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Tips to Help You Choose the Right Excavator

Posted on by Evan Riley
Categories: Heavy Equipment Dealers Near Me

An excavator can be one of the most powerful and important pieces of equipment at a job site. Having the right excavator can mean the difference between getting your work done quickly and meeting deadlines, versus having to work later, missing your deadlines, and having a very unhappy client. Although we’re happy to help you figure out the perfect excavator to meet your needs, it’s always a good idea to have a sense of what you require before you head to the heavy equipment dealer near you to get the machinery you need.

Let’s take a quick look at some of your options and some of the ways you can narrow down your choices to pick just the right one. Ultimately, the right excavator will really depend on the types of jobs you typically handle and the kind of requirements you need them to meet. While you might have some tasks that fall outside of your everyday use, in general, it’s going to make your life easier to match an excavator to what you need the majority of the time. Remember to be accurate when estimating what you need, and give yourself some wiggle room, so you don’t underestimate your needs.

Consider the Right Size Excavator

One of the best places to start when trying to choose the right excavator for your business is with the different sizes available to you. Even if you only look at one manufacturer, for example, Hyundai Construction Equipment, you can still end up with dozens of different excavators to choose from. By looking at what size you require, you can easily narrow down your options by eliminating what will clearly not work.

Some of the most common sizes to consider include:

  • Compact – These are small excavators that offer the best mobility and dexterity on a job site, but also have the lowest operating weights. While they can vary a bit, compact excavators typically have an operating weight somewhere between about 3,700 lbs and 19,000 lbs. Don’t expect to find anything at or above 20,000 lbs in this size.
  • Standard – For a lot of projects, a standard excavator can be the perfect option, providing a great balance between mobility and power. These models will typically have an operating weight between about 20,000 lbs and about 99,000 lbs. You won’t find standard models that can handle 100,000 lbs or more.
  • Large – If you need a tremendous amount of power and a machine that can handle some serious weight, then a large model is the way to go. These are incredibly powerful and have an operating weight of 100,000 lbs and up. You may find machines able to handle as much as 200,000 lbs of total operating weight in this category.

As we said before: when making estimates, it’s often helpful to overestimate slightly rather than underestimating what you need and ending up with a machine that lets you down. While you certainly don’t want to choose a large excavator if a compact model gets your job done, you’re better off with a standard model that is slightly bigger than what you absolutely require, but that still meets all of your needs. That way, if you find yourself with a bigger project in the future, you may still have the right equipment for it.

An excavator is shown at a work site from a dramatic angle.

Consider the Right Type of Excavator

While size is important, it’s not the only thing to consider. You want to make sure you choose the right type of excavator for the job sites that you typically need them for. There are two main types to consider:

  • Crawler Excavators – These models have treads on them rather than wheels, much like a tank, which gives them excellent stability. The treads can seriously damage pavement and roads, however, so they should only be used on sites without pavement. Their stability makes them a great choice for use in forestry and similar areas with uneven terrain, and they typically have the largest sizes available with the greatest operating weights.
  • Wheeled Excavators – These models have wheels rather than treads, somewhat similar to other vehicles. Since they have standard wheels, you can use them on pavement and on roads and city streets––as long as their weight is not a problem.
  • They are not quite as stable on uneven terrain, however, so they’re best for use in parking lots and highways. They do not typically have sizes and operating weights as large as crawler models.

No matter which type of excavator you’re looking for, Quality Fleet Service has you covered.

Consider Bucket Options and Sizes

While the overall size of the excavator you’re interested in is certainly important, you also need to consider the size of the bucket that will work best for you. Different machines have different standard buckets that they come with, but they also have optional buckets and other attachments that you can use. Even though you can change to a different bucket, each machine will indicate a maximum bucket size it can support, which is important for getting a sense of how much work it can do.

Other Considerations

An excavator is shown on a work site in the dirt after leaving a heavy equipment dealer near me in Springfield, MA.

As soon as you start looking at details for different excavators, you’ll quickly find that there are a lot of other specs to consider. While some of these might not be completely relevant to you (if you’ve already figured out other specifics you need to meet), there are some that you should definitely look at and consider. Your needs will really make a big difference in picking the right excavator, so the more you have figured out ahead of time, the easier it will be.

Consider the following:

  • Digging Depth – This is the distance down, below the surface the excavator sits on, that it can dig. If you plan on using your excavator for trenching or foundation work, then this is an important thing to consider.
  • Digging Reach – This tells you how far out the excavator can reach, rather than its depth down into the ground. Consider the configuration of the job sites you typically work on and how much reach you need your machine to have.
  • Breakout Force – This is how much force the bucket of your excavator can safely exert on an object. You’ll need to keep this in mind if you tend to use your excavator for demolition or clearing out trees.
  • Tail Swing Radius – This is how much the tail of the excavator swings out while in use. If you tend to work in cramped areas, such as between trees, buildings, and other structures, then you want a machine with a small tail swing radius.

You might also consider the maximum travel speed of your machine, particularly if you’re looking at a wheeled excavator that you plan on using on roads or in a large paved area.

The Big Picture

Now that you have a sense of these various considerations, it’s time to bring them all together. If you need an excavator for forestry use, to help tear down trees, move large amounts of soil, and perform other tasks, then consider a standard or large crawler model with a high breakout force and sufficiently large bucket size for your requirements. On the other hand, if you tend to work on foundation repair, between houses, on narrow driveways, then a compact wheeled excavator with a small tail swing radius and decent digging depth is likely the solution.

Quality Fleet Service Can Help

No matter what you’re looking for, we’re here to help. Whether you have figured out exactly what you need or you still have a lot of questions, come to Quality Fleet Service in South Hadley, MA, and we’ll make sure you have the right machine to get the job done.

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