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Buying guide for Best electric hole punchers

Punching binder holes into paper was once a painstaking, inexact task, but thanks to electric hole punchers, what once used to take several minutes can now be accomplished in seconds. You simply insert the paper and the machine automatically punchers perfectly even holes in every page.

These machines might seem simple, but that doesn’t mean you should just purchase the first one you see. There are several factors that can impact how well the device works and how easy it is to use.

This guide can help walk you through all of the considerations so you can find your perfect electric hole punch. If you’re ready to buy, check out our favorites, too.

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To use an electric hole punch, simply stick the paper into the slot and press the start button.

Key considerations

The two biggest factors to pay attention to when looking for an electric hole punch include the configuration of the punched holes and the number of sheets the machine can handle at once.


Depending on the type of binder you’ll be using, you need either a two- or three-hole electric hole punch. Some machines can only do one or the other. This isn’t an issue if you habitually use the same type of binder, but if there’s a chance you’ll need a three-hole punch and you only have a two-hole punch, you’ll need to go back and add the third hole manually.

A better option is to purchase an adjustable machine. These convert from two to three holes, so you can choose the configuration that best suits your needs. If you purchase one of these devices, you’ll need to remember to check the setting every time you use it.


Electric hole punchers can only hold so many sheets of paper at a time. This won’t be an issue if you only need to punch a page here and there, but if you have lots of paper to punch, a small-capacity machine could slow you down.

Most electric hole punchers hold between 20 and 30 sheets at a time, and some hold more. If you’re going to be punching laminated paper, you might need to insert fewer sheets at once. Think about how often you intend to use the electric hole punch and let that dictate the capacity of the machine you need. The manufacturer should list the hole punch’s capacity on its product page, or you can reach out to the company directly to ask.

Electric hole punch features

Power source

Some electric hole punchers must be plugged into an outlet, while others run off of batteries. A battery-powered electric hole punch is more convenient if you need something mobile or if you don’t have an outlet nearby. But if you don’t want to worry about batteries dying, a traditional electric hole punch might be a better fit. Some machines can be plugged in and run off batteries, giving you the best of both worlds.


Think about where you intend to place the electric hole punch and make sure you have enough space for it. Choose a compact model if you don’t have much room on your desktop. You can figure out the machine’s footprint by checking its product page or contacting the manufacturer.


A guide helps to keep several sheets of paper together and ensures that the holes are punched in exactly the same place on every page from batch to batch. This is a pretty standard feature on electric hole punchers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a model that includes a guide.

Chip tray

The chip tray is where all of the remnants (called chads) of the punched holes collect in the electric hole punch. The size of the tray determines how often it needs emptying, but with any electric hole punch, you shouldn’t need to empty it too often.

Some chip trays are easier to detach from the electric hole punch than others, and some might make a bit of a mess if they’re full. This isn’t a make-or-break feature, but it’s something you might want to be aware of before you buy. Read through customer reviews to determine how easy it is to empty the chip tray.


All electric hole punchers make some noise when they operate, but how much depends on the motor in the unit you buy. Noise won’t be an issue for everyone, but it could be disturbing in some settings. In this case, it’s best to read through customer reviews before you purchase a device to find out what others have had to say about the noise level.

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Did you know?
Electric hole punchers punch holes that measure one-quarter inch.

Electric hole punch prices

Electric hole punchers range in price from around $35 to over $200, with most falling in the $80 to $100 range. A higher price doesn’t necessarily indicate a better product, but if you plan to use the electric hole punch often, we recommend spending at least $80. Models that cost less than that might not hold up as well to heavy use.


  • Read the instruction manual. Do this before using your electric hole punch so you understand how to use it properly.

  • Empty the chip tray periodically. This will keep the electric hole punch functioning properly.

  • Don’t overload the device. Don’t try to insert more paper into the electric hole punch at one time than its listed capacity.
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Never exceed the maximum sheet capacity of an electric hole punch.


Q. How often do I need to empty the chip tray?

A. That depends on how often you use the machine. Check the tray periodically to see if it’s getting full. Some electric hole punchers have a window on the chip tray so you can easily check whether it’s full.

Q. Can I punch laminated paper with an electric hole punch?

A. Possibly. Check with the manufacturer if you aren’t sure. You might have to punch fewer sheets at once. Laminated paper is thicker than unlaminated paper and this could strain the machine even if the number of sheets is below the machine’s capacity.

Q. Can an electric hole punch accommodate different sizes of paper?

A. All electric hole punchers should be able to accommodate standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper, but some might also be able to accommodate paper of other sizes. If you want a machine that can handle this, choose one that has an adjustable guide so you can set it for the type of paper you need to punch.

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