Uses for a Mini Excavator
Don’t let the name fool you; mini excavators are powerful, valuable pieces of equipment. They are perfect for just about any demolition or digging task that is too large for basic tools, but requires something that can maneuver through small or crowded spaces. There are a multitude of attachments available designed to assist with a broad range of applications. Mini excavators are commonly used for:
- Demolishing small structures
- Digging holes, small ponds, or trenches
- Flattening land
- Plowing snow
- Removing stumps
- Repairing sewer lines
Types of Mini Excavators
There are two types of excavator: tail swing and zero-tail swing. The type that works best for you depends on the environment of the workspace and your output needs.
Tail Swing Mini Excavators
Also referred to as conventional house models, tail swing mini excavators have a rear counterweight that stabilizes the excavator, offsetting any additional weight from the bucket. In tight workspaces, this design can be problematic, as the counterweight extends 6″ or more beyond the width of the tracks as the excavator rotates. While this is a problem in small or crowded areas, it is less so with a more open environment. These mini excavators are known for having higher lift capacities, as well as improved arm breakout and bucket force.
Zero-Tail Swing Mini Excavators
As the name suggests, zero-tail swing mini excavators have no tail swing. Unlike their tail swing counterparts, these excavators have a counterweight that rotates within the width of the tracks, which makes it far easier to navigate crowded or tight areas. These machines have comparable cutting height, dig depth, dump height, and reach. Zero-tail swing mini excavators are also typically easier to maintain, with ground-level access points to service the machine.
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How Much Does a Used Mini Excavator Cost?
The cost of used mini excavators depends on the age and size of the machine, type of excavator, brand, power of the excavator, and the dealer you purchase through. What follows is a general pricing guide to provide an idea of what you can expect to pay for your used mini excavator.
- On average, used mini excavators range in cost between $15,000 and $30,000.
- A used mini excavator with a dig depth less than 10′ and less than 20 horsepower has an average cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
- A used mini excavator with a dig depth between 10′ and 12′ and 25-plus horsepower has an average cost around $25,000.
Keep in mind that any add-ons you purchase increase the overall cost of your mini excavator.
Comparing Used Mini Excavators
When comparing used mini excavators, there are a few things that you need to consider before making your final decision. Namely, you need to perform a physical inspection of the machine and figure the lifespan and operating hours of the unit.
A physical inspection is an important part of purchasing any piece of equipment, but especially if it is used. Be sure to pay special attention to the attachments (looking for signs of damage, such as scalloping on a bucket’s teeth) and the connection points around the boom, bucket, and stick to ensure that all points are free of movement. You also need to check for any leaks, especially in the hydraulic line and pump, and look over the tracks to make sure that the tread is acceptable. The overall structural integrity of the mini excavator is important, as the better the condition, the longer it is likely to last.
The lifespan and operating hours of the excavator are also important, as they tell you how long you will most likely be able to use the machine. Most mini excavators have a lifespan of about 10,000 hours, with heavily used excavators starting to experience issues around 8,000 hours. Look for a unit with less than 2,000 hours logged (if possible) and that has been made within the last three years, as these will still be cheaper than a new unit, but have more recent technology and a decent amount of life ahead of them.
It is important to note that hour meters can be tampered with, which means you might not always know whether the hours on the meter are accurate. There are ways to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, however, such as averaging the hours on the machine with the year it was made or purchasing through a trusted dealer. Asking to see the service records is another great way to make sure you have accurate information, as all dealers should have a detailed log of maintenance and repairs.