How Wide is an Excavator? (Mini vs. Full-Size with Examples)

How Wide is an Excavator? (Mini vs. Full-Size Examples)

If you plan to buy an excavator, you must have an idea of the kind of work it will be used for. To scoop up the soil from a large area, you need a wide excavator. But if you want to venture into alleys and tunnels with your machine, you need a smaller model. So before you buy an excavator, you should know how wide it is.

An excavator can be 2.5 to 11.5 feet wide, depending on its model and make. Mini excavators have a width better 2.5 and 6.4 feet, while standard and full-size ones are 7 to 11.5 feet in width, respectively.

In this article, you will find out more about how wide different excavators are alongside the pros and cons of wide and narrow ones.

By the end of this post, you will know which excavator is best for the type of work you have in mind.

Mini Excavator: Use Cases And Width

Mini Excavator Use Cases And Width

Mini Excavators can have a width of 2.5 feet to 5 feet on average, depending on the model and make.

Any excavator that is at least 30% smaller than a full-size excavator can be considered a mini excavator. However, this definition is better suited for excavators under 5 feet.

Mini excavators can start at 1 ton and go up to 3 tons easily, and their size and weight determine their compatibility with different use cases.

Here are a few ways a mini excavator can be used.

ModelWeight WidthUse Case
Kubota K-0081 Ton2 Feet 7 inchesLandscaping
EVO 1020S2 Tons4 feetDigging over underground wires
Komatsu PC26 MR-3 3 Tons4.9 feetFarming
Komatsu PC55MR 5 Ton Mini Excavator5 Tons6.4 feetMaintenance and Utility Work

As you can see, Mini excavators aren’t uniform in size or capabilities. And while they can be used interchangeably to an extent, the amount of work a specific model has to put in to get the same work done varies.

For instance, to dig at the same depth, a single-ton excavator will use more fuel and hydraulic function than a 2-ton excavator.

To a layperson, it might seem like big is better because fewer passes are required to get the same kind of work done.

But people with a background in farming or landscaping know that sometimes, the point of advantage of a mini excavator is how small it is.

Pros of a Mini Excavator

  • Digs with more precision – If there are underground cables or pipes, then the best digger is usually the smallest one possible. A mini excavator digs in smaller increments, reducing the chances of accidentally cutting into a wire or breaking a pipe. 
  • Is easy to transport to different job sites – Mini excavators can be transported easily on the back of any loading vehicle. This makes them the quickest digging vehicle available on a job site. For projects where time is of the essence, a mini excavator can be a great choice for getting the job started. 
  • Is cheaper to buy, maintain, and operate – Because mini excavators are smaller, they are cheaper to make and hence cost less. Moreover, their spare parts, servicing costs, and fuel usage are all lower than those of full-size excavators. If you need them for projects they can handle, it is redundant and excessive, if not downright unsuitable, to get a larger excavator. 
  • Can venture into narrower areas – Finally, one of the greatest advantages of a mini excavator is that it is small enough to go deeper into crevasses that would be too narrow for a larger excavator. It is for this reason that most excavator buyers want to know the exact width of the excavator before buying it.

Cons of Mini Excavators

  • They can be inefficient for larger projects (small buckets) – Mini excavators feature smaller buckets that can take up a finite amount of dirt out of the ground. This means more passes are required for the same work that a larger excavator can do in a shorter period. 
  • They have a short boom – Mini excavators aren’t just narrow. They are also less tall. As a consequence, they cannot lift things to the same heights as larger excavators. 
  • They can tip over – A small excavator can get tipped over if it attempts to pick up something that’s very heavy. It can also be tipped over with serious impact. 
  • They aren’t weather resistant – An mini excavator’s driver is quite exposed to the conditions. You might be able to use a full-size excavator when it is raining, but you won’t be able to use a mini excavator even when conditions are windy.

Standard/Full-Size Excavator: Width And Use Cases

StandardFull-Size Excavator Width And Use Cases

Aside from mini-excavators, there are larger excavators that are the standard ones used in large-scale construction.

They are called standard excavators. The largest among them are called “full-size excavators,” even though some use the term full-size to describe all standard excavators.

If you thought the size range for mini excavators was wide, wait till you see the size range for standard excavators.

In mini-excavators, the lowest ones are around 1 ton, and the biggest ones are around 5 tons. From 5 to 10 tons, the excavator classification isn’t very formal.

Some would call these minis. Others would consider them to be just “Excavators,” taking mini off the title.

They’re not really called standard unless they exceed 10 tons in weight. And from there, they can have an upper limit north of 40 tons!

Full-size excavators weigh 43 to 45 tons. Their use cases are similar in type but vary in scale. The table below will show not just the width of bigger excavators but their best uses.

ModelWeightWidthUse case
JCB 100-C110 ton7 feetMaterials handling
Volvo EC200E20 ton9 Feet and 10 inchesSingle story construction
Komatsu PC 29030 ton11.3 FeetMulti-story construction
Komatsu PC 45045 ton11.5 FeetBuilding site digging

As you can see, the range of excavator sizes beyond the mini-excavators is quite expansive. These machines can go from 10 tons to nearly 48 tons and still be within the same category.

They are used for similar functions but on larger scales. So let’s look at what advantages they have compared to the ones that weigh less than 5 feet.

Pros of Standard Excavators

  • They can get the job done quicker – For tasks where digging or loading and offloading materials is the main goal, a bigger excavator can get more done. In contrast, smaller excavators are left struggling and using more time and fuel. 
  • Some jobs can only be done by them – While mini excavators can slowly do the job that a 10-ton excavator can do, they cannot do what a 45-ton excavator is commissioned to do. 
  • They can save money on operator costs – If you pay an operator by the hour, an excavator that can get the job done twice as fast saves 50% of the operator cost of a smaller excavator. That said, 48-ton excavator operators cost more than mini-excavator drivers. Still, there is manpower efficiency with larger machines.

Cons of Standard Excavators

  • They are more expensive to buy and maintain – Large excavators cost more money to get. Their spare parts are also more expensive. 
  • They can cut into underlying grids – A full-size excavator will almost always cut into an underlying wire or pipe if there is a grid underneath the digging size. Even 10-ton excavators are at a high risk of this.

Final Thoughts on Excavator Width

Final Thoughts

Excavators can range from 2.5 feet to 11.5 feet in width, depending on their size.

Mini excavators are narrow enough to venture into crevasses, while larger ones are strong enough to dig out a building site.

Aside from the excavator’s width, you should also look at its weight, boom height, and load capacity.