Buyers' guide - Woodchippers

Arborists, landscapers and grounds-maintenance teams can put chippers to good use, says, Sally Drury.

Woodchippers: capacity and power must be sufficient to cope with material generated - image: HW
Woodchippers: capacity and power must be sufficient to cope with material generated - image: HW

Q. How can I justify spending £15,000 or more on a 6in woodchipper?

A. With wages, lorry fuel and disposal costs so high, transport and recycling of green waste have taken on a new level of importance.

The 6in chipper is the most popular size for these machines in the UK. They will usually handle brashy material and timbers up to 6in in diameter so will cope with a lot of material generated by arborists, but also, increasingly, by many landscapers and grounds-maintenance teams.

If you are regularly involved in tree work and land clearance that generates brash and good sized wood, then such a chipper could save you time, fuel and money when it comes to clearing away lorryloads of material. It may even be possible to leave chips on site.

Larger timbers could be logged but if most of the waste that you generate is substantially smaller than 6in, or comprises brambles and root balls or weeds contaminated with stones, then you will be better off with an appropriately sized shredder.

Q. What features should I look for in a new model?

A. Clearly the capacity and power of the machine have to be sufficient to cope with the type, size and volume of material generated. Start by making a list of woodchippers with suitable throat sizes and of sufficient power rating to cope with the timber you will need to chip. If working within one site - say an estate, country park or campus - you may want to look at using your tractor as the power unit and so save money by opting for an engine-less, power take-off (PTO)-driven model.

Inspect all safety devices and controls, making sure that all moving parts are guarded and operation is easy. Study the construction for strength and then look at the features offered by individual manufacturers, such as roller speed and grip, soundproofing, blade longevity and maintenance - and even the position of handles for manhandling the machine on site.

You may want a turntable unit if working on the roadside, a self-propelled machine on tracks for getting to locations inaccessible by vehicles or one that stabilises on embankments. Make sure the weight is less than 750kg if you have towing licence restrictions.

Q. Why do some woodchippers have the bar fitted around the top of the hopper and others around the bottom?

A. If the hopper or feed table are less than 60cm from the ground, the bar will be around the sides and the top. If is the measurement is greater than 60cm, the bar will be around the sides and the bottom.

Q. What kind of warranty can I expect when buying?

A. Most manufacturers offer a two-year warranty. Some, like Greenmech, offer an option on a third year. The new Forst machines made and supplied by Redwood come with a three-year warranty.

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