Ariens has quite a nice lineup of snow blowers these days. The Ariens Compact Series features the 920021 (aka Compact 24), the 920022 or Compact 24 Track model, along with the slightly older 920013 (aka Compact 22).
There really isn’t that much difference between these Ariens Compact snow blower models. Still, there are a few key attributes that differ. One or two might be enough to justify the price difference for some buyers. An outline of the details will help you along.
Basic Design, Controls & Features
All these models are about the same size and weight, emphasis on “about”. The new 920021 tips the scales at 187 lbs. But the older 920013 is 179 lbs, pretty close. The 920022 Track model is a bit heavier at 218 lbs.
Though that looks like a considerable jump, and you could feel it if you had to lift it into a truck, even the largest one is still not massive by comparison to 36″ or 42″ gas snow blowers.
In overall dimensions, they’re all within an inch or two, roughly 51″ long x 44″ tall. The biggest difference is the 920013, which is two inches narrower than the 920021 and 920022.
In practice, I haven’t found the snow clearing ability to differ much, even with the 2″ narrower auger on the 920013. The auger diameter, which can have a big influence, is still 11″ on all three models, after all. On each, that auger is the same 3-blade, serrated steel monster that chews up snow like nobody’s business.
All 3 models are intended chiefly to run over gravel and/or paved ground rather than grass or earth. That might sound silly to some buyers. I know my plowing needs encompass a fair amount of grass and even the decks from time to time. But the point is that the ability to work well on gravel-laden ground is helpful. It doesn’t imply you can’t plow over grass, provided you’re careful not to dig down to the surface.
If you do hit gravel it’s good to know you’ve got an auger, chute, and housing made of steel. Plastics today are good but you can still break any of these components with high-speed rocks flying through the mechanism. Each model sports the same reversible skid shoes. They’re metal too, though, so you’ll want to be careful if you do use this snow blower on a wooden deck.
Caution is equally called for when running over areas where a newspaper or child’s toy might lie unseen under the snow. Luckily Ariens included two shear pins that will snap if the auger gets bound up by a foreign object. Yes it’s annoying (though not difficult) to have to replace one. But that’s a lot better than a burnt-out motor or broken transmission component.
Ariens AX Engine
Where it counts as much or more, the engine, all three snow blowers sport the same beautiful power plant: The re-branded LCT (Liquid Combustion Technology), known here as the Ariens AX.
Some time ago I was on the fence about the LCT, which replaced the use of a Briggs & Stratton engine Ariens had relied on for so long. No longer. The LCT has been around in real-world use long enough now to give it a solid recommendation.
True, it would be hard to beat a good Briggs & Stratton, 4-cycle OHV engine. They’re reliable, durable, and really deliver year after year. The LCT doesn’t have quite that track record. But after several years in the field, this thing has proven itself.
The 208cc version installed here provides 9.5 ft-lb of torque. That’s less than I would prefer; only slightly larger snow blowers might provide 12 ft-lb or more. But the Ariens snow blowers make good use of the power they have, and what they give is more than adequate.
Starting the engine on either model can be done via the electric start. Plug it into a standard 120 V outlet and press the button. On those occasions when you have to crank it manually you won’t find it particularly difficult. One or two good tugs, even in very cold weather, will typically see it fire right up.
Gears, Axle, & Tires
Each model features six forward speeds and two reverse. Do you need that many? I never have, but you might live in Buffalo, New York where getting a snowfall of several feet a week is a real possibility.
Personally, I can’t see needing more than one reverse speed. You don’t generally drive the thing backwards; it’s chiefly for getting out of trouble. And I’ve never had much use for more than two forward speeds. Still, your environment or snow-plowing style may differ and the others could come in handy to dig yourself out.
Even the “little things” were designed thoughtfully in this model. One area that some snow blowers tend to come up short is the tires. Not here.
The 920021 houses a pair of 15″ x 5″ pneumatic tires that will get you more easily through those higher drifts. That’s one reason this thing can tackle a 12″ fall without bogging down. The 920013 is a real laggard here at just 13″ x 4″.
I have to give kudos to Ariens for providing a pin-lock axle to lock or unlock the right or left wheel. When “unlocking” a wheel, that wheel will not be driven. That can be useful to improve maneuverability while 2-wheel operation will give you maximum traction when clearing snow on a steep hill for example.
The Compact 24 Track makes that point even stronger. The 920022 houses 5.5″ wide directional rubber snow tracks and has a somewhat different axle and differential. The effect here is extra grip considerably reducing the effort needed to curve or steer the snow blower.
This is a great benefit for older or smaller users, or anyone who finds their snow blower tough to handle. After all, plowing through 12 inches of snow – which all these Ariens models are designed to do – can still be a chore.
The Track model takes a lot of the effort out. There’s no need to lock one wheel, as with the other models. No lever to fool with and improved handling. What’s not to love?
Whether that feature is worth extra cash depends on so many personal factors there’s no way to say for everyone. It depends on the user’s budget, strength, average snow type, and more. But I’d certainly pay more for it.
Impeller & Chute
The impeller, chute, and other components are pretty much the same on all three Ariens snow blowers considered here. The impeller is that hole and 12″ fan behind the auger that gives the 2-stage snow blower its name. It sucks up the snow the auger is chewing up and blows it up through the chute.
The extra stage is one thing that gives the Ariens such a superb throwing distance: 40 feet or more. Naturally, you can always find snow that no machine could blow that far.
If too dry, air resistance prevents it going very far. If too wet, it can be so heavy you have to have a truly monster machine to fling it more than a dozen feet. With that understanding, it’s safe to say that the Ariens can live up to that spec in most conditions.
One really great thing about this lineup is they all use metal parts for the 20″ intake and the chute, not just the auger. For sure, modern plastics are a wonder. And metal does add weight. But sometimes that’s a good tradeoff.
One difference between the 920013 and the 920021 or 920022 is how the chute is handled. All will turn 205 degrees, plenty for depositing snow just about anywhere anyone could wish. The older unit requires manual adjustment, requiring you to bend over. The Compact 24 models have a control on the panel within easy reach. Not a major selling point but it might influence a few buyers to look more favorably at the larger models.
Which works better often depends on your environment. The control near your hand can save some bending over – provided everything turns easily. That will be influenced by your temperature and humidity conditions, along with how well you maintain the blower.
The Ariens Compact snow blowers – the 920021 aka Compact 24, 920022 aka Compact 24 Track, and even the older 920013 aka Compact 22 – provide power, reliability, and relative ease of use in a medium-sized frame. For a lot of buyers, that’s a real Goldilocks machine.