Five Best 3-Stage Snowblowers for Clearing Heavy Snow in Large Areas

Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: April 03, 2021
BackyardStyle is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

A 3-stage snow blower will make light work of the snow that builds up in your driveway almost every day in winter. It, therefore, makes sense for you to own one of these if you regularly experience heavy snowfall in your area.

In searching for the best 3-stage snow blower, we encountered and reviewed eight products as a team. As such, the final shortlist we have presented below includes only five items. Also, we can comfortably rank the Cub Cadet 3X (28″) as the best out of the items we mention. Impressive aspects of the tool include the powerful engine, easy to use controls, and heavy-duty construction materials. You would be hard-pressed to find many negatives to the other four products mentioned as well.

It is also worth noting that coming up with the information below was no walk in the park. A lot of hours were spent scouring manufacturer websites for information on several devices. Where this was not enough, even information provided by previous users was added into the mix. Of course, this information also had to be organized for your sake, which meant ranking devices according to properties and features. The characteristics that hold the most water here include engine capacity, the weight of the invention, clearing depth, and width, power source as well as any other features. Therefore, the table, detailed product reviews, and buying guide sections depicted below should prove invaluable in helping you determine the best 3-stage snow blower to purchase.

Top Five 3-Stage Snowblowers


Cub Cadet 3X (28")Editor’s Choice

  • Power source: gas
  • Engine: 357cc, Cub Cadet® OHV 4-cycle
  • Clearing width: 28”
  • Intake height: 21”
  • Tank capacity: 5 qt.
  • Starting system: push-button electric start (110 volts)

Other features: in-dash remote pitch control, standard single-hand operation, trigger-controlled power steering, 16″ x 6.5″ tires, heavy-duty cast aluminum auger gearbox, heavy-duty, serrated steel augers, six forward / 2 reverse speeds

The editor’s choice is a great product that almost everybody would do well to purchase and own. It incorporates an electric start system, so all you need to do is push a button every winter morning for the device to start its engine. Also, make it a point to regularly fill up the tank with gas as that is what powers up the device.

Another thing to consider if you like the device is the height and width. These determine how much of the driveway can be cleared in a single run. 28” breadth is very impressive in this regard, but you will still have to make a few runs to get all the snow out of your driveway. This is augmented by the 21” height as well for days where snow is deep.

Nevertheless, this tool functions more or less like a lawnmower and hence will need someone to operate and push it in the right direction. The manufacturer as well has elected to make this process easier for the user. This is due to the trigger controlled power steering. Add that to the big tires, and you won’t have any problems pushing the blower even uphill. Another thing you could write home about is the gearbox that allows the device six forward and two reverse speeds. Other components, including the augers that are made of durable stainless steel as well. Also, there is the in-dash remote pitch control, and this feature helps you adjust the speed and angle of the augers.

What we liked:

  • Easy to control
  • Powerful engine
  • Durable components
  • Push-button start

What could be better:

  • Use for extended periods may lead tool to overheat
  • No heated grip

Cub Cadet 3X 26HDPremium Pick

  • Power source: gas
  • Engine: 420cc, Cub Cadet® OHV 4-cycle
  • Clearing width: 26”
  • Intake height: 23”
  • Tank capacity: 5 qt.
  • Starting system: push-button electric start (110 volts)

 Other features: dual headlights, trigger-controlled power steering, 16″ x 4.8″ tires, in-dash remote pitch control, heavy-duty serrated steel augers, six forward / two reverse speeds

Another tool that breeds immense value from its purchase is the Cub Cadet 3X 26HD. This blower is from the same manufacturer as the editor’s choice. Nevertheless, some might even consider this to be a superior product. This is, however, dependent on your budget as well as your needs.

You would expect there to be similarities between this model and the Cub Cadet 3X (28″). There are, of course, a few of these. Among them, you find the element of the trigger-controlled steering that is common to both devices. A second similarity is seen in the quality of materials used in making the product. As such, you can rest easy knowing that the steel augers are going to last a while before you need to replace them.

On the other hand, there are some noteworthy differences. Here you first see more powerful 420cc engine, as well as 26” clearing width where the editor’s choice is superior with its two extra inches. Nevertheless, to most people, this should be a negligible difference and one that will most likely not influence the purchase decision. One difference that might, however, sway the jury in favor of the 3X 26HD is the inclusion of heated grips. Given the propensity of snow to be accompanied by freezing temperatures, this aspect might help make it more comfortable for the user to be out in the morning.

An extra feature that also makes a compelling case for the purchase of this tool is the inclusion of headlights. You, therefore, don’t need to worry about impeded vision with this tool even late at night.

What we liked:

  • Durable body
  • Heated grips
  • Easy to use controls
  • Powerful motor
  • Headlights help improve visibility of snow
  • High intake height and clearing width

What could be better:

  • The device may struggle a bit if you are going uphill due to less traction

Troy-Bilt Vortex 2490Best Value

  • Power source: gas
  • Engine: 277cc Troy-Bilt® OHV
  • Clearing width: 24”
  • Intake height: 21”
  • Tank capacity: 5 qt.
  • Starting system: electric/recoil

 Other features: 4-way joystick chute control, 200-degree chute rotation, all-wheel-drive system, six forward / 2 reverse speeds, Touch ‘n Turn® power steering, heated grips,
in-dash headlight

The Troy-Bilt Vortex 2490 is yet another tool that people might want to buy and keep in their garages right next to their cars. At 277 cc, the engine might be less powerful than some of the counterparts mentioned in this list. Nevertheless, this power seems to be just enough to get the job of clearing snow done well.

You should be aware of the 200-degree chute rotation that allows you to direct the snow as you see fit. There is also the 4-way joystick that makes control of the chute possible. This component is positioned right on the handle of the device.

Where you are just getting started and need to turn the device on, you have either the electric startup or the recoil option. Where one fails, you can try the other. Nevertheless, it is an infrequent occurrence for the recoil startup mechanism to fail to start the device unless there isn’t enough fuel.

Similar to the Cub Cadet 3X 26HD mentioned above, your hands will be kept warm while you use this device so long as you are holding the handle. You will also be able to see well even if darkness has set in due to the inclusion of a headlight.

The all-wheel-drive system seems capable of handling any terrain, which is necessary since sometimes the snow may prove a challenge to get through. This is in addition to substantial airless tires as well as an eight-gear system.

What we liked:

  • All-wheel drive system
  • Has a backup start system in case the electric one doesn’t work

What could be better:

  • Some users have complained that the chute joystick may not be the easiest to use

CUB CADET 42 in.Best Wide-Clearance Blower

  •  Clearing width: 42”
  • Intake height: 23.5”

 Other features: fits XT1 and XT2 Enduro Series tractors (2015 – ); 180-degree chute rotation, steel high arch chute, high volume accelerator, two control levers, adjustable, replaceable skid shoes

Here we have a tool that boasts expansive clearing width as well as intake height. Nevertheless, this tool is not one that you can use independently since it does not have an engine to propel it forward. Nonetheless, you can fit it onto the front of either the XT1 or XT2 Enduro tractors. This will serve to drive the device forward as it carries out its mandate. Also, this requires that you have a tractor beforehand. Either that or the fact that you may have to include a budget to buy a tractor as well.

At purchase, you are likely to note the high arch chute. Couple this with 180 degrees of rotation, and you will find the tool launches snow clear of the driveway. There are also the two control levers that help you adjust how the device functions.

Given its compatibility with tractors and wide clearance, it is safe to assume that this tool is meant for heavy-duty use. As such, the skid shoes are likely to wear out over time. Consequently, it shows a bit of foresight for the manufacturer to make these components, both adjustable and replaceable.

What we liked:

  • Durable body
  • Wide and high clearance
  • Easy to use control levers

What could be better:

  • The device needs a tractor to function at its best hence cost of owning it becomes significantly higher

Arnold 19A40024OEMBest Tractor-Powered Blower

  • Clearing width: 42”
  • Intake height: 18”

 Other features: Fits Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP riding lawn mower and  Cub Cadet XT1 and XT2 Enduro Series Lawn Tractors (2015- ), adjustable, replaceable skid shoes and scraper blade, high volume accelerator, steel high arch chute

Here the high volume accelerator should let you know that the tool is meant for heavy use. This is in addition to the clearing width, as well. With this device in your driveway, clearing snow should be a cinch, albeit you will have to couple the machine with a tractor. As such, you have a few options, even from different manufacturers that include Cub Cadet Enduro series and the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco riding lawnmower vehicles.

All components that make up this device are high-quality and meant to last a long time. Also, if you are in the USA, you will find it relatively easy to find replacement parts as well as to service your tool whenever it gets damaged.

What we liked:

  • Durable body
  • Wide clearance
  • Easy to find replacement parts
  • Compatible with a series of tractors

What could be better:

  • The expense of owning both the 3-stage snow blower as well as a tractor may be high

Things to Consider

If you are going to buy a 3-stage snow blower as opposed to other snow removal equipment, you should have some information beforehand about the tools in general. This includes what features make them the most effective and other factors that may affect their overall operation. Consequently, you need a buying guide like the one below to help you make the best decision possible with regards to the purchase.

What to expect from a 3-stage snow blower

The 3-stage snow blower is undoubtedly the most advanced machine of its caliber, given that it incorporates more parts than both the 1-stage and 2-stage counterparts. There is, of course, the inclusion of an extra auger, which usually spins faster. This is the reason why snow is broken down into smaller pieces more efficiently, and the result of that is that it passes through the chute quickly. You even find snow being propelled quite far. You as well find that most chutes are Omni-directional.

Features to consider when purchasing a 3-stage snow blowing machine

Five Best 3-Stage Snowblowers for Clearing Heavy Snow in Large AreasYou will find that different machines have different capabilities, and the difference is made up by the features they possess. Each feature may make the device more useful; hence, you need to pay close attention to product descriptions as you pick your favorite. Below are standard features to expect.

Power source

Most 3-stage snow-blowers are gas-powered, including the Troy-Bilt Vortex 2690 and the Cub Cadet models above.

Gas-powered models are as well preferred as they can last for longer and have more power in their engines. They are thus more suited to heavy-duty snow blowing.


You also want to know that the engine can handle the weight of the job. The most telling factors on whether an engine is good enough are the brand, series, valve configuration as well as displacement. The first two serve to let you know of the reputation your engine has concerning power and usability. Also, the more displacement your engine has, the higher the chances that it can provide more power to the augers. This, in turn, translates to a faster and stronger spin on these components.

Also, overhead valve engines such as those found in the Cub Cadet 3X 26HD seem to offer less fuel usage as well as longer life for the device.

Clearing width and intake height

How does a snow-blower work? Every time the unit makes a pass, it will eliminate slow in its path. The width and height of the device determine the area that is left clear after each run. As such, the broader and higher the dimensions are, the less the number of runs you will have to make to clear your driveway thoroughly.

Five Best 3-Stage Snowblowers for Clearing Heavy Snow in Large AreasFuel tank capacity

Here the higher the capacity that the fuel tank can hold, the longer it is likely to run. Nevertheless, this is also dependent on the power produced. You also have to make fewer purchase runs with regards to fuel so long as you have a bigger fuel tank.

Starting system

There are usually two main options with regard to the starting system. An electric system will often require you to push a button, and the device will then start. On the other hand, you have a manual or what is commonly referred to as a recoil system. This needs you to pull a cord for the machine to start.

The recoil option is less likely to fail as it is dependent on you rather than on batteries to work.


The weight of the device may not be all that important, but it does help make the device easier or harder to push. You may also find it hard to transport the tool if it falls on the heavier side. However, you will find most people overlooking this component in their purchase decisions.

Other features

As well, there are a few extra features that may be associated with owning such a tool. They include heated grips, which may be of immense use considering how cold it gets outside when it snows. You may also be glad to see pitch control, such as with the Cub Cadet 3X (28″) when you purchase a device. Any other extra feature is a bonus and will likely make using the tool a joy.


The 2-stage snow blower has two moving parts, namely the auger and impeller. These two serve the purpose of dicing up snow into smaller pieces, and this makes it easier to launch small pieces away from your driveway. On the other hand, 3-stage machines have an extra impeller in addition to the two above. This impeller can even spin ten times faster than the other impeller in the setup.

Storing a snow blower may be a lengthy process, but it is also worthwhile if you are going to use it the next winter. First, put in a fuel stabilizer in your gas. You can do this the last few times you fuel your device. On the last day of use, run the engine for a while then drain the oil. After that, refill with fresh oil as well as change the oil filter. Clean the air filter if present as well.

Spray fogging oil or some light oil into the cylinder of the engine via the spark plug hole. Of course, the spark plug will have to be removed for this to be possible. You may then start and stop the device a few times to sufficiently distribute the oil. After that, you need to look for a new spark plug and replace the old one. Also, make sure the tank is nearly full, so no corrosion happens while in storage. Clean any other components that might rust then put in storage.

Our Verdict

The Cub Cadet 3X (28″) makes for a superb machine for anyone looking to own a snow blower. The engine is powerful, components are high quality, and it only requires the push of a button to start. For a regular homeowner, this tool would prove immensely helpful when the snow comes along. The same things can be said of the Cub Cadet 3X 26HD. As much as the two devices don’t have the same width, the 26HD has other positive attributes as well that include a heated grip.

If these two don’t strike your fancy, the Troy-Bilt Vortex 2690 serves a suitable alternative. This is because it can achieve almost similar levels of performance to the two mentioned above with a smaller engine. The only catch is that you will have to make more runs. The other two are not mentioned here as they are not able to work independently. Nevertheless, if you already have a vehicle to attach them to they could prove valuable assets. Make the right purchase, and you never have to worry about the snow in your driveway again.

  1. I moved to a location with heavy snowfalls every winter. Are 3-stage units more powerful and durable than 2-stage ones? There’ll sure be a lot of work.

    • Hello, Terry! 3-stage snow blowers are more advanced as there are more parts in them than in 2-stage units. So yes, they are heavy-duty, thus, more efficient and best for heavy wet snow and large areas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *