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Mini excavators first came about in the 1970s as an alternative to full size excavators. They were designed to be used in tight spaces, replacing manual labor in areas too small for large excavators. They still provide a lot of strength and power, just in a much lighter and smaller machine.
Mini excavators, also known as compact excavators, are an important piece of equipment in site preparation. They're used primarily for digging holes and trenches but can also be used for grading, leveling, and backfilling.
Mini excavators are expensive pieces of equipment. But, when compared to the full-size versions the price doesn't seem so shocking; mini excavators are usually less than half the cost!
New Mini Excavator Average Costs
Mini excavator prices vary widely based on the size of the machine, the depth it is capable of digging, the horsepower and the features you select. Prices range from $20,000 to $90,000, although most models fall in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
- For $25,000, you can buy a mini excavator with a dig depth of around five to seven feet and horsepower in the 10 to 20 range.
- For $30,000 to $40,000 you can buy a machine with eight to 10 feet of dig depth and 20 to 30 horsepower.
- For $60,000, you'll get 12 feet or more of dig depth and 40-plus horsepower
Usually, one bucket comes standard with your mini excavator. But if you need additional sizes, plan on spending around $1,000 for each additional bucket. Powered attachments such as thumbs or augers run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
Mini Excavator Features
The major parts of a mini excavator include:
- Tracks or wheels to move the machine over rough ground
- An upper structure that includes the operator compartment, digging arm and other working gear
- A dozer blade used for grading, leveling, backfilling, trenching, etc.
Technological advancements have made modern mini excavators very easy to operate. Modern machines can perform many functions at once including driving, digging, and slewing. Newer models also have expanding tracks that allow the machine to fit through small gates or doors and then expand for better stability while digging.
Another modern feature is what's known as "zero tail swing." The excavator never exceeds the width of the track while turning, preventing the cab from running into anything.