Comparing electric garden shredders and petrol wood chippers for performance and price

Comparing electric garden shredders and petrol wood chippers for performance and price

We are all guilty of letting our gardens get a little overgrown from time to time. Things like spells of bad weather, work, illness, and family duties can all take up a lot of time and lead us to neglect our gardening maintenance.

When you finally get back to it, and after you spend a few days armed with a hedge trimmer, strimmer, lawn mower, and every other gardening tool known to man, your garden is looking like its old self again. Well, apart from that huge pile of garden waste sat at the bottom of it, anyway.

So, there’s one more job to tackle before you’re done- disposing of all those leaves, clippings, twigs and branches in a responsible way. Of course, you could just throw them in a garden burner and have a bonfire, but your neighbours, and the environment won’t thank you for that. So, what are your options?

A really productive way to deal with garden waste is to use an electric shredder, or even a petrol wood chipper, that will turn it all into something that can be re-used to improve your garden in a number of different ways, just like this-


What are garden shredders and wood chippers?

Garden shredders and chippers are both machines that are used for breaking down garden waste into smaller, usable pieces. Although similar, there are differences between them, with the main one being how much waste material they can handle, and also the type of waste.

Electric garden shredders are meant to be used for smaller pieces of debris like leaves and twigs and use a set of non-sharp blades to tear the material apart into small pieces. These machines are often not that powerful and are really only meant for home use in small to medium-sized gardens with fairly light waste, although some machines are more powerful than others.

A garden chipper, as the name suggests, is used to turn larger branches into wood chips. These machines are usually powered by a petrol engine and have a larger flute than electric shredders. Chippers are far more powerful than electric shredders and have no problem dealing with any types of wood, although I’ve noticed with my own chipper that wet, green waste can get stuck on the blades and null their performance.

This video from well-known brand Stihl explains the difference between the two tools-


Electric shredders and petrol chippers compared

Here we will compare electric shredders to petrol chippers to see how they match up in price, performance, and other areas.

Price comparison

When it comes to how much you have to send on these two types of product, the shredders are cheaper by a long way. Your initial outlay for a petrol chipper will probably cost you 2-5 times that of an electric shredder, and will also be more expensive to run due to fuel costs, oil, and other maintenance. Then again, a well looked-after petrol chipper will probably still be working long after an electric shredder has bitten the dust.

You can expect to pay between 200 and 400 pounds for a good electric shredder which is comparable to the price of a decent petrol lawnmower


Although petrol chippers are easily the most powerful of the two machines, it isn’t really that fair to compare them as they are built to deal with different types of waste. Even with all that extra power, a chipper only really performs at its best with woody waste like branches. If you throw a load of wet leaves in there, it will not do so well as I know from experience.

here’s what you can expect a good chipper to do to a good-sized tree branch-

An electric shredder will do better with leaves and other green waste due to the design of the blades, or flail as they are known. They can handle smaller twigs and branches too, but these have to be fed into the machine correctly or it can cause overheating of the motor. There’s no way a low-cost electric shredder is going to turn a large branch into wood chips, so don’t even try.

Noise and vibration

Petrol machines are nearly always louder in operation than their electrical counterparts, and as a rule, they produce more vibration too. While the extra vibration could be bothersome if you are using a brush cutter, chainsaw, or something you hold in your hands, it is not that much of a problem with a chipper that is free-standing and that you keep your hands away from for the most part.

Electric shredders are generally quieter than petrol chippers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make noise, as they certainly do. So, you will still need to wear a good set of ear defenders as well as gloves and safety goggles. This guy here has the right idea-

Size and weight

Electric shredders are comparatively lightweight and can be much smaller in dimensions than petrol chippers, making them great for light work at home. You won’t need any help to move an electric shredder around, however, the lack of weight can make them wobble while being used if the surface isn’t very flat.

Chippers are large, heavy machines, and so they don’t have the same wobbling problem that some shredders have. Having said that, they do have some issues of their own, such as finding a place to store them and sometimes having to use a tractor to tow them into place if they are particularly large. 


As electric shredders are powered from your mains supply via a power cord, they are only really suited to smaller gardens, or maybe even medium-sized ones with the help of a good extension lead. There are some cordless versions out there that run on lithium-ion batteries, but these aren’t cheap, and their performance is a little suspect. While some tools, like cordless strimmers work fine on batteries, ones that require more power are better suited to be connected to the mains.

Of course, petrol chippers don’t need to be attached to anything and therefore can be moved anywhere you need them. However, you do have to think of the extra weight of these machines, so if you plan on buying one and shifting it around, get one with a good set of wheels, or one that you can tow, like this one-

Ease of use

There is no doubt that electric garden shredders are much easier to use when compared to petrol chippers. There is no mixing of oil and fuel or having to prime the engine before you start, you just flick a switch and away you go. Just like with electric leaf blowers, electric log splittters, or anything else. they are always easier to use than their petrol counterparts.

Petrol machines, especially two-stroke ones, take more time to get used to but they aren’t overly complicated. The good thing is, is that once you have gotten to grips with the personality of a two-stroke engine, it makes it easier to work with all kinds of other petrol tools. With any petrol tools, there is some maintenance that has to be performed from time to time, but most of this is quite straight forward and usually entails draining and replacing fuel, changing spark plugs, and changing air filters.


What can I use my shredded material and chippings for?

In a nutshell, the best way to use the shredded garden waste that comes from your shredder is to either add it to your compost pile or use it as mulch. By doing this, you can later improve the quality of your soil, and produce much better results when you try to grow plants, flowers, and crops.

Wood chips can also be used as mulch and will protect plants roots and prevent weeds from growing. Wood chip mulch has the added benefits of providing your soil with more nutrients and improving the structure and fertility of the soil itself. Check this video out for more information-






About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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