The Best Wood Chippers of 2023 - Gas and Electric Wood Chippers

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Clean up your property with the help of these expert-recommended gas and electric wood chippers. Belt Brush Chipper

The Best Wood Chippers of 2023 - Gas and Electric Wood Chippers

Maintaining a yard is challenging enough, and the difficulty only compounds when you don’t have an efficient way of dealing with the yard waste you generate. Many homeowners spend hours raking twigs and leaves into bags or bins, but there is a much better way: using a wood chipper.

Wood chippers chop up branches, twigs, and leaves into smaller chips that can come in handy as a nutrient-rich mulch for your garden beds, a decorative ground cover for your walkways or landscaping, or as kindling in your wood stove or fire pit.

Whether you’re buying your first chipper or upgrading your last machine, we’ve scoured the market to find the best wood chippers for various home and professional needs, plus advice to consider before you buy.

When it comes to chopping up yard waste, there are two options that are often confused for one another: wood chippers and leaf mulchers, also called leaf shredders.

If you’re dealing with mostly fallen branches, opt for a chipper. For yards with a lot of leaves to clear, we recommend a leaf shredder.

Chippers use sharp metal blades that rotate on a rotor to break down large, solid pieces of wood into chips between one and three inches long. Mulchers use semi-blunt blades that spin on a drum to shred small, soft organic material like leaves and small twigs into fine pieces.

While some manufacturers claim that their wood chippers can do both, we recommend only investing in dual chipper-shredders with separate input chutes for each function. All chippers can shred to a certain extent, but those with separate hoppers work much more efficiently and effectively.

Capable of chipping branches between one-half and two inches in diameter, electric wood chippers are best suited for light-duty applications.

This is the quietest, lightest, and most affordable variety of wood chipper, but also the least powerful. Because these need to be plugged into a standard electrical outlet, their portability is limited despite the lightweight design.

Gas wood chippers are larger and more powerful than electric models, but also more expensive. Gas machines are commonly equipped with four to ten horsepower engines, typically capable of chipping branches up to three inches in diameter.

As a general rule, a chipper with a larger engine will generate more torque, which can help prevent the machine from jamming up when you put larger and harder materials inside. 

Aside from being more powerful, one of the greatest advantages of gas wood chippers is the portability, because they don’t need an external power supply to operate. However, gas machines require more routine maintenance, like changing the oil and replacing belts.

A power take-off, or PTO, wood chipper derives its power from the engine of a tractor that has a compatible PTO connection. 

PTO chippers are larger and more powerful than gas and electric chippers, but they’re also the most expensive. Additionally, they require a compatible tractor to operate.

Reduction ratio refers to the chip size the chipper produces in relation to size of the original material. Most wood chippers range from 8:1 to 20:1, meaning that it can reduce the material down to an eighth of its original size or a 20th, respectively.

To use your wood chips for garden mulch and surface coverings, prioritize a higher reduction ratio—though this usually comes with a higher price tag, too.

Capacity refers to the largest branch diameter that the wood chipper can effectively chip. For example, a chipper with a three-inch capacity can chip branches three inches in diameter or smaller. This generally caps out around four inches for consumer chippers, with high-capacity chippers at the top of the price range.

I’m a home improvement writer with over a decade of experience in a variety of trades, including tree work. I was a professional tree climber in northern California, where I scaled some of the tallest trees in the world and gained extensive first-hand experience with wood chippers.

My initial exposure to wood chippers was at my first job as a ranch hand, and I continue to occasionally use them on the permaculture farm where I live in northern Idaho.

When making my selections, I weighed the features and characteristics of each chipper against what I found to be the most advantageous during my professional experience in the tree care industry. Additionally, I sought to include a wide range of choices based on the type of chipper, specific applications, and budget.

When it comes to power and multipurpose functionality, GreatCircleUSA offers one of the best wood chippers available. This three-in-one model is equipped with a large top hopper for shredding leaves or small twigs and a side hopper for chipping branches up to three inches in diameter—all at an impressive 15:1 reduction ratio.

To maximize the chipper’s versatility, GreatCircleUSA also offers a separate vacuum attachment for sucking up leaves and twigs without having to bend over. The chipper is equipped with a sturdy handle and rugged wheels to make it easy to move around manually.

If you’re interested in saving money and space without skimping on quality, Sun Joe’s 15-amp wood chipper includes an impressive range of features for such an affordable price.

The combination of its light weight, small size, and sturdy wheels makes it easy to store and transport, yet the machine remains powerful enough to process branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter with a 17:1 reduction ratio. Even though that’s the smallest chipping capacity on the list, it still remains an excellent option for anyone on a budget who wants to turn their yard waste into usable ground cover.

The Landworks mini wood chipper and mulcher lends power and versatility without compromising on mobility. It has a 7 horsepower engine and is capable of chipping branches up to 3 inches wide with a 15:1 reduction ratio. The large hopper can easily swallow twigs, leaves, and other yard waste.

Despite its impressive stats, it weighs only 99.8 pounds and is equipped with two large wheels for transporting around your property. Perhaps the most unique feature is the adjustable discharge chute that lets you eject the chipped material at a 90- to 145-degree angle.

Electric wood chippers have a number of advantages, but chipping capacity usually isn’t one of them. With its 2.5-inch capacity, the Patriot Products 1.5-horsepower chipper changes that.

You can chip large branches through the side chute, then flip the switch to feed leaves and smaller branches through the top. The chipper has wheels and weighs just 95 pounds, so you can easily move it around your property.

Patriot Products also sells a heavy-duty 100-foot extension cord that it recommends customers use with the chipper.

If you have a tractor with a PTO attachment and need the largest chipping capacity possible, Titan Attachments’ PTO chipper is a must-have. It boasts the ability to chip branches—even entire trees—up to four inches in diameter at a reduction ratio of 20:1.

Oversized rotors mean you don’t have to worry about this chipper clogging or jamming on large-diameter branches. The adjustable discharge chute lets you direct the chips exactly where you want them, and the detachable feed chute makes it simpler to store and transport.

This chipper is compatible with most tractor brands and models with engines up to 40 horsepower, but if you have a tractor with a larger engine, Titan Attachments makes a larger version of this chipper, too.

Sun Joe’s Electric Silent Wood Chipper is the perfect solution for smaller yards and spaces. Its compact size makes it easy to maneuver around your yard and store in your shed, and at a mere 38.6 pounds, it’s fairly effortless to transport.

Most impressive of all is its reduction ratio of 21:1 that will turn your leaves and branches into incredibly fine mulch. Sun Joe even includes a paddle feeder to assist with putting the branches and leaves into the hopper.

If you’re looking for a chipper with as much power as possible, the 10-horsepower engine on this Patriot Products gas wood chipper delivers the torque you need to splinter the hardest branches. To help you stay on top of routine maintenance, an oil sensor indicator informs you when it’s time to change the oil.

Patriot Products also offers several accessories to optimize this machine’s versatility, including a tow bar for transporting it with a vehicle and a jumbo collection bag with twice the storage capacity of standard bags.

Constantly bending over to collect leaves and brush can be a pain—literally and figuratively. Fortunately, the vacuum attachment on this 3-in-1 DK2 Power wood chipper helps you avoid that.

Along with the functionality of a standard hopper that can chip branches up to three inches wide with a 8.5:1 reduction ratio, the vacuum hose attachment has an ergonomic handle that sucks up leaves and debris quickly and easily. And unlike most other chippers, this model comes with a removable and reversible tow bar that lets you maneuver it manually or with a vehicle.

With a large castor wheel on one side of the hitch, you can push the chipper by hand when the wheel is on the ground. Then you can flip the hitch around so it’s facing up and off the ground when you want to move it with your vehicle.

J.F.: The first, and most important, step is to wear the proper personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, hearing protection, and possibly gloves. Place the chipper on an even, stable surface and check the hopper and ejection chute for any obstructions. Either attach the provided collection bag to the ejection chute or aim the chute to the area you want the chips to land.

Turn the chipper on and start feeding the material you want to chip into the hopper, making sure to place the appropriate material into the designated hopper if your chipper is equipped with separate chutes. When feeding branches, insert the widest portion of the branch (often the end that you cut, at the base of the branch) into the hopper first.

J.F.: While not an exhaustive list, some of the items that are commonly (either intentionally or intentionally) put into a chipper that shouldn’t be include: rocks, pet waste and manure, pressure-treated lumber, sappy pinewood, palm fronds, vines, and butcher waste.

J.F.: As a general rule, a wood chipper’s blades should be sharpened after 25 to 50 hours of use depending on the type of material you’re chipping, whether the blades encounter any rocks or metal, and the quality of the blades. 

The best indication that your blades need to be sharpened is when the wood chips are coming out larger than usual or particularly rough. Chipper blades can often be sharpened three times before needing to be replaced.

James Fitzgerald is a home improvement freelance writer with over a decade of experience in a variety of trades—he has worked as a ranch hand, construction carpenter, tree climber, maintenance technician, and handyman. His freelance work focuses on DIY, landscaping, gardening, and home improvement. James’s writing has appeared in Bob Villa, The Family Handyman, The Spruce, HomeServe USA, Forbes Home, and This Old House. 

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The Best Wood Chippers of 2023 - Gas and Electric Wood Chippers

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