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What Size Excavator Do I Need to Get the Job Done?


Excavators are load shifting equipment that can be used for a variety of commercial and residential projects. From laying roadways to digging backyard pools, forestry, construction and mining, the excavator is a versatile piece of equipment across a number of industries. This versatility also means there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right size of excavator. Know which choice is right for you by following these tips.

Ask yourself these three big questions

Before you choosing an excavator for your next job you should consider your answers to the following:

  • What is the work that needs to be done?
  • What is the size, shape and scope of the job site?
  • What other requirements could impact your choice in excavator? (Will you be moving earth, pipes, landscaping?)

Answering these three questions in detail will go a long way to helping you decide what sort of excavator you will need. Obviously, you’ll need an excavator that has enough power to do the job, but size requirements are just as important. The type of job will also impact what attachments and features you’ll need to look for, and you should choose an excavator that makes it as easy as possible to change these attachments, whether it be buckets, compaction equipment, rippers or hammers. For example, a knuckle boom excavator might be just the thing you need for a job site with hard to reach places.

Another thing to consider when choosing an excavator is if it will be comfortable for your workers. If your excavator will be used constantly for long periods, you should ensure it is comfortable for the operators. The cabin (if applicable) should be air conditioned, the seating should be ergonomic, and the hydraulic controls as easy to operate as possible, to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity.

An excavator for every jobsite

At Solution Plant Hire, we have a number of excavators suitable for a variety of needs.

Compact (mini) excavators

Compact excavators are best for job sites that require nimble excavation. The operator may have to negotiate existing structures, avoid ground lines or work in areas with tight spaces and narrow turning circles. Compact excavators obviously use less power, and will do the least amount of damage to roads, footpaths and other fragile infrastructure. Compact excavators run anywhere from 1.7 tonnes up to 7 tonnes.

Solution Plant Hire compact excavators:

1.7 Tonne Excavators

Used commonly in landscaping jobs, the 1.7T excavator is a nimble operator with enough grunt to get most simple excavations done quickly and efficiently. Anything from backyard digging for a pool to small landscaping jobs is within reach of the 1.7T excavator.

3.5 Tonne Excavators

Featuring a number of additional features like conditional registration, pattern select controls and reverse flow hammer piping, 3.5T excavators come with a variety of attachments making them versatile units for projects like pipe lifting and digging trenches. They are usually well balanced and are often referred to as Crawlers.

5.5 Tonne Excavators

Featuring up to 600mm digging buckets, 5.5T excavators are ideally suited to road work, construction and landscaping. 5.5T brings a lot of power for a compact unit, and is extremely versatile in use and deployment.

Standard excavators

Covering excavators from seven tonnes up to significantly larger 45 tonne class, standard excavators fit the majority of job profiles. You’ll see them used widely in building and construction, with the lighter variants working well in tighter spaces, being nimble enough for jobs like digging, material handling, demolition, dredging and forestry work.

Solution Plant Hire standard excavators:

8 Tonne Excavators

Nimble enough to navigate uneven terrain and urban job sites, the 8T features plenty of power to get the job done. WIth up to 600mm digging buckets, 1200mm batter bucket with bolt on edge and double pump hydraulics the eight tonne is a smooth and versatile operator.

14.5 Tonne Excavators

For larger excavations and job sites, the 14.5T offers enough power to get the job done while still retaining manoeuvrability around larger jobsites.

14.5 Tonne Knuckle Boom Excavators

If you’re working on a job site with hard to reach areas, the versatility of the knuckle boom’s extra joint could make all the difference. Featuring reverse flow hammer piping and hydraulic quick hitch, the 14.5T Knuckle Boom is among our most versatile excavators.

23.5 Tonne Excavators

Like all Solutions Plant Hire excavators, the 23.5T is built with the operator in mind. Featuring comfortable seating, wrist rests on the pilot controls and an air conditioned cab, the 23.5T is a versatile excavator that boasts a zero tail swing for precision turning.

30 Tonne Excavators

For large construction jobs on mostly wide, flat surfaces, the 30T is power and precision personified. You’ll need a large jobsite and plenty of turning room for these behemoths, but when the job demands it, the 30T is more than capable, featuring a 1500mm batter bucket, steel tracks and reverse flow hammer piping, and reduced tail swing for better maneuverability than most excavators in this size category.

Large excavators

This is the mining workhorse and can weigh anything up to 80T. Because of its size and weight, it generally requires level ground to operate on, and is used mostly for large digging jobs where a lot of earth needs to be moved. A large excavator also requires a special trailer and equipment to move it on and off site, so operation costs can be high.

Specialist excavators

These are excavators designed for non-standard work, such as:

  • The knuckle boom excavator, with an extra arm joint for reaching difficult areas
  • The long reach excavator, with an extended reach of up to 95 feet
  • The zero swing excavator, which can only swing within the width of its tracks, making it ideal for confined spaces
  • The spider excavator, with legs instead of tracks, allowing it to work on all kinds of terrain
  • The swamp excavator, with its specialised tracks that allow it to float on water.

Hiring vs Buying: Which is the better option for you?

Not sure if you want to buy or hire an excavator? Consider the following:


Versatility is among the top reasons to consider hiring an excavator over buying. Excavators come in a wide range of weight classes offering a myriad of different features and capabilities. Success is largely dependant on the size of the job site and the requirements of the work. Put simply, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Look at the work that needs to be done (i.e. digging, materials, handling etc), and then choose the type of excavator that will deliver enough power and have enough reach and manoeuvrability to perform these tasks. Also look at the size and accessibility of your site, to ensure you don’t opt for an excavator that’s too heavy or too large for the space.

Hiring gives you the flexibility to pick and choose the tool you need without investing hundreds and thousands into owning several excavators.


Excavators are huge. The largest among them dwarfing many other types of construction equipment. Owning excavators means you’ve got to find somewhere to store them. That’s an additional cost and one that can run up a significant bill that is easily negated by hiring instead of buying.

Transport costs

Excavators need to be transported from job to job. You’ll need the right sized trailer and a competent driver, which means additional costs and storage if you own the truck as well.

Ongoing maintenance and insurance

If you’re planning on buying your own excavator(s), you’ll also need to consider the ongoing running costs including maintenance, repairs and insurance. You’ll need to be sure that these costs can be recouped through regular use on jobs.

Choosing the right hire company

If you’ve decided that hiring an excavator is the solution for your project or business, you also need to consider how you’re going to choose the right hire company. There are a few key criteria for this, including:

  • Ensuring they have expert knowledge in securing the right machine for your needs
  • Making sure you’re confident that the machine you’ve hired s 100% safety compliant and allowed onto any site
  • Keeping the hiring experience simple, having all the attachments in one place
  • Making sure the company delivers all your equipment on time, at a competitive price and with all the paperwork done for you.

Keep your excavator hiring experience stress-free

Solution Plant Hire have a number of excavators available to suit any size or type of commercial or residential project. Whether it’s renovating your backyard or building an apartment block, we keep the process simple and make sure you have all the equipment you need for an efficient and smooth project. Grab a quick quote today to see how easy it is to hire yourself a helpful excavator.

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