Are 3 Stage Snow Blowers Worth It? (Find Out Now!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

With winter right around the corner, it’s almost time to start taking on the piles of snow that inevitably collect on your driveway. A light flurry or dusting of snow is thin enough to be shoveled away by hand. However, when you start to get into ankle- or even waist-deep snow, you need a powerful snow blower in your tool collection.

When it comes to snow blowers, you essentially have three options to choose from: a single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage snow blower. While a single stage snow blower is certainly enough to clear a light snowfall or small paths on your property, you need something more powerful to handle heavy snowfall on sizable walkways and driveways.

This brings us to the question on many homeowner’s minds as they hunt for the perfect snow blower: are 3 stage snow blowers worth it? Undeniably, three stage blowers offer top-rated performance, with the ability to remove snow 50% faster than two stage models. However, the answer of whether or not a three stage blower is worth it ultimately comes down to your individual needs.

In most cases, two stage blowers are enough for residential settings. But, if your area regularly experiences 18 inches or more of snow, then a three stage blower may be the ideal choice for your situation.

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What are Three Stage Snow Blowers?

The three stage snow blower earns its name from the three stages, or operations, that take place when it’s removing snow. These can be broken down as follows:

  • Stage One: The blower gathers and breaks down ice and snow with an auger.
  • Stage Two: In stage two, the snow is distributed to the impeller and then thrown from the machine out of the discharge chute.
  • Stage Three: This stage describes blowers’ accelerator, which increases the impeller’s speed to cut through snow and ice quicker. With this feature, a three stage blower can half the time it takes to clear a given area.

Most three stage snow blowers are considered commercial equipment, with an electric starter that runs on gasoline to power a 4-cycle engine. As such, many professionals prefer these models over any other alternatives. Though, because of their engine and extra complexity, three stage blowers are larger, louder, and require more frequent maintenance.

Ideally, three stage blowers are best used in areas that see incredibly heavy snowfall or whenever someone needs to clear snow as fast as possible. Not only do these models work 50% faster than two stage blowers, but they can also remove snow and ice that is over 18 inches deep. They deliver commercial-level performance and the ultimate peace of mind.

Pros of Three Stage Snow Blowers

  • Incredible strength and horsepower
  • Moves up to 50% more snow than two-stage blowers
  • Can handle more snow at once for quicker removal
  • Delivers cleaner results, with cleaner augers and a cleaner driveway
  • Throws snow over 50 feet into the air
  • Can clear snow and ice over 18 inches deep

Cons of Three Stage Snow Blowers

  • Higher initial upfront cost – often costing between $2,000 and $3,000
  • Heavy and harder to maneuver for smaller individuals
  • Requires more maintenance
  • More expensive to operate and maintain
  • Recommended to be serviced by a professional
  • Larger and needs more storage space

What’s the Difference Between a Two Stage and a Three Stage Snow Blower?

Bigger and faster may not always mean better, which is why it’s so important to understand the difference between a two stage snow blower and a three stage snow blower. That way, you can determine which option will be of more value to you and your needs.

The main difference between the two models is that three stage blowers usually have more horsepower, because of the larger engine, the additional auger, and the blower accelerator. In addition to this, two stage and three stage snow blowers differ in the following categories:


When it comes to snow blowing capacity, three stage snow blowers come out on top. These models have the ability to remove more snow and ice from larger areas. In most cases, two stage snow blowers can handle depths of snow that sit around 12 inches.

If you experience snowfall that exceeds 12 inches on a regular basis, you may want to consider a three stage model. Three stage snow blowers can handle heavy snowfall, over 18 inches, with ease – whether it’s on your driveway or throughout your property.

Forward Propulsion Speed

Both two stage and three stage snow blowers are usually self-propelled, meaning they help reduce fatigue and increase possible operation time. Though, it’s important that you make sure that your three stage snow blower has this feature before purchasing it – as some do not. These models are notoriously heavy and will be incredibly difficult to maneuver if they don’t have a self-propulsion feature.

Augers and Impellers

Two stage and three stage snow blowers have an auger and impeller, but:

  • Two stage snow blowers have two augers.
  • Three stage snow blowers have three augers.

Augers are rotating metal components that look corkscrew- or spiral-like in design. They are responsible for breaking and lifting snow and ice, then pushing it towards the impeller to be ejected through the chute. The more augers that a snow blower has, the more material it can handle at a time, the quicker it will process it, and the further it can eject it.

Blower Accelerator

As previously mentioned, the accelerator is the most substantial functional difference between these two types of snow blowers. It is solely responsible for why three stage blowers are significantly faster at removing snow. However, an accelerator is more of an upgrade rather than an essential feature. It helps get the job done quicker, allowing three stage snow blowers to clear snow approximately 50% faster than their two stage counterparts.

Blower Distance

In most cases, two stage snow blowers can throw snow anywhere from 20 to 50 feet into the air, depending on the specific product you choose. By contrast, most three stage blowers blow snow about 50 feet, or more. However, because of their weight and larger size, some actually blow less. So, it’s important that you check the specifications before you make your investment.


Because of the additional complexity of three stage snow blowers, it’s nearly impossible to maintain them without the help of a professional. While there are some people with the technical skill and knowledge to handle it themselves, the average homeowner will need professional assistance.

On the other hand, two stage snow blowers are very easy to maintain. This translates to a lower maintenance cost over the tool’s lifetime. The generally maintenance that these tools require is well within the competencies of the average Joe.


Another important consideration when you’re choosing a snow blower is storage space. The size of the snow blower can have a huge impact on whether it will fit in your garage or not. Overall, three stage snow blowers are much larger than two stage models, with a wider body and wider intake.


The difference in price between a two stage and a three stage snow blower can vary based on manufacturer, specification, and additional features. The best way to compare prices is to find a two stage and three stage model available from the same brand. While some two stage snow blowers cost around $500, there are others over $1,300. In contrast, are over $1,000, with some costing as much as $3,000.

Though, in most cases, the price difference is usually around $600 on average. With this in mind, are three stage snow blowers worth the additional cost?

Which is Better – Two Stage or Three Stage Snow Blower?

It’s challenging to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it ultimately depends on your situation and your individual needs. While a two stage snow blower will perform incredibly well for the average residential jobs where snowfall is under 12 inches, it will take longer to clear the snow. Though, two stage models are the more affordable choice in both the initial upfront cost and the maintenance over time.

On the other hand, three stage snow blowers can remove snow nearly twice as fast and usually throwing it over 50 feet. Overall, if you have a large property that tends to experience snowfall that is 18 inches deep on a regular basis, a three stage snow blower may be the best option.

Do You Need Snow Removal Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Are Three Stage Snow Blowers Worth It?

Whether or not a three stage snow blower is worth it all comes down to personal preference. Though, when you consider convenience, maneuverability, maintenance requirements, and cost, it’s likely that the majority of households will find that a two stage snow blower is more than capable of removing the snowfall they get.

However, if you frequently see snow that is 18 inches or more, a three stage snow blower will certainly be worth it for you. These models deliver commercial-level performance, with the ability clear large areas of deep snow quickly. Though, if you get less than 18 inches of snow in your area of the world, a two stage or possibly even a single stage snow blower or electric shovel might be a more ideal option.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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