Skip to content
Excavator FAQ: What You Should Know

Excavator FAQ: What You Should Know

Excavator FAQ: what you should know

What is an excavator?

Perhaps one of the most common pieces of machinery on a jobsite, an excavator is a versatile piece of earthmoving equipment. These can be used for virtually everything, from digging, moving debris, uprooting heavy objects and more. Variance is a key factor in why so many jobsites choose excavators.

How much does an excavator weigh?

That depends on what kind of excavator you are interested in. Excavators come in a wide range of sizes, each offering very unique advantages in operation. Smaller excavators weigh in at 6 tons, sometimes even less. For larger excavators, you can expect a weight of at least 45 tons, if not more.

What is a mini excavator used for?

They might look unassuming, but mini excavators are an incredible asset to have in your fleet. Although they do not have the digging and hauling power of larger models, mini excavators have little to no tail-swing. They work well in small spaces with tight corners, or with materials that need a delicate touch. Their compact size also makes them the easiest to store and transfer in comparison to other excavators.

How do I get certified to operate an excavator?

First and foremost, you should not operate an excavator if you’re not certified. At all. Safety should always be the first priority on any jobsite, and operating a machine you are not qualified for can hurt yourself, others and the jobsite around you. Luckily, the process to get certified is straightforward. You will need to find a training program that works for you, submit an application, then take the training courses. At the end, they will put you through an exam, and you will be officially certified.

How do I change the control pattern on an excavator?

If you’re used to the controls in one orientation, working on a machine configured to something else can be dangerous. Changing the control pattern is easy: you first need to find the location of the pattern control lever. You can normally find this somewhere on the cab. Open the box protecting it, remove the bolt, switch the lever to your desired setting and put everything back together. The best way to find the location of your control pattern level is to check the owner’s manual.

What size excavator do I need for my job?

It can be difficult to decide on an excavator size, considering the drastic range in size among these machines. There are a few key factors to discuss before moving forward with your decision:

  • Budget - how big of an excavator are you willing to pay for? Larger models with more power are going to cost you significantly more than a smaller model
  • Worksite - what kind of terrain are you working on? Are you indoors or outdoors? Do you need to worry about inclement weather or tight corners? Pick an excavator size that plays to your jobsite’s advantage.
  • Needs - what kind of work needs to be done? Even outside of the attachments available to you, the size of the excavator limits the kind of work it can do. If you need to haul heavy materials or move large objects, a smaller excavator might not be able to do the job.

What attachments are available to excavators?

Part of the appeal of excavators is the litany of attachments, each of which allow the machine to perform different tasks. You can find dozens of types of attachments, but there are a few that are pretty commonplace:

  • Buckets - the stereotypical attachment on an excavator. They scoop up earth or debris with ease, partially because of the teeth lining the edge. Buckets come in just as wide of a variety as excavators themselves - you can find many different sizes!
  • Couplers - an essential excavator attachment, this lets you quickly detach and reattach other attachments. Without a coupler, it takes significant time and energy to switch out pieces.
  • Clamps - attach alongside a bucket to help assist in larger or heavier loads. The two pieces grip onto obstacles like boulders and tree stumps for an easier removal.
  • Augers - useful for drilling especially, these attachments include a blade and hydraulics to power it. These come in many specificities, depending on the size of the hole and what you’re drilling into.
  • Breakers - essentially a giant jackhammer, excavators can use this attachment to break apart hard terrain and materials – as the name would suggest.

How much does an excavator cost?

Obviously there is no standard price for purchasing an excavator. Price will vary depending on the size, model, year, OEM and more. However, the price should fall somewhere between $162,000 to $223,000.

Where can I find an excavator?

Ultimately, this depends on whether you decide to purchase an excavator for yourself or to rent from someone else. If you’re buying to own, you can either purchase from a local supplier, or have the excavator shipped to you by a foreign supplier. Generally, purchasing local machines will be quicker and less expensive, but foreign excavators might have features and capabilities to make the extra funds worth it. If you’re renting, you can find many different models and sizes at any rental location. EquipmentShare, for example, offers everything from heavy-duty construction equipment to power generators. You can find virtually anything you need.

Should I rent or buy my excavator?

Both renting and buying your equipment offer specific advantages. With rentals, you only have to pay for the machine for the duration that you need it. After that, you’re free to off-rent it. Plus, with rentals, you do not have to worry about the maintenance or storage of the machine. Purchasing your own equipment, however, means it is always available to you. No longer do you need to call around multiple rental companies to find the machine that you need. You are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the machine, however. It’s best to assess the needs of your jobsite and then choose from there.