The Smallest Mini Excavators on the Market in 2024

Case CX15 excavator is one of the smallest mini excavators on the market.

With the warmer months coming up, contractors, homeowners and DIYers are eager to work on those projects they’ve been planning all winter long. Luckily, super small 1- to 2-metric-ton excavators are readily available to assist in all kinds of jobs — from lending a hand on a cramped worksite (where larger equipment simply cannot fit) to home renovations that need to be done right now.

These machines are simple to transport and can be easily loaded on a trailer and hauled behind a full-sized pickup truck (perfect for homeowners!). Plus, their compact dimensions and features like retractable undercarriages enable them to pass through standard doorways, gates and other areas with very limited access.

“These are small machines that create big possibilities,” says Diego Butzke, product manager — excavators, Case Construction Equipment. “Their size and features make them easily transportable and versatile without limiting their capabilities — enabling operators to work in tight spaces. In other words, they can help to maximize productivity and efficiency when you only have a couple hundred square feet of an area to work in.”

Other benefits of these super small diggers include having a lighter footprint for minimal ground disturbance in yards and less concrete and asphalt damage when performing street or utility work. Their small size also makes them less likely to hit any obstacles, such as surrounding landscapes or structures. Plus, with the addition of electric variants, crews can take their operations indoors or in areas they couldn’t previously work.

The Super Mini Market

John Deere’s 17P excavator
The pilot-control levers on John Deere’s 17P enable operator control of functions including boom, bucket, arm and swing — making for simplified movements.

Interested in buying or renting one of these mini machines? Let’s take a look at the smallest excavators from a variety of manufacturers.

Looking at John Deere’s mini excavator lineup, its 17P model is the smallest, but still offers the same high capability and durability characteristics of its larger counterparts. The 17P’s small stature makes the machine particularly beneficial where the workspace could accommodate a larger excavator but is limited by access points, like narrow gates.

“The 17P model boasts a variable-width undercarriage design and foldable blades which can be hydraulically retracted to navigate narrow pathways and close quarters, then easily repositioned for surefooted agility,” says Justin Steger, product marketing manager at John Deere. “In addition, the spacious operator station has a wide entryway and backhoe-to-excavator style controls, making for a more comfortable operation.”

Steger points out that the 17P’s pilot-control levers enable operator control of functions including boom, bucket, arm and swing — making for simplified movements. An optional four-season cab is also available and features front glass that delivers expansive visibility, making for a safer and more efficient jobsite.

Heavy-duty side shields on the 17P are designed to deflect material and impacts, protecting the propel motors and boom/blade cylinders. Steger mentions the 17P’s wedge-style coupler enables quick changes and accepts a wide variety of buckets and attachments, such as hydraulic hammers, plate compactors and augers. Maintenance is made easier thanks to a hinged door that provides wide-open access to the side-by-side oil cooler and radiator, and a cooler system built to resist trash buildup and allow quick and easy core cleanout.

Bobcat offers a duo of super small excavators — the E10 (diesel) and E10e (electric). Both of these machines feature a hydraulically activated retractable undercarriage with a retracted width of 28 in., allowing operators to access space-restricted sites. The tracks can be extended to 43.3 in. and operators can enjoy zero tail swing capabilities and increased digging performance.

Bobcat E10e compact excavator
Bobcat’s E10e allows operators to reap the benefits of an ultra-mini model coupled with electric power and zero emissions.

“Bobcat’s compact excavators are affordable in that they cost less than their larger counterparts and they also require less maintenance,” says Ryan Saunders, senior marketing specialist — product planning at Doosan Bobcat. “The E10 and E10e are ideal for jobsites with many obstacles and tight spaces as their lightweight and compact frame allow them to maneuver narrow openings with ease. Their size and weight also make them easy to transport — saving time, boosting productivity and reducing wear.”

With the introduction of the E10e in 2022, Bobcat created a machine that allows operators to reap the benefits of an ultra-mini model coupled with electric power and zero emissions. Saunders says this model matches the power and precision of the company’s diesel-powered E10 with the electric capabilities to work indoors with zero emissions and reduced noise.

“The E10e is powered by state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology,” says Saunders. “An on-board charger, capable of receiving common electrical connections of 120V, supports overnight charging of about 12 hours. An off-board, 240V, fast-charge system is also available for full battery recharge in just one and a half to two hours.”

The two smallest models in Volvo Construction Equipment’s mini excavator line are both electric variants: the EC18 and ECR18 Electric. Despite their ultra-compact dimensions and battery power, operators can expect the same stability and operator experience they expect from their diesel equivalents. Add in the benefits of low noise, low vibration and more responsive hydraulics due to the immediate torque.

“Some people assume that electric machines will be inferior when it comes to power, but ours have very similar specs to their diesel counterparts,” says Darren Ashton, product manager — compact equipment, Volvo Construction Equipment. “Operators appreciate their smooth, quiet operation and the fact that as soon as they start running a machine, the electric motors provide instant torque. There’s no feeling of a slight delay that often happens with diesel machines.”

ECR18 Electric digging
The two smallest models in Volvo Construction Equipment’s mini excavator line are both electric variants: the EC18 and ECR18 Electric.

Ashton mentions that both the EC18 and ECR18 Electric have integrated, on-board chargers, which allows the machines to charge from zero to 100 percent in under six hours using the same plug and charging system found on a typical electric vehicle. Operators can opt for an optional off-board fast charger that can charge the excavators up to 80 percent in under an hour.

The adjustable undercarriage on both the EC18 and ECR18 Electric allows the operator to reduce the width to 39 in. and then expand it to 53 in. after navigating a narrow passage — right from the operator’s station.

Case Construction Equipment’s CX15EV is not only the company’s smallest mini excavator, but it’s also the very first machine available from Case’s battery-electric lineup. Weighing in at just 1.5 metric-tons, the CX15EV packs a strong punch and offers all the same capabilities as its diesel counterparts — with the perks of zero-emissions operation. The compact size of the CX15EV, paired with electrification, gives operators the ability to expand their portfolios to include indoor projects and work in noise-sensitive areas like neighborhoods, live-in care facilities or hospitals.

“Battery-electric equipment can also help contractors meet sustainability requirements in bid work, meet their own sustainability goals and comply with environmental regulations,” says Butzke. “And as an electric vehicle, it boasts reduced maintenance. With no diesel engine, daily checks and overall maintenance are simplified time- and cost-wise, allowing owners/operators to cut downtime and really focus on the job at hand.”

According to Butzke, the CX15EV allows operators to choose operating modes, adjust control precision and run/control attachments to get the job done right. Speaking of attachments, Butzke adds that the CX15EV can utilize buckets, thumbs, augers and hydraulic hammers to aid in digging, earth moving, drilling and moving debris.

Kubota U10-5
Kubota’s U10-5 is outfitted with a retractable undercarriage that’s great for fitting through 36-in. doorways and gates.

Kubota’s mini excavator line touts two models that fit the 1-ton and under 1-ton category: the K008-5 and the U10-5. Both the K008-5 and the U10-5 are outfitted with a retractable undercarriage that’s great for fitting through 36-in. doorways and gates.

“These machines are perfect for either purchase or rental making them a very versatile component of the lineup,” says Bill Holton, product manager — construction equipment, Kubota. “They fit great into rental fleets for the average homeowner to use over a weekend for landscaping projects or landscaping companies may own one. Utility work is another added bonus. With new subdivisions being built every day, basic utility work is a snap as the K008-5 and the U10-5 are easy to trailer and can reach the lines buried just under the surface for basic utility or irrigation work.”

Holton explains the two models feature LED work lights to make working in low light conditions possible, as well as rubber tracks to provide plenty of traction force with minimal disturbance to turf and soil conditions. As for inside the cab, the U10-5 comes standard with the Kubota ISO pilot controls mounted on each side of the operator seat while the K008-5 has lever controls.

Takeuchi’s TB210R mini excavator is built to tackle jobs in extremely confined spaces, including rental, plumbing, inside demolition and other jobsites with very limited access. This super-mini, easy-to-transport machine is packed with multiple features that give operators a straightforward, ultra compact excavator.

TB210R-Landscaping
Takeuchi’s TB210R mini excavator is built to tackle jobs in extremely confined spaces, including rental, plumbing, inside demolition and other jobsites with very limited access.

“TB210R’s pilot-operated joystick controls require low effort and are very responsive, improving fine control and reducing operator fatigue,” says David Caldwell, national product manager, Takeuchi-US. “The machine’s ISO/SAE pattern change valve lets operators choose their preferred operational patterns. The TB210R’s boom cylinder is mounted on top of the boom, and the hydraulic lines are routed through the boom and arm for greater protection.”

Caldwell points out that the TB210R’s hydraulically retractable track frame and a foldable ROPS frame make it possible for the machine to easily pass through a standard doorway. The TB210R also features a short tail swing design when the undercarriage is fully extended to reduce the likelihood of rear-swing impacts.

“Our TB210R features a retractable undercarriage so operators are able to pass through a doorway or gate, which means there’s no need to remove the gate, so they can get to work quickly and with less disruption,” says Caldwell. “After they get inside the confined space, the operator can expand the undercarriage for more stability when they’re ready to start digging.”

Yanmar’s SV08-1D excavator
Yanmar’s SV08-1D features adjustable width tracks and a foldable blade to allow operators to navigate through gaps as narrow as 2 ft, 3 in.

The smallest excavator in Yanmar’s lineup, the SV08-1D, is powered by a 10.3-hp Tier 4 Final engine. Its unique adjustable width tracks and foldable blade allows operators to navigate through gaps as narrow as 2 ft, 3 in. — making the SV08-1D the perfect fit for indoor renovation, landscaping and other projects in hard-to-reach places.

“A consistent buying trend is that consumers will always want to get the most out of their investment,” says Zac Evans, product manager — excavators and carriers, Yanmar Compact Equipment North America. “Key factors that will support this are a machine’s working performance, versatility, durability and reliability. These themes have been a constant for years, and our machines contain features built around them. Some standout features here are multi pump load sensing hydraulic systems, auxiliary circuits plumbed to the stick and our standard four-year/4,000-hour warranty.”

Evans adds that the SV08-1D’s engine is conveniently located right under the operator’s seat for simplified maintenance. With this feature, operators only need to lift and fold the seat back for quick, easy access to all major components.

JCB 18Z-1 excavator
The JCB 18Z-1 offers a dig depth of 8 ft, 5 in., which makes the machine a good match for a variety of applications.

JCB’s most compact excavator, the 18Z-1, is a zero tail swing machine with a full width rear cast counterweight and an operating weight of 3,856 lbs. The JCB 18Z-1 offers a dig depth of 8 ft, 5 in., which makes the machine a good match for residential and commercial utility installs, landscaping and horticulture applications, digging footings and foundations, light material handling and post-hole digging. Customers can also choose between long-pitch rubber or steel tracks for demanding applications.

“The 18Z-1 has extendable/retractable tracks so you can reduce the width of the track to pass through a 36-in. gate and then extend them back out for a wider stance and more stability,” says Lee Tice, product manager, JCB North America. “The light weight of the machine means you won’t tear up a customer’s turf or improved surfaces like concrete or asphalt. The lightweight machines really shine there. The light weight also means they’re easy to transport. You don’t need a big truck or a CDL license to haul them. You can haul one with a half-ton truck and a trailer.”

Pam Kleineke is managing editor of Compact Equipment.