Plow Vs. Snow Blower: Which Is Better For Your Snow Removal Needs?

When winter arrives and the snow starts piling up, one question often arises: which is the better tool for snow removal, a plow or a snow blower? With their own set of advantages and disadvantages, both options can tackle even the heaviest snowfall. In this article, we will explore the differences between plows and snow blowers, helping you determine which one suits your specific snow removal needs best. Whether you prefer the traditional approach of a plow or the convenience of a snow blower, we’ve got you covered.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Using a Plow for Snow Removal

Efficiency in clearing large areas

One of the major benefits of using a plow for snow removal is its efficiency in clearing large areas. Whether it’s a spacious parking lot, a long driveway, or a vast commercial property, a plow can quickly and effectively remove snow, saving time and effort. With its wide blade, a plow can cover a significant surface area in a single pass, making it an ideal choice for areas that require extensive snow clearing.

Less physical exertion

Another advantage of using a plow is the reduced physical exertion it requires. Rather than manually shoveling or using a snow blower, which can be physically demanding, a plow allows for a more effortless snow removal process. By simply operating the plow from the comfort of the driver’s seat, you can save yourself from the strain of shoveling or operating heavy equipment for long periods.

Ability to push heavy and compacted snow

Plows are specifically designed to handle heavy and compacted snow with ease. The sturdy construction and powerful capabilities of a plow enable it to push aside even the most challenging snow conditions without much difficulty. This makes it particularly useful for areas that experience dense or packed snowfall, minimizing the need for repeated passes or additional equipment to tackle stubborn snow.

No need to lift or throw snow

Unlike other snow removal methods, such as shoveling or snow blowing, a plow eliminates the need to lift or throw snow manually. This not only saves time and effort but also reduces the risk of back injuries or strains often associated with lifting heavy loads. By simply pushing the snow aside, a plow enables a more efficient and less physically demanding snow removal process.

Drawbacks of Using a Plow for Snow Removal

Requires a large vehicle for transportation

Using a plow for snow removal necessitates a large vehicle capable of effectively accommodating and maneuvering with the plow attachment. This requirement can be a drawback for individuals or businesses that do not own or have access to such vehicles. Additionally, the larger vehicle size may pose challenges in navigating narrow or congested areas, limiting the versatility of a plow in certain situations.

May not be suitable for all types of snow

While plows excel in clearing heavy and compacted snow, they may not be as effective when dealing with other types of snow. Light and fluffy snow, for example, may be more likely to be pushed aside rather than cleared entirely by a plow. Additionally, plows may struggle with icy or hard-packed snow, which may require more specialized equipment or techniques to remove effectively.

Potential for causing damage to surfaces

Due to their nature, plows can present a risk of causing damage to the surfaces they clear. If not used properly or if the surface is susceptible to damage, a plow’s blade may scrape or dig into asphalt, concrete, or sensitive landscapes. This damage can range from minor scrapes to more severe gouges, potentially leading to costly repairs or landscape renovations.

Limited maneuverability in tight spaces

While plows are efficient in clearing large areas, their effectiveness diminishes in tight or confined spaces. The wide and bulky design of plows makes it difficult to navigate through narrow driveways, alleys, or areas with obstacles. This limitation may require additional time and effort to clear these spaces manually or with alternative snow removal methods.

Benefits of Using a Snow Blower for Snow Removal

Ability to clear snow from various surfaces

One of the significant advantages of using a snow blower is its versatility in clearing snow from various surfaces. Whether it’s a driveway, sidewalk, or patio, a snow blower can effectively remove snow without causing damage to the underlying surface. The adjustable auger height in most snow blowers enables precise control and ensures the snow is cleared without harming the pavement or landscapes.

Efficient in heavy and wet snow

Snow blowers excel in handling heavy and wet snow conditions. Their powerful engines and auger systems can cut through the dense snow and propel it out of the discharge chute, even when the snow is wet and compacted. This efficiency is particularly valuable in regions or climates where heavy snowfall or wet snow is common, as it accelerates the snow removal process without compromising effectiveness.

Suitable for both small and large areas

Unlike plows, which are more appropriate for large-scale snow removal, snow blowers are versatile enough to handle both small and large areas. Whether you have a small suburban driveway or a sprawling commercial property, a snow blower can be adjusted to clear the snow effectively without wasting time or effort. This adaptability makes snow blowers an attractive option for homeowners, businesses, and contractors alike.

Greater maneuverability

Snow blowers offer greater maneuverability compared to plows, making them more suitable for navigating through tight spaces or complex layouts. With its compact design, a snow blower can easily access confined areas, such as narrow walkways or tight corners. This maneuverability allows for more precise snow removal and ensures that no area is left untouched by the snow blower’s auger and discharge chute.

Drawbacks of Using a Snow Blower for Snow Removal

Requires regular maintenance

To ensure optimal performance and longevity, snow blowers require regular maintenance. This includes tasks such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and lubrication of moving parts. Failure to maintain your snow blower properly can result in decreased efficiency, increased fuel consumption, and potential breakdowns during critical snow removal periods. Therefore, it is essential to allocate time and resources for ongoing snow blower maintenance.

Potential for clogging or jamming

Snow blowers, especially single-stage models, are prone to clogging or jamming when clearing heavy or icy snow. The auger’s rotation can sometimes get overwhelmed by the density of the snow, resulting in a blockage that requires manual removal. While two-stage snow blowers are more resistant to clogging, they can still experience difficulties in excessively wet or compacted snow conditions. It is vital to be aware of this potential issue and take appropriate measures to prevent or address it during snow removal.

Limited throwing distance compared to plows

When compared to plows, snow blowers generally have a more limited throwing distance. While they can propel snow several feet away, the distance may not be as far as desired, especially during heavy snowfall events. This limitation can lead to accumulated snow piles near the cleared area, which may require additional manual effort or alternative snow removal methods to eliminate completely.

Slower clearing speed for large areas

Although snow blowers are suitable for both small and large areas, their clearing speed may be slower when dealing with extensive snow coverage. The need for multiple passes over a large area can prolong the snow removal process, especially when compared to the wide coverage and swift operation of a plow. If time is a crucial factor or if the area is expansive, using a snow blower may require a more significant time investment.

Considerations for Choosing between a Plow and Snow Blower

Size of the area to be cleared

The size of the area to be cleared is an essential factor in determining whether a plow or a snow blower is more suitable. Plows are generally more efficient in clearing large areas quickly, making them an ideal choice for expansive parking lots or extensive commercial properties. On the other hand, snow blowers are versatile enough to handle both small and large areas, making them a suitable option for homeowners with various snow removal needs.

Snowfall frequency and amount

The frequency and amount of snowfall in your region should also be taken into consideration when choosing between a plow and a snow blower. If you typically experience heavy or frequent snowfall, a plow may be more efficient in clearing the snow quickly and effectively. However, if your area tends to receive lighter or less frequent snowfall, a snow blower may be more than sufficient for your snow removal needs.

Type of snow (dry, wet, compacted)

The type of snow in your area can impact the effectiveness of both plows and snow blowers. Plows excel in handling heavy and compacted snow, making them particularly useful in regions with dense or packed snowfall. Snow blowers, on the other hand, are efficient in clearing both lighter and heavier snow conditions, including wet or slushy snow. Understanding the predominant type of snow in your area will help you determine which equipment is better suited for your specific needs.

Maneuverability requirements

Consider the maneuverability requirements of your snow removal tasks. If you have tight spaces, narrow driveways, or complex layouts, a snow blower’s greater maneuverability may be advantageous. The compact design of a snow blower allows for more precise snow clearing, ensuring no area is missed. However, if you have ample space and minimal obstacles, the wider coverage of a plow may be sufficient, negating the need for enhanced maneuverability.

Storage space availability

Finally, consider the availability of storage space for your snow removal equipment. Plows typically require a vehicle equipped with a plow attachment, demanding more storage space. Snow blowers, on the other hand, can be standalone machines that require less storage space. If storage capacity is limited, a snow blower may be a more practical choice due to its smaller size and independent storage requirements.

Cost Comparison of Plows and Snow Blowers

Initial investment

The initial investment required for plows and snow blowers can vary significantly. Plows often require the purchase or modification of a compatible vehicle, which can be a substantial upfront expense. Snow blowers, while available in different sizes and models, generally have a lower initial cost compared to plows. However, it is essential to consider the long-term cost-benefit analysis when evaluating the initial investment.

Maintenance and repair costs

Both plows and snow blowers require regular maintenance to ensure proper functionality and longevity. Maintenance costs for plows involve servicing the plow attachment, ensuring proper connections, and addressing any wear and tear. Snow blowers, on the other hand, require routine maintenance such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and auger lubrication. Additionally, repairs may be necessary for both types of equipment in the event of damage or breakdowns, contributing to the overall maintenance and repair costs.

Operating costs

Operating costs, including fuel or electricity expenses, are an important consideration when comparing plows and snow blowers. Plows typically require a vehicle with a compatible engine, which consumes fuel during the snow removal process. Snow blowers, whether powered by gas or electricity, also incur operating costs. However, electric snow blowers may have lower long-term operating costs due to the lower cost of electrical power compared to gasoline.

Environmental Impact of Plows and Snow Blowers

Fuel consumption and emissions

Plows, due to their reliance on vehicles with internal combustion engines, contribute to fuel consumption and emissions. The use of gasoline or diesel fuel to power the vehicle and plow attachment results in the release of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Snow blowers powered by gas engines also contribute to fuel consumption and emissions. However, electric snow blowers offer a more environmentally friendly alternative, generating zero direct emissions during operation.

Noise pollution

Both plows and snow blowers generate noise during operation, which can contribute to noise pollution. Plows, with their larger vehicles and engine noise, can be particularly disruptive in residential areas during early morning or late-night snow removal activities. Snow blowers, although generally quieter than plows, can still produce noise that may impact the surrounding environment. It is important to consider noise levels and respect local regulations and quiet hours when using either equipment.

Impact on landscaping and vegetation

Plows, with their blade scraping across surfaces, present a higher risk of damaging landscaping or vegetation. Improper use or accidental collisions can result in damage to lawns, gardens, or other delicate outdoor features. Snow blowers, when used correctly, generally have a lower potential for causing landscape damage. The adjustable auger height and discharge chute control allow for more precise snow removal while minimizing the risk of unintended impact on surrounding vegetation or landscapes.

Different Types of Plows and Snow Blowers

Straight plow vs. V-plow

Plows come in various designs, including straight plows and V-plows. A straight plow features a straight blade, which provides a wide coverage area for efficient snow removal. On the other hand, a V-plow has a blade that can be adjusted into a V-shape, allowing for even greater clearing capabilities and enhanced maneuverability. The choice between a straight plow and a V-plow depends on the specific snow removal needs and preferences of the user.

Single-stage snow blower vs. two-stage snow blower

Snow blowers also come in different types, including single-stage and two-stage models. Single-stage snow blowers use an auger to both collect and propel snow out of the discharge chute. They are generally lighter and more compact, making them suitable for lighter snow conditions and smaller areas. Two-stage snow blowers, on the other hand, have an additional impeller that assists in throwing the snow out of the chute, making them more powerful and efficient in heavy snow conditions and larger areas.

Electric snow blower vs. gas-powered snow blower

Snow blowers are available in both electric and gas-powered options. Electric snow blowers run on electricity, either through a corded connection or with a rechargeable battery. They offer a quieter and more environmentally friendly alternative, with no direct emissions and lower long-term operating costs. Gas-powered snow blowers, on the other hand, provide greater mobility and extended runtimes but contribute to fuel consumption and emissions. The choice between electric and gas-powered snow blowers depends on the user’s priorities and availability of a power source.

Tips for Using a Plow or Snow Blower Effectively

Clear the area of obstacles and debris

Before using a plow or snow blower, it is important to clear the area of any obstacles or debris that may obstruct the snow removal process. Items such as rocks, branches, or toys can damage the equipment or cause potential accidents. Clearing the area beforehand ensures smoother snow removal and minimizes the risk of damage to the equipment or surrounding property.

Follow proper safety precautions

When using a plow or snow blower, it is crucial to follow proper safety precautions to prevent accidents or injuries. This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and safety goggles, to protect against flying debris. Additionally, ensure the equipment is operated in a safe and controlled manner, especially when navigating around people or structures. Understanding and adhering to safety guidelines will help ensure a safe and accident-free snow removal experience.

Adjust the blade or auger height according to snow depth

To optimize the efficiency of a plow or snow blower, it is important to adjust the blade or auger height according to the depth of the snow. Set the equipment to remove the desired depth of snow without exerting excessive force or causing unnecessary wear. This adjustment ensures effective snow removal while minimizing potential damage to underlying surfaces or the equipment itself.

Clear snow in overlapping passes

For thorough snow removal, it is beneficial to clear the snow in overlapping passes. This ensures that no areas are missed and eliminates the risk of leaving behind snow piles or patches. By overlapping each pass slightly, you can achieve a cleaner and more even result, whether using a plow or a snow blower.


When it comes to snow removal, both plows and snow blowers offer their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Plows are efficient in clearing large areas, require less physical exertion, and can handle heavy and compacted snow. However, they may require a large vehicle for transportation, may not be suitable for all snow types, and have limited maneuverability in tight spaces. Snow blowers, on the other hand, are versatile in clearing various surfaces, efficient in heavy and wet snow, suitable for both small and large areas, and offer greater maneuverability. However, they require regular maintenance, can experience clogging or jamming, have a limited throwing distance, and may have slower clearing speed for large areas.

When choosing between a plow and a snow blower, considerations such as the size of the area to be cleared, snowfall frequency and amount, type of snow, maneuverability requirements, and storage space availability should be taken into account. Additionally, the cost comparison, environmental impact, and different types of plows and snow blowers should be considered.

By following tips for effective usage, such as clearing the area of obstacles, following safety precautions, adjusting the blade or auger height, and clearing snow in overlapping passes, you can make the most out of your chosen snow removal equipment. Ultimately, the decision between a plow and a snow blower depends on your specific snow removal needs and priorities, ensuring a well-maintained and safe environment during the winter season.