If you have old-growth trees in your yard, like I do, you probably find yourself almost constantly trimming branches and having to dispose of them. Branches die and have to be cut off, while new branches grow to provide photosynthesis and keep the tree healthy. Sometimes, even healthy branches have to be cut off, especially when they interfere with power lines, your home’s roof or other structures.
The real problem isn’t cutting the trees; that’s just a task that has to be done. The real problem is getting rid of the branches. Some municipalities provide hauling services for this, but not all do. Even those that do, don’t do it all the time, so you end up with a pile of branches out by the sidewalk, waiting for them to come… whenever that might be.
One option is to haul off those branches yourself, assuming you have a truck or cargo trailer to do it with. But not all of us have that luxury either. Another option is to turn them into mulch and use that in your landscaping.
Best Chipper Shredders – Comparison
|GreatCircleUSA 7 HP 3 in 1 Multi-function|
|Sun Joe CJ602E|
|Earthquake 22752 Chipper|
Turning branches into wood chips for mulch requires nothing more than a chipper shredder. Considering how much mulch we all buy for our yards and gardens, this seems to me like a wise investment. While mulch really doesn’t cost very much, there’s the time to go get it and the difficulty of hauling it to consider as well. Besides, using a chipper shredder to make your own mulch gets rid of that pile of branches the city hasn’t picked up yet.
A chipper shredder has a high-speed motor and blade, which cuts through branches, turning them into wood chips. Of course, it will shred anything else you put in there too, like leaves, twigs and the kid’s toys. So you might want to be a bit careful about what you decide to shred.
There’s a temptation to buy a low-cost shredder, but think that through before you do. Basically, the difference between the low-cost ones and the better units is the maximum diameter branch you are able to cut. The throat of the chipper shredder is sized to limit this, just for people like me, who might try to cheat. If you buy a 1 ½” shredder, there’s no way you can chop up a 1 ¾” branch. I know; I tried. For that matter, unless your branch is straight, you’re going to have a problem fitting that 1 ½” branch in a 1 ½” chipper shredder.
Granted, a larger chipper shredder costs more, but it also does more for you. That’s what you have to consider. In most cases, you’re better off with the largest unit you can afford unless you have some other use for those branches. If you’re planning on cutting them up for kindling or using them for crafts projects, then don’t worry. But if you want to make the most mulch possible, then being able to cut up those larger branches is a real advantage.
The other important question you need to consider is whether you want a gas or electric chipper shredder. By and large, the smaller ones are electric and the larger ones are gas; but there is a bit of overlap. Electric ones tend to be cheaper to buy, but they are limited by the length of your extension cord. Gas ones allow you more flexibility, especially if you have a larger yard.
10 Best Chipper Shredders – Reviews
1. GreatCircleUSA 7 HP 3 in 1 Multi-function Wood Chipper
This chipper shredder from Great Circle USA is incredibly popular due to its versatility. Rather than being a normal shredder or chipper, it combines three different ways of loading what you need chipped or shredded, allowing you the ability to chop up more yard waste, with the same machine. The top hopper receives twigs and small pieces, up to ½ inch, while the round side chute will receive branches up to 3 inch in diameter. Add on the optional vacuum kit and you can much leaves as well.
This unit is powered with a 212cc gas engine, producing 7HP. That’s plenty of power to cut through whatever you can fit into the unit. The combination of 4 Y-Hammers and two chipping blades chop their way through a wide range of material. With a 3 year limited warranty, this unit will get the job done for you.
- 3 chipping/shredding options
- Separate chute for larger branches
- Gas operated flexibility
- 212cc, 7HP engine
- Max 3” wood diameter
- CARB Certified
- Ships to California (for those who live there)
- Leaf mulcher is a separate option
2. Sun Joe CJ602E Electric Wood Chipper
If you’re just looking for a small unit, the Sun Joe is about the most popular out there. In fact, they’re so popular, that many companies have copied their basic design. I had a unit much like this, made by another company, which served me very well.
This unit is a bit limited in what it can do, with a 1 ½ inch maximum capacity. That wasn’t an issue for me, as I cut up anything larger than that for kindling in the fire pit. However, those small branches really don’t make a lot of volume of mulch. If you want to be able to produce a lot of mulch, you’ll really want a larger unit than this.
One nice thing about this unit is the way they’ve handled safety. It is literally impossible to reach the cutting blades while it is running and if you take it apart to reach them, it won’t run, no matter what you do. So if you want the kids to help you out in the yard, this machine will give them something safe to do, which they will probably find enjoyable.
- Compact, lightweight design is easy to move around or take to a friend’s house
- Great safety system to eliminate accidents
- Easy to use
- Works fast and efficiently
- Limited branch size
- Short power cord
3. Earthquake 22752 Chipper Shredder
Earthquake manufactures a whole line of chipper shredders. I like this particular model for its combination of size and power. While more or less the same size chipper shredder as the Great Circle USA unit we started out with, this one has a 40% larger engine, producing more power to get through the tough logs. If you have a lot of hardwood trees that you have to deal with, like oak, that extra power can be important.
As with the Great Circle unit, this one offers three different modes of operation, although the vacuum operation still requires the purchase of an optional vacuum hose. The wheels on this unit are not pneumatic, eliminating the potential of finding a flat tire, when you need to use it.
This unit also comes with an easy to install and remove bag to catch the mulch you are creating. With a bottom-mounted zipper, you can move that mulch right over to your garden and spread it easily, without even the need for a rake. That makes your overall operation faster and more efficient, saving you time in getting the job done.
- Large, powerful Viper engine
- Non-pneumatic tires
- Three modes of operation
- Comes with an impressive 5-year warranty
- Vacuum mode produces 20% more suction than the competition
- Rugged debris bag with bottom zipper for easy spreading
- Vacuum hose is sold separately
- Can’t say that I’m familiar with Viper brand engines
4. Landworks LCE06, 3 in 1 Chipper Shredder
Landworks produces a wide range of different chipper shredders, mostly for commercial use. their larger units are designed for filling the back of a truck directly. However, this consumer sized unit is designed with the same degree of quality and ease of use in mind.
The most outstanding thing about this particular chipper shredder is the oversized 3-inch branch chute. Rather than provide a chute that’s just barely big enough for the branch to fit into, this one is flared so that you don’t have to have the branch aligned exactly right. This feature also allows the chipper to handle branches that are curved or which have an elbow in them, something that the competition can’t handle as well.
As with some of the other units we’ve looked at, this is a 3 in 1 unit, with a nice, large hopper on top for loading smaller material, like sticks and leaves. It is also designed for use with a vacuum attachment, allowing you to mulch leaves for use in making compost. The 212cc gas engine produces 7HP of power.
- Oversized loading chute makes it much easier to feed branches
- 212cc 7HP engine
- 3 in 1 loading system
- CARB Certified
- Like everyone else, you have to buy the vacuum hose separately
- Pneumatic tires could go flat
5. Yard Machines 24A-464M4700 – 3 in 1 Chipper Shredder
While this chipper shredder is a 3 in 1 unit, like some of the others we’ve looked at, it’s a different sort of 3 in 1. You don’t get a vacuum hose with this unit, even if you buy it as an optional accessory. Rather, the feed chute is designed so that it can be used as a drop-down or a rake-in. In other words, you can drop the bottom part of the chute right down to ground level and rake the leaves and twigs right into the chipper shredder, a much more convenient way to work.
This unit has a slightly smaller engine, but I don’t think you’ll notice it. The 208cc 4-stroke OHV engine runs more smoothly and efficiently, producing more power than side-valve engines do. It’s also a bit quieter, which your neighbors will appreciate. A 2.5-bushel waste bag allows you to take the much right to your garden and put it to work.
While different to work with than other chipper shredders, it’s clear that the design of this unit would be easy to get used to and much more convenient to work with. I especially like the large feed chute, making it much easier to put branches in.
- Large feed chute
- You don’t have to buy the optional vacuum kit to load leaves
- 3 in 1 feed system is unique
- 3” max branch size
- Large waste bag
- I suppose if you were used to using a vacuum, switching over to the rake chute would be a nuicance
6. Patriot Products CSV-2515 Electric Chipper Shredder
Generally speaking, electric chipper shredders are much smaller than gas-powered ones; but this is the exception. This unit, from Patriot Products, proves that it is possible to make an electric chipper that can handle the tougher jobs. The 1.5HP motor on this unit allows it to chip branches up to 2 ½ inches in diameter. Granted, that’s not as good as some other units, but it’s respectable.
Of course, the nice thing about an electric unit is that it is quiet. You won’t have the neighbors complaining about the noise you’re making. But there’s another important advantage to them; they’re virtually maintenance free. Whereas most yard tools with small engines need yearly maintenance, you just need to plug this unit in and it’s ready to go.
Patriot Products has done something unusual with their warranty on this product. They advertise on their website that if you buy their red & white striped 100-foot extension cord, they’ll extend the warranty by one year. I’m just guessing here, but I’ll bet that’s because too many people try to run the unit on an extension cord that’s too small a wire gauge. Still, it’s worth buying the right cord.
- Quiet operation
- Electric motor eliminates a lot of maintenance problems
- Can handle branches up to 2 ½ inches in diameter
- 90-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied
- Works a little slower than gas-powered units
- Has to be kept within 100 feet of an electrical outlet
7. Patriot Power CSV-3100, 10HP Chipper Shredder
This is almost the same unit as the electric one we just looked at, but fitted with a 10HP Briggs & Stratton gas engine. Of all the small engine manufacturers out there, Briggs & Stratton probably has the best reputation. You can count on their products to work every time and to last, even under tough usage.
Speaking of tough usage, the 10HP engine on this chipper shredder means that you can push 3-inch branches through quickly, without worrying about them bogging down or slowing the cutting head. The extra power will turn into less wait times and more work getting accomplished. This heavy-duty machine can keep up with you all day, turning your yard waste into useful mulch.
This chipper shredder is in compliance with regulations for use in all 50 states.
- 10HP engine, providing more power
- Briggs & Stratton engine – probably the best small engine manufacturer on the market
- Handles branches up to 3 inches in diameter
- Will either chip or shred branches
- Price is a bit high
- Doesn’t offer the option for vacuuming up leaves
8. Brush Master CH3M17, 270cc Chipper Shredder
If you’re needing something heavy-duty, you might want to take a look at this Brush Master chipper shredder. A bit larger than other units, it’s also made with an all-steel case, giving it much greater resistance to damage than other chipper shredders that use plastic hoppers and feed chutes. Both the hopper and feed chute are auto-feeding, once you get the material started.
While not the largest engine on this list, the 270C gas engine installed on this chipper produces 11HP, even more than the one we just looked at. The extra power doesn’t mean that the feed chute is any larger though, as it is still limited to 3-inch branches. However, the chipper’s cutting head is belt-driven, so that jams and other problems can’t cause damage to the engine.
Speaking of the cutting head; this one has 16 hammers and only 1 cutting blade. But that cutting blade is hardened chromium steel for long life and long blade edge retention. The large number of hammers allow this chipper to work more as a shredder than other units do.
- All steel construction prevents breakage
- Large 11HP engine
- Trailer hitch for moving the chipper shredder with your lawn tractor
- Belt driven to reduce damage
- Centrifugal clutch
- Turns yard waste into ¼ inch mulch
- Price is a bit high
- Unit is heavy
9. DK2 Power OPC506, 6 inch Chipper Shredder
This trailer-mounted chipper shredder is truly designed for the professional. The 14HP Kohler engine drives a drum-style chipper head at 3600 RPM, for cutting branches up to 6 inches in diameter. Unlike other units we’ve looked at, this unit is really designed just for chopping up branches, not for leaves and twigs, although you can put them into the feed chute as well. However, there is no separate hopper for them.
The output chute on this unit is set at pickup bed height, allowing you to load the chips you create into the back of a pickup truck or trailer for removal. Even so, the output chute swivels, allowing the output to be loaded into a different vehicle than the one towing the chipper.
Compared to the other units we’ve looked at, this one is quite different. But then, it’s really designed for use by professional landscaping companies or tree trimmers. The high-speed drum cutter head makes short work of branches fed into it. Blades are double-edged, allowing for the reversal in the field if they get dull. The removable tow bar and onboard toolbox just add to the convenience of working with this chipper.
- Large capacity for branches up to 6 inches in diameter
- Loads directly into a truck bed or trailer
- Combined feed chute for both branches and brush
- 14 HP engine provides plenty of power
- On-board steel compartment for storage of personal safety equipment
- Shutoff key for safety
- The price is high; but what do you expect?
- Can’t use it for vacuuming up leaves and small debris
10. Earthwise BVM20312 Blower Shredder
Earthwise is a brand of American Lawn Mower Company; their line of more environmentally friendly yard equipment. This particular unit doesn’t really qualify as a chipper shredder, but I included it anyway, because it does the shredder function. Actually, it’s a combination shredder and blower, which gives you some interesting options, if all you’re concerned about is dealing with leaves and twigs.
This electric unit allows you to suck up yard debris and instantly mulch it, with the option of putting it back into your yard or bagging the debris in a 2 bushel bag for disposal. You can also use it as a blower, instead of a mulcher, if you just want to clear your sidewalk. So, while you can’t cut tree branches up with it, you can still do a lot which will be useful in your yard and garden.
When using the tool for picking up leaves, you can roll it along the ground with the integral wheels, making the whole process much easier and alleviating you of the weight of the debris bag. Or, if you’d rather, you can use the shoulder strap to hold the weight, either for vacuuming or blowing operations.
- A much simpler solution, when you don’t need a chipper
- Lighter weight
- Electric powered, so you don’t need gas
- Multiple operating modes
- Large, 2 bushel collecting bag
- Cord is extremely short
- Can’t be used as a chipper
Investing in a good chipper shredder can make yard work much easier, helping you keep your yard looking good by giving you the capability of disposing of tree branches, as well as making your own mulch for use around your trees and in your garden.
Size matters, as well as whether you want a chipper shredder that’s gas-driven or electric. You need to find a unit that will meet your needs; not only today but in the years to come. While there are many units that are sized to chip branches of three inches in diameter, there are also smaller and larger units, if that is what you need. While you don’t want to skimp on size, you don’t want to waste money either.
Gas drive units are generally hardier, providing more power and faster cutting speeds. However, they are noisier as well, more likely to bother your neighbors. If buying a gas-driven unit, you may want to consider one with a four-stroke-cycle engine, as they are a bit quieter than two-stroke-cycle ones.