Compactors are very essential tools when it comes to carrying out any paving work on a road, patio or driveway. They provide an easier and more effective way of compressing soil, gravel, sand or loose stones before paving.
While there are a large variety of models out there, choosing the right plate compactor will rely on the job you are planning to do (Source).
You need to select a unit that’s well suited to the kind of ground you are working on and has enough power and capacity to get the job done. In this comprehensive review, we’re going to look at the top five plate compactors.
We’ve gone through a lot of options but these five units stood out the most both in terms of quality and performance. Therefore, if you re on the hunt for the best plate compactor, then read through and get to see what each model has to offer.
Best Plate Compactors 2018
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Plate Compactors 2018
- 2 1. Multiquip MVC82VHW Plate Compactor – Best Overall
- 3 2. Tomahawk Power TPC90H – Best for Heavy Duty Projects
- 4 3. Wacker Neuson VP 1340A Plate Compactor – Best Performing
- 5 4. WEN 56035 Plate Compactor – Best on a Budget
- 6 5. CORMAC C120 Plate Compactor – Best for Small Projects
- 7 Selecting the Best Plate Compactor for the Job
- 8 The Handle
- 9 Our Final Verdict
|Wacker Neuson VP 1340A|
1. Multiquip MVC82VHW Plate Compactor – Best OverallThe Multiquip MVC82VHW is a premium and quality compactor, designed for both residential and professional purposes. If you are looking for a unit that’s capable of getting a tough compacting job done quickly and properly, then this is the best option for you.
To start off, the whole unit is very sturdy with the body and handle made from quality steel, hence durability is not going to be an issue. It will last for a long period of time even with regular use.
Operating the machine is easy. The anti-vibration design of the handle and engine does well to cut down the vibration from the plate. So, it’s very comfortable to use and it offers great control over any surface.
The base plate is very stiff. It’s 18 inches wide and made from a solid, high-strength steel. The Honda GX 160 engine on the other hand is quite reliable. It puts out 3,080 pounds of centrifugal force at 5,600vpm. That’s enough to provide the plate with sufficient power and strength to compress asphalt or granular soils down into a flat sheet.
In addition, the curved edges of the plates offer easy maneuverability in tight, confined areas. It facilitates smooth turns without gouging the surface. Multiquip have included a 3.4 gallons water tank with sprinkler system on this model.
Thereby, if you are planning to work on hot asphalt, you can expect nothing to stick to the bottom of the plate. They have also featured a cyclonic pre-cleaner to capture airborne contaminants so as to protect the engine from damage. The seated belt cover is another wonderful addition as far as protection is concerned.
It keeps dirt and rocks out of the machine thereby extending the life of the belt. Generally, this Multiquip MVC82VHW model is a high-quality compactor built to professional grade. It has great maneuverability and will effectively compact both coarse and cohesive materials.
2. Tomahawk Power TPC90H – Best for Heavy Duty ProjectsAnother top choice on our list is the TPC90H model from Tomahawk Power. This is a tough and highly durable compactor ideal for major construction works.
The first thing to like about this unit is its massive 20 inches wide cast iron plate. It’s very robust compared to the other units we’ve reviewed and with its massive size, it’s capable of covering a large area at once.
Furthermore, cast iron is much stiffer than steel and as such, this machine will provide effective compaction throughout regardless of the type or thickness of soil you will be working with.
It’s backed by a reliable 5.5 HP Honda GX160 engine that puts out a force of 3,400 pounds at 5,400vpm. Combined with the cast iron plate, the unit delivers a powerful performance which makes it a perfect option for commercial job sites or heavy household projects.
The unit features a large 3.5-gallon removable water tank that helps to reduce build-up of dirt on the plate. It will simplify the compaction process when working on hot asphalt which is notorious for sticking to the base plate.
More on the Tomahawk Power TPC90H
Despite the large plate size, maneuvering around narrow, cramped spaces with this unit won’t pose any challenge. It features a comfortable handle bar and there are no vibrations, thereby allowing you to control it without much straining.
Plus, the cast iron base plate has curved, seamed edges which provide smooth turns and markless compaction. While most compactor models tend to be noisier, this one is fairly quiet. It’s around 2 dB quieter compared to its competitors.
To sum it all, the TPC90H is a tough machine built to withstand heavy use. If you are a professional or homeowner looking for the best compactor for heavy compaction projects, then this is an option you might want to consider.
3. Wacker Neuson VP 1340A Plate Compactor – Best PerformingWacker Neuson is one of the most reputable manufacturers of compaction equipment. Their VP 1340A model takes the third spot on our list as the best performing unit.
If the Multiquip MVC82VHW did not win you over, then this Wacker Neuson compactor might just do. It’s lightweight yet still delivers high-quality performance.
The base plate is a thick ductile cast iron and like as mentioned earlier, this is the best quality you can find on the market. It’s stiff and very robust which means it will deliver excellent results in asphalt, landscape and hardscape compaction.
The engine is not only durable but also quite efficient. It’s a powerful air-cooled, single cylinder, 4-cycle Honda gasoline model that’s capable of generating 2,925 pounds of force at 5,800vpm. It’s not the highest but backed by a tough ductile cast iron, it will get the job done.
Now the best part about this unit is how easy it is to control and operate. The guide handle is ergonomically designed with vibration damping to minimize fatigue. It’s comfortable enough to allow you work for long hours without feeling exhausted. Even much better, the unit is designed to facilitate optimal manoeuvrability on all surfaces.
The contoured base plate is compact measuring 15.5 inches wide and has rounded edges. This design makes it much easier to turn and move around in tight areas. Plus it minimizes the formation of undesired edges and dents when turning the baseplate thereby creating a smooth surface throughout.
The only setback is that this particular model does not feature a water tank which is a bit of turn off. The good news though is that the manufacturer offers a similar model but with a water tank. If you often work on asphalt, then that’s the model you might want to consider.
In short, there is very little to dislike in this compactor because every part is built to the highest standard possible. For anyone looking for a quality, all-round performer that is reliable and built for a long service life, then this Wacker Neuson VP 1340A is worth a closer look.
4. WEN 56035 Plate Compactor – Best on a BudgetIf you are on a tight budget but still don’t want to compromise on quality, then the WEN 56035 plate compactor might just be the perfect fit for you. With a 212cc engine, this unit is more powerful than most of the other compactors within its price range.
The engine is capable of delivering 4,496 pounds of force at 5,400vpm. Coupled with the angled combustion chamber, it will provide sufficient strength and power for paver installations, landscaping and small asphalt projects.
It’s as well capable of raising the density of loose granular soils, gravel and other materials. WEN have also designed the unit in such a way that makes it much easier and comfortable to control and use. It has a swing-over handle with a high density foam that provides a firm grip.
The base plate is compact and has contoured edges which makes it easy to manoeuvre into tight spaces. There are also vibration isolators between the engine and the vibrating base plate.
They effectively help cut down the overall vibration from the plate hence making it even more comfortable to use the machine for long hours. They also help reduce engine wear and tear thereby prolonging the life of the device.
Despite its heavy weight which stands at 207 pounds, you won’t strain much to move the machine from place to place. It has handles at the plate as well as the central lilting bar which means you can easily pick it up when you want to move it.
The most amazing thing about this WEN compactor is that it’s powerful and fast. Moving at a speed of 82 ft. per minute, you can expect to cover more ground within a short amount of time with this unit. In fact, this is one of the fastest small plate compactors on the market.
The only major problem is that the sides of the plate seem to sometimes gouge the surface when you are turning. If you are a little careful, it can move smoothly. Nonetheless, this is something you want to keep in mind when considering this unit.
Overall, the WEN 56035 is a very handy equipment for working on slightly heavy projects. It’s an ideal option if you are looking for an affordable machine that can deliver great results.
5. CORMAC C120 Plate Compactor – Best for Small ProjectsFinally closing our list is the CORMAC C120 plate compactor another nicely designed unit from a reputable brand. This model is the perfect choice for compacting granular materials like soil, sand and gravel.
Despite having a standard Honda engine, CORMAC have designed this unit such that it’s capable of delivering a stunning 7,000 vibrations per minute. In other words, with this model, the compaction process is going to be quite easy.
What’s more, the angle and height of the guide handle is adjustable. You can extend, minimize or turn it to suit your size for easier and comfortable operation.
The base plate is compact and has rounded edges hence it’s able to get into tight spaces and will not form dents on the surface while turning.
The rubber mount shock significantly reduces the effects of the vibrating plate hence you will feel less fatigued when working for long hours. The sealed belt cover is another thing worth mentioning as it prevents soil and sand from getting in and as such reduces wear and tear for prolonged service life.
In general, the plate compactor is well-built and has enough power to deliver excellent results when compacting granular materials. It’s lighter than all the other models on our list and the handle folds down making it to store and transport.
Selecting the Best Plate Compactor for the Job
There are a number of factors you want to consider when shopping for a plate compactor so as to ensure that you get the right unit for your money. This include:
The plate is a crucial part of the compactor. It’s the part that gets to do the actual work. So, there is a lot to consider when it comes to evaluating it. However, the main areas you should focus on are:
Whatever ground you will be working on, you want to ensure you pick a compactor that has a heavy duty plate. One that’s capable of delivering plenty of power as well as longevity.
Most units have plates that are made of steel while there are others that feature cast iron plates. Both metals provide a stiff base that’s capable of efficiently compacting almost anything you need.
However, for residential purposes or smaller jobs, a steel plate is an ideal option.
Cast ductile iron plates on the other hand are much stiffer than their steel counterpart. They provide more compression strength which makes them very efficient for larger more involved jobs.
So, you can go with either option depending on the type of job you planning to carry out.
Size of the Plate
The plates of compactors come in various sizes. They usually range from 15 to 25 inches in width. If you often work on small areas like a small parking spot, then you might want to go for a smaller plate probably between 15 to 20 inches.
Likewise, if you are working on an entire parking lot or fairly large area, then you will need a bigger plate preferably 20 to 25 inches wide. Note that getting a unit with a larger plate does not necessarily mean better compacting, especially if you will be working on smaller projects.
Ensure you pick the right size based on the projects you plan to work on.
The Shape of the Plate
The shape of the plate is something you want to consider as well because it can affect compaction. They’re all generally rectangular or square in shape. What sets them apart is whether they are curved or not.
In this case, you should pick a unit with a plate that’s at least slightly curved.
The curve shape will allow the plate to move much more smoothly on any surface and help prevents it from gouging the material you are trying to press. The more curved the plate is, the easier it will also be to maneuver, especially when working in tight places.
The amount of centrifugal force generated by a compactor will have an impact on its overall performance. The more force generated the more strength and power you will get from the plate.
Thereby, with a unit that has a higher centrifugal force, you will be able to more effectively compact different materials down into flat sheets. For best results, look for models that deliver more than 3, 000 pounds of centrifugal force.
The exciter speed or eccentric frequency refers to the number of vibrations per minute that the plate can make. In this case, your choice of vpm will depend on the material you are going to work with.
For sand or soil compaction, you will need a lower eccentric frequency or vpm. For more coarse materials like asphalt and gravel, you would want to look for a unit with a higher vpm.
The forward speed per minute is something else you should consider while evaluating the compactor of your choice. The higher the rate, the faster you will get the job done.
Compactors are heavy machines and pushing them along the ground while they vibrate can be exhausting, especially if you are covering a large area. Therefore, you want a unit that’s comfortable and easy to use, and what can facilitate this is having a properly designed handle.
There two common styles you can consider, an anti-vibration handle or a swinging handle. The former cuts downs transfer of vibration from the base plate to the operator hence keeps you more comfortable.
You can hold onto it for a long period of time without wearing you down. The latter increases you maneuverability, making it easier to move the whole unit around. Generally here, you go can with either option, but if you can a find a model that combines both features, the better.
You will be able to accomplish much more with the compactor when it’s comfortable and easy to manoeuvre.
In addition to the style, it’s important that you also check the handle positioning. In some models, it’s mounted in the center while in others it’s mounted in the back of the unit. The ideal option in this case is a center-mounted handle.
When the handle is positioned in the center of the plate, its operating height is more levelled in either direction and the weight is evenly distributed. Thereby, it’s more comfortable and easier to control.
Finally, you would want to consider a compactor that’s equipped with a water tank if you are going to use it to smooth hot asphalt. The water will help to create a barrier between the plate which is normally cold and the hot asphalt.
Without the water tank, the plate is likely going to stick to the asphalt plus the water also helps cool the plate whenever you compress it into place. So, ensure the unit of your choice comes with a fairly large water tank so that you can get the most out of it.
Our Final Verdict
As with most tools, choosing the right compactor will solely depend on the type of projects you usually work on. The larger and heavier the job, the more powerful compactor you will need.
As long as you are aware of the kind of materials you are working with and you are able to utilize the guide we’ve provided above, you shouldn’t have any problem selecting the best compactor for your particular job.
Look at more than just the price and make sure you choose a model that’s built to offer years of service.