A wood chipper is a machine built to take pieces of wood and chop it up into extremely small pieces. This helps to dispose of large branches you may have cut down, making it easy to remove without leaving it lying on your lawn (which can damage the grass). For most of us, spring and fall require the most yard work, and inevitably this involves removing branches from trees. In this instance, a wood chipper is a key piece of yard work equipment.
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Many people save their discarded branches to be burned, although this is neither efficient nor environmentally-friendly. Instead, a wood chipper allows you to make your own wood chip mulch or even as compost. Wood chippers vary a great deal in terms of size and power, so be sure to buy one that fits your requirements (see our Wood Chipper Buyers’ Guide below for more information).
To build our list, we reviewed hundreds of wood chippers available to buy online. To give a list of quality wood chippers, with a range of different types, we factored in the following criteria: price, brand name, motor type (i.e. electric or gas), multi-function or single function, warranty, weight (and portability), size, and capacity.
This allowed us to build our top five list (below) containing a type of wood chipper for every situation you may need one.
The Landworks was our runaway pick for the best wood chipper on the market. Although it describes itself as a ‘mini,’ the most accurate part of its name is the ‘heavy-duty’ part. This is one seriously impressive piece of equipment. The reduction ratio of 15:1 is market leading, and it can handle branches and debris up to 3” wide. The large (and extended) feeding chute demonstrates how this chipper is built for action. The price is also far from bank breaking, making this an all-in great buy.
This model our budget pick, but it also gets additional points for being electric. Not only are you saving money, but you’re also saving the planet. Don’t think that an electric model lacks the heft to deal with the largest branches though, because this one doesn’t.
Plus, at $127.22, this one is roughly one-third of the price of mid-market options. If you’re not a regular wood chipper user, then this is the one for you.
Most home-use wood chippers are simply watered-down versions of industrial models. Not this one. The SuperHandy model is an industrial-level model that you can have in your own yard. As well as the pure performance, it also is multi-function, containing a leaf mulching setting. So if you want to feel like you’re working in a sawmill, it will cost you (just over $600), but you’ll be able to use a comparable piece of equipment.
In very clear contrast to the SuperHandy model, we have the Sun Joe 1.7-inch chipper. What defines this one is its efficiency and subtlety – if a wood chipper can ever be subtle, that is. It’s designed to be silent, which really means it’s designed to operate efficiently, with unnecessary movement and features removed. It runs off a surprisingly strong 15-Amp battery, and it is a sleek piece of equipment. This is the wood chipper equivalent of a speedy city car.
If you’re an occasional user of a wood chipper or someone who doesn’t think they’ll get the full usage from a big, expensive machine, the Earthwise model is a great pick. It’s a good value option, with a cord (so you’ll not lose charge through lack of use), and it does a great job of actually chipping wood. It can get through branches up to 1.75” thick, which puts it amongst the most solid models on the market.
Although you may be attracted by the ability to shred wood whenever you need to, you need to be honest about how often you will actually use the machine. Think about whether you will be wood chipping once a month, or once a year. If the latter, you may be better off buying a multi-function device, which you can use to mulch leaves or even vacuum your lawn.
In all but the most extreme cases, a multi-function use is going to be a better option. The only exceptions to this are the following situations:
Otherwise, you should work on the assumption that a multi-function model is best for you.
There are three main types of wood chippers that you can decide between. These types are differentiated by engine and usage type, so if you’ve followed the checklist above, you should have a sense of which type may be best.
Electric chippers tend to be smaller and more lightweight. This gives them advantages for casual use, especially since they are easy to store away. If you do plan on using your chipper only infrequently, then choose a model with a cord. A battery may seem more convenient, but there’s always the risk it’s not charged, or doesn’t work when not in regular use.
Electric models tend to focus on smaller branches, so may not be the right option if you’re interested in heavy-duty work.
Gas-powered chippers give that extra oomph you need to get through big branches. In addition, many of the models also have a built-in shredder, which will help you get through the leaves. Some also have vacuums that you can use to clean up small pieces of debris, such as pine needles.
If you’re thinking of starting a landscaping business, or your wood chipping needs have suddenly and drastically increased, it may be time to look at the commercial-grade chippers. Some of these are built to be towed behind tractors and trucks, and can range in size up to industrial or factory size pieces of equipment.