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.
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. Many chipper shredders are also outfitted with wheels to make moving them around the yard much easier.
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. Today, we’re going to consider what to look for in a new chipper shredder and how to safely use one.
Summary: Here are my top 5 best chipper shredders:
- WORX WG430 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder: best overall consumer electric chipper shredder.
- Sun Joe SDJ616 Shredder 16:1 Reduction Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder: best electric chipper shredder for larger jobs.
- Flowtron LE-900 The Ultimate Mulcher Electric Leaf Shredder: best compact shredder for leafs and small debris.
- LawnMaster FD1501 Electric Chipper Shredder: best portable shredder.
- Patriot Products CSV-3100B Gas Powered Wood Chipper and Shredder: best heavy duty wood chipper and shredder.
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.
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.