Purchasing a skid steer is a large investment, but when you find the right size and components, this versatile machine is a worthwhile addition to your fleet. To make sure you get the greatest value from this purchase, start with how and where you’ll use it. Establish the range of tasks you'll need this equipment to tackle. Account for the type of environment and terrain you’ll be working around. Then consider the following factors in determining which size skid steer is right for your needs.
Size and Horsepower
It turns out, bigger isn’t always better. If you’re looking for a highly maneuverable machine, a smaller machine may be more appropriate. Think through your typical job requirements and site dimensions. Are you utilizing the equipment for road building, navigating tight spaces between buildings, or need to reach a load into a high-side dump truck? You'll want to select the size best suited to your typical jobs. From time to time, you may need something bigger or smaller, but you can always rent equipment for specialized jobs.
Keep in mind; bigger equipment means heavier loads for any trailer transporting your machinery to your job site. Check the Department of Transportation regulations for weight restrictions that may impact your total cost.
Consider size in terms of a skid steer’s frame, rated operating capacity (ROC) and horsepower. The ROC describes the size load you’re able to lift before tipping . As ROC increases, so does horsepower. For John Deere construction equipment , you’ll see skid steer horsepower ranging across the following:
- Small frame skid steer – 1,750 lbs., under 50 hp
- Medium frame skid steer – 1,750-2,200 lbs., 50-70 hp
- Large frame skid steer –2,200 lbs. and up, over 70 hp
Small Frame Skid Steers
The smallest framed skid steers, like the John Deere 312GR , are ideal for applications including interior demolition, landscaping, underground construction, and any projects that require navigating between houses or around tight corners. The small frame skid steer dimensions also make it a good option for contractors who typically work on shorter jobs and need to transport equipment from site to site frequently.
Medium Frame Skid Steers
Most contractors end up buying a mid-size skid steer as it offers plenty of power for the majority of construction jobs. The John Deere 320E specs, for example, boasts net power of 49.4 kW (66 hp) with a width of only 69.2 inches.
Large Frame Skid Steers
For the most heavy-duty applications, large-frame skid steers like the John Deere 330G , are the right choice. These machines can tackle grading, excavation, drilling, large scale demolition jobs, and more with the right attachments.
Radial vs. Vertical Lift
Again, the task at hand will determine whether you need a radial or vertical lift skid steer. Radial lifts are the best option when your priority is digging, or work done lower to the ground. Vertical lifts are best suited for lifting and placing tasks, performed at or above eye level.
Hydraulics and Attachments
There are plenty of attachment options available no matter which piece of equipment you choose: from buckets to backhoes, brush cutters to stump grinders, and more. The weight of the attachments you’ll be using, and the frequency of use will impact the size equipment you need and the flow of the hydraulics running your attachments.
The auxiliary hydraulic flow is the number to watch. If you’re planning to get frequent use out of your attachment, high-flow hydraulics will help you to get more out of your horsepower.
Let Us Help
“To choose the right skid steer for the customer we need to ask the right opened-ended questions,” explained Matt Wolf, Equipment Territory Manager for Papé Machinery Construction & Forestry. “What are you planning on using the skid steer for? What type of job sites will you be driving on? It’s also important to understand what fits their budget. At the end of the day, these questions largely lead the customer to make the best choice between options when making a purchase.”
If you’re still asking yourself, “what size skid steer do I need?” We can help. Contact your nearest Papé Machinery Construction & Forestry location to speak with an equipment specialist about the best skid steer for your business needs.