Best PTO Wood Chippers

June 18, 2021

PTO (or power take off) wood chippers are specialized equipment that many ordinary people won’t need. This is not a machine for mainstream DIYers’ wish list or for showcasing. PTO chipper is high-powered equipment that requires mechanical adeptness and cognizance on the part of its owner. If you are a professional contractor, a farmer, or a lifestyle block owner that owns a tractor or an excavator and a large piece of land to maintain along with mechanical predilection, then, you can surely invest on this machine. 

Being a farmer or a lifestyle block owner, you would find the wood chipper or chipper/shredder variant very convenient in clearing your land for planting or for trimming the surrounding vegetations. However, clearing or maintaining your property can result in a significant amount of organic waste. You can either dump this waste material into a local landfill, or you burn it if the prevailing law allows. With a PTO wood chipper, it is relatively easy to dispense with the organic waste by spreading the chipped materials on the ground. Chipped or shredded wood and leaves are fantastic mulching material. Wood material decays slowly and can hold moisture on the ground. Moreover, being organic, chipped wood decays over time and become soil nutrients.

The PTO-driven wood chipper can be a significant investment for lifestyle block owners and/or farmers as it can be used in the small business offering wood chipping or shredding services. Not all people can afford to buy a chipper. Moreover, converting wooden branches or small trunks into mulching materials is better than burning or dumping it. 

Best PTO-Driven Wood Chippers In The Market

What Is A PTO Wood Chipper?

Machines using power take-off or PTO use the external power source from another machine. PTO-driven wood chipper draws its power via a splined output shaft. With this method, a considerable amount of power is transferred from a tractor or excavator to the chipper via PTO. 

Most PTO-driven chippers are designed with attachments or hitch that enable the chipper to be raised off the ground and hitch ride at the back of the tractor for mobility. Upon reaching its destination of employment, the chipper is lowered to the ground for better stability. PTO-driven wood chipper or chipper/shredder has the necessary power to munch larger branches that are found on your property.

Buying wood chipper for the first time can be a bit difficult and confusing as there are a large selection and variety to choose from. There are variants of wood chippers that operate with the integral power plant, and there are those with power take-off relying on the mechanical power provided by other machines. Moreover, there are machines like shredders and mulchers that have different blade arrangements and produce a much finer material than wood chips. At present, a lot of manufacturers market the PTO-driven chipper/shredder combination. 

Types of PTO Wood Chipper for Tractor

PTO Chippers are usually grouped into two types, namely: PTO chippers with no shredders and PTO chipper shredders. As a caveat, when shopping around for a PTO wood chipper, you should beforehand figure out which type of PTO wood chipper you are going to buy. 

1) PTO Wood Chipper Without Shredder

The PTO chipper without shredder is the most common type of PTO wood chipper you will find in the market today. It features a large flywheel that comes with multiple blades or a single blade. This type of PTO derives its power from a tractor. Moreover, as its flywheel gains enough momentum, it also lessens its demand for power from the tractor. In turn, it reduces stress on the tractor’s engine. 

This type of PTO chippers is powerful. It can handle large branches and even small trees. It can transform these large branches into uniform and even-sized chips. These PTO chippers are designed for handling larger wood of at least three inches thick.

2) PTO Chipper Shredder

The PTO chipper shredder provides enough wood chipping power, just like those of the PTO chippers without the shredder. The main difference is that this type of PTO chipper comes with a shredder hopper that is vertically positioned. This hopper pulls the smaller debris of around 1 inch in diameter toward its shredding knives and turns this smaller debris into a very fine mulch.

PTO Wood Chipper’s Categories

PTO-driven wood chippers and chippers/shredders can be categorized according to their power capacity in the same manner as their host tractors or excavators’ PTO output in horsepower or H.P. The 3-point hitch (where the chipper is attached to the tractor) is similarly rated according to the PTO output.  

  • Category 0 – Up to 20 HP or 15kW of tractor power.
  • Category 1 – 20 to 45 HP or 15 to 34 kW output.
  • Category 2 – 40 to 100 HP or 30 to 75 kW.
  • Category 3 – 80 to 225 HP or 60 to 168 kW.
  • Category 4 – Above 180 HP or 130 kW.

1) Light Duty

Most powered chippers or shredders fall into category zero, along with a small number of PTO-driven chippers with about the HP capacity. These powered chippers under this category are suited for the light-duty tasks such as seasonal property maintenance of trees, shrubs, and bushes. These light duty chippers are mostly found in suburban homes with large backyards and small rural properties.

2) Medium Duty

Medium duty PTO-driven chippers and chipper/shredders are the favorite in rural areas, lifestyle block owners, and farmers for maintaining their property from having some overgrown shrubs and thickets. Relying on the power output of the tractor or excavator, these PTO-driven machines mainly fall between category 1 to category 2. Medium duty PTO-driven machines are mostly capable of handling 4 to 6 inches (102 to 152 mm) of thick wood branches. 

3) Heavy Duty

These industrial-grade PTO-driven machines are favored by professional contractors for performing heavy tasks such cleanup of forested areas, urban developments, and other major works, involving land use. Heavy-duty PTO wood chippers and chippers/shredders can handle the much larger piece of materials of more than 6 inches (152 mm) in thickness with varying hardness. 

Types of Wood Feeding System

1) Self-feeding

The self-feeding feature of a PTO-driven chipper and chipper/shredder aids the operator during operation by taking over the task of feeding the material into the blades. The operator only needs to load the wood into the chippers hopper and machine does the rest. This process is achieved either by gravity or mechanical action and is largely employed by medium duty PTO wood chippers.

2) Hydraulic Feed System

This is another type of self-feeding that involves hydraulic action in the process. This feature is rarely seen in medium duty PTO wood chippers/shredders but is a familiar feature on heavy-duty PTO wood chippers. This type of feed system regulates the amount of material in contact with the blade and prevents large diameter logs from clogging the blades and the flywheels of the machine. As a safety feature, the hydraulic feed system’s direction can be reversed when the machine is overfed.

Factors to Consider When Choosing The Most Suitable Wood Chipper

In order to rightly choose the PTO-driven wood chipper that is best suited to your need, you need to consider some important factors, design features, and parameters that any particular machine offers. These factors include the type of work, machine efficiency and workability, design and mechanical features, as well as your buying capacity. 

Work Type

Any prospective buyer must first and foremost, identify the type of work in which a specialized machine like a PTO wood chipper would be employed. There are plenty of PTO wood chipper models to choose from for light and medium duty or for heavier commercial or industrial tasks such as for wide-scale clearing of large wooded areas or property maintenance purposes. 


Wood chippers and shredders may appear differently, especially, the powered, stand-alone varieties. On the other hand, PTO-driven wood chippers and chippers/shredders are very much similar in external appearance, but with underlying differences inside in their respective blade arrangement. While most chippers have a set of two blades on their flywheels to reduce a tree stump or branch into more manageable wooden chips, chippers/shredders have additional dull blades (called flails) on the opposite side of the flywheel to further reduce the chips into finer materials. 

Some PTO wood chippers and chipper/shredders feature mechanical self-feeding hoppers; while others have hydraulic feeders. Some models feature an internal hydraulic reservoir, only relying on the PTO to drive the hydraulic pump. Each PTO wood chipper or chipper/shredder has the different combination of features to lure prospective buyers. It is essential to learn about each feature and choose what is best suited for your needs.


A piece of machinery like the PTO-driven wood chipper should be of high-quality standard as this machinery is expected to last longer. Some brands, however, fail to meet such a high-quality standard for some reasons, and their machines have become notorious for their mediocre efficiency. However, upon closer scrutiny, most of the times, the machines seem to be inefficiency due to the operator’s ignorance of the machine or lack of mechanical adeptness. 

Overall, the machine efficiency can only be achieved by the compatibility of tractor and implement, the mechanical adeptness of chipper operator, and his familiarity with the machine’s use and capability, as well the right usage of the machine. 


In choosing the best wood chipper for your need, it is important to select the best quality equipment you can find. The machine should be robust enough to handle arduous tasks. Hence, before buying, you should try reading reviews about the different PTO wood chippers to learn more about their specifications, parameters, and features from different manufacturers. Most of these reviews include each product’s pros and cons to help you decide which brand to choose. 

The Flywheel

One of the few parts of a PTO-driven wood chipper and chipper/shredder that you should consider is the size and mass of a machine’s flywheel. The diameter’s size and mass are consequential to the energy that the flywheel can store. Once the flywheel is turned on and has reached its designated RPM (or revolutions per minute), it stores a considerable amount of kinetic energy that allows the machine to chew on the wood readily. 

Most PTO-driven wood chippers and chipper/shredders have flywheels that weigh as much as 84 kilograms (185 lbs) and are made of high-carbon steel. PTO-driven machines with heavier and larger flywheels are required for heavy-duty work such as clearing operations after natural disasters or land clearing.

Roller Feed

Not all PTO-driven wood chippers or chippers/shredders are equipped with this feature. In machines without any roller feed, the operator needs to load the branches into the hopper manually. Moreover, the operator needs to trim the log of any branch as it can block the hopper when the wood is fed directly. 

More modern PTO-driven woodchippers’ and chipper/shredders’ designs incorporate the roller feed feature using either gravity, mechanical, or hydraulic-operated feed system. Automatic roller feeds simplify the task of the machine operator of loading the tree branches to the hopper and the machine generally does the rest.

Tractor Compatibility

Another aspect to consider is its compatibility with your tractor or excavator. This is because this equipment draws its power from the tractor’s engine through the drive shaft. Most modern tractors feature a power take-off shaft on the vehicle’s rear. It is important to make the PTO power output match with the chipper’s capacity.

Moreover, it is also important that your tractor should be equipped with a three-point hitch. This type of hitch enables the tractor to raise or lower the implement during operation. It is imperative to consider before buying if the chipper implement is compatible with your tractor’s 3-point hitch type. Most tractors are equipped with either category 1 or category 2 hitch type. Some very powerful tractors have category 4 rating. 

Maintenance and Customer Support

PTO-driven chippers and chipper/shredders do not have motors or engines that require regular maintenance. Most maintenance work on these machines is confined to the lubrication of moving parts such as bearings and gears. For machines that feature integral hydraulic system, it is required that the hydraulic pump, seals, and quantity of hydraulic fluid are regularly monitored, and the damaged parts replaced. 

In most PTO wood chippers and chipper/shredders, the most commonly replaced part is the chipper blade or knife as this material is in constant contact with the wood material. Some chipper brands use reversible blades or knives for longer lifespan. The blades may differ from one brand to another and may constitute a major part of the machine’s warranty. Expensive machineries such as PTO-driven chipper and chipper/shredder entail a need for a free-service warranty from the manufacturer that would guarantee that the machine will work efficiently for a significant period. The availability of this warranty will also serve to show the manufacturer’s dedication for its products. 


The acquisition of the best PTO-driven wood chipper and chipper/shredder that is suitable for your needs is dependent on your financial capacity. The best machine for your requirements may be expensive. However, some affordable models may not meet your other requirements but may fit well within your budget. 

The budgetary constraint may cause you to settle for a machine of lesser capability or capacity than what you desire. Worst of all, you may happen to chance upon a sweet deal that may eventually end up with more expenditures in the long run. It is, therefore, advisable for prospective buyers to consider the tag prices, together with the machine features, parameters, and capability before zeroing in on a particular PTO-driven wood chipper and chipper/shredder. Moreover, it is valuable to learn from reviews.


Like any other machine, the use of PTO-driven wood chipper or chipper/shredder is fraught with a potential threat to its user’s safety, especially, when not properly used. Despite the inclusion of safety features, the machine can only help reduce injuries. Only proper operation and maintenance can limit, if not prevent any accident from happening. To ensure safe and proper machine operation, it is important to read the user’s manual that comes with the package.

Some of the most common safety precautions found on various user’s operating manuals include the following:

  • Wear Protective Equipement
  • Check and inspect your any possible malfunction of the chipper machine before operating.​
  • Avoid operating the Chipper machine on the sloped ground or hill.

Final Thoughts

The PTO-driven wood chipper and chipper/shredder is a highly specialized machine whose operations should be carefully thought over and learned before any purchase of it is done. It should be compatible with your existing farm machinery like the tractor for it would draw its power from the tractor. Moreover, as mentioned above, in choosing a PTO-driven wood chipper and chipper/shredder, you should clearly identify the right machine for your needs. 

You may have already tried and used electric or gas-powered wood chippers. Moreover, you have already figured out their capability. Now, you want something more powerful, something that could chip trunks and woods with a larger diameter. Hence, you are eyeing something like a PTO chipper shredder. 

PTO chipper shredders, of course, are powerful. They can handle trunks that are far thicker than what a gas-powered chipper can. Hence, if you are shifting to the use of the more powerful PTO wood chipper.

Upgrading to a more powerful PTO wood chipper is a great option if you are dealing with larger branches in your property. PTO wood chippers, of course, can do better in handling branches with a diameter of 3 inches and larger. Yet, as mentioned above, you should choose with care the PTO chipper that you are going to buy. 

Lastly, before buying a PTO-driven machine, you should learn the inherent features of the machine and figure out if it suits your requirements.

User Guide: How to Power These PTO Wood Chippers?

To operate these powerful PTO wood chippers, you need a tractor and not just a tractor but a capable one. The tractor should be at least possessing a 15HP engine. You may ask whether you can use a lawn tractor that has 16HP engines or more. The answer is that these lawn tractors are not designed to power PTO chippers. So, you can’t use them.

Another thing you need to consider is the type of hitch that your tractor has. To operate the PTO chipper, you will need a Category 1 hitch that is perfect for tractors below 50HP or a Category 2 hitch designed for tractors whose engine ranges between 50HP to 150HP. So, before you zero in on a PTO chipper, you should first read the manuals of your tractor to figure out the type of hitch it has.

Tips on Using a Tractor Wood Chipper

The best way to learn how to operate a wood chipper is to let someone who is an expert in operating it to teach you. In this way, you will learn the proper way of handling and running a PTO chipper. Here are also some succinct tips on how to do it right:

  • Position the wood chipper on level ground before operating it.
  • You should ensure that all nuts and bolts are properly tightened before you operate it. This is because the PTO chipper vibrates a lot and loose nuts and bolts may cause problems along the way.
  • Consider your safety first. Wear protective gear like ear and eye protection. Also wear safety clothes and heavy working gloves.
  • Don’t stuff the chipper with trunks that are larger than what it can handle.
  • Stuff the PTO chipper with wood that is untreated with chemicals. Treated wood may cause damage to the knives and other parts of the chipper.
  • Ensure that the place where you position the chipper is free of debris.
  • Combine dry and green branches. This will add moisture and lubrication to the chipping process. It will also help cool the knife.
  • Ensure that the chipper’s knives are sharp. Have them regularly sharpened by a professional.