Backhoe vs. Excavator: Which Is Right for Your Job?

Posted on: February 19, 2021

When you need a high-quality digging machine for a project, you’ll likely turn to a backhoe or excavator. So how do you decide which piece of equipment is right for your application?

An excavator is a large machine typically found on bigger construction and landscaping sites. Its comfortable cab and versatile boom make it suitable for a wide range of projects. Meanwhile, a backhoe is a machine that comes with a dipper and a boom, and is capable of working with multiple types of attachments.

How to Choose Between a Backhoe and Excavator

CAT Excavators on Site

Both of these machines have their own unique benefits, and you’ll need to consider your individual needs before attempting to settle the backhoe vs. excavator decision.


A major difference that separates excavators and backhoes is their size. Excavators are usually bulkier, with some of the largest models weighing up to 200,000 pounds. This gives them an advantage on wide and open job sites. They can also manage heavier loads of material thanks to their sturdy designs.

Backhoes tend to weigh under 30,000 pounds, which makes them better suited for light and medium applications. If you’re looking for high-quality digging machines and unsure if you need the size and power of a large excavator, a backhoe could be the right machine for your project.

Project Use

Excavators and backhoes can both be used for a variety of similar applications. That said, they have several differences in the workplace that separate them.

Excavators, for example, can be found on larger landscaping job sites. If you’re digging a trench or demolishing a structure, one of these heavy machines can help you get the job done. Excavators are also compatible with several types of attachments, including augers, grapples and quick couplers, which can expand your range of capabilities.

While commonly used for smaller jobs, backhoes are incredibly versatile machines. They can also fit a variety of attachments, and their large bucket allows them to handle greater amounts of heavy material. They’re fit for farming applications, hole digging and snow removal jobs.


One of the advantages of having an excavator is that it can rotate 360 degrees. Its appendage makes it easy for operators to lift materials and deposit them in the proper location. Depending on the size of your excavator, the machine can maneuver around on smaller and larger job sites.

While the backhoe doesn’t rotate as far as the excavator, one of its major benefits is that it’s fast and road-worthy. Thanks to its speed and ability to travel on roads, a backhoe can help you operate at a faster pace. You can drive this machine between job sites with ease, although its wheels make it less effective on slippery or sloped terrain than the average tracked excavator.

Backhoe working in the sun

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Backhoes and excavators are both excellent machines that come in handy for all types of applications. While a high-quality backhoe can assist in your medium-duty agriculture projects, excavators are better suited for large mining and construction sites. The machine you choose will depend heavily on your needs and job requirements.

For more information about the equipment inventory at Carolina Cat, check out our excavator pages or backhoe product pages today. We’ll be happy to answer questions if you’re still unsure about which machine you need.