How to Rent and Operate a Mini Excavator

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A mini excavator is easy to operate and fun to use. Renting one save’s you time, not having to dig by hand, and money not hiring out the work. Most small excavators aren’t powerful enough to scoop tree stumps, but they will dig 6 foot deep trenches all day long.

Cost

Mini excavators rent for around $250/day, $800/week or $2400/month. Many places offer a weekend deal where, if you take the unit after 3pm on Friday and return it by 9am on Monday, you’re only charged for one day. The caveat being you can only put eight hours on the meter. But eight hours is a lot of run time and it’s nice to be able to spread it out over a couple of days.

Having the excavator delivered can run $140 each way. Hauling it yourself should get you a trailer discount. I usually haul it out myself, return the trailer the same day, and then have them pick it up.

Tip

One way to get extra time at no charge is to call in the pick up near the end of the day on Friday. This gives the rental yard little time to schedule the pickup until the following week. The paid time ends when you call it in so unless you’ve used up all the hours, which I’ve never seen them check, your free to use it until they come get it.

There is no guarantee they won’t come right away so make sure the must-do work is finished. In my experience it usually takes a few days for them to pick it up. One time it took over a week.

Buckets

Extra buckets run about $20/day. You can easily swap them out by yourself by maneuvering the excavator arm into place and removing/inserting a cotter pin.

I dug this ditch with a 12” bucket. You can see at the narrowest section it’s big enough to work and lay pipe in. For wider ditches and other clearing tasks I use, and recommend, larger buckets.

Operation

Learn how to operate a mini excavator here:

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