Best Plate Compactor: Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

If you’re working on any type of construction it’s essential that you have the right tools and a plate compactor is one of the best tools that you can have. It’s great for getting good compression on soil and gravel, which is something you’re definitely going to need if you need to do anything heavy duty. So what do you do if you’re in need of a plate compactor? Well, you take a look right here.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Choice:

Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Plate Compactors

Image Product Price
WEN 56035 Construction Zone 4,496-Pound Capacity Plate Compactor, Vibratory...TOP RATEDWEN 56035 Construction Zone Plate Compactor
  • $1,148.46
Wowdeal 6.5HP Compactor Walk-Behind Temper Ramoner Gas Vibratory Plate with Water...Wowdeal Compactor Walk-Behind Temper
  • Price not available
TOMAHAWK 5.5 HP Honda Vibratory Plate Compactor Tamper with 3.5 Gallon Water Tank for...Tomahawk Power Plate Compactor
  • $2,254.99
YARDMAX YC1160 2500 lb. Compaction Force Plate Compactor, 6.5 hp, 196cc, 5500 BPMYardmax YC1160 Plate Compactor
  • Price not available
NorthStar Close-Quarters Plate Compactor -with 5.5 HP Honda GX160 EngineNorthStar Plate Compactor
  • Price not available

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

WEN 56035 Construction Zone Plate Compactor

Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This plate compactor has a 212cc engine that’s actually larger than most similar units in the class. What that means is that it produces 4,496 lbs. of force and 5,400 blows per minute. Not only that but it’s highly maneuverable using a swing-over handle and it has a compact edge plate.

At 82 feet per minute of speed it’s definitely going to get your job done quickly and easily so you can get on with things that are important for you. All you have to do is start it up and keep moving with it and you’ll be right where you need.

There are vibration isolators between the steel plate and the engine which help to cut down on the overall vibration, which is great for the engine life of your system. There are handles at the plate and the central lifting bar so you can easily pick it up and transport it as well, with no worries about your ease of movement.

Things We Like:

  • 212cc engine
  • 4,496 lbs. of force with 5,400 blows per minute
  • 82 feet per minute speed
  • Vibration isolators
  • Swivel handle
  • 1 year warranty
  • Things We Don’t Like:

  • No wheels
  • Sides can create a rut while moving
  • Quite large for most uses
  • Wowdeal Compactor Walk-Behind Temper

    Last update on 2024-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This system is a little more expensive than some of the others we have here but it definitely provides you with some top of the line features. It has a water tank and sprinkle system that makes the system itself more efficient and it has a wheel kit that means you can move it around easily no matter where on the worksite you actually need it. It’s also great for asphalt, sand and even sloped surfaces.

    All you’ll need to do is steer it in the direction that you want. This system has a maximum of 6.5 HP or 3,600 RPM, plus it has 4000 lbs. of force and 20 degree climb ability. You’ll get a 1 gallon tank that can get plenty of work done for you before you need to fill it up again and you’ll get 3,229 feet per hour. It’s designed to be ready for anything that you might throw at it on the worksite.

    Things We Like:

  • 3,229 feet per hour
  • 3,600 RPM with 4000 lbs. of force
  • 20 degree climb ability
  • Includes water tank and sprinkler
  • Works on many surfaces
  • Things We Don’t Like:

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Wheels can be a little small to move easily
  • Not ideal on all surfaces
  • Tomahawk Power Plate Compactor

    Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This machine is going to give you a whole lot of power, which is good because it’s quite an expensive system as well. It can compact over 3,400 lbs. per square foot and uses a 5.5 HP Honda GX160 engine. The compaction takes place over up to 12” and the plate is even able to work in smaller or narrower spaces that you might not otherwise get into with a similar system.

    It has an easy to hold handle and even comes with a 3.5 gallon water tank to help compact asphalt. You’ll get a speed of approximately 78 feet per minute and a self cleaning open base plate that helps to minimize any kind of buildup, including dirt and rocks. It’s CARB and EPA compliant and comes with a 3 year engine warranty and 1 year product warranty. You’ll be able to use it for major construction, patios and even pavers.

    Things We Like:

  • 5.5 HP air-cooled engine
  • 78 ft. per minute travel speed
  • 3,400 lbs./ft. of compaction
  • 90 vibration frequency
  • Anti-vibration handle
  • Easy to remove water tank
  • Things We Don’t Like:

  • High price
  • No wheels for movement
  • Smaller plate
  • Yardmax YC1160 Plate Compactor

    Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This compactor has 2,500 lbs. of compaction force and it’s a self-propelled system. It has a 196cc, 6.5 HP engine which can deliver up to 5,500 blows per minute. The single, stamped plate provides you with no rusting and ensures a strong, flat and smooth surface.

    There are wheels included and attached that can be folded up when you’re not using them and fold down when you need to transport the system. The three point handle also comes with rubber bushings to absorb most of the vibration and keep you feeling comfortable.

    When it’s time to store the unit away the handle folds down as well to make it easier to put in smaller spaces. This powerful machine is going to make sure that whether you’re a homeowner or a contractor you can get the job done right and without having to worry about your land, your driveway or anything else being sub-par.

    Things We Like:

  • 2,500 lbs. compaction force
  • 5,500 blows per minute from 6.5 HP engine
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Wheels for easy transport
  • Vibration absorption
  • Things We Don’t Like:

  • No stamping pad included
  • Somewhat small
  • Gas cap is under handle when folded
  • NorthStar Plate Compactor

    Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Our last pick is a low priced unit that still provides you with a great about of force and power. It has 2,270 lbs. of compacting force and can travel at up to 82 feet per minute. The compacting plate is a little smaller than some of the others here, but it’s still large enough to get just about any job done, plus you get 5,700 vibrations per minute, which is more than enough to get a strong, flat surface.

    The 163cc Honda GX160 OHV engine has a cast iron cylinder liner and is designed to withstand anything. If you’re in tighter spaces you can tilt the handle straight up and get in close. You’ll also use less fuel with this low consumption system and the float type carburetor. It even has a transistorized ignition to keep it running for a longer period of time.

    Things We Like:

  • 2,270 lbs. compacting force
  • Travels 82 feet per minute
  • 5,700 vibration per minute
  • Low fuel consumption
  • Great for beginners
  • Things We Don’t Like:

  • No wheels for easy movement
  • Smaller than some other systems
  • Lower compacting force than others
  • Feature to Consider

    There are actually a number of different features you want to take a look at if you’re looking for a plate compactor. You’ll want to consider each of these features to find out if the compactor you’re looking at is going to be the right thing for you. You’ll also want to take a look at what you’re actually going to need from your compactor to make sure you’re making the right decision. All-in-all, you’re going to have a lot to consider.

    Directional Plates

    A single-plate compactor is generally the most common option, but it’s not the only one out there. These compactors can only move forward, which makes them good for simple jobs.

    If you’re looking for something a little more complex a reversible plate is capable of going in both forward and reverse, which means it’s going to give you more capabilities and a whole lot more freedom to get the job done however you want. You may also find hover style systems that can move in just about any direction, but these are not as common for normal jobs.

    Size of Plates

    The width of the plates is generally what you’re looking at and it ranges from 15” up to 25”. The larger the plate doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, especially if you’re going to be working on projects that don’t take up a whole lot of space.

    Plate Compactor

    If you need something for a small job then you might want to look at a plate that’s a little smaller. Don’t get something too large for the job at hand or you could end up with more trouble than it’s actually worth when it comes to compacting.

    Centrifugal Force

    The compactor itself is going to put out quite a bit of force, between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of it, and that’s what is going to give you the actual power. The more centrifugal force that is put out the more power and strength you’re going to get from the plate and the more it’s going to compact the earth (or whatever else you want) down into a flat sheet. You’ll get a better result out of a higher level of force being acted on it but that doesn’t mean you always need the biggest and baddest system out there.

    Water Tank

    A water tank creates a barrier between the compaction plate, which is cold, and asphalt, which can get quite hot. If you’re looking for something to work on asphalt you’re definitely going to need a water tank that can help to keep things cooler and more balanced out. If you’re not careful and you get a system without a water tank the plate could stick to the asphalt if the difference in temperature is too high. A larger water tank can provide you with more time and versatility to the system, but a small tank can do the job as well.

    Plate Material

    You want a heavy duty plate that’s going to give you plenty of power and longevity. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that doesn’t have the right amount of power or something that isn’t going to last a long time. Make sure you’re getting cast ductile iron or steel to give you a stiff base that’s able to efficiently compact anything and everything that you need. Heavier duty metals are going to help you with the higher amount of centrifugal force.

    Base Plate Shape

    The shape of the plate makes a difference as well. You’re going to want a plate that is curved at least slightly (though you may not even notice it) and will keep the plate from gouging into the material you’re trying to press. It’s also going to turn easier and may help you with smaller spaces as well.

    Overall, you’re going to want to look at the bottom of the plate to see if it curves up slightly. That’s about the only way that you’re going to be able to tell if it’s curved or not (they’re not overly curved otherwise).

    Handle Style

    Finally, consider the style of the handle that you’re getting. A anti-vibration handle can keep you a whole lot more comfortable. You’ll be able to hold onto it for an extended period of time and you won’t need to worry about the pain through your hands.

    On the other hand, a swinging handle can increase your maneuverability and make it easier for you to move the unit around wherever you need. Combining both of these features can really help you to accomplish more with your compactor.

    Wrap Up

    If you’re looking for the absolute best option we think it’s the WEN 56035 Construction Zone Plate Compactor. This compactor can accomplish a whole lot with a moderate price tag so you’re definitely going to be happy to have it. It can deliver over 4,000 lbs. of force and move 82 feet per second, which means you’re definitely getting a whole lot in a short amount of time.

    If you’re looking for something a little smaller the NorthStar Plate Compactor has some good compacting power but not quite as much and it can actually still move at the same speed, so you’re going to get a good balance when it comes to slimming things down.

    If you want to pick up our top pick you can do it right here.

    About Gus Donaldson

    I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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