Snow blower, also known as the snow thrower, comes in variety of models, options, and prices.
First thing first, let's eliminate all electric-powered snow blower and shovels. These are useless and waste of your time and money. You must buy a gas-powered snow blower if you are going to purchase one. I've seen people use the electrical one and I think it takes longer time than shoveling by hand.
There are one-stage (aka single-stage) and two-stage snow blowers. The price between the two are pretty significant but you get so much more bang for your buck from the two-stage snow blowers.
The one-stage snow blowers basically have one mechanical part that pulls/breaks the snow into the machine then blows/throws out the snow through discharge chute. The two-stage snow blowers, by comparison, have a separate mechanical part that breaks and pulls the snow into the machine from the part that throws the snow out from the discharge chute.
This doesn't seem to justify the price differential but the two-stage snow blowers are more powerful and they usually have self-propelled wheels. This is a big plus since you don't have to push the snow blower, unlike the most of the one-stage snow blowers.
The biggest downfall of one-stage snow blower compared to the two-stage is noticed during a heavy or a wet/frozen snow. The one-stage snow blower is not powerful enough to break the heavy/wet/frozen snow or even throw them. If you have really heavy/wet snow, you will not be even able to push the one-stage snow blower since it can't handle this type of snow.
I thought about purchasing a snow blower for couple of years but I couldn't buy one due to relatively expensive price. Finally, I accumulated enough hotel points and was able to obtain Honda single-stage snow blower for free last year.
This was the only snow blower available in the merchant catalog and I got it because it was gas-powered and had really good reviews even though it was a single-stage blower.
I used it several times last year but I was a bit disappointed when I was faced with heavy/wet type of snow. However, it does the job if the snow is dry regardless of how many inches of snow.
We had our first snow storm yesterday and I used it to clear my driveway then helped clear 4 of my neighbor's driveways. I was so proud of this little blower but I knew it couldn't have done its job if the snow was wet.
One feature that I'm really happy with is the electric start option. Since the outdoor temperature is very cold when you need to use the snow blower, it's very difficult to get the blower started by yanking the startup cord. Even though my blower has Honda engine, I couldn't get it started no matter how many times I yanked that thing. I then plugged the electric cord to the blower then pressed a button to get it started. However, even the electric startup option took a while. The blower sounded like a car that won't start in a cold winter night. There was no way I could have gotten this thing started by manually yanking the cords.
Bottom line is that if I were to buy a snow blower again, I would easily dish out $600 and buy the following two-stage snow blower from Lowe's.
It has metal augers that can break and intake high snows as well as self-propelled various forward speed and reverse speed! Of course, it also has both manual and electric start up option, which I think is a must-have option for snow blower.
I can't wait until my snow blower goes bad so I can buy this bad ass...