Gardeners use wood chippers periodically to cut the limbs and branches of trees into chips. The machine is handy for cleaning up your garden after periodic pruning, shearing, or maintenance.
With wood chippers, trucks can carry extra load due to its compact size rather than taking whole branches. This helps to reduce time spent and the cost of fuel or labor.
While having wood chippers is efficient and does the job better than other tools available, most gardeners get lost between buying and renting a wood chipper. Both ways have their pros and cons.
An excellent way to sort out the problem would be to compare the costs involved and determine what approach fits your budget best.
In this article, we discuss the two options and advice on whether you should go for a wood chipper rental or buy the equipment and own it forever.
Features to Consider when Buying/Renting a Wood Chipper
For starters, your decision to buy or rent a wood chipper depends on several features that we discuss below. Having prior knowledge about the functionality and cost of a wood chipper is a prerequisite to getting the best deal out there.
1. Power Source
Wood chippers use different power sources to function. A couple of options for you are electrical or gas wood chippers.
If you want to keep your machine clean always, an electrical wood chipper is your best bet. It is also quieter compared to other power sources.
With gas or diesel chippers, you will need to change oil and replace the spark plugs occasionally. Gas chippers are noisy and also emit fumes.
On the flip side, they are more mobile than electrical chippers since you won’t need an electrical outlet.
2. Reduction Ratio
The reduction ratio helps you determine the final output size from the wood chipper. You want to go for a chipper with a high to low reduction ratio.
That means, for example, a 15:1 ratio is equivalent to fifteen containers of vegetative waste reduced to one container at the end of chipping.
3. Throat Size
Throat size is the width of your wood chipper feeder. This is a quality worth checking since it will determine what diameter of a tree can go into your chipper at a time.
The throat also determines the type of branches that go into the chipper.
Is it leafy or Viney? Wood chipper with a large throat works well with different branch types.
4. Engine Displacement
Engine displacement means the power your engine carries. Like an automobile engine, the higher the CC (cubic centimeters) rating of your wood chipper engine, the more power it carries. A higher CC engine also means your wood chipper is more functional and robust.
5. Weight and Size
Whether buying or going for a wood chipper rental, you want to check the weight and size of the machine you intend to acquire.
A heavy-weight chipper will mean towing, which comes with an added cost of getting a transport license. And here is where you should decide whether you are going for a rental or purchase.
Paying for a transport license to rent the machine may not be worthwhile. Checking the size of your chipper also matters a great deal since it will determine the size or heaviness of the tree that it will process.
The number of axles your chipper will require will also affect its size.
6. Is it Self-Feeding?
A self-feeding chipper makes operations easy. What you need is to channel the branches to the throat of your chipper instead of forcing material into it.
Depending on your need for use, you want to know whether you will tow your machine or operate with a track movement system.
A towable chipper is mobile, but this may be inconvenient, especially if you have a large area to cover. Choose a chipper that suits your usability needs.
8. Cutting Mechanism
Wood chippers have two types of cutting mechanisms: the disc and the drum. Both types affect the capability of your machine.
The disc cutting type does the job best to ensure excellent work volume while using less energy. On the other hand, the drum chippers have a consistent cutting proficiency which leads to more productivity.
The type of disc you go for will be dependent on the job at hand or the needs of the future.
9. Chipper Construction Material
Heavy construction material will give you more years of usage, thanks to its durability. Go for thick welded steel with a gauge range of 10 – 20.
Rent or Own a Wood Chipper?
With the features mentioned above in check, your next worry should be whether you should rent a wood chipper or buy one. In most cases, gardeners make that decision based on their individual needs.
Of course, there is always the possibility of your machine breaking down, and you don’t want to be the one fixing a rented chipper.
Let’s get down to the factors that you want to consider before you make that final decision.
If you don’t own a wood chipper, you are off the hook to maintain it. You are, therefore, better off renting it as the rental firm will cover the entire cost of maintenance.
Your only cost here will be the rental fee. However, before you get excited about this, you want to do some background checks of rental firms around your area.
Some rental firms will promise you gold, but they maintain their chippers poorly. Apart from checking their websites showing sleek machines, you should check with them in their offices or get referrals.
Some firms have old and rusty machines that will make your chipping work difficult. In some instances, rental firms will be courteous enough to send you repair personnel which is not always the case.
Nonetheless, good rental firms will give you a good deal. You may want to check the oil levels and do some greasing on the movable parts to ensure you are on track.
Wood Chipper rental firms have office opening hours, and here is where you may find it inconvenient to rent. Let’s say a rental firm operates from 7 am to 7 pm; that means you have a little window to transport the rental machine to and fro.
By the time you are through paperwork and set off to your yard, it could be close to two hours, depending on the distance you will have to cover. And this is almost always the case because you rarely find the machines close to your area.
The worst-case scenario is loading the chipper to your truck and returning it to the rental firm because of a malfunction. You waste valuable time.
If this rental firm is closing its office by 7 pm, you must begin the return journey at 5 pm to avoid paying overtime costs.
If you are leaving your yard by 5 pm, you should wrap up your work about two hours early to give you time to clean your yard and load the debris back to your truck.
Contrary to renting a wood chipper, buying one would mean more convenience in terms of time. You just need to get it out of your garage or barn, shred a few branches and park it back.
Having your wood chipper will also save you the trouble of having to pile up tree branches in your yard a day before.
From a surface view, renting a wood chipper looks cheaper than buying one, but this may not be the case, especially if you add up other associated expenses. If you look at both options in the long-term, buying a wood chipper looks more cost-effective but let’s do the math.
Suppose you become the buyer; you can sample the different models available in the market before you cash out. The cheapest models are usually small-sized and cost slightly lower than $200.
However, they may not serve you much because of the little they can handle. The heavy-duty models are pretty pricey, and you will have to part with an upward of a couple of thousand bucks to get a practical machine.
The other costs you have to consider when buying your chipper include gas and maintenance to keep it functional. Let’s also not mention the cost of building or enlarging your garage to accommodate the heavy-duty models.
Renting a wood chipper also involves costs depending on how long you use the machine. Typically, gardeners use wood chipper rentals in their garden for 3- 4hrs.
Most Wood Chipper rental farms will charge you $100 for a day’s use. If you get lucky, you may be offered a discount for prolonged use.
Note that once you rent and have the chipper, the cost of fuel or electricity is in your hands. To avoid incurring further expenses on maintenance, handle the chipper with utmost care and ensure you read all instructions on the manual.
A simple double-check will save you some bucks.
The upfront cost of buying and setting yourself up for a wood chipper appears to be relatively higher than renting one for a few hours. However, buying your chipper also depends on the model you want to buy.
Having your chipper also comes with other benefits that could bring you income, such as renting it out. With your chipper, you can also create your mulch yourself saving the cost of buying it.
The chipped branches and leaves also form an excellent organic fertilizer for your garden as the need arises.
To wrap this up, we would recommend buying a wood chipper rather than renting one. The benefits of purchasing a wood chipper heavily outweigh renting one.
You can use it anywhere and anytime you need it. Though the upfront costs are steep, you will break even in the long run with income from renting it out and other cost-saving measures in your garden.
Renting a wood chipper has the downside effect of inconvenience, unexpected maintenance cost, and time-restricted use. We hope you will be a happy chipper owner.