Are Small Wood Chippers Any Good?

Are Small Wood Chippers Any Good

Brush clearing and tree trimming can accumulate a ton of yard waste, and getting rid of larger branches can be exhausting. Only so much tree debris can be used as mulch, and it takes forever for woody fibrous materials to break down in a compost pile. Is there an easier way to chip and shred our piles away? 

Electric chippers and gas wood chippers can be affordable additions to home yard equipment. A large PTO chipper can hook up to tractors or riding mowers and offers the most power while producing the smallest wood chips possible. A commercial wood chipper creates nutrient-rich mulch while reducing the original size of the material tremendously but can be incredibly costly and wildly impractical for small yards.

What size chipper do you need for your yard, and is a small wood chipper any good? Let’s take a look! 

Do I Need a Big or Small Wood Chipper?

Electric wood chippers might be all your yard needs to handle small brush and yard debris. Or perhaps a heavy-duty model gas chipper shredder that has a bit more mobility and power is right up your alley.

Choosing the type of chipper shredder you need is important since buying one that is larger than you need will unnecessarily cost more money, while buying one too small to properly handle the job can be frustrating and dangerous.  

Material Type and Size of Branches

The types of yard waste that need to be chipped and shredded impact which type of garden equipment you will need. Palm fronds, hardwoods, and thick-diameter branches will need to be put through larger gas-powered wood chippers.  Electric wood chippers are tethered to a power source but can easily be set up to process small brush and yard clippings. 

For larger pieces of wood or to create very small chip sizes, you will need a larger gas machine that may be difficult to move and have a higher noise level than an electric model. With powerful motors, you can process the largest diameter branches and reduce a large pile of branches to mulch quickly. Not every yard needs to clear brush on this scale, and in that case, chipper shredders of a more compact size might be more practical for you.

Dry leaves, grass clippings, garden waste, and other easily shredded materials can be processed with an electric motor chipper connected to a live household power source and electrical outlet. Check the user manual to see if your model of chipper shredder can chop up wet leaves and pine cones since some smaller models cannot handle this organic waste and might jam the chipper blades.

Some mid-sized gas chippers offer separate chutes; leaf shredders to reduce piles of dry leaves while aiding leaf removal on large properties and a chute that shreds branches of varying sizes, including thicker branches of up to 3 inches in diameter. Gas-powered chippers hauled by a lawn tractor can process the largest branch diameters for non-PTO wood chippers.

For non-commercial applications, a gas-powered chipper shredder or smaller electric power source-driven chipper should get the job done. 

Types of Wood Chippers

There are three main types of wood chippers available for residential use. Each type of chipper shredder offers unique advantages while having certain drawbacks making it unsuitable for every application.

Small, lightweight electric machines, gas engines with large wheels and powerful motors, and Power Take Off engines that take energy from lawnmowers of other gas models of tractors and run a heavy-duty machine. Choosing the best machine for your lawn can be tricky unless you have the information below.

Electric

A chipper shredder with an electric engine can handle small pieces of wood and other lawn debris. These are suited for smaller yards and short, infrequent use but are reliable, easy to transport, and store away effortlessly. Since no petroleum based-fuels are needed, no exhaust is produced, and very little maintenance is needed for season-after-season use. 

With a compact size and lightweight modularity, an electric wood chipper shredder loses bag capacity and can only hold a small amount of organic material at one time. To make up for this, much like a push lawn mower, a leaf blower attachment can be added to launch garden mulch exactly where you want it, as you reduce bags of yard waste into uniform chips and fewer bags of debris. 

An electric silent wood chipper machine is lightweight but often has small wheels and can be difficult to move across dense lawns and uneven ground. The motors are energy efficient but need to be tethered to a power source with a heavy-duty extension cord. Electrical cords laying across the lawn require more safety precautions and can be annoying to deal with. For small yard chores and yard waste reduction, an electric shredder is a great option.

Gas

Petroleum-fueled engines are the most diverse and offer a range of machines capable of handling any yard task. Organic material like fresh wood, either woody branches or smaller sticks and leaves, can be reduced to very few bags of yard debris or used as mulch of uniform chips. Heavy-duty jobs of clearing a large pile of wood can be quickly completed with a powerful engine on larger gas-fueled machines.

To compensate for the powerful engines that pulverize larger tree branches, gas powered-tools make much more noise than their electric counterparts connected to a power outlet. They also produce more exhaust, polluting areas of property and disturbing wildlife. The larger engines need more maintenance, oil, and fuel to operate efficiently and can cost more to keep at peak performance than smaller models. 

Mobility is one of the biggest factors that can either make or break a high HP gas-powered commercial chipper shredder model’s feasibility. With big wheels and cumbersome bodies and chutes, larger engine wood chippers may not be able to navigate your yard and access the piles of debris you want to clear. Smaller models can process wood branches and navigate flat ground and hilly terrain while offering a combo chipper and shredder as well as adjustable branch feed chutes. 

Power Take Off (PTO)

Even more powerful than most high HP gas-powered commercial chipper shredder mulchers, PTO chippers attach to garden tractors and heavy-duty mowers. PTO wood chippers can have wood splitters to deal with larger tree branches and semi-blunt blades to pack woody branches tightly into the branch feed chute for the finest chips branches can become. 

PTO chippers are very powerful but are not needed for most residential uses that don’t require a garden tractor. You can rent these if you need to clear a lot of brush and felled trees due to a storm, but for routine yard work, it is probably the wrong tool for the job.

You can use your garden tracker or heavy-duty mower to move your PTO wood chipper shredder mulcher wherever it is needed, but it cannot replicate the versatility of a gas-powered combo chipper or a decent chipper with a leaf vacuum attachment. 

How to Select a Wood Chipper?

Chances are you won’t need a PTO for residential yard work, which means you are left to choose which type of engine you want, electric or gas, and exactly what size chipper you need. The main areas to look at when choosing the ideal wood chipper from the collection of yard tools are how much wood can it process, how easily can it be moved, and how reliable is the engine.

Taking a look at the 6 categories below should give you more information on which small to medium-sized wood chipper is best for your lawn. 

Bag Capacity

Some models have very little or no bag capacity and rely on discharge chutes, much like heavy-duty mowers and brush mowers, to discard waste instead of bags of yard debris. Compact chippers include 1.2-bushel plastic collection bins and other attachments that make lawn cleanup a breeze. Being able to collect all the chips branches produce in one load that is easy to empty is a vital feature when considering your wood chipper. 

Torque

This represents the cutting power of the blades inside of a chipper shredder mulcher and how large of a branch the machine can handle. Fine chip branches of large diameter produced when run through a powerful engine can greatly decrease the ratio size of yard waste turning as many as 20 bags of debris into 1.

High torque engines produce more noise and operate with more resources meaning they come on bigger machines and may not be easy to move, feed, and empty alone.  

Cutting Blades

Fixed blades and hinge blades make up the common cutting edges found in small wood chippers. The blades are made of hardened chromium-alloy steel, which bends instead of chipping when damaged. These blades can be repeatedly sharpened to allow for several seasons of use before replacement is needed.

The blades that break up large branches in a wood chipper are different than the spinning blades under a brush mower but can eliminate smaller brush just as effectively.

Weight and Movement

How easy it is to lug your wood chipper around your yard to the various piles of yard waste is a critical thing to consider with shredder selection. While a brush mower can easily be pushed around, upright wood chippers can process more debris and usually have convenient bags to make cleanup even easier, as well as being more diverse in efficiency and storage capabilities.

Larger wheels and a study chute attachment can help reduce effort when moving across an undulating landscape and get your machines closer to the debris.

Shredding Chute

The shredding shoot helps process leaves and debris that do not need to be fed into the blades in the same way as larger branches. A hopper and funnel make scooping leaves and garden waste into the shredder much easier and produce excellent mulch. Having a wood chipper and shredding chute can help you tackle yard work more efficiently by using one machine instead of several smaller ones. 

Reduction Ratios

The ratio size refers to how much space the unshredded or chipped yard waste takes up vs. the resulting mulched materials. Average wood chipper ratios run from 8:1 to 20:1 and can be chosen specifically for your yard debris capacity. If you have a lot of branches and waste that need to be made into fine mulch, a higher ratio is desired.

If, however, you have few trees and only want to save yourself some extra trips with trash bags, a lower ratio machine could be acceptable and more affordable for your needs. 

Best Small Wood Chippers

Brush mowers and upright wood chippers, and shredders can make turning tree branches and piles of sticks into wood chips and mulch a breeze. Choosing the right machine for the job is important as the wrong tool can be dangerous and ineffective, costing you more money and time in the long run.

Check out the top contenders for the current best home wood chippers.

BrandPower TypeBest Feature
Brush Master 11 HP Chipper ShredderGasPowerful and compact
PowerSmart Electric Wood ChipperElectricSmall, light, and convenient
Earthwise Electric Chipper 15 ampElectricConvenient storage bin
Sun Joe’s CJ603E 15-amp Electric Chipper ShredderElectricLightweight and quiet
Patriot Wood ChipperGasBig wheels and reliable performance
Champion Power Equipment 224cc Chipper ShredderGasExtra large hopper and shredder
Landworks Mini Wood Chipper Shredder MulcherElectricAdjustable discharge chute and breaks down 2 1/2-inch thick branches into fine wood chips
DK2 Chipper Shredder 7HPGasLarge capacity and lowered chute 
EFCut C30 212cc Wood ChipperGas20:1 edition ratio and compact design
159cc Troy-Bilt Gasoline EngineGasVersatile debris disposal options
SuperHandy Wood Chipper 7HPGasTwo separate shoots for different-sized branches

Brush Master 11 HP Chipper Shredder

This 11 HP 3-Inch Chipper Shredder has two-way feeding and an adjustable discharge shoot. It has a 12:1-yard waste reduction ratio and mulch branches as thick as 3 inches in diameter. It is moderately difficult to set up and get started but offers extra safety features like a killswitch when oil runs low.

See it at Home Depot

PowerSmart Electric Wood Chipper

A solid and reliable 15-amp electric wood chipper that can handle smaller sticks and twigs as well as dry leaves and other lawn waste. The small 15-amp electric motor of this electric Silent Wood Chipper can steadily shred most small yard waste. Because the 15-amp motor cannot turn powerful blades, only branches smaller than 2 inches can be processed. It is the wrong tool for serious mulching needs or for dealing with hardwood and thick brush. 

PowerSmart Wood Chipper Electric, 15-Amp Brushless Induction Motor Shredder for Composting, Leaf Shredder, Electric Garden Shredder Mulcher with…
  • Powerful mulcher chipper:with a 15-amp electric motor to shred branches up to 1.77″ thick, provides…
  • Safety Hopper Locking Knob Design: The Safety hopper locking knob design is contained in this wood…
  • Easy to Clean:Electric mulcher with a huge 1.2 Bushel collection bin.
  • Portable electric mulcher design: Compact design with 6-inch wheels for easy portability. You can…

Earthwise Electric Chipper 15 Amp

A 1.5-HP electric chipper has a strong electric motor capable of chipping branches 1.75 inches or smaller in diameter. Earthwise electric chipper works silently and can fill the 1.2-bushel collection bin in as little as 30 minutes of shredding. The 15-amp electric wood chipper can only deal with dry materials and needs to be plugged into a power outlet at all times. 

On Sale
Earthwise GS70015 15-Amp Garden Corded Electric Chipper, Collection Bin
  • Powerful mulcher wood chipper with a 15-amp electric motor to shred branches up to 1.75″ thick….
  • Safety shutoff with quick re-set button: When overloaded the motor will shutoff preventing any…
  • Chute and tamper tool to keep your hands free and safe from the corded electric wood chipper, 1.2…
  • Powerful 15-amp motor requires 12-guage 50ft extension cord (cord not included)

Sun Joe’s CJ603E 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper Shredder

A great machine in the electric wood chipper collection, it can reduce yard waste by a ratio of 21:1 but can only handle branches 1 1/2 inches in diameter or thinner. With a 1.5-inch chipper feature and a 1.5-inch chipper feed chute, it’s easy to avoid putting branches that are too large into the machine and causing blockages or damage. The motor is very quiet and most wood chips branches of small diameters make will be uniform with this chipper shredder.

On Sale
Sun Joe CJ603E 15-Amp 1.7-Inch Cutting Diameter Electric Silent Wood Chipper/Shredder, green
  • [VERSATILE]: Ideal for turning leaves, twigs, brush, and branches into nutrient-rich mulch ; Rated…
  • [POWERFUL]: 15-amp motor effectively chips and shreds branches up to 1.73-inches thick
  • [SAFETY]: Safety hopper with locking knob prevents the motor from operating when opened
  • [PORTABLE]: Compact design with 7-inch wheels for easy portability

Patriot Wood Chipper

Shreds large wood branches up to 4 inches in diameter and can run all day with heavy use. One of the most powerful home-suited wood chippers, it has large wheels that make moving it around the property simple. It has a small bag capacity for a chipper of this size but can be used bagless to produce large mulch piles in very little time. 

Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
  • Purchase Patriot’s Electric Cord now and EXTEND YOUR CHIPPER’S WARRANTY ONE YEAR.
  • The quiet, smooth, maintenance free electric motor starts with just the flip of a switch.
  • Easily shred mountains of leaves by sliding them into the large hopper on the top of the unit.
  • The Patriot will make coin-sized chips out of branches up to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Champion Power Equipment 224cc

One of the highest HP gas-powered commercial chipper shredders that are suitable for home use has a 224cc engine powers durable steel blades while remaining CARB-compliant. It has robust wheels that allow it to be moved effortlessly throughout the yard without a garden tractor, but the high feed chute makes it slightly difficult to load continuously. 

On Sale
Champion Power Equipment 200905 3-Inch Portable Chipper-Shredder with Collection Bag
  • POWERFUL: 224cc Champion single-cylinder OHV engine with a .92-gallon fuel tank and .63-quart oil…
  • HEAVY-DUTY: The chipper chute is equipped with hardened steel blades and handles branches up to 3…
  • VERSATILE: The shredder chute makes fast work of shrubbery, leaves or yard debris up to ½ inch or…
  • CONVENIENT AND COMPACT: The compact, lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver and takes up less…

Landworks Mini Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher

Landworks Mini Wood Chipper is a combo chipper shredder mulcher in one and can deal with branches that are 1.5 inches thick or thinner. Landworks Mini Wood Chipper has an adjustable discharge chute and is fully electric with no exhaust and infrequent fluid maintenance. Branches that are an inch wide need to be stripped of twigs and leaves before being fed into the chute to avoid clogs and jams. 

On Sale
Landworks Mini Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher Heavy Duty 7HP Compact Design 3″ Inch Max Capacity
  • EFFFICIENT PERFORMANCE; This Mini Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher design has a Reduction Ratio of…
  • UNIQUE DESIGN; Built to be compact and lighter than other steel chippers, this design has a highly…
  • POWERFUL; This Chippers powerful recoil starting 7HP Horizontal 4-stroke Single Cylinder OHV Gas…
  • SAFETY; Always operate according to directions outlined in the user manual, always wear the…

DK2 Chipper Shredder 7HP

DK2 chipper is towable and has a powerful 208cc Kohler engine which can shred yard waste, brush, and branches up to 3 inches in diameter. An extra large funnel with a safety hopper feature and lockable wheels helps it to stay stable on uneven terrain and keep waste removal continuous. The occasional build-up in the discharge chute should be cleared if all-day shredding is needed, 

Detail K2 OPC503 3 in. 7 HP Cyclonic Wood Chipper Shredder with KOHLER CH270 Command PRO Commercial Gas Engine
  • Large feed chute for 3 inch trees and branches
  • Directional chip chute
  • Top loading for compost, garden waste, leaves and yard clean up. Auto blade feeding.
  • Removable 7/8 inch tow bar for compact storage.

EFCut Wood Chipper

This 7HP gas-powered wood chipper has robust wheels that make it easy to push across the lawn. It has an impressive ratio size of 20:1 and can produce fine mulch for compost and garden beds. A compact discharge chute and base design allows for easy storage while still tackling branches up to 3 inches thick. 

159cc Troy-Bilt Wood Chipper

This chipper has a 159cc Troy-Built gasoline engine and competes with other collections of heavy-duty mowers. This gas chipper shredder vacuums leaves with a leaf vacuum attachment, and the 11-inch rear wheels make it easy to push on large lawns. Operating as a brush mower, the gas chipper shredder vacuums and clears all yard debris in a snap.

The Troy-Bilt wood chipper only takes branches 1.5 inches or smaller, so if you have large sticks, it might be the wrong tool for the job.

See at Home Depot

SuperHandy Wood Chipper 7HP

SuperHandy Wood Chipper is a decent chipper with large rear wheels that can roll easily on hills and uneven ground.  SuperHandy Wood Chipper has two feeding chutes, one for 3-inch branches and another for those 1 and 1/2  inches or smaller. It has a good-sized bag attachment and can run bagless for quick mulch piling directly on site. 

SuperHandy Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher Ultra Heavy Duty 7HP 3 in 1 Multi-Function 3″ Inch Max Capacity (Amazon Exclusive)
  • MULTI-FUNCTION CAPABILITY; This 3-in-1 Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher design has a Reduction Ratio of…
  • UNIQUE DESIGN; The Slanted Housing design reduces jams, unlike other chippers; Hookup your: ATV,…
  • POWERFUL; This Chippers powerful recoil starting 7HP Horizontal 4-stroke Single Cylinder OHV Gas…
  • SAFETY; Always operate according to directions outlined in the user manual, always wear the…

Tips to Safely Use a Wood Shredder

Wood chippers are potentially lethal machines and the cause of serious work and home accidents. Reading the owner’s manual and studying safety tips can help reduce the chances of injury. Most machines are designed to be as safe as possible as long as common sense is used. Improper use of the machine or not following posted safety tips can increase your chance of injury drastically.

Similar to any power tool, make sure everything is completely off and unplugged if you will be performing any kind of maintenance. Unplug electric chippers and remove spark plugs from gas power ones to eliminate any chance of accidental starts. Like most power tools, added safety features are constantly updated to increase safety and reduce damage to machine parts. Safety hopper features and wheel locks are some examples of advanced safety features for wood chippers. 

Check for Non-Plant Materials

Just like when mowing with a brush mower or ride mower, you will want to clear the yard waste of hard materials that are not meant to be chopped. Keep an eye out for rocks and stones, metal, or any other debris that could shoot back out of the blades and injure those around the machine. Safety tips recommend checking branches for nails or any cable or rope that might be hidden in the foliage and potentially hazardous to the wood chipper and operator. 

Wear Protective Gear

Safety gear that protects the eyes, ears, and head is required to operate these machines. Debris will fly out no matter how carefully you work, and protecting vulnerable body parts is essential. All clothing should be snug fitting, and no baggy clothes or hanging accessories should ever be worn when shredding. Safety goggles and earmuffs can help reduce the discomfort felt from dealing with heavy machinery for several hours or longer.

Place the Wood Chipper on Level Ground

For wood chippers to operate effectively, they should never be placed on uneven ground. Any wobbling or possibility of tipping is very dangerous and can lead to serious accidents as well as damage to the chipper. Make sure you have a level site near where you will do your chipping prepared, and use all available stabilizers and locks to help your chipper remain steady while operating. 

Adjust Deflector and Chute

Make sure the chute that discharges the mulch is properly attached and adjusted. The deflector should be aimed to protect your feet and any delicate areas of the lawn that you do not want to be hit with wood chips. The feed chute can also be angled and raised or lowered depending on the model type. make sure all of these different components are set correctly before shredding large amounts of debris. 

Set Parking Brake

Some tow-along chippers and shredders have brakes that can be set. These brakes, or often wheel locks, offer another form of stability and prevent your chipper from rolling during use. Make sure to test that the brakes are firmly locked before using the machine to shred wood. 

Check Power and Fuel

 If you are using an electric chipper, check the connection at the power outlet as well as the entire length of the cord. Make sure there are no crimps or cuts in the cable, and ensure all other yard users are aware of the outstretched cable. For gas engines, check all fluid levels and top off as needed. Make sure to clean and maintain filters and other combustion parts regularly. 

Check for Previous Blockages

Previous users may not have cleared all of the debris out before shutting down the operation. Make sure to check for blockages and clogs before starting the machine. Remove any old chips or mulch from the discharge chutes and check that the blades are free of debris.

Start the Shredder

Prime and power up the chipper using whatever method is needed for your model. Listen to the sound it makes, or lack thereof, if it is electric, and get a sense that all the parts are humming smoothly. If anything sounds louder or different than usual, turn it off and inspect the inside and outside again to make sure everything is safe to continue. 

Clear Working Space

The area where you will be working needs to be clear of yard waste and debris. A collection of loose sticks or branches could become dangerous if they end up underfoot while you are loading the chute. Makes sure you know exactly where the safety switch is and that you can always reach it when loading branches into a hopper or chute. 

Don’t Force Debris

 If a stick or bundle of waste gets stuck and won’t keep going through the blades, do not force it. Pushing branches forcefully into the machine can lead to blades jamming and the splintering of sharp projectiles being launched from the feed chute. Pull sticks that won’t grind back out and allow the machine to clear build-up before slowly adding more materials again. 

Keep Hands Clear of Hopper Mouth

Never put any part of your hands or body past the hopper mouth. Unlike a chute, the blades of a hopper are much closer and can pull the brush in. Use a tamper tool to help you load grass and lawn clippings without risking your appendages. Using the wrong tool as a tamper can damage the blades and lead to injury, so make sure you check what is suitable to push branches into your model of chipper and only use that. 

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Somes Images and Data from Amazon Product Advertising API