I use a HS928 Honda with tracks . Less slip with the tracks , and you can climb stairs to do decks & porches . They are a little more work to turn until you get your routine down . Starts easy , runs forever on a tank of gas , no oil consumption problems . Can throw snow about 50 ft . If I remember correct 50-60 tons per hour capacity...KS-OKIE
I use a Simplicity that is now 10 years old. Always starts in the first try with electric start and by the second or third pull. I need a bigger one and you should get plenty of a machine. One should plan to spend between 1300-1900 for a walk behind self propelled. The junk ones at the mart-marts, Lowes or Sears are not worth the money. I would like another Simplicity but will also consider a Toro. I do not know of any Honda's close to me but I would consider that too if the blower parts were as tough as my Simplicity.
I bought one from J. C. Penneys in 1976(yes 1976) after I had an operation. It had a B & S engine 2 stroke and a single stage blower. I had to replace the clutch once but that's it. I left it in good running condition when I got div. in 2008. I had a book on it but I can't remember who made it. You can't ask for much more from a machine than that.
30 years old, gone through 3 carbs and more than enough rebuilds but its a tank.
the SOB is all steel which makes it heavy. She won't ride up the snow.
when the rest of my circle is jammed up, the mean machine comes to the rescue. Throws snow, ics, slush, newspapers, etc... just chops it up and launches it!! I have neighbors that marvel with she comes a callin'. she is loud, a little rusty and when the carb needs a rebuild she spits out fire like a dragon!!!
It payed for itself once again here in PA!!!! Some winters sh sits idle all season. Other years, she is running constantly.
I think you want a heavy machine with a ton of horse power.
Ariens or Simplicity both make very good units. The Toros are nice but I am just not sold on the plastic chutes and the chute director is not very solid either. Simplicity has a motorized chute director on some units which I would avoid. Just one more thing to break and it will corrode internally from condensation. Ariens tried it years ago and dropped the idea.
I have an Ariens 22" for use at our cabin in the Sierras. It is "ok" for our small driveway, but is light and tends to climb up on snow due to the type of snow we get. ("Sierra Cement", high water content..) It will take more than one pass to clear things in many cases.
I did make the mistake of buying the blower through eBay, a new closeout. But it was from a boxstore, a return, and doesn't have the cast iron gearbox. It also had another small issue, but works just fine as per its specs.
I've heard that the Honda with tracks is the absolute best for a walk behind. Ariens seems to be overall, very nicely made. Not happy the engine, which is a copy of a Honda design, I believe, is made in China as per Ariens' specs. I am, however, leery of a Briggs engine.
Given a greater need and more snow to clear, I'd get a Honda two stage, preferably with tracks.
When I lived in Fort Wayne IN then transferred to Colorado Springs I had the best 2 stage that Lowes sold. Got it on sale, 3 yr. extended warranty and enclosed clear cab with heated handgrips. Before this I never used a snow blower in my life. This thing wanted to take off by itself and would eat thru 6 inches of snow like it was a demon. Actually turned out to be fun but cold.