Ariens Compact Series 24" Snow Blower
It wasn't cheap but we're getting too old to be shovelling three feet of snow every winter, so this year we bought an Ariens Compact Series 24" snow blower (or snow thrower as they're sometimes called). Deciding which snow blower to buy wasn't easy but in the end we went with quality, reputation, and familiarity, not price.
There were several choices when it came to buying a snow blower, but it was narrowed down to the Ariens Compact Series Model 920021 and the Ariens SnoTek. The other brands are probably comparable and the 'best snow blower' for us might not work in your situation, but we had previously owned an Ariens for almost 12 years without any problems at all, and the only reason we sold it was because the machine was way too large for our new place.
What we like about the Ariens snow blower:
- Easy to start: The electric start is used the first time the machine is fired up, but the pull starter is used thereafter and it starts right up with one pull.
- Easy to maneuver: Four forward gears, two reverse gears, and locking wheels offers plenty of options for speed and maneuverability.
- Lots of power: The snow flies 35-40 feet and the machine eats through the heavy, wet, compacted snow that the town plow leaves at the end of the driveway.
- Made in the USA (sort of): According to Ariens, as of 2014 there are no longer any snow blower engines made in the USA so the engine comes from China, but the snow blower itself is engineered and assembled here in America.
- Gas shutoff knob: The Ariens Compact has a knob that shuts off the gas to the engine and at the end of the season you can run the engine dry so the gas doesn't sit inside the carburetor.
What we don't like about the Ariens snow blower:
- No throttle control for the auger: The reason for choosing the Ariens Compact series was because we needed a smaller machine for our small lot. It's nice that it has so much power, but the only way to control the thrown snow is to lower the angle of the chute. It would be nice if there was a way to throttle down the velocity so the snow doesn't always get thrown full strength.
- The snow blower is sold as a 24" width, but the shoes in either side makes the overall width 26.5", so it won't fit through a 24" door.
- The snow blower might already have oil in it (as ours did). That wasn't an error - the instructions said the machine may or may not have oil added. Ariens probably adds the oil as a safeguard against folks that might forget to check, so if you need to tilt the machine on its side to fit it into an SUV, look to see if there's any oil in the machine so it doesn't leak all over the vehicle.
- The snow blower weighs in at over 200 pounds so you may need help loading and/or unloading the machine.
Ariens Compact vs. SnoTek:
The only other snow blower we looked at was the Ariens SnoTek (Amazon), which is made in China. It gets very good reviews and retails for $649 vs the $899 for the Ariens Compact Series, but it's noticeably smaller than the Ariens. They both have electric start, a 208 cc engine, the same size clearing width, and steel serrated augers. As far as differences between the Ariens Compact and the Snotek; the Compact is noticeably larger and beefier, is assembled in the USA, has a steel gearcase (vs. aluminum) and the Compact has a bright halogen light, while the SnoTek has none.
Where to buy the Ariens snow blower:
Snow blowers are expensive so it pays to shop around a bit. We looked at Amazon before buying and they had a surprising selection of snow blowers, snow shovels, and various accessories. As with any e-tailer it's the luck of the draw when it comes to online prices. It can't hurt to check the current price on Amazon for the Ariens, but shipping isn't always free and check several times over the course of a week before making your final decision as their prices change all the time. We have a Home Depot about 12 miles away so we bought ours locally. The 24" Compact Series snow blower retails for $899, plus tax, plus delivery ($75). The frustrating part about the delivery charge is that you can order the same snow blower online for the same price ($899) and they'll ship it to your door for free. They're obviously shipping the machine from the local HD store, so why can't a buyer get free shipping when shopping in person? We ended up buying the snow blower in person and picked it up ourselves, but if you don't mind buying online check the Home Depot website before you buy to see if they offer free shipping.
Ariens snow blower videos:
Here are a couple of videos showing the Ariens Compact Series snow blower. The first one is a walkaround showing the controls, and the other is a Compact Series vs SnoTek size comparison. The videos were made for folks that might not have an Ariens dealer (or Home Depot) nearby where they can see the two machines next to one another.