Keeping your yard looking neat usually means creating an awful lot of yard waste that’s not always easy to dispose of. Often there are restrictions on putting yard waste in with your regular trash, which means you’ll have to rent a separate yard waste container.
This is usually a good solution, right up until the yard waste container gets full. This can happen quickly when you are doing any significant amount of yard work. Then you either have to work in stages or leave the yard waste laying around until the container gets empty then promptly fill it up again.
If you aren’t prohibited from having a fire, you could try to burn some of it. But if you have leaves, green branches, or other fresh vegetation burning it’s not easy. Making a fire with anything damp is frustrating and creates tons of smoke. You could try to let it dry but then you’d just have a brush pile laying around.
This is where a wood chipper/shredder comes in. It can reduce your yard waste down to a fraction of its original size. Imagine taking all your leaves, brush, sticks, twigs, decorative grasses, branches, etc. and turning it into mulch or compost. You could use the compost in your garden or lay mulch in your flowerbeds or you could just make it all fit in the yard waste container better.
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Quick Look – Best Wood Chippers/Shredders
Gas vs. Electric
When it comes to chipper/shredders you’ll probably be choosing from either gas-powered or electric. You’ll want to very carefully consider the way you intend to use your chipper/shredder because there are significant variations in both the work each product can handle and how much it will cost.
An electric chipper/shredder is probably going to be sufficient for the majority of homeowners but they have limitations. The most obvious one being a need for electricity. This means you’ll be restricted as to how far from an outlet you can venture and also means you’ll need a long 10 to 12-gauge extension cord. If you don’t have one laying around already, that’s another expense to be figured in.
An electric chipper/shredder also won’t be as powerful as a gas one. That means it will take longer, may require a little coaxing and patience, and will run into jobs it just can’t handle that a gas one could.
But an electric chipper/shredder typically comes at a fraction of the cost of a gas one and it’s just simpler. Simpler to use, simpler to maintain. Starting an electric chipper/shredder is as easy as flipping a switch. They’re lighter and easier to move around the yard. Generally, they are smaller and require less of a footprint of your cherished garage or shed floorspace and you won’t need to change the oil, fill it with gas, or take it in for tune-ups.
Gas-powered chipper/shredders are much more brutish. They’re dirty, greasy, and noisy ogres capable of chewing up and spitting out thick branches as easily as they munch up leaves and twigs. Gas-powered chipper/shredders are easily the most expensive versions but they are capable of tearing even the ugliest pile of waste to, well, shreds.
Gas chipper/shredders are also much heavier. So even though you have the luxury of them not being tethered to an outlet, they can be a bear to move any great distance. Especially, if the terrain is rutted, boggy, or hilly.
Chipping, Shredding, and Reduction Ratio
The ultimate goal of having a chipper/shredder is to make your yard waste more manageable and the reduction ratio gives a glimpse as to how well a chipper/shredder performs this job. Reduction ratio is the extent to which a chipper/shredder will reduce the plant matter fed to the machine. For example, a reduction ratio of 10:1 means the chipper/shredder can take what would be 10 bags of unprocessed material and turn it into 1 bag. 20:1 means it will turn 20 bags into 1.
Chipping is usually done via a chute at the end of which are chipping blades or knives that rotate at a high speed and cut the branches as they come down the chute. Then the material is fired out of a discharge chute where a bag or container (or the ground) will catch it.
The shredder is typically a separate apparatus from the chipper. Plant material is loaded via a hopper which ends in a chute. Below this chute, the shredder rapidly spins a series of flails, J-hammers, Y-hammers, or tri-tip hammers that rip, shred, and pulverize things like leaves, small diameter branches, and bark into a fine mulch then removes it using the discharge chute.
The Top Four
Sun Joe Chipper Joe CJ601E
The Chipper Joe is a capable electric chipper/shredder that is very affordable yet outperforms some that cost much more. The 14-amp motor reaches up to 4300 RPM allowing it to shred most any yard waste and chip limbs and branches up to a maximum of 1.5 inches in diameter. It’s reduction ratio is a very respectable 16 to 1.
At just over 26lbs, the Chipper Joe is light and easy to maneuver around your yard and doesn’t take up a ton of room when stored. Being electric it is also simple to start and requires much less maintenance than gas.
The hopper is 2” x 5” and is pretty shallow. This can make putting any large amount of leaves or brush somewhat of a challenge and you’ll want to be sure to use the included paddle to carefully press them in. Because of its smaller motor, the CJ601E can be prone to bogging down and even jamming if too much material is put in at once. That may be part of the reason why the hopper size is small.
In the event of a jam, the hopper tips away quickly allowing you to clear it out. With the safety switch and safety lock on the hopper there is an extra layer of protection when clearing them. Although, I’d personally unplug the machine before clearing any jam.
Overall, the Chipper Joe CJ601E is an impressive little electric chipper/shredder as long as you don’t overestimate its capabilities and it won’t give you heartburn to pay for it.
Patriot Products CSV-2515
The Patriot Products CSV-2515 is an electric beast. The size of material the CSV-2515 is capable of handling and the speed with which it does it put it in almost the same class as gas chipper/shredders. Almost. It has a 13.5-amp, 1.5 horsepower motor which can chip branches of up to 2.5 inches in diameter. That’s on the upper end of gas models and obliterates any other electric ones.
The CSV-2515 has a large 14” x 16” hopper. This makes dumping armfuls of leaves and brush easier and you’ll be hard pressed to jam the CSV-2515. It’s somewhat heavy at 96 lbs but with its large wheels you’ll still be able to move it well enough. By all accounts the CSV-2515 is the top performing electric chipper/shredder available.
It’s not without its issues though and they are relatively minor. For one, the reduction ratio is just 8:1. That’s not as high as I would expect for its high price but maybe that’s the secret to getting an electric chipper/shredder to compete with the speed of gas ones. As an electric, it’s tied to an extension cord and for the CSV-2515 you’re going to need a 10-gauge one to get the most out of it. The manufacturer also stresses a maximum length of 100 ft on the extension cord and recommends nothing else be running on the same circuit as the CSV-2515.
If you’re looking for a chipper/shredder that can do some serious work but don’t want to hassle with gas, the CSV-2515 is the best option out there.
Earthquake Tazz K33 Chipper Shredder
The Tazz K32 chipper/shredder is an intersection of a fantastic product being found at a modest price. When compared to similarly priced gas chipper/shredders it leads in performance. When compared by performance, it’s a wonder they don’t charge double for it.
The Tazz K32 runs on a Viper 212 cc engine cranking out 8.86 ft-lb of torque at up to 3600 RPM. With that sort of muscle, the K32 will chip branches up to 3 inches thick and reduce piles of debris to a twentieth their original size. The hopper is 13.25” x 16.75 inches, so you’ll stay busy looking for stuff to fill it with.
But if you don’t feel like playing the bend-and-lift game to load the hopper, the K32 has an optional vacuum attachment so you can suck the leaves directly from the ground into the shredder. It also comes standard with a large bag and the bag itself is smartly designed. It attaches to the discharge chute using the Dock-and-Lock system. This means the bag detaches and attaches (and stays on) with little effort. On top of that, the bag features a Bottom-Out zipper. Unzip it and dump, then zip and reconnect.
Despite weighing 121 lbs, the K32 moves fairly easily on large 11” wheels. It’s a stout machine with some well thought-out features and Earthquake believes in what they’ve made as the K32 comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Of the complaints found about the Tazz K32, the most prominent was the initial product and packaging was hit or miss. Many owners ended up with a damaged product right out of the box with bent chutes, chipped paint, and rust spots. Others had a product that failed within a few minutes of first using it. But it seems that once those hurdles are cleared, owners loved the K32.
Patriot Products CSV-3100B
Heavy-duty. Brute force. Those are the words that come to mind when talking about the CSV-3100B. This chipper/shredder was intended to make quick, light work of any plant material you can feed it. It’s powerplant is a 10-hp Briggs and Stratton Vanguard engine. That’s a commercial grade engine and it’s direct drive to boot. Without any pulleys to suck up valuable power, all of that grunt gets passed on to the chipping knives and 6 steel Y-hammers.
The hopper is 14” x 16” which continuously feeds the CSV-3100B as it swallows up material and ruthlessly decimates it at a 20:1 ratio. It’s also capable of chipping down branches up to a thickness of 3 inches. These it slurps down like lo mein, and spits them out the size of a coin.
The biggest drawback of the CSV-3100B is its hefty price tag and its equally hefty weight of 181 lbs. This isn’t a machine you’ll want to move too often. The chute from the hopper is also somewhat deceptive and doesn’t allow for as much material to enter the shredder as it would seem capable of handling.
The CSV-3100B doesn’t do much in the way of frills and accessories (it does include a collection bag), but for what a typical homeowner will use it for, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better.
A chipper/shredder is a niche tool you might end up finding more useful than you anticipated. It’s also a tool that requires quite a bit of money as well as floorspace for storage. For these reasons, it’s very important to consider what kind of property you have and how you intend to use your chipper/shredder.
There is no point in making the investment in a monster like the Patriot Products CSV-3100B if you have a small lot with no trees and little landscaping. Similarly, the Chipper Joe isn’t going to handle the demands of a wooded acreage. It’s important to not only get the best tool you can afford, but the right tool for the job.