What Size Snow Blower Do I Need?

If you’re confused by the many different sizes & types of snow blowers available, read on & we’ll demystify the options for you. Once you’ve made your mind up, have a look at our guides to the best cordless snow blower, the best electric snow blower and the best gas snow blower.

Inlet Height

When deciding on what size snow blower you need, one of the most important things to consider is the inlet height. Depending on what type of snowfall you get in your region, you may be able to get away with an inlet height in the 8″ range, but if you get regular heavy falls of thick or wet snow, you’ll need something larger and more capable.

Be aware that a large inlet size doesn’t necessarily mean the snow blower is capable of clearing snow up to the top of the inlet – for example, one of our favourite cordless models (the Snow Joe iON8024) has a 12″ inlet height, but is really best suited to snow depth of 8″ or less.

Inlet Width

Another important factor you need to consider when you want to determine what size snow blower you need is the inlet width. The width of the inlet is not as important as the height when it comes to the accumulation of snow you will be dealing with.

The width will impact the number of passes you will need to make in order to clear out snow – for example, a 28″ wide snow blower will take around 2/3 the number of passes you will need to make with a snow blower that has a 20″ wide intake. Wider is almost always better, unless you have an unusually-shaped driveway or sidewalk with many obstacles. If your storage space or budget is limited you may want to choose a snow blower with a narrower inlet, otherwise get the widest blower you can stretch to.

Engine Size

The engine size of a snow blower is important. It determines a number of other factors that affect the overall performance of the snow blower.

Gas Snow Blower Engine Size

Consumer grade snow blowers typically have small engines, close to 200 cc. Mid-sized gas snow blowers have engines ranging from 200 to 400 cc, while professional grade snow blowers offer more powerful engines worth 300 cc or more than 400 cc.

The size of the engine determines the horsepower produced by a snow blower. That affects the amount of gas it consumes as well. Snow blowers with bigger engines also provide faster drive systems but they are more expensive. If you have a small area to clear, it’s more cost-effective to stick with a snow blower that has a smaller engine.

Electric Snow Blower Motor Size

When it comes to electric snow blowers, almost all of them are single stage machines (see our article on single stage vs two stage snow blowers for more). Corded electric models range in power output from around 10-15 amps (around 1100-1800 watts). A few cordless models are available with higher outputs (they are not limited to the maximum power output of a domestic power outlet like cordless models are).


The weight of a snow blower is one of the obvious factors you need to think about when you want to determine what size snow blower you need. There’s no standard snow blower weight you need to go for. It depends on the type, model, brand, among other factors, of the snow blower.

The more powerful snow blowers will have obviously have more weight to accommodate their powerful features. The weight also determines how easily you can maneuver the snow blower. Instead of focusing on the weight of the snow blower itself, you should think more along the lines of whether a model you’re considering is capable of dealing with snow accumulation or not.

Bear in mind most larger, more powerful snow blowers, while being heavier, also have features such as self-powered wheels and power steering, so a heavier snow blower will not necessarily be more difficult to maneuver. This video explains how the self-powered wheels work in a popular snow blower:

Final Thoughts

Having read the above points, do read about how a snow blower works and some basic q’s and a’s. What size snow blower you need ultimately depends both on your needs and the capabilities of the snow blower you’re considering. Make sure to research the models you are interested in, bearing in mind the information here.

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