An excavator and a backhoe working at construction site

Excavator vs backhoe – Which machine would we recommend?

The success of a construction project depends on choosing the right equipment. Different machines can do the same job, but selecting the most appropriate machine would help finish the task in less time and at the minimum cost.

Excavators and backhoes are the two most commonly used construction equipment. Each piece of equipment has its specific usage and functions. If you are still determining whether an excavator or a backhoe is best for your project, the article will help you make the right decision.

Backhoe vs Excavator

The primary use of both machines is digging, but each machine is suitable for a specific type of project. Always use an excavator if you are dealing with a large construction project or a heavy mining project. Similarly, an excavator will be the most suitable machine for heavy demolition projects. 

For a project that needs moderate excavation but the construction site consists of several buildings located at a distance, a backhoe can be much more helpful owing to its smaller size and mobility. It can shift quickly between structures due to its small size.

If the construction site does not have leveled land, we can deploy an excavator with a track carrier to carry out the excavation. Excavators can have tracks or wheels, while the backhoes come only with the wheel option.

Backhoes are often used for smaller jobs like landscaping, residential excavation, and snow removal.

Key Physical Differences

One of the key differences between an excavator and a backhoe is the weight. On average, a standard excavator weighs around 45 tons, while a backhoe weighs 7.5 tons.

The size of an excavator is typically larger than that of a backhoe. The excavator consists of a cabin connected to an arm and a boom with a bucket. There is an undercarriage below the cabin that moves the machine. 

The backhoes look very different from the excavators. Their cabin resembles a tractor cabin. On the front, there is a loader attachment. At the back, a boom and dipper stick is connected to a bucket, like an excavator. 

Another important difference between the two machines is the rotational range. An excavator’s entire cabin can move 360 degrees, while the backhoe’s arm can rotate around 200 degrees only.

200 degrees rotation of a backhoe
360 degrees rotation of an excavator

Control Systems

The control system of a backhoe is also different from an excavator. The backhoe uses two systems that are lever control and pilot control. The excavator has only a lever control option.

The pilot control uses buttons to maneuver the machine, while the two lever controls are used to move the backhoe. Some backhoe models have a unique joystick that allows the use of a loader and backhoe simultaneously. This feature is helpful when you want to reposition quickly or get unstuck.  

The pilot controls are prevalent among the operators because the buttons are used to control the movement, and they are more comfortable to operate.

Cabin Interior of a backhoe
Excavator Boom Control

Expert’s Choice

We can use excavators and backhoes for different purposes. It depends on the project's requirement which machine is most efficient in a specific scenario. Remember the three most important factors when choosing heavy equipment for the project. These factors are:

  • Project's Requirements
  • Economy
  • Terrain

If your project has both excavation and material shifting requirements, a backhoe loader would be preferred by an expert. You can save the costs of renting a loader. But this is not always the case. Let's say the project has a massive scope of excavation, and the project needs to be completed in less time. It would be best to use an excavator as it is much more efficient in large and deep excavations.  

Backhoes are generally more economical than standard excavators because they offer excavation and debris removal. But if there is small landscaping, demolition, or sewer lines installation work, you can choose a mini excavator. A mini excavator's rental cost is much less than a backhoe.

If the construction site terrain is not leveled, the experts recommend hiring an excavator, as it is available with a track carrier.

Renting Heavy Equipment

After choosing an excavator or a backhoe for your project, the next step is to look for a reliable piece of equipment. A wide variety of excavators and backhoe loaders are available at Rent1 equipment rentals. You can hire a backhoe or excavator best suited for your project at the lowest rate from them.

The excavator rent starts from $450 per day while backhoe rent starts from $550 per day. 

Hiring Heavy Equipment Operator

An experienced operator should only operate heavy equipment. There are many benefits to hiring a qualified operator. The most notable benefits are that they are highly efficient and can complete the work in less time.

The heavy equipment operators are highly skilled, and there are fewer chances of accidents when they are operating your machines. 

You can also get discounts when you hire an operator with heavy equipment from Rent1 equipment rentals. The hourly rates for excavators and backhoes, including operators, range from $95 to $185 per hour.  

Final thoughts

Excavators and backhoes are used for similar purposes but choosing the right equipment can optimize construction operations. You should evaluate the work scope carefully before deciding which one is the most suitable for your project.

If you have any questions about this post or heavy equipment you would like to know more about, contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

A mini excavator doing garden improvement and landscaping

3 Tips To Find a Perfect Rental Mini Excavator for Your Home DIY Project

Mini excavators are great when you need to do small-scale construction work in your yard. A mini-excavator is excellent for backyard work or if you're looking into starting construction projects around your property because they have plenty of power to handle even large tasks easily.

As the name implies, a mini excavator is a scaled-down version of a regular excavator. With their compact size, they can easily navigate tight spaces and get into hard-to-reach places that larger machines cannot go.

Their primary function is earth moving, but their attachments can make them highly versatile so mini excavators can perform many tasks around the home and garden from tearing down an old shed to putting in a pool or water feature.

Thankfully, finding a rental mini excavator is very easy and you don’t need a special license to use them — which is why they are so popular among homeowners. But there are many brands, makes, and models out there to choose from. So how do you choose the best mini excavator for your DIY project? 

Before deciding on which mini excavator to use for your DIY project, you have to consider these three essential factors: 

  • Project Requirements
  • Rental Costs
  • Condition of the Machine

1. Project Requirements

The most important thing is to figure out your project requirements. The choice of the excavator depends on whether you need the excavator for minor landscaping work or some heavy trench work. 

Bobcat mini excavators parked in a row

Bobcat mini excavators are very popular in the construction industry. A Bobcat mini excavator is available in many different models. An E10 Bobcat excavator is the lightest and is suitable for landscaping works. With an operating weight of 2593 lbs, it produces 10.2 horsepower. The max digging depth is 6 feet. If you want an economical option for doing minor landscaping work in your garden, go for E10 Bobcat. It can easily access tight spaces owing to its ultra-compact design.  

If the project requires extensive excavation work, the E35 Bobcat mini excavator is the best mini excavator for the job. It produces 33 horsepower and weighs 8824 lbs which makes it perfect for heavy-duty works like heavy excavation or demolishing concrete. It also has an extendable arm and can dig up to 12.1 ft, this is ideal when you need to do deep excavation to get down to the sewer line. 

A John Deere mini excavator offers a wide range of customization options. Models such as the John Deere 35G mini excavator will have multiple attachments that can be used for different tasks.

2. Rental Costs

The cheapest mini excavator is not always the best option. You’re going to need a machine that is economical and fulfills the project's needs. 

Rental Period

You can rent mini excavators on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis from places like Rent1 equipment rentals. How long you’ll need to rent the machine will depend on how big your project is or how much work there is to do.

The most common mistake first-timers make is thinking they can get everything done in a day. You may think you're saving money when renting out heavy equipment for a single day, but if the weather is unpredictable and you need to rent it again the following day, and then the day after that, those costs really start adding up. 

What's more, most companies offer discounts on longer rentals which means your expenses will actually decrease if you rent for a week instead of a few days.

Machine Model & Attachments

The cost of mini excavator rentals often varies from model to model depending on the weight of the machine (which increases transport costs or the attachments included).

If you do need special attachments like a hammer for breaking the concrete or an auger for making holes, it’s better to get them included in the mini excavator rental cost from the get-go. Should you avoid getting it as part of the initial rental and then discover you needed it, you’ll likely be paying extra to have that delivered to you.

Hiring An Operator

Although a tempting way to cut costs, it’s a bad idea to rent an excavator without an operator. Mini excavators are a little harder to operate than most people think. If you decide to operate the machine yourself, you’ll be liable for any damages or injuries caused. 

Hiring a heavy equipment operator will protect you from potential lawsuits, reduce how long it takes to complete the project and can help you avoid unscheduled downtimes. Not to mention a lot of rental companies will offer discounts if you hire a heavy equipment operator for your machine. 

3. Condition of The Machine

Like any rental, always check its physical condition before you sign anything. Ask the rental company for the model year and the fitness certificate for the machine. If the machine is not fit, any breakdown will cause delays and increase the overall project cost.

Choose a reputable brand-name machine like a CAT mini excavator to ensure reliability. 

Make sure there is a clause about downtime in your rental contract. Usually, you can get a cost reduction if their machine breaks down on you. You may ask for an alternative machine if the problem persists for an extended period.

Overall, renting a mini excavator is a perfect choice for DIY projects as they can save you time and a lot of intensive labor. Now that you have this handy guide to reference, you can also avoid extra costs by following the tips mentioned above. 

2020 CONEXPO base map for Rent1 blog

Rent1 at CONEXPO 2020

*Note the maps in this post were provided by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) on January 6th, 2020, and there will be an updated version released in February. We’re excited to announce that our media team will be onsite at CONEXPO 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Like other industry events, the Rent1 Heavy Equipment Rentals team will be recording interviews from the showroom floors to get our subscribers up to speed on the latest construction equipment trends, manufacturer products, and innovations in the heavy equipment sector. (more…)