Congratulations! You’ve gotten to the stage of your business where it’s time to get your own excavator rather than using a rental or whole rental fleet every time. However, when you started looking at the options and features from compact excavators to hydraulic excavators and even larger excavators, you realized that you didn’t quite know where to start. Getting your first large piece of construction equipment can be complicated but lucky for you, we have gone through all the brands, features and details to find the best options for your job site and business.

Determining What Features You Will Need

When you buy a new piece of equipment in your both personal and business life, you need to make sure it has all the features you will need on average. When getting an excavator, this is no different. Before even looking at the top mini excavators, you first need to determine what features are most important. If the number one excavator doesn’t have the option for an enclosed cab but you need one, it will be time wasted. To determine this, look at what you do in construction and where you do it. Thinking back to what your sites look like, will you have tight spaces, cold weather, close by utility work or region-specific laws to follow?  

If you can answer these questions, you are much closer to determining what is not just the best overall excavator, but what is best for you. If you have tight spaces on most of your sites, a compact excavator with a zero tail swing or even a skid steer will be better than a regular excavator. If you have extremely hot or cold weather much of the year, an enclosed cab might be vital for your operator to be happy working. On the other hand, if you have utility work and shallow holes to do on a regular basis, a ditch witch attachment for a skid steer might be better than getting an excavator at all. Lastly, regional laws, like those in California or Illinois, could inhibit you from getting certain models should they not pass emissions or another law.  Once you know what you need, what about what you want?

Determining What You Want

It’s not just your needs you should think about when looking into buying a new piece of construction equipment. You should also think about the things that you want or prefer. Thinking about your needs, you might start with whether you want a diesel engine over natural gas or even newer electric models. Sometimes, you have a brand preference for construction brands such as Kubota, Bobcat, or Caterpillar or a preference for less construction exclusive brands like Volvo or Hyundai. This is something that should be thought about before going shopping.

Other things to look at are dig depth, dump height, travel speed, and operating weight. These can be especially important as they might split needs versus your wants depending on your average job. For example, if you don’t often dump piles of dirt very high dump height might not be vital but it could be something you want for future job sites. On the other hand, you might need the operating weight to be under 10 tons but want it to be under 5 tons. With your needs and wants in the clear, it’s officially time to look at which mini excavator will be best for you.

Best Excavators for Small Businesses

Now it’s time to go shopping for your first or next excavator. Following we have a starting list of the top mini excavators with features and specs so that you can spend more time working and less time researching.

Kobota is often called the leader in compact and subcompact tractors.  It’s widely known that their diesel engines are among the best you can buy with excellent reliability. The K-Series of compact excavators is no exception to this history and with many products made in North America, you will know exactly what you are getting and how great it will be.

The K-Series is noted for it’s myriad of features from the great cabin space to the multiple speeds that it can drive. Another great feature of Kabota is the ability to custom build exactly what you need so that you can get the most for your money. For a great start to your research, check out the Kubota KX91 which features auto idling, swivel locking, and an adjustable auxiliary flow and starts at just $55,000!

If you are looking for something used but still great for the money, take a look at the Kubota KX121 that was in production from the mid-1990s to 2005. WIth a great track record, these can still be found for resale with little to no problems at all!

This model comes in as an upgrade from the Kubotas with a weight of 3.5 to 4 tons depending on model and arm style. With an enclosed cab, 24 to 35 horsepower, heating and cooling, and zero tail swing (ZTS) this model would be great for small job sites that will have very hot or very cold weather. Not the only option from this brand, the next two feater much higher horsepower with still small frames.

If you are looking for something with more horsepower, these have double the horsepower of the previous options with a minimal increase in size. They feature diesel engines, rubber tracks, and a pretty good dig depth.

The E42 comes in with an operating weight of just under 5 tons and can come with a standard, long or extendable arm which can help you with extra dig depth and movement. It features both heat and air conditioning in it’s enclosed cab and also has a radio to make your operators day more fun. On the other hand, the E50 model is larger with a weight of just over 5 tons depending on whether you get the long or extendable arm. It has the same interior features as the small model but it’s good to note that the tail swing on this model is minimal over the E42’s conventional swing.

With many ZTS mini excavator options, John Deere may be the best option for those that want to work in tight spaces.  Their compact models range from 14.5 to 53 horsepower, 3.7 to 13.5k pounds, and maximum digging reach of 12 to 25 feet creating the most diverse of the whole list. Each model is enclosed or has the option to be as well as the ability to come with heating and air. However, only three of the six compact models available come with a Hydraulic angle backfill blade.

Final Thoughts

When you are looking for an excavator, take time to check around at multiple places just the same as you would a fridge for your home or a car for yourself. In much the same way as a car, test run the excavator you are thinking about buying and make sure to look into warranties and which dealership or shop will give you the best offer.

If you wish to go with a used model as your first purchase, make sure you can get the history and as much information on the piece as you can. In the same was you want the history of the used car you buy, you want to know what the excavator has been though to ensure that you don’t get a lemon or a bad deal.

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