The different types of bulldozers can be confusing. Use this guide to make the best decision when renting a bulldozer.
When you need to move heavy material, pave a road or grade land, you can’t beat the might of a bulldozer. But which bulldozer is best for your project? The three main types of bulldozers have unique strengths. Read on to discover the differences and the best uses for each.
Bulldozer types: wheel dozer, crawler bulldozer and mini bulldozer
There are three main types of bulldozers, which are classed based on their size and whether they have tracks or wheels.
Mini bulldozer: Ideal for residential projects
For most residential projects, a small bulldozer will do. A mini bulldozer, also known as a compact bulldozer, has plenty of power. These bulldozers have tracks, can fit in small spaces and can be transported by a standard trailer. Use this type of bulldozer to clear land, push snow or grade a driveway.
Crawler bulldozer: Ideal for bulldozing land and building roads
A crawler bulldozer is a heavy bulldozer with tracks. Highly versatile, it’s the most common type of bulldozer. A crawler is the best bulldozer for clearing land for new construction or leveling a road. It’s also used in mining operations.
Wheel dozer: Ideal for the largest projects
What is the biggest bulldozer? The answer is a wheel dozer. This heavy bulldozer is set on wheels rather than tracks. Wheels have less impact on the ground and work well for soft surfaces such as turf and sand. Wheel dozers have a smaller turning radius than crawler bulldozers, but they are generally larger overall. They are used for big projects such as mining, highway construction and building a sports stadium.
What size bulldozer do I need?
Consider horsepower first and foremost when deciding which bulldozer is right for you. A bulldozer with more horsepower will be larger, with a larger plate capacity. Bigger bulldozers have higher operating weights, which means they can push with more power.
Also factor in the surface you’ll be traversing. A low ground pressure bulldozer is designed to spread the bulldozer’s weight more evenly, minimizing impact on the ground. If you’re working on wet or soft ground for projects such as pipe laying or clearing wetlands, a low ground pressure bulldozer will help you get the job done.
Small bulldozer: Up to 100 horsepower
A small bulldozer has less than 100 horsepower, an operating weight of 18,000 pounds and a maximum digging depth of about 20 inches. Most of these will be mini dozers. They can be used for small residential projects such as leveling a yard, building a driveway or hobby farming.
Medium bulldozer: Up to 200 horsepower
A medium bulldozer has up to 200 horsepower and an operating weight of about 46,000 pounds. A medium bulldozer has tracks and is best for clearing land, plowing snow or moving materials around a jobsite.
Large bulldozer: Up to 850 horsepower
Large bulldozers are most often found at mines, major construction sites and highway building projects. They can have an operating weight of more than 200,000 pounds, so they’re reserved for major land moving or land clearing projects.
Bulldozer blade design and size
The blade, or plate, of a bulldozer does the brunt of the machine’s work. Most bulldozers come with a straight blade (S-blade), which is entirely straight and is good for grading, but you can switch out the blade if necessary. If you’re doing more earth pushing, a curved universal blade, or U-blade, will help keep materials contained. For landscaping or snow removal, a power-angle-tilt blade gives the operator more control.
The blade width will vary with the size of bulldozer, as will the blade capacity, or how much material the blade can contain, which is calculated by its width and height.
If you’re renting a bulldozer and you’re not sure what blade you need, or you’d like guidance on what type of bulldozer is your best bet, ask your equipment rental professional for advice.