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Compare Renting vs Buying an Excavator Costs

Renting Excavator Overview

On many job sites, an excavator is an essential piece of equipment. The machines are frequently used in general construction where any sort of digging or hauling of materials is taking place. Excavators are also used for paving, utility work, forestry work, mining and landscaping.

Companies that rely on excavators for day-to-day use usually buy or lease a machine. But if your needs are short term or sporadic, renting an excavator might be a better option. Short-term rentals are available for a just a few days, a few weeks or several months, while longer-term rentals are available for a year or more.

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Cost of Renting an Excavator

Mid-sized excavators weighing 15 to 20 tons can be rented for about $3,000 to $6,000 per month. Weekly rates are about $1,000 to $2,000, and daily rates are generally $300 to $600. As you can see, longer-term rentals are generally a better value, so opt for the for the longest term that meets your needs.

Compact mini excavators can be rented for about $2,000 to $3,000 per month, while large machines weighing 20 to 40 tons go for anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per month. In addition to the rental price, you might also be charged a delivery and pickup fee.

Renting an Excavator Pros

  • No long-term commitment - The beauty of a rental is that you’re not paying for the excavator when you’re not using it. Renting is also a great way to test out an excavator you’re thinking of buying before making a long-term commitment.
  • Cost - If your needs are short term, renting an excavator is much more economical than buying one. You can rent an excavator for several months for less money than the cost of most excavator downpayments. And if the machine breaks down, you’re usually not liable for the repair costs.
Excavator Renting vs Buying

Renting an Excavator Cons

  • Lack of ownership - When you don’t own an excavator, you don’t have one on hand if you need it at a moment’s notice. You’re also bound by the rules and regulations of the rental contract.
  • Not a long-term solution - If you find yourself renting an excavator over and over again, it might be time to think about buying or leasing one. Rental costs can quickly add up over the long term.

Buying an Excavator Overview

Companies that constantly rely on excavators to complete their jobs should consider purchasing a machine. Excavators are expensive, but with frequent use you’ll eventually recoup the cost.

Due to the high cost of excavators, most of them are financed. Both dealers and third-party lenders offer financing, although you’ll typically get better rates through a dealer.

Cost of Buying an Excavator

Purchased new, a full-sized excavator costs anywhere from around $100,000 to $500,000.

  • Mid-sized excavators weighing 15 to 20 tons (the most common size) generally range in price from $100,000 to $200,000.
  • Large models weighing 30 to 40 tons are often priced between $200,000 to $400,000.

Most accessories cost extra. One bucket comes standard with most models, but if you need multiple buckets or additional sizes, budget about $1,000 to $5,000 each. Powered attachments such as rakes, blades and hydraulic hammers can cost $5,000 to $10,000 each.

Buying an Excavator Pros

  • Ownership - The most obvious advantage to buying an excavator is that you actually own the machine. It’s always there when you need and there’s no waiting for a rental company to drop it off and pick it up.
  • Tax advantages - Equipment purchases are tax deductible in the first year. As of 2012, you can deduct up to $139,000. In most cases, the amount of depreciation in the first year is also tax deductible.

Buying an Excavator Cons

  • Cost - Excavators are extremely expensive pieces of equipment. And buying one usually involves a significant downpayment and several years of large monthly payments.
  • Long-term commitment - Buying an excavator is a long-term commitment. You can’t simply return it if you’re unhappy with the purchase. Renting is a great way to “test out” a model you’re thinking of buying.

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