We spent four weeks testing 25 brands of popular chipper and shredder combos to come up with this list of the top 10 best wood chipper shredder. We considered the equipment’s performance (chipping, shredding, and mulching), horse power, power source, and mobility. Our pick for the top wood chipper shredder is the Tazz K32 Chipper Shredder because it ticks all the important checklist items. It is affordable especially for a chipper of its caliber. Its 121cc gasoline engine takes up to 3″ diameter branches comfortably and makes fine mulch. It’s all-terrain wheels make it easy to move around even on wet ground.
Wood Chipper Shredder Comparison
|Wood Capacity (in)||3.00||3.00||3.00||3.00||2.50||3.00||1.50||1.75||1.63||13.00|
Wood Chipper Shredder Buying Guide
What is a Wood Chipper Shredder?
The simplest way to describe a wood chipper shredder other than what the name suggests is this piece of equipment turns larger organic matter such as branches and twigs into smaller pieces by cutting, shredding and grinding. People typically use chipper shredders for disposing of, mulching or composting.
Composting: although it is possible to make compost with organic material such as tree branches and twigs, it would take far too long for the material to break down sufficiently. The equipment makes chips roughly the size of a coin out of tree branches which brakes down much faster and turns into high-quality compost.
Mulching: the equipment breaks down organic material into a fine substance known as mulching. Rather than buy mulching, it is much cheaper to use your garden debris such as leaves and twigs to make mulch.
Disposing: Lastly, disposing of whole branches and heaps of leaves can be cumbersome. This equipment helps to break the material down into a manageable volume for disposal. We recommend mulching or composting rather than throwing away perfectly good organic material that you can use to fertilize plants.
Types of Wood Chipper Shredder
There are two basic types of wood chipper shredders distinguished by their power source. The first is the gasoline chipper and the second is the electric model.
Gasoline Wood Chipper Shredder
Most avid gardeners prefer the gasoline models because the engines typically pack more power. Horsepower on these models can range anywhere from four to ten or more depending on the brand. More horsepower means you can shred or chip thicker diameters. To get a sense of why the gasoline option is often favored, lower power gasoline model match up against the high power electric options.
Advantages of Gasoline Chipper Shredders
These models typically offer more power than electric versions and can chip up to 3″ diameter branches. These don’t plug into an electrical outlet so you can take them virtually anywhere. The operation is also much more efficient and faster than even the best electric chipper shredders.
Disadvantages of Gasoline Chipper Shredders
There are a number of downsides to gasoline models. First, the gasoline powered engine means that they are noisy so you may need to watch the time of day you operate if you have neighbors. It is also highly advised that you wear ear plugs during operation.
Gasoline chipper shredders have multiple moving parts which mean higher maintenance and more opportunities for the equipment to break down. You also need to winterize the equipment during cold weather. Some models are particularly heavy and bulky so they can be difficult to move around and store.
Electric Powered Chipper Shredders
The horsepower range for most electric shredders is between one and two which is sufficient for light shrubbery, food scraps, sticks, and leaves. Some models can handle close to 2″ diameter although these tend to be on the higher end of the price range and much larger.
Electric chipper shredders are typically lighter than their gasoline counterparts and generally smaller so they are easier to store and move around.
Advantages of Electric Chipper Shredders
This equipment is on average cheaper than their gasoline counterparts and smaller so they are easier to transport and store. Electric chipper shredders burn clean energy so you don’t have to worry about smoke, fumes, gasoline or noise.
Disadvantages of Electric Chipper Shredders
As with all equipment, there are a few notable disadvantages with electric chipper shredders. Firstly, you need a power outlet to operate so this may restrict your movements. The power chords can also get in the way and further restrict your movement. Electric models are on average less powerful than their gasoline counterparts and most don’t handle large limbs which limit it’s function.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chipper Shredder
We covered a few criteria that we used to rank these chipper shredders but as you will discover, there is a wide range of features and qualities to look for in a good model.
Chipper Shredder Design
Apart from power, the chipper shredder design also distinguishes one from another even between two that use the same power source. The design also plays a role in the overall operation of the equipment. The design here refers to how the equipment actually breaks down debris.
Screw Chippers: Are ideal if you are looking for powerful equipment for large branches and heavy-duty shredding and chipping. This design features multiple large screws which slowly rotate to pull in the branches and other debris and crush them. Screw chippers are typically used by landscapers and other professionals because they are too powerful for a regular back yard. This equipment also tends to fall on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Disk Chippers: You are most likely to see these on the back yard and are the most common design. This type has sharp blades attached to a flywheel which rotates at high speed to break down debris. The weight of the wheel determines the equipment’s shredding and chipping power. Generally speaking, a heavier wheel means more shredding and chipping power.
Drum Chippers: Is the oldest design on the market and are still common to date. The design features one or more rotating drums sporting multiple sharp metal teeth. The drums rotate in opposite directions and use sheer pressure to grind the debris. The drum version is a great choice if you regularly use a chipper with a lot of material in one sitting.
Flail Chippers: You typically see this designed on lower-powered models. The design includes a metal chain or plastic string attached to a spinning drum. Most models only work with leaves and food debris although higher-powered models also work with small branches, shrubbery, and sticks. Generally speaking though, you can expect to see the flail design on light-duty wood chipper shredders.
Wood chipper shredders vary immensely in their features. We listed our most important criteria in the begging of this article but for a recap, these are; performance, power source, horse power, and mobility. There are many more features to consider and the trick is to get just the right balance. It is, therefore, necessary that you have a good idea of what you expect to use your equipment primarily for to help you balance this checklist.
Heavy-duty chippers typically have a large feed shoot to ensure that you can feed a good amount of debris to the equipment at a time. You may need to judge what the appropriate amount is to avoid jamming the equipment. Other models come with multiple feed chutes to offer more flexibility depending on the type, size, and shape of material you are working with.
Side-Mounted Branch Chute
Closely related to the previous point, you definitely want a machine with a side mounted branch chute if you are working with large branches or debris. The idea here is for the branch to skip the flailing which is ineffective and have the chipping blades work on it instead. A larger chute typically means you can fit and chip larger branches.
Number of Flails and Blades
As you can expect with any cutting equipment, the blades get dull with age or frequent use. Some models feature a self-sharpening mechanism while others require that you manually sharpen the blades or replace them at the appropriate time. The model you choose is largely a matter of how much you are willing to spend on your machine.
Again, this is a matter of personal preference and depends on what you are using the chipper shredder for. Light-weight electric models don’t need wheels if it is light enough to carry comfortably. A gas model definitely needs wheel since the engine makes these considerably heavy to lift. At the very least, you should expect all-terrain wheels on gas models so you can comfortably haul it around the yard. Road-ready wheels are rare except on heavy-duty and large models used by professionals.
Because of the nature of electric vs gasoline shredders, you may have to make some concessions on power if you are sensitive to noise or if this is an important consideration to you. Gasoline models are naturally loud and require you to wear ear plugs during operation. The noise may restrict how often or when you operate your chipper depending on where you live. You can still go for electric models to get around the noise problem as there are some higher-powered versions such as the Patriot Products CSV-2515.
Maintenance is a straightforward issue. Gasoline chipper shredders typically require more maintenance because they have more moving parts. These models also need to be prepared adequately for the winter otherwise you may have hard-start issues when you need it. Electric models require very little maintenance except maybe occasionally sharpening or replacing the blades.
This ratio basically means how much reduction you can expect from your equipment. In the case of 20:1, for example, you can expect one bag of mulch or wood chips from 20 bags of debris. The choice here is largely a matter of what makes sense depending on your usage. Generally speaking though, higher power means better reduction ratio.
Again, you may have to make some concessions in power here but a machine you can’t get to the place you want it may not be very useful. High-powered models usually mean more weight and therefore more difficult to move.
As with all equipment, you want some sort of guarantee that the machine will work as promised. Opt for longer and stronger warranties which you can find from trusted or popular brands. Make sure you know what can void the warranty if you are planning on doing any repairs or adjustments on your equipment.
Finally, when all factors have been considered, you may want to look into convenient features that make the chipper shredder a little easier to use. A few good examples include a tilt-able machine, electric switch starters, tow bars or self-sharpening features.
Tips for Maintaining your Chipper Shredder
Now that you have found the perfect piece of equipment, you want to make sure you have it in efficient working order over the long-term. These machines are a considerable investment including the lower priced models so it makes sense to take proper care of them. A few good tips should ensure that you get the best use out of your chipper shredder over the long term.
Have a Maintenance Check List
The first line of defense is regular maintenance. A few simple tasks performed consistently can help prevent equipment failure or unnecessary repairs down the line. The maintenance, of course, depends on the type of chipper.
Electric Chipper Shredder: Fortunately, electric models require minimal maintenance. You need to make sure you have a heavy duty power chord to begin with if your machine doesn’t come with one. The main idea here is to avoid a voltage drop which is common with lower-end chords and has the potential of ruining your machine.
Gas Chipper Shredder: requires more maintenance but is doable with basic skills or knowledge. First, keep an eye on oil levels because low oil can damage engine parts and lead to engine failure over the long term. It may be useful to keep a few bottles of oil just in case.
Next, replace the oil after the first 20 hours of operation or as recommended by the manufacturer. After the initial oil change, drain and change the oil after every 100 hours of operation or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Keep an eye for oil leaks and inspect regularly for broken parts. Replace the parts as soon as possible or avoid using the equipment with broken parts.
Finally, replace air filters often or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Use the Equipment for its Intended Purpose
The entire purpose of our review section is to give you a good idea of what each piece of equipment can do. Pay attention to the diameter limit so you don’t damage your equipment prematurely. If you want to chip or shed 3″ diameter branches, buy equipment that is built specifically for that. You may also want to avoid wet debris regardless of what the manufacturer says. The wet material clumps up in the equipment and can clog it or come out unrefined.
Finally, try not to overload your equipment. A judgment call on your part can go a long way in ensuring you don’t inadvertently damage the chipper shredder although some models do come with some sort of overload protection feature.
Spend on Power
The best feature to put your money on when buying a chipper shredder is power. You had rather buy more power than you need than to overload a less-powerful machine. Using an electric chipper for 2″ diameter branches is a quick way to make sure you are back shopping for a new machine in no time. You had rather spend more on a chipper that does 3″ diameter debris knowing full well it’s more than you need rather than overworking a less-powerful model. All things considered, there are powerful electric models available so it’s a matter of making the right judgment.
Which is The Best Chipper Shredder for Where I Live?
One crucial but easy to miss consideration that people forget when choosing a chipper shredder is to factor in where they live. A shredder may satisfy all the crucial checklist items only to find that you are restricted when it comes down to using it. The whole point of spending money on a chipper shredder is so you can get full value from it. Below are some considerations for your environment or living arrangements.
An electric chipper shredder definitely isn’t appropriate for a farm environment based on its performance alone. You may have to consider what you want the equipment for in the first place. You will need a large equipment for heavy-duty shredding, chipping and mulching, preferably one that you can tow behind an ATV. A drum chipper sounds good for this type of work.
You may opt for a smaller, medium-heavy duty chipper if you are only interested in cleanup and maintenance of the property. A disk chipper seems most appropriate in this case.
This is very similar to a farm; it all depends on the main tasks you want your equipment to perform. If you want to cut down entire trees and process them on your own, a heavy-duty chipper shredder is the best choice. Again, a traditional gas-powered drum chipper should do the job well.
Alternatively, you can get a medium-heavy duty gas-powered disk chipper if you are primarily breaking branches and debris that falls from the trees on the property. Either way, you’ll want to pay attention to the tires to make sure you can easily maneuver the equipment on your property including through ruts and uneven ground.
We are referring to suburbs or city living here. The first thing you might want to do is check if there are any local restrictions for outdoor equipment, especially where noise levels are concerned. You should be able to get away with an electric chipper although you can always opt for a more power. The reason is you will likely encounter smaller branches; shrubbery and leaves so gas powered equipment may be an over-kill.
Also, remember that the gas models can be particularly noise even in the case where there are no restrictions on outdoor equipment. You may want to consider your neighbors or restrict your working hours for minimal disturbance.
This is hopefully an exhaustive guide to everything you would need to know about buying a chipper shredder. We did a lot of background research and actual physical testing to make the job easier for you. Use the buying guide to complement the information on the review section.
If you are going to get one thing from this guide, let that word be Power. Power is the single most important feature on a chipper shredder and has the highest impact on the equipment’s performance.