What’s the Best snow blower for wet snow?
Dealing with wet, heavy snow is no joke. If you live in an area where you have to clear huge piles of wet snow, you’ll probably understand the importance of having the best snow blower for wet snow. Inevitably, you’ll be looking at a two-stage snow blower, possibly a three-stage machine if you have a really big yard. Though for most domestic users, a 2 stage snow blower should be perfect for wet snow.
The further north you go, the more important it becomes to use a snow blower that can handle large drifts of heavy snow and the likelihood that you’ll be clearing wet snow and ice is going to be great. This review is going to help you in the search for a snow blower that will make dealing with wet snow a less daunting task.
When doing my research, I discovered a lot of discussion forums on the topic of wet snow. It appears that there is some confusion as to what wet snow is and how it is formed. So before reviewing the products we’ve selected as being the best snow blowers for wet snow, let’s first get a clear idea of what we’re talking about when referring to wet snow.
Recommended Snow Blower | Troy-Bilt Storm 2890 (31AM59P4766)
What is wet snow?
…and why is it so hard to find a snow blower that can handle heavy wet snow?
If we’re comparing wet snow to dry snow, we’re looking at the moisture content. Dry powdery snow is light and fluffy. This means it isn’t any good for building snow men or rolling snow balls for a snow fight. It is, however, a lot easier to move because dry snow is lighter than wet snow that has melted to some degree.
It’s really about how much melting occurs. By rule of thumb, dry snow will be at a ratio that 1 part melted (wet) snow for 10 every parts dry snow – or less. So, basically 10% or less moisture content constitutes dry snow. This would mean that for every 5-inches of dry snow, there will be about ½ an inch of water, this can also re-freeze to form a layer of ice which makes the task of removing it all the more tricky.
The ratio for wet snow is 1:20, that’s 20% water or more. In between 10% and 20% is referred to as hybrid snow – not entirely dry snow but not quite wet snow. It’s a sort of gray area. So when choosing your snow blower, you need to decide how much, and how often the snow melts to accumulate enough water to make it heavy enough to warrant a bigger, more expensive snow blower.
This is a very basic description of wet snow and should help you decide as to whether you really need a snow blower capable of handling this type of work. After reviewing the best snow blowers for wet snow, I’ll provide more information on how wet snow is formed, why a 2 stage snow blower are the best for wet snow, and I’ll provide some useful tips on dealing with wet snow.
Reviews | Best Snow Blower for Wet Snow
A 2 stage snow blower capable of handling heavy wet snow needs to have a gas engine. There is not such thing as electric two-stage snow blower, although there is a battery-powered 2-stage snow blower — the Snow Joe ION8024-XR — but they will never match the power of a gas machine, at least not with the limitations of modern technology.
Out of the many gas-powered 2 stage snow blowers available, we’ve done some extensive research and narrowed the list down to three models. This should help simplify things. Having considered price, durability and the response reflected in customer reviews, these three snow blowers can be considered the best in our opinion.
The most affordable gas-powered 2 stage snow blower that still makes the grade as a quality machine has to be the Briggs & Stratton (1696563) 29” snow blower. If you’re looking for a domestic machine that displays more of the qualities of a commercial-grade snow blower, we’ve selected two really great products. These being the mighty Troy-Bilt Artic Storm 30XP and my personal favorite, the Husqvarna ST224P.
Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30XP — 31AH8DR5766
Best snow blower to clear wet snow easily. If you live in an area where deep snow is expected year after year, then this snow blower should be at the top of your list.
- Just One Touch Chute Control : Change chute direction and pitch with just your thumb using the electric 4-way chute control
- Touch ’n Turn Power Steering : Controlled by two easy triggers. Simply squeeze the trigger on the side you want to turn toward, and the unit’s self-propelled drive system will turn the snow thrower for you.
- One Hand operation lets you guide your Troy-Bilt snow thrower with literally one hand. Because the machine is engineered to be well-balanced and easy to control, it does the work – not you.
- Heated Hand Grips
- In-Dash Headlight
- Push Button Electric Start
- 3-year limited and 5-year limited auger gearbox warranty
- All-wheel drive
- 6 forward / 2 reverse speeds
- 30″ clearing width
- 23″ intake height
- 14″ serrated steel auger
- 4-way joystick chute control lets you adjust direction and height of snow discharge
- Deluxe reversible skid shoes
- Reflective strips for safer operation in low light conditions
- 16″ x 6.5″ X-Trac snow tires
- 357cc* 4-cycle OHV engine
Few brands have the reputation that Troy-Bilt has established over the years. As a premier manufacturer of gas-powered equipment, you can rely on these guys for a quality machine and the backup service you require. The Troy-Bilt Arctic storm 30”, two-stage snow blower is a formidable beast, capable of heavy-duty snow clearing. Just the thing for large piles of heavy, wet snow.
There’s no denying that Troy-Bilt know how to build a gas engine. This makes the 357cc power plant that drives this big machine ultimately reliable and easy to start on a cold winter’s day. With the convenience of an electric starter, things are that much easier and hassle free. To keep this engine running longer between stops for refueling, they’ve fitted an enormous 5-qt gas tank. Power is transferred to both wheels via a rugged transmission with 6 forward speeds and 2 reverse. For the very best traction across the ice and snow, these wheels are clad with 16” X 6½” X-Track tires.
In keeping with the rugged design of this snow blower, the 14” serrated auger is about as tough as it gets and is driven by a heavy-duty gearbox. Combined with the 12”, 3-blade anti-clogging impeller, this machine will make light work of wet snow. With its 30” width, you can accomplish a lot in a short time, clearing massive volumes of heavy snow easily and throwing it further. The intake height has been increased to 23” and the chute has an easy to use electrically operated 200° rotation.
To protect your paved areas, the Troy-Bilt is fitted with super-tough poly skid shoes. There are some added luxury items that may not be essential, but will surely make your snow clearing job more comfortable and easier. Heated grips are really a pleasure and an LED headlight incorporated into the dashboard takes the stress out of working during those short, dark winter days. All the controls are conveniently within reach and one touch power steering makes this heavy beast a synch to operate.
The Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm is, in every inch of its design and build, a heavy-duty machine. For icy northern climates, few snow blowers sold as domestic products can hold up to this mighty 2-stage snow blower. The size, power, and great impeller make this one of the very best snow blowers for wet snow and icy conditions. Troy-Bilt customer service is rated very highly and this is backed by a 3-year consumer warranty with the option of a 1-year extension on the warranty.
Briggs & Stratton — 1696563
Best snow blower for wet snow if you are looking for a heavy-duty model. This snow blower will clear wet heavy snow with relative ease.
- Engineered to start strong (down to -20F)
- Push button electric starting makes for quick and easy starts down to -20F
- Free hand control offers 1-handed operation of the snow blower, allowing you a free hand to rotate the chute, adjust the deflector or change the speed
- Integrated LED headlight provides better visibility in low light
- Heated hand grips with an on/off switch keep your hands warmer while clearing away the cold snow
- Durable steel frame and chute and notched steel auger can take on snow and ice with ease
- Dual-trigger steering makes tight turns effortless, simply pull a trigger to release the left or right wheel to help make tight turns
- Designed for snow applications, large 16 in. x 5 in. tires will provide you with superior traction
- Oversized controls provide mitten-friendly operation
- Steel dash panel includes on-the-go dash mounted chute rotation and deflector controls
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Briggs & Stratton — 1696563.
Large, powerful, gas-powered 2 stage snow blowers are expensive, there’s no getting away from this. It’s understandable that people will look for cheaper options. Fair enough, we all have our budget to stick to. Though I would be cautious of going too cheap. These are sophisticated machines and have to work hard through the winter. It’s vital that you buy a snow blower that can withstand the working conditions and that you’re sure to get service and spare parts in the years to come. Many of the unknown brands will offer no support and a time will come when you need to depend on this.
With this in mind, I’d recommend the Briggs & Stratton 1696563 as more affordable option when compared to the other two snow blowers in this review. Sure, some of the plastic components on the Briggs & Stratton are less than desirable. But the important stuff, like the engine and running gear are of a good quality standard and it is a dependable machine. Above all, Briggs & Stratton is an established brand with a large and trusted dealership network throughout North America.
This snow blower can easily clear heavy, wet and slushy snow
For the most part, the Briggs and Stratton compares quite favorably to the more expensive Troy-Bilt and, although more expensive than the Husky, it has a much wider clearing path. It is powered by the Briggs & Stratton 1450 Snow Series 306cc engine. This engine has been designed and tested for very cold conditions and features easy electric starting. This a good engine, a vast improvement on their previous generation engines which didn’t impress me much. So I’m really pleased to see this improvement. Power is transferred to the auger by means of a durable gearbox in an aluminum housing and it has all wheel drive with touch control power steering. Like the top models from other brands, it has 6 forward speeds and 2 for reverse.
While this machine has the power to almost match the other two, the auger and intake isn’t quite as good. The 29” notched steel auger is only an inch smaller than that of the Troy-Bilt, 5” bigger than Husqvarna and does a good job of cutting through heavy snow and ice. The intake is also a little smaller with a height of 19.5”. This may slightly limit your clearing capacity, but not by much. The 12”, 3 blade impeller is as good as any of the best and won’t have any problem blasting heavy wet snow up to 40’ from the chute. The ultra-durable skid shoes are quite easily adjusted to allow for different terrain. Each shoe has two bolts which you use to move the shoes up or down.
Usability and user comforts are also up there with the top brands. You have a convenient dashboard at your fingertips with easy to use controls. This includes an electrically operated chute with a 200° rotation. You also have the benefit of heated grips and bright LED headlights. The lever controls for the steering are as simple as it gets, maneuvering the Briggs & Stratton is not a tough task. High traction 16” X 5” wheels mean that it can plow through the snow effortlessly.
It’s clear that you’re not losing out on much if you decide to save some cash and choose the Briggs & Stratton 29” 2 stage snow blower. It has the power and features to hold its own among any of the best 2 stage snow blowers and is more than capable of handling large volumes of wet snow. The brand has a solid reputation and you can be sure to get the support that you need.
Husqvarna ST224P | 2-Stage Snow Blower
One the most affordable and best snow blowers for heavy wet snow. This has been a long-standing popular model with consumers for years. It strikes a nice balance between features, quality and price. The power steering and heated hand grips are excellent features that you rarely get at this price point.
Features — All of this plus POWER STEERING.
|Friction disc transmission for easy speed changes||Control for vertical throwing direction|
|LED headlights for operation in dark conditions||Interlock handle for single hand control|
|Heated handle grips for comfortable operation||Loop handle for optimum grip and control|
|Differential lock for optimum traction||Clearing stick for chute|
|Heavy-tread tires for improved traction||Husqvarna brand engine with 5-year warranty|
|Plastic skid shoes to prevent scraping the ground||Quiet muffler minimizes noise|
|Steel construction||Throttle control for easy idling down|
|Aluminium auger gearbox||Durable control cables of premium quality|
|High speed impeller for long throwing distance||Pin-lock wheels for tool-less shifting|
|Control for horizontal throwing direction||Cold weather resistant control cables|
|Six forward speeds & one reverse||Choose from 4 different positions|
|208cc Husqvarna LCT 4-Cycle Engine||Remote Chute & Deflector Control|
|Ribbon auger for greater efficiency||Throws snow up to 35 feet|
|Adjustable skid shoes||Electric Starter|
Documents for the Husqvarna ST224 :
Although the Husqvarna ST224P is the cheapest snow blower in this review, it’s quite a bit smaller than the other two. So, if we consider the capabilities of three machines in this review, you’re actually getting a little less for your money. Though, in my opinion, the Husky is the best of the lot. Many will argue that the Troy-Bilt is the better snow blower, and they may be correct. I just have a thing for Husqvarna, I’ve depended on their power equipment for decades and have found them to be ultimately reliable and the dealership service is nothing short of excellent. So forgive my personal bias, Husqvarna is my brand of choice in this field.
I also feel that this snow blower is very reasonably priced, albeit quite a bit smaller than the other two. If you shop around, you should be able to get the Husqvarna ST224P for under $1000. The other two snow blowers in this review are well over a grand in price. I must point out though, that the Briggs & Stratton may be better value for money if really need a larger machine.
I’m always in awe of the great engineering and quality materials that go into Husqvarna products. For a durable snow blower that won’t give up under the strain of removing wet snow, the Husqvarna ST224P is a real champion that can rival any of the very best. It is powered by the legendary Husqvarna 208cc engine. As you can see, this engine is a lot less powerful than the other two and it only has a 24” clearing path. That explains why it is that much cheaper.
Husqvarna friction disc transmission is fantastic, it makes for smooth transitions between the 6 forward speeds and this model only has 1 reverse speed, in contrast to the other two that offer two speeds in reverse. The massive tractor-style 15” wheels are more than capable of handling the snow and ice for which this machine has been purpose-built.
The tough steel serrated ribbon auger chews through snow and ice, though the 12” diameter does limit its depth slightly. This is, after all, a smaller snow blower than the other two. The aluminum gearbox that drives the auger is, in true Husqvarna fashion, as durable and reliable as one could possibly wish for. The controls are mechanical, there’s no electric control for the chute rotation. This is done using old-fashioned cables. I like this approach, there’s little to go wrong and it’s easy to repair.
Adjusting the chute and deflector is as effortless as any electric system. A lever on the dashboard is within easy reach and will allow you 180° chute rotation. The dashboard is well laid out, with chunky levers and handles that are easy to use with your mittens on. A loop handle (with heated grips) gives you superb control with any number of comfortable working positions. Two large levers operate the usual power steering, like any of the best 2 stage snow blowers. Very tough, reversible skid shoes are fitted to the intake and are easy to adjust using the standard two bolt system.
Every aspect of this snow blower displays true Husqvarna rugged dependability. Just about every component is made from high-grade metals and, when they’ve used plastic, this too is of the best quality. It’s quite obvious when looking at the weight of 198-pounds, that this is one sturdy machine. Although quite a bit smaller than the other two, it weighs about the same. It has all the luxury features and comforts, including bright headlights.
I know from experience that Husqvarna is a brand to be trusted. Their incredible warranty is a testament to the confidence they have in this product: 5-years on the engine and 3-years for the rest of the machine. When comparing this snow blower to the other two, its only disadvantage is the lower clearing capacity – it will take you longer to clear large volumes of ice and snow. If this doesn’t affect you too much, it’s likely that you may agree with me when I say the Husqvarna ST224P is the very best snow blower for wet snow and ice.
If you want something bigger, there’s always the option of choosing the Husqvarna ST230P which is a 30” version of this snow blower. Naturally this would cost more, but could still be a little cheaper than the Troy-Bilt. This would depend on where you look.
More Power, Wider Clearing Width | Husqvarna ST230P
Why are two-stage snow blowers the best for wet snow?
To answer this question, we need to look at how a 2 stage snow blower works vs a single stage snow thrower. Yes, there is a significant difference between a snow thrower and a snow blower, even though the terminology is used interchangeably.
A single stage snow thrower is not actually a snow blower because it does not have an impeller that blows the snow from the chute. These machines use an auger shaped like cork screw and this lifts the snow from ground and then flings, or throws it out the chute. In contrast to this, a two-stage snow blower usually has a ribbon shaped auger that cuts into the snow or compacted ice, which is then sucked up by a separate impeller and is blown from the chute.
By using two stages (auger and impeller), a 2-stage snow blower has a number of benefits. For one thing, it can displace a larger volume of snow. This allows you to work much faster, making a 2 stage snow blower more suitable for a large driveway. Single-stage snow blowers are more commonly used for walkways and short, single car driveways.
Regions that regularly experience wet snow also receive greater snowfall, one of many reasons why a two stage-snow blower is better for these conditions. The main reason, however, is that wet snow is significantly heavier than dry, fluffy snow. A single-stage snow blower simply doesn’t have the power to lift and throw heavy, wet snow. Additionally, wet snow will freeze when the temperature drops, causing an ice layer. A single-stage auger is not the best when dealing with ice. The ribbon auger, used for 2-stage snow blowers, can cut through ice and the impeller has the power to lift wet snow and ice. A single-stage auger will quickly become bogged down by wet snow an ice as it gets clogged. This is not only highly frustrating, it can cause serious damage to the gearbox, auger, and even the engine or electric motor.
Gas-powered 2-stage snow blowers can be cumbersome. They are large, heavy machines. To deal with this, 2-stage snow blowers use the engine to propel the wheels and have power steering. Along much larger wheels, two-stage snow blowers can handle any type of terrain and large drifts of wet snow or ice. They do, however, need a larger turning circle. This means that a 2-stage snow blower is not the best for walkways and their heavy construction makes it difficult to reach decks and areas with steps. Lightweight single-stage snow blower are the best for these situations.
Tips for Dealing with Heavy Wet Snow
Wet snow usually forms when the ground temperature is above freezing. This causes the snow closest to the ground to melt, forming a wet slush. It can also happen that ambient temperatures above freezing can cause partial melting. Sunlight on the snow may also result in melting.
When the temperature falls, the wet snow will freeze and a layer of hard ice will be formed. So when dealing with wet snow, you’ll also have to contend with dry fluffy snow and often ice as well. Here are some handy tips for contending with all types of snow and ice.
As winter approaches you may want to protect smaller trees and vulnerable plants from the impending snow and ice. Small shrubs can be easy to cover before the cold sets in. For larger trees, you can tie back thinner branches that may crack or break under the strain of heavy snow and ice. When ice forms on the branches of your trees and shrubs, don’t try remove it. The branches are brittle and may break. Piling snow at the base of your plants helps to insulate them from freezing temperatures.
You’re obviously going to be clearing snow and ice from important areas, like your driveway and walkways. In the fall, before the first snow storms begin, prepare your yard for the winter. You should ensure that no electric cords (like those for your festive lighting) will be in the path of your snow blower or shovel. Inspect the places where you’ll be using your snow blower. Make sure there are no rocks or hard objects that can become buried in the snow. If you inadvertently pass your snow blower over loose hard objects, it can seriously harm your auger.
If your car is parked on driveway during winter, use a good insulating cover to protect it from the snow and ice. You may want to use a deicer on your driveway or pathways, this can save you a lot of hassle. Be sure to use a deicer that won’t damage your plants or leave a toxic residue that can harm your pets or children. Instead of rock salt or harsh chemical deicers, magnesium acetate (CMA) is a good, safe alternative. It may be more expensive, but it won’t harm your plants, pets, or our family.
Snow that accumulates on structures, like a garden shed or greenhouse, can cause excessive weight that could cause them to collapse. Using a broom, you should regularly remove snow from these structures. A broom can also be used to remove loose snow from tree branches. This will avoid the weight of the snow breaking them.
When the time comes to haul out your snow blower, do the seasonal checks. Make sure all the belts and the auger are in good condition and safe for use. Check the essential nuts and bolts – your owner’s manual should give you good advice on preparing your snow blower for the winter. Mechanical service like checking and cleaning or replacing your spark plug is essential in keeping your snow blower reliable.
Your air filter should also be cleaned regularly and replaced if necessary. Engine oil needs to be replaced at least once a year and you should replace the oil filter very time you do this. Never use stale fuel and a fuel conditioner can help tremendously in this regard. Using a synthetic oil, developed for cold climates, will help ensure that your snow blower starts easily in the freezing weather. You should lubricate all moving parts, like levers, linkages, and the axles, spraying a silicone lubricant into the impeller is also advised.
Before you use your snow blower at the beginning of winter, check for rust. Where rust has set in, the surface will need to be sanded to remove all rust, then cleaned and repainted. Applying a quality polymer car wax will help reduce moisture collecting and will go a long way in preventing rust from occurring in the first place.
The earlier you start clearing the snow and ice, the easier your job will be. Allowing large drifts of wet snow to accumulate is going to take its toll on you and your snow blower. When tackling heavy wet snow and ice, avoid the temptation of cranking up the power and tackling it all in one pass. Overworking a snow blower is the number one cause for damage to the machine and unnecessary injuries. When wet snow has piled up high, it’s better not to use the full width of the auger. Plowing into a huge drift of heavy snow and ice can damage the belt or even shear the auger, or damage the gearbox. The experts recommend only using about a third of the auger width for high piles of wet snow. This means it’s going to take you longer to clear the wet snow. But, at least you won’t harm the snow blower or injure yourself.