There’s a world beyond the intimidating exterior and getting to grips with it can be fascinating. Let’s take a detailed journey into the world of excavators and compact excavators, to help everyone from construction newcomers to seasoned professionals understand these powerful machines inside and out.


An Overview of What Makes an Excavator

Excavators are large construction equipment made up of many different parts working together to perform heavy-duty tasks. Commonly used in construction, landscaping, and mining, these machines are designed to dig deep into the earth and lift heavy objects.

Excavators: Everything You Need to Know

An excavator is composed of several key components: the undercarriage, house, boom, stick, and bucket. The undercarriage is the lower part of the machine, consisting of the tracks, track frame, and final drives, which are powered by a hydraulic motor and gearing system that propels each track. The house of the excavator houses essential components including the operator’s cabin, engine, and the hydraulic pump with its distribution elements. The working arm of the excavator, which includes the boom, stick, and bucket, is attached to this house structure.

Excavators come in different sizes and types, such as crawler, dragline, suction, skid steer, and long reach excavators, each suitable for different kinds of work. These machines are powered typically by diesel fuel because they provide a higher horsepower and are more suitable for heavy-duty work.


Uses for Excavators



Excavators are used for digging trenches, foundations, and holes. They’re also used for demolishing buildings, moving materials, and handling other heavy objects.


In mining, excavators are used to move large amounts of earth and to dig the mine shafts. They’re also used for heavy lifting and placing pipes.


For landscaping purposes, excavators can help with grading, pool excavation, snow removal, and more.

Forestry Work

In forestry, excavators can be used for clearing land, removing stumps, and digging trenches for drainage or utilities.


The History of Excavators

The first rudimentary excavators were used in the mid-19th century and were steam-powered. These machines, designed for mining and railway construction, used a bucket system to dig into the earth and were known for their strength and reliability.

With the advent of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century, excavators underwent a revolution. Hydraulic systems began to replace cable-operated excavators, leading to the development of the modern hydraulic excavator in the 1950s.

Today, technological advancements have made excavators even more versatile and efficient. Features like GPS tracking, automatic control systems, and advanced hydraulic systems make today’s excavators safer, more accurate, and more productive.


Excavator Parts You Should Know



The undercarriage is composed of rubber or steel tracks, drive sprockets, rollers, idlers, and other components that enable the excavator to move across surfaces.


The house contains the engine, the operator’s cab, and the hydraulic pump and valves. It’s the primary source of the excavator’s power.


The boom is the part of the excavator that reaches out from the house. It’s essentially the “arm” of the machine and can move up and down.


Also called the dipper, the stick is the part of the excavator that extends from the boom.


The bucket is at the end of the boom and stick. It does the actual digging and is capable of moving large amounts of material in a single scoop.

Swing System

This allows the cab, along with the boom and attachments, to rotate 360 degrees independently from the undercarriage.


Attachments for Excavators



These hydraulic attachments are used to break through concrete, rocks, or asphalt.


Augers are used for drilling holes in the earth for planting trees or placing poles.


Compactors are used for compressing soil or other material in preparation for a road, pathway, or building foundation.


Grapples are used to handle waste, sort materials, or move bulky items.


Rippers are used to tear through hard ground or ice that’s too tough for a bucket to handle.


What are Compact Excavators?

Compact or mini excavators are smaller versions of their full-sized counterparts, designed for accessibility and maneuverability in tight spaces. They typically weigh less than 10 tons and are sometimes small enough to fit through residential doorways.

Despite their size, compact excavators are powerful and versatile, often capable of performing the same tasks as their larger counterparts but on a smaller scale. They are perfect for jobs in residential areas or places with space limitations and are particularly popular in urban construction projects.


When to Get a Compact Excavator vs. Full Size


Space and Accessibility

If the job site is tight or has limited access, a compact excavator is your best bet due to its smaller size and increased maneuverability.

Project Scope

For large projects involving heavy-duty work such as moving large boulders or extensive excavation, a full-sized excavator will be more efficient.


Compact excavators are easier and cheaper to transport than full-sized excavators. If you frequently move between sites, a compact excavator might be more practical.


Compact excavators are generally less expensive than full-sized ones, both in terms of initial cost and operating expenses.


Find the Perfect Compact Excavators for Your Project at Five Star Equipment

Five Star Equipment carries a range of compact excavators suitable for all kinds of projects. Our inventory includes models from renowned manufacturers, delivering quality and performance. We understand that every project is unique, and our experienced team is ready to help you choose the right excavator to meet your needs.

Whether you are tackling a residential landscaping job, a small construction project, or a utility installation, we have the best small excavators for you. Contact us today, and let’s dig into your project together!


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A Guide to the Most Important Heavy-Duty Construction Equipment