The Best Chipper Shredders in 2019

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As gardeners, part of our responsibilities lie in maintaining the landscapes that we aren’t actively cultivating. Our lawns (if you have one), trees, bushes, and shrubs on our property all require care. But with that care comes yard waste — annoying branches, leaves, and shrubbery that piles up over the course of the year. ​

You can break ​these down by hand or dispose of them curbside, but why not recycle these materials back into your garden in a productive way? That’s where a wood chipper shredder comes into play. Sure, you can rent one from your local home improvement store, but chances are you’ll use it so often that you may as well own one.

When I purchased my chipper shredder, I could feel the weight of 1,000 dead branches lifted off my shoudlers — literally and figuratively!

But figuring out what the best chipper shredder was for my needs was a real chore…so I put all of my research into this article. This is the most comprehensive guide you’ll find online for chipper shredders. I hope it helps you make your buying decision!​

If you just want my #1 best wood chipper recommendations, check these two out:

Best Gas Chipper Shredder: Tazz K32 with 212cc Viper Engine

Earthquake TAZZ 18493 Heavy Duty 212cc Gas Powered 4 Cycle Viper Engine 3:1 Capable Multi-Function...
  • 212cc Viper engine with a 5-year warranty
  • Optional vacuum kit featuring a unique air gate and...
  • At a convenient 25.4" wide by 29.9" long, it takes up...
  • Always-ready, 11" wheels will never go flat. ENGINE TORQUE :...
  • Rugged easy-to-use debris bag featuring the Bottom-Out...
  • Horsepower: 6+hp
  • Weight: 121lb
  • Capacity: 3″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 20:1
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Features: ​11″ wheels, debris bag, 212cc Viper engine, shuts down if oil is low

Simply put: The Tazz K32 is a monster. It has the best combination of features and power of any gas-powered chipper shredder on the market.

Check Prices >

Best Electric Chipper Shredder: Patriot Products CSV-2515

Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
  • Purchase Patriot's Electric Cord now and EXTEND YOUR...
  • The quiet, smooth, maintenance free electric motor starts...
  • Easily shred mountains of leaves by sliding them into the...
  • The Patriot will make coin-sized chips out of branches up to...
  • All processed material will discharge out the side of the...
  • Horsepower: 14 amp, 1.5hp
  • Weight: <95lb
  • Capacity: 2.5″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 20:1
  • Warranty: 2 year limited
  • Features: ​Large top-loading hopper, side-loading branch chute, large transport wheels

The Patriot Products CSV-2515 is the cadillac of electric chipper shredders. It can tackle branches almost as large in diameter as competing gas chipper shredders.

Check Prices >

*At the bottom of this article, there are more in-depth reviews on these (and other) chipper shredders.

What Is a Wood Chipper Shredder?

Yard Waste
Yard waste being…wasted. These people need a chipper shredder! source

Well, the purpose of a chipper shredder is kind of built into the name, isn’t it? To get into the details, the purpose of a wood chipper shredder is to grind, shred, and cut larger organic matter into smaller pieces.

The reasons people use these tools usually fall into three camps: composting, mulching, and disposing.

When composting, if you can break down some of the larger ‘browns’ like tree branches, you’ll create compost much faster due to the increased surface area of the material you’re composting. For many people, using a chipper shredder is the only way they can break down enough “browns” to make high quality compost.

Chipper shredders are great for mulching simply because they reduce large, cumbersome pieces of material into smaller material that’s perfect as a mulch layer in the garden. By using your own yard waste to mulch your garden or landscape, you’re saving yourself a little bit of money every time.

If you don’t compost or mulch, a chipper shredder can still be useful as a way to break down large pieces of yard waste for disposal.​ Although I would encourage you to give composting or mulching a try, if you just want to get rid of your waste…that’s totally fine too and a chipper shredder will be a big help.

​There are a few different types of chipper shredders on the market, and which one you choose will depend on your specific needs in the garden. The simplest ones have sharp blades to cut larger pieces of wood, and hard flails that break up smaller things like leaves or sticks.

There are many different types though, and we’ll get into the details later in this piece.

Why You Need a Wood Chipper Shredder

Chipper shredders are one of the most productive garden tools in your arsenal. Not only will you be making better use of your yard debris by turning it into compost or using it as a mulch layer, but you’ll be saving a lot of time in the process.

Before I picked one up myself, I was breaking down branches and food debris by hand for my compost, which was taking me far too much time. Time that I could spend doing…just about anything else.

Types of Chipper Shredders – Power

There are two main types of chipper shredders to choose from when it comes to the power source ​— electric or gas. Electric shredders are pretty simple, and they don’t vary much in design. However, gas-powered shredders have distinct design differences that we will cover below.

Electric

Eco-Shredder 1600

While electric-powered chipper shredders aren’t as powerful as gas ones, they still have their place in your toolshed. Most electric chipper shredders range from 1-2 horsepower and can process looser debris like leaves, sticks, food scraps, and light shrubbery. Some of the larger, more expensive models can handle ​tree limbs as well.

As far as weight is concerned, they are relatively light. The lightest ones clock in at around 12lbs, with the larger models coming in at above 100lbs. That range is huge, we know — but we’ll get into how to narrow down your options later in this article.​

Advantages of Electric Chipper Shredders

  • Less expensive
  • Smaller
  • No gas, smoke, or fumes
  • Much less noisy than gas shredders
  • Easier to transport from place to place
  • Higher weight-to-power ratio

Disadvantages of Electric Chipper Shredders

  • Need an outlet nearby
  • Need a heavy duty extension cord
  • Less powerful
  • Most models do not chip large tree limbs

Gasoline

Earthquake Gas Chipper Shredder

Gasoline chipper shredders are the standard choice for most gardeners. They start out at around four horsepower and can range all the way up to ten horsepower, so they pack a serious punch and can tackle some tricky yard debris. Their minimum weight clocks in about the max weight of electric shredders, at 100lb, and they can range up to 200lb for the largest models.

Gas chipper shredders follow a similar pattern power-wise. The lowest gas models match the chipping power of the highest electric models.

Advantages of Gas Chipper Shredders

  • Much more powerful than electric models
  • Can chip branches greater than 1-2″ in diameter
  • Does not require an extension cord
  • Chips faster and more efficiently

Disadvantages of Gas Chipper Shredders

  • Much noisier than electric models
  • More parts to maintain and must winterize in cold weather
  • More powerful models can be quite heavy

If you think a gas-powered chipper shredder is a better choice for you, my recommendation is to buy one with the highest horsepower that you can afford. Yes, it’ll be a little noisier, but you’ll get the job done much quicker. I recommend buying one with at least 8 horsepower, though you can get away with less if you want to save some cash.

Gasoline Walk Behind Vacuum​

Merry Mac Gas Vacuum Chipper Shredder

Gas-powered, walk-behind vacuum chipper shredders are on a new level. I don’t own one myself, but I have used them in the past and they make cleaning up your backyard an absolute breeze. They combine raking and mulching into one tool that only requires you to push it around to get the job done.

They work by sucking up yard debris via the vacuum into blades that chop the debris into mulch or composting material. Like a lawnmower, it’s captured by a large bag on the back of the machine for easy transport after the job is done.

Power-wise, these typically range between 5-10hp and come with some cool features like a detachable vacuum tube for harder to reach areas. Some models also have a side-loaded branch chute, so you can use it as you would a standalone gas-powered chipper shredder as well.

Overall, these types of chipper shredders are a luxury item as they’re much more expensive than regular ones. But if you have the money, these will save you a LOT of time.

Types of Chipper Shredders – Design

You should also take into consideration the design of your chipper shredder. There are a few common ways that chipper shredders are designed and each has a unique twist on the way that they go about breaking down yard debris.

Disk

Disk Shredder
Disk shredder example from the official patent filing. Source

Disk chippers are by far the most common design. They’re versatile and can handle almost anything that you throw at it. The way they work is simple: a flywheel with blades attached to the end is spun up to very high speeds. The shredder power is determined by how heavy the flywheel is. A heaver flywheel = more chipping and shredding power.​

Screw

Screw Shredder
An industrial screw shredder, not for home use! Source

Screw chippers are some of the most powerful and intense on the market. They have huge screws that rotate slowly, pulling branches in and obliterating them. Most people will not require a screw chipper, mainly because they’re too powerful and tend to be quite expensive. You commonly see these types of chippers attached to trucks.​

Drum

Drum Shredder
Example of a handmade drum shredder for fruit. Source

When chipper shredders first came on the market, the drum design was used. It’s still being used today, and to great effect. They work by rotating a drum​ or drums with many sharp metal teeth on the outside. These are spun in opposite directions and pull in any debris, making short work of it by grinding it with intense pressure. If you are chipping a lot of material at once, go with a drum chipper. So keep an open mind when making your buying decision.

Flail

Flail Shredder
A flail shredder attachment. Source

​Flail chipper shredders are lightweight and are accordingly designed for lighter yard debris. They work by attaching plastic string, or metal chains to a drum and spinning the drum fast. The lowest-end models are only rated to deal with soft food waste and leaves, while the higher-end models can handle sticks, shrubbery, and small branches. These are great if you want a cheaper model and don’t have a lot of heavy debris.

Features to Consider

We’ve gone over the types of chipper shredders that exists both in power source and in design. But there are many other features that manufacturers build into their chipper shredders that can either make your life a whole lot easier, or a whole lot harder.​

A Note on Brands:

Although chipper shredders can be one of the more expensive purchases for your home, try to resist buying cheap foreign knockoffs. There are plenty of reputable brands to choose from.

Top-Mounted Hopper

Chipper shredders with a top-mounted hopper allow you to simply drop food waste or yard debris straight into your machine from the top down. Gravity does the rest of the work, which makes your job easy.

Side-Mounted Branch Chute

Some chipper shredders have a chute for inserting larger tree branches. This design allows the large branches to skip past the flails and go straight to the chipping blades, which are the blades that have the most effect on tree branches. The larger the chute, the larger the branches you can send through.

Wheels

If you decide on a light, electric shredder, wheels won’t be necessary. However, larger electric shredders and gas shredders usually come with wheels. They range from small wheels that allow for light transport, to medium-sized utility wheels, all the way to road-ready wheels for the largest models.

Reduction Ratio

The reduction ratio of your shredder is a rough guide to the volume reduction that your chipper shredder can achieve. These range from 10:1 to 20:1, meaning they can cut the volume of your debris to 5-10% of it’s original volume!

Weight

The weight of your shredder will determine how often you want to move it around your property. Heavier models are more powerful, but less transportable, and visa versa.

Feed Capacity

The feed capacity will determine exactly how much yard debris you can fit into your chipper shredder at one time. Models with multiple chutes may have different values for each chute or entry point.

Number of Blades / Flails

The more blades or flails that your chipper shredder has, the longer each individual blade will last. This means you’ll have to sharpen and / or replace your blades far less often.

Maintenance

This one is simple — electric chipper shredders are easier to maintain than gas ones. Gas engines must be prepared for winter and have more moving parts. Aside from that, you may need to replace or sharpen the blades in your chipper from time to time.

Noisiness

Again, gas-powered chipper shredders are much noisier than electric ones, although they are more powerful. If noise is a big concern, you should purchase a higher-powered electric model.

Convenience

Some chipper shredders come with features that make life a lot easier, like blades that sharpen themselves, tow bars, electric starters instead of pull starters, or hoppers that are tiltable.

Warranty

Although warranties can sometimes be hard to enforce or make use of, the strength of a chipper shredder’s warranty speaks to the quality of the manufacturer. A stronger, longer warranty should increase your confidence in your purchase.

Your Living Situation

Another factor to consider is where you live. Your living situation may determine the size of your lot, the plants growing on your property, or simply noise and size concerns for your chipper shredder.

City or Suburbs

Suburbs

Most people that live in cities and suburbs will want to go with an electric chipper shredder. This is for two reasons:

  1. Most of the yard debris you will need to chip and shred will be leaves, shrubbery, and smaller branches.
  2. Large, gas-powered chipper shredders are some of the noisiest garden tools and may annoy both you and your neighbors.​

Depending on your local city ordinances, you may not even be permitted to operate large gas chipper shredders, so do your research.

Rural Areas

Country House

Out in the country, chances are you’ve got more space and larger plants growing on your property. You may have large branches that have fallen down due to wind, age, or storm that you’d like to mulch.

If you’re just going to chip down debris that falls on your property, you can get away with a simple disk chipper shredder that is gas-powered with a light disk. If you want to cut down trees on your property and process then, you should choose a ​much heavier disk, or even go for a drum chipper shredder.

Farm​s

Similar to rural areas, you can get away with a medium-heavy disk chipper shredder if you only need it for maintenance and cleanup of your property. However, most farms need a larger drum model that can be towed around from place to place on the property.​

Chipper Shredder Maintenance Tips

Buy a Powerful Machine

The purpose of a chipper shredder is right in the name — to literally destroy large pieces of wood and yard debris. This means that the blades and motor are under a lot of stress when they’re in use, and most owners will push them beyond their limits. If you can afford a higher power machine, I recommend you go ahead and buy it. You may never max out the ability of the chipper shredder, but you know for a fact that you won’t over-stress it, which is the #1 cause of death of chipper shredders nationwide.

Shred The Right Materials

Whatever you do, try to avoid shredding wet clumps of small debris like grass or leaves. Although manufacturers will say that their machines can handle this type of debris, just think of how a chipper shredder works. It performs best when the debris is hit multiple times by the blades and flails, allowing it to break up the debris as much as possible. Wet and clumped together material acts like one large, amorphous piece of debris that can get stuck or make it through your machine relatively unscathed — the opposite of what we want!

Maintenance Checklist

No matter what type of chipper shredder you have, there are a couple of universal rules to caring for them. First, always keep your blades sharp. The duller the blade, the more your motor has to work, which means the shorter the lifespan of the motor. Most chipper shredders come with blade sharpening tools or extra blades, so don’t be afraid to sharpen or replace!

Additionally, don’t leave your machine out in the elements. It’ll degrade the parts much quicker and shorten the lifespan.

Here are a few motor-specific tips for maintaining your chipper shredder:

Gas-Powered

  • Monitor your oil levels. Using your machine when the oil is low can degrade the parts significantly and shorten the lifespan of your engine. Keep a few bottles of extra oil on hand for this reason.
  • After the first 10-20 hours of use, replace your oil completely. Then schedule your oil changes for every 100 hours.
  • Watch for oil leaks or parts that aren’t functioning properly and take care of them immediately.
  • Keep extra air filters on hand, and replace them liberally.

Electric

  • Get the right type of extension cord. You don’t want a voltage drop to happen, so using a large gauge cord will help prevent that. If you need to calculate it out, you can use a voltage drop calculator like this one.

Our Best Chipper Shredder Reviews & Picks

Phew, that was a lot of info! But this is a crucial machine in the garden, and one that you should ideally only have to purchase once. So I figured it was better to give you too much info rather than not enough.

Below, you’ll see my recommendations for the top wood chippers, separated by their power type. I’ll give you my pick for the top rated wood chippers, as well as a lower-priced option that’s still good value for the money.​

Best ​Electric Chipper Shredder

Best in Class

Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
  • Purchase Patriot's Electric Cord now and EXTEND YOUR...
  • The quiet, smooth, maintenance free electric motor starts...
  • Easily shred mountains of leaves by sliding them into the...
  • The Patriot will make coin-sized chips out of branches up to...
  • All processed material will discharge out the side of the...
  • Horsepower: 14 amp, 1.5hp
  • Weight: <95lb
  • Capacity: 2.5″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 20:1
  • Warranty: 2 year limited
  • Features: Large top-loading hopper, side-loading branch chute, large transport wheels

The Patriot Products CSV-2515 is the cadillac of electric chipper shredders. It can tackle branches almost as large in diameter as competing gas chipper shredders. It’s extremely lightweight for the power that it packs, coming in at 95lbs. The large, top-loading hopper allows you to dump in tons of leaves and food debris, and the side-loading branch chute makes feeding long branches into the unit a breeze. You’ll need a heavy-duty extension cord that is less than 100ft long to avoid a voltage drop with this bad boy.

Verdict: If you’re looking for the absolute best electric wood chipper, look no further than the Patriot Products CSV-2515.

Check Prices >


Best Value for Your Money

Eco-Shredder ES1600 14-Amp Electric Chipper / Shredder / Mulcher
  • Powerful 14-Amp Motor
  • Free extra cutting blades included
  • Triple action cutting/mulching system
  • Easy to operate: No gas engine to start or maintain
  • Horsepower: 14 amp, 2.5hp
  • Weight: 110lb
  • Capacity: 3″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 10:1
  • Warranty: 1 year limited

The Eco-Shredder 1600 from DuroStar is perfect for home gardeners that live in urban areas and don’t have a lot of large yard debris to chip and shred. It runs quiet, is easy to transport, and comes with extra cutting blades. It’s significantly cheaper than the Patriot Products CSV-2515, but this is because it’s made of much cheaper materials. With good care this can last you quite a while, but there are some reports of it being less robust and the blades needing more sharpening.

Check Prices >


Best Gas-Powered Chipper Shredder

Best in Class

Earthquake TAZZ 18493 Heavy Duty 212cc Gas Powered 4 Cycle Viper Engine 3:1 Capable Multi-Function...
  • 212cc Viper engine with a 5-year warranty
  • Optional vacuum kit featuring a unique air gate and...
  • At a convenient 25.4" wide by 29.9" long, it takes up...
  • Always-ready, 11" wheels will never go flat. ENGINE TORQUE :...
  • Rugged easy-to-use debris bag featuring the Bottom-Out...
  • Horsepower: 6+hp
  • Weight: 121lb
  • Capacity: 3″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 20:1
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Features: 11″ wheels, debris bag, 212cc Viper engine, shuts down if oil is low

Simply put: The Tazz K32 is a monster. It has the best combination of features and power of any gas-powered chipper shredder on the market. One of the most unique features is its low-oil shutdown, meaning that it won’t even allow itself to be run if the oil is low. This protects the engine from undue stress, prolonging the lifespan of the machine. The 6hp motor makes short work of hard branches up to 3″ in diameter, although some owners have noted that they can chip even larger branches.

It also comes with an optional vacuum kit, making this a truly all-in-one chipper shredder choice. And at $599.99, it’s actually affordable.

Note: I have not made a decision on the best value for your money, because the Tazz K32 seems to be both best in class and best value for the money.

Check Prices >


Best Gas-Powered Walk Behind Chipper Shredder Vacuum​

Best in Class

Merry Mac Walk-Behind Chipper/Vacuum - 250cc Briggs & Stratton Powerbuilt Engine, Model Number...
  • Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 249cc Powerbuilt OHV engine...
  • Self-propelled for effortless vacuuming
  • 3 forward speeds plus reverse
  • Top-loading bag allows maximum debris collection
  • 25in. vacuum width
  • Horsepower: 10hp (Briggs & Stratton engine)
  • Weight: 220lb
  • Capacity: 2 7/8″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 8:1
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Features: 3 forward speeds, reverse option, solid state ignition, self-propelled, 25″ vacuum width

The Merry Mac walk behind is feature-packed. Although it’s expensive, it can handle just about anything you’d throw at it with it’s 10hp engine and huge, top-loading bag. The top-loading allows for the bag to be as full as possible before changing it out, meaning less time wrangling with debris and more time chipping it.

It comes with 3 forward speeds and propels itself forward, so you barely have to do anything besides stand behind this thing to get the job done. If you’re looking for serious power and flexibility, this is your choice. With good care, it’ll last a lifetime.

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Best Value for Your Money

Patriot Products CVB-2465B 24-Inch Briggs & Stratton Gas Powered Walk Behind 3-In-1 Leaf...
  • Clear a wide 24-inch path in a single pass
  • Chip fallen branches into tiny pieces by feeding them into...
  • With the flip of a handle you can convert this hungry beast...
  • Powered by a 6-1/2-hp Briggs & Stratton engine and backed by...
  • CARB compliant
  • Horsepower: 6.5hp (Briggs & Stratton engine)
  • Weight: 81lb
  • Capacity: 2″ diameter branches
  • Reduction Ratio: 20:1
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Features: Built-in blower, 24″ wide vacuum path

The utility of this machine simply can’t be beat at this price. It’s a vacuum, a chipper, and a blower all in one. With a 6.5hp engine and a 24″ wide vacuum path, you can make short work of almost all smaller yard debris on your property. If you encounter branches along the way, you can just slide them into the side-loading branch chute and chop those as well. It’s lightweight and easy to push, though the collection bag can get heavy pretty quickly, so carry some spare trash bags on hand.

You can also turn on the blower, which will make it easy to clean up any leftover debris on your property. For the money, it’s really hard to beat the Patriot Products CVB-2465B.

Check Prices >


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

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Last update on 2019-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API