How Much Can a Mini Excavator Dig in a Day?

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Mini excavators are used for everything from gardening and landscaping to home renovation tasks and more. They are extremely effective and can do as much work as several people in a fraction of the time. But how much can mini excavators dig daily? 

The average mini excavator can dig around 200 to 300 cubic yards (153 to 229 cubic meters) of dirt daily, but this depends on the type of soil, excavator’s bucket capacity, and the experience level of the person operating the excavator. It also depends on how many hours of digging you do in a day. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the average amount of dirt that mini excavators can dig in a day. I’ll also explain the formula for calculating your excavator’s average performance and give you some tips on improving its efficiency. 

How Much Work Can a Mini Excavator Do in a Day? 

If you’ve bought a new mini excavator or are renting one for the day, it’s important to estimate beforehand how much work the excavator can do. While not all mini excavators have the same capacity, most will do a similar amount of work. 

The average mini excavator will dig around 250 cubic yards (191 cubic meters) of dirt in a day when operated by someone with experience. This is for an excavator that has a bucket capacity of around 0.5 cubic yards (0.38 cubic meters) and an estimated working time of 6 hours in an 8-hour work day. 

However, various factors affect how much dirt your mini excavator can dig up daily. It also depends on whether you’re digging a hole, the landscape, how tough the soil is, and more. 

How To Calculate a Mini Excavator’s Work Capacity 

While it’s almost impossible to calculate exactly how much work a mini excavator can do in a day, you can get a rough estimate. The simple way is to multiply the number of cycles you can do per hour by the bucket capacity and number of actual hours worked. 

To do so, you’ll first need to calculate the average time it takes you to complete a cycle of digging and dumping a bucket of dirt. Most people with some experience working with excavators can complete a cycle in around 2 minutes. However, this may vary greatly depending on the type of soil you’re digging. 

Once you estimate how long it takes to complete a cycle with the mini excavator, you can multiply it with the bucket capacity and the actual time you expect the excavator to be used. This will give you a rough estimate of how much work you can do with it.  

What Affects the Work Capacity of an Excavator? 

When calculating the capacity of a mini excavator, you’ll need to look at several factors and may only get a rough estimate of the actual work you can get done with the excavator. 

The soil type, operator’s experience, and the excavator’s size affect its work capacity. Another factor includes the actual time you’re going to spend digging. 

Let’s take a closer look at the factors that affect the working capacity of a mini excavator: 

The Type of Soil 

When digging with a mini excavator, the first thing you need to look at is the type of soil. Soft and loose soil is easier to dig and won’t take much effort to move. However, if you’re digging hard, dry or rocky soil, the excavator may do less work in the same amount of time. If the soil is too hard for the excavator to dig easily, you can loosen it with another tool first. 

The Excavator’s Size and Bucket Capacity 

Mini excavators usually weigh around 5-7 tons (5,000-7,000 kg) and have a bucket capacity of 0.5 cubic yards (0.38 cubic meters). Some hydraulic mini excavators have bigger buckets and can hold around 0.7 cubic yards (0.54 cubic meters) of dirt. They come in both wheeled and track versions, but the engine power is the main factor affecting the digging capacity. 

Most mini excavators will have an engine power output of 10-15 kW, although some may have more powerful engines for digging in tough terrain. 

The Operator’s Experience 

The operator’s experience is another crucial factor that may determine how effective your excavator is. Experienced operators know how to dig efficiently and may dig more than double the amount of dirt as inexperienced operators. 

How Can You Dig More With a Mini Excavator? 

You can dig more with a mini excavator by following the correct safety measures, using the correct digging and loading techniques, and using the right type of excavator for the job. While all this comes with experience, you can improve your efficiency by keeping them in mind when on the job. 

I’ll discuss these tips in more detail below:  

Follow the Correct Safety Techniques 

Always read the safety manual before operating any excavator to get a better idea of the safest operating procedure. Avoid going too close to the soil you’re digging, overloading the bucket, or digging in stubborn soil that doesn’t loosen with the excavator bucket. 

Use Better Digging Techniques 

Using the excavator within the correct operating range will help increase its efficiency. Most beginners make the mistake of overloading the bucket, thinking that it will increase the operating efficiency. However, this may take longer since the excavator is put under more stress, and there’s a greater chance of dropping the load. 

Once you get the hang of digging “just deep enough” with the bucket, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your digging speed. 

Use the Right Excavator Type 

Not all mini excavators are the same, and using the wrong type of excavator will affect the digging efficiency. If you’re doing landscaping work, you don’t need a large excavator, even though it may have a bigger bucket. 

Before renting a mini excavator, take your time to choose one that is most suited to your excavating needs.  


While mini excavators are extremely useful for landscaping and home renovation, it’s important to calculate how much an excavator can dig before using them. 

You can do so by estimating the time it takes you to complete a cycle and factoring in the soil type, bucket capacity, the operator’s experience, and other factors.

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