Long gone are the days when you could simply burn twigs, leaves, and other yard debris in your backyard.
Most municipalities have outlawed these practices in residential neighborhoods, and as homeowners become more aware of the benefits this debris offers as compost or mulch there is an increasing demand for chipper shredders.
A chipper shredder not only removes yard debris but the chipping functionality effortlessly and quickly transforms small branches and twigs into fine wood chips, while the shredding component pulverizes leaves.
What remains can then be used as nutrient-rich mulch for your flowerbeds 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.
Are you ready to buy one? Please read on for everything you need to know!
Quick look: Here are my favorite models:
Chipper Shredder Reviews
1) GreatCircleUSA LCE01 7HP Heavy Duty Chipper Shredder
- Powerful enough to pull branches into shredder chute without you needing to use a paddle to push them in.
- Can turn off the fuel line and run carburetor dry for storage.
- Pull start is easy to operate, works quickly.
- No kill switch for quick shutoff.
- Chipper reviews mention debris bag doesn’t stay attached well when in use.
The heavy-duty GreatCircle LCE01 features a 3-in-1 design to meet a variety of your lawn care needs and is my recommended as the best chipper.
It comes with a top hopper for volume chipping, a side chute for small branches and limbs, and a vacuum inlet on the back for leaf loading and shredding.
A powerful 7 HP/ 212cc gas powered engine handles branches up to 3″ in diameter while boasting a 15:1 reduction.
It features two chipping knives and four Y-hammers to pulverize a variety of limb sizes and debris without you needing to break a sweat. The easy to load top hopper has a 0.7-gallon capacity.
An optional vacuum kit attachment can be purchased to transform the LCE01 into a leaf vacuum mulcher shredder as well.
The GreatCircle LCE01 comes with a 3-year limited warranty and a dedicated customer service team to answer any questions or help with any problems you have.
2) Sun Joe CJ603E Electric Chipper/Shredder
- Engine noise is quieter than other models, rated at roughly 94dB.
- Powerful 15 Amp motor can chip and shred branches up to 1.73 inches in diameter.
- Reduction ratio of 21:1.
- Does not mulch leaves well.
- Exit chute clogs quickly when mulching green materials.
There is no doubt that the Sun Joe SDJ603E is a powerful machine with excellent wood chipper reviews. It boasts a 15 Amp eco-friendly, electric motor that can tackle branches or limbs up to 1.73 inches in diameter.
A reduction ratio of 21:1 reduces brush piles significantly without the noise or emissions of a gas chipper shredder.
A push-button ignition switch fires the Sun Joe electric chipper up quickly, and a locking knob on the safety hopper prevents the motor from operating when the hopper is open.
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 around on its 7-inch wheels as needed.
It has also won praise for the fact that it does not require a lot of storage space in one’s garage.
This is my recommendation for the best electric wood chipper!
3) Earthwise GS70015 15-Amp Electric Chipper/Shredder
- Plastic housing keeps machine light for easy movement around your yard.
- Slide-in collection box makes transporting chips easy.
- Telescoping legs allow you to adjust the height appropriately to meet your needs.
- Common complaint amongst electric chipper reviews is the blades dull quickly.
- Design of feeding chute allows branches to get jammed as they are pulled into the machine.
For homeowners with a smaller lot and not much brush that needs to be chipped or shredded, the Earthwise GS70015 is a great option and receives some of the best electric chipper shredder reviews.
An environmentally friendly 15-Amp electric motor powers through material up to 1 ¾” thick, with a 16:1 reduction ratio.
The chipper shredder sits on a well-designed sturdy base. Heavy plastic housing keeps the weight to a minimum, prevents any rust from occurring, and durable wheels and a sturdy handle let you move it easily from spot to spot in your yard.
A wide, polypropylene hopper lets you shred or mulch small twigs or branches mixed into your piles of leaves.
4) Landworks LCE06 Super Heavy Duty Chipper
- Oversized, self-feeding side chute chips branches up to 3” in diameter.
- Blockages are easy to clear out if they do occur.
- Easily handles branches, twigs, and leaves, even if slightly wet or green.
- Machine won’t stand up when accessing the blades to sharpen or replace them because of design.
With a maximum speed of 3600 RPM, the 7 HP/212 cc 4-stroke engine on the Landworks LCE06 makes quick work of leaves, twigs, and branches up to 3-inches in diameter to make it one of the best chippers on the market.
The reduction ratio is 15:1 when chipping materials and it can shred items down to a ½” in size. Your brush or leaf pile can go from massive to manageable with this machine!
A well-designed blade system creates enough suction to self-feed materials, cutting down on the effort you need to expend. The large top hopper holds a large amount of debris and twigs up to ½” and 10×3” wheels allow you to grab the handle and move the LCE06 wherever you need it to go.
The chipper shredder is backed with a 3-year limited warranty and reviews claim the customer service is top-notch!
5) WORX WG430 13 Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder
- Can mulch 53 gallons of leaves per minute.
- Can be used with any type of collection 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 Electric Leaf Mulcher and Shredder is recommended as the best leaf shredder.
It is equipped with a powerful 13 amp, 120V motor that will shred your raked leaves to 1/11th of their original size and mulches on average 53 gallons of leaf debris per minute. Its bladeless mulching system is simple to operate and offers a cutting diameter of 13 inches.
Weighing only 24 pounds, it is simple to move around and can be disassembled for quick storage. The mulcher’s universal bag holder allows it to be used with either plastic or paper bags. An electric motor will not disturb the environment with loud noise and noxious smells.
Some leaf shredder reviews 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.
6) SuperHandy Gas Powered Chipper Shredder Mulcher
- 3-in-1 combination allows you to chip, shred, and mulch without the purchase of numerous machines.
- Large, wide chipper chute self-feeds material into the interior saving you work time to increase your efficiency.
- Great customer service if there are any questions or problems with the chipper shredder.
- To fill oil easily, the chute must be removed and then reinstalled.
- Vibration from engine can cause machine to move over time, especially on angled surfaces.
Another made-to-last, heavy-duty gas powered chipper shredder, the SuperHandy 7HP is a 3-in-1 machine that comes highly recommended with glowing reviews.
The 7HP 4-stroke OHV engine powers through large branches up to 3-inches in size, with a reduction ratio of 15:1.
Housing has been specially designed with a slanted back to reduce jamming/clogging issues and increase the chipping and shredding efficiency.
A universal vacuum kit can be purchased to turn this workhorse into a leaf vacuum. An optional tow bar kit can be purchased to hook the SuperHandy 7HP behind your ATV or lawn tractor; strong polyurethane and solid rubber tires mean you never have to worry about a flat.
Comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
7) WEN 41121 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper and Shredder
- Chipper blades are double-sided, so they can be flipped and used before resharpening.
- Sturdy plastic housing keeps machine lightweight for easy transport around yard.
- Mixed customer reviews on how well it handles small, thin branches.
- Wheels would stay on better with self-locking nuts.
The WEN 41121 15-Amp Electric Chipper and Shredder is a great little electric chipper shredder, perfect for smaller jobs and branches up to 1 ½” in diameter. A 15-AMP motor provides up to 8000 cuts per minute to chip/shred your sticks and branches down to 1/17th of the original size with ease.
An electric motor means no need to purchase gas and oil, no messy time-consuming maintenance like changing spark plugs, and no obnoxious exhaust fumes. The push-button quick start fires the WEN 41121 up quickly, and a safety knob on the hopper prevents the engine from running when the hopper is open for increased user safety.
This product is backed by a two-year limited warranty and has a variety of replacement parts available for purchase if something unexpectedly breaks.
How I Rated the Chippers
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, but there are still a few things you’ll need to take into consideration before making a purchase…
One of the most important components to consider when looking for the best chipper shredder is how well it actually gets the job done. How they perform and power through your outdoor project will be based upon the size of the engine and the number of blades or flails.
Horsepower is a unit of measurement that describes how much power an engine produces or the rate at which work is done. Gas-powered chipper engines typically have a horsepower rating between 4 and 10HP. Electric motors have a lower rating as they can’t produce the same force, ranging between 1 and 4HP.
An engine’s cc (cubic centimeters) is a measure of its volume, another rating that describes power. An engine measured in terms of cubic centimeters may not have a horsepower rating but as with HP the bigger the number the more powerful the engine. Most chipper shredder engines range in size between 120 and 330cc.
Wood chippers work through the use of blades or knives attached to a rotor assembly. As the engine spins the rotor, limbs or branches are chipped into pieces. A shredder has blunt flails attached to the rotor assembly, pulling apart wood into shreds as the engine runs. The more blades or flails a unit has, the better job it will do.
When the power of the engine and the number of blades/flails come together, it determines how well the chipper shredder will chip or shred limbs, especially those that are still green.
A larger, more powerful engine with a higher number of blades will be better if you have a lot of green wood to tackle.
Working with power equipment can have many safety risks, making it important that your machine has the proper controls for operation.
An electric chipper shredder will have an electric start motor; you simply press the button and the engine fires up.
Internal combustion (gas) engines may have an electric start or they are equipped with a recoil start that attaches to a pull cord. While many recoil start engines have been improved to easily start on the first pull, if you have any shoulder problems it may be useful to look for a machine with an electric start.
The engine throttle on a gas engine controls the engine’s power by regulating the amount of fuel or air entering an engine. By adjusting the throttle you can produce more power or “throttle” the engine down for smaller projects.
Safety mechanisms should be in place to prevent operating your chipper shredder if the hopper is open. Some chippers shredders automatically shut off or disengage the rotor assembly when the hopper opens to prevent accidents.
Most importantly, any model you choose should have built-in overload protection that will shut the machine off if it becomes too full, minimizing danger to you.
Regardless of the chipper shredder you purchase there will be some routine maintenance. These maintenance requirements change very little depending on the unit (cleaning debris out of the hopper, oiling moving parts, etc.) other than motor maintenance.
One maintenance requirement to consider when making a purchase is in regards to the blades on the unit. Check to see if the blades can be periodically sharpened or if they need to be replaced completely.
Blades that can be sharpened may add to the initial cost but will pay for themselves over time versus having to replace parts.
When it comes to deciding how much to pay, think about the needs you are trying to meet and how far you can stretch your budget.
Do you have a smaller yard and really don’t need all the bells and whistles of a fancy model? Then skip the more expensive, gas chipper shredder and opt for an electric one instead. You will be constrained by an extension cord and limited in what size branches you can chip, but it will save you hundreds of dollars.
Large yards with big branches and lots of leaves to tackle, need a heavy-duty model with more options and a stronger motor. In this case, you’d be better off to spend more money on a powerful chipper shredder that is suitable for the size of your yard.
There’s going to be noise with a chipper shredder no matter if you choose to go with a gas engine or an electric. But how loud your equipment is depends a lot on the type and size of the motor.
On average electric chipper shredders are quieter than their gas counterparts, producing noise roughly at 85-decibels. Gas-powered units produce noise at about a 110-decibel level which is about 5dB higher than a chainsaw.
When buying a model for heavy-duty yard work, look for one that boasts walls crafted from thick, welded 10 or 16-gauge steel. If possible, ones made of lightweight sheet metal or plastic should be avoided.
The strength and durability of the knives on your chipper need to be high-quality. Many chipper knives are made of a base material of carbon steel or another low alloy steel and then coated with a harder alloy. Using a lower quality, softer material for the base saves money and makes the manufacturing process easier.
These base materials are used as they are soft enough to allow easy machining of the holes and knife profile. They then undergo a process called hardfacing where thick coatings of harder, wear-resistant alloy materials are welded or sprayed onto the knives to increase their durability. Once the desired hardness is achieved the knives are ground to a sharp profile.
A chipper shredder’s capacity is measured by the maximum diameter of any branch that it can shred or chip. Limited capacity is often problematic and a common complaint made by homeowners regarding the model they purchased.
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.
If you think that you will seldom use the equipment, you can pick small residential-type model. For large yards that need to be cleaned up frequently, a commercial-type chipper or shredder is more suitable.
The reduction ratio of a chipper is an indicator of how efficiently the machine can reduce yard waste. To further explain, a chipper shredder with a ratio of 10:1 can take 10 bags of debris and reduce it down to a single bag.
Most chipper shredders on the market have a reduction ratio ranging from 15:1 to 20:1, depending on the motor type and associated horsepower.
Ease of Use
In terms of how easy a chipper shredder may be to use, it’s important to look at three different aspects.
First, how easy is it to feed material into the chipper? Do you have to work to push material through using a paddle or does the machine pull it into the blades by itself?
The size of the flywheel/rotor determines the amount of suction and how hard you have to work to push material through. Look for a product that receives good reviews stating materials feed easily with little assistance from you.
Second, how quickly and easily can you access and remove clogs or blockages.
Lastly, the portability of your chipper shredder is an important consideration as well.
An electric unit should be outfitted with quality air-filled tires or pneumatic, flat-free wheels to easily move it around your yard. Larger units weigh significantly more because of their gasoline engines; to make it easy to transport them around your yard you can purchase a tow-bar kit that attaches to your ATV or lawn tractor.
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.
When making a purchase, don’t forget to read the warranty 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 department when addressing issues covered by the product’s warranty.
What’s the Difference Between a Chipper, Shredder, and Mulcher?
The 3 terms are often used interchangeably but there is are differences between a chipper, a shredded, and a mulcher.
A wood chipper is used for reducing larger pieces of wood such as tree limbs or trunks into woodchips ranging in size from one to three inches long.
Inside the chipper, a blade or blades are attached to one side of an impeller. When the engine reaches a certain RPM the clutch engages the drive belt, which turns the impeller at a high rate of speed.
As wood is fed into the chute, the impeller spins quickly, cutting the wood into chips that are ejected through a chipper chute.
Wood shredders look similar to chippers, just smaller and not as powerful so they can’t handle branches as large as a chipper can. Just like chippers, they have a chute for feeding material in and then an opening where the shredded material is ejected out. The difference between the two lies inside.
Instead of sharpened knives or blades to cut the wood, shredders are equipped with semi-blunt blades, called flails. The flails mash or shred the wood into pieces that can then be used as mulch or composted.
A chipper shredder is a multipurpose piece of equipment, combining the functions of both a chipper and a shredder.
They have one chute housing an impeller with blades for chipping purposes, and a second, usually smaller chute with flails to pulverize softer material such as leaves, small twigs, and other organic debris.
The resulting material is then ejected out through a central discharge on the bottom or side of the machine.
Mulchers are the smallest of the machines, and can typically only handle leaves and other organic material such as grass clippings and softer plant material.
Air is generated by the engine to spin a set of plastic or metal blades, similar to a fan. As the blade spins, material fed into the mulcher is reduced to a fraction of the original size.
Chipper shredders purchased by many homeowners are powered by either a gasoline-driven engine or an electric motor. You should carefully consider the type and amount of seasonal yard work you are doing each year to make an informed decision between the two types of motors.
The main advantage of gas chipper shredders is they have more powerful engines than their electric counterparts, allowing them to take on bigger diameter branches.
This also means they have significantly higher price tags, require more maintenance, and emit noise and fumes when running.
Another benefit though is they can be used and moved anywhere (since they don’t require a secondary power source), although they tend to be large and quite heavy.
In general, an electric chipper will suffice for most light homeowner duties.
Electric chipper shredders tend to be smaller in size making them easier to move around, but they are also less powerful (most have engines with 1-5 HP) limiting them to light work only. 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; not only does it create a safety hazard it will limit where the machine can be moved to.
On the plus side, electric models are eco-friendly and quieter. Their lightweight design, coupled with large wheels, makes them easily transportable, and they offer affordable price points.
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.
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.
But in some cases, a push stick isn’t included and you will need to use a pole or twig to feed material directly into the chipper to keep your hands away from the blades. 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 personal protection equipment (PPE). At a minimum, you will need to wear goggles or another type of eye protection.
As both gas and electric chipper shredders are higer than everyday ambient noise you should wear a pair of noise-canceling headphones, earmuffs, 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.
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.
Follow proper safety protocol when cutting these branches down as well.
To keep your equipment running well, and to extend its longevity regular maintenance is important.
Every time you use your chipper shredder:
- Clear the dust and debris away from the muffler and engine, as well as the hopper and chute.
- Clean all debris from the control linkage for smooth operation.
- Wash the collection debris bag if it has one.
- Lubricate all moving parts include the chute release rod, the control levers, and the hopper assembly/discharge chute.
- Replace or sharpen chipper shredder blades. The blades can be sharpened with an angle grinder if you are comfortable with the process, or you can take them somewhere to be sharpened for a small fee.
Gas models require a little extra maintenance than electric motors.
They need to have the spark plug replaced annually, plus routine cleaning of the fuel filter and carburetor for them to start easier and run smoothly.
If you aren’t mechanically inclined this may be a job you hire out to a local small engine repair service. The air intake filter should also be checked routinely and cleaned as necessary. This can be done by simply removing the air filter from the housing and gently knocking it on the ground or against a clean surface to dislodge the dust.
For winter storage, it’s important to remove gas from the engine that may contain ethanol. Drain the tank into an appropriate container, making sure to purge the primer bulb to empty fuel lines. After draining the gas add a bottle of ethanol treatment and purge the bulb again to move the treatment through the carburetor and lines.
Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Models
As is with every other piece of lawn and garden equipment, the prices on chipper shredders have a range, with a product available for all needs and budgets.
The difference in cost between the best wood chippers depends on what brand you purchase and on a variety of other specs such as if the machine has chipping capabilities or can only shred the materials. Chippers and chipper shredders will cost more than just a shredder.
When looking at the best chipper shredders, cheaper models typically come with shorter, limited-warranties. Parts may not be replaceable so if they break you have to purchase a whole new unit instead of repairing it, and the wheels are also typically plastic.
More expensive models will offer a longer warranty that may cover more parts; they also come with air-filled tires or pneumatic, flat-free wheels.
The type of engine in your chipper also affects the overall cost of the model. Gas powered engines have a higher price tag than electric engines because of the higher horsepower; this higher horsepower does mean though they can handle large jobs.
- Sun Joe
- Brush Master
- Patriot Products
How Much Should I Expect to Pay?
The chipper shredders recommended here range in price from $115 to $570 — a much wider range than the other products I’ve reviewed and offered recommendations on.
Their price tags are dependent on the features they offer, the type and power of the motor, etc. The electric models have an average price of about $150; the gas models cost around $550.
Question: What can I do with the chipped material?
Answer: There are many different things you can do with the chipped material created with your chipper. The most common uses are as a mulch in your garden or as carbon materials for your compost pile.
You can also use it to create pathways in your landscape, you can spread it around play structures to create a safe, non slip surface, and you can use it as a fuel source.
Question: Will a wood chipper shred paper?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to use your wood chipper to shred paper but you have to do so carefully so you don’t jam the chipper. Adjust the controls to the “small” or “fine” setting and make sure to feed stacks an inch and a half to two inches thick into the shredder, adjusting your collection container to catch the shredded paper.
Question: Will a wood chipper shred leaves?
Answer: Yes, your wood chipper can also shred leaves. Similar to paper though you need to be careful to not jam the machine. Allow leaves to cascade down into the hopper smoothly and slowly to avoid clogging, and adjust the controls to the finest setting. It is recommended to work with dry leaves to make the job easier.
Question: Can you put lumber in a wood chipper?
Answer: Depending on the lumber, yes, you may be able to put it in a chipper. The lumber should be rough cut so it is smaller in diameter than the capacity of your chipper. You should also avoid putting any pressure treated lumber in a chipper.
Pressure-treated wood is hard and dense; trying to chip it could damage your equipment. Also, older pressure-treated wood can create a health issue stemming from inhalation of the dust created; prior to 2003 the chemicals used for pressure-treating lumber contained arsenic.
Question: Are mulched leaves good for your garden?
Answer: Yes, mulched leaves are good for your garden. After mulching/shredding them into smaller pieces you can work them directly into your garden soil or you can add them to your compost pile. Leaf mold or finished compost provides more benefits to your garden than simply adding mulched leaves, but does take extra time.
Question: How big of a wood chipper do I need?
Answer: How big of a chipper you need depends on the scope of the work you need to do. The simple answer is to purchase the biggest one practical for you and your lot, that fits within your budget. The general rule of thumb is to purchase one that has a capacity of branches at least 1” larger than the maximum size you will be chipping.
Question: Does a wood chipper make mulch?
Answer: Yes, a chipper can be used to make mulch, and it’s one of the most common uses of the resulting chipped material. Smaller sized branches from shrubs and trees are an excellent source of material for creating your own garden mulch. For finer mulch you can run the chipped material through the chipper a second time.
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.