GUIDE: How to Choose your Next Excavator

No one excavator is going to be right for every job, but with all the various the options of brands, models and types, which is the best option for your business?

The one that will provide the greatest return on what is often an expensive investment. The following article will highlight areas for you to consider and act as a discussion guide when you are talking with your equipment dealer.

How will it be used?

The first step before choosing an excavator should be to carefully review and consider the range of tasks it is to be used for. Before every new job consider the following:

  • What kind of material(s) do I need to move? What amount of breakout force will I need to move this material?
  • What are the ground conditions of the job site?
  • What type of access do I have to the site?
  • How much space do I have to operate in once at the site?
  • How much material do I have to move?
  • What depth will I need to dig to?
  • What type of buckets or attachments will I need to efficiently complete the job?

Should I hire or purchase my excavator?

Hiring an excavator for the specific job at hand will provide you greater ability to choose a machine that is ideal for your current job. Hiring equipment also provides a range of additional benefits:

  • Access newer and/or higher quality equipment than you would normally be able to afford to purchase outright;
  • Equipment modification services for specific job tasks or sites;
  • Professionally maintained and serviced equipment;
  • Emergency mechanical support; and
  • Prompt access to parts.

However if you are keen to purchase then carefully consider the size and types of jobs that you will likely be undertaking in the future to ensure you are not wasting money on a machine that is not appropriate for your business.

For more information on whether you should rent or purchase your excavator you can review the post we wrote on this topic, but for the purposes of this article remember there are many additional lifetime costs in a piece of earthmoving equipment than just the purchase price.

Excavator specifications

With your task and job-site requirements in hand, look to find an experienced, knowledgeable and reputable equipment dealer who will work with you to choose the right piece of equipment. Work with your dealer to consider:

Excavator Size

Excavators are available in a range of class sizes from 1 to 90+ metric tons. Choosing too a large excavator may result in underutilization and wasted dollars, while choosing too small may mean it takes longer to complete your job, or limit the type of jobs you can undertake.

Choose a machine that has both the appropriate size to access the job site and will allow it to operate comfortably in the available workspace. Many smaller excavators come with zero-tail swing rotation and undercarriages that can be contracted for greater access.

When choosing the size of your excavator also consider how you will be transporting the excavator to and from site, and where it will be stored when not in use.

Excavator Weight

Review your job site to understand the ground conditions your excavator will be working in. The greater the machine weighs the more likelihood of damage to the ground it is operating on. This will be a greater concern if you are undertaking work in landscaped areas, or if travelling over thin roadbase.

Note: You should be careful not to confuse the machine weight with the maximum operating weight which will guide you in how much weight can be lifted with the boom at full extension.

Digging Depth and Strength

What depth will your excavations need to be and what type of breakout force will you need to safely move the material? If possible review a range of your previous jobs to get an idea about the average depth your projects require and then talk to your equipment dealer about the recommended specifications of each machine and any additional attachments that may be required to complete the job.

Dump Height

Where will you be dumping the excavated material? If you will be dumping into a truck for removal what boom height will the excavator need to have to clear the sizes of the truck?

Bucket Size/Capacity

  • How large if the job at hand?
  • How much time do you have to complete the job?
  • How precise does your excavation need to be?

All these questions will guide you in your choice of bucket to deliver the most efficient and quality job. Again talk to your equipment dealer for details on what alternative bucket types are available for the excavator you are looking at.

Consider whether you will also need the convenience of a quick-hitch coupler.


If you have a large job in front of you, choosing a piece of equipment that will keep your operator comfortable will pay you good dividends in the long run, improving safety alertness, attitude/moral, and attention to detail.

Look to choose an excavator with good entry access, wide visibility from the cab, comfortable and supportive seats, smooth equipment controls, and adjustable climate functions.


If hiring a piece of equipment, ensure you review your hire contract to clearly understand what is your maintenance and servicing responsibilities when in possession of the equipment.

Due to the type of work they undertake excavators require regular servicing and attention to avoid costly issues. Operators should undertake detailed walk-around inspections before and after each use. Talk to your equipment dealer about gaining access to service kits and emergency parts if needed.

Excavators are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on site, but there are many factors that will affect the type and model of excavator that you choose to suit your business.

Don’t do it alone, utilise the experience, knowledge and skill of a trusted equipment dealer to ensure you choose the best option.

Contact Plantman Equipment today to discuss our available excavator range. If you require something not listed, we can assist by locating and checking equipment on your behalf.