Modern wood chippers can chop tree branches, stumps, and trunks into tiny wood chips. Even with the most intimidating landscaping and vegetation maintenance jobs, wood chippers save you precious time, money, and labor.
There is a range of wood chippers available on the market, from small electric models for general yard work to large commercial designs for bigger jobs. If you have many trees that need chipping, a power take-off (PTO) chipper is a fantastic tool for your arsenal.
This article will review everything you need to know about PTO wood chippers, including their benefits, costs, and some helpful FAQs.
- Types of PTO Chipper
- Is It Compatible With Your Tractor
- Flywheel Size
- Feed System: Hydraulic, Self-Powered, or Gas-Powered
- Adjustable Chipping Size
- Overall Weight
- Build Quality
What Is a PTO Powered Wood Chipper?
The Wood Chipper has come a long way since Peter Jensen invented the first one in 1884. The modern PTO chipper has a drive shaft that attaches to the output shaft on a mower, truck, or tractor. They draw power directly from the vehicle, which makes them more effective than electric or gas-powered chippers.
That extra power makes larger chipping jobs faster and easier all around and they are designed for durability so can handle rugged terrain and hardcore use.
PTO chippers have flywheels that grind wood and distribute the chips through a roller feed. The wood chips then pass through a feed hopper that expels them through an outfeed chute. These chutes are often adjustable for your convenience.
These powerful and versatile machines are a heavy-duty method of tackling large-scale storm damage or felled trees and converting it into wood chips. Obviously, there are a number of opportunities available with this wood chip by-product in your own yard or for commercial sale.
If you have never seen a wood chipper in use then why not check out this video from my old buddy Ed from My Cluttered Garage? In the second half of this video, he shows us the internal workings of the chipper and offers plenty of useful advice on what to consider when picking up a PTO chipper.
Benefits of a PTO Wood Chipper
Since PTO chippers work by hitching to a vehicle, they are easy to transport and as such can often be taken into wooded or remote areas that other chippers can’t reach.
PTO chippers provide impressive mobility and power you just won’t find in other wood chippers. Better yet, you don’t need a separate fuel or power source.
Compared to standard gas and electric-powered chippers, PTO machines are much more efficient and dynamic when dealing with large amounts of woody material.
Automatic Roller Feed
PTO chippers come equipped with automatic roller feeds that make chipping safe and easy.
The rollers take care of everything, so you don’t have to force limbs, branches, trunks, and stumps into your chipper. You can keep your own limbs safe and intact and clear of the chipper flywheel.
The roller feeder automatically draws the woody material into the hopper, where a rotor drum and blades reside. Simply toss your wood into the chipper opening, and your PTO chipper will do the heavy lifting for you.
Are PTO Chippers Safe
You should always be vigilant and cautious when working with heavy-duty machinery like a PTO chipper. Never operate this machinery without familiarizing yourself with an owner’s manual first and in some cases it would be wise to seek professional support or training as a first-time user. Manufacturers and distributors can offer advice on how to safely operate your machinery.
You should have the correct PPE and clothing before operating any wood chipper.
Your clothes should fit tightly to avoid anything hanging loose. Baggy clothes can get snagged on a branch or get caught in the machine. Long pants keep your legs safe from cuts caused by fast flying debris, and you should also wear work boots with steel toes.
It goes without saying google and ear defenders are obviously essential, along with a good pair of hard-wearing gloves.
Always stand to the side of the hopper to feed the chipper wood. Never stand directly in front of it. Be sure to keep children, animals, or untrained personnel away from the chipper when it is in use.
Always pay close attention, and don’t become impatient or rushed when using your PTO chipper. Never allow more than one person to operate the chipper at once.
If you perform any maintenance or repairs on the chipper, ensure that it is no longer running before you begin.
When you follow these guidelines, you can reduce your risk of serious injury. If you run into any emergencies while operating a wood chipper, immediately contact 911.
PTO Chipper Maintenance
Regular maintenance ensures you get the most out of your investment when you spend money on a heavy-duty machine like a PTO chipper. If you neglect your chipper, it will stop functioning correctly. Then you will have to deal with costly repairs.
Regular maintenance will prove that your wood chipper is safe to operate and that all the parts are functioning correctly for optimal performance.
If your PTO chipper is covered in shavings and debris, it will not work as well as a clean machine. You should always keep both the inside and outside of your PTO chipper clean.
You should also check that your blades are not dulling periodically. If they are dull, sharpen them. A dulled blade can cause damage to your PTO chipper in the long run.
Greasing the bearings on your chipper is another maintenance must-do. Just be sure to use the correct lubricant.
Good PTO chipper maintenance includes cleaning out the machine’s air filters regularly. That is especially true if you are working in dusty or dry conditions.
How Much Do PTO Chippers Cost
Since there are so many different PTO chippers on the market, prices vary widely depending on several factors. You can find a chipper anywhere from $1,000 up to $20,000.
The most expensive PTO chipper models are meant for the heaviest workloads, while a $3,000 to $5,000 chipper would be better suited to typical yard work on a smaller plot of land. The image above shows a 5″ Bear Cat PTO Chipper that costs around $3,200 from Amce Tools.
Chippers on the higher end of the price range feature top-of-the-line features like hydraulic feed hoppers that can continuously chip large pieces of wood at maximum capacity.
Choosing The Right PTO Wood Chipper
Finding the best PTO chipper in a sea of options can prove to be a rather daunting task. Understanding which different PTO wood chippers are available to you is the first step in making the right decision.
Before buying one, you should understand vehicle compatibility, different feed systems, and more vital information. Below you will find that information to help you decide what kind of PTO chipper you might need.
Types of PTO Chipper
PTO chippers have two main categories: chippers with shredders and chippers without shredders. Both serve different purposes and come equipped with unique functions.
PTO Chipper Without Shredder
Most PTO chippers don’t feature a shredder as this is the more common design. They use a large flywheel to chip the wood with one blade or multiple blades.
When the flywheel starts to gain momentum, it needs less power from the vehicle it’s hitched on. That eases stress on the engine.
You can use PTO chippers without shredders to cut down large branches and limbs, even some small trees. They produce uniform chips from pieces of wood at least 3 inches in diameter.
PTO Chipper With Shredder
PTO chippers with shredders can do everything a chipper without a shredder can do. They also include an additional shredder hopper at the top of the chipper.
These shredders have fine blades inside that produce smaller wood chips than PTO chippers without shredders. They need less power than chippers without shredders, so they are used for smaller yard debris.
PTO chippers with shredders produce more mulch-like wood chips.
Is It Compatible With Your Tractor
Before you buy a PTO chipper, you need to be sure that it is compatible with the vehicle you are using.
If you want to hitch your chipper to a tractor, you will need one that has enough horsepower to handle the job. You can find some lawn tractors with capable engines, but most are now strong enough to power a PTO chipper.
You need a tractor with a Category 1 or 2 hitch to attach your chipper correctly. Your tractor product manual should include information on the hitch category you need.
This Country Pro Cat 1 type is available from Tractor Supplies
PTO chippers are meant to deal with harsh terrain and heavily wooded areas, so they use huge flywheels to grind wood into manageable chips.
PTO chipper flywheels can be very heavy. Some can weigh more than 200 pounds. They are built to stand the test of time and the most grueling workloads.
The flywheels are capable of chipping much larger woody material than your run-of-the-mill wood chippers. They can cut through a thick log and cut it up into wood chips 1.8th of an inch thick in no time flat.
If you need some ambitious chipping work done and you are dealing with larger trunks or stumps, you should try to find a PTO chipper with a larger or heavier flywheel so it can take on the workload.
Feed System: Hydraulic, Self-Powered, or Gas-Powered
A feed system refers to how a PTO chipper’s automatic roller feed works and how the machine is powered. There are three main feed systems, self-powered, hydraulic, and gas-powered.
PTO chippers with self-powered feed systems work best when you are dealing with branches up to 4 inches in diameter. They feature simple designs that attach to many different tractor models.
They are highly manual chippers that require more hands-on work than their gas-powered or hydraulic counterparts.
Hydraulics refers to a mechanical function that operates using force from liquid pressure to power the mechanical process.
You can use PTO chippers with hydraulic feed systems to get larger-scale jobs done quicker and easier. If you need your chipper to cut up larger stumps, logs, and branches then hydraulic feeds are a good choice.
Gas-powered feed systems operate completely independent from your tractor and they often come with a versatile hitch so you can transport them using a truck or a smaller vehicle with a trailer attached.
Adjustable Chipping Size
If you are looking for a PTO chipper that chops up wood into various sizes, you want to find a model that lets you adjust the size of your chip as needed.
Not all PTO chippers feature this convenient functionality, some only allow for one chip size or maybe two.
PTO chippers can weigh anywhere from 800 to 2,000 pounds, but some are even heavier than that.
Usually, the chipper’s flywheel is the heaviest part of the machine. Before you purchase a heavier PTO chipper be sure that your tractor is equipped to handle that much extra weight.
When you buy a PTO chipper you want to ensure that it can meet the demands of your workload and environment. You need a highly durable, robust machine that can withstand heavy-duty tasks regularly.
It can help to study reviews about various PTO chippers online and see what other customers are saying about them before locking down a purchase.
You don’t want to waste your hard earned money and end up with a chipper that doesn’t live up to your needs and standards.
Verdict: Is a PTO Wood Chipper Worth It?
After learning all this information about PTO chippers, you might still be wondering whether buying one is a good decision for you. That’s perfectly normal.
Buying the right PTO chipper is serious business, and you should be hyper-vigilant when deciding whether to make this investment.
While PTO chippers are very useful and help streamline grueling landscaping work, they aren’t right for everyone. They are best suited for contractors and farmers, or people with large pots of land and lots of trees to clear.
If you have the machinery necessary to use a PTO chipper and find one that suits your needs, they are certainly worth the money. They can even be a lucrative investment if you turn around and sell your woodchips once you have cleared the land.
If you have a lot of acres, you need a chipper that keeps up with all your trimming, tree clearing, and debris handling needs. If you need lots of property maintenance done, they are the best way to accomplish your work.
FAQs PTO Chippers
To round out this guide to PTO wood chippers, here are some frequently asked questions from around the web.
The questions come from people just like you, from their quests to find the perfect chipper online.
PTO Wood Chippers…The Bottom Line
There are lots of different PTO wood chippers available on the market today. Most have similar designs and capabilities, but they are still very different from one another on many levels.
Different power levels and capabilities make certain PTO chippers more desirable based on your specific chipper needs. You want to find a PTO chipper that checks off all your boxes and can do the work you need with ease.
Whether you own a landscaping business, work as a contractor, or are a homeowner with acreage and tree work to do, the right PTO wood chipper can handle anything you throw into it.
So when life gives you tree stumps and debris you can turn them into beautiful wood chips without breaking a sweat, or your bank.