What Size Excavator [ Basements, Pools, Stumps, & More ]

By Robert Romboa •  Updated: 04/01/22 •  8 min read

Excavators are weight-shifting machines that may be utilized for various commercial and residential applications. This versatile piece of equipment can be used in different sectors, from paving motorways to excavating home pools, forestry, construction, and mining.

This adaptability also means that there are several possibilities for selecting the appropriate size of the excavator. If you’ve ever wondered what excavator size is needed for digging basements, pools, and more, search no further! 

The short answer is this! Mini excavators would work fine for tasks like digging basements, pools, and other domestic applications. In fact, many people prefer bobcats because they are much cheaper to acquire, come with various attachments, and can dispose of the soil quite quickly. 

This article provides everything you need to know regarding the subject, so read on to learn more!

Dump truck being filled with dirt from an excavator

The different sizes of excavators explained

Mini or compact

Small excavators are usually the most mobile. They can weigh as little as 2,100 pounds and as much as 10 tons.

A mini is an excellent choice for small projects and those requiring limited space, such as those requiring the capacity to maneuver around a structure or operate in regions with numerous lines running through the ground.

These will do the least damage to the yard, road, and sidewalk because they demand the least power.


Excavators weighing more than 10 tons but less than 45 tons are classified as standard. These are the most adaptable excavators, working in almost any environment and with almost every project.

They have a lot of power; therefore, it will be heavy and cause some harm to the ground it must travel. They’ll take up a lot of room, but they’re sturdy and easy to carry.

They’re quite widespread in the building industry.


Excavators may weigh up to 95 tons, putting them in the large category. These are true industrial workhorses.

You won’t find them in cities or areas with many hills around the work site, but they continually provide electricity for significant development.

These machines will need a substantial investment in equipment and a trailer to transport them to each construction location.

You’ll know whether you need this size and power.

Which size excavator is most suitable for digging basements and pools?

Overall, small excavators are the finest choice for excavating pool holes in the backyard. Mini excavators have long arms, which allows them to work in confined places.

The arm’s reach allows a skilled operator to operate above the excavation and hurl dirt away from the pool hole.

The main disadvantage is that you must have access broad enough to park a vehicle near the excavator since all soil extracted must be transferred into a dump truck for disposal. Moving significant volumes of soil might take more time than the bobcat.

However, some people choose bobcats because they are less expensive to operate, can be equipped with various accessories, and can conveniently dispose of soil.

The main issue with bobcats is that they require space to move and operate and cannot usually enter locations smaller than 6 feet wide.

A bobcat is a mini-dozer with a 6-foot-wide toothed bucket best suited to large sites with broad access ways.

Why use a mini excavator?

While the strength of a regular or big excavator is required for some applications, power isn’t everything when it comes to some activities. Mini excavators have various benefits over bigger excavators, including:

Smaller footprint

Compact mini excavators are more convenient when working on a tiny or busy job site, such as a parking lot.

Less impact

Mini excavators create fewer track markings and cause less ground damage since they are smaller and lighter.

Transport Ease

Mini excavators may be easily transported between job sites by loading them onto the back of a utility truck or a compact trailer.

Transport weight is light

Because some Cat mini excavator models have an operational weight of fewer than 10,000 pounds, you may be allowed to trailer and tow a mini excavator with a basic Class C California driver’s license.

Mini excavators are perfect for operations that need a small amount of space. Working in a backyard, for example, necessitates maneuvering between gates and around a tight space.

A tiny excavator performs the same duties as a standard excavator but in a smaller size. This may considerably speed up operations that would typically need human digging.

Are Small Bulldozers Suitable for Excavation Projects Like Basements, Pools, and Stump Removal?

Yes, small bulldozers are suitable for excavation projects like basements, pools, and stump removal. Their versatility and maneuverability make them ideal for tight spaces. Small bulldozers uses and applications also include landscaping, land clearing, and grading tasks. Their compact size allows for efficient and precise work in various construction and renovation projects.

What to consider when choosing an excavator

How much does it weigh?

When it comes to transporting the equipment, weight is crucial. Many compact excavators may be transported with a 1-ton or smaller pickup vehicle.

This implies you won’t need a more expensive CDL license or a professionally qualified driver.

The compact’s smaller weight might be advantageous when working on the existing landscape.

In muddy soils, a low working weight might also be advantageous.

How deep do you need to dig?

Dig depth is arguably the most critical selection criterion with any size excavator. It establishes the scope of the job. Like many other manufacturers, Case has a variety of arm length choices to accommodate varying reach or dig depth requirements.

Avoid the temptation to shortchange your dig depth capabilities. Using the smallest model that can execute the job may result in a loss of productivity.

If you need to dig 8-ft. holes, don’t use an 8.5-ft. dig depth machine. That huge equipment is capable of digging 8-foot holes. However, in terms of machine speed and productivity, it simply does not exist. 

In this case, you’d want something with greater power for increased speed and productivity. You’d want something closer to 12 feet. This will give you the speed and power to dig deep and work as quickly as possible.

However, if most of your work is utility work that is just 3 to 4 ft. deep, a smaller machine will suffice. If you need to dig deeper now and again, consider renting a bigger unit.

What attachments will you use?

Attachments define the hydraulic flow and coupler requirements for the excavator. Consider how much flow/pressure is required by the attachments you’ll be using, particularly those with high-flow needs, such as drills and breakers.

When contemplating attachments, consider the pump sizes, numbers, types, etc., required to run such accessories.

Most manufacturers have shifted away from gear pumps and toward piston pumps, requiring less horsepower. They are, of course, more expensive, but they are also more efficient and last longer.

What weather will you work in?

Compact excavator canopies and cabs have gone a long way. More roomy platforms, pilot proportional joystick controls, and standard load-sensing two-speed travel are just a few improvements on today’s machines.

If you’re doing a lot of tasks in dusty or inclement weather, you might want to consider upgrading to an enclosed cab with climate control options. 

What are the ground conditions?

The type of ground you’re likely to encounter influences whether rubber or steel tracks are the preferable option. Steel track with rubber track pads is also available from some manufacturers. While this choice is more expensive, it might balance steel’s hardness and rubber’s softness.

What is your work area clearance?

Compact excavators excel in limited places. However, you should consider how tight and constrained your regular work environment is.

Evaluating the work environment will also assist in determining if a standard, minimal radius or zero tail swing arrangement is the best option.

Because conventional models are the most cost-effective alternative, assess your applications to see if the extra capital expenditure for a zero tail swing model is required for your job site conditions.

Specifications of the Excavator

After you’ve considered your location, evaluate the jobs that are typically conducted on your average site.

The ideal excavator for your business must be capable of performing common reach, dig, lifting, transporting, and other activities. Examine previous tasks and gather accurate measures, such as loads or how deep your digs were.

To match an excavator to your work, consider the following key specifications:

Thanks for reading till the end. We hope you learned.

Robert Romboa

Just amazed daily by the heavy machinery used to make our days easier and allow for fast and simple construction from your backyard to a city!