How Deep Does the Snow Have to Be to Use a Snowblower?

When it snows, using a snowblower makes removing it much easier and more enjoyable. But how deep does the snow have to be to use a snowblower? The answer will depend on the type and size of snow blower you have. On average, there should be at least three to nine inches of snow.

What Are the Guidelines Regarding Snow Depth with a Snowblower?

When to use a snowblower and the maximum amount of snow it can handle will completely impinge on the kind of snowblower you have. There are electric ones while some models use gas. What’s more, there are three different stages which can handle varying volumes of snow.

How Do You Understand the Different Kinds of Snowblowers?

There are essentially two types of snowblowers with three stage classifications. Knowing the nuances of each will help you decide which snowblower will be best for your situation.

What Are the Different Types of Snowblowers?

There are electric snowblowers or ones that power with gas. Each type has their own subclassifications for further consideration.

  • Electric: These are often single-stage, small and can only handle a light or miniscule amount of snow. They’re lightweight and perfect for small patches of sidewalk, decks and narrow spots. They’re compact, convenient and are very low maintenance. Electric snowblowers require a cold-weather extension cord and an outlet to operate or charge them.
    • Corded – These electric blowers will need a wall outlet along with a long, flexible cord capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. These can remove up to 12 inches of snow.
    • Cordless – As the name suggests, cordless electric blowers won’t need a cord to operate them. They will have to charge in a standard outlet until the battery is full. But, some models don’t have a long-lasting battery as other ones, so shoppers must be savvy in this regard. They have a push button for starting and can handle up to 12 inches of snow.
  • Gas: These are cordless models that provide plenty of power and strength for large, dense amounts of snow. Some can even clear away and breakup ice. The variations available for gas-powered blowers come in the stages available.

What Are the Different Stage Classifications for Snowblowers?

The stages of a snowblower indicate the machine’s ability to handle snow. While most electric snowblowers come as a single-stage type, there are some models available as a two-stage. All gas-powered snowblower come in all three versions.


Single-stage snowblowers are compact, lightweight and easy to handle. They have one speed that picks snow up off the ground and pushes it out through a discharge chute. Brands vary greatly with single-stage blowers, but generally, they can handle anywhere between eight to 12 inches of snow.

These are ideal for sidewalks, small driveways, steps, decks, patios and verandas. Although stronger models can handle compacted snow and ice, you have to attack the accumulation early to avoid solidification. When in doubt, use a shovel to break up thicker, larger areas to make it easier on the blower.


Two-stage units operate by way of a slow-turning impeller. This gathers snow and moves it to the center of the machine’s housing. It’s from here the snow goes through a higher speed impeller to send snow out of the discharge chute.

These snowblowers can handle heavy snowfalls of more than 12 inches. Many units feature self-propulsion engines with a choice of speeds you can change as needed. You won’t need to use a shovel to chop compacted snow and ice because manufacturers design them to handle these with ease and in a short time period.

Heavy-Duty Results

Two-stage snowblowers are strong, heavy and sturdy. This makes removing deep, wet snow a breeze without having to slow down or stop. It can throw up to 50 feet away from the place it gathered the snow. This means it’s better to use a two-stage snowblower to clear large swaths of area without having to go over it again.

Safe on Most Surfaces

What’s more, the mechanism that sucks up the snow doesn’t make contact with the surface you’re clearing. You can remove snow on gravel, crushed stone and other uneven surfaces without any effort. They won’t destroy surfaces like concrete or grass, so you can use them on your yard as well.

Two-stages can handle massive snowdrifts that buildup around places like mailboxes and at the end of driveways. Wider, large and deep expanses of snow are no match for this stage of snowblower.


Snowblowers with three stages are the most efficient and powerful kinds available. There are two metal impellers responsible for collecting ice and now. They scoop these up and then shove it into the center of the housing. Here, an accelerator pulverizes the snow and pushes it through the impeller, sending it out at high speeds.

These work as much as 50 times faster than a two-stage unit and throw snow as far as 50 feet. They can clear out snowfall up to 20 inches deep. These are ideal for large properties with huge driveways or on stretches of road.

How Do You Determine Which Kind of Snowblower to Use?

Using the right kind of snowblower appropriate to your space and climate will be essential. Areas with heavy snowfall, regardless of the size to clear, should use a two- or three-stage blower. But, small patches or areas with light snow will do best with a single-stage.

As a general rule, compact snowblowers are better for smaller driveways and larger ones are best for property with many acres. But, if you live in a place with occasional snowfall, then a medium-sized one will be better for those with a good amount of acreage.

Electric single-stage blowers can handle up to 12 inches of light snow. But gas-powered three-stage snowblowers can handle heavy snowfall up to 20 inches. So, basically you’re looking at a minimum capacity of 12 inches but no more than 20 inches.