you have a large area of land where snowfall is regularly 18 inches deep, then a 3-stage thrower may be a better choice

    Verdict: Should You Invest In a 3-Stage Snow Blower?

    Personally, I don’t think so.

    Based on convenience, maintenance, maneuverability, and price, I am still of the opinion 90% of households will find a 2-stage snow thrower more than capable of clearing their yard of snow.

    However, if you regularly see 18 inches or more of snow, a 3-stage blower may be an excellent option for you. They offer commercial-level performance, allowing you to clear extensive areas of deep snow fast.

    If you see less than 18 inches of snow, a 2-stage or even single-stage electric snow blower or snow shovel may well prove to be the better option.

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    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage (2024)


    Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It: 3 Stage Vs. 2 Stage? ›

    ​With the accelerator, the 3 stage snow blower gathers snow 50 percent faster than a 2 stage model. Even when it has to clear huge snow drifts, it does not have to slow down unlike 2 stage and single-stage snow blowers.

    Is a 3 stage snow blower worth the extra money? ›

    Fortunately, three-stage snow blowers, sometimes called snow throwers, tackle that woeful winter chore up to 30 percent faster than two-stage models, in part because they can clear deeper snow with a single pass.

    Is a 3 stage snowblower better than a 2 stage? ›

    A three-stage snow blower moves up to fifty percent more snow than a two-stage snowblower. This means higher efficiency and less snow left behind.

    Is a 3X snowblower better than a 2X? ›

    3X™ three stage Advantages: Most powerful and efficient of the snow blower options that can help you get the job done 50% faster than the 2X two stage snow blower.

    What is the purpose of a 3 stage snow blower? ›

    Three-stage blowers can clear up to 23 inches of snow. They're often sought to clear snow in wet and heavy areas with deep snowfall. They can work on an incline and are perfect for wide paved or unpaved areas. Its accelerator can move up to 10 times faster than the accelerator in a two-step and can clear snow faster.

    Who needs a 2 stage snow blower? ›

    Two-stage snow blowers are great for handling all types of snow on any surface. For example, a two-stage may be an ideal choice for those with gravel driveways, since they don't clean all the way to the ground which helps avoid pieces of gravel getting into your snow blower's auger.

    How far will a 3 stage snow blower throw snow? ›

    2-Stage vs 3-Stage Snow Blower Comparison
    Three Stage Snow BlowersMaintenance: professional Snow removal depth: over 16 inches Engine size: largest Tossing distance: 50 feet
    Two Stage Snow BlowersMaintenance: residential Snow removal depth: over 16 inches Engine size: variable Tossing distance: 25 - 50 feet
    Feb 1, 2021

    What is the best 3 stage snow blower in wet snow? ›

    Cub Cadet 3X 30 TRAC – Best three-stage

    Our top pick for three-stage snow blowers is the Cub Cadet 3X 30 TRAC. It is a snow-clearing monster that quickly plows through wet snow, ice, and anything else in its path.

    How much snow can a 2 stage snow blower handle? ›

    Two-stage snow blowers are mid-range when it comes to their ability to handle large amounts of snow. Two-stage units are equipped to handle over 18 inches of snow, and if it has correctly set up skid shoes, it can be used on most surfaces.

    How many cc's is good for a snowblower? ›

    Look for professional snow blowers equipped with an engine of at least 400 CCs. Pick a snow blower clearing width that fits the properties you're servicing. Biggest can be extremely efficient but it isn't always the best option for clearing diverse areas like narrow walkways.

    Why is a two-stage snow blower better? ›

    Two-stage snow blowers can clear a wider surface than single-stage blowers can: often up to 30 inches in a single pass. Engine-driven wheels or tracks propel two-stage gas snow blowers. The user only steers the machine and does not have to push it.

    What is the difference between a 2 stage and 3 stage motor? ›

    A two-stage motor has two fans while a three stage has three fans. In addition to the Thru-Flow and Tangential Bypass motors, there's actually a third motor type we really haven't addressed since it is not commonly used. This is called a Peripheral Bypass motor.

    How many inches of snow can a single-stage snow blower handle? ›

    Single-stage snow blowers are for 6 to 12 inches of light snow. Two-stage snow blowers do well with up to 2 feet of moderate to heavy snow. Three-stage snow blowers are best for heavy snow, ice and slush up to 2 feet deep.


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