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Some of the newest snow throwers are larger and more capable, yet easier to control. Many also cost less, thanks to price pressure from major retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe's, and Sears, which now account for about 60 percent of sales.
Two-stage models are the largest of these machines. Unlike smaller, single-stage models, which rely solely on a rubber-edged auger to move and disperse snow and provide some pulling power, two-stage models add drive wheels and a fanlike impeller to help disperse what they pick up.
You needn't buy the biggest snow thrower to get competent clearing. Honda and Toro are among the brands with single-stage models that rival some larger machines, yet weigh far less and require less storage space. Manufacturers are designing more-capable models for homeowners with smaller driveways as well as for women, who make at least part of the buying decisions in more than 30 percent of snow-thrower purchases.