The best wood chipper
Even if you only have a small yard with just a few bushes and trees, it doesn't take long to accumulate a good bit of natural debris on your property. Since your options for getting rid of yard waste are limited, often the best solution is investing in a wood chipper.
You need a machine that is large enough and powerful enough to handle the size and type of debris that you have. We like the sheer power of the YARDMAX Chipper Shredder with a Briggs & Stratton engine. This model can handle branches up to 3 inches in diameter. To learn more about this and other wood chippers, keep reading.
Considerations when choosing wood chippers
It's not uncommon for people dealing with yard waste to assume they need a wood chipper, which is a powerful device with blades that can reduce large branches down to tiny piles of wood chips. However, unless you live in a wooded area, the average homeowner is dealing primarily with twigs and leaves. A shredder can be effective, but may not be quite powerful enough for every task that you must accomplish. What you really need is a chipper shredder. This machine can handle anything from branches, ranging from 1" to 3" in diameter, to weeds and leaves. In short, it can do everything you want it to do.
Gas vs. electric
When shopping for the best chipper shredder, the first decision you should make is whether to purchase a gasoline-powered engine or an electric motor.
A gasoline-powered chipper shredder is designed for heavier-duty tasks. It will be more than satisfactory for almost all of your yard-waste needs. On the downside, it costs considerably more, it is not environmentally friendly, and it is louder than an electric model.
An electric chipper shredder costs much less, leaves a much smaller carbon footprint, and is quieter than a gasoline-powered model. However, these machines tend to be best for the homeowner who has the lightest-duty yard-cleaning tasks.
Capacity and reduction ratio
The last two elements we will look at are a chipper shredder's capacity and reduction ratio.
Capacity lets you know the thickest branch that you can safely feed into your machine. The sizes range from about 1" in diameter to roughly 3" in diameter. Take a look around your yard to see what the thickness of the typical branch is, then purchase the chipper shredder that can best handle that size.
Reduction ratio tells you how efficient your machine is. A chipper shredder with a 10:1 reduction ratio creates mulch that takes up one-tenth of the space as the initial yard waste.
The largest factor affecting the price of a wood chipper is power: electric models are $100 to $200, while a unit with a gasoline-powered engine for average home use will cost somewhere between $550 and $1,300. If you need something heavy-duty, beyond typical home usage, these wood chippers can cost as much as $3,000 or more.
Q. My chipper shredder keeps getting clogged. Do you have any tips?
A. There are many reasons why your machine could be clogging. Wet leaves or green branches are often the culprit. Other reasons include trying to feed branches that are either too large for the machine to handle or ones that haven't been properly prepared for chipping or shredding.
Q. What safety gear do I need to wear when operating a chipper shredder?
A. You need to wear cuff-free work gloves, a face shield or safety goggles, ear protection, and steel-toed boots. Additionally, make sure you are not wearing any loose-fitting clothing or items that could get caught in the machine
Wood chippers we recommend
Best of the best: YARDMAX's Chipper Shredder with Briggs & Stratton Engine
Our take: A powerful 6.5 HP chipper shredder that can accommodate branches up to 3" in diameter without any prep.
What we like: The deep and spacious self-feeding chute along with the durable solid steel casing and a 10:1 reduction ratio combine to make this a highly desirable workhorse that is able to deliver impressive results.
What we dislike: The self-feeding chute can get clogged if too many smaller twigs are inserted without any larger branches to help push them through.
Best bang for your buck: Sun Joe's 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper Shredder
Our take: A smaller, affordable, light-duty model that can turn your yard debris into mulch.
What we like: Sun Joe's chipper shredder is effective on branches up to 1.5" in diameter. The compact design makes the model easy to transport and the push-button start is greatly appreciated.
What we dislike: This model works best slowly, so if you have a great deal of twigs to chip, it may take a while to complete your task.
Our take: A compact but powerful gas chipper shredder with a rugged debris bag to help keep shredded material contained.
What we like: The short, stout design makes this chipper shredder easy to transport and store, yet the impressive four-cycle Kohler engine is strong enough to handle branches up to 3" in diameter. Features a 20:1 reduction ratio.
What we dislike: The engine is difficult to start when it is warm. Also, you must be sure all bolts are tight before using the chipper shredder first time.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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