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Best Plate Compactors 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

a plate-compactor in action

Are you tired of your gravel driveway? Do you want to put blacktop down instead? Maybe you already have blacktop, but you have more cars than you have parking spots.

If you’re going to make another spot, it is imperative that you prepare the ground properly to make sure that you don’t have problems further down the road.

The plate compactor will allow you to compress the ground where you want to lay blacktop.
This creates a smooth surface and packs the soil down to ensure you won’t have air pockets that can turn into sinkholes in the future

We have reviewed a lot of plate compactors and compiled a list of our top five picks. We will tell you a little about each one; the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Read on!

Comparison (updated in 2020)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
WEN 56035T WEN 56035T
  • Powerful 212 cc motor
  • 4496 pounds of force
  • Highly maneuverable
  • Second place
    NorthStar GX160 NorthStar GX160
  • Moves 65 to 82 feet per minute
  • Low fuel consumption
  • Easy to use
  • Best Value
    Third place
  • Stamped plate
  • Fold up transport wheels
  • 3 point vibrating absorbed Handle
  • Water tank
  • Radius base plate
  • Vibrator absorption
  • Dirty Hand Tools 104950 Vibratory Dirty Hand Tools 104950 Vibratory
  • Adjustable thumb controlled Throttle
  • Fold down transport wheels
  • Easy to use
  • The 5 Best Plate Compactors

    1. WEN 56035T Plate Compactor – Best Overall

    WEN 56035T Plate Compactor and Vibratory Asphalt/Soil Plate

    The WEN 56035T plate compactor has a powerful 212cc motorthat distinguishes it from most other options out there.. It has 4496 pounds of force, 5400 blows per minute, and moves up to 82 feet per minute.

    The 56035T is also highly maneuverable, featuring a convenient with a swing handle. It’s easy to use, but since it is a single plate and only moves forwards, it can be challenging to get around in small places.

    The plate is 24 inches by 17 ¾ inches and has contoured edges. We’ve found that the edges are a little too flat, though, causing it to dig into what you’re trying to level.

    There is also a portability concern. Though this compactor is easy to pack up and take with you once you get it to your trailer, it has no wheels so it can be tough to get from point A to point B.

    • Powerful 212 cc motor
    • 4496 pounds of force
    • 5400 blows per minute
    • Moves up to 82 feet per minute
    • 24 X 17 ¾ inch contoured edge Blade
    • Vibration isolators
    • Highly maneuverable
    • Swing handle
    • Easily transportable
    • No wheels
    • Digs in turning corners
    • Difficult to handle in small spaces

    2. NorthStar GX160 Plate Compactor

    NorthStar Close-Quarters Plate Compactor GX160

    The NorthStar close-quarters plate compactor comes with a powerful 163cc Honda GX160 engine This compactor has 2270 pounds of force, 5700 vibrations per minute, and can move 65 to 82 feet per minute.
    It also yields a 13 3/16-inch by 14 ¾-inch compacting plate. Decent numbers, though they don’t quite stack up to other similar units on the market. The NorthStar does the job, just not as good as the WEN 56035T.

    The NorthStar close-quarters is a small single plate compactor that only moves forward. It’s a small unit, so it is easy to use and move as you would like.

    One of the best things about this compactor, however, is that even though it has a powerful motor, it has very low fuel consumption.

    • 163cc Honda GX160 motor
    • 2270 pounds of force
    • 5700 vibrations per minute
    • Moves 65 to 82 feet per minute
    • 13 3/16 X 14 ¾ inch plate
    • Low fuel consumption
    • Easy to use
    • Lower compacting force
    • No wheels
    • Small

    3. YARDMAX YC0850 Plate Compactor – Best Value

    YARDMAX YC0850

    The Yardmax YC0850 is a self-propelled plate compactor with a 79cc, 2.5 horsepower engine that delivers 5900 blows per minute.

    It also has a stamped plate to flatten your space efficiently. Because of its three-point handle (with vibration absorption properties) the compactor is very comfortable to use.

    The YC0850 is a small plate compactor that is quite heavy. It would be challenging to transport, or even just get into storage if it didn’t have fold up transport wheels.

    The handles also fold and tuck in so as not to take up excessive storage space.
    Unfortunately, however, the folded handle does come into contact with the fuel tank, causing safety concerns.

    • 79cc, 2.5 hp engine
    • 5900 blows per minute
    • Stamped plate
    • Fold up transport wheels
    • 3 point vibrating absorbed Handle
    • Lower compacting force
    • No wheels
    • Small

    4. CORMAC C95TH Plate-Compactor


    The Cormac C95TH is a single, forward compactor that has a 60 X 46 plate, and a water tank to protect the cold plate from the heat of the asphalt

    It also features a radius base plate for easy turns, and lots of comfort-oriented features. The unit is vibration resistant and features a comfortable ergonomic handle most users will appreciate.

    The handle is very limited in how far it can move, though. This can make pushing it more uncomfortable, as can the exhaust blowing directly on your legs.

    Unfortunately, this plate compactor is not heavy duty enough to handle constant construction use. However, for the average homeowner who only uses it periodically, this machine will be fine.

    • Forward 60 X 46 plate
    • Water tank
    • Radius base plate
    • Vibrator absorption
    • Not for big jobs
    • Limited handle movement
    • Exhaust blows on legs

    5. Dirty Hand Tools Vibratory Plate Compactor

    Dirty Hand Tools 104950 Vibratory Plate Compactor

    The dirty hand tools 104950 vibratory plate compactor is good for the person who has small jobs to be done over a period of time..

    There are however some limitations to be mindful of. It’s not built to handle uneven ground, but will work in flattened areas. It’s also not very powerful making it best suited for light compacting action.

    On the plus side, it does have a thumb-controlled throttle, allowing you to make small adjustments quickly. It also has wheels that fold down to help when transporting. All in all, it is an easy machine to use. Which is a good thing because there is no owner’s manual or assembly instructions included.

    • Adjustable thumb controlled Throttle
    • Fold down transport wheels
    • Easy to use
    • Not much power
    • Light compacting action
    • Can only handle minimal compaction – basically flat
    • No owner’s manual
    • No assembly instructions

    Buyer’s Guide

    1. Types of plate compactors:

    Single-plate compactor:

    The single-plate compactor only goes forward. They are the most popular choice for smaller,simpler jobs.

    Reversible plate compactor:

    The reversible plate compactor will go in forward and reverse. Being able to move both directions allows you to move around freely to get the job done.

    High performance / heavy-duty plate compactor:

    The high-performance plate compactor is used most often for deeper depth compression

    2. Width:

    The width on these plate compactors ranges from 15-inch to 25-inches. 15-inch width is best for a smaller job, while 25-inch width is better for larger jobs. Keeping the width in alignment with your job will make your work easier.

    3. Centrifugal Force:

    Centrifugal force is the amount of power that your machine puts out. It’s usually between 3000 to 4000 pounds. The higher the number, the more power, and strength your machine will have. The higher the level, the better your results, but again, keep in mind that the size of your job is important. You may not need the biggest one on the market.

    4. Weight:

    You want to pay attention to the weight of the compactors you consider. Make sure the unit you get weighs enough to help with compression but is still easy to push.

    5. Amplitude:

    Amplitude tells you how hard the plate hits.

    6. Eccentric Frequency:

    Eccentric Frequency tells you the rate of speed of vibrations.

    7. Material of Plate:

    Make sure that your plate is made out of heavy-duty material that will give you the power that you need, and last you for a long time.

    • Cast Iron: Heavy; used on large compactors
    • Steel: Lighter; used on smaller compactors

    8. Shape of Plate:

    A curved plate makes the compactor easy to turn, and it doesn’t gouge the material  you are trying to press

    9. Water Tank:

    Make sure the one that you purchase has a water tank. The water acts as a barrier between the hot asphalt and the cold plate.

    10. Anti-vibration handle:

    You’ll also want to be on the lookout for options with an anti-vibration handle. Too much vibration will be uncomfortable, tire your arms quickly, and make your hands hurt.

    11. Swinging Handle:

    A swing handle allows you to rotate the handle around to make it easier for you to maneuver the compactor.

    Different size plate compactors are needed for different jobs. Know what you will be using yours for, and how big of an area that you need to cover before you start to shop.


    Now you know what to look for in a plate compactor. Hopefully, our review will help you decide which model of plate compactor is for you. Maybe it is one of the top five of our review picks. They are:

    1. WEN 56035T Plate Compactor and Vibratory Asphalt/Soil Plate – Top Pick

    2. NorthStar Close-Quarters Plate Compactor GX160 – The Runner-Up

    3. YARDMAX YC0850 – Best for the Money

    4. Cormac C95TH

    5. Dirty Hand Tools 104950 Vibratory Plate Compactor

    Plate compactors are a different kind of beast than most of us are used to using. You must read through your instruction manual before you start to use it. It will work better if you use it the way that it is supposed to be used.

    We hope you have learned a lot from our review. Take all of these notes into consideration and find the right model of plate compactor for you.

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