What Size Mini Excavator Do I Need?

Excavators are versatile machines that come in many sizes and configurations. They are used for digging footings, land clearing, underground utilities, construction, agriculture and much more. With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to begin.


Start with these Questions:

  • What is the work that needs to be done?
  • What is the size, shape and scope of the job site?
  • What work tools/attachments would make your machine more productive? (Rippers for stump removal, grading bucket for digging footings, compactor wheel for laying pipe…)
  • How will you transport the excavator?

Once you know these answers, you can begin specifying the machine. It must be large enough to get the job done, but bigger isn’t necessarily better. How tight is the jobsite? Are there buildings close to one another?

This is when many of our customers decide to consult with a machine sales representative. They are versed in machine application and familiar with the territory. They can show options for new, used, and rental. They can even recommend subcontractors if needed.

What attachments do you need?
What attachments do you need?


Also Consider Safety and Ergonomics.

  • Line of sight to work tool
  • Backup camera
  • Lights package
  • Service points accessible from ground level
  • Comfort of seat and adjustable armrests
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Advanced features like stick steer and cruise control
  • Open vs enclosed cabs with heat and A/C

Mini Excavator Size Classes:

  • Less than one ton
  • One to two tons
  • Over two tons and less than six tons
  • Six to ten tons

Other Excavator Size Classes:

  • Small excavators: 11-19 tons
  • Medium excavators: 20-35 tons
  • Large Excavators: 36-90 tons
  • Larger units are typically classified as shovels


300.9 Excavator

Less than One Ton Excavators

The 300.9D is our smallest excavator. It’s compact, easy to use, versatile. With an overall width of only 2 ft 5 in, it can easily fit through narrow passages and doors.


302 CR Excavator

1-2 Ton Excavators

The Next Generation 1-2 Ton Cat Mini Excavators provide ultimate job site versatility as they adapt to carious applications and industries with ease. The new features provide best in class serviceability and a truly unmatched operator experience.


304E2 Excavator

3-6 Ton Excavators

The new High Definition Hydraulic (HDH) System, redesigned operator station and enhanced digital control panel specially designed for Cat Mini Excavators – COMPASS (Complete, Operation, Maintenance, Performance, and Security System) – are all standard features that improve performance and increase value.


309 CR

6-10 Ton Excavators

To develop the Next Generation of Cat® Mini Excavators, we focused on the one most important component - you.

It includes multiple industry-first features:

  • Stick steer travel control
  • Cruise control
  • Full color LCD monitor with Bluetooth
  • High flow hydraulics on 309 model


Undercarriage Options:

Job site environments vary greatly – manicured turf, rocky hills, paved surfaces. When possible, you should match the undercarriage to the task and conditions.

  • Rubber belt undercarriages are very popular. They cause less harm to jobsite ground, are more stable and allow for quieter operation.
  • Steel tracks provide very high durability and are well suited for rough terrain, uneven surfaces, and hard rock.
  • Steel track with rubber pads provides strength and durability of steel tracks while retaining many of the benefits of rubber tracks.
  • Retractable undercarriages are common across micro excavators, allowing you navigate tight spaces and narrow entrances. Then they expand for increased stability while working.

Excavator Blade Options:

  • Straight blades provide are simple tools that move up and down.
  • Angle blades can also angle from side to side. This allows for more options when grading and greater machine versatility overall.
  • Float is a dozer blade option that very common on larger mini excavators. An operator sets the float and the blade maintains that grade.

Excavator Options and Configurations:

In addition to size, there are many options tailor designed for specific applications.

  • Variable angle booms are different than standard or fixed-arch booms. These excavators have increased versatility because they have greater reach and dig depth while being able to crowd material and dig all the way to the blade
  • Long reach excavators have longer sticks and booms. They are especially well suited to dredging and deep excavation.
  • Compact radius and zero tail swing excavators have counterweights that do not extent much or at all past the undercarriage. These machines are ideal in tight spaces, like between buildings. 
  • High flow models have increased hydraulic flow and pressure, necessary for the most powerful worktools.