They are not all the same

As with any other heavy construction equipment, excavators are not a 'one size fits all' kind of equipment. The kind of work you want to do will determine what kind of excavator you should hire.

Now, as a side note, excavator hire is nearly always better than buying, especially for the really heavy equipment. Unless you are starting some kind of construction company that will have you using these kinds of equipment often, hiring is more affordable and less involved than purchasing.

That being said, let's have a look at what kinds of excavators there are out there and what you can use them for.

Back hoe excavator

This is one of the most commonly used excavators in modern construction work. It has a bucket facing the driver that functions as a hoe. The cab rotates 360 degrees, which allows for greater mobility in transportation and dumping.

Beyond construction work, a back hoe excavator can be used to remove debris from roads or homes, in mining sites and dumping sites as well. It is small in size and capacity and so is limited to smaller work like building foundations.

Dragline excavator

This is bigger and a little different from the back hoe which allows more application in large-scale work like expansive civil engineering and on-surface mining.

There are two kinds:

  • On-site draglines – These are large excavators which weigh a lot and must be assembled on site
  • Standard draglines – These are smaller than on-site but larger than back hoes.

Suction excavator

This uses a suction pipe with sharp teeth at the edge of the pipe to move loose soil and debris. It is used for delicate excavations where careful and safe extraction of underground materials is critical.

Long arm excavator

This has a long arm and boom for maximum reach. It is often used in demolition tasks to break down walls and roofs, as well as procedural crumpling of structures.

Crawler and compact excavator

A crawler is often used in mining and other heavy activities that require high horsepower, while compact excavators use hydraulics to do generic construction and excavation work.

Stripping shovel excavator

Also known as a power shovel, this is a high-end machine used in sectional excavation as in mining or digging. It has a revolving device, a crane with a lifting arm and bucket, counter weight controls and various maneuvering controls.