Excavator Size Comparison: Everything You Need to Know

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When you’re in the market for a new excavator, you need to make sure that the model you choose will meet the needs of all your different projects. An excavator size comparison chart makes it easy to compare weight, size and technical specifications, allowing you to contrast the advantages and capabilities of different options side by side. While the chart format should be quite familiar, it’s important for prospective buyers to understand the nuances of the technical data presented in the chart.

Below, we take a closer look at the information included in an excavator size comparison chart. We’ll also offer our insight into how to use the size comparison chart to buy the right excavator for your project. And don’t forget – you can create your own excavator comparison chart to consider different SANY excavators side by side right here on the website.


Total operating weight is a crucial concern when choosing the right excavator to get the job done. SANY’s excavators are available in a range in weight classes, from the SY16C mini excavator which comes in at 4,023 lbs. to the massive and powerful SY500H excavator which weighs 120,152 lbs.

An excavator that is too big can cause damage to the jobsite, especially if you’ll be working over buried service lines, soft soils or on sensitive surfaces like some concrete blends. Plus, the more massive an excavator is, the more costly it can be to transport and store.

On the other hand, an excavator that is too small won’t be able to lift heavy loads.  A small excavator may not be suitable for some of the more demanding jobs that require a high work capacity.


An excavator size comparison chart that contains performance data helps you understand what to expect from each model in terms actual capabilities and potential results. This section often outlines the different dimensions and metrics for what a given machine can move and how far it can reach. Some of the most commonly included metrics and measurements are:

  • Stick (arm) length – Provides dimensions in feet and inches to measure the length of the excavator’s arm. This is used in combination with machine weight and other factors to calculate dimensions and forces described in this section.
  • Max dig depth – This figure tells you how far down you can dig using this excavator.
  • Max depth of vertical wall – This figure tells you how deep of a vertical wall the excavator can dig. This figure is always less than the maximum dig depth.
  • Reach distance at ground level – Given in feet and inches, this figure tells you how far each excavator can reach with its arm fully extended at ground level.
  • Dump height – Once you’ve excavated some dirt, you’ll need to dump the excavator bucket – probably into a dump truck for transportation and disposal. If the dump height of your excavator is less than the height of your dump truck, you won’t be able to dump waste materials into it. The height of the surface or truck into which you need to dump waste should not exceed the dump height of your chosen excavator.
  • Bucket breakout – If the ground is hard or if you’re digging through a durable material like blacktop or concrete, a greater bucket digging force will be needed to penetrate the material and get the job done. Bucket digging force is generally expressed in lbf or kN.


Engine specifications or technical have their own section on a typical excavator size comparison chart. You’ll see information about the make and model of the engine, including the name of the company that built it. SANY uses engines from leading manufacturers like Cummins, so you know you can trust the quality and workmanship of these machines. In addition, you’ll often find the machine’s net horsepower that defines the total power output of the engine.

SANY ExcavatorsHydraulics

The massive capacity of modern excavators depends on hydraulic systems that allow these machines to lift hundreds or even thousands of pounds of material at a time. Your excavator size comparison chart should give the operating flow of all hydraulic systems, typically in gallons per minute. A higher total flow means a higher pressure system, and a greater capacity to do more work.

Hydraulic systems use incredibly high pressures to support the massive loads carried by excavators. Your excavator size comparison chart should also highlight the maximum normal relief valve pressure specified for the machine. For high-pressure systems, this figure can reach into the thousands of pounds per square inch.


Every excavator size comparison chart should also include some information about the proportions of the excavator. This information is essential for determining how the excavator will be shipped, transported and/or stored. The dimensions of an excavator determine how it will be deployed at the jobsite and whether it is appropriate for use in the first place, as some locations may feature narrow work environments that aren’t suitable for the largest machines.

The standard excavator size comparison chart includes the transport length, transport height and transport width (in feet and inches). Some excavators with revolving capabilities indicate a figure for “tail overhang over the side,” which is measured when the arm of the excavator is maximally rotated in one direction.

The Most Commonly Used Types of Excavators

Understanding how excavators are typed and categorized according to their size is a logical first step in your journey towards purchasing the right excavator for your needs. Excavators are grouped into one of three broad categories according to their gross weight:

Mini and compact excavators are small and mobile, weighing between 5,000 and 14,000 lbs. Mini excavators are nimble, and designed for the tightest of spaces, while compact excavators are ideal for more intensive jobs that still feature narrow working environments or a lightweight machine for use on sensitive terrain or around buried services and utilities. These excavators will have less power than their larger counterparts, but are well adapted to deliver a balance between size and performance.

Medium-rated excavators range in weight between 14,000 and 90,000 lbs. While mini excavators are most commonly used on small residential or public works projects, mid-sized excavators are popular in the construction business where there is a greater need for higher capacity equipment. These larger machines can damage sidewalks, roads and other surfaces with their larger operating weights, but are well-suited for most construction and industrial applications away from existing buildings and infrastructure.

Large excavators are available that weigh more than 90,000 lbs., and are most often used in industrial applications. You’re more likely to see a large excavator being used to dig a mine rather than construct a building. With the increased size, transportation for a piece of equipment on this scale represents a significant investment for the purchasing organization, but the payoff comes in the form of massive power and work capacity. Excavators like the SANY SY500H are designed to deliver the power and performance needed for major industrial projects, such as digging mines or installing pipelines.

Find the Right Excavator with SANY

Using an excavator size comparison chart, it’s easy to find the machine that’s suited for your specific needs. SANY offers a full line of high-performance excavators that can handle needs large and small. Plus, all SANY construction equipment is backed by the industry’s best warranty – five years or 5,000 hours – giving you not only power, but peace of mind.

Built with components from leading names in the industry, you’ll find equipment powered by brands you know and trust, capable of making quick work of your toughest projects. Find your next excavator with SANY by calling 470-552-SANY or search for a dealer near you online.