Got a few tonnes of earth or building materials need shifting? Chances are, you're going to need some earthmoving equipment, such as a hydraulic excavator, to do this kind of heavy lifting. Even if you're working on a home DIY project, sometimes there's just a bit too much for the old shovel and wheelbarrow to handle. So how much can an excavator lift? Well, it depends on the machinery that you'll be using. This is why it's important to make sure you're using the right equipment for the job.

If you're a construction company owner or operator and you're therefore looking to invest in an excavator, you'll want to do your homework so that you have a pretty good idea of what it needs to be capable of. Or if you've got a DIY home reno job coming up and you need to hire some equipment, it's best to get to know the kinds of loads that mini excavators can handle so that you don't go overdoing it and cause a kerfuffle in the streets because of an unnecessary full-sized machine.

Fortunately, excavators come in a range of sizes, so whatever kinds of jobs you're going to need it for, there will be an option that is best suited to your needs. So, let's take a look at a few things you'll need to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Tipping Stability

Safety is the top priority on any worksite, so one of the most important things to consider is the tipping capacity of your excavator. If you lift a load and it causes the rear rollers to lift off of the track trails, you've picked up too much weight in relation to the lifting radius created by the bucket and the arm length.

This radius can be measured from the axis of upper structure rotation to the centre of the vertical load line, or in other words, the distance between the rotation point and the bucket. The height is based on the height of the bucket's lift point to the ground.

Rated Hoist Load

You can calculate the rated hoist load of your excavator by using the vertical distance of the lifting point to the ground and the radius of the load. The rated load should not exceed 75% of the tipping load, 87% of the excavator’s hydraulic capacity or the machine’s overall structural capability.

The excavator's lifting capacity will vary based on the load position. So, if you're lifting above ground, position the load as close to the excavator as possible. Use a short cable and position the excavator to put the load lift point in the optimum lifting range.

If you're lifting below grade, use a cable of sufficient length to position the load lift point in the optimum lifting range.

Use Your Lift Chart to Calculate Your Rated Lift Capacity

Full-sized or compact excavators come with excavator lift charts to help you determine what your machine is capable of, however, you'll still need to do some calculations of your own.

First, you'll need to find your excavator's configuration.

You should be able to find this information at the top of the chart. It may include boom length, arm length, the weight of the standard bucket and the weight of the quick coupler if standard. Published lift capacities assume the excavator is on a flat, level working surface.

Typically, lift capacities marked with an asterisk are limited by the machine’s hydraulic power capacity and do not exceed 87 percent of the test. Lift capacities without an asterisk are limited by the machine’s stability, or tipping capacity, and do not exceed 75 percent of the test.

Then you'll need to determine the lift point height.

Check the far left column on the lift chart to determine the lift point height. This is the distance from the ground to the bucket pivot pin, rather than from the ground to the object you’re lifting. When you’re measuring the lift point height, consider how high you will need to lift the item (including the height of the item itself), the length of the lifting device (such as chain or sling), and at what height you want to place the item.

Next, find the lifting radius.

This distance is shown in the top row of the lift chart. Make sure you consider if you're lifting over the front of the excavator or over the side. If you’re using an excavator with a dozer blade, determine if it will be in the raised position to allow travel or in the lowered position to optimise stability.

Now you can calculate your lift capacity by locating the cell on the lift chart where the lift point height and lifting radius intersect. This number is the excavator’s lifting capacity. If there is no number listed, the excavator has no lifting capacity and the lift should not be attempted.

It's always good to remember that as your lifting radius increases, the lifting capacity will decrease. Also, lifting over the side is generally more limited than lifting over the front of the excavator.

How Much Can a Mini Excavator Lift?

Mini excavators follow the same principles when it comes to calculating their rated lifting capacity. This mean's there is no easy answer as it is dependent on several factors. But following the machine's rated lift chart will ensure that you're always operating within its capabilities.

To find out more, or to check out our wide range of Kubota excavators and Kubota skid steers, get in touch with us at Boya Equipment so we can help you find the right machine for the job.