I hope you’ll agree with me when I say:
Working with a High Quality Chipper Shredder makes makes the work a lot easier… or does it?
Greetings, everyone! My name is William Hunt, and I’ve been doing yard work for quite some time. Ever since as a kid, I helped my parents with raking the yard, mowing the lawn, and cleaning the gutter, the usual punishment, as I used to view it then. It hasn’t always been pleasant, let alone easy, but these days it’s become perfectly enjoyable.
As I’m sure most of you know, the feeling you get when watching the perfectly trimmed lawn and pruned bushes after a hard day’s work is terrifically gratifying. However, as I came to realize, it doesn’t have to be a hard day’s work at all, and I’m writing this article so as to pass on this knowledge, so to speak, by telling you why you should invest in a chipper-shredder machine.
Seeing as these days you can’t just burn the waste or throw it out into a landfill (in fact, most communities outright made this illegal), these machines provide much-needed assistance in this regard.
The Best (Electric) Wood Chipper Shredders 2016
|Picture||Brand Model \ Feature||Engine||Maximum capacity||Reduction Ratio||Weight
|Earthquake 14267||Gas, Viper / 212cc (6.5HP)||3"||20:1||110 lbs.|
|Tazz Chipper Shredders K32||Gas / 212 cc (6.5HP)||3"||20:1||121 lbs.|
|Patriot Products CSV-3100B||Gas, Briggs & Stratton / 10HP||3"||20:1||187.7 lbs.|
|Generac 3"||Gas, OHV / 208cc||3" chipping, 0½" shredding||N/A||126 lbs.|
|Troy-Bilt CS4325||Gas / 250cc||2"||10:1||200 lbs.|
|Patriot Products CSV-2515||Electric / 14-Amp||2½"||N/A||95 lbs.|
|Eco-Shredder ES1600||Electric / 14-Amp (2.5HP)||13/8"||10:1||70.8 lbs.|
|GreenWorks 24052||Electric / 15-Amp||13/8"||N/A||30.6 lbs.|
|WORX WG430||Electric / 13-Amp||13"||11:1 mulch||25.9 lbs.|
|Sun Joe Chipper Joe CJ601E||Electric / 14-Amp||1½"||16:1||26.2 lbs.|
Why You Should Trust Me
Like most people, I’ve been putting more than a day’s work at my job, but I’ve always found the time to tend to my yard. Not only that, but with the help of my wife, and later our kids, we’ve managed to grow our own organic veggies, not to mention the plethora of gorgeous flowers and ornamental shrubbery.
Naturally, this was far from easy, but the feeling of gratification when watching the ship-shape yard was more than enough for the family. Things got even better when I made one of the best decisions in my life and bought my first chipper-shredder machine some three decades ago.
Since then, I’ve researched and acquired about a dozen of chippers, shredders, and combo variants, and helped more than a dozen friends and neighbors get their own (I’m not really into lending and borrowing, you see). These days, I’m using an electric model for shredding and mulching smaller stuff, and a bigger, gas-powered one, for larger stuff, which I use regularly.
Lest you think this article is based purely on personal experience, let me stress that I’ve done my fair share of research and waded through a morass of related science literature and brochures, trying to decipher the specifications and techno-jargon and translate it into plain, everyday English. This has always been one of my major gripes with any product, and I wanted to compile the ultimate guide to buying a chipper-shredder machine that wouldn’t make the reader reach for a dictionary or Google something every now and then.
Moreover, I’ve spoken to a number of representatives from half a dozen major chipper shredder brands and found out some things I hadn’t been aware of even after decades of using the machines myself. Live and learn, I guess.
Earthquake 14267 Chipper Shredder
If you really want to get medieval on the branches and waste that clutter your yard, the heavy-duty chipping knives and pulverizing hammers of the Earthquake 14267 got your back. It’s not the quietest chipper out there (you’ll probably need to wear ear plugs), but the chipping power and chute capacity absolutely make up for it. If you have a pile of up to three-inch branches that fell during the winter, you don’t have a pile. With a reduction ratio of twenty to one, all you get is a heap of mulch that you can use for compost. You can either use the 2-bushel bag that comes along with the machine or just set it to spew it out directly on the lawn.
At 110 pounds of weight, the chipper is a bit hefty, but you can easily set that straight by getting the optional tow bar kit to pull it around using a lawn tractor or whatnot. A word of warning – it handles smaller branches great, but the bigger stuff, that nearing three inches, has to be fairly straight for the chipper to handle it, as the opening is fairly small and might jam easily.
Tazz Chipper Shredders K32
In case you need some serious power to reduce the branches and twigs around your yard to a pulp, the TCS K32 chipper shredder has the engine for it. Moreover, it lets you enjoy a peace of mind, as the 212cc Viper engine comes with a 5-year warranty. The machine can handle branches up to three inches, with a reduction ratio of 20:1, so you might be disappointed watching that big pile of branches being reduced to something not as imposing. As you’d expect from a gas chipper, it’s a bit loud, s you’ll have to wear ear plugs operating the machine.
Measuring 25.4 by 29.9 inches, the chipper has a neat footprint, so it stores easily, and with 11-inch wheels, it also moves easily, though you’ll need a tow kit to move the machine since it weighs quite a bit (121lbs). You can also purchase the optional vacuum kit with a unique air-gate and the biggest-in-class rotor, just in case stuffing waste manually into the 34-inch high steel hopper is too much of a bother. The chipper comes with a rugged easy-to-use debris bag that features a quick Dock-and-Lock connector and Bottom-Out zipper for easier handling.
Patriot Products CSV-3100B 10 HP
The CSV-3100B is a heavy-duty chipper shredder mostly recommended for 1-acre yards. The machine has a powerful 10 HP gas-powered engine that drives a heavy-duty rotor with re-sharpenable knives for easier maintenance. The knives themselves are steel and heat-treated for increased durability, and coupled with six hardened steel hammers, they reduce any amount of debris into so much mulch. The 16 x 14-inch opening admits loads of leaves and debris, but the thickest piece of green wood the side feed can tackle is 3 inches. You can either reduce it all to mulch or keep the coin-sized chips for decorating purposes.
Measuring 35 x 24 x 37 inches, the machine takes up as much space as a typical garbage can, so storing it is not a problem. Speaking of which, there are two ways to get rid of the waste – you could collect it in the collection bag that comes with the purchase, or shoot it out of the side discharge chute, which effectively lets you work at the same spot all day long. However, if you do need to move it, the chipper has large wheels that won’t deflate on you.
Generac 3″ Gas Powered
Working with a shredder-chipper machine won’t exactly help you take out all the frustration in a frenzy of destruction, but it’ll at least get rid of one possible cause – the branches and dead leaves cluttering your yard. There’s something almost hypnotic in watching the Generac 3-inch Chipper Shredder’s hardened steel PRO-SPEC chipper knife devours branches up to three inches in diameter. However, the feed might have troubles with curvier pieces, as they might cause a jam. Like most chippers, it prefers straight green wood. The hopper admits loads of leaves and bunches of twigs, feeding them to 8 free-swinging shredder hammers that will reduce all the debris into so much mulch.
If you find its 126 pounds of weight a daunting prospect, there are built-in handlebars and all-terrain wheels that make the job of moving it into position all the easier. The machine comes with a 2.5-bushel collection bag, which comes in handy if you have or consider making a mulch heap. You could just as easily let it spew the waste through the out-taking chute, though the downward angle of it creates a heap that will require you to move the machine sooner or later.
Troy-Bilt CS4325 250cc
If you’re in the market for something to help you keep your yard neat and tidy, the Troy-Bilt CS4325 Chipper Shredder. With a powerful 250cc OHV gas-powered engine, this is a loud way of cleaning your yard, but it’s nothing a pair of ear plugs can’t take care of. The 2-in-1 chipper shredder combo makes use of two chromium steel chipper knives and twelve replaceable cast steel flails to make short work of up to 2-inch thick green wood, as well as smaller branches, twigs, and leaves. You could also use it to get rid of dry wood, but the best results are with green stuff. The machine lets you turn ten bags of debris into one single bag. Essentially, this packs an afternoon of work into one or two bags of chips and mulch, tops.
The machine comes with an extra-large felt lined collection bag that can take up to five bushels of waste, which you can later strew across the yard or empty on a compost heap. At 200 pounds, this heavy-duty chipper shredder is quite heavy but also sturdy. Luckily, there are two 10 x 4-inch pneumatic wheels for greater mobility.
Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp
If you’d rather go for quiet operation than raw power when it comes to chipping, shredding and/or mulching, then you might consider getting an electric wood chipper shredder, and the Patriot Products CSV-2515 fits the bill. In terms of power, it’s essentially just a smaller cousin of the CSV-3100B that was discussed earlier. With a flip of the switch, the CSV-2515 can reduce mountains of leaves into useful mulch. Alternatively, it can tackle branches up to two-and-a-half inches in diameter and cut them down to coin-sized chips. The CSV-2515 is not beyond disposing of cardboard, in case you’re wondering.
It’s quite lightweight, only 95 pounds, and features large, convenient all-terrain wheels, so you can lug it around the yard to your heart’s content. Note, however, that the engine is fairly powerful for an electric, drawing 14 Amps, so you’ll need a quality heavy-duty cord no longer than 100 feet. Being an electric chipper shredder, the CSV-2515 is very quiet, so you won’t need ear plugs, though safety goggles are recommended, and they do come with the purchase, just as the standard Patriot Products collection bag. The manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty.
Eco-Shredder ES1600 14 amp
Whether you need a chipper shredder for day-to-day maintenance or just a machine that you break out only once in a while to tend to your small backyard, the Eco-Shredder ES1600 fits the bill. This is an electric 3-in-1 chipper/shredder/mulcher with a powerful 14-Amp engine, and a footprint no larger than your average garbage can. The machine features a three-way feed, top-mounted hopper for leaves and similar organic debris, while the side chute can admit branches up to inch-and-three-eighths in diameter. As for discharge goes, the chute is rounded and makes for easy clean up and collection of waste.
There’s an excellent safety feature in the shape of the overload protection switches that turns the motor off in case a jam occurs. Plus, given it’s an electric engine, the maintenance is minimal on the user’s part. You will, however, need to buy a good quality extension cord, heavy-duty and no longer than 100 feet, so it can handle the 14 Amps of juice that the machine requires. With pitiful 70 pounds of weight, combined with large and sturdy wheels, the machine is pretty easy to lug around, if by oneself.
GreenWorks 24052 15 Amp
If you do most of your yard work near the house and have no need of heavy-duty, industrial-gauge machines for your chipping and shredding dealings, then the GreenWorks 24052 is the perfect thing for you. It’s compact, measuring mere 33.7 x 19.9 x 15.8 inches, yet powerful, thanks to its 15-Amp motor. Moreover, the machine is corded, so you don’t need a cord off the bat, though it might be good to consider investing in a heavy-duty extension cord (up to 100 feet). With just over 30 pounds of weight and 7-inch wheels, moving it around is not a problem even for kids and elderly (just make sure it’s unplugged first).
As for the cutting power, it handles any soft organic debris without a hiccup, though the maximum diameter for larger stuff should not exceed inch-and-three-eighths. The good side is that there’s a push paddle incorporated into the hopper, making your job of inserting the waste all the safer and easier. The machine comes with a large collection bag for easy disposal (alternatively, you could just let it spew the mulch around the lawn), an additional set of reversible blades and a full four-year warranty.
WORX WG430 13 amp
Despite the unassuming appearance, the WORX WG430 is a great tool for mulching and shredding. The manufacturer advertises it as “a lean, green mulching machine”, and this pretty much sums it up. It’s eco-friendly, leaving no carbon footprint; at the same time, the actual footprint of this little fella is almost negligible. The WG430 makes use of a bladeless trimming system not unlike that found in trimmers and lightweight mowers, with .090-inch x 13-inch trimmer line. Given the 11:1 reduction rate and the ability to gulp up and mulch down up to 53 gallons of leaves and other soft debris per minute, the WG430 is a great tool for yards with deciduous trees and lots of seasonal shrubberies.
The machine comes with a heavy-duty bag that holds up to thirty gallons of mulch or compost for easy disposal. Just fit the bag on the discharge chute located directly under the hopper and watch the mountain of leaves disappears. The WG430 weighs just shy of 26 pounds and measures only 22.3 x 22 x 13.2 inches, so it moves and stores easily and efficiently. Yes, not being able to chip is a downside, but as a dedicated shredder mulcher, it’s indispensable.
Sun Joe Chipper Joe CJ601E 14-Amp
If you’re looking to put “green” back in “green thumb”, then look no further than the Chipper Joe CJ601E. It’s a compact, yet powerful chipper shredder combo, able to reduce mountains of leaves, brushes, and branches into so much chips and mulch. With a powerful 14-Amp electric engine, the CJ601E is able to tackle any green wood up to inch-and-a-half I diameter, while it may take a bit of back-and-forth with dry stuff, as expected. Naturally, as with any electric chipper shredder, it would be prudent to invest in a good quality, heavy duty cord no longer than 100 feet, to maximize the mobility factor.
Speaking of which, the machine is very compact, measuring only 36.75 x 20 x 17 inches, as well as lightweight (32 pounds), making it both easy for storage and portage. As one might expect from an electric engine, it’s not as nearly as loud as a gas-powered one, though dealing with the cord can be a bit of a bother. Still, the green factor is high, as it allows you to recycle and reuse the organic debris cluttering the yard into compost. Even the minimized coin-sized wood chips work well as mulch around trees and flower beds.
How I Picked and Tested
This article is not solely my own work, as I had help researching and reading through specifications and manual guides, as well as actually testing the models. As noted earlier, more time went into wading through the technical literature, booklets, and reviews, and then mulching (pun not intended) the data than into actually composing and typing this thing out.
Once we decided on a dozen or so models, the time came for a host of tests to determine if they’re any good, and believe you me, most came through with flying colors. We didn’t actually buy the machines, but we were lucky enough to have local shops let us test them with our own materials, sometimes even having to drive to nearby larger cities.
As you might’ve guessed, the most important thing we tested was their ability to chip, where we tried putting up to 4-onch branches into the chute. Then we tested how finely each model shreds and mulches the chips and smaller organic material. We also paid notice to the versatility and ease of cleaning, as well as power consumption and mobility of each individual machine.
Now, when it comes to buying one such machine, there are some essential things you should know. For one, depending on what you need, you can choose between a chipper, a shredder, a mulcher, or a combination thereof, and each does exactly what it says on the tin. A dedicated chipper is usually more heavy-duty than the rest, as it takes care of larger branches (up to 4-inches), reducing them to chips.
The shredder has less heavy-duty blades, but more of them, as well as flails with which it chops twigs, and leaves into fine bits. The mulcher, on the other hand, can’t handle anything more substantial than leaves or rotten cucumbers. Although getting a separate chipper or shredder is beneficial in its own way, buying a combo will be more efficient purely because it packs more features into one unit. Each of these products takes the organic waste from your yard and chips, chops, grinds and mulches it to be strewn across the yard, or collected into a bag for compost.
Now, there’s another choice to be made here, that between electric and gas-powered chipper shredder. While the electric models are smaller and lighter, better for the environment, as well as significantly quieter, the gas ones are much more powerful and, despite the greater weight, much more mobile, as their engine makes them independent of the power source and cables.
Conversely, the small size and less powerful engine make the electric machines suitable only for small-scale jobs, in addition to making it dependent on cables and outside power sources, while the gas chipper shredders are a great deal louder, take more space, have a negative impact on your health and the environment (due to fumes), and are more expensive. So, the decision is yours – do you need a machine for occasional lightweight use around the house, or do you need a heavy-duty machine to take care of bigger branches and greater surfaces?
The holy trinity you should look out for when it comes to shopping for a chipper-shredder machine is Engine Horsepower (electric ones are up to 2 horse-powers, gas-powered ones are anywhere from that to 10+ horse-powers), Chipper Capacity (how big a branch it can fit) and Reduction Ratio (e.g. a machine with 10:1 ration reduces ten bags of branches, twigs and leaves into a single bag of compost). Some other useful, but not essential features are the existence of a tow bar (to attach it to a cart or tractor), an electric starter (makes igniting the machine a whole lot easier), tilt-down hopper (to rake in the leaves directly) or self-sharpening blades (for easier maintenance).
You also might want to pay attention to the sound level the machine makes (pretty much self-explanatory), feed capacity (how much it takes through the hopper and chute at a time), weight (if you’re certain it’s not going to sit in one place), number of blades and flails (rule of thumb says the more, the better), etc. Naturally, always make sure to check out the products warranty and price, which you may have noticed I placed last. That’s because I believe that even if you’re shopping on a tight budget, you should always be prepared to shell out a bit more out of your comfort zone so you could get the best quality.
Ultimate Buying Guide
I’ve pieced together this guide to make it easier on the novitiates to get their bearing in the world of chippers and shredders. It’s my way of sharing the knowledge and, in a way, give back all the good these machines have done for me over the years.
Naturally, as most people, I was frustrated with the amount of techno-babble and unfamiliar terms that flood the brochures and manual guides, so a thought occurred to me – why not make one definitive buying guide for chipper shredders written in plain English? The result is the article before you.
Tips and Tricks for Using a Chipper Shredder
There aren’t really tricks to using these machines, given their pretty straightforward nature. However, there are some predominantly safety tips and tips on how to avoid jamming the cutting mechanism.
First and foremost, always wear safety goggles, even when mulching leaves. Moreover, if you’re working with a gas-powered chipper, you should invest in a pair of ear plugs or mufflers, if they don’t come already with the purchase. Even so, most of those complimentary items are subpar, so buying on your own seems prudent.
One other concern is how to tuck away the cord of an electric chipper, to avoid tripping over it, or even damaging it. One way is to work near the shed and use the wall as a barrier; another is to make a sort protection over it using boards. This won’t solve the tripping problem, but it will at least prevent damage.
Furthermore, you do need to do some manual labor. If you’re dealing with crooked branches and limbs, cut them into shorter pieces, so they run as straight as possible, and eliminate all the “Y” joints from limbs.
Finally, always unplug before cleaning or moving the machine.
The Good Stuff (Why You Should Buy One)
In a nutshell, having a chipper, a shredder, a mulcher, or a combo of two or three is just an efficient way to do yard work. Doing it the traditional way can be very time-consuming, not to mention tiring. Having a chipper shredder takes the weight off your shoulders and speeds things up.
Most chipper shredders can handle limbs up to three inches in diameter, while some especially heavy-duty ones can even tackle four inches of greenery. It’s a bit trickier with dry stuff, but with some finagling, it should make short work (pun not intended) of those as well.
Also, given the fact it’s forbidden to either burn or deposit the leaves, bushes, and fallen branches on landfills, having a way to reuse, recycle and reduce the debris is more than welcome. Most chipper and shredders will have a 10:1 reduction ratio, meaning they can take ten bags of debris and reduce them to a single bag. You can then choose to use it as mulch or compost, strewing it directly from the discharge chute over the lawn, or taking it to a compost heap.
Additionally, having an electric chipper shredder is not only time-saving, but it also provides you with a way to put “green” back in “green thumb”, so to speak, as this type of machine has no carbon footprint. If you’re worried about the price and maintenance cost, just think of the money you’ll save on fertilizers.
The Not So Good Stuff
What type of downsides you’ll get basically depends on the type of chipper shredder you buy. However, one is shared between the two, and it’s the risk of injury. With various safety features, manufacturers have greatly decreased this risk, but accidents still may happen to those that are not careful.
Now, as far as actual bad stuff goes, with gas-powered chippers, it would definitely have to be the noise, first and foremost. Most models recommend using ear plugs or mufflers while operating. Although not a risk in and of itself, it’s still annoying. Also, gas engines spew noxious fumes, not only polluting the environment but also causing some damage to your lungs. Still, many people go for these due to the sheer awesome cutting power they offer. Another thing the detractors use against these machines is the fact they’re usually quite heavy and need to be towed around, though this, I think, is a matter of personal preference.
When it comes to electric chipper shredders, one major gripe people have with them is their lesser cutting power. Still, for smaller yards and especially mulching leaves, they’re more than adequate. There’s one concern, though, and it’s the cabling. Unless you invest in a protection or work underneath some cover, you’re limited to fair days to do your yard work with these machines. Also, there’s always the danger of tripping over the cord or causing damage by dropping heavy and sharp objects, but the risk is negligible.
All in all, when everything is said and done, it’s my humble opinion that investing in a chipper shredder is more than worth your while and money, whether you live in a wooded area with daily maintenance necessities, or have a small back yard with a couple of bushes. Yes, on the one hand you get the troubles of noise (with gas-powered machines) and on the other you fuss about the cabling (with electric ones), but at the end of the day you will be able to turn what is otherwise an unpleasant and time-consuming chore into a breezy outdoor activity that results in something beautiful to gaze upon.
Now, depending what your needs are, how big your yard is, if you have many trees or just shrubbery, not the least what’s your budget like, you’ll have to make some choices. If you don’t mind the fumes, the noise, and the weight, as long as you get the most power available, you might take a liking to a gas-powered chipper shredder. However, if you’re concerned with making the least noise possible and leaving no impact on the environment, you’ll have to sacrifice some power to get an electric machine.