Electric Leaf Shredder, and Wood Chipper Buying Guide
Keeping the yard clear of leaves and sticks can be a time consuming job, especially in the Fall months. A good quality electric chipper or shredder can not only greatly speed up your cleaning efforts, but will also create nutrient rich mulch that can be used in gardens and flowerbeds. Leaves, twigs, and sticks are reduced down to a fraction of their original size, minimizing the amount of space and garbage bags needed after clean up. There are several features that are important to know about, to allow you to choose the one that best suits your needs. We will discuss all of these features in detail so you can choose the perfect chipper or leaf shredder. Also be sure to check out the feature comparison chart for all the top rated chippers and shredders, and our in-depth reviews of each one.
Click the images on each product to go to the review page where you will find the best and worst features of each mulcher or shredder, so you can choose the one that is perfect for your home. There are also price comparisons at the bottom of the review pages to help you find the best price across the web.
Top Leaf Mulchers/Shredders Comparison (RATINGS KEY: 1=lowest to 5=highest) ( PRICES KEY: $= $99 or less, $$= $100 to $199, $$$= $200 and above )
Product Model WORX WG430 Sun Joe CJ601E Flowtron LE-900 Eco-Shredder ES1600 Product Image Cutting System Trimmer String Double-Edged Blades Double Trimmer String V-Style, Triple Action Blades Motor Size 13-Amp Electric 14-Amp Electric 5.9-Amp Electric 14-Amp Electric Max RPM 8500 RPM 4300 RPM 7000 RPM 2800 RPM Max Material Diameter Leaves Only 1 1/2 inches Leaves Only 1 3/8 inches Weight 20 Pounds 26 Pounds 17 Pounds 68 Pounds Material Reduction Ratio 11:1 16:1 Adjustable 8:1- 30:1 10:1 Motor Overload Protection Yes Yes Yes Yes Warranty 2 Years 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year Price $$ $ $$ $$$ Rating 4.2 3.7 4.0 3.8 In-Depth Review Read Full Review Read Full Review Read Full Review Read Full Review
Shredder or Chipper?
Depending on what your intended use is, either an electric leaf shredder or an electric wood chipper may better suit your needs for the most efficient yard clean up. They are both very similar in function which is why they are both included in the same buying guide, but they do vary slightly for certain tasks. Here is a little bit about what each one does best so you can decide which one is right for your situation.
A Leaf Shredder, as the name implies, is really good at shredding piles of leaves. Leaves must be raked into piles, and then the piles of leaves can be fed into the loading hopper of the leaf shredder where they are reduced to a fine mulch. This greatly reduces the number of leaf bags needed during clean up, especially for yards with many trees. This really cuts down the amount of work for those people who have to carry all of those bags of leaves to the street, or haul them away themselves. Most of the leaf shredder units are lightweight and portable, allowing them to be easily moved around the yard to wherever they are needed.
The mulch that is created by shredding the leaves is perfect for use in gardening. It can be placed around plants for better insulation and water retention, or it can be added to compost to create nutrient rich soil for organic gardening. Leaf shredders can also chop up very small twigs that are mixed in the piles of leave, but any sticks of significant size are better left to the wood chippers.
Wood Chippers are designed to take all of those fallen sticks and branches lying around the yard, and chop them up into a fine mulch. This mulch can then either be bagged up for easier haul away, or used around the garden as an appealing replacement to store bought mulch. Wood chippers can also be used to chop up leaves but they are not as effective at that specific task as leaf shredders.
Benefits of Electric Powered Chippers and Shredders
The electric powered models have many advantages over the gasoline versions. First, and perhaps most importantly, is the huge price difference. Electric models are up to ten times cheaper than their gasoline counterparts, meaning they are much more affordable for the average homeowner. Electric power also has the benefit of being very easy to use. Just plug it into an outlet, flip a switch, and it’s up and running. There is no need to deal with gas, oil, or difficult starting procedures. The electric motors are much quieter than gasoline powered ones which is great for areas and neighborhoods where excessive noise might be a problem. Electricity is a much cheaper source of power than gas and oil, and it produces no emissions, so it’s better for the environment. Electric chippers and shredders are affordable, efficient, and great at handling many of the basic tasks of yard clean up.
The cutting system is the method by which the material is chipped, mulched, or shredded, and varies by model. Different cutting systems will be more ideal for varying jobs.
Electric Leaf Shredders use a system that is basically a string trimmer/weed wacker head inverted inside of a large funnel. The motors operate at high RPM’s to allow for cutting through large amounts of material. Standard string trimmer line is used to do all of the shredding. Leaves are added to the hopper funnel, and are shredded down until they are small enough to fit through openings in the bottom of the housing where the resulting mulch can be bagged up or formed into piles. The string trimmer line is great for slicing through leaves, but tends to wear down quickly on harder material such as sticks or pine cones. One of the great benefits of this cutting system is that the trimmer line is readily available,easy, and cheap to replace. It can be found at any home improvement store, but most people probably already have a spool of it at home.
Electric Wood Chippers have sharp metal blades that are made for cutting through sticks and branches. On some models the blades must be completely replaced when they become dull, while on others you have the ability to sharpen them yourself to maximize their life. Each chipper has a maximum material diameter rating, which is just the largest size branch that can be run through the unit. Most electric chippers can handle up to 1 ½ inch branches which is usually plenty for most small jobs around the yard. If you do happen to push the cutting system to the limit with large branches, most units are equipped with overload protection that prevents damage to the motor should a jam occur. Overload protection simply shuts off the motor during a jam, and after the jam is cleared a reset button must be pressed to resume operation. The design of these wood chipper’s cutting system allows them to easily cut through woody materials such as twigs and branches but tends to not work as well on leaves. Often times leaves will fall through the blades with little to no reduction.
The reduction ration of the chipper or shredder is a rating of how fine material is shredded or chipped after being run through each unit. For example, if you have 10 bags of leaves and a leaf shredder has a reduction ratio of 10 to 1 (10:1) those same leaves can be mulched and reduced down to fit into only 1 bag. The reduction ratio varies for each model, and some even allow you to adjust the ratio to your preference. If you’re bagging leaves for removal you’ll obviously want the highest reduction ratio possible to cut down on the number of bags needed, but if you’re creating mulch for your garden or compost pile a larger size material may not be as big of an issue.
With the right electric leaf shredder or chipper you can spend much less time cleaning up the yard, while creating lots of free, nutrient rich mulch for gardens and flowerbeds. All that yard waste can be recycled, keeping tons of waste out of landfills. The dreaded Fall clean up is made much easier, freeing up time to sit back, drink some apple cider, and enjoy the season.