What’s the best chipper/shredder? Buckle up and hang on because we pack this guide with everything you need to know about choosing the right chipper/shredder.
Looking after your garden is hard work, and if you don’t keep on top of things it won’t take long before it resembles a jungle. Luckily there are powerful tools out there with the sole purpose of making your life a lot easier.
Chipper/Shredder | Introduction
Today we’re going to focus specifically on the combination chipper/shredder when looking at the best models to buy, but to begin with we’ll treat each one separately so you know what they all do. The first question you need to ask yourself is if you even need one, so let’s look at what they’re essentially designed to do.
Difference Between A Chipper, Shredder, And Mulcher
Each one of these sole-purpose power tools is obviously different, but because they’re so similar (and we’ll look at the combos later) we can answer the question of whether or not you need one quite easily. Do you have a garden with lots of organic waste continually building up? You might have to trim all your trees, so the ability to reduce the branches to a few inches in size would save you hours because you’re not allowed to burn anything any more.
If you have thousands of leaves and tiny branches lying around, would turning them into mulch in seconds give you extra time to spend on more important things? Basically, if you have a garden with lots of waste you would benefit from a chipper/shredder, so nearly everyone who can’t afford a gardener should own one. They all do different things, so we’ll quickly break down their individual roles.
- Wood Chipper
The wood chipper is the daddy of them all, because it’s a much more powerful machine and can perform a task others couldn’t dream of doing. They will be able to break down any size of wood once it’s placed inside the chute, although the exact thickness of branches they can handle will depend largely on the model you buy.
Affordable Chipper/Shredder | Tazz K52
If it’s just one for your back garden, it’s not going to be powerful enough to handle a tree trunk. The wood is broken down by a few sharp blades (or knives) bolted to a rotating disc inside the machine, and wooden chips are expelled from the other side, sometimes landing in a bag to stop them from flying around everywhere.
Your wood chipper will handle branches whether they’re bone dry or soaking wet, so it will allow you to use the machine more often than the others. The smaller branches and leaves sprouting off the main branch don’t need to be pulled apart first due to its power. If you have a garden with more than a few trees, wood chippers are often the way to go.
The wood shredder is perhaps what you might call the wood chipper’s little brother, and although they might look the same appearance-wise there are two main differences separating them. The first major difference is what is used to cut the wooden branches, and they’re called flails (or blunt blades). You can also get metal strips with holes in them, so when they turn at high speed anything hitting them is thrown through the holes.
Now you can probably guess the second major difference. Along with these flails as opposed to sharp blades, the typical power you’ll get from a wood shredder will never be enough to handle the size of branches a chipper can slice through like butter. A fairly decent-sized shredder will still be able to deal with the majority of branches in your garden, but they’ll break down the tiny branches into mulch instead of wooden chips.
They have their fair share of positives too, like the size of the machines, the noise they make, and a system designed to shred organic material until it’s small enough to be used for only mulch. They’re a good idea for someone who doesn’t have many trees in their garden, because you’ll mostly be dealing with small branches from trees outside your garden and they won’t be huge.
Mulcher | Mulching
There isn’t much to say about these, except maybe they’re only good for those with a very particular type of garden waste. The way they’re designed means they won’t be able to chop any wood up, and the moment you tried to put a branch inside a mulcher it would cause all sorts of damage to the machine.
Example of An Electric Light-Duty Mulcher | WORX WG430
These are almost like those weed cutters you see whipping the weeds with a piece of nylon string. They can only slice through the softest of organic material, which is due to their speed, and we’re only talking leaves and twigs. Take the blunt steel blades inside a shredder and if you replace them with pieces of nylon string you’ll have a mulcher.
They’re positioned vertically inside the drum, and when you drop leaves, grass, and tiny twigs into the mulcher they’ll be destroyed because they’re so soft and small. Perfect for those who are only interested in an easy way to make compost, but if you don’t own a shredder you’ll still have to deal with bigger branches manually even though you might only want mulch.
Gas vs Electric Chipper/Shredder
Years ago the idea of an electric power tool would have seemed preposterous, but due to things like the advancements in technology things seem to be changing. Still, we’ve got to take into account a chipper/shredder isn’t exactly a small power tool. They do still have their advantages and disadvantages, so we’ll take a look at them to help you choose which one will be best for you.
- Advantages Of Gas Models
- Advantages Of Electric Models
- Disadvantages Of Gas Models
- Disadvantages Of Electric Models
Advantages of Gas Models
Gas-Powered Models Are More Powerful: An electric chipper/shredder will never be able to reach the power produced by a gas-powered one with all other things being equal, which might or might not be crucial depending on your individual needs.
You Don’t Need A Power Source: Any electric chipper/shredder will need a power source before it will be able to cut anything, so it’s something to keep in mind when you’re planning to use your new toy a certain distance away from your home.
Advantages of Electric Models
Better For The Environment: This one should be obvious, but electric models won’t cause as much harm to the environment. When you have another model pumping out dirty gas fumes it’s an entirely different story, but electric models don’t have any fumes.
They’re Much Quieter: You can always wear ear defenders to protect your hearing when using a gas-powered chipper/shredder, but the noise an electric one makes is a world apart and won’t deafen you listening to it all day.
You’ll Find Them Easier To Maintain: Gas-powered tools are a necessity because of the power you might need, but the engine itself should be left in the past. You’ll find an electric one is much easier to maintain and you won’t suffer from nearly as many breakdowns.
Industrial Chipper | NorTrac PTO Chipper
Negative Impact on Your Health: We’ve already tackled this from a different angle when talking about how the fumes will damage the environment, but how do you think your poor lungs will feel unless you’re wearing a mask when you’re breathing the fumes in? Also, they’re far noisier than electric chipper/shredders. You’ll need to use hearing protection when using a gas model.
Take Up Much More Space: Power has to come from somewhere, and when you’re using a gas-powered model it’s not a plug socket it comes from. That means you’ll need a large engine, which results in gas models generally taking up a lot more space.
More Expensive To Buy: There is a perfectly good reason why a powerful gas chipper/shredder is more expensive to buy, although it still qualifies as a negative because electric models are generally cheaper so it’s easier on your wallet.
Disadvantages of Electric Models
Can Only Be Used For Smaller Jobs: Gas-powered models can handle a lot of wood at the same time, so even during large jobs you’ll have no problem feeding wood down the chute. An electric one, on the other hand, will only be sufficient for smaller jobs.
Far Less Mobility: You now know a power source is required, but you’re not off the hook if you have one outside your home. If you have a large area of land you’ll still need to reach the power source, so you’ll be a lot less mobile.
Something Else To Consider: Just because you counted the advantages versus the disadvantages and the electric models had an overall better score, it means absolutely nothing if the one you buy won’t be able to do what you need it to.
Best Chipper/Shredder Models
You should know by now whether you want an electric or gas-powered chipper/shredder. You know what the difference between a chipper and shredder is, but the models we’ll look at today will be able to perform either job. Remember they’re still only residential chipper/shredder machines, so although they’ll change your life they will never compare to sole-purpose commercial chippers and shredders.
Please Note: If at any time you like the sound of a particular chipper/shredder, please click through to read the reviews from past customers on Amazon to see if it’s as good as you think.
Sun Joe Chipper Joe CJ601E | Electric Chipper/Shredder
- Ideal for turning branches and twigs into nutrient-rich garden mulch.
- Powerful 14 amp motor effectively chips and shreds branches up to 1.5-inches thick.
- Compact design with 6-inch wheels for easy portability.
- Safety hopper with locking knob prevents the motor from operating when opened.
- ETL approved; Full 2-year warranty.
View or download MANUAL for the Sun Joe Chipper/Shredder.
Overview | Sun Joe CJ601E
This electric chipper/shredder does come with an impressive 14-amp motor, but the fact it can deal with tree branches up to 1.5-inches in diameter is fantastic. The motor will also run at speeds of up to 4,300 rpm, so you’ll be able to deal with all the bushes and branches in your garden quickly. People have praised how long the blades last before there is a breakage, but don’t put anything too thick inside or it’s not going to be long before one needs to be replaced.
Speaking of the razor sharp blades, let’s talk about an important safety mechanism you’ll find on the CJ601E. It has a safety hopper locking knob stopping the motor from being able to run once you’ve opened it up, and although you wouldn’t do something so silly in the first place it’s nice to know you won’t accidentally hurt yourself. Depending on how you look at it, you might consider the 6-inch wheels a safety feature too, albeit a much more basic one.
The reason you’ll appreciate the wheels is because you’ll be able to move your Sun Joe CJ601E chipper/shredder around easily. The entire machine only weighs a little over 25 pounds anyway, so you’ll likely struggle more with the heavy-duty extension cord even if you do have to keep dragging the machine around a large garden. At least you won’t have to mess around with it every time you stop, because it comes with an instant start button.
It might sound a little loud compared to your average electric chipper/shredder, but it’s only because of the speed the motor runs at. If it’s any consolation, it does produce a finer mulch than most electric combo machines. It’s also nice how the motor only stays roughly hand warm, with the reason having more to do with not burning yourself. When a motor overheats too often it’s when you’ll end up with reliability issues.
Earthquake 14267 | 212cc Gas Chipper/Shredder
- No screen design for clog-free operation.
- Optional Vac Kit to vacuum and shred small debris.
- Even hardwood and palm fronds reduced easily.
- Mulch leaves, twigs, garden waste and branches up to three inches.
- Large rotor creates 25% more suction than competitors.
- Heavy-duty knives and hammers are integrated with a metal cone, providing extra strength.
Overview | Earthquake 14267
The monster 212cc gas-powered engine on this Earthquake chipper/shredder comes with the patented Viper engine. Of course you know there will be sharp blades inside, but it’s got something extra to make it a little more special. As well as blades, it also has dual triangular hammers creating much more force at the point of impact. It comes with a metal cone built in too, because with all the power it helps with durability when in full flow.
Earthquake claim their rotor creates around 25 percent more suction than other models out there, which might go some way to explaining why it can handle branches 3-inches in diameter. It’s hard to appreciate how thick that is, but it will easily cover the needs of any homeowner. It will take seconds to turn branches into a large bunch of mulch, but do you have any idea how much it will reduce the size of your garden waste?
In the chipper/shredder world, there is a waste reduction ratio. It tells you how many bags of organic material will be compressed to fit into a single bag. The Earthquake 14267 has a ratio of 20:1, whereas a lot of chipper/shredders you see might only have a ratio of 10:1. All of this power comes at a price, because the machine weighs 110 pounds. It does have a nice set of wheels, but be prepared to sweat a little when moving it around.
In order to start the machine, you will need a bit of strength to pull the cord. The emergency shut off, gas, choke, and speed need to be set correctly to make things easier for you. You’ll have the optional Vac Kit if you want to shred very small debris. Be aware, if you put long grass and vines inside the chute there is a chance it could get tangled up. It will also be much worse if it’s wet when you slip it inside.
Specs (Earthquake 14267):
- Engine Brand : Viper
- Engine Type : 4-cycle
- Engine Displacement : 212cc
- Engine Rating (EPA) : 8.85 ft-lb max torque
- Hammers : 2 J and 2 Tri
- Grinding Chamber : 2.5″ x 14″
- Rotor : Steel
- Hopper : 16.75″ x 13.25″
- Weight : 115 lbs
Earthquake 9060300 | 205cc Gas Chipper/Shredder
- Briggs and Stratton intek IC 205cc / 8.50 ft. lbs. engine.
- Chip materials up to 3″ in diameter.
- Two 2″ heavy-duty chipping knives.
- 2 Tri and two J shredder hammers. J-hammers cut material, reducing its size and tri-hammers pulverize
- 20:1 waste reduction ratio
- Grinding chamber 16 3/4 in. x 13 1/4 in. hopper
Overview | Earthquake 9060300
As you’ll notice straight away because of the name, it contains the same patented Viper engine as the last model. The major difference between this one and the last one is the drop in engine size to 196cc, meaning it’s a little more eco-friendly. It’s still powerful enough to rip through branches 3-inches in diameter, and you might be looking at it only taking 10-20 seconds to destroy a 10-foot branch.
The reduction in engine size means there is a slight reduction in weight, but don’t get too excited because it’s only a few pounds. The design of the machine does mean it’s not as physically demanding to move around as you might think. It has the same 20:1 waste reduction ratio as the other model, and once again comes with a couple of bushel bags which we haven’t mentioned until now, but they’re definitely there.
When you’re using something as powerful as these chipper/shredders you have to be careful you don’t try to fill it up with too many twigs and leaves too quickly, otherwise it will jam up and the knives will come to a standstill. You’ll then have to stick your hand inside after some messing around with the feed chutes. It isn’t hard and everything will be switched off when you do it, but be careful to prevent it from happening.
You should never operate any Earthquake model without the debris bag properly attached, because your future mulch will be thrown out at high speed. It’s also not the quietest chipper/shredder at roughly 100 decibels depending on where you’re standing, so wear ear protection at all times. One last piece of safety advice refers to the 3-inch branch diameter the company are claiming, and unless you go in perfectly straight it might be safer to stick to 2.5-inch branches.
Tow Bar Kit | Earthquake 1692327 | Chipper/Shredder
Features (Tow bar kit):
- Easily attaches to your garden tractor or riding mower.
- All hardware included for fast and straight forward assembly.
- Adjustable length rod.
- Pin-style hitch.
- Provides great balance and stability while towing.
- Not intended for high-speed towing.
Patriot Products CSV-3100B | 10-HP Gas Chipper/Shredder
Ideal for 1+ acre lots and shredding 3-inch branches. Fast chipper/shredder.
- 10HP Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Commercial Engine.
- Ideal for yards up to 1-acre in size.
- 14″ x 16″ opening makes it easy to load leaves & debris.
- Tapered Chipping Cone
- Ideal for green branches, corn stalks, sunflower stems, etc.
- 3″ is the maximum green wood diameter it can handle.
- Heavy Duty Rotor with re-sharpenable chipping knives.
- Tool steel knives are heat-treated for longer durability.
- 6 hardened steel y-hammers reduce debris to pieces.
- 20:1 reduction ratio. Twenty bags of leaves becomes one bag.
- Occupies the same space as a typical garbage can.
- Direct power transfer; no pulleys or belts.
- Collection Bag Included.
View or download the MANUAL for the CSV-3100B.
Overview | Patriot Products CSV-3100B
With a 10-horsepower Briggs & Stratton Vanguard commercial grade engine, you know this is going to perform exceptionally well. Not only will it take the 3-inch thick tree branches and turn them into mulch within seconds, but you’ll also be able to drop leaves and other organic material into the hopper for instant shredding. This motor comes with a patented direct drive system, so no belts or pulleys will be used and all its power will be directed towards chipping and shredding.
Video | Shredding Bamboo
If you would like to use the debris for more than just mulch, such as for the edges of flowerbeds or to create cheap garden paths, this Patriot machine will spit out wooden chips roughly the same size as a coin. Of course you can still throw them in your compost heap, but you have other options available to you. If you do plan on using the coin-sized chips for something cool, try not to drop anything other than large wooden branches into the chipper/shredder.
Another helpful feature is the side discharge, which doesn’t come with a lot of other machines. When everything is coming out of the bottom you’ll have to keep messing with it all the time, but thanks to the side discharge you could essentially work in the exact same spot for the entire day. It might be a good idea considering it weighs roughly 188 pounds. Even if you are working all day, the manual states when branches feel like they’re being pushed in rather than pulled there will be a problem with the blades.
A machine so powerful will never be quiet, but the Patriot CSV-3100B doesn’t actually make as much noise as you’d imagine. It will be partly because of the superior engine, but they were also smart enough to include a premium lo-tone muffler to reduce the noise levels even more. As with all big power tools, ear protection like the Husqvarna professional hearing protectors is still recommend. It will also last longer without breaking down, because of the low oil run sensor added to safeguard the engine from damage.
Durostar Eco-Shredder ES1600 | 14 Amp Chipper/Shredder/Mulcher
- 14 Amp Electric Is Quieter And Cleaner Than Gas Powered Shredders.
- 2.5 HP, 2800 rpm motor.
- 3 Cycle V-Blade Shredding And Mulching System.
- Hopper size: 15.3″ x 10.4″
- Limbs up to 1.375″ fit into the side chute. Size of chute: 1.375″ x 2.3″
- Easy to clean up & maintain.
- Overload Protection Switch turns the motor off if it gets jammed.
- Small and compact.
- 7 inch wheels & built in handle go where the work is
- 10 To 1 Reduction Ratio. 10 bags of leaves are reduced to one bag.
- Includes an Extra Set Of Blades (Eco-Shredder ES1600-21)
- Operates on Standard Household Plug – 120 Volt
View or download the MANUAL for the Eco-Shredder ES1600.
Overview | Eco-Shredder ES1600
It has a 14-amp, 2.5-horsepower motor and it’s a lot less powerful than the last couple we’ve mentioned, so does the Eco-Shredder have anything special going for it? The first thing you’ll notice are the two chutes, which is actually pretty common on most residential chipper/shredders. To simplify things as much as possible, you’ll put the leaves and garden clippings into the front chute for the shredding and mulching.
The side chute is where it will take care of the chipping, but be careful because it’s only built to handle branches of up to 1-3/8-inches in diameter. If you stick to branches 1-inches thick you’ll run into a lot less problems. The multiple ways to feed the machine means you’ll get through the work quicker and you’ll see more uniform results. It even has a rounded discharge chute to speed up the time it takes you to clean up when you’re done making your mulch.
Video | Unboxing, Assembly and Operation
We spoke about the benefits of an electric chipper/shredder being the ease in which you can carry out routine maintenance, and you’ll see how easy it is when you read the instruction manual. For example, your blades will need to be kept sharp at all times, or they’ll begin to tear things rather than cut through them. You’ll easily be able to disassemble the machine to rotate or replace the blades yourself. Some free extra blades are also included with the Eco-Cutter for when the time comes.
There is an overload protection switch built into it, so the Eco-Shredder will automatically cut off whenever it jams up. Apart from the safety aspect, it will also protect your motor meaning it will have a much longer life. It weighs just over 70 pounds making it nearly 3X as heavy as the Sun Joe electric chipper/shredder. This model only has a reduction ratio of 10:1, which might look bad even though it’s still respectable.
Tazz K32 Gas Chipper/Shredder | 18493 | 212cc
The Tazz K32 chipper/shredder is 51-inches high, so you never have to lift material over your head.
- 212cc viper engine with a 5-year warranty.
- Optional vacuum kit featuring a unique air gate and largest-in-class rotor, Tazz produces 20% more vacuum than similar chipper shredders
- At a convenient 25.4 in. W x 29.9 in. L.
- Rugged easy-to-use debris bag featuring the Bottom-Out zipper and a quick Dock-and-Lock bag connector
- 11″ never go flat wheels.
Overview | Tazz K32
Tazz introduced what could possibly be the easiest gas-powered chipper/shredder when they released the K32, but let’s talk about the power before we get into all of those finer details. Once again you’re seeing a machine with a 212cc Viper engine, so it still has more force at the point of impact and creates more suction than other machines. Tazz have stated it has 20 percent more suction compared to 25 percent on the Earthquake models, which could be because of the design.
Video | Tazz Chipper/Shredder
While we’re on the subject of design, the K32 truly is a thing of beauty and you’ll love it. The steel hopper only stands at 34-inches high, so it’s simple to throw everything into it without any trouble at all. It’s also 25.4-inches wide by 29.9-inches long, so you will be able to store it away in a small corner of your garage until it’s time to use it. The 11-inch wheels also supposedly never go flat.
That is a good thing when you realize you’ll be pulling 121 pounds of weight around with you. The extra weight could have something to do with the fact the K32 comes with very tough components. The huge steel hopper will take all the bumps and bangs that will be thrown at it as everything is being dumped into the grinding chamber. Once on the other side the reduction ration will stand at 20:1.
There are two other special features about the Tazz K32 we can’t ignore. It doesn’t just come with an ordinary debris bag, but it has a bottom-out zipper and a quick dock-and-lock bag connector making it the greatest one on the market. The last feature is the optional vacuum kit, so you’ll have a chipper/shredder capable of picking up grass clippings and scooping up leaves. It’s got a unique Air Gate to help suck everything up.
Learn more on the Tazz site.
Patriot Products CSV-2515 | Electric Chipper/Shredder
Patriot claim their electric chipper/shredder is the only one on the market worth buying, and with a 1.5-horsepower motor under the hood it’s hard to argue with them. It can chip branches up to 2.5-inches in diameter, so it’s only half an inch away from competing with the gas-powered model. It doesn’t have any issues shredding leaves just like the CSV-3100B, except with the electric one you don’t have to deal with any nasty gas or oil.
You will need to be close to a plug socket for it to work, but luckily it’s so environmentally-friendly it produces zero fumes and you can use it indoors. If you do want to use it outside you must be aware the heavy-duty extension cord you will have to use can’t be any longer than a hundred foot long, because it will use 14-amps of electricity. When you take that into consideration, it does leave your options limited if you own lots of land.
VIDEO | Electric CSV-2515 Shredding Branches
If you don’t need to move it further than a hundred yards from the nearest socket, you’ll love it because it only weighs 95 pounds and the large wheels make it easy to move around. Once you’ve reached your desired destination you’ll find out the electric model is a lot easier to start, and you’ll appreciate not having to pull on any cords. It’s as simple as switching it on and you’re ready to go.
Electric chipper/shredders are well-known for being easier to maintain, and you’ll get even more benefits from the Patriot CSV-2515 because once you’ve learned how to use it you’ll notice it hardly jams. One of the reasons you’ll need to know how much your machine can handle is because electric models will draw too much electricity, and when it does your circuit breaker will trip. As long as you keep it clean and sharpen your blades as per the instruction manual, you’ll not have many issues with it.
Note: Use a 10-gauge extension cord.
If you don’t understand the differences between extension cords please read our guide. Trust me, it will help you maximize your electric power tools.
Learn more about Patriot chipper/shredders on their site.
Is A Combo Chipper/Shredder The Right Choice For You?
We said having a machine capable of chipping or shredding the waste in your garden is a great idea, and now there is another question you need to ask yourself. Do you need to buy single-purpose machines, or is the combo chipper/shredder going to be enough for you? I hope you now realize although it was vital to discuss the differences between each one, any of the models we’ve looked at today will be perfect for nearly every home owner. Maybe you can think about things differently if you live on a very large farm.
Now It’s Time To Choose Your Favorite One
You know how much they’re going to affect your life. You should even know whether or not you’d prefer an electric or gas-powered one. The final step in your journey is picking the exact model to buy, but you should know something before you do. Do you have any idea how many people are already taking full advantage of these chipper/shredders?
If you want a rough idea, you only need to look on Amazon to find out how many have already been sold. Don’t forget they’ll be sold in tons of stores nationwide, but Amazon is the best place to search for unbiased reviews. Even if you’re 99 percent sure you know which one to buy, one review could send you in the opposite direction.