These machines go under various names:
- chipper shredder vacuum
- chipper shredder vac
- lawn vacuum
- yard vacuum
- leaf vacuum shredder
- leaf vacuum mulcher
- shredder vac
- and so on.
I’ll use the term chipper shredder vacuum on this site because that best sums up what these things are all about.
Chipper shredders vacuums are terrific tools for quickly reducing the amount of debris in your yard. This is especially true if you have lots of deciduous trees around you, where leaves, twigs, and branches can accumulate quickly.
These machines are designed to be used in motion. They are gas powered and combine the qualities of walk behind mowers with the capabilities of chipper shredders.
They also include vacuums, designed to suck up the debris from your yard so that it can be processed and mulched for easy disposal.
If you are thinking about maybe investing in one of these types of machines, here is some information that can help you with how to buy the walk behind chipper shredder that will suit you best.
Size and power of chipper shredder vacuums
Most walk behind chipper shredders use gasoline engines to power their operations. The functions powered by the engine include chipping, shredding, and vacuuming, so the engine needs to be large and powerful enough to accomplish these tasks.
Most of these machines feature engines rated between four and eight horsepower (Hp).
In some case the manufacturers advertise the engine size in cubic centimeters instead of horsepower. Most models have engines between 170 and 210cc, with 173 and 185 cc models being the most common.
Walk behind chipper shredder machines are typically a bit wider than the average walk behind lawnmower. The most common width of these units is 24 inches, which is an ideal width for most yards. These units can weigh in excess of 100 pounds, but they are equipped with wheels so you do not have to lift the machine under most circumstances.
Even so, their size means that they are bulky and you do need to be reasonably fit and strong to work with most models.
How do walk behind chipper shredder vacuums compare to gas powered and electric chipper shredders?
Walk behind chipper shredders use gasoline powered engines, but they are set up quite differently to typical gas powered wood chipper shredders.
Traditional gas powered machines are meant to be set up in a particular location to operate. Once operations have ceased in one area, they can be moved to a different location to operate.
Walk behind units are meant to be used in motion. They are kind of like a hybrid of a vacuum cleaner and a lawnmower. The engine is responsible for powering the vacuum, which sucks your lawn debris into the shredding mechanism. Also, a feeder cone or chute is included so that you can push larger twigs and small branches into the machine for chipping.
Most walk behind chipper shredders use bags to collect the shredded debris. Some of them also include the capability to blow the debris off to the side of the machine. Other designs allow for the mulched material to be placed back into the yard for fertilization purposes.
Electric chipper shredder machines bear very little resemblance to walk behind units. Other than the fact that they contain blades designed to process yard debris, the operations of these machines are quite different. Like most gas powered chipper shredders, electric models are meant to be operated in a semi stationary location.
Features to look out for in walk behind chipper shredder vacuums
If you are thinking about buying a walk behind chipper shredder, there are some features you need to consider before you make a purchase.
First of all, your unit should have an engine capable of powering all aspects of the machine’s operation during your normal usage. Look for engines made by reputable brands like Honda or Briggs and Stratton.
Most of these machines have engines that are typically used in lawn mowers. However, chipper shredder vacuums are usually large and heavier than lawn mowers, so you need to make sure that your model has an engine powerful enough to shift the weight and do the job of processing leaves and other material. Look for a minimum of around 190cc or 6Hp.
Be sure that the machine you buy includes a chipper feeder cone. This part of the machine is used for feeding larger branches into the chipping mechanism. Debris that is too large to vacuum must be fed into this mechanism, so be sure that it is adequate for the work you want to do.
But bear in mind that chipping is not the main task that these machines are designed for.
Vacuum and blowing
The vacuuming mechanism of a walk behind chipper shredder is also very important. It needs to be able to pick up most debris in a single pass, otherwise you could spend more time doing your chores than you would prefer.
Some models have a detachable vacuum hose that lets you vacuum up leaves from flower beds and under hedges. Others have a blowing feature that allows you to blow material off to the side as you walk along vacuuming.
Make sure that the model you buy comes with a durable bag, strong enough not to be torn by the twigs that are sucked into and large enough so that you don’t have to keep stopping to empty it.
The bag should be easy to attach and remove, or you could be in for some headaches when it comes time to dispose of the debris.
The Best uses for walk behind chipper shredders vacuums
These machines can take the place of several other implements currently found in your garage or storage shed. With a walk behind chipper shredder, you can perform the work of a rake, lawn sweeper and stationary chipper or shredder all in one machine.
These units are great for clearing debris from moderate to large sized lawns and they make it easy for operators to take care of mulching and disposing of common yard debris.
If you have been thinking about purchasing a garden chipper shredder, you have probably taken a look at the popular electric and gas powered models. However, it may be possible that a walk behind model is ideal for you and your chores.
These machines are able to quickly process waste material from your yard and they allow you to complete the processes of collection and shredding in one step.
However, given the multi-task nature of these machines, you are unlikely to get the ability to carry out all functions reliably and adequately in cheaper models.
Since you are combining several tools in one, it really is advisable to go for the highest quality unit you can buy.
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