We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
The variety of wood chippers on offer today is surprisingly large. Relatively inexpensive models exist, but what kind of workload can these cheaper chippers handle?
Expensive models are also available, but do you really need a huge machine? The answer to that question could very well depend on the type of property you own.
With so many kinds of options, it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff. That's where we come in! At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the perfect wood chipper.
We're dedicated to writing the most honest and unbiased reviews out there. We never accept free products from manufacturers. Instead, we buy products off of store shelves, test them in our labs, consult experts, and examine feedback from product owners. Our ultimate goal: to become your go-to source for trustworthy product recommendations whenever you’re faced with a buying decision.
Thankfully, our excellent selection of wood chippers has something for just about everyone. What's more, each product offers a price and performance that's tough to beat.
Note: The above product recommendations were updated August 2017. The products below were our original choices and have yet to be updated.
Residential wood chippers vary from lightweight models that can handle small twigs to robust machines that can handle three-inch branches. For anything bigger than that, you'd need a commercial chipper that costs thousands of dollars. In this part of our review, we examine each model's construction. We also evaluate the degree of power each finalist delivers and the type of material each can handle.
In this part of our ratings, we look at the elements of each product that may entice you away from competitors: blades, collection bags, reduction ratios, and more.
Bill has been a hardware store owner, locksmith, and general home repair guru for over 40 years. His ability to solve problems and repair every item in every situation is a true gift. In his spare time, you may find Bill working in his garden, tending to his perfectly manicured lawn, or riding his bike.
It's all very well and good for a manufacturer to boast of their products' capabilities. The question is, what are these machines like when they're put to work in people's actual back yards and gardens? With the help of owner feedback, we examine the “true performance” of each contender on our shortlist.
Our shortlist doesn't include the cheapest models due to durability concerns. We don't include large, commercial-grade models or those that need to run off garden tractor PTOs, either. What we have is a range of machines that will suit the vast majority of consumers -- at prices that satisfy most budgets. In this section, we look at the pros, cons, and “real value” of each chipper on our list.
Sun Joe says that the Chipper Joe CJ601E Wood Chipper has a “powerful,” 14-amp electric motor. A motor of 14-15 amps is common for electric wood chippers, but as we'll see later, that figure that doesn't necessarily correlate with the size of branch it can handle. That's not to say that the Chipper Joe is underpowered; rather, it's an “entry-level” model with maximum branch size claimed at 1-1/2 inches. At just 26 pounds, it's very light. (Much of the machine is plastic, but the blade guard is metal.) A few owners have complained that the casing is a little fragile, and a handful mention build-quality issues. However, those customers with complaints are definitely in the minority.
The 15-amp LawnMaster FD1501 Wood Chipper provides slightly more power than the Chipper Joe, though the recommended largest diameter material stays the same at 1-1/2 inches. At a little over 26 pounds, it's a fairly lightweight and portable machine (thanks, in large part, to the manufacturer's extensive use of plastics). Owner feedback concerning durability is more positive than the norm, with only a few negative comments relating to construction. One or two owners complained that the cover warped a bit over time and thus didn't fit so well. You might not call the LawnMaster a “rugged” machine, but it's not fragile, either.
Stand well to the side of the chipper when you are feeding wood into it. The machine can kick out larger pieces of wood; standing to the side will ensure the wood pieces don’t strike you.
Like the Chipper Joe, the Eco-Shredder ES1600 Wood Chipper has a 14-amp electric motor (though maximum branch diameter is restricted to a slightly odd 1-3/8 inches). This size is quite precisely controlled, because unlike the Chipper Joe and LawnMaster, the 70-pound Eco-Shredder has two ways to feed material: a hopper on top for small twigs/leaves/debris and a side chute for branches. The Eco-Shredder's two-chute layout is standard for larger, heavy-duty machines, so it's interesting to see it used on this relatively small yard model. We say “relatively” small because the Eco-Shredder is bulkier than some other contenders. The added bulk doesn't come from a more robust build (plastic housing again attracted one or two complaints), but from the three-way grinding / shredding / mulching unit used to break things down.
We move from electric to gas power with the Earthquake Wood Chipper, which has a 212cc, four-cycle Viper engine. We were unable to find a horsepower rating, but the Earthquake is sufficient to cope with branches of up to three inches diameter. (That figure is as big as anything on the market, short of industrial-grade wood chippers.) Like the Eco-shredder, the Earthquake has two ways to feed material: a top hopper for smaller items and a side entry for branches. As you might expect, the Earthquake is a bit heavier than our previous electric models, but plastics have been used to keep he weight down to a reasonable 110 pounds. According to some owners, the wheels can occasionally break. It's easy to find replacements, but frustrating nevertheless.
Although the electric Patriot Products CSV-2515 Wood Chipper is rated at a fairly ordinary 14 amps, this machine is actually capable of taking branches of up to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. We chose this model for our shortlist because it's an electric chipper that can compete head-to-head with heavy-duty gas models. I's not quite up there with the Earthquake (or other Patriot Products machines), but it's close. As a result, it's very popular with consumers. This twin-feed machine weighs 95 pounds; it's not too light, but it's not too heavy, either. Like other contenders on our shortlist, its plastic wheels have come in for some criticism. That's about the only area people complain about, though. The CSV-2515's general build is of the same high quality as other Patriot machines.
Use a long stick or pole to help you feed wood directly into the chipper. Never put your hands into the hopper while the chipper is running.
Although the plastic wheels on the Earthquake and Patriot receive some negative comments, a small machine like the Chipper Joe makes very good use of them. At the opposite end of the machine, a long push stick takes away any inclination to poke fingers inside. Another important safety feature is the Chipper Joe's locking knob for the hopper; this knob deactivates the motor when he hopper is open for blade changing or occasional jamming. Blades are double-sided to extend working life before resharpening. Reduction ratio – the volume of what you start with compared with what you finish with – is 10:1. This figure is good, but not exceptional. Unfortunately, no collection bag is provided.
As with the Chipper Joe, the LawnMaster's useful 8-inch wheels make this lightweight model easy to move around. A push stick and double-sided blades (changed with the provided tool) are included. In the event of a jam -- something that happens to all wood chippers from time to time -- there's a safety cut-out that prevents the motor from burning out. Reduction ratio is 10:1 (just like the Chipper Joe), but in the case of the LawnMaster, you do get a 16-gallon collecting bag for your mulch.
Keep your chipper inside a storage building or cover it with a tarp to protect it from the weather.
10:1 seems to be a popular reduction ratio with light-duty electric wood chippers, and the Eco-Shredder is no different. The unit's wheels are best described as “adequate,” and although the blades are not double-sided, a spare set is included. That's fine, but several owners did say that the blades are awkward to change. That's not really a “drawback,” but it certainly is an annoyance! No bag is provided with this chipper, and given that it’s not cheap, several owners found this omission disappointing.
The Earthquake Wood Chipper boasts an impressive reduction ratio of 20:1, a useful two-bushel collecting bag of just over 18 gallons, and plastic baffles that prevent it from throwing stuff back out when you put it in the hopper. Nevertheless, it's fair to say that the Earthquake's manufacturer has concentrated on producing a powerful but uncomplicated workhorse. A lot of owners actually think the Earthquake's light feature menu is no bad thing.
The fact that the Patriot Products electric wood chipper is designed to compete with gas-powered models is underlined by its impressive 20:1 reduction ratio. It also comes with a two-bushel collecting bag (a four-bushel bag is available at an extra cost) and safety baffles similar to those found on the Earthquake. Patriot is a reputable company with a strong range of gas-fed machines. It comes as no surprise that this electric model is very much like the company's gas-fed models: not overloaded with features, but effective nonetheless. It does have one unusual (but very welcome) safety feature that the other manufacturers may not have thought of: a pair of safety goggles.
Snap large branches in half and tear off small shoots from the branches before you turn on the chipper. Small bits of wood will feed into the chipper easier.
The Chipper Joe is a popular little machine. It's light and easy to move around, and being electric, it starts with the push of a button. If you've got a big yard, then having a long enough power cord could be a nuisance; then again, you'd be unlikely to buy an entry-level machine like the Chipper Joe for that kind of work. This particular machine can handle smaller branches for a couple of hours at a time. If used as intended, owners are perfectly happy with it. Potential buyers should note that the blades need to be sharpened fairly regularly, especially if you've got a lot of throughput. (If you start to get sawdust rather than chips, it's a good indicator that it's not cutting properly. This is true of all the machines on our list.) A primary criticism of the Chipper Joe is that it's not very good with damp material, which causes jams. Also, as an “all-in-one” machine, it is focused on chopping branches and is not so good with mixed debris; smaller items tend to go straight through. The work can get laborious at times, as the chute will also only take small handfuls of leaves at a time.
Like the Chipper Joe, the LawnMaster is a low-cost, lightweight wood chipper that will do a good job of chopping up small branches. It will reduce your refuse by a 10:1 ratio – quite a useful tool indeed, if that's what you need. Because the LawnMaster is not “overly powerful,” you do need to trim side branches off and feed them as individual pieces. Also, because of the blade construction -- which is flat and rotates at a high speed – the LawnMaster is not so good at chipping small twigs and leaves. There are specific leaf mulchers designed to do this, and some chippers will mulch both sticks and leaves, but not this one.
Never operate your wood chipper around children or allow a child to help you.
The multiple-feed Eco-Shredder is the first of our finalists that separates leaf and twig mulching from branch chipping. Small debris goes into the hopper; branches go in the side chute. This is supposed to do a better job on both counts, because rather than having a single whirring blade, the Eco-Shredder has a “triple” system of chopping, shredding, and mulching. The manufacturer says it will handle grass clippings also, allowing you to make faster compost. A number of owners took it at its word and put pretty much everything through it – with satisfactory results. Others weren't so happy, saying the Eco-Shredder jammed too easily and that pine needles in particular glued up the mechanism. They also didn't like the fact that removing the top to clear jams is a bit tedious (you have to remove three screws).
If you've got a big yard and don't want to run cable all over, the gas-powered Earthquake offers some definite advantages. One or two owners did have problems getting the machine to start, but this can be a common occurrence with gas-powered appliances. People are particularly complimentary of the way the top chute handles leaves and other debris. The baffle stops material from getting thrown back out, which is very important for personal safety – especially since the Earthquake produces a lot of power. In terms of wood chipping, the Earthquake will comfortably handle straight branches of up to the three inches. If the branches are bent, it's more difficult to feed them, and owners suggest that 2-1/2 inches is more realistic in this scenario.
The power of a gas model at the push of a button: for some, the Patriot Products Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder is the perfect solution. Undoubtedly, this is the most powerful electric wood chipper on the market today. One person did clog it up with wet leaves -- but you really shouldn't put wet leaves through any wood chipper! A couple of others said the top hopper wouldn't take material at the ½-inch size suggested in the instructions. (In this case, the solution would be to put the material through the side chute.) Overall, most owners say the Patriot Products chipper does a good job, although it's rather slow on branches that are close to the maximum recommended size.
Keep your chipper well maintained. Perform safety checks before each use to ensure safety devices work properly and that there are no wood pieces lodged in the blades.
If you're looking for an inexpensive wood chipper for a relatively small yard, the $125 Sun Joe Chipper Joe CJ601E would be one of the two we'd recommend -- as long as you understand its capabilities. It's a light, easy-to-use, straightforward machine that will chip branches up to about 1-1/2 inches. It will work for a couple of hours, at which point you'll probably need to turn over the double-sided blade. Keep it up, and the blade will need re-sharpening, but that's not a big job. The Sun Joe will handle leaves and other debris if they're dry, but because the chute is designed for branches, the feed rate for debris is slow. Some owners complain about jams; others complain that build quality could be better. However, our research has turned up far more satisfied owners than dissatisfied ones. Plenty of owners have had their Chipper Joe for years and are still perfectly happy with its performance (and price).
At a cost of $105, the LawnMaster FD1501 Wood Chipper is in the same price bracket as the Chipper Joe. However, in comparison, this product features a small increase in power output and slightly better component quality. As a result, the LawnMaster is a very popular machine. It's not without its faults; the opening is relatively small, so it isn't the fastest machine on the block. Some owners report jams (a common wood chipper problem), and blade changing is a bit of a hassle in spite of the tool provided. In general, however, owners say the LawnMaster performs well, and most are very happy with the low price.
A wide hopper and big wheels are great features to have in a wood chipper. The former lets you dispose off big branches and the latter lets you maneuver the machine over rough grounds.
The Eco-Shredder ES1600 Wood Chipper is modeled after higher-performance machines like the Earthquake and Patriot, yet it costs just $183. Naturally, there's a trade-off for this desirable price. On the one hand, you get the benefit of two feeds: a hopper for smaller material and a side chute for branches. On the other hand, the motor only has 14 amps. (While heavier than the Chipper Joe or LawnMaster, the Eco-Shredder sill doesn't have the rugged construction of the two larger models.) So is the Eco-Shredder a good option, or is it too much of a compromise? Our first two finalists are adequate wood chippers, but they’re not so efficient at mulching twigs and leaves. The Eco-Shredder overcomes this with its three-stage shredding and chopping, so if you've got a lot of mixed materials, this machine could be the right choice for you. As owners point out, it's not a particularly big or fast wood chipper, but it gets the job done. Even occasional jams are easy to clear.
The Earthquake 14267 costs $599 -- a substantial jump in price from some of our other contenders. However, if you want a top-quality machine, that amount is about the least you'll pay. Fortunately, you do get a lot for your money. The Earthquake has the largest capacity of any machine in our ratings, and it's made by a well-respected manufacturer. All wood chippers are a bit noisy, and it's fair to say that this gas-powered model is noisier than its electric counterparts, but it does deliver considerably more power. No wood chipper is perfect, but complaints about the Earthquake are relatively few. Some had starting problems, and the plastic wheels came in for quite a lot of criticism, but for the most part, owners say it performs consistently well.
While the CSV-2515 Wood Chipper scores lots of plus points, opting for this cleaner, quieter machine will cost you $999. That's more than the Earthquake, and although the Patriot is the most powerful electric model available, its performance still can't compete with the Earthquake. That said, if you want an electric wood chipper that's capable of doing more than clearing up a small yard, this is the one to go for. It's got the build-quality of other Patriot Products models, it'll chomp branches of up to 2-1/2 inches in diameter, and the top hopper will mulch material down to 1/20th of its original size. The machine does draw a lot of current, and it has been known to trip breakers. (Running it from a 20-amp circuit is advisable.) The majority of owners say it's a top electric chipper and the only practical alternative to a gas-powered model.
There are no bad machines here, but the clear winner of our Best of the Best award is the Earthquake 14267. It's got performance that none of its rivals can match, and you'd struggle to find better if you paid twice as much.
The 212 4-cycle Viper motor may not be as quiet as some electric versions, but there isn't an electric model that comes close to chopping through the three-inch diameter branches that this machine can handle. At 110 pounds, it's fairly weighty, but it's lighter than some others in its class thanks to some plastic components. The plastic wheels are the only part of the Earthquake that come in for some deserved criticism. Metal versions are easy to find, and they don't cost much. Some owners have switched out the plastic wheels for metal ones with excellent results.
Overall, the Earthquake is a robust unit that's made to handle all the garden debris that can be thrown at it. Some owners would have liked more capacity in the hopper, but the baffle that restricts it is a valuable safety feature. (It prevents the powerful motor from chucking stuff back out at you.) The combination of cutters and hammers in the side chute is thought a bit slow by some, but nobody has anything bad to say about their effectiveness. A reduction ratio of 20:1 is as good as anything available, and the manufacturer also includes a handy, two-bushel bag in which to collect your mulch.
As good as it is, the Earthquake wood chipper does have a few critics. Some people had trouble starting it. Some experienced jams -- a common problem with all chippers. One or two had bolts come loose (regular maintenance ought to stop that). Most owners are more than happy with their choice, and a couple have pointed out that buying the Earthquake is much cheaper than paying a contractor to do their lawn work.
You'd struggle to find a better wood chipper than the Earthquake 14267 — even if you paid twice as much.
All of the wood chippers on our shortlist represent excellent value, and the Best Bang for Your Buck choice is a tough call. In the end, we give that award to the Eco-Shredder ES1600.
If you're looking at price/performance, the Earthquake makes a strong argument. After all, it's cheaper than anything else in its class. However, most people don't have a yard large enough to warrant a machine of the Earthquake's size. The Chipper Joe is a good little model, and the popular LawnMaster certainly performs well. However, the Eco-Shredder gives you multi-function capability that, even in a relatively small yard, gives you great flexibility.
The Eco-Shredder's power comes from a 14-amp electric motor. The manufacturer proclaims a slightly odd maximum branch size of 1-3/8 inches, although in real terms, it's the same as the Chipper Joe and LawnMaster. What separates the Eco-Shredder from these competitors is the fact that, like the bigger machines, it employs both a hopper and a side chute (rather than relying on one feed for both). This means it can employ a three-mode approach to cutting, shredding, and chipping, thereby breaking down different materials more efficiently. According to the manufacturer, the Eco-Shredder will even handle grass clippings.
At 70 pounds, the Eco-Shredder is no monster, and the wheels, though plastic, appear to cope just fine. Other areas that some thought could be improved were the long-winded method of clearing jams (you need to undo three thumb-screws) and the quality of blades (they require more regular sharpening than some would have liked). Some owners were also disappointed that there was no mulch bag supplied. Overall, however, this chipper comes highly recommended by many. Comments like "Great little workhorse!" and "Gets the job done!” underline our opinion that for $183, you simply won't find a better small yard/garden wood chipper.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.