Purchasing a new snow blower can be an overwhelming task. The problem is there are so many types and features like 2-stage vs. 3-stage, gas vs. electric, and more. You have to figure out what snowblower will work best for you.

I can help! I have put together a simple guide to explain the difference between 2-stage and 3-stage snow blowers. So if that is where you have questions, still around for all the answers.

What is a Two-Stage Snow Blower?

PowerSmart Snow Blower Gas Powered, 2-Stage Snow Blower

To really understand the difference between a two-stage or three-stage snow blower, it’s important to understand each of them individually. I’m going to take you through one at a time and then we can review the differences.

The title Two-stage snow blower is actually almost self-explanatory once you understand how a snow blower works. This means that it operates in two stages when you are working to clear snow.

The first stage is when the auger goes to work working ice and snow and gathering it up to clear away. This is probably the hardest stage of the task. The second stage is the snow flowing through the impeller and then being dispelled through a chute, wherever your chute is pointing.

Typically, these are easy to control and manage. Many people can drive them with a single hand. You can find premium models that have self-propelling or even hand warmers on the handles like for example this model.

Two-stage snow blowers typically have fewer augers and not quite as much power. These fall right in the middle in terms of power and efficiency. They are more powerful than 1-stage options but not as powerful as 3-stage snow blowers.

What you need could really vary depending on your driveway. If you want the best snow blower for a gravel driveway we definitely recommend a two-stage or possibly a three-stage if you need extra power!

With a two-stage snow blower, you are typically in control. You can move the direction of the chute while you’re operating if you need to. Ultimately, a two-stage blower allows you to clear out even deep snow quite efficiently.

They are great for residential use and typically easy to operate and maintain.

What is a Three-Stage Snow Blower?

Cub Cadet 3-Stage Electric Start Gas Snow Blower with Steel Chute

Three-stage snow blowers have only been around for about 40 years now. They are still considered a “new” option and they may remain that way for some time still. So what is a three-stage snow blower?

Remember that the two-stage snow blower had two stages? Well, the three-stage snow blower has three! That makes sense, right? You have the first stage, which is where the auger gathers up snow and breaks through ice. Then, there is the second stage, where the snow passes through the impeller and prepares to distribute from the chute.

With this type of snow blower, you have an added third stage. The third stage is an accelerator. Ultimately, what this means is more power to get the job done even faster. No, you probably won’t be pushing your lead foot down on the accelerator as you might with a car.

In the image, you can see a Cub Cadet snow blower that is 3-stage.

Instead, you will be using the accelerator to ultimately speed up the impeller process so your snow blower gathers snow, processes snow, and blows it out more quickly. With a three-stage snow blower, you can typically adjust the speed to your preferences.

These bad boys are designed for heavy-duty snowblowing. They are powerful and fast and can cover a lot of ground more quickly. They can be more pricy too and you’re paying for the added speed.

When it comes to a three-stage snow blower, you may need to have maintenance completed by a professional. There are some things you can potentially do on your own but you need to be aware of how and what you are doing or you should rely on an expert.

These are great for commercial use or maybe if you are in a location that tends to get heavy snowfalls. But, you really aren’t limited. If you just want to move at super speed when you clear snow, you can totally use these!

3-Stage Snow Blower vs. 2-Stage – What’s the Difference?

2 stage snow blower

Alright, we’ve talked a little bit about these snow blowers on an individual level so let’s discuss the differences in detail.

If you’re looking at the primary differences, the biggest difference is what I described above about the stages themselves. The two-stage snow blower doesn’t have an accelerator while the three-stage does. This is the reason for the difference in the titles ultimately. But, there really is more to understand here.

Did you know that the accelerator helps the 3-stage snow blower work at about the speed and a half of the 2-stage snow blower? Yes, you read that right. If your 2-stage blower is clearing at 100% speed, the 3-stage does it at 150% speed.

Two-stage snow blowers are typically slow as they cycle through the first stage and pull in or break through the snow. However, with the accelerator, the three-stage snow blowers don’t have to slow down for this step.

The three-stage machine packs a powerful punch. At the same time, it packs a powerful price tag and it requires more extensive and more careful maintenance than the two-stage snow blower does.

Is one better than the other? Well, the real answer here is it depends. It really depends on what type of use you need. If you’re looking for the top dog, then a three-stage snow blower is your solution. If you want something simple but effective, the two-stage is also a great choice.

Both options serve a good purpose and both of these snow blower types are really great for working quickly and efficiently overall.


I hope this quick guide helps you to understand the differences between the snow blower 2-stage vs. 3-stage. There is no right or wrong answer for your needs, aside from your preferences and the power you prefer.

Which snow blower do you have your eye on?


Are 3-Stage Snow Blowers Worth the Money?

This is really a question of perception. If you can afford the three-stage and the cost of maintenance and upkeep, go for it! It is more powerful and can work more quickly. If you don’t quite have the budget for it, a two-stage option will work just fine!

Can I Use a Two-Stage Snow Blower on Gravel?

Yes! The trick to working on gravel is to have an adjustable head so you can make sure your auger works at the proper level without tearing up your gravel.

Is a Single Stage Snow Blower Any Good?

If you have the choice, we recommend a two-stage blower over a single stage snow blower. The cost is not much higher but the power and capability are worth it. At the same time, a single stage snow blower will still take care of simple jobs and they are often very easy to operate.