Best Mini Excavators of 2021
When it comes to finding a mini excavator, comparing quotes is crucial to getting a top-quality product for the lowest price.
We have gathered information on the top 10 compact excavators including user reviews and buying tips and made it easy to find the best price from companies in your area.
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Mini Excavator Buyers Guide
Mini excavators are indispensable pieces of equipment, perfect for lighter work and onsite construction jobs in smaller spaces. Their compact structure lets them maneuver in confined areas, and they leave minimal damage to the landscape making them ideal for indoor use as well. When comparing used mini excavators, there are a few main points to take into consideration – lifespan/operational hours, the specifications of the machine, and EPA compliance. A brand new mini excavator is not cheap, they can range from $19,000 to $90,000, depending on the size and specifications of the model, so you’ll want to be sure your investment is worthwhile. Here’s what to look for when comparing and considering a mini excavator:
Consider the machines digging depth, operating weight, and dump height. These three considerations affect the type and size of the machine you will need. Before committing to any particular model, pair your specific needs with the machine’s capabilities to see how they match up. Remember the operating weight is the maximum operating weight including operator and equipment, for mini excavators this will be somewhere between 2,000 and 18,500 lbs. Maximum digging depth dictates the depth of the trench. Expect to find max digging depths that range between 5.6 and 12 feet deep. Maximum dump height is especially important for handling on construction sites. The maximum dump heights extend from 6 to 13 feet.
Ask your dealer or manufacture about the bore, net power, and swing system of the model you are looking at as well. For service and maintenance purposes also keep in mind that excavators are built with an 8,000 to 10,000 hours expected operating lifespan.
Mini excavators come in two types, tail swing and zero tail swing. Your workspace and output requirements will ultimately be the deciding factor in which model will work best for you.
Sometimes referred to as “conventional house”, these feature rear counterweight that helps offset added weight in the bucket and stabilize the excavator during operation. This model has slightly larger cabs for added comfort and maneuverability for the operator. Tail swing models provide the greatest lift capabilities, including a greater lifting capacity and greater bucket and arm breakout force. However, this additional counterweight extends 6 inches or more beyond the width of the tracks of the excavator as it rotates during operation. For this reason, the design of tail swing excavators can be difficult in tight or busy work areas. Tail swing models are the go-to choice for most construction applications.
This model of mini excavator has the ability to rotate their cabs completely within the width of their tracks, preventing the operator from bumping into anything with the tail (back section of the cab). Zero-tail swing excavators provide comparable levels of performance when it comes to dig depth, reach, cutting height, and dump height tail swing excavators. In addition, they are easier to navigate in tight work areas, and also have a counterweight that makes it even easier to operate down aisles and alongside walls. The ease of access makes service and maintenance simple with all major parts and components easily within reach. For indoor jobs and working in tight spaces a zero-tail swing model is a way to go.
There are also two types of track choices for min excavators – rubber and steel. Steel tracks are more durable and provide good traction on loose dirt. However, on pavement or landscaped areas, rubber tracks do a much better job at reducing ground pressure and surface damage.
Multiple attachments allow you to get much more use out of your mini excavator, for example, there are different sizes and styles of buckets for different types of digging. Other common attachments include:
- Augers – used for boring clean holes through a variety of materials, with great accuracy
- PowerTilt Swing – angles an excavator’s bucket left or right – giving a greater range of accessibility for the operator
- Breaker – cut through concrete and other paved surfaces cleanly and quickly
- Hydraulic Thumb – sometimes called a clamp, this improves standard bucket allowing the operator to safely haul loose object while preventing movement and spills
- Grading Blade – smooth’s the surface of a variety of terrains
- Grapple – comparable to the hydraulic thumb, but more suited for hauling piping and trees, commonly used for land clearing and demolition
- Trencher – for plowing easily through rocky soil or sand, and from 2 to 5 feet deep and 4 to 12 inches wide
- Ripper – rapidly get through packed, frozen, or hard ground
- Flail Mower – usually used for farming and landscaping, this mower mulches and cuts grass and brush
- Packer Wheel – quickly and firmly packs the ground after trenching
More advanced add-on options to your mini excavator may include – monitoring systems, power-boost mode, climate-control cab, backfill blade, pilot hydraulic controls, and anti-vandalism features.
Remember, if you’re using an attachment that requires hydraulic power make sure your excavator is supplying the proper amount of hydraulic flow and pressure. Too little pressure and the performance will suffer, too much and you risk damage to the attachment.
Before finishing the purchase get all necessary information on:
- Training and safety
- EPA regulations
- Financing options
- Maintenance and on-site service
A mini excavator should be easy-to-use, versatile, durable, and most importantly reliable. The key guideline when shopping for a mini excavator is to keep in mind the job/project the machine will be used for. The size, type, and attachments should all work together to benefit and make your work more efficient. These tips, and understanding the specifications should help you narrow down your choices and make a confident and informed decision when buying a mini excavator.
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