Chipper shredders. Now here’s a class of tool that the typical DIYer doesn’t run into every day unless they work for a landscaping or tree management company. But, when you do need one, they are worth their weight in gold. Plus, they can be satisfying to use as they convert tree limbs and branches into useful mulch. By the way, did you know that the first chipper shredder was invented in Germany in 1884? The tool quickly gained popularity and became the primary core of the inventor’s tool repair and manufacturing business.
In this post, you’ll find reviews of six offerings in the chipper shredder category. Just like nearly every other category of tools, the number of choices in chipper shredders is downright amazing. There are traditional gas-powered options along with a growing number of electric alternatives. The two electric models we review are plug-in, as the demand created by chipping and shredding makes short work of a battery. Give the manufacturers time, though, and they’ll figure out how to build batteries that can handle the job. Ready? Time to pick your ideal chipper shredder!
|Earthquake 30520 Compact Chipper Shredder|
|YARDMAX YW7565 Wood Chipper Shredder||226 lbs||4.65/5|
|GreatCircleUSA 7HP 212cc Wood Chipper Shredder||132 lbs||4.6/5|
|Sun Joe CJ602E Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder|
(Best for the Money)
|WEN 41121 Rolling Electric||23 lbs||4.2/5|
|Brush Master CH4M17 Commercial Duty||250 lbs||3.8/5|
Taking our top pick position as the best chipper shredder for home use and composting is the aptly named Earthquake 30520. And what a beautiful piece of machinery it is. This bad boy is tops in every category. It has the best warranty, it has the best reduction ratio, and it happens to be the lightest of the gas engine contenders.
You’ll notice that we mention reduction ratio again. Why is that important? That ratio tells you how small the tool’s output is going to be. In the case of the powerful Earthquake, it is 20:1. Smaller bits make better ground cover when you’re chipping wood and compost faster when you’re shredding.
Here are the positive aspects of this chipper shredder.
We’re hard-pressed to come up with significant negatives for the Earthquake 30520. In our opinion, the thing that could make a fantastic chipper shredder even better is the wheels. They are a bit too narrow. They have a great diameter (11”), but their 2” width means the Earthquake will be more challenging to move when the ground is soft or soggy.
Polling second is the YARDMAX (no, we aren’t yelling, their logo really is in all caps😊) YW7565. Compared to the Earthquake, it’s a tough competitor with its similarly sized gas-powered, 4-cycle engine (208 cc vs. 212). It comes from a company with an excellent reputation for quality yard and landscape tools, so it has good DNA backing it up.
This is a no-frills chipper shredder. It’s focused on making little pieces out of big pieces, and YARDMAX has built it to last. Because it lacks frills, you don’t find the niceties like an electric start or an included debris bag, a couple of the reasons why the Earthquake stormed into our Top Pick position for the best chipper shredder.
Here are the primary points in the YW7565’s favor.
The negatives for this tool that put it in second place are listed below.
The bronze medalist in our chipper shredder picks comes from GreatCircleUSA. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re the company that owns more recognizable names like Goodyear and Kichener. How does it stack up to the top two finishers? Very well, overall. This chipper shredder boasts all-steel construction, a powerful 212 cc, 4-cycle gas engine, and a low oil shutoff sensor.
You can also purchase a vacuum kit, and it ships with a debris collector bag. Like the Earthquake, this unit has a separate chute for limbs and a hopper for smaller debris. Below are the things we like about this chipper shredder.
What was it that knocked the GreatCircleUSA candidate to third place? In a word, bad reviews. Sorry, that’s two words. Anyway, the chipper shredder was given negative reviews that appear centered on poor manufacturing and assembly. When the unit arrives and is not the victim of sloppy factory work, it performs beautifully. But, if it doesn’t, performance can be terrible. Here are the knocks that put this tool into the #3 slot.
It looks good with the design, materials, and accessories but, we are putting a caution on this chipper shredder. It’s a roll of the dice regarding whether or not you get a good product or a dud.
We’re taking a breather from the gas-powered machines to examine two electric chipper shredders. The first one is from a company that only makes electric tools. On the snow side, their offering is called Snow Joe. So, it seems appropriate that their chipper shredder is classified in their Sun Joe line.
If you live on a typical residential lot with few mature trees to contend with, this is the best value for the money. It has a rugged build, a high reduction ratio of 17:1, a 2-year warranty, and is compact and light, making it easy to handle and store. This tool will handle branches up to 1.57” in diameter, plus the clippings from bushes and shrubs, without blinking an eye. It also has a hopper safety, so the motor won’t operate if the hopper is open.
Here are the things that we like about our “Best for the Money” champion.
Like the Earthquake that holds Top Pick honors, there isn’t much to dislike about the CJ602E. But we dug deep and came away with some for your consideration. None are deal-breakers in our opinion.
Tip: The performance of an electric tool like the Sun Joe will fall off from voltage drop when connected with a long, improperly sized extension cord. Be sure that you buy an extension cord rated for outdoor use that meets the specifications listed in your owner’s manual. We recommend 12-gauge wire for all cords, even those that are 50 feet or less.
WEN has a reputation for quality, reliable tools and their 41121 chipper shredder lives up to the reputation. It matches up well in terms of features and capabilities with the Sun Joe. The 41121 can handle branches up to 1.5” in diameter. It has a 15 Amp electric motor like the Sun Joe. It comes with the same hopper safety feature and a push paddle. In other words, it makes another excellent budget buy for suburban and city homeowners.
Here are the things we like about this WEN option.
Again, there isn’t much to dislike about the WEN versus the Sun Joe. The Sun Joe gets the nod for having reversible blades which double the life of those critical components, and it has better safety features. Even so, the WEN is a great, budget-friendly choice.
Tip: When running electric yard tools like the WEN and Sun Joe, be sure the circuit you plug into can withstand the load created by a 15 Amp electric motor. As you feed your machine branches and yard waste, the demand on the circuit is going to surge. If it is protected by a lower amperage breaker, your workday is going to be marred by frequent breaker resets.
The last chipper shredder in our reviews is the Brush Master CH4M17 Commercial Duty. The name screams “heavy duty beast.” And, its appearances and specifications seem to confirm that sentiment. It’s the biggest, heaviest, and most powerful tool of our six reviewees. Even its color (battleship gray) says, “power!”
Here are the pluses for this chipper shredder.
You would think with great power comes great performance. Alas, that is not the case with the CH4M17. Here’s where we find this to be an option you should not consider, especially the last point. It is rare for any gas-powered tool to catch fire, so that is definitely a deal breaker.
With such an abundance of choices, how do you weed through all the competing claims and feature sets to grab the one that is perfect for your needs? We always advise folks to research before buying anything, tools or otherwise. But, before starting your research, you must determine what you want and need the machine to do for you. For instance, if you live on a heavily wooded piece of land with a lot of tree limb debris, you are going to want a more powerful chipper shredder, one with the capacity to handle larger diameters of wood. If you live on a typical residential lot where your debris is usually hedge and bush trimmings, an electric chipper shredder might be perfect.
While reading these reviews, keep your needs in mind. We recommend that you concentrate on a few key characteristics. These are:
Other things to consider are the size of the tool; will you be able to store it conveniently? And the weight; will you be able to maneuver it by yourself?
PSA: Danger, Will Robinson! No, Lost in Space did not feature a chipper shredder in an episode that we can recall, but it’s always fun to mimic Will’s faithful robot companion. Chipper shredders are tools that must be treated with respect. The owner manuals specify eye, ear, hand, and body protection when using the tool. We cannot emphasize the importance of following these recommendations to the letter. You must:
We’ve provided you with a lot of information in these six reviews. To make it easy for you to use this data in your shopping efforts, we include a table below with the essential characteristics you should consider when deciding on your purchase.
Our bottom line for these reviews is the Earthquake 30520 is the best candidate for you if you need the power and capability of a gas-powered chipper shredder. It offers the best combination of features and power for the money.
For the typical lighter duty homeowner requirements, we recommend the Sun Joe as the best buy. If your needs are met with a chipper shredder that can handle a maximum branch size of 1.57”, you can’t go wrong with the Sun Joe.
If you don’t like or cannot get either of the two noted above, the YARDMAX and WEN options are good second choices.
We strongly urge you to stay away from the Brush Master. You want a chipper shredder that you can count on when the chips are down (you don’t know how long we’ve wanted to say that), or in this case, when you need to put some chips down. The Brush Master is not that tool.
We hope this information will assist you in finding and buying the perfect chipper shredder for your home use and composting.