Settling on the right chipper shredder took time, analysis, and then several rounds of testing before we could settle on the right one for the average home. After a week of afternoons and a ton of chipped and shredded waste we settled on the YARDMAX YW7565 Chipper Shredder as the best chipper shredder for the average home but all of the ones we tested were great for someone in the end.
This gas powered chipper-shredder performed the second best out of the different options we tried, but it came out ahead due to its fuel-efficient motor, price, and portability around the yard. For medium to large yards it’s an excellent, durable option which should last for years to come.Buy Now
Table of Contents
How We Selected Products
In a fortunate coincidence, landscaping companies are extremely common and most of them have an opinion on chipper shredders. We called six companies to start making a list, but the name which popped up again and again was Patriot Products.
We picked up an electric and a gas model to try them out side by side.
YARDMAX also earned enough mentions that we decided to include one of their products which ended up being our favorite.
From there we decided that we needed to test out a towable model for those with larger properties and to find something on the cheaper side for those who aren’t going to get a ton of use out of their chipper but might need one regardless.
We settled on the BRUSH MASTER CH4M17 420cc for the towable model after checking out reviews and asking a few owners of large property what brand they’d recommend going with. The 420cc model seemed to have a good reputation for being a great workhorse model so we picked one up.
For the cheaper model we had to go with online reviews. The thing is that most of the people we called up who even knew what a chipper/shredder was were using them in some sort of professional capacity. Those who weren’t had larger properties where a budget option wasn’t going to suit them.
We settled on the SunJoe CJ601E after a lot of research. It didn’t look like it had the durability of the more industrial style chipper/shredder models we looked at but it certainly looked like it was up to the job of handling a regular sized yard and it didn’t require gasoline to function which was a bonus.
We originally considered going all electric for this guide but we shortly realized that wasn’t really feasible. There are a lot of electric models out there… and most of them aren’t very good.
How We Tested The Chipper/Shredders
Once they’d all arrived we unpacked and assembled them. We had access to two messy properties covering a total of about 15 acres.
Both were pretty much covered in fallen oak, meaning we had access to sticks, limbs, and other pieces of yard waste which were ideal fodder for the testing.
In an unfortunate twist, only one of the yards had easy power access. This left us with the choice of either using our two electric models only on one property, or getting a generator in order to power them.
Patriot Products recommends keeping the device within 100 feet of a generator if you’re going to use one, but we weren’t sure how much we trusted the Sun Joe so we decided to just run a 50 foot extension cord at one location and drag the feed to the machine.
To make sure we got an even run on each of them we had to decide on a few tests:
- The Limb Test-Grabbing a big pile of limbs which were at or around the maximum feed capacity of the shredder, we pushed them through and checked on the consistency of the end product as well as taking notes on the feed rate.
- Sticks and Twigs-We fed a bunch of smaller stuff through after moving the larger piles, again measuring the consistency of the end product and taking notes on whether we ran into any issues while feeding the machine.
- The Shred Test- We ripped up a bunch of greenery from around the property, some wet and some dry, and fed it through the machine to see what would happen and how the mulch came out.
- Run Test-For the gasoline powered models we filled them up with a half tank and decided to see how long they’d run.
- Portability-For the non-towable models we dragged them around the yard to get a feel for how easy they were to move. The terrain was fairly rough, so we knew hard going was ahead, but if you’re planning on handling a bigger property then you’re likely going to have to deal with hills and brush one way or the other.
- The Real Deal-Like usual when we’re working with yard equipment, after our careful testing we did our best to clean up the properties over the course of three days. We did a good job too, if you ask us, but in the interest of getting the most out of the machines run time we assigned two people to each of the chipper/shredders and ran them for eight hours a day to see how they held up.
The Patriot Products CSV-3065B was undoubtedly the most powerful of the chipper/shredders that we tested. It had the largest capacity, actually worked at it’s capacity, and made short work of everything we threw at it.
It also went through more fuel than any of the others by a long shot, which means it’s more costly to run.
The YARDMAX TW7565 held its own with the more expensive gas powered models that we tested out. It worked up to capacity, shredded extremely well, and was surprisingly fuel-efficient thanks to the smaller 208cc motor.
It was also easier to work and move around since it weighed less, which is exactly why it took our top spot. Not everyone needs their chipper/shredder for heavy-duty work and it will handle anything up to medium-duty efficiently. Our favorite part was the almost ridiculously oversized funnel of course, since it made handling the shredding material much easier.
The electric models were much less powerful. The Patriot CSV-2515 had a smaller capacity than the gasoline powered models which we tested out but it handled things nearly as well as it’s bigger brother.
The Sun Joe CJ601E had some serious problems when it came to work capacity. For the last day of testing we just abandoned it to make sure that we managed to get the yards we tested in cleaned as much as possible.
For someone without any serious trees, however, it’d make a nice way to turn small sticks and yard waste into compost or a reasonably consistent mulch for plant beds. The good thing is that this small, cheap chipper/shredder actually managed to hold up over the course of testing without running into any durability issues.
Finally, the BRUSH MASTER CH4M17 managed to impress just about everyone, including the land owners. It’s also prohibitively expensive for the average household and we really only recommend it if you’re cleaning up a huge property on a regular basis.
There wasn’t really anything wrong with it, and the all-steel construction is sure to last for years, it’s just way, way too much for most households.
We were pretty pleased with our choices and declined to test out a few of the products we had on the backburner in case the Sun Joe model didn’t work out since they were all solid and reliable machines with the main difference being their work capacity.
One other thing we noticed during our testing: make sure your circuits can handle the 14-amp load of the electric chippers. It’s a huge power draw and you can pop a breaker pretty easily if anything else is running at the same time.
Top 5 Chipper/Shredders
|YARDMAX YW7565 Chipper Shredder||Gas Powered||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp||Electric||5/5||Check Price|
|Patriot Products CSV-3065B 6.5 HP Briggs & Stratton||Gas Powered||5/5||Check Price|
|BRUSH MASTER CH4M17 420cc||Gas Powered||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Sun Joe CJ601E 14-Amp||Electric||3.5/5||Check Price|
1. Best Overall
YARDMAX YW7565 Chipper Shredder
Of the easily accessible shredders on the market, the YARDMAX YW7565 was our favorite for most people. It’s the least powerful of the gas-fed models which we tested out but it’s also an impressive machine in it’s own right.
The YARDMAX is powered by a 208cc gasoline motor which provides an impressive amount of power directly to the blades. Add in a 3” chipper capacity and you’ve got something which can handle most yard waste with ease.
On top of that, it’s easy to operate and has a hopper that we feel is just about perfect. It’s enormous, we were able to dump literal trash bags of leaves and twigs into it without having to worry about how quickly we were handling things. The self-feed took care of the rest.
Feed leaves and twigs into the larger section and larger branches in through the smaller port on the side while it’s running… and that’s pretty much it. We had zero difficulties running it in the field.
The smaller motor is an advantage for those who aren’t going through acres of property. While it’s a bit slower than the Patriot model we tested out it also consumed much less fuel over time. About 50% less according to our notes.
It did have more trouble with green wood than we would have liked. While it handled it up to about three inches it also took quite some time to do so and on our “real deal” test we stuck to using the Patriot and Brush Master models for larger pieces of green wood to speed things up.
In our maneuverability test it scored high marks. It was easier to move than the Patriot Product models by a long shot but comparing it the Sun Joe wouldn’t really be fair considering their enormous difference in size.
If you want a hassle-free, high-quality chipper/shredder which can handle most people’s yard waste quickly and easily then this is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
- 3” capacity makes short work of most yard waste
- Large hopper for feeding smaller waste
- Portable around the yard with pneumatic wheels and a stand
- Simple to work on and maintain
- Doesn’t like wet wood, feed green stuff slowly
- No safety guard on muffler, be careful to avoid burns
2. Best Electric Wood Chipper
Patriot Products CSV-2515 14 Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
Patriot Products produces a line of utterly fantastic tools that are American made and extremely tough. They’re also expensive but we heard the name so many times from landscapers we had to give them a shot.
This 14 amp wood chipper has a 2 ½” capacity. We fed it consistently around capacity for about three days and found it was no worse for the wear by the time we were done.
Since it only weighs 95lbs we also found it to be much more maneuverable than the gas-powered model. It readily rode through the rough terrain thanks to it’s wheeled design and while we wouldn’t want to haul it too far we had no issues dragging it the quarter mile that we used for our maneuverability test.
It ate and ate and ate. It also produced a great consistency when shredding. We couldn’t see any real wear apart from some scratches by the time the testing was done and the motor certainly hadn’t slowed down.
The problems it had were tied to electric models in general: you need a cord, they can pop breakers, and they just don’t have the same working capacity as gasoline powered models. We’d recommend it for a medium-sized yard if you don’t want to bother with a gas model however.
If you’re dead set on getting the best electric wood chipper around then you want to open your pocket book and make the investment in the CSV-2515. American-made, super tough and light, it’s the best electric chipper/shredder around by a long shot.
- 2 ½” capacity
- Super light and easily maneuverable
- American made
- Low maintenance motor is super durable
- Not suitable for tons of wet material
3. Best for Large Backyards
Patriot Products CSV-3065B 6.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Gas Powered Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
We bought two of the Patriot Products chipper/shredder models to test and this gasoline powered model is a beast.
This time around it came with a 6.5HP Briggs & Stratton powered chipper that has a 3” loading capacity. When fed it made short work of everything with no discrimination. Leaves, twigs, branches, wet or dry, whatever we stuffed in there it pushed through with absolutely no issues.
It was more maneuverable than we were expecting, although it’s still a gas powered model so it wasn’t perfect in that regard. The YARDMAX model was easier to move around however.
It got expensive to run in a hurry, however. It’s a serious gas hog, pushing a ton of fuel through it’s enormous motor which we thinks makes it a less attractive option for those not using it professionally.
It was also a little bit more complex to use than the YARDMAX. We’re not sure how big of an issue it is, the two reviewers assigned to this one had it down within an hour but if you’re not mechanically inclined in the first place you may have a bit of trouble running it to it’s potential.
If you’re looking for a high-end gas powered shredder and you’re willing to spend some serious money… Patriot Products has your back. For most homes it’s not really a requirement however.
- 6.5HP engine shreds through wood
- 3” capacity can handle most backyard branches
- Easy to start motor
- Can handle green and wet wood
- Takes some getting used to for optimal feed rates
4. Best Towable Chipper/Shredder
BRUSH MASTER CH4M17 420cc
When it comes to towables, we have to take some different standards into effect. The Brush Master CH4M17 has a 420cc engine powering it and the ability to handle limbs of up to 4” in diameter.
And handle them it did. We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t rely heavily on this machine in order to get as much of the yard clearing done as possible in the last day of our testing.
It’s really not fair to compare it to the other models, however, as this model is built solely for large properties and professional use. It’s just too expensive and large for someone to want to place it in the backyard of a normal residential home.
The tow bar is incredibly well-built. We dragged it over some rough terrain on the back of the truck without any issues whatsoever. We wouldn’t recommend serious off-roading with it attached, but that’s true for any trailer.
The shredding function did have one problem: the reduction wasn’t quite as much as we found in our other models. While the sticks and twigs which went through it became great chips the larger size seems to have made the shredded end-product a bit bigger and less consistent than we would have really liked.
As for gas? This beast of a shredder went through a lot of it during our testing. Perhaps a bit too much in the end but it was the most portable option when it came to longer hauls.
Overall, this is the most powerful and versatile of the chipper/shredders on our list. It’s also a bit of a gas hog and overkill for the majority of homes. If you have an actual homestead or a business that needs one of these tools, however, it’s definitely worth the investment.
- Can handle up to 4” branches
- 420cc, reliable motor
- 12:1 reduction ratio
- Integrated tow bar
- Uses a lot of gas
5. Best Budget Chipper/Shredder
Sun Joe CJ601E 14-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder
If you just need something cheap to take care of a smaller yard, this 14 amp electric wood chipper/shredder might be exactly what you’re looking for. We liked it… but we may have outmatched it with our testing grounds.
Its capacity is pretty light, coming in at only 1.5” branches or smaller, but it has a huge reduction ratio that’ll turn it into fine mulch in a matter of seconds. If it fits, however, you’ll end up with a super fine mulch or shredded end product that had a great consistency.
As long as you’re careful with this machine it runs extremely well. If you’re not careful, however, then this is not the machine for you. We heard the reports about it jamming and breaking if overfed before we brought it out to the testing grounds and made sure not to overfill it.
It worked a little bit slower than the rest, it couldn’t hold quite as much as the rest, but it was also really maneuverable around the sites and it’s lightweight enough that we think it’s a great option for homes with smaller backyards.
We were kind of perturbed to see that it used the same amperage as the Patriot Products electric model we tested, however. It seems kind of insane when you consider the widely different work capacities.
We also think it would have been nice to have a funnel of some sort, and there’s no self-feeding options available here so you’ll have to jam stuff through by hand which further complicates things.
If you’re just needing a chipper/shredder for a regular sized backyard without a lot of big trees, however, the SunJoe CJ601E is pretty much ideal. It’ll handle most yard waste easily and give you great mulch in return. Just don’t go there if you have a ton of waste to handle.
- 16:1 reduction ratio
- Electric motor, no gas required
- Full 2 year warranty
- Great customer service from the company
- Needs to be babied a bit to increase longevity
- Small capacity compared to the other units on our list
What is a Chipper/Shredder?
There are a lot of different machines out there to take care of yard waste.
They can generally be separated into the following three categories:
- Wood Chippers- Made to handle branches and larger pieces of wood, these machines tend to be super loud, super effective, and are what most people think of. They’re really too big to be suitable for the average home, however, and your neighbors are going to complain about the powerful motor running in most environments.
- Wood Shredders- A bit smaller than wood chippers and a bit less powerful. These machines can be found in both electric and gas powered varieties and are designed to take care of smaller branches and twigs.
- Mulchers- A mulcher takes care of leaves and other smaller, softer debris. They’re quite small when used on a residential scale and not made to handle harder waste like branches at all.
A chipper/shredder fits neatly between the first two categories.
This makes them ideal for those who are planning on cleaning up yards with trees. They come in a wide variety of powers, neatly filling the spectrum between chippers and shredders to provide a huge amount of utility for the average yard.
If you’ve got branches and trim your trees a couple of times a year, then you may just want to make the investment in order to save on time and labor.
Electric vs. Gas Chipper/Shredders
As with all of the big outdoor tools, your first quality to take a good look at is whether you want to go with a gas or electric powered tool.
The breakdown comes out as follows:
Electric chipper/shredders are going to be less powerful as a whole. They’re also a lot more convenient to use and you’ll quickly find that they’re up to the task for most yards. You’ll want to skip them if you have a ton of large debris, however.
Gas powered models, on the other hand, are super powerful. They’re also loud and will require you to retrieve gasoline in order to power them. If you’ve got a lot of large branches and other heavy debris then you’ll want to opt for this one.
Your choice will really come down to how large of a job you’re going to be doing more than anything. The truth is that electric models, even the best of the best, aren’t going to have the work capacity or power to really blow through a huge job.
Gas models are also more convenient to sue if you’re going to be working away from any power sources. Since all you need is a can of gas to keep them powered this makes them the right choice for those with larger properties who want to handle fallen wood on the spot instead of hauling it home.
During our testing we found another problem with electric models: they tend to pop breakers. Open your box and see what your outdoors circuits are rated for, since both of our tested models came in at 14-amps which is a huge draw.
What to Look For
Hopefully you already know which type of shredder is the best for your particular job. If not, you may want to think it over a bit before reading on.
If you have figured it out, then you want to take a close look at the following before you decide on a chipper/shredder.
Most of these tools will be rated to handle a certain capacity of branches. Chipper shredders break things down in a three stage process and they do have a hard limit on just how much the differing stages can take.
If you’re still unsure, you may want to look around your yard. Measure the largest branch you intend to take care of crossways to get the diameter.
This will let you easily get an idea of what kind of work capacity you really need.
A larger hopper can make things more convenient as well but keep two things in mind:
- You don’t want to overload the hopper, regardless of the size. Even the most powerful machine can jam if you decide to try loading it with a bulldozer.
- Hopper size doesn’t indicate power, just the ability to snag a certain amount of stuff at once. Check the work capacity before you decide that a big hopper is right for you.
This is the most important factor for most people, since the top-end of what you’re able to handle is going to be a huge factor in what you have to cut down or transport out of the area.
As a general rule, the size of the motor on a gas-powered chipper/shredder indicates the power. Bigger motor, more power.
Of course, the work capacity is usually measured separately so you want to take a look at how big the motor is because it’ll give you a rough idea of fuel consumption.
Gasoline is expensive these days, and the general trend of rising prices shows no real chance of slowing down.
The wise homeowner is going to pick the smallest motor that will still get the job done.
Depending on how much stuff you have to handle and what you’re planning on doing with the end product, reduction ratio gives you a rough idea of how much space you’re saving.
The reduction ratio is a pretty simple number to understand: think of the first number as the number of bags you’re putting in and the second as the number of bags you’ll get out. The weight will be the same, of course, but the volume reduction matters a lot for certain applications.
Units range from 5:1 to 20:1 for the most part. A 5:1 unit will leave you with something more like chips and a 20:1 ratio will break things down almost to the level of mulch.
If you’re just trying to dispose of the debris that you’re cleaning up, then you’ll want to go with the highest ratio possible. This will let you fit more in the bed of your truck in order to dispose of it elsewhere.
On the other hand, applications like lining paths will fare better if you’ve got a lower ratio.
Once again, things are a little bit more complicated than “best” but most homes will benefit from a higher reduction ratio to reduce the volume of the waste.
In practice we found that all of our tested products were on the good side of “just right” as we went through them. There was a lot of talk beforehand about it, but the simple fact is… it really didn’t matter nearly as much as we thought in practice.
There’s one caveat to this, however: if you’re running a landscaping company then you should absolutely look for the highest reduction ratio possible. It’ll mean that you can cart away more waste per truck load which ends up being a huge logistical advantage.
Tow Bars or Hitches
If you’re planning on pulling your machine around then you’ll want to make sure it has one of these. You can build a custom trailer for any chipper/shredder, and a lot of hobbyists actually enjoy the process, but having it built-in from the start will make your life easier.
You can usually check and see if it will fit something you have on your truck before you ever purchase one but it’s easy enough to modify them once they’re there if you forget.
These machines are very complex, and there’s a lot to take in when you’re looking for the one which is best suited for your home.
This means there’s a ton of little innovations that can make a big difference in how usable the chipper/shredder is when you get it home.
Some of the following are good to keep an eye out for:
- Tilt-down hoppers will let you rake leaves and twigs directly into your hopper. From there you just bring it back up and let it drop.
- Electric starters are awesome for gas-powered shredders. They add a little bit of complexity to maintenance but you’ll save time getting it started.
- Self-sharpening components will lower the amount of maintenance that you have to do with the machine by quite a bit.
Basically, just keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, you might find something that ends up being super useful for your own needs while someone else might not care for it at all.
What to Do With Your Chips and Shreds
Of course, if you didn’t have a plan in the first place then you’re just going to be left with a huge pile of wooden waste after you clear your yard.
We’ve compiled some ideas to see if you might find more use for them than just having to dump them as green waste.
We’re going to be honest here… we just kind of piled the stuff up for the landowners to do whatever they wanted with it. Most of them had plenty of use for composting and mulching with the end results so we were able to leave it without having to deal with any ethical quandries.
While we advise against some of the commercial mulches out there which are made of basically whatever scraps can be found, mulching with freshly chipped wood is a great idea.
You can use it for different types of beds to protect from mold and mildew.
Basically anything you’d normally use commercial mulch for.
It may not be quite as petty but it’s a super responsible way to handle the waste from your own yard.
Machines with super high reduction ratios have an even better way to take care of your soil, however.
Wood chips compost quite readily, especially those which are produced with machines with a really high-reduction ratio.
If you’ve already got a compost pile going then you’re in luck and can add the reduced material to the existing pile.
Larger chips will be harder to do this with, while they eventually break down it’ll take a considerable amount of time so it may not be an ideal way to do things depending on how you’re using your machine.
If you’ve got a smaller amount of wood waste around then you may want to use it as fire starter.
Actually, no matter how much you have this is a great way to dispose of some of your extra shredded wood or wood chips.
Some woods are even great for barbecuing.
For fire starters, you can just spread the amount that you’re planning on keeping thinly and then let it dry completely if you were shredding green wood.
Chips used for smoking are best kept in the dark until a bit before use when you want to soak them and throw them on the fire. Be careful of what kind of wood you use this for, however, as some woods really aren’t suitable for it.
It may not be a permanent solution, but if you have landscaping where erosion is becoming a serious issue then larger woodchips make an ideal medium-term solution.
Use them to shore up areas which are losing soil to prevent further loss as time goes on and you come up with a better permanent solution.
Larger wood chips also make nice walkway material. It’s slip-proof, attractive, and gives your yard or garden a “natural” feel while preventing weeds from overgrowing your chosen path.
Give it a shot, if you already have the waste then it’d be a shame to just throw it out.
Picking a chipper/shredder is a lot less complicated than most people think, but making sure you have the best one will require some thought on your part. You need to carefully consider what your needs are, then pick a machine to suit them. Grab the best chipper/shredder you can, pair it with a good plan for the waste, and you’ll be surprised with the end results.