Things to consider before purchasing a mulcher or chipper shredder

Below is a list of things we recommend you consider before buying your next mulcher or chipper shredder:

1. Do you need a petrol or an electric mulcher?

Electric mulchers are more suited to smaller gardens with smaller diameter prunings or cuttings. Most electric mulchers do not mulch palm fronds.  If you are considering purchasing an electric mulcher or chipper shredder for palm fronds, make sure it uses a grinding action normally achieved by a metal cog rotating against a plastic or metal cylinder. These electric mulchers cope far better with palm fronds than those fitted with a metal disc which runs horizontally to the electric motor’s shaft.  The aforementioned types of electric mulchers do not cope well with palm fronds.  The palm fronds simply wrap around the metal disc. Electric mulchers are generally lighter than petrol models, require less maintenance, are easy to start and use. We recommend that you use an extension cord with a maximum length of 30 meters.  Longer extension cords can result in a drop in voltage which may in turn damage the electric motor of your chipper shredder or mulcher.

Petrol mulchers or chipper shredders are better suited to larger gardens, acreage, large diameter branches or prunings and commercial applications. Not all petrol chipper shredders will mulch palm fronds, make sure you ask the question before purchasing the mulcher. Petrol models are generally heavier than electric models but are more robust and often built from better quality materials with fewer plastic components.

2. What type of material will you be mulching?

This is your number one consideration to take into account when purchasing a mulcher or chipper shredder. There is no point buying a chipper shredder which won’t cope with the diameter of material you want to mulch. Remember the plants, bushes and trees in your garden will grow.  Try to purchase a chipper shredder which will cope with a slightly larger branch diameter than that which you are currently trying to mulch.  If you plan on mulching other material like food waste, newspapers, vines, roots etc., make sure the chipper shredder can mulch it.

3. Will you be mulching palm fronds?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked is will the chipper shredder mulch palm fronds? Most electric and many petrol chipper shredders will not mulch palm fronds, dry or green. Don’t rely on what the sales person tells you, do some research. In our experience the only chipper shredders which will mulch palm fronds well, dry or green fronds, are the Hansa or Cox range of chipper shredders.  We offer free demonstrations on our range of Hansa chipper shredders. Bring your palm fronds into our stores and we will show you how well the Hansa range of chipper shredders will mulch them. Alternatively, check out our Youtube channel for some video demonstrations. Make sure you “try before you buy”, a good sales persons will be happy to demonstrate the  capabilities of the chipper shredder prior to you buying it.

4. What is the maximum branch diameter you will be chipping or shredding?

This is an important consideration to take into account. Most electric mulchers are limited to a maximum branch diameter of between 10mm and 25mm.  Some petrol models of chipper shredders have a separate chipper chute for handling larger branches. Most petrol model chipper shredders purchased for home gardens or acreage blocks can handle branch diameters of up to 100mm.

5. How heavy is the mulcher?

This is an important consideration to take into account.  Make sure you are comfortable with the chipper shredder’s weight. Remember, petrol models can be heavy, weighing between 50kg and 100kg. Try moving the chipper shredder around before purchasing it.  Check the mulcher or chipper shredder is stable and well balanced.  You don’t want the chipper shredder moving or falling over during operation.

6. Do you need to transport the mulcher between different areas in your garden?

If you will be moving the mulcher around, try to purchase one with wheels. This will make moving the chipper shredder much easier to do, particularly the heavier petrol models.  Some petrol models of chipper shredders like the Hansa C13 can be fitted with a draw bar for towing behind a car, ride on mower or quad bike.

7. How easy is the mulcher to start?

This is important to consider, particularly when purchasing a petrol mulcher or chipper shredder. Some petrol model mulchers, like the Greenfield Piecemaker, require a substantial effort to pull start, many ladies can find these chipper shredders hard to start.  We strongly recommend you “try before you buy”. Ask the sales person to start the chipper shredder in the store.  Make sure you are able to start the mulcher before purchasing it.

8. Which is better, a shaft driven mulcher or a belt driven mulcher?

90% of the electric mulchers on the market are shaft driven. Some models of petrol chipper shredders like the Greenfield Piecemakers are also shaft driven. Shaft driven chipper shredders have the cutting disc fitted directly onto the crankshaft of the motor.  While this eliminates the need for purchasing replacement belts, it can also be a disadvantage. Mulching of large diameter branches with a shaft driven mulcher can result in shock to the shaft the engine, damaging the engine’s bearings or shaft seals and in severe cases, bending the crankshaft of the engine.  This will result in a very costly repairs.  Shaft driven petrol mulchers can also be very hard to start as you are not only pulling the engine over but also the cutting disc.

Belt driven mulchers have the disadvantage of possible damage to the cutting belt if you overload the mulcher. The advantage of belt driven models is you only have to replace an inexpensive belt in most cases. The belt protects the engine from shock damage caused by large diameter branches or overloading.

9. Do you need a shredding / mulching function and a chipping function?

Some petrol models of chipper shredders have both a shredding and a chipping function. The chipping function is used to create wood chips from solid branches and the shredding function shreds the leafy and fibrous material. Other models of chipper shredder like the Hansa simply have one chute to both shred and chip. Make sure you find out just how fine the chipper shredder will mulch, before purchasing a chipper shredder or mulcher.

10. How easy are the blades to access for cleaning and replacement?

This is a very important consideration to take into account. Make sure the blades are easy to access in the event of a blockage or for replacement. A chipper shredder which requires you to dismantle the entire unit just to access the blades is not a good idea and will result in lengthy delays to clear blockages or a costly repair bill to replace the blades.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you need any further advice on what to look for before buying your next chipper shredder please e-mail us or give us a call.


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