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Long gone are the days when you could simply burn twigs, leaves, and other yard debris in your backyard.
Most municipalities have now outlawed these disposal methods in residential neighborhoods, and as homeowners become more aware of the benefits that such debris offers — as compost or mulch — there is an increasing demand for chipper shredders.
Quick look: Here are my top 5 best chipper shredders:
- WORX WG430: best overall electric chipper shredder for the majority of homeowners
- Sun Joe SDJ616: good mulcher shredder for leaves and other small debris, electric powered from a
- Flowtron LE-900: lightweight and portable, extra large funnel helps for easy loading, a little pricy
- LawnMaster FD1501: very neat design, includes wheels for easy mobility, good price, a little bulky to store
- Patriot Products CSV-3100B: by far the best heavy duty shredder that I researched, great for large jobs, gas powered
Not only can a chipper shredder remove yard debris, but the chipping functionality transforms small branches and twigs into fine wood chips, while the shredding component makes mincemeat out of leaves.
What is left over can then be used to create nutrient rich mulch or fertilizer for your flower beds or garden. Of course, the same could be accomplished by using hand tools, like knives and pruners, but the process is laborious and time-consuming.
Most of us simply do not have available the amount of time required to do so.
Chipper shredders also minimize the amount of time you must devote to maintaining your home’s yard. When you use traditional methods of removing leaves and twigs from your yard, like mowing and raking, it often becomes a day long process and results in piles of garbage bags filled with leaves and other yard debris.
Chipper shredders offer a convenient alternative. Five bags of debris can be condensed into one, which makes the cleanup process a lot simpler. This cuts down on both space and time.
The best chipper shredder models are usually outfitted with wheels to make moving them around the yard much easier.
If you have larger branches or logs to clean up, you may want to consider a log splitter. Don’t try to put large branches in your chipper, it is dangerous and may jam the machine.
Looking at your perfectly mowed and pruned lawn at the end of a hard day’s work can be gratifying and fulfilling, but there’s no reason why it needs to be a hard day’s work.
What to Look For In a Chipper Shredder
To put it simply, having a shredder, chipper, leaf mulcher, or some combination of these tools is a more efficient method of doing yard work. Traditional methods are often frustrating and time consuming – not to mention physically exhausting. Having a chipper shredder in your yard care arsenal will speed the process up and take a load off your shoulders.
In general, most experts recommend buying as large a chipper shredder as possible in order to avoid overloading your new investment, but there are still a few things you’ll need to take into consideration before making a purchase…
Electric or Gas Chipper?
Electric chipper shredders tend to be smaller in size, but they are also less powerful, making them suitable for light work only. Most have engines with 1-5 HP. The loading chutes are smaller, and debris must be fed through them more slowly. There is also the electrical cord that must be dealt with, plus it will limit where the machine can be moved to.
On the plus side, electric models are eco-friendly. Their lightweight design, coupled with large wheels, makes them easily transportable, and they offer affordable price points.
Gas wood chippers can be used and moved anywhere; however, they tend to be quite heavy. They also have more powerful engines than their electric counterparts. Consequently, they have significantly higher price tags.
You should carefully consider the type and amount of seasonal yard work you must do each year to make an informed decision between the two types of motors. In general, an electric wood chipper will do just fine for most light homeowner duties.
How Much Capacity Do You Need (Big or Small)?
A chipper shredder’s capacity is measured by the maximum diameter of any branch that it can shred or chip. When buying a model for heavy duty yardwork, look for one that boasts walls crafted from thick, welded 10- or 16-gauge steel. Ideally, ones made of lightweight sheet metal should be avoided. Limited capacity is often problematic. Even if you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, look for a middle of the road model. Over time, it will save you a considerable amount of time and money.
Determine what capacity you’ll need, and compare the height and width of the shredder and the maximum diameter of the branches it can chip or shred. By doing so, you’ll have an excellent starting point for buying a reliable chipper shredder that best suits your needs. To be honest, most people should buy a small wood chipper to handle everyday yard cleanup.
Safety Features Are Important
The chipper shredder that you buy should have a comprehensive owner’s manual that details how to safely use the machine. Ideally, the chipper shredder should come with a push stick to help you push debris through it without needing to get too close to the loading funnel. Most importantly, any model you choose should have built in overload protection that will shut the machine off if it becomes too full.
Don’t Forget to Check the Warranty
The warranty offered by a manufacturer is often a sign of how much confidence they have in the product they have created. The industry average for a warranty is one year, but there are some manufacturers who offer 3 year warranties. Don’t forget to read the warranty before making a purchase to double check all that it covers. It can also be helpful to read consumer written reviews to see what kinds of experiences other buyers have had with a brand’s customer service.
Overall, using a chipper shredder is a straightforward process. Before using a new chipper shredder, you should first carefully study the owner’s manual to learn the ins and outs of the particular model you own. These manuals usually feature safety tips and tricks for how to safely load the chipper shredder and avoid jamming its blades. In most cases, you will need to use a pole or twig to feed material directly into the chipper. Close proximity with the machine increases the likelihood of an accident.
When using a chipper shredder, you must make sure that you are outfitted with the proper safety gear. At a minimum, you will need to wear goggles or another type of eye protection. It would also be beneficial to invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. Gas powered models, in particular, are quite loud and you do not want to run the risk of damaging your hearing.
Likewise, all clothing should be tucked away when operating a chipper shredder. You should never wear baggy clothing while working with power tools, and jewelry items, loose cuffs, belts, or other items that could potentially get caught in the shredder should be avoided as well. Should your clothing or accessories get caught in the machine, there is great potential for injury.
In a similar fashion, you should take care to ensure that the cord of the shredder is safely tucked away while you are using it. This eliminates the possibility of tripping over the cord and accidentally damaging the machine or the cord itself.
Finally, be prepared for the possibility that you may have to engage in a bit of manual labor before using your chipper shredder. Each model has its own limits on the size of the debris it can handle, and if you have large branches that need to be shredded, you may need to use a saw or other tool to cut them down to size before feeding them into the machine.
Chipper Shredder Reviews
1) WORX WG430 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
- Can mulch 53 gallons per minute
- Can be used with any type of bag
- Convenient storage, quick tool free assembly
- Tends to spew dust – requiring the use of protective gear
- Cannot effectively mulch twigs and sticks
Although it looks unassuming, the WORX WG430 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher and Shredder is equipped with a powerful 13 amp, 120V motor that will shred the volume of your raked leaves to 1/11th of their original size. Its bladeless mulching system is simple to operate and offers a cutting diameter of 13 inches. On average, the WORX WG430 will mulch 53 gallons of leaves per minute. It weighs only 24 pounds, which makes it simple to move around as needed, and it can be disassembled for quick storage. The mulcher’s universal bag holder allows it to be used with either plastic or paper bags. Because it is electric, this shredder will not disturb the environment with loud noise and noxious smells.
Consumers have noted that the WORX WG430 has a tendency to generate excessive amounts of dust, which requires the use of protective gear. While the WG430 can shred small sticks, any stick bigger than a person’s finger should be avoided.
2) Sun Joe SDJ616 16:1 Reduction Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
- 13 Amp motor can reach 8000 RPMs for 16:1 yard waste reduction
- Has separate adjustable controls for wet and dry yard debris
- Dust reducing motor cooling system offers cleaner air while operating
- Less effective at shredding wet leaves – occasionally creates jams
- Plastic housing feels cheap
There is no doubt that the Sun Joe SDJ616 is a powerful machine. It boasts a 13 Amp motor that can reach 8,000 rpm. It is able to shred an average of 55 gallons of leaves per minute. The housing of the motor is made from heavy duty plastic. While some consumers have stated that the plastic feels cheap, others have praised it for its lightweight and compact design, which makes it simple to move as needed. It has also won praise for the fact that it does not require a lot of storage space in one’s garage. The shredder itself weighs just over 13 pounds.
This Sun Joe model is equipped with the patented Smart Shred technology, which employs an advanced motor cooling system to divert air away from the leaves that are being shredded. In turn, this significantly reduces the amount of dust that is created while the shredder is being used. Another highly praised feature of this electric leaf mulcher is the ability to adjust the controls depending on how wet or dry the leaves that you want to mulch are. However, a significant number of users have had difficulty effectively mulching wet leaves. With the SDJ616, yard debris will be reduced to 1/16th of its original size.
3) Flowtron LE-900 The Ultimate Mulcher Electric Leaf Shredder
- Motor features built in overload protection in case of a malfunction
- The size of yard debris can be reduced by up to 80%
- The oversized, 21-inch funnel makes loading easy
- Unit can be mounted to a garbage can
- Produces high amounts of noise
- If overworked, it tends to spew a lot of debris
The Flowtron LE-900 has won praise for its simple and user friendly design. Weighing only 17 pounds, it is portable and can easily be moved as needed – thanks to its built in carrying handles. The 5.9 amp, thermally protected motor can reduce yard debris up to 1/30th of its original size. While it can be used with traditional trash bags, this shredder is unique in that it can also be mounted to a garbage can. The 21 inch loading funnel is generously sized and makes it simple to add leaves. Adjustable pressure knobs allow the funnel to tilt at any angle for easier loading. In addition to leaves, the Flowtron LE-900 is equipped to handle grass clippings, pine needles, and even paper. It comes with a one year warranty from the manufacturer.
This shredder and mulcher is highly rated among consumers. Minor complaints have been made regarding the amount of noise it puts out while working, and users have noted that, if the LE-900 becomes overworked, it tends to spew increasing amounts of debris. However, its many capabilities and accompanying warranty make the LE-900 an excellent investment in any home.
4) LawnMaster FD1501 Electric Chipper Shredder
- Powerful 15 amp electric motor
- Can handle branches up to 1.5” in diameter
- Built in overload protector
- Included collection bag
- Requires an outlet designed for heavy draw electrical devices
- Not designed to mulch leaves
The LawnMaster FD1501 Electric Chipper shredder has a powerful 15 amp electric motor that is capable of handling garden trimmings, pinecones, and branches that are up to 1.5” in diameter which makes it one of the best electric wood chippers. It comes with a heavy-duty canvas catch bag and a free push stick. For additional safety, it also has a built-in overload protector. It is important to note that this unit is not designed to mulch leaves, so leaves must first be mowed and then collected, like one would for grass trimmings, before they are added. Weighing slightly over 25 pounds, the FD1501 has generously sized 8 inch wheels that make it easily portable. It also has a flippable blade, so if one side of the blade becomes dull, it can easily be flipped over so a sharp side is ready to go.
There are a few important things to note about the LawnMaster FD1501. First, it must be used with a specific type of electrical outlet that is required for heavy draw electrical devices. Secondly, because it is a low powered shredder, yard debris must be fed into it slowly – using the included push stick. All in all, it offers an affordable investment that will get the job done.
5) Patriot Products CSV-3100B Gas Powered Wood Chipper and Shredder
- 10 HP Briggs & Stratton Engine
- Can handle branches up to 3” in diameter
- Side discharge enables user to work in the same location without having to move the chipper
- Super lo-tone muffler to reduce noise
- Blades have a short lifespan
- Ineffective customer support
The Patriot Products CSV-3100B Wood Chipper and Shredder is one of the highest rated chipper shredders. Designed specifically for large property owners, this chipper shredder boasts a top of the line Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Commercial power engine. With the Patriot’s unique, patented direct drive system, yard debris can be dropped straight into the loading funnel. There are no pulleys or belts to replace with this model. Oversized wheels make it easy to transport the CSV-3100B as needed, but its side discharge chute will allow a user to use it in the same spot all day without needing to move it. The lo-tone, premium muffler reduces the machine’s noise output, and a low oil sensor will inform the user when more oil is needed.
Overall, the CSV-3100B has fared very well in professional and consumer reviews. Consumer reviews have noted that the machine’s blades have a short lifespan of 3-5 hours when chipping large branches, and while there have been a handful of people who have experienced difficulty with Patriot Products customer service staff, these complaints have been few and far between.
If you are a homeowner, investing in a quality chipper shredder is a smart move – regardless of the size of your property. With so many different options available, it will not be difficult to find a model that meets your needs and suits your budget.
There are some issues that arise from using a chipper shredder, like the noise output of a gas powered model or fussing with the cord of an electric one, but these powerful machines will minimize the amount of time you must spend maintaining your home’s yard and allow you to get back to more important things – like spending time with your family.