Snow blowers vary in power and other details, but they nearly all operate with an auger that loosens and pitches snow through a chute. Two-stage models feature an impeller resembling a fan that allows the machine to throw snow a greater distance. Snow blowers are available in gas-powered or electrical versions.
Electric snow blowers tend to be smaller than their gas-powered counterparts, making them a better choice for tight spots and small spaces. They use augers just like gas-powered snow blowers, but do not require maintenance, such as oil changes.
Single-stage snow blowers operate with gas engines. Their augers scoop snow and throw it out a chute. The augers on these machines touch the ground and are capable of hurtling rocks along with the snow. Therefore, the machines are not safe for use on gravel surfaces, A single-stage blower is capable of clearing snow up to 12 inches deep.
For deeper snow, many people use a two-stage snow blower. A two-stage blower not only handles snow 20 inches deep and often deeper, but throws snow a greater distance, in some cases as far as 50 feet. The auger on a two-stage machine does not touch the ground, making it safe to use on gravel surfaces.