Good Things Come In Small Packages: What To Look For When Hiring A Mini Excavator

Hiring a full-size excavator for limited excavation work, such as trench digging and landscaping, can often feel like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and most excavator hire companies will also offer a range of mini excavators for smaller work sites. These robust little pieces of machinery boast surprising power and tremendous versatility -- however, not every excavator is made equal, and you should pay close attention to the specifications of your mini excavator before you hire one. Keep the following factors in mind when finding the best mini excavator for your needs:

How large is the mini excavator?

Obviously, one of the mini excavator's greatest advantages is its small size, allowing it to be used in cramped areas. However, some mini excavators are still larger than others, so you will want to ascertain just how big an excavator you will need before hiring. Hiring costs tend to increase dramatically as the size of the machinery does, so you may find it more practical and affordable to hire a small model for two days than a larger model for one. You should also ensure that your excavator is capable of passing any low clearance areas nearby, such as low bridges and roofing overhangs.

How powerful is the mini excavator's engine?

Mini excavators are fitted with all-terrain tracks that can dig them out of many jams, but it is still possible for these machines to become badly stuck in soft, sodden soil or other difficult types of ground material. However, engine size is limited by the compact nature of a mini excavator, so you may find yourself unable to power out of particularly sticky situations. As such, you should look for a mini excavator with a high power-to-weight ratio, as these diggers will more easily traverse difficult and uneven ground.

What excavator attachments do I need?

Mini excavators are generally fitted with a strong and versatile backhoe, which is useful for a variety of digging jobs. However, with the right attachments, your mini digger can be set to a wide variety of tasks: bulldozing and bucket attachments are available for extensive earthmoving projects, while more specialised boom attachments such as log grapples and tree cutters can be used to quickly and efficiently clear overgrowth. While hiring these attachments alongside your mini excavator can add to overall hiring costs, it is also often a more efficient and inexpensive solution to hiring specialised machinery to take on these tasks.

Where is the excavator coming from?

Since they are not road legal and most people don't have a handy flatbed truck lying around, your mini excavator will generally need to be transported to and removed from your work site by the hire company. Some companies pay for transportation costs, but most will charge you an increasing amount in transportation costs if you hire from a long distance away. Try to hire from a nearby depot whenever possible.

Does your excavator come with an operator?

In most circumstances, you will not need a license or special training to use a mini excavator. However they can be surprisingly difficult to control, particularly for people with little experience operating plant machinery, so you may wish to choose a hire package that includes a trained operator to work the excavator for you. Naturally, this can add a significant amount to your overall hiring costs -- however, the extra cost can be more than worth it when working on time-sensitive projects where efficiency and expertise is key or when the excavator needs to be used near fragile or sensitive equipment, such as gas and water pipes.