Can chip, shred, mulch, and compost
Handles leaves and sticks
Light and portable
Chute is extremely narrow
Leaves come out in large pieces
No real way to connect a paper or plastic lawn bag
We purchased the Sun Joe CJ601E Electric Wood Chipper so our expert reviewer could put it to the test in her backyard. Keep reading for our full product review.
We’re always looking for ways to make our lives easier, especially when it comes to yard work. One of the biggest projects we have to tackle every year is getting rid of the leaves and sticks that are an inevitable byproduct of fall in New England. When we saw that the Sun Joe CJ601E Electric Wood Chipper was designed to handle both leaves and twigs, we thought it could be the ideal yard companion; it can chip, shred, mulch, and compost, after all. Is the Sun Joe’s compact size enough to handle substantial jobs, though? We picked one up to find out.
Setup Process: Ten minutes to showtime
Right out of the gate, we liked the Sun Joe CJ601E just for the simple fact that setting it up was a cinch. The unit shipped almost entirely assembled; the only thing we had to do was attach the wheels to the stand assembly and then screw that onto the chipper/shredder. The instructions were clear and the entire process took a grand total of ten minutes. You do need a Phillips-head screwdriver to finish the job, though, so keep that in mind before you head out into your yard.
After the stand is secured into place, all that’s left is connecting the Sun Joe to an electrical outlet. If you’re using an extension cord, make sure you’re choosing one that’s approved for outdoor use, per the manufacturer. Using the wrong extension cord can increase the risk of electrical shock, and that’s not a risk you want to take.
Design: A powerful motor in a compact design
Although the Sun Joe Electric Wood Chipper is compact and unassuming, it has a powerful 14-amp motor that works at a speed of 4,300 RPM. A green, ABS body sits on top of two rugged, 6-inch wheels that are attached to a stand assembly that allows the chipper/shredder to stay upright without any assistance. Fully assembled, the unit measures 37.5 x 19 x 17 inches and weighs roughly 22 pounds.
The hopper comes equipped with a locking safety knob that prevents the motor from running when opened. There’s also a small chute on top that’s covered with plastic safety flaps which are designed to prevent shredded debris from shooting back out of the hopper as you’re feeding leaves and sticks into it.
To keep your fingers safe, the wood chipper/shredder also includes a paddle that you can use to push leaves, small twigs, and branches into the motor while the device is turned on. The paddle is perfectly designed to fit into the opening of the Sun Joe and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to slide it into place. It also comes with an attachment that secures the paddle against the stand, so you can keep track of it.
Performance: Lackluster for leaves, good for small twigs
The speed of the motor is extremely impressive and it pulls small twigs and leaves through the blades as quickly as you can push them into the chute. Because the chute is so small and narrow, though, you do have to use the included paddle to push handfuls of leaves through. While we appreciate this feature for safety’s sake, it can make the process a little tedious— especially if you’re using it for more leaves than twigs.
The leaves do move through the machine quickly, but they don’t come out as small as we’ve seen with other leaf mulchers. While some of the leaves were chopped into small pieces like those you get with a leaf mulcher, there were lots of others that came out halved or quartered instead. We were more impressed with the way the Sun Joe handled chipping wood than mulching leaves.
Small branches and twigs went through the chipper with ease and the mulch that came out on the other side was the perfect size for lining our trees and flower beds. Unfortunately, while the manufacturer claims that the Sun Joe can chip and shred sticks and limbs that are up to 1.5 inches thick, we found this claim to be a bit exaggerated. The chipper handled sticks up to 1-inch thick with ease and speed, but anything more than that proved to be a challenge and caused the chipper to momentarily jam.
One thing that we don’t love about the Sun Joe is how the collection chute is set up. The opening where the mulched leaves and chopped wood comes out is close to the ground, so there’s really no way to secure a paper or plastic leaf bag underneath it. Because of this, all of the mulched debris shot out onto our yard with no real rhyme or reason. While one reviewer mentioned setting the Sun Joe up in a small kiddie pool to easily collect mulched wood for his garden, we would have liked to see a solution that was a little more practical.
The good news is that when we needed to move the chipper, the wheels rolled easily and smoothly—both on our wooden deck and across our yard—even when wet and muddy from the rain. All this is to say that if you’re mulching wood and you don’t have a good way to collect it, you can simply set the Sun Joe near your trees or garden bed, let the mulch collect in a pile, and then spread it out as necessary.
Price: A deal that pays for itself
With a price tag of $139, the Sun Joe Electric Wood Chipper easily pays for itself as season after season, you save money on wood mulch. If you’re using it primarily for leaf mulching or composting, you’ll still get your money’s worth, it’ll just take a bit more effort.
Competition: Puts up a good fight
WORX 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher: If leaves are your main concern, the WORX 13-Amp Electric Leaf Mulcher may be more up your alley. It has a significantly larger funnel than the Sun Joe, so you can throw leaves in without the need for a paddle. That said, it really struggles with sticks (no matter how small), so you’ll have to be careful to separate those. The WORX is comparably priced at $120.
Patriot 14-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder: If you need something that can handle substantial jobs and large branches, the Patriot Electric Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder is up for the task. The unit has a wide chute that swallows leaves and can tackle wood up to 2.5 inches in diameter. The price point reflects the improved performance, though. It costs more than eight times the Sun Joe at more than $1,000.
A win for small jobs.
Because the Sun Joe Electric Wood Chipper can break down both twigs and leaves, it’s an excellent companion for small clean up jobs. If you’re looking for a unit that can handle some serious volume and branches, though, you’ll probably be happier with a machine equipped with a bigger chute.
- Product Name Sun Joe Electric Wood Chipper
- Product Brand Snow Joe
- MPN CJ601E
- Price $139.00
- Weight 25.36 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 37.5 x 19 x 17 in.
- Hopper Dimensions 2 x 5 in.
- RPM 4,300
- Power Source Electric
- Power Input 15A
- Warranty 2 years