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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Opinions please: If I want to get a machine for shallow snowfalls ONLY, and want to spend up to around $400, am I better off with something like a new Toro Power Clear 518 ZE as second machine, or should I look for a used Honda 720 or similar?

My situation: I’m in the NY metro area and most snow falls are under 3-4”, although we’ve had winters where we’d get a half a dozen major snow falls over 8” up to about 2 feet. Sometimes we get no snow all winter. I have a 300 foot drive, about 100 feet level and 200 feet is a straight and steep hill. I currently use a Honda HS928TAS which is great for heavy snows, anything over 3”.

However, I’m thinking of getting a second smaller machine for the lighter snow falls. I’m intrigued by the speed of motion and handling ease of lighter single stage machines in the light stuff, and especially that they clean to the pavement. So that leads me to want a single stage machine for those lighter situations.

As I wrote earlier, there are some winters when we don’t get much if any snow, and others when we get hit with quite a few heavy storms. So I don’t want to spend a lot on this, and no matter what I spend my wife will think I’m nuts to have two snowthrowers, but she’s not the one clearing the driveway so I don’t care much about that, and I’ll put up with her ribbing.

Also, how do single stage machines do moving wet snow and slush? My 2-stage does quite well unless it’s very shallow. Would I have trouble pushing the single stage machine up the steep part of my driveway, even if it’s shallow snow? (If so, maybe I should skip this whole idea).
 

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Single stage excel at wet snow and slush and are very light weight and quick. I have a toro 2 stroke which you cannot buy new anymore but is an excellent performer. I used it on the last storm we had (I'm on LI) and it did that 14" but will scrape down whatever you get no matter how light or wet.

Downsides are it's a 20" cut and I have about 120' with large parking area so it takes some time and it's not wheel driven. You have more and steep grade so not sure if they are best choice.

If you didn't mind spending a few bucks Toro 724 and 824 QXE are self propelled single stage with 24" cut I believe. I have been impressed with what I have seen and I am a big fan of single stage. Claimed 33% faster over 2 stage. I think you'd be looking at $800-900.

I also bought a good 36" snow blade shovel. It's fast in the right situation.
 

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Basically, you won't know how a single stage will preform on your steep driveway until you try one. It would be great if you could borrow a couple of different single stages to see what happens. My Toro 721R handles my neighbor's steep drive with no problem at all. It's like a mountain goat that pulls me up the hill.
 

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I've got a few concerns for you to consider. Single stage machines work best on flat or modest inclines. Make certain the one you select can handle your needs.

My bigger issue, though, is the comparatively low width and clearing rate of single stage gas snow blowers on a 300' driveway. Compared to your current machine, it will probably take you longer to clear 2" than it takes to clear 12". For that reason, you'll continue to use your Honda whenever possible.

A better alternative (at close to the same price, used) may be an entry level 2-stage. You can use it for a variety of small snowfall events and save the Honda for 6" or more.
 

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I'd look for used, they are cheap, plentiful, and you certainly can find one in great condition. Most are $75-$100 but they range from $50-$200.
 

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My bigger issue, though, is the comparatively low width and clearing rate of single stage gas snow blowers on a 300' driveway. Compared to your current machine, it will probably take you longer to clear 2" than it takes to clear 12". For that reason, you'll continue to use your Honda whenever possible.
I guess the main thing is if the single-stage allowed moving at a quick walking pace, for instance. Then you'd have a narrower cut, yes, but it would clear down to the pavement better than a 2-stage, and might still be quicker. It would at least be physically easier to handle than a 2-stage.

For that, a fairly-powerful single stage would probably be good. You can get used ones fairly cheap. The Toro Snowmaster is definitely gaining a following, the self-propelled single stage. But there aren't many yet on the used market, so I think you'd exceed your $400 budget.

I like used machines, personally, so I wouldn't shy away from a good used one. Maybe you could get something suitable for $200, and stay further under-budget.

A better alternative (at close to the same price, used) may be an entry level 2-stage. You can use it for a variety of small snowfall events and save the Honda for 6" or more.
I'm having trouble following this logic. He has a high-quality, fairly-wide 2-stage already. What would the benefit be of buying a cheaper 2-stage? It doesn't guarantee it's any faster than the Honda. It might be lighter and physically easier to maneuver, yes, but otherwise I don't see much benefit.

For little storms, increasing the ground speed of the Honda would keep the augers and impeller fed better, which might help with throwing distance, and clearing time. But I'm sure he's taken that into consideration already, as a free option. And I don't know how fast the tracked machines can travel.
 
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