Trying to finding the best wacker plate compactor ?
We’ve done the research and thrown out the downright awful.
What is a wacker plate?
Also known as a vibratory compaction plate, it is a very heavy machine with a large flat plate base.
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WORKS AS HARD AS YOU DO!
So, a wacker plate (or plate compactor) is usually petrol or diesel powered and allows layers of material to be compacted down until closely knitted and firm, to enable a good solid foundation for things such as patio’s, paths, driveways and even for turf laying.
The operator controls the plate by guiding it into the desired direction as it vibrates along the surface until all of the ground is firm and level.
WHAT CAN YOU USE A WACKER PLATE ON?
Most loose materials can be compacted down.
Construction firms and landscapers use these machines to press down the material so it becomes really strong and able to withstand the likes of building work on top of it -patio’s, pathways and so on.
Obviously there is a lot more to it than this, but that is the basic premise of a wacker plate.
Generally a builder would wacker or compact down a sub base material such as hardcore rubble (type 1 MOT grade, as it is commonly referred to) – see this wikipedia entry on sub-bases for more info)). This helps lock the material together making it much tougher and less likely to “move” under weight.
You can also use these machines on soil to help level the ground. Note though that this is not an ideal choice if the soil is heavy clay (i.e. sticky), or if the soil is exceptionally wet. A little bit of moisture is absolutely perfect.
Here, take a look at this quick video to see what it looks like when using a Wacker plate.
Depending on the engine power output (measured in horsepower (or hp)), the machine can compact the material down to various depths (for example typically 30cm deep).
If you are creating patios or paths around a property then you don’t necessarily need the biggest and best wacker plate there is out there (as generally it is just human traffic on them, and not too heavy), but for driveways and public highways where heavy vehicles will move, there is a need for better machinery than can compact quickly and down to decent depths.
These situations you will often see all manner of vehicles upon them from cars and HGV vehicles, so they need to be absolutely built on solid foundations. You’ll also need something that will compact the ground reliably.
So, that out of the way, I want to show what we have found.
The top 10 very best wacker plates for sale.
Hyundai’s Flagship Wacker plate gets a straight A in all it’s tests.
It powers down a deep compaction depth down to 300mm.
- Large fuel tank.
- Large plate
- Travels at 15 meters per minute
- Foldable handles
“The unit ran well. We have used it daily for the past 3 weeks. In that time it has performed good and run reliably. For the price it is a fair investment of your money, even if it is a lesser known brand.“
Best wacker plate for getting into small tight areas
When only the best will do, choose a Belle machine. This PCX 12/36 plate compactor will work hard all year round.
This Belle is smaller, more compact and designed specifically to get into smaller areas.
Precision engineered, and extremely high quality give Belle machines the trust they have come to be accustomed to from consumers around the world.
The base plate is smaller. You get higher speeds.
- A reinforced centrifugal clutch that helps extend the life of the belt as well as make the belt easier to adjust.
- Foldable mounted guide handle offers superior manoeuvrability and can be lowered to operate under obstacles and close to form work.
- 4 HP Honda petrol engine (known for their superb reliability)
- 9.5 litre capacity water tank spray system. Angled holes help spray the full width preventing Asphalt pick up.
- Easy lifting points – a front lift cage to make moving it around a breeze.
- You can order an optional wheel kit
- Easily fitted and removed Life lubricated vibration bearings – for peace of mind
“It’s got a larger water tank spray system that stops stuff sticking to the bottom (hot asphalt for example)”
It would be so easy to simply state “go out and buy a Belle and forget the rest”. We wouldn’t be wrong in that statement, however the downsides to owning a Belle compactor plate are the high price tags when purchasing. That’s why we went to these lengths to look at all wackers on the market.
This is the mid weight Belle PCLX 320 – 3.0HP Honda Petrol Driven Wacker Plate. A premium low vibration wacker plate compactor.
It features a 320mm plate that achieves brilliant compaction levels across all materials.
It performs to HAUC standards (Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee) so is guaranteed to get the job done to the right specifications.
Professional users depend upon this.
One of the safest machines in it’s class, the low vibration design means the operator can user it for longer periods without undue fatigue setting in.
It’s also extremely well built and enjoys long periods of use in between planned services or maintenance needs.
Great for small confined areas.
Travels at 21.2 metres per minute
Weighs 61.5 kg
It’s a little know fact, but we have it on good authority (and via testing of course) that the 3 most popular Belle compactor plates are this one the PCX 500 (a 500mm plate).. the PCX 450 (450mm plate) and the PCX 320 (a 320mm plate)… 3 of the best Belle wacker plates that money can buy. Being Belle, you get what you pay for.
Expect high 3 figures but for the money expect solid daily long term use without the drama.
So, this model is solid, robust and ultra reliable with a nice standfard plate size, oh and a reliable Honda engine too!
- Faster travel speed both forward and reverse – for improved productivity (HONDA GX160)
- Low hand-arm vibration – for operator health and safety and safer usage times
- Engine protection frame – also provides a lifting point
- Handle folds flat – compact size for transport and storage
- Option for water tank factory fitted
This is a 300mm wacker plate (12 inches width). Coupling it to the generous 2.8 horse power engine gives you a machine that starts up well (although we did have to let our unit run a few minutes from cold before using it for compacting)
It hasn’t failed to start up during the time we used it (for a pathway sub base).
Hyundai have been in existence since 1947 as an engineering and construction company before branching out into motoring and machinery. For their wacker plates they use a sole Uk based importer (Genpower Ltd), who trade as “Hyundai Power Equipment”.
- Will achieve 25 metres per minute coverage (so extremely useful)
- A sturdy 8mm steel plate compacts down to 200mm.
- The reliable Hyundai engine works hard and works well.
Ideal for compacting sand, soil, small aggregates it is the perfect, cost-effective plate compactor for DIY projects, patio & block paving preparation, small driveway work and tarmac repair.
The Neilsen C 60 petrol plate compactor packs a good solid punch thanks to it’s 5.5 horsepower engine.
It can run at between 20 and 25 metres each minute and has an impact force of 1030kg and can compact up to 150mm depth. Tackle your sub base woes easily.
It’s not the hardest hitting compactor, and won’t be good for heavby duty items but for the vast majority of applications it is just fine.
Just note that 150mm is pretty much the depth of compaction, so you’ll be compacting in slightly thinner layers which is fine for most things (especially for DIY projects and professional projects that you can take that bit longer on), but if you’re using it for business and time is of the essence you need to get a more powerful machine.
Highly rated in every other aspect.
Evolution Hulk offer low price affordable plate compactors in both electric and petrol driven models. This is the electric plate compactor and below this you will see our feedback for the petrol version.
- Reliable and quiet, high quality induction motor
- Low maintenance power unit
- No harmful fumes emitted, ideal for use in enclosed spaces
- Folding handle for convenient transportation
- 2 years warranty (only valid if purchased in the UK)
“The unit is pleasant and easy to operate. We used it to compact both the sub base and sand down for our block paving and I have to say it performed exceedingly well. The electric model is fine for any DIY’er but remember the cable is about 10 metres long so if you’re off up to the end of your drive you will need a decent extension cable.. and a dry day :)”
As with any smaller machine that has less power there are some obvious “operator issues” to get around. For example if you are used to using high end £1000 Belle machines, you’d be used to getting jobs done quicker, compacting thicker stuff and dealing with bumps, however it is clearly better to rake off large bumps then proceed with your wacker plate.
Here is the petrol variant of the Evolution hulk wacker plate. Nicely priced and less hassle organizing electric cables and hoping for dry days. This can be used whenever and without the fuss.
- Powerful 2.4hp motor
- Low frequency & high amplitude for better soil compaction
- Easy fold handle for storage and transportation
- Thick, durable base plate and vibration damper system increases user comfort
- 2 Year Warranty (only valid if purchased in the UK)
The Scheppach HP 1100 plate compactor. A beast of a machine.
Our secret favourite!
Look at the specifications:
– Dimensions lxwxh: 700 x 400 x 480 mm
– motor power 4 kW / 5.5 hp
– Plate size: 530 x 350 mm
– Compaction force: 11000 N
– Weight: 63.0 kg
– Compaction depth: 25 – 30 cm
– Travel speed: 25 m/min
This is our favourite wacker plate here. Build quality and ability is brilliant. Nice and agile thanks to it’s plate size.
HUGE compaction depths, compaction force and ability to travel as fast as most other machines.
The price is competitive too, so offers REALLY GOOD value. Take a look for yourself.
High power, solid performance and way less than the price of high end machines.
For those smaller areas, this hand held mini wacker plate is just perfect. Packs a punch, takes up little room and does what is needed. The Ruttli 250W plate compactor is just the ticket.
Powered by electric motor.
The base plate on this machine is made using stable lacquered sheet steel.
“Small but mighty. We trialled this for 2 weeks for a pathway going from our front door, down the side of the house and to mary up to our patio at the back. No problems reported. Did what was needed. Compacted our hardcore, sand and then was made ready for the pavers.“
First time using a plate compactor?
There’s a few things to remember before you go off out and begin wackering away.
The basics of a wacker plate:
- Know how to turn the machine on, and also off. Most will have an on/off switch, then you will need to pull start the engine, much like starting a mower engine. A press on the primer and good to go.
- Wear the right PPE – obviously gloves and safety boots (and keeping them well clear of the machine during use), and also safety goggles and ear protection.
- Avoid loose fitting clothing or jewellery when using the machine.
- Knowing how to use the machine.
- Knowing how to fill up with fuel
- knowing how to safely remove the compactor plate from your vehicle to the area being compacted (without breaking your back)
- Giving a visual inspection to make sure all the nuts and bolts are as tight as they should be.
- Read and understand the entire user manual before you begin. Long term it will help keep you safer, more informed, and be able to identify any issues if thery arise.
- If the motors speed can be adjusted look for the throttle lever and adjust to suit.. start it off small and on low revs when you first begin.
How to use your wacker plate
If your plate compactor is an electric model then simply plug it in and pull on the lever or press the on/off switch to start compacting.
If your machine is petrol then follow the steps below.
Assuming you are wearing the correct PPE and have done all the necessary safety checks then proceed as below.
On the side of the engine you should see two levers – one is for fuel, and one is the choke.
STARTING YOUR WACKER PLATE
- Move the fuel slider to the right fully. This can be left like this most of the day and turned off at night.
- For a cold engine start, also slide the choke slider to the right.
- If your engine has recently been running then you may not need the choke fully on or even on at all.
- Turn the engine’s “on/off” switch to the on position (usually a “1”)
- Grab the recoil puller. This is usually a small Black plastic handle attached to rope that goes inside the engine.
- Hold the machine firmly with one hand and pull right back on the pull cord. The machine should set into life.
- After a short moment you can push the choke lever fully off to the left.
USING YOUR WACKER PLATE
A wacker plate really is a simple device.
To begin using it, you need to increase the revs (throttle). The machine uses a centrifugal clutch which will engage when the revs are high enough, forcing the compactor into motion. Simply use your hands to guide, along with a bit of force, to ensure it goes in the direction you are travelling.
Ideally you would move up and down in strips until the entire area has been tampered down.
WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED
Assuming no machinery issues, reduce the revs right down and let it run for a minute or two to cool down, just ticking over somewhere safe out of your way, then you can turn the power on/off switch to the off position (usually a “0”).
For additional safety, slide the fuel lever to the left (off position).
Please do comment below and we will do our best to help.
A wacker plate is not a cheap investment but it is an important investment so hopefully our little guide here has helped you discover the best wacker plate for your needs!