What To Know About PTO Wood Chippers

Updated: Apr. 18, 2023

A PTO wood chipper is one that mounts on a tractor. More powerful than a gas or electric chipper, you can bring it places other chippers won't go.

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Yearly brush clearing has become a necessity in wildfire-prone areas, especially the Western states. Most people need a wood chipper to process all that brush.

If you own a tractor with a power takeoff (PTO) shaft, as most have, a mobile PTO wood chipper can be a useful accessory. This way, you can take the chipper to the wood rather than the wood to the chipper, while also giving you more power. Some PTO chippers can handle logs up to eight inches in diameter, better than any electric wood chipper and most standalone gas-powered ones.

A tractor can access parts of a wooded property a truck can’t. That makes a PTO chipper handy for anyone with a large property, whether in a fire zone or not.

What Is a PTO Wood Chipper?

A PTO wood chipper attaches to the PTO drive shaft that extends from the rear of most tractors. It draws its power from the tractor engine. Once engaged, it creates chips by spinning a heavy flywheel that may do the cutting, or connect by gears to a drum at the base of the hopper that does the cutting.

Though some PTO chippers can be towed, most attach directly to a tractor’s mounting brackets. All have a fixed in-feed hopper (adjustable on some models) and an out-feed chute, usually adjustable to allow you to direct the chips into a pile or onto a truck.

Most PTO chippers require at least a 15 horsepower (hp) engine, so they won’t work with lawn tractors and other smaller models. Larger chippers often need 30 hp or more.

What Is a PTO Wood Chipper Used For?

A PTO wood chipper turns piles of branches into wood chips that you can take away or leave on the forest floor to decompose. You may need a PTO wood chipper for these tasks:

  • To clear your property of burnable brush;
  • To get rid of brush piles that attract rats and other pests;
  • To efficiently trim shrubs, small trees and other unwanted growth;
  • To produce mulching material for your garden;
  • To produce wood chips for landscape features like walkways.

If you own a tractor or are considering buying one, there are two reasons for considering a PTO chipper over a standalone gas or electric one: mobility and power. Because they draw power from the vehicle engine, PTO chippers are among the most powerful you can buy. That’s important if you’re dealing with large branches. Looking for more options? Check out this subcompact tractor.

Types of PTO Wood Chippers

There are two types: those with a shredder, and those without. Models with shredders feature finer knives and produce smaller chips than those without. Because of this, they’re usually less powerful than models without shredders.

Is a PTO Wood Chipper Right For You?

PTO wood chippers are gas-powered or electric. Before you buy, consider these factors:

PTO Chipper Pros

  • Best choice for large properties or those with rough terrain.
  • No external fuel needed other than that you use for the tractor.
  • More powerful than other chippers.

PTO Chipper Cons

  • Must own a tractor.
  • Overkill for small properties with limited brush to clear.
  • Not the best choice when you need a stationary chipper for producing mulch from small branches.

What to Consider When Buying a PTO Wood Chipper

Consider the following when shopping for a PTO wood chipper:

  • Feed system: Some units have an onboard hydraulic pump to power an in-feed belt. Others don’t. The hydraulic system speeds up the process and can handle large logs. Self-powered in-feed systems are simpler and less expensive, but require more user effort and can handle logs only about four inches in diameter.
  • Tractor compatibility: Not all wood chippers fit every tractor. Before you buy one, make sure it’s compatible with your tractor’s hitch type and power output.
  • Weight: The flywheel is the heaviest part of the equipment. Most weigh about 200 pounds, but some are heavier. Before buying a large one, be sure your tractor can handle the weight.
  • Adjustable chip size: Some chippers let you adjust the chip size, but not all.
  • Cost: Prices range from around $1,000 to more $20,000. The most expensive models handle the most heavy-duty work. A $3,000 to $5,000 model should work for most purposes.

Best PTO Wood Chippers

Best shredder model

3 Shredder And Wood Chopper Pto Wood Chipper Ecomm Via Betstcovia merchant

The inexpensive Farmer Helper Chipper/Shredder features dual hoppers and a three-inch capacity. It requires only 15 HP, so it’s suitable for most small tractors. It has a changeable grate to control output size.

Best non-shredder model

What Is A Pto Chipper Via Ftvia merchant

The commercial grade WoodMaxx WM-8H can handle material up to eight inches in diameter. It’s good for tractors that can supply at least 19 HP, but works better at higher power. It comes with a three-point attachment, hydraulic feed and adjustable base. A reverse mode to back out stuck material is another handy feature.

Best high-end model

Wallenstein Pto Chipper Ecomm Via Chippersdirectvia merchant

The Wallenstein 10-inch PTO Chipper features a hydraulic system that automatically adjusts the in-feed speed according to what you put into it. It costs nearly five times as much as most utility models and needs 90 HP to operate at maximum capacity. But it can handle 10-inch diameter wood, and includes a winch to pull in large logs.