Best Chipper Shredder
Basic in their design and function, chipper shredders allow you to reduce organic property waste such as leaves and branches into a mass of finely chipped and shredded matter perfect for reuse as compost or landscaping material. For heavy-duty chipping, a gas-powered unit is really your only option, as electric chippers cannot compete with the overall power of a gas engine unit. But for light chipping and leaf shredding chores, an electric chipper/shredder may be all you really need. Regardless of your needs, we've provided an informative chipper/shredder buyer's guide below which provides all the information you need before making a purchase.
Best Gas Chipper Shredder:
Wood chippers are a specialty tool for turning wood stock into mulch, landscaping material, or organic waste. They’re designed around a rotating blade that slices and dices wood pieces, turning them into manageable chips. The most practical chipper will have a side feeder port for larger branches, and they will also have a large rectangular funnel feeder port for smaller branches covered in leaves and twigs.
This list will be tailored to a suburban home or a small farm setting, because about 90 percent of all chipper/shredders are purchased for this type of work. Granted, there are commercial style chippers available that will grind up logs, but they’re manufactured for a specific need and don't really apply to a homeowner who needs to get rid of tree branches, tree limbs, or large amounts of brush.
Safety features are standard with these gas chipper shredders, as well as being easy to feed, have enough chipping power so that they don't bog down under load, and are adequate for chipping chores in a suburban or a country home setting. Their price and ease of maneuvering was also considered and we’ll also feature a model giving you the best bang for the buck.
The DEK (4") 15-HP 420CC Professional Duty Tow-Behind Chipper Shredder has enough power to chip 4-inch branches and small logs. It is towable by ATV or lawn tractor, comes with two feeder ports, and is protected by a one year warranty. Read Full Review
The Craftsman LEAFWACKER 3-Way Chipper Shredder has two feed ports, one for brush and one for branches. It will chop up 3 inch diameter tree limbs, weighs 155 pounds and can be towed by a lawn tractor. It features a 10 HP Briggs engine and has a one year warranty. Read Full Review
The Yard Machines 24A-45M4000 208cc OHV Gas Powered Chipper Shredder is the best bang for the buck chipper and is perfect for smaller jobs. At 155 pounds this unit is lightweight and easy to move, and it will chip 2-inch thick branches. It features a drop down rake-in hopper, 2.5 bushel bag, and comes covered by a 2 year warranty. Read Full Review
The Earthquake (3") 305cc Chipper / Shredder With Briggs & Stratton Intek Engine is the lightest chipper on this list, however, it can't be towed so you'll have to pull or it to where you want it. It will chip 3-inch diameter branches and has a 20 to 1 mulch ratio, the best on this list. Read Full Review
Best Electric Chipper Shredder:
Wood chipper/shredders are specialized machines that mulch or chips out of leaves and branches. Electric chipper/shredders are the environmentally friendly version to their gas powered counterparts. They are only portable up to a 100 foot maximum cord length, and unless you have a gas powered generator, they would only be acceptable in a suburban property setting, or a gentleman's farm.
Although these types of machines will work well for light-duty wood chipping, they aren’t going to be able to handle larger branches and logs. However, for basic yard clean-up they will handle most jobs handily. These best electric chipper shredders were selected for their chipping/shredding power making them more versatile for handling thicker, larger branches. Their ease of use was also considered, such as a being lightweight so you can wheel these units around easier as well as convenient accessories like included pusher paddles. We will also feature a unit giving you the best bang for your buck.
The GreenWorks 15-Amp Electric Chipper is powerful, accepts branches up to 1 3/8-inch diameter and comes with a four year warranty. Accessories include a reversible set of blades and a push paddle to safely feed in wood debris. It rolls on 7 inch wheels and weighs 32 pounds. Read Full Review
The Patriot 1.5-HP Electric Chipper Shredder is the hardest working chipper/shredder on the list, able to chew up 2 1/2 inch branches with ease. It’s expensive at nearly 6 times the price of the top rated chipper but if you want the best, and are willing to pay the high price of admission, this is the one for you. Read Full Review
The DuroStar Home & Garden Outdoor Electric 3-Way Leaf EcoShredder/Chipper/Mulcher is the best bang for the buck unit on this list. It weighs 71 pounds, has a 14 amp 2.5 horsepower motor and mulches leaves down from 10 bags to 1. It comes with a one year warranty, a set of replacement blades and rides on 7 inch wheels. Read Full Review
The Earthwise 14-Amp Electric Chipper/Shredder will chip, shred and mulch leaves down from 6 bags to 1 bag. It is the lightest chipper here and rolls on 6 inch wheels, comes with a one year warranty and is best suited for lighter chipping and shredding chores. Read Full Review
The Sun Joe Chipper Joe 14 AMP Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder is the least expensive chipper on the list. It weighs 32 pounds and comes with 6 inch wheels for portability. It works best for light-duty jobs, and comes with a two year warranty. Read Full Review
Chipper/Shredder Buyers Guide
The first powered wood chipper was invented in Germany during the late 1880's. These belt driven machines belt-driven could be powered by a variety of power sources beginning with steam and electricity to gasoline powered engines later on. A popular adaptation around the turn of the 20th century, was to power the chipper from the flywheel of a tractor. This made the wood chipper relatively portable, since wherever a tractor could go, the chipper could then always be powered.
Modern wood chippers/shredders are fairly basic in design, using a motor to spin chipping/shredding blades that pulverize the wooden branches, or other woody refuse, that is inserted. The resulting chips are propelled through a chute, where they can be caught by a bag or a bucket, or piled up in one place. Most modern units are portable and lightweight enough to be carried in a truck bed or come equipped with wheels so they can be towed from one location to the next.
Powered chipper/shredders use either gasoline or electricity as their motive force. For the type of power unit that suits your needs, please consult our lawn equipment power source buyer’s guide for a detailed description on gasoline and electric motors.
These are some of the lightest units available, and they generally use small blunt pieces of metal attached to chains on a rotating drum. The flailing metal pulverizes leaves, small twigs and thin branches, but they aren’t rated for heavy-duty work.
On the lightest models, these flails consist of weed whacker strings which are only capable of shredding leaves. On combination chipper/shredders, flail blades are an integral part of feeding leaves and other light woody refuse into the hopper where the flail shreds the debris before sending it to the chipping blades.
The first type of this machine-type ever designed and still in use to this day, a drum chipper features a rotating heavy drum embedded with many teeth along its circumference. The spinning action pulls in wood fed into the hopper or the branch chute where it is effectively chipped and shredded. These chippers can accommodate some of the largest and bulkiest loads, and for heavy duty chipping, they can't be beat.
These are the most common chippers and can handle a solid variety of branch thicknesses. They work by spinning a heavy flywheel up to speed, with the outside edges of the wheel having blades attached. The heavier the flywheel, the more effective the chipper will be on larger loads.
As the name implies, a screw chipper uses a giant rotating screw to grab, chop and turn branches into chips. These are the heaviest duty chipper/shredders types made, and most are powered from PTO shafts on tractors, ATV's, or riding lawn mowers.
Top Mounted Hopper
A top-mounted hopper allows you to drop small to large loads of leaves into the chipper/shredder from the top. Gravity feeds this load to the blades, and if you have a combination unit, the flail blades will make short work of this kind of woody chaff. The larger the hopper mouth, the easier it is to feed in leaves and other woody debris.
Side Mounted Branch Feeder Chute
The branch feeder chute is often side mounted and allows you to bypass the flailing blades while sending branches directly to the chipping blades. Generally, the width of the side chute is the maximum width of the branches that can be chipped by the blades.
The lightest electric shredders are light enough to carry to the place where you want to shred or chip wood. These will have no wheels at all, but they'll come equipped with a sturdy set of legs to stand on while you’re busy shredding or chipping.
Wheels come in different types, from smaller kinds that allow you to pull the chipper/shredder from place to place, to utility wheels so you can hook it up to a riding lawn mower or an ATV and pull it around on your property. The larger machines may be equipped with road-worthy wheels which enable it to be towed from place to place from the back of your truck or car, provided you have the proper towing hitch equipped.
What's Best for You
Owning a chipper/shredder gives you the versatility to turn yard waste into usable mulch. You can use this mulch to line gardens, create pathways, or even turn it into compost. Ultimately, what's best for you will rely on your location and what type of woody refuse you want to turn into chips.
City and Suburbanites
Most city and suburban settings may have an abundance of leaves and small branches that need to be converted into shreds or chips, and in this scenario, an electric chipper/shredder flail would be the best option. Any gas powered lightweight disk chipper/shredder is also an option, but in many cities there may be noise regulations. A chipper/shredder is one of the noisiest outdoor home and garden appliances made. If you live in a city, please check to see if you can legally use a chipper/shredder for your wood waste shredding tasks.
For making mulch out of wood waste, a chipper/shredder is going to be the tool for you. You'll be able to convert fallen branches into a usable medium, and you'll be able to shred leaves and compact them for the local compost pile, or your own compost needs.
If you plan on just chipping branches that fall naturally from wind, rain, storms, snowfall, etc., then a light to medium weight disk unit will suffice. If you are surrounded by trees and want to make large quantities of chips to line gardens or create pathways, than a medium to heavy weight disk or drum machine would be the choice for you.
Unless you just plan on your chipper being used to clear debris, in which case a disk chipper will be adequate, plan on getting a heavy-duty unit such as a drum machine which would be best for this purpose. If you opt for a unit that is going to be towed from place to place that is needed to chip larger branches from downed trees, then a heavy-duty PTO activated screw chipper would be your best option.