Backhoe Loader Size Guide

If your job site uses heavy equipment, you likely have at least one backhoe loader hard at work. These compact, powerful machines can perform numerous earthmoving tasks quickly and efficiently, especially when implementing a wide assortment of compatible work tool attachments.

Backhoe loaders are available in multiple sizes. Use this informative guide to help you determine the best fit for your operations.

What Types of Jobs Can Backhoe Loaders Handle?

One of the biggest advantages of utilizing backhoes is their versatility — you can perform several jobs with one machine, saving time and money. Their ability to push piles of material like a dozer and dig and scoop like an excavator allows your crew to utilize the same machines for many essential functions.

Construction Work

Backhoes are standard equipment at most construction sites. Their versatility enables them to dig holes during smaller foundation excavation projects and move dirt, stone, gravel and sand from one point to another. They can also load these materials onto dump trucks or other vehicles. Backhoes are easy to maneuver, enabling you to use them in confined areas.

Small Demolition Projects

Do your jobs require breaking up concrete, stone or other solid materials? Backhoes can add significant value to your projects. Equipping them with specific attachments allows you to switch from one task to another quickly and efficiently.

For example, you can connect a hammer to smash larger objects into more manageable sizes. Grapples make it easier to pick up the pieces and load them onto trucks for disposal. A thumb attachment can help the machine handle irregularly sized or shaped objects.


Backhoes can serve multiple purposes at landscaping sites. Use them for excavation when digging holes for ponds or water features. If the task involves land clearing, these loaders can handle everything from removing entire trees to grinding stumps with the appropriate attachment. You can also break up sidewalks or paved areas to access the ground beneath them.

Landscapers who want to keep busy during the winter months can attach plows, blowers, blades and other tools to their backhoes and use them for snow and ice removal on roadways, parking lots and residential or commercial properties.


Backhoe loaders are excellent for performing various farming tasks. Use them to dig holes for fence posts, transport hay bales, till soil and transport material to and from the fields. They can also assist with installing pipes for irrigation systems.

Road Projects

Backhoe loaders’ ability to break up pavement makes these machines suitable for smaller road repair jobs. You can also add attachments to perform tasks like soil compaction, grading and leveling to prepare surfaces for paving.

Choose the Perfect Backhoe Size with H.O. Penn’s Expert Guidance

H.O. Penn assists you in navigating the variety of backhoe sizes, facilitating the selection of the optimal machine that aligns with both your specific applications and budget constraints.

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How to Choose the Right Backhoe Size

Although all backhoes are compact equipment, there are multiple size categories from which to choose. You’ll need to consider several factors to select the best machine for your applications.

Amount of Material You Need to Move

If you need to move large volumes of rocks, dirt, sand or gravel quickly, a smaller backhoe might not be up to the challenge. It may not have enough horsepower to handle larger loads. You’ll need to make more trips, which wastes precious time and resources. You can gauge the horsepower by how tall the backhoe is — a height under 15 feet typically indicates a range of 68 to 107 horsepower. Machines over 15 feet can deliver at least 124 horsepower.

Terrain Type

Because backhoe weights vary widely, you’ll need to know the type of terrain the machine will be navigating. If you’re working on a manicured surface like a high-end residential or commercial lawn or gold course, choosing a lighter model is less likely to damage the turf. If your work site features rugged ground, you may need larger equipment that provides more power to traverse rocks and other obstacles.

Digging Depth

You’ll also need to determine how far down you need the backhoe to dig. The size of the equipment indicates its maximum digging depth. If the loader doesn’t go down far enough, you may need additional tools or attachments to achieve the desired results. If your backhoe struggles to complete your digging tasks, consider whether a different equipment type, such as a larger excavator, might do a better job.


Depending on the model, the operating weight of a Cat backhoe can range from approximately 25,000 to 30,000 pounds. A heavier machine provides more traction and stability when working on softer terrain. A lighter loader delivers better results when you’re concerned about maintaining surface integrity.


Backhoes depend on hydraulic systems to perform various job site tasks. The hydraulic flow determines the amount of pressure required to push and pull the loader’s buckets. This force can vary substantially between models.

Project Deadline

How much time do you have to complete the job? If you choose a backhoe that’s too small, the reduced capacity could put the work behind schedule. However, a larger machine can be inefficient when working in smaller areas.

Space Limitations

While all backhoes are easy to maneuver, bigger versions may not perform as well in tight quarters. If you’re working at a residential site with many obstacles, a more compact loader offers additional mobility. You might even have difficulty getting a larger machine in and out of the work area.

Bucket Size Considerations

Backhoe loader buckets also come in an assortment of sizes. Depending on the style and size of the front bucket your select, your equipment can perform various digging, scooping and leveling tasks. The size of the rear bucket is crucial when determining the machine’s lifting and loading capacity.

Cat® Backhoe Sizes

As the authorized Cat® equipment dealer for portions of New York and Connecticut, H.O. Penn Machinery carries a full selection of Cat backhoe loaders to meet your digging, trenching, loading, back-filling and material moving needs. These advanced machines offer a productive and cost-effective solution for a wide range of industries and applications.

Cat backhoe loaders are available in various sizes.

Mini Backhoes

Are you looking for a compact earthmoving machine featuring a lighter footprint? The smallest Cat backhoe loaders are perfect for residential projects where keeping the turf in excellent condition is essential. These models are also easy to maneuver, making them an excellent option when working in confined areas.

Full-Size Backhoes

If your projects require more horsepower, these rugged backhoes can meet your needs. They’ll deliver reliable performance for standard-size projects requiring the right balance between power and maneuverability. They provide a digging depth of approximately 14 feet.

Large Backhoes

The largest Cat backhoe loaders are the best choice for heavy-duty earthmoving projects on challenging terrain. These machines offer maximum horsepower for demanding excavation, loading and material-moving projects. Some models’ digging depths can reach 17 feet.

Benefits of Choosing a Cat Backhoe

New Cat backhoes loaders also include numerous innovative features and benefits:

  • Fuel savings: The latest Cat backhoe loader engines combine impressive power with excellent fuel efficiency to perform at the highest level. They also meet today’s increasingly stringent emissions standards.
  • Enhanced operator control: Many backhoe models have seat-mounted controls that make them easier to maneuver and increase productivity. The display allows users to set their preferences for a customized operating experience.
  • Quick couplers: These attachment systems enable operators to add and change work tools quickly and safely. In many cases, they can make these adjustments without leaving the cab.
  • Increased comfort: Automotive-style cabs help keep operators comfortable throughout the day. The ride control system provides smoother performance while traveling at higher speeds over rough terrain.

Contact H.O. Penn to Learn More

H.O. Penn can help you explore the backhoe sizes available and choose the best machine for your applications and budget. As a full-service Cat dealer, we’ll also be there after the sale to keep your equipment on the job and performing well.

Contact us for more information today.

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