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Large Excavator Guide

Excavator Product Guide

[estimated reading time 7 minutes]

Large Excavator Guide

When it comes to heavy construction and mining projects, excavators are essential machines that can make the work much easier and efficient. These machines are designed to dig, move, and transport large amounts of earth, rocks, and other materials, making them vital for any project that involves excavation or earthmoving.


However, with so many different types and sizes of excavators available on the market, choosing the right one for your specific needs can be a daunting task. That's why we've created this comprehensive guide to large excavators, which will cover everything you need to know about these powerful machines.


Whether you're a contractor looking to buy an excavator for your business, or you're simply interested in learning more about how these machines work, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. From the different types of excavators available to the key features you should look for, we'll cover it all in this guide to large excavators. So, let's get started!

Common questions about Large Excavators

Questions about cost

    How much does it cost to hire a large excavator?

    The price is dependent on the size of excavator you’re planning to hire. They can range from 13 to 120 tonnes and the heavier the excavator, the higher the cost. The hire length and the attachments needed for your work will also affect the price. It’s important to factor in transportation costs too. Some hire companies offer this service as well as specialist haulage companies.

    How much does it cost to buy a large excavator?

    It depends on whether you want to buy a new or used machine and how you intend to pay; by lease, finance or cash? On new machines, many manufacturers offer good finance or leasing packages that help spread payment over the early life of the machine. With auctions and dedicated used equipment websites, purchasing a used excavator can also be a good option. In both cases, the larger the machine the more expensive it will be.

HX330A L Demolition excavator

Questions about operating


    Due to their size, it is recommended that you use a specialist haulier to transport your excavator, although some hire companies do offer this service. There can also be restrictions when transporting an excavator depending on its size. Some may require an escort or be restricted to certain routes and in some European countries, travel may not be permitted on certain days.

    Size and specification

    Before you hire an excavator it’s important to understand your requirements as this will have an impact on the size and spec of machine you choose, as well as the attachments you need. For instance, if you’re digging a narrow trench then you’ll need a particular bucket to support this. If you’re dredging a river you may require a long reach machine. Before hiring, always review the machine specifications and performance charts.

HX140AL cabin interior view top down

    Moving around the site

    Large excavators are built to operate for long periods of time in a set area and not for transit across large areas (unlike wheeled excavators). They travel around 4-6 mph and due to their size and weight are restricted not only by space but also the terrain. For example, you should never operate an excavator across a newly laid road or turfed area due to the surface damage it could cause.

    Reach and depth requirement

    It’s not just reach and depth you need to consider but the weight of the material you’re moving. All machines have a lifting capacity and this should be checked before carrying out your work.

    Track type and width

    When it comes to tracks there are 2 main options, steel or rubber. Generally, steel tracks are used due to their durability but in cases where minimal ground disturbance is required rubber tracks should be specified.

Questions about operating a large excavator

    Is it hard to operate a large excavator?

    To operate a large excavator safely and effectively requires training. Becoming a qualified driver can take between 2-3 years, although many employers offer on the job training.

    Do I need a licence or certificate to operate large excavators?

    There are no government issued licences to operate large heavy plant unless being operated on a public highway, in which case you would require a standard UK driving licence. Sites however generally require proof that you are a safe, competent and skilled operator and you will require a number of certifications before you are permitted to work.

Hyundai safer cabin design

    What is classed as a large excavator?


    There is no official classification of large excavators are generally classed as having an operating weight of 10 tonnes or above.


    How do I know if I need a wheeled or tracked excavator?


    There are number of things when considering a tracked or wheeled excavator. For heavy-duty excavation, a tracked excavator would be considered more suitable. They are also best suited to soft, uneven ground and hills with a lower centre of gravity for greater stability and more even weight distribution for larger breakout forces. Wheeled excavators are best suited to more urban or road work where they can travel at speed and preserve fresh asphalt or concrete when operating due to having rubber tyres as opposed to heavy tracks.