What to Know About Buying or Renting a Wood Chipper

Mon March 11, 2019
Forestry Equipment Guide

For those about to rent or buy a wood chipper, here is a list of the top features to consider in advance to help you pick the best option for your project:

1. Engine Displacement: Engine displacement refers to the volume of an engine's cylinders and is a general indicator of its power. In other words, the bigger the engine, the greater the power. Wood chippers generally measure engine power by cc, or cubic centimeters. Greater engine displacement results in a stronger, more capable machine.

2. Reduction Ratio: The reduction ratio determines the final amount of product. Therefore, a home user might choose a 10:1 reduction ratio, meaning that roughly 10 containers of yard waste are reduced to one container after chipping.

3. Self-Feeding: Self-feeding allows the user-operator to simply direct branches into the throat of the chipper, rather than pushing, or forcing the material in to be chipped. It contributes greatly to ease of use.

4. Throat Size: Along with self-feeding, buyers should consider the throat size, or width of the feeder. The throat determines both what diameter and condition of branch (meaning limbed, or viney, or still displaying leaves) it can easily process. Generally speaking, the narrower the feeder, the smaller the limb the chipper can effectively grind.

5. Weight & Size: The weight of a chipper determines its towability, and thus whether it will need separate transport licensing. This affects cost, and may be worth determining when deciding whether to lease or purchase. Along with weight is, of course, size: the larger the chipper, the heavier the limbs it can process. A further factor in size relates to the number of axles needed, whether single, tandem, or single-axle dual wheel.

6. Power Source: Electric, Gas, or Diesel: Electric chippers run cleaner than gas versions, and are quieter, too. No oil changes or spark plug replacements are necessary. However, gas chippers are more mobile since they needn't be plugged in. More powerful than electric versions, they also run louder and emit fumes some users might find unpleasant. Gas chippers are almost always more costly as well.

7. Towable Vs. Track: Towable chippers are extremely mobile. However, situations do arise when it's extremely useful for a chipper to operate with a track movement system, such as when a large area must be cleared, especially if rough terrain is involved.

8. Discs or Drums: The choice of disc or drum-type cutting mechanisms affect machine capability. Disc mechanisms have greater energy efficiency, while drum chippers are more productive as result of consistent cutting proficiency. Generally speaking, discs are better suited for viney or stringy material or heavy brush. The size of the job at hand, or planned future usage will help determine which cutting mechanism best suits your needs.

9) Construction of Chipper: The heavier the construction material, the more durable your chipper will be. Thick, welded 10- to 16-gauge steel is your best choice, and ensures you will get years of use from your machine.

Specialized Features

The following features also contribute to operation ease and convenience:

Some machines offer a "SmartFeed" option that comes equipped with a stop-and-reverse feed roller to better process large, hardwood material that could temporarily pause or delay chipping.

An EcoIdle engine control system conserves fuel and operates more quietly by reducing engine speed after one or five minutes of inactivity, depending on user preference. This feature is available on chippers made by the Vermeer Corporation.

Some chippers are operable by remote control, allowing users to work the machine from varied distances. This feature can be especially useful when handling a track-equipped chipper.

Whatever type of chipper you choose, remember to always wear protective glasses and thick gloves for handling thorny trees or branches. Your safety is paramount, no matter the task at hand.

So… What Will It Cost?

Let's say you've determined that you need a wood chipper for a one-time project. How much can you expect to pay for chipper rentals? What's a reasonable price?

Obviously, prices vary depending on where you are and what you need. Professional and project-oriented chippers come in an array of capabilities and sizes. Let's take a look at some of the options out there.

In the Midwest, rental prices for a 2-in. capacity chipper range from $67 for four hours; $96 per day; $384 per week, and $1,152 per month from Home Depot. The chipper comes with a trailer. Delivery costs $69 plus tax one way, and is available only for full day rentals. This could be a good option for those needing temporary access, and with the means to return the equipment.

In Norristown, Pa., the costs for a 2-in. chipper from Home Depot run slightly higher, at $69 for four hours, $99 for the whole day, $396 for a week and $1,188 per month. Delivery remains the same at $69 one way for an entire day only.

Prices drop again at Home Depot in Pearland, Texas at $68 for four hours. $97 for the whole day; $388 for a week, and $1164 for a month. Delivery rates and terms remain steady at $69 with trailer.

The West Coast – specifically, in La Habra, in Orange County, Calif. – doesn't cost much more. The usual $69 for four hours; $98 for the whole day; $392 for a week and $1,176 for a month. One difference is the $150 deposit fee required.

But what about renting from an independent or smaller local chain? Do prices automatically recede?

Not necessarily. At CCM Rentals in Ohio, a 6-in. branch chipper (note the larger capacity; a 2-in. chipper was not available) rents for $130 for 4 hours; $165 for 8 hours; a seven day week for $740, and a month for $1,850. Equipment delivery and pickup is available for roughly $85, depending on distance.

At Taylor Rentals in Naples, Fla., a 6-in. chipper rents for $325 per day, and $1,300 per week. Delivery and pick-up costs vary with distance.

In Plymouth, Mass., at NorthEast Rentals, an 8-in. chipper costs $180 for four hours; $270 for a day; and $840 for a week.

In Arizona, A to Z Equipment Rental offers 2-in., 6-in. and 12-in. capacity chippers for rent.

A 2-in. chipper costs $120 for four hours; $160 for a full day; $500 for a week, and $1500 for a month.

A 6-in. chipper costs $320 for four hours; $420 for a full day; $1500 per week and $4000 for a month.

A 12-in. chipper costs $450 for four hours; $550 for a full day; $2,800 per week, and $6,500 for a month.

Delivery and pick up are available but depend wholly on the location, and whether the customer can accommodate a two-hour window or requires a specific time.

At Pilchuk Rentals in Marysville, Wash., a 6-in. chipper rents for $95 for four hours; $235 for a day, and $940 for a week. A 4-in. chipper sells for $1,995.

Pickup within 5 miles costs $20.

As always, call well ahead of time to make certain you can reserve the machine you need at the time you want. And confirm that that handy friend is available too, so you don't get stuck with all the work!

Prices are accurate as of this writing but may change at any time.