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Updated Nov 19, 2022 5:01 PM

Snow blowers can make quick work of clearing snowy walkways and long driveways after a major snowstorm. They make snow removal easier for everyone, but can be especially helpful for older homeowners who may struggle with shoveling. Using one takes less time, strength, and stamina than using a shovel, which can be especially risky for anyone with joint and/or back problems. The best snow blowers for elderly people will ensure you can safely clear snow accumulation so you can quickly access your car and walkways.

Snow removal is serious business

Snow removal is a normal part of life for homeowners in large swaths of North America, so it’s easy to dismiss the fact that it’s a very taxing activity that can become quite dangerous for people with health issues. The combination of cold temperatures and intense physical exertion while shoveling a driveway can lead to an increased risk for a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association, particularly if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol. Your risk of a catastrophic health event is also higher for people with conditions like diabetes, smokers, and those of us who don’t get to the gym enough.

Ideally, older adults diagnosed with heart or physical health issues should avoid snow removal entirely. If you can, hire someone to shovel your driveway and walkway. According to Dr. Claire Ankuda, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, clearing snow is always a risky move for older people with physical limitations.

If that’s not an option, use a snow blower to remove as much snow from your walkways and/or driveway as possible. It minimizes the risk of muscle and back strain (or worse) and can clear a large area more efficiently while limiting your exposure to the elements. Best of all, it doesn’t require as much physical exertion as a shovel. Even then, Ankuda still advised caution:

“It’s important to physically warm up with stretching, to wear appropriate boots to reduce the chance of slips, and to take frequent breaks,” She said. “The majority of injuries that are related to snow blowers have been due to hand or finger injuries, from people reaching in to clear blockages in the discharge chute. This can be avoided by using a tool or a stick to unclog the machine.”

The best snow blowers for elderly people: Reviews & Recommendations

It can be hard to balance picking a snow blower that’s powerful enough to handle any situation and one that will actually make clearing snow safer and easier. There are a lot of variables at play, from the size of your property to the amount of snowfall you get annually, so you’ll have to use your best judgment when choosing what works best for you. That said, we think our picks for the best snow blowers for elderly people will make it easier to clear snow no matter what.

Best overall: Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE

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Why it made the cut: Toro’s SnowMaster 824 QXE includes the power and features to clear out the roughest snowfall.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 55.4 x 25.4 x 43 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 131 pounds
  • Type: Single-stage
  • Clearing width: 24 inches
  • Power source: Gas

Pros

  • Wide clearing width
  • Comparable to some two-stage models
  • Personal Pace system

Cons

  • Expensive

Toro’s SnowMaster 824 QXE is a single-stage gas-powered snow blower that features a clearing width of 24 inches and a push-to-start button. We like this model because of its “Personal Pace” system, which matches your walking speed with the speed of the blower’s wheels. It sounds unnecessary but it allows you to set the tempo of your snow blowing and keep your footing. Personal Pace also makes it easier to stop the snow blower instantly. 

The SnowMaster 824 QXE is also relatively light at 131 pounds, making it easy to maneuver, and features a 252 cc engine for plenty of power. Meanwhile, Toro’s snow blower offers an adjustable chute and a unique auger design capable of throwing snow up to 40 feet.

Best single-stage: Toro Power Clear 721

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Why it made the cut: The Power Clear 721 can easily blast through fresh snow and throw it up to 35 feet.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 48 x 21 x 42 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 84 pounds
  • Type: Single-stage
  • Clearing width: 21 inches
  • Power source: Gas

Pros

  • Simple, effective design
  • Push-button start
  • Adjustable chute

Cons

  • Only works well on pavement

Like our best overall pick, the Power Clear 721 gets high marks because of Toro’s Personal Pace system, an adjustable chute, and an electric start button. The gas-powered engine is a less powerful 212cc, but it also weighs slightly less at 125 pounds. Even with a little less power, it can still easily clear wet, heavy snow and toss it up to 40 feet. 

Best two-stage: Troy-Bilt Storm 2420

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Why it made the cut: The two-stage design, self-propelled drive, and 24-inch clearing width make the Storm 2420 a monster snow-clearing machine.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 49 x 25 x 33 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 191 pounds
  • Type: Two-stage
  • Clearing width: 24 inches
  • Power source: Gas

Pros

  • More powerful two-stage design
  • Self-propelled drive
  • Larger tires

Cons

  • Big and heavy

The Troy-Bilt Storm 2420 combines a 12-inch serrated steel auger and a 12-inch impeller, enabling it to plow through deep, heavy snowfall. It has a clearing width of 24 inches, so users should be able to clear a driveway quickly. The machine also comes equipped with 13- by 4-inch X-Trac tires, giving it better traction and mobility over heavier, icier snow. Plus, of course, it has some of our favorite quality-of-life features, including an adjustable chute and an electric start button.

Best electric: Ryobi Brushless 18-inch Single-Stage Snow Blower

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Why it made the cut: The cordless design, compact size, and additional features make the Ryobi Brushless Whisper an electrifying option. 

Specs

  • Dimensions: 51.5 x 18.5 x 38.25 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Type: Single-stage
  • Clearing width: 18 inches
  • Power source: Battery

Pros

  • Cordless operation
  • Folds up for compact storage
  • Adjustable chute

Cons

  • Narrower clearing width

Electric snow blowers aren’t as powerful as gas-powered models, but they require much less maintenance and run quietly. (It also means you don’t need to keep gas cans around in case it snows.)

Ryobi’s compact electric single-stage blower features an 18-inch clearance width and 10-inch clearance depth, making it the perfect size for lighter snowfall. It’s cordless, powered by a 40-volt (V) battery, so it’s just as maneuverable as a gas-powered model. (There are, in fact, plug-in electric snow blowers.) It has an adjustable chute for controlled snow throwing, a push-button start, and an LED light for increased visibility at dusk or dawn. The Ryobi 18-inch snow blower can also throw snow about 25 feet and, as a bonus, its battery is compatible with other 40V products in Ryobi’s lineup.

Best gas-powered: Toro Power Max HD 828

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Why it made the cut: With a 28-inch clearing width, adjustable chute, and two-stage design, the Power Max HD 828 was born to clear snow.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 58 x 29.5 x 31.5 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 310 pounds
  • Type: Two-stage
  • Clearing width: 28 inches
  • Power source: Gas

Pros

  • Anti-clogging system
  • 28-inch clearing width
  • LED headlights

Cons

  • Very expensive

With a wide 28-inch clearing width, gas-powered engine, and adjustable chute, the Toro Power Max HD 828 is a monster snow blower built for clearing large areas after big storms. The two-stage operation can toss snow up to 45 feet, and the machine is self-propelled, so all users need to do is guide the Power Max over the areas that need clearing. It also includes features that make it easier to use, including an electric start button and an LED headlight. As with all gas-powered models, the Power Max is loud. That said, its wide clearing width and self-propelled engine ensure you’ll get the job done quickly.

Best budget: Greenworks 13 Amp 20-inch Corded Snow Thrower

Greenworks

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Why it made the cut: This snow thrower from Greenworks will keep your walk clear and won’t cost a fortune.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 31 x 21.6 x 37 inches (DWH)
  • Weight: 30 Pounds
  • Type: Single-stage
  • Width: 20 inches
  • Power source: Corded electric

Pros

  • Corded electric design means unlimited runtime
  • Adjustable chute
  • Easy push-button start

Cons

  • Cord could get in the way

Snow blowers can be expensive, especially if you need something heavy-duty. If you live somewhere that only gets light snowfall, the GreenWorks 13 Amp is a more affordable snow blower with a clearing width of 20 inches that can throw snow up to 20 feet. For small walkways and driveways, it’s enough to keep things clear. It also includes a push-button start, an adjustable chute, and LED lights. Best of all, it’s only 32 pounds, so it’s very easy to move around. At around $200, it’s a solid deal.

How we chose the best snow blowers for elderly people

I’ve been writing about gear and gadgets for over a decade for sites like TechnoBuffalo, CNN Underscored, and Popular Science. During that time, I’ve covered everything from the best gallon water bottles to the best smoke detectors.

To figure out how to specifically select snow blowers for elderly people, we contacted medical experts, including Dr. Ankuda, to understand what qualities, if any, might make a snowblower better or worse for older people. We found that snowblowers are easier to use than shovels when clearing large areas.

From there, we drew on our past research for recommending the best snow blowers and best snow shovels in order to find the most reliable options from the best brands. We also drew on recent reviews from experts and impressions from users to make sure our recommendations are up to date before the coming winter season.

What to look for when picking the best snow blowers for elderly people

A good snow blower is fast, effective, and easy to use—but that’s just the baseline, the bare minimum. There are a few technical factors to keep in mind when picking out the gear that’s going to help you get through every winter storm for the foreseeable future. For starters, there are three kinds of snow blowers and you should know which one you want. From there, keep an eye on its size and weight to make sure you can easily move them around. You should also note its clearing dimensions, which describe the swatch of snow you can remove in a single pass.

Types of snow blowers

Snow blowers come in three categories, divided by the number of mechanisms they use while clearing snow. “Single-stage,” “two-stage,” and “three-stage” snow blowers each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Single-stage snow blowers are compact, easy to maneuver, and feature simple controls, making them better suited for elderly people. They feature a spinning metal auger at the front of the machine that scoops up light-to-moderate snowfall and discharges it through a chute. Single-stage snow blowers are simple, which ultimately makes them the ideal option for people with physical limitations. That said, their auger blades may skim the ground during operation, which could pick up rocks and toss them out of the chute, possibly doing damage to nearby vehicles. You should definitely avoid single-stage mowers if you have a gravel driveway.

Two-stage snow blowers have a fan-like mechanism called an impeller, which helps throw snow out of the chute, as well as the auger found in a single-stage blower. The combination amps up the power, making a two-stage blower capable of clearing up to 23 inches of snow and ice over all types of terrain (even gravel driveways). They also feature a self-propelled transmission with forward and reverse speeds, which assists with pushing the snow blower through thick, icy snow accumulation.

A three-stage snow blower features an auger, an impeller, and adds an accelerator, which grinds chunks of ice into slush and spits it out with the snow. It’s the best choice for moving heavy, compacted snow and ice up to 23 inches deep. In addition to being more powerful than one- and two-stage models, a three-stage snow blower should work well over unpaved surfaces and/or steep inclines. While you can find them for sale at hardware stores, three-stage snow blowers are generally considered commercial machines. We’d consider them overkill in most situations.

If you’re looking to minimize physical exertion, a single-stage snow blower is a logical choice. It’s the easiest to use and should be able to handle light-to-average snow. If your health is a concern, you should call a professional when you get heavy snow overnight, regardless of what gear is in your garage.

Size and weight

To ensure the snow blower is easy to use, we recommend taking a look at its size and weight. A heavier snow blower may be harder to set up and put away at the start and end of the season.

Single-stage blowers are more compact, lightweight, and easier to handle, making them an excellent choice for elderly people. Likewise, electric snow blowers tend to be light, between 30 and 65 pounds. Gas-powered models can weigh a lot more—100-300 pounds. While these models are more capable of clearing large areas of snowfall and ice, they’re also some of the biggest, heaviest snow blowers on the market, so they’re not ideal for older adults.

Clearing width and depth

Clearing width and depth indicate how much snow a blower can clear in one pass. Clearing width describes how wide a path the snow blower will create, while clearing depth tells you how high a snow pile it can process. A typical single-stage blower can clear a path that’s 11-22 inches wide through up to 8 inches of snow. A two-stage snow blower can clear a patch up to 23 inches deep and 30 inches wide in a single pass, which is great for longer driveways. 

We recommend most people use a single-stage blower for its more compact size, but a two-stage snow blower’s greater clearing width and depth might be necessary if you get a lot of snow each season. If you need to clear a larger area with denser and possibly icy snow, a two-stage snow blower makes sense. 

Surface type

The surface you’re clearing will affect the type of snow blower you need. A single-stage blower is excellent for clearing flat, paved walkways and driveways. However, as we mentioned, they’re not suited for clearing gravel surfaces because they tend to pick up and throw loose rocks. A two-stage snow blower can clear diverse terrain and generally feature larger, more durable wheels that can gain better traction on icy snow. Two-stage blowers may also feature engine-driven wheels capable of handling uneven and sloped surfaces, making them far easier to push in challenging conditions.

Extra features

Beyond the core mechanisms, snow blowers can come with lots of bells and whistles that can make your experience easier and/or safer. Some of them, like an automatic safety cutoff, can prevent injuries. Others, like an adjustable throw chute, may make it easier to move snow efficiently.

Older adults may specifically want to look for a snow blower with features that make it easier to handle. Some snow blowers have power steering to reduce resistance when turning. Many electric snow blowers have a power button instead of the traditional ripcord found on gas-powered models. Some even have headlights for increased visibility at dusk or dawn. These features aren’t standard, so you’ll likely find them on more expensive models, but we think it’s worth the extra expense if they may make clearing snow easier.

FAQs

Q: How much do snow blowers cost?

Snow blower prices vary quite a bit depending on what you’re looking for. A single-stage snow blower generally costs around $500, with prices going up or down depending on whether you get one that’s gas-powered, electric, corded, or cordless. Two-stage snow blower prices start at around $1,000. Keep in mind that snow blowers are heavy-duty appliances, on par with a lawn mower, which is mostly to say that they are expensive, but built to last.

Q: Is an electric snow blower better than gas?

Electric snow blowers are easier to maintain and generally lighter than gas-powered models. They’re also smaller and lighter, making them easier to handle. That said, you will either need to charge a battery before using them or possibly plug them into an outlet, which will limit their range. They’re also generally less powerful, so you may not be able to move as much snow.

Q: What is the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower?

There’s no difference! A “snow thrower” is another name for a single-stage snow blower.

Final thoughts on the best snow blowers for elderly people

Older adults with health issues should avoid clearing their own snow. If you have to do it yourself, however, using one of the best snow blowers for elderly people will make digging out much easier and safer. Besides, who wants to actually shovel snow, anyway?

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