Ariens 920014 24-Inch 208cc Double Stage Gas Snow Blower Review by Merrill Shadwell
I can’t figure out why Ariens named this snow blower the Compact 24. It’s anything but small. Still, compared to a 42″ behemoth I suppose this model qualifies. Best of all, it has a good portion of the snow clearing power of those truly large units. Here’s why.
24-inch Clearing Width
The Ariens Compact 24 (also called the ST24LE or sometimes just the 920014) is a two-stage snow blower offering – no surprise – 24 inch clearing width. What might surprise you – it did me – is how modest some of the other specs are while delivering serious durability and power.
For example, it weighs just 178 lbs. That’s far from featherweight but it’s unusually light for a snow thrower that delivers this level of clearing ability. It measures 51.9″ long x 26.4″ wide x 44.3″ high).
One reason for that ability is the 3-blade serrated steel auger. With a diameter of 11″ it’s not the largest auger around but it is tough. It’s becoming more common to use plastic these days.
Granted, contemporary plastic augers are lightweight, letting them spin fast while requiring less engine power. And, plastics these days are pretty robust. Still, they get chewed up pretty quickly on gravel-laden driveways or sidewalks. This one may get a ding or two (that can be smoothed out if need be) but it will never shatter.
208cc Briggs & Stratton Engine
Another reason for that high-powered performance is the 208cc Briggs & Stratton engine on board. True, that’s not the largest available by any stretch. Yet it has the classic Briggs & Stratton quality and efficiency.
Those come from a gasoline-powered, 4-cycle OHV design with cast iron gear housing. The gas power will last a good long time – at least a couple of hours, typically – courtesy of the 3.2 quart (0.8 gallons/3.0 L) fuel tank.
At the same time, it’s easy to start using the electric-powered push-button system. Just plug it into any standard 120V outlet and go. Of course, sometimes you have to clear snow during a power outage and for those times the traditional recoil is still there. If my bad back has no trouble cranking this guy you’ll start it easily even in very cold weather (certified down to 20ºF).
The motor drives this snow blower at any of six forward speeds or two reverse. Frankly, I’ve never had a need to use half that many forward speeds. Still, those with a fairly steep driveway or a very long sidewalk might well find a use for the others.
If there’s any fault in this model it would be the noise. This baby is loud. True enough, any gas-powered snow blower isn’t going to be as quiet as an electric. But even in comparison to other gas models the muffler doesn’t keep it down to the usual roar.
Throwing Distance – Up to 40 Ft.
Naturally, all that power doesn’t do you any good if the snow just piles up beside the snow blower. The 920014 eliminates that possibility with a cluster of features beyond sheer power.
One is a metal chute that moves up to 205º. It, too, is made of metal not plastic. You don’t have to bend over to adjust it, either. There are Quick Turn controls within easy reach.
Adjusting it appropriately helps achieve the rated up-to-40 foot (12 meters) throw. “Up to” is often a marketing buzzphrase for “if you’re lucky in a way you likely never will be in the real world”. In this case, the Compact 24 actually can live up to the rating.
There is one caveat, of course; the snow has to be fairly dry. No snow thrower is going to get the maximum distance from slush. But even with the latter type it will go half that and the blower won’t bog down while throwing it.
The clearing height is 20″, letting you clear a moderately high berm in a hurry. No need to go over the same strip twice (provided you don’t let the snow pile up too high, natch).
Ariens thoughtfully included two shear pins that will snap if the auger gets bound up by a newspaper, a child’s toy left outside, or anything else. 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.
13″ x 4″ Tires
There is one moderate weakness in the 920014: the tires. They’re only 13″ x 4″. Certainly, the diameter is ample. That will get you across a large area in a hurry.
But at just four inches wide you can too easily bog down in big snow drifts. That’s especially true if you’re driving over uneven ground, say in a large yard. The Polar Trac knobby tread design helps offset that drawback somewhat.
I have to give kudos to Ariens for providing a pin-lock axle. You can set it for 1-wheel or 2-wheel operation. 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.
Assembly & Setup
The Compact 24 will need some assembly. Well, they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”, right? So no words here. Watch the excellent video below and see how relatively easy it is to get this snow blower ready for service.
Ariens has a well-earned reputation for making durable, long-lived snow blowers. Many owners have had theirs for as long as 30 years before needing a new one. Even if your Compact 24 (ST24LE or 920014) lasted only 10 years, and there’s no reason to think it won’t service much longer, it would still be a good investment.