When the need for a wood chipper arises, you will have two options. Buy or rent a wood chipper. For both options, cost is involved. The main difference comes in the amount of the expense. Each option has significant pros and cons, and thats exactly what we are going to discuss here. I will also give you some alternatives to wood chipper rental that might surprise you.
This article is intended to show the relationship between renting and buying a wood chipper. The following analysis discusses the question of whether you can rent a wood chipper. It goes further to give the best option among the two.
Renting versus buying
When I still ran my landscaping business, I was often forced to rent equipment. This was equipment that I only needed sporadically, thus making it not profitable enough to buy that equipment for myself.
I always tried to avoid renting whenever possible, though. I personally dislike renting, for a number of reasons that I will get into shortly. As a landscaping business owner, renting can give you extra stress and headaches that you wouldn’t have to deal with if the machinery was yours. Of course, the opposite can also be true.
There are several elements that users need to consider when making the decision, which revolve around cost and personal needs for using a wood chipper. Things like the size of the job, frequency of use, and convenience to the user are some of these elements.
This is my major gripe with rental: It is so inconvenient. First, you will have to find a rental firm near you that is able to rent you the machine that you need. Then, you will have to drive for miles to this firm to pickup your machine.
Depending on the size of machine you need for the job, there is a likelihood there’s not being one available in your area. You may be forced to look far and wide before you can find the right equipment.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been disappointed upon arrival to these firms. They promise you a shiny machine on their website or rental catalog. You book it, and when you come in to pick up that shiny machine is actually a rough-looking, rusty, creaking old clump of iron that seems to be falling apart if you try to move it.
Then this rental firm will require you to hand over a huge deposit, adding to the bad taste already well established. They’ll also tell you to return the machine before 5pm, or you will be paying for two days instead of one.
That brings us to the second major inconvenience. Time. Let’s say you want to start work at 7am. But the rental shop only opens at 7pm. That means you will not be able to start work on time. You will have to fill in the papers, sign, load the machine into the truck, and drive to the job site. Before you know it, it’s 8:30am.
Then you’ll have to return it before 5pm. Depending on the time you will need from the job site to the rental firm, you will have to finish work early, probably around 3:30. You will need time to clean up, load the chipper back up again, secure it, drive back to the rental firm, unload, inspect, etc.
In the case of a homeowner it is slightly different but not much. The issue of lost time picking up and returning the machine is still there. The only real difference is that your time is not necessarily payed for by a client.
If you would be owning a wood chipper, you would be able to just grab the machine from the garage, shed or barn whenever you need it, even if it’s just to shred a few branches, or to make a small tree trimming job a little more convenient by shredding the branches onsite.
This also prevents you from piling up the branches in your yard, waiting for the day you will rent that wood chipper. And let me tell you, when that day comes, you will not have time to get to that pile of branches, because you can barely get the contracted job done.
To avoid the cost of maintaining and repairing the machine, renting seems to be the way to go. Since the machine is not in your hands, all costs go to the rental firm. All you will be required to do is to pay the rental fee.
However, the reality is not that idyllic. Machinery at rental firms, especially wood chippers, are often poorly maintained. I would say this is due to a general lack of interest of their employees, as well as ignorance and cost cutting.
If your hired wood chipper turns out to be poorly maintained, this will add to the frustration in spades. Now you will have to abort your job, load the malfunctioning machine up in the truck or trailer again, and drive back to the rental firm.
If the firm has half-decent service, they will send a repair guy to help you out. However you will still be waiting, and wasting your valuable time.
Keep in mind that rental wood chippers get abused by landscaping firms on a daily basis. Their users generally don’t care about these machines, since they don’t own them, they will not handle them gently.
Don’t be afraid to do some maintenance on a wood chipper yourself. The only things you really have to do is grease the moving parts and check the oil levels of the engine. Once in a while, if you use it frequently, the engine might need a service.
When considering the cost entailed in each of the two choices, there will be various associated expenses. Renting a wood chipper appears cheaper from a first look. However, that is not necessarily the case.
The amount for renting spans over several work seasons. For that reason, many people do not make an effort to do the math. The capital to acquire a machine for oneself, on the other hand, looks to be very expensive at first hand.
When the same initial capital for purchase is spread over a long time, it usually becomes cheaper. In essence, the initial capital outlay, given time, will prove to be less than rental expenses.
In addition to the amount it costs to buy the machine, there will be costs resulting from maintenance. These costs will also include repairs in case damages happen.
Nevertheless, proper handling will ensure top efficiency of the machine. That means reduced expenditures on maintenance.
If your were to own a decent wood chipper, you might even be able to rent the machine out to others, earning your investment back.
All Pros and Cons
So let’s put all the pros and cons of buying vs renting a wood chipper in a list to make the comparison even more clear:
Renting a Wood Chipper:
- Short time low cost
- No maintenance
- No responsibility
- Able to pick the right size machine for the job
- No storage needed
- Having to book machine beforehand
- Driving long distance to rental firm to pick up and return the chipper
- Having to pickup and return machine within opening hours of rental firm
- Uncertainty about the condition of the machine, probably worse than advertised
- Uncertainty about rental firms maintenance schedules
- If renting more often, it will become more expensive than buying quickly
- Certainty that the machine is always available when you need it
- Not being bound by opening hours of any rental firm
- Certainty about the state and maintenance of the machine since you are the only one using it
- Convenience of being able to grab the machine even if it’s only for a tiny job which wouldn’t warrant renting
- Ability to rent out the machine, earning your investment back and possibly having another income stream of income
- Larger initial investment
- Responsibility of taking care of the machine
- Maintenance, although not much, especially if purchased new
- Needs a spot in the garage or barn
- Having to choose one ideal size to manage all jobs
Wood Chipper Rental Alternatives
Because I have spent so much time advocating for owning your own wood chipper instead of renting one, I want to recommend a few models. I understand that different people have different needs, so below I have lined up four models of wood chippers that all serve a different purpose.
Which one is best for you will mainly depend on whether you are a homeowner or a professional user. The first two models run on electricity and will need a power cord. I also included one gas powered model, as well as one PTO driven model. For that chipper you would need to have a tractor to power the chipper.
That last type of chipper, PTO-powered, always had my preference when I was still a professional landscaper. We would take these tractor chippers with us into the forest, and they would be able to go anywhere and run all day long without trouble.
These machines are all available for purchase from Amazon, adding to the convenience. Let’s get into it.
- Ideal for turning branches and twigs into nutrient-rich garden mulch
- Powerful 15 amp motor effectively chips and shreds branches up to 1.5-Inches thick.No Load Speed (rpm):4100 rpm
- Compact design with 6-inch wheels for easy portability; Sound power level: 113 dB
- Safety hopper with locking knob prevents the motor from operating when opened. Hopper Dimensions-2 x 5 inches. Wheel Size-6 inch
- ETL approved; Full 2-year warranty
This has been an immensely popular electric wood chipper for homeowners for years. If you are looking for a small, easy to use, and not too intimidating machine to use around the house a few times per year or more, this is a great choice. This machine has hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon, which should mean something.
The price of this machine is certainly very attractive and might make the choice between buying or renting a wood chipper a little easier.
Keep in mind though, that this is an entry-level machine, which will most likely not be suitable to handle branches more than 3/4″ thick. If you need a more heavy duty electric chipper, take a look at our next recommendation.
- Purchase Patriot's Electric Cord now and EXTEND YOUR CHIPPER’S WARRANTY ONE YEAR.
- The quiet, smooth, maintenance free electric motor starts with just the flip of a switch.
- Easily shred mountains of leaves by sliding them into the large hopper on the top of the unit.
- The Patriot will make coin-sized chips out of branches up to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
- All processed material will discharge out the side of the machine into the standard collection bag.
This is a high-end, powerful electric chipper. Some people call it the Rolls Royce of electric chippers. It is also the winner of our electric wood chipper reviews where we compared 5 similar models.
Per specifications, the manufacturer claims that this chipper will easily shred branches up to 2 1/2 inches. Users report that they could easily shred branches of about 2 inches thick, which in my opinion, validates the manufactures claims.
If you’re after a high-end, high-quality electric chipper this is probably the best machine your money can buy, and it will serve you for years to come.
- MULTI-FUNCTION CAPABILITY - This 3-in-1 Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher design has a Reduction Ratio of 15:1 when using the top Hopper for 1/2" MAX volume Chipping/Shredding; Side Chute for 3" MAX branch/limbs, or the attachable leaf vacuum for mulching
- POWERFUL - This Chippers powerful recoil starting 7HP Horizontal 4-stroke Single Cylinder OHV Gas Powered Engine, handles up to 3" diameter wood without a problem; Fuel w/ 87+ unleaded gasoline (NO ETHANOL recommended), 0.7 gallons Max capacity
- EFFICIENT DESIGN - Hookup your favorite: ATV, lawn mower or small tractor, for easy transportation with a Tow Bar Kit (SOLD SEPARATELY) and use the vacuum inlet for easy leaf mulching with a Vacuum Kit (SOLD SEPARATELY)
- SAFETY - Always operate according to directions outlined in the user manual, always wear the appropriate hand and eye protection (ENGINE OIL NOT INCLUDED); Can be used to aid in fire prevention and building firebreaks; This machine is EPA/CARB Certified
- BEST APPLICATION - Use for Forestry, Gardens, Landscaping or Green Waste Recycling to chip tree branches/limbs, shred brush, mulch leaves and corn stocks; DO NOT use for: fresh greens, pine cones, palm branches (fronds will jam), petrified wood or vines
If you need more power and flexibility, you might want to look into this model. This is one of the top selling gas powered wood chippers for homeowners. It is a powerful and dependable machine, prove by the numerous positive user reviews found on sites such as Amazon.
It has a 7HP gas powered engine, and will easily eat through 3 inch branches. That is the most anyone would want to push trough a wood chipper in my opinion. Anything larger than that would make for good firewood, so most people wouldn’t want to chip the larger wood.
For those of you owning a small tractor that is capable of powering equipment via the PTO, this a great option. This wood chipper is getting closer to commercial type models in terms of what it can can handle.
It will work with most tractors up to about 40HP, and is able to shred branches up to 4 inches in diameter. This is a solid machine capable of taking a beating.
While renting and buying each have their push factors, purchasing carries the day. It allows the operator to have their machinery whenever and wherever they need it. That way they can use it at their convenience.
Additionally, they can care for and maintain it to the level they prefer. Over time, the cost will even off with rental expenses and after that, fall under it. So, regarding monetary value, convenience, maintenance, and application frequency, buying is the better option.
Last update on 2021-08-30 / affiliate links / image and description from Amazon