The Greatest Snow Blowers for 2018: Evaluations by Wirecutter

Picture: Doug Mahoney

Our decide

Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE

In spite of everything of our analysis and testing, we’ve discovered that the Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE 24-inch snow blower is one of the best match for many snow-covered driveways, and with out query the quickest snow blower of all of the fashions we checked out. The SnowMaster design is a singular hybrid model, combining parts of single-stage and two-stage fashions. We’ve used a SnowMaster via three New Hampshire winters, and we proceed to be impressed with its snow-clearing skills. We even put it head-to-head in opposition to a 30-inch two-stage Troy-Bilt behemoth, and in every check the smaller SnowMaster obtained the higher hand. The truth is, with this machine within the shed, we haven’t severely thought-about utilizing any of our larger, pricier snow blowers.

What makes the SnowMaster so quick is the mix of a singular single-auger design and Toro’s Private Tempo drive system. The auger, whereas technically a single-stage design, is atypical of these smaller machines in two methods: pace and form. In accordance with Toro advertising and marketing supervisor Christine Cheng, the SnowMaster’s auger spins 10 occasions quicker than that of the corporate’s compact two-stage snow blower. It has the identical turning pace as an everyday single-stage model, however “it has a 25 p.c greater tip pace because of the larger-diameter rotor, which offers higher throw distance versus the only stage.” Which means it throws snow quicker and farther. As for the form, the perimeters are designed to tug snow towards the middle portion, which then throws the snow. A daily single-stage design has a extra “light curve,” which ends up in “a portion of the snow that doesn’t go up the chute,” Cheng mentioned.

A close up of the auger on the snowmaster.
The one auger of the SnowMaster design feeds snow from the sides into the middle after which up and out of the chute. Picture: Doug Mahoney

Toro’s Private Tempo drive system, popularized within the firm’s mowers, is the opposite a part of the pace equation. The pace of the wheels reacts to the quantity of stress you placed on the handlebar—the quicker you stroll, the more durable you press, and the quicker the SnowMaster goes. If you happen to decelerate, decreasing the stress on the grip space, the pace of the wheels slows as effectively. The complete time, the machine is matching your tempo, and due to the fast-spinning auger, the SnowMaster is clearing snow as shortly as you possibly can stroll.

With this machine within the shed, we haven’t severely thought-about utilizing any of our larger, pricier snow blowers.

In testing the SnowMaster, we have been at all times very snug on the greater speeds, as a result of we knew we might decelerate right away. We might additionally fly over frivolously snowed areas and shortly decelerate when the snow obtained thick. With an everyday two-stage machine, we often defaulted to a average pace and stored it there as a result of the handbook shift to decelerate or pace up was too tedious to hassle with for a brief stretch.

We examined the SnowMaster 724 QXE head-to-head in opposition to the 30-inch Troy-Bilt Storm 3090 XP, utilizing every machine to clear a 100-foot-long, Four-foot-wide path via eight inches of snow. The SnowMaster did the work in nearly half the time of the Storm, regardless that it was 6 inches (20 p.c) narrower. Not solely was it faster, nevertheless it additionally cleared right down to the bottom higher.

Two red and black snow blowers out in the snow.
The Troy-Bilt Storm 3090 XP (left) is a standard two-stage machine with a entrance auger that pulls in snow and an impeller within the again that tosses it out. The SnowMaster 724 QXE (proper) weighs much less and works quicker due to a single high-speed auger that each pulls snow into the machine and throws it out. Picture: Doug Mahoney

We additionally ran the 2 blowers on Four inches of soaking-wet driveway slush (the sort that’s extra water than snow), and once more the SnowMaster 724 QXE did a greater job. The lumbering two-stage Troy-Bilt Storm 3090 XP consistently clogged up on the chute, so we needed to hold stopping and shutting it right down to clear it. The auger of the SnowMaster, in distinction, was quick sufficient to maintain the slush flying via the chute, prohibiting any blockage.

The SnowMaster 724 QXE doesn’t have energy steering, just like the Cub Cadet 2X 26 HP and the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30, however as a consequence of this hybrid machine’s gentle weight, that isn’t an issue. The SnowMaster 724 QXE weighs solely 125 kilos, practically 100 kilos lower than a comparable two-stage machine just like the 215-pound Cub Cadet 2X 24. The SnowMaster maneuvers like a garden mower, so that you don’t should shift consistently between ahead and reverse when clearing a decent spot—you simply pull the unit backward. Doing so is impractical with heavier two-stage items, which want energy steering and a reverse gear with a purpose to be maneuverable; we didn’t miss these options in any respect on the SnowMaster.

The SnowMaster additionally has a pleasant joystick-style chute management that you would be able to function on the fly because the blower is transferring—a useful characteristic while you’re blowing, say, the world between a home and storage, or some other tight house the place it’s important to regularly transfer the chute and deflector to drop the snow proper the place you need it. We like that the identical joystick controls each the chute and deflector; many different fashions have two separate controls.

We seemed for the ceiling of the SnowMaster 724 QXE’s capabilities and found that at about 12 inches of moist snow, the engine bogs down a bit. It’s a transparent sound, and as soon as we acknowledged it, we merely eased off a bit and began taking smaller passes or going a bit slower. The machine nonetheless cleared the snow, however with the deeper drifts it went at a traditional tempo fairly than the race-car pace we have been used to. MovingSnow.com’s Paul Sikkema had a extra excessive expertise, writing that “it would run out of traction attempting to clear 10 inches or extra of heavy/moist end-of-driveway snow.” We’ve relied on the SnowMaster via three New Hampshire winters, and we haven’t had any actual points with its capabilities in that point.

For all of the pace and comfort the SnowMaster 724 QXE affords, it’s additionally a discount. Sometimes promoting within the $750 vary, it’s no less than $100 cheaper than a high-quality conventional 24-inch two-stage machine that clears snow extra slowly and is extra awkward to make use of.

The reality is, after utilizing the SnowMaster, we now have utterly modified the way in which we view snow clearing. Previously, transferring snow was one thing we needed to do after the storm, perhaps even the subsequent morning. It took hours, and it was drudgery we didn’t look ahead to in any respect. However due to the SnowMaster’s sheer pace and ease of use, the duty is now one thing we are able to sprint via in lower than an hour. As a result of the SnowMaster is so quick, we even have the choice to do a fast midstorm cross with bigger snowfalls, when the snow continues to be fluffy, fairly than ready till the subsequent day. By taking this method, we’re hardly spending any extra time snow blowing, and we’re additionally not stressing the SnowMaster with an inordinate quantity of snow.

We’re not alone in our excessive opinion of the SnowMaster design. Paul Sikkema totally examined the bigger SnowMaster 824 QXE and got here away impressed. You may learn his detailed walkthrough for much more data.

After utilizing the SnowMaster, we now have utterly modified the way in which we view snow clearing.

Toro makes a couple of SnowMaster fashions. We examined (and suggest) the smaller 724 QXE, which has a 212 cc engine and often sells for about $750. The bigger 824 QXE, with a 252 cc engine, usually goes for about $850. You’ll additionally discover a stripped-down model, the 724 ZXR, with no dash-mounted chute management, for roughly $700. Spend the additional $50 for our decide. Sikkema differentiates the fashions by saying that the smaller 724 collection ought to deal with snows as much as about 14 inches and the bigger 824 model can go to roughly 18 inches.

Lastly, Toro covers the SnowMaster machines with a three-year restricted guarantee (PDF), and the chute is assured for all times.

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