Buying a new snow blower for most of us is a major investment. We want the snow blower to do the best job for us and we want it to last. We know that a snow blower is going to need maintenance and repair over its life because it is a mechanical device and we don’t always know what’s hidden in that wonderful blanket of snow. So just like a car so we really want a brand we can trust and a repair/parts network that can supply the needed parts for years to come.
Part of your buying decision criteria is deciding on the amount of money you want to spend, the amount of snow you typically get, the reliability of the service/parts network, and how long you want the snow blower to last. Each brand sells snow blowers that meet one or more of these criteria.
This article is going to take a quick, impartial look at the major brands of gas-powered snow blowers to help you narrow down the best snow blower for you. I will list the brands alphabetically.
Quality of Snow Blowers: Ariens has been making their own snow blowers since the beginning. They own their own factories, distribution and parts networks. They manufacture many models and have the most complete line of snow blowers available. They offer a price/quality range for just about every buyer including the commercial buyer. Ariens is always worth reviewing when deciding to buy a new snow blower.
Ariens has four separate lines of snow blowers that range from one of the least expensive to the heaviest duty on the market.
Economy – Sno-Tek – If you want the least expensive snow blower made by Ariens this is it. It only comes in a 24 inch solid axle version and works well for small driveways that get 2 to 10 inches of snow.
Residential – Compact – If you live in the Midwest and don’t need power steering this is a good choice. The Compact will handle 2-10 inches well and is very competitive with the other residential snow blowers on the market in features, quality and price.
Heavy Duty – Deluxe, Platinum, SHO – This is the Ariens line that is advertised as the snow blower you can put in your will. The line has three steps. Deluxe – a great basic heavy-duty snow blower with power steering and four way chute controls. Platinum – All the features you can get on a snow blower including hand warmers. SHO – These snow blowers are the best if you get a lot of snow. High output, high horsepower, heavy-duty.
Commercial – Path Pro and Pro. The single stage Ariens Path Pro snow throwers are designed for the professional user. Easy to work on and have guards to protect the engine for the hundreds of times you take it in and out of your pick-up. The Pro 2-stage snow blowers are the heaviest duty snow blowers on the market.
Tracked – Ariens offers tracked snow blowers in the Compact, Deluxe, and Pro lines. Track drive snow blowers work really well for rough terrain.
Power Brush: Walk-behind powered brushes are a great choice for sidewalks and other areas that need to be cleaned completely of snow. Walk-behind power brushes can also be used for other tasks like fall clean-up and dethatching lawns. Ariens has 3 different commercial models.
Tractor attachments – None
Retail/Online: If you want to buy online Home Depot is the exclusive retailer for Ariens. They carry the Sno-Tek, Compact and Deluxe lines. Some dealers are also selling on Amazon.
Dealer Network: Ariens has one of the largest independent dealer networks. Every model that Ariens makes is available through the dealer network. There is a very good chance you will be able to find an Ariens dealer near you. All dealers are capable and willing to service and repair your Ariens. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Ariens Dealer Locator
Repair Network: All repairs are done through the independent dealers. If you purchase through Home Depot you can get warranty work, parts, service and repairs done through your local dealer. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Ariens Dealer Locator
Parts Availability: All repairs are obtained through the independent dealer network. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Ariens Dealer Locator
Quality of Snow Blowers: Craftsman/Sears has been selling snow blowers since the beginning and primarily markets to the economy and residential buyer. They are arguably the most popular and well know brand. If you live in an area that gets 80 inches or less snow a year I suggest you put a Craftsman at the top of your list. This area includes most parts of the midwest and along Interstate 80. Craftsman has their snow blowers manufactured for them but they own their own repair, distribution and parts networks.
Economy – Gray – Economy Craftsman snow blowers are painted gray. They are designed to move 2 to 10 inches of snow well but lack all the extra features you may want like power steering, lights and high-capacity discharge chutes.
Residential – Red or Black – Craftsman has the largest selection of affordable snow blowers for you. The range from the “best value” Craftsman 88173 to the 30 inch 88396 that will handle your large residential driveway. They are great residential machines and they will last you many years.
Heavy Duty – Black with Yellow Trim – For 2015 Craftsman has reintroduced the Craftsman Pro line. These snow blowers have the extra features like 3-stage augers and high horsepower engines.
Commercial, Tracked and Brush: Craftsman currently does not offer commercial or tracked snow blowers. They also don’t have a powered brush.
Tractor attachments: Craftsman has always been the leader for tractor mounted snow blowers. They currently have a 42 and 50 inch model that will install on the Craftsman Yard Tractors, Craftsman Garden Tractors and Craftsman Pro Tractors. They also have snow blades, weights, chains and tractor cabs.
Retail: Craftsman snow blowers are sold at Sears Full Line Stores, independently owned Sears Hometown Stores and independently owned Sears Outlet Stores. In addition many ACE hardware stores carry the more popular snow blowers (The ACE warranty/repair is different from the Sears/Craftsman warranty)
Online: All Craftsman Snow Blowers are easily available to order online 24/7 through sears.com. In fact, sears.com is the preferred method to buy and most of the time sears.com have additional discounts or incentives over buying at a store. Order online and you can have the snow blower delivered ready to go to you home or order it online and pick it up at your local Sears retailer.
Dealer Network: None. Yes, the independently owned Sears Hometown Stores call themselves dealers but they are by definition a retail store. They don’t have service department out back and don’t carry paarts in stock like a lawn and garden dealer typically would.
Repair Network: Sears/Craftsman is the largest residential service provider in the nation and a major advantage for you is you never have to bring your two-stage snow blower anywhere to have it repaired. Sears techs are mobile and always come right to your home to service and repair your snow blower. You can call anytime day or night and schedule a repair at 1-800-4MY-HOME.
Parts Availability: Parts are available 24/7 by Internet and phone through searspartsdirect.com. You don’t have to take time off of work and drive to a dealer to order parts. If you don’t like to order online you can also get your parts ordered at any Sears or Sears Hometown store. The parts are shipped directly to your home. Order your parts at Sears PartsDirect or call 1-800-4MY-HOME.
Quality of Snow Blowers: Cub Cadet is one of the brands that is owned by MTD and is their premier brand. Cub Cadet always has the largest selection and the most features of all the MTD made snow blowers. Cub Cadet is marketed towards the discerning buyer who wants a long-lasting machine. MTD has also been around since the beginning and own their own factories and parts networks.
Economy: MTD does not market inexpensive, minimum featured models under the Cub Cadet brand.
Residential: All Cub Cadet snow blowers are able to handle your residential driveway. I recommend the 2X models for your typical midwestern snow falls and the 3X models are capable of handling heavy, deep snows all winter long.
Heavy Duty: Cub Cadet does not specifically market using the term heavy-duty but the 3X HD models (yellow all-metal chutes) are different than the models sold at the Retail stores and have bigger chutes and higher capacity than the models with black chutes. The high-capacity snow blowers and are very comparable to the other brands heavy-duty models.
Commercial: Cub Cadet does not have a separate commercial line but does offer a one year commercial warranty on all their products.
Tracked and Brush: Cub Cadet offers one tracked 3X HD snow blower. They do not offer a power brush.
Tractor attachments: Cub Cadet offers one 3X front mounted snow blower for their lawn and garden tractors.
Retail: Cub Cadet offers many of their models through Home Depot. The more popular models are on display and available to purchase today at your local Home Depot store.
Online: Through The Home Depot all of the 1X, 2X and 3X models are available to order. (The 3X HD are dealer exclusive)
Dealer Network: One of the largest independent dealer networks. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Cub Cadet Dealer Locator
Repair Network: All repairs are done through the independent dealers. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Cub Cadet Dealer Locator
Parts Availability: All repairs are obtained through the independent dealers. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Cub Cadet Dealer Locator
Quality of Snow Blowers: Honda Power Equipment has moved their snow blower manufacturing to the U.S. The new models have changed considerably and now have some of the standard features that other brands have had for years. Power steering and electric chute control is now standard on all models. I have been waiting for an infinitely adjustable height control on the tracked units for years…. It looks like their new system will work well.
Residential/Heavy Duty/Commercial: Honda does not specify if the snow blowers are residential or heavy-duty. The only recognizable term they use is the engines are commercial grade.
Tracked: Honda has the largest selection of tracked snow blowers.
Tractor attachments: None
Retail: The dealer locator was broke on their site so at this time I don’t have the complete picture as to where to buy, parts and repair. I’ll add the info later.
Online: The single stage snow throwers are widely available online. If you are looking to purchase a 2015 model be sure you know the item number of the model you want.
Dealer Network: The dealer locator was broke on their site so at this time I don’t have the complete picture as to where to buy, parts and repair. I’ll add the info later.
Quality of Snow Blowers: Husqvarna recently re-engineered their entire snow blower line-up and now has a quality residential and a quality heavy-duty line. A few years ago their snow blower line was hard to figure out but now it is very easy to understand.
Economy: Like MTD Husqvarna builds snow blowers under different names and for different retailers. Husqvarna markets to the economy buyer using the Poulan Pro name. The Poulan Pro snow blowers have fewer features than the Husqvarna’s but have the same engineering and dependability of the orange machines.
Residential: The ST200 series is designed for residential use. These snow blowers feature a unique height adjustable handle bar, HID LED lighting and great engines.
Heavy Duty: The ST300 series is designed for larger area and heavy-duty use. It compares favorably to all the other heavy-duty units on the market.
Tracked and Brush: The ST330T 30 inch tracked snow blower is one of the most powerful and highest capacity tracked snow blowers on the market today. They don’t make a walk-behind brush for the North American market.
Tractor attachments: Husqvarna has a full range of tractor and rider mounted snow blowers.
Retail: You can purchase through Husqvarna Snow Blowers through many retail outlets including many Sears Hometown stores. Other retailers like Northern Tool also offer Husqvarna snow blowers online. The selection varies by retailer.
Online: Amazon is becoming one of the best places to purchase a Husqvarna snow blower online. Amazon itself is carrying the ST200 series with free delivery to your door and their famous A-Z guarantee. Independent dealers are offering the ST300 series through Amazon.
Dealer Network: One of the largest independent dealer networks. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Husqvarna Dealer Locator
Repair Network: All repairs are done through the independent dealers. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Husqvarna Dealer Locator
Parts Availability: All repairs are obtained through the independent dealers. To locate you nearest dealer use this link: Husqvarna Dealer Locator
Economy: Amerisun only offers economy snow blowers.
Retail: Menards. I am not aware of any other retailers stocking this brand in the store. The are widely available online. WATCH the shipping fees!
Online: Powersmart is widely available online. Just about every website that sells lawn and garden equipment offers these snow blowers to order and have delivered to your home. WATCH the shipping fees!
Dealer Network: I am not aware of any lawn equipment dealers stocking this brand.
Repair Network: Amerisun Owners Center
Parts Availability: Amerisun Owners Center
Quality of Snow Blowers: Poulan Pro is Husqvarna’s line of economy/residential snow blowers. They use the same basic housings and transmissions as the ST200 series but don’t have the high-end features like power steering, wrap around handles and heated hand grips.
Retail: The Poulan Pro snow blowers are sold at many retailers including The Home Depot.
Online: One of the major places to buy Poulan Pro is through Amazon. Amazon sells them directly and offers free delivery with their A-Z guarantee on many models.
Dealer Network: The dealer network is very spotty. You can find many dealers using the dealer locator tool but not all dealers carry all the models. Poulan Pro Dealers
Repair Network: The repair network is very good. Use the dealer locator to find repairs. Poulan Pro Dealers
Parts Availability: The parts network is very good. Most Husqvarna dealers will also order parts. Use the dealer locator to find repairs. Poulan Pro Dealers
Simplicity/Snapper/Briggs & Statton:
Quality of Snow Blowers: Simplicity and Snapper snow blowers have been around for a long time and depending on the model have been some of the most reliable snow blowers on the market. They are the only brands that use Briggs & Stratton engines on all of their machines. The quality of the heavy-duty units are a good as any other brand.
October Update: The Snapper line has been removed from the U.S. website. It looks like Briggs & Stratton will no longer be selling snow blowers under the Snapper name in the U.S.
Economy: Briggs markets economy snow blowers under the Snapper and Briggs & Stratton brands.
Residential: Briggs markets a line of residential snow blowers under the Simplicity and Briggs & Stratton brand names
Heavy Duty: Briggs markets a line of heavy-duty snow blowers under the Simplicity and Briggs & Stratton brand names
Commercial: Briggs markets a professional snow blower under the Simplicity and Briggs & Stratton brand names
Tracked and Brush: None
Tractor attachments: None
Retail: Very few of the major retailers have Simplicity and Briggs & Stratton snow blowers on display but many have them available to order online.
Online: Briggs & Stratton and Simplicity snow blowers are readily available through a number of online retailers.
Dealer Network: Large independent dealer networks.
Repair Network: All repairs are done through the independent dealers
Parts Availability: All repairs are obtained through the independent dealers
Quality of Snow Blowers: For many years Troy-Bilt was the residential division of MTD (Cub Cadet was heavy-duty and Yard Machines was the economy line) but in the last 3 years it appears the brand is becoming a Lowes exclusive brand and the line now carries both economy and residential snow blowers.
Economy: Troy-Bilt has a full range of snow blowers available including a few of the least expensive snow blowers.
Residential Troy-Bilt has a full range of snow blowers available including the three stage residential models
Heavy Duty: Troy-Bilt does not break out a heavy-duty segment. They currently don’t have a HD version like the Cub Cadet 3X HD models (yellow metal chute).
Tracked: Troy-Bilt has 2-3 tracked snow blowers available.
Tractor attachments: Troy-Bilt has a tractor mounted snow blower.
Retail: The primary retailer is Lowes
Online: Troy-Bilt snow blowers are all available to order on the Troy-Bilt website. In addition many online websites including Amazon have many models available.
Dealer Network: The dealer network is spotty. Use the Where to buy tab at Troy-Bilt website to find a dealer near you.
Repair Network: Use the service tab at Troy-Bilt website to find a dealer near you.
Parts Availability:Use the service tab at Troy-Bilt website to find a dealer near you.
Quality of Snow Blowers: I believe Toro has been making walk-behind snow blowers longer than anyone else. Their current machines including both the single stage and the 2-stage snow blowers are some of the most dependable made. Toro is the only brand that uses a one-piece frame and no shear pins on the 2-stage snow blowers.
Economy: Toro is not making an economy/cheap snow blower. But the new SnowMaster models fit into the price range of the other economy snow blowers. All of their machines are designed to last for many years.
Residential: The Power Max line is one of the “standards” I compare all of the other residential snow blowers against. The machines are simple to use and will last a very long time.
Heavy Duty: The Power Max HD line is equal or better than all of the other heavy-duty snow blowers on the market. If you get heavy, wet snow or lots of it the HD models are always a good choice.
Commercial Single stage: Toro does not have a separate commercial line (except for one single stage) but does point out on their website the best models for Professional Contractors.
Tracked: Toro does not have a tracked walk-behind snow blower but they do have a zero-turn that converts into a tracked unit. Groundsmaster 7200
Brush: Toro has one 36 inch all season commercial power broom.
Tractor attachments: None. But they do have high-capacity snow blowers available for some of the commercial/municipal zero-turn mowers.
Retail: Home Depot
Online: Home Depot
Dealer Network: One of the largest independent dealer networks. Toro Dealer, Parts, Service Locator
Repair Network: All repairs are done through the independent dealers. Toro Dealer, Parts, Service Locator
Parts Availability: All repairs are obtained through the independent dealers. Toro Dealer, Parts, Service Locator
Yardman/Yard Machines/MTD/MTD Pro/MTD Gold/Remington/Huskee:
Quality of Snow Blowers: If you go into your local grocery store for a can of peas you will be amazed at the number of different brands on the shelf. In addition to the canned versions there are three or four different brands of frozen peas over in the freezer section of the store. In reality, the peas most likely came out of the same fields and were packaged in the same factory. The only real difference is the name on the package and color of the container they are in. Today’s retailers want their own brands so they can say their products are “different” from the competition. Many retailers also want their own exclusive brand so they don’t have to price match other retailers.
MTD does this with snow blowers. Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt and Yard Machines are their three primary brands but they will also paint and label their snow blowers in any color you want. They will also add or remove features to help you meet a price point or quality level for the customers that shop at your store. Yardman/Yard Machines/MTD/MTD Pro/MTD Gold/Remington are all names MTD uses for this. Huskee (Tractor Supply Company) is a good example of a snow blower specifically spec’d for a retailer.
Economy/Residential: Depending on the retailer any of these brands may be an economy or residential grade model. It is very hard to figure it out without actually looking at the parts numbers of the individual components in the machines.
One good thing about these snow blowers. They are all manufactured here in the U.S.
Heavy Duty: None
Tracked and Brush: None
Tractor attachments: None
Retail: Depending on the brand and the year these brands have been seen at WalMart, Lowes, Menards, Sears, Home Depot, your local hardware store and just about any place else that ever thought about selling snow blowers.
Online: These brands are widely available online at many retailers including Amazon, WalMart, Home Depot and a hundred other sites.
Dealer Network: No specific dealer network. These brands are primarily sold at retailers and local farm supply and hardware stores.
Repair Network: Large independent repair network. Go to the Yard Machines website to locate a repair center.
Parts Availability: Parts are available through the repair centers but you should also be able to go to any Troy-Bilt or Cub Cadet dealer and they should be able to assist you in finding the parts. Make sure you bring you the model and serial number information for your specific snow blower.
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