Last updated on November 8th, 2022
Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.
Over the years, at my family’s plant nursery in Manchester, we have rented wacker plates for various jobs more times than I care to count, and as a financial decision, we should have purchased our own wacker plate much sooner. It would have made planning much easier not to mention the money saved on rental fees.
The issue with renting (as well as the cost) was that we ended up always rushing to get the job done so we could return it on time. Not exactly ideal when we are trying to do a decent job, plus, the good old predictable Manchester weather would often mess our plans up. We might only use it on certain days when certain staff were in, or when the hardcore or MOT-1 arrived. Things never quite go to plan especially when you take the English weather into consideration!
Best wacker plate compactors in the UK
- Evolution Hulk Electric Wacker Plate Compactor – Great for small jobs and those who prefer not to mess around with noisy petrol engines.
- Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor 79cc Vibrating Wacker Plate – A great petrol pick for small and medium-sized jobs. Reliable, well-built and provides excellent value for money.
- Hyundai 196cc Wacker Plate Compactor – One of the best picks for larger jobs, backed by a 3-year warranty.
- Evolution Power Tools Hulk Petrol with Paving Pad
So to be clear, I’m not an expert builder by trade. More of a competent DIY’er who doesn’t mind getting my hands dirty and doing a job myself. I’ve watched plenty of Youtube videos and I consider myself a learn-as-I-go type of guy, I have refurbed two houses doing this. With this in mind, this review is for those like me who are looking for a decent wacker plate to buy for more personal use or even lighter professional use, maybe landscaping.
These models are not comparable to Bomag (or equivalent) but they’re also less than half the price. I have personally used wacker plates in the past to lay a sub-base with MOT-1 before laying concrete pads for pallets. We have also used them for repairing block paved paths, both to compact the sub-layer and also to firm and compact the paving stones. I have also used them to maintain and lay the stone paths around the nursery and to compact soil and sand in the large polytunnels before laying weed control fabric.
If you have got larger jobs to undertake, then petrol is definitely the way to go. Personally, I would go with one of the Wolf Petrol Compactor Vibrating Wacker Plates because they have a good track record and will offer you excellent value for money. I have reviewed this smaller Wolf 8200N Petrol 79cc Compactor further down. They also sell two 196cc models, one with 1100N Centrifugal Force and one slightly larger one with a Centrifugal Force of 13000N.
If you have got some slightly larger areas to work on, the 1100N Compactor is probably a good model to consider because it sits right in the middle.
This smaller option is the 8200N compactor, it will still do a decent job and is probably big enough for most jobs anyway. It’s just about small enough to lift on your own too and I also love that it has transport wheels. I’ve seen better wheels on models I’ve rented so not the best design, however, they still do the job, you might just need a bungee cord to hold them up when not in use. More in detail on this is below though.
I think the Wolf compactors also come with 2 years warranty and 1 year for commercial, which most cheaper models won’t cover. I don’t think it will work for heavy commercial use, but for occasional use, it’s a great affordable model that’s more than good enough.
If this isn’t available, then the Evolution Power Tools Hulk Petrol Compactor (which is actually pictured above) is worth considering, and although I’ve not personally used it, a landscaper friend of mine has. It lacks wheels, but it otherwise has very similar specs. It’s also worth noting that both Evolution and Wolf models do come with a pad so if you plan on laying paving (I know a lot of people do), it’s got you covered there too. You don’t need to buy the pad separately as you do with some models.
More recently, this electric Evolution Hulk Electro Compressor has proved useful for smaller home projects, for example, laying a dolomite base before laying paving stoves for a greenhouse or shed base. My brother also used this electric model to lay MOT-1 and course sand before paving for a large dog kennel he built for his whippets.
Let me give you a little tip, add a 20kg bag of sand to the top of the compactor to give it that extra weight because this is then almost comparable to a petrol model weight-wise and still works great. That being said, it still works without the bag of sand on top, just takes an extra pass or two. It also helps if you do two or three thinner layers instead of one thick layer.
Do bear in mind that with this model, you do need to buy the pad separately and this is extra. It’s a brilliant piece of kit though, you just have the power cord to contend with, it’s 10 meters though so gives you plenty of reach and nothing an extension cord can’t fix.
Runner-up and Best Electric model
If you are still not sure which model is right for you, check out my reviews below. I have also put together a buyer’s guide that can help you decide what type and size of model you might need.
If you need something big but affordable (at least compared to some brands), something that will easily cope with more demanding large areas, check out this Hyundai 196cc Wacker Plate Compactor. It’s a great choice, includes the pad for paving, has a compaction depth of 300mm and comes with a 3-year warranty.
Best Compactor Plate Reviews
1. Evolution Hulk Electric Wacker Plate Compactor
Best Electric model
This Evolution Hulk Electric Wacker Plate Compactor is the only non-petrol powered compactor plate in my review. This makes it harder to compare it to any other model because it’s not really a fair comparison.
If you have a small area to compact, maybe you’re paving a small area, laying a small artificial lawn, making a base for a greenhouse or even laying a stone driveway or path this will definitely do the job, but it obviously has its limitations. Let us begin with the good points, firstly it weighs about 25kg, now that’s half the weight of a good petrol model. This makes it easier to move around and pick up but is still heavy enough to do a decent job.
It’s also much quieter being electric, great if you have neighbours that might overwise complain about the noise. Then there is the low maintenance nature, no oil or petrol to deal with, no engine to maintain and service. You can’t beat electric motors over engines for ease of use and maintenance, especially if you don’t want to deal with petrol engines.
To give a comparison between this and a petrol alternative, this produces 5kN of compact force while a similar sized petrol model produces around 10kN of compact force, that’s half.
There’s a quick fix if you just need more weight, add a bag of sand on top. This works great and gives you that extra weight if needed. So being that it is lighter without a bag of sand, it’s not exactly designed to do this, you just need to do slightly thinner layers and a couple more passes. It does the job well, it just takes a little longer. It did a great job compacting 10cm of hardcore, then 3-5cm of sand and finally the slabs.
Now for the specs, it has a travel speed of 5m per minute, not that this means a lot in the real world. User comfort has been thought out with the vibration dampener system that reduces the strain on your arms and upper back.
The thick base plate handles the loose material quite well, MOT-1, other hardcore and soil and sand. What it won’t do is crush larger hardcore as the bigger petrol models do; however, it will still compact it. Just remember to lay it in thinner layers. Finally, you can choose to buy it with or without the paving pad.
Now, it does have one niggle/bad point I must mention. The handle design lets it down a little because it’s designed to fold down like lawnmower handles do to make it compact for storage. This is great, however, the knobs that hold the handle together have a tendency to work themselves loose and fall out after a while, I’ve noticed this on lawnmowers before too. On the plus side, you know when it becomes loose because you feel the extra vibration through the handles and this means you can quickly tighten them back up again. It is just something you need to be aware of.
- Electric compactor with 130W induction motor.
- Runs at 2860rpm.
- Roll bars give increased strength and protection when the unit is transported.
- Works at 5m per minute.
- The compaction force is 5kN.
- Optional paving pad for working on block paving.
- Vibration dampener system for operator comfort.
- Thick and durable base plate.
- Works on surface and sub-base preparation tasks.
- Comes with a long 10m power cord.
- Two-year limited warranty.
The Evolution Hulk Electric Wacker Plate is a great alternative to petrol models for smaller jobs, but it does have its limitations. I actually think this is probably the best choice for most people with smaller home projects. No petrol engine to maintain so it’s low maintenance. It’s heavy enough but also light enough for one person to handle, some of these petrol models need 2 people to lift them. It’s quiet so won’t annoy the neighbours, and for the price, it’s amazing value for money, you just need to keep an eye on those handles and deal with the power cord. Not a big issue and it really is a great piece of kit that gets the job done.
I’ll be honest, although this electric model is impressive for what it is and a great pick for small jobs, it’s simply not comparable to the power and efficiency of a petrol wacker plate. I would of certainly never used it in the plant nursery, but for smaller home jobs, it was great.
2. Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor 79cc Vibrating Wacker Plate
Best Petrol Model
If you plan on using one a fair bit and have larger jobs to do (as we did) petrol is the way to go for sure. The smallest petrol wacker plates like this Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor 79cc are still twice the weight and double the compacting power of the electric alternatives. These things are the business.
The one I review here is the Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor, and it’s the smallest of a range of similar models of different sizes. The Wolf 8200N is the least powerful but great for small to medium-sized jobs. The same two models are also available with a 196cc engine but with a bigger plate so they are also well worth considering. This gives you a choice of power with the same set of excellent features.
I think this Wolf model is one of the best out of all the more affordable options, excluding Bomag and Belle of course, but these are in a different league and 2 to 3 times the price, if not more. I think RocwooD and other genetic models, not to mention smaller Hyundai models and even the Evolution power tools petrol wacker plate, are not as good either.
We will bring you the good points first, it is well-built and starts easily. This is where most generic unbranded models fail and where Wolf has upped their game, to a point. Being 4 -stroke is surprisingly quiet for a petrol engine. I personally prefer 4-stroke engines too, they are easier to refuel, and no mixing oil with petrol like you do with 2-stroke models.
It also comes with a pad for tamping down paving and the wheels are great for moving it around. They could be better, and I’ve certainly seen better on some of the rented models we’ve had, but they do the job. You may just want to strap them up with a bungee cord if they start falling down from the hooks.
The only downside is the bolt that holds the engine speed control onto the handle is not great and we aren’t really sure why they don’t fix this. It’s easy enough, add a washer and M5 nut so that you can tighten it up properly onto the handle. They cost pennies at B&Q if you don’t have a few spare and are worth doing.
The numbers, even on this smaller model are impressive, the walking speed is 25m per minute and the compaction depth is 200mm. While this isn’t the deepest compaction of the models I review, if you compact in thinner layers, you can get more depth. It is also worth noting that there are two bigger alternatives available, which are 250mm and 300mm, so you do have these options. I do think that the bigger models, might be just a little too big for lighter aggregates.
I also like the heavy-duty vibration-dampening system that’s built into this unit too, the vibrations don’t travel to the handle too much. Also lessening the effect of vibrations on you and adding to your comfort is the soft padding on the top handle. Plus it’s more comfortable to grip than straight metal.
And more convenience is found with the foldable handle. This flips down to let you store the compactor upright in a smaller storage space and because this is a relatively heavy piece of garden equipment (50kg) you, of course, have the wheels which I’ve already mentioned.
- Petrol compactor plate with a 79cc 4-stroke engine.
- Compaction depth is 200mm on the smaller model and up to 350mm on the larger model.
- Heavy-duty vibration damper system.
- Included an Easy Fit paving pad.
- Has wheels for easy transportation.
- The handle is hinged and foldable for storage.
- Moves at 25m per minute.
- Weighs 50kg.
- Dimensions are 49.5cm by 32cm.
The Wolf 8200N 79cc Petrol Compactor Vibrating Wacker Plate also comes in a medium power size and a high power size. I like that you have the choice of the right engine size for your own tasks. An anti-vibrating system, foldable handle and wheels all add up to your comfort and convenience.
The Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor 79cc Vibrating Wacker Plate is my choice for Best Petrol Pick in this review.
3. Evolution Power Tools Hulk Petrol with Paving Pad
The Evolution Power Tools Hulk Petrol comes with the paving pad and has an 80cc 4-stroke engine which puts it on the less powerful end of the petrol-powered compactor scale. This makes it suitable for smaller jobs for those who prefer a petrol model over an electric machine. I think is also an alternative to the smaller Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor should it not be in stock. However, the plate is slightly smaller at 400mm x 320mm. The Wolf is 495 x 320mm, so it is slightly smaller on this model.
The manoeuvrability of this compactor into small spaces is useful, especially if you are working on awkwardly shaped work sites. This is where that smaller plate would come into its own.
It has a high-grade steel compaction plate that operates at a low frequency, reaching further down into the ground and compacting thicker materials. The Easy Fit paving pad is for you to use when finishing a patio or block paving job so this is handy, and it comes with it.
- Petrol compactor with an 80cc 2.4hp 4-stroke engine.
- Easy pull start for the engine.
- Travels at 8m per minute.
- The fuel tank holds 1.5L.
- Forced air cooling system.
- High-grade steel compaction plate.
- Includes Easy Fit paving pad.
- Comes with a spark plug, a spanner, 0.5L of oil and a manual.
- Weight 38kg.
- The dimensions of the compaction plate are 40cm by 32cm.
The Evolution Power Tools Hulk Petrol is a small size compactor plate that’s good for small to medium-sized construction tasks on your landscape. The paving pad is included which is worth noting, although, should you wish, you can also buy it without the pad for a slightly cheaper price.
This is a good petrol compactor and what I would consider if the Wolf compactor was not available.
4. Hyundai 196cc Wacker Plate Compactor
The Hyundai 196cc Wacker Plate is the top-of-the-line flagship compactor plate from this well-renowned brand. Now, I’m a bit of a fan of their garden machinery, so I was expecting big things with this compactor. In fact, I recently reviewed the super impressive petrol scarifier (which did an amazing job) and the larger self-propelled lawn mower which my dad now uses, and both were named top picks in their respective guides.
This model is comparable to the biggest Wolf 13000N Petrol 196cc Compactor (my best petrol pick but the larger model), it’s almost identical in fact. Both have a 4-stroke 196cc engine, both produce a Centrifugal Force of 13000N, both have a compact depth of 300mm and even the weight is the same at 96kg. It goes further, the plate measures 540mm x 420mmm and it has a travelling speed of 15m/min.
Are they in fact the same compactor just branded differently? Maybe, I’m not sure, but it looks that way. I can tell you where Hyundai wins, it comes with a 3 year domestic warranty, Wolf only offers 2 years but 1 year commercial, but then Hyundai also offers 1 year for commercial use and even 90 days for hire.
Either way, both machines are impressive and great for larger jobs where bigger is better.
The recoil start makes it easy to start this powerful machine. The travelling speed is not as fast as you’d think, it’s 15m per minute. But that’s fast enough to cover a large area in an acceptable time. Plus the compactor plate is large at 54cm by 42cm, so you are covering a great deal of area on one pass. And with a 3.6L capacity, you won’t need to stop frequently and refill the fuel tank, but for a machine this big, I would expect this.
The guide handle allows you to easily move the compactor around. There’s a soft grip foam covering the part of the handle you hold. This makes it comfier to hold plus it helps to reduce the vibrations when the unit is in use. All the controls are within easy reach on the handle so you don’t have to take your hands off and reach across to slow or stop the compactor.
- Petrol compactor plate with 196cc 4-stroke engine.
- Easy start using recoil pull start.
- Comes with a large compactor plate, paving pad and wheels.
- Travels at 15m per minute.
- Compacts to a depth of 30cm.
- The fuel tank holds 3.6L.
- The dimensions of the plate are 54cm by 42cm.
- Three-year Hyundai warranty includes 1 year for commercial use.
This Hyundai Wacker Plate is for those who have serious landscape projects to accomplish outside their home and even for light commercial use. The powerful engine, plus the large compactor plate, let you cover a significant area once you start work. The 300mm compaction depth lets you establish a solid footing for whatever you want to build on the surface. Overall, this is a good alternative to the largest Wolf wacker plate which is also impressive, and you do get an extra year of warranty for personal use off Hyundai.
Buyer’s Guide for Compactor Plates
Although the operation of compactor plates is quite simple, there are still some features to consider to find the best model for your needs. Here’s what to think about.
What compactor plates are for
Plate compactors are used when you need even and smooth ground for sub-base preparation such as mot-1 or other hardcore that needs to be compacted. Use them on the sand, gravel, small aggregates, soil, and crusher run. When the ground is level and even, it’s a cinch to lay down your patio, path block paving or any other surface that requires a flat even but compact sub-surface that won’t move.
How compactor plates work
Plate compactors exert force on the ground using vibrations. A large, usually steel plate vibrates rapidly and compacts the ground. The compactor moves forward guided by you.
What to look for in a compactor plate
Direction of movement
Most compactor plates move only in a forward movement. This does limit their manoeuvrability a bit, and turning corners is somewhat awkward. Look for a reversible vibratory plate compactor that can move both forward and backward if you need to cover large areas. These also generally provide greater compaction, but they are also on very expensive professional models.
Size of plate
The larger the plate, the greater the area that can be compacted in one pass. However, larger plates require larger engines to power them and larger and heavier units to propel them forwards. It’s a trade-off between what you can manage and the size of the unit. I have found that anything around 530 x 370mm is good.
Size of engine
As mentioned above, the size of the engine (in petrol-powered compactors) determines how powerful the unit can compact the ground. The petrol compactors in this review range from 79cc to 196cc, with a few choices in between. Personally, I think how reliable the engines are is more important, this is a common complaint, especially from users who don’t have much experience with petrol engines.
This is the depth to which the compactor plate packs down the loose material. For different models, it ranges from 200mm to 300mm for most domestic models. But if you do this in thin layers, you can compact to deeper depths.
The size of the engine affects the vibration frequency. A high vibration frequency (5,700 vibrations per minute or so) is good for compacting thin layers of material, while lower vibrations are best for thicker material as they travel deeper into the ground.
Speed of travel
How quickly you can get your work done depends on the speed that the compaction plate travels. This information isn’t always readily available but the electric model I tested travelled at 5m per minute while the petrol ones tend to move at 8m to 15m per minute. This isn’t really that important so don’t base your decision on this alone.
Comfort and convenience
More so than most other garden power tools, vibrations play a large part in the operation of the compactor plate. It’s important to consider what system is in place on each model for damping these vibrations. It’s probably not enough just to have a soft grip on the handle. Look for an anti-vibration system that’s built into the unit. The best option is vibration-isolated handles for steering.
Transport and storage
Compactor plates are generally heavy and moving them to where you want to use them is difficult. Check that your chosen model comes with wheels. The wheels flip up when not in use, out of the way. Additionally, one of the models in this review has hinged and foldable handles that flip down out of the way for ease of storage. This saves you precious storage space in your garage or garden shed.
Compactor plates are needed to provide an even and solid sub-surface. Although they’re mainly petrol driven, there is one electric model that is impressive and a great choice for smaller jobs at home.
Choosing the best compactor plate for you depends on the size of your job and how often you need to use the compactor.
My Best Pick in this review is the Wolf 8200N Petrol Compactor 79cc Vibrating Wacker Plate. This model has a significant dampening system among comfort and convenience features. It’s also probably one of the best in terms of build quality although it’s not perfect but is a good choice out of what is available. The engine also starts easily. This isn’t the case with all engines.
The Runner up is an electric model, the Evolution Hulk Electric Wacker Plate. This is the slowest of all the models in my review and is good for small, light jobs. I love that it’s light enough to carry on my own but heavy enough to still do a decent job. Very low maintenance too, no engine to service and maintain, that’s a big plus.
To move all your material to the work site, you might be interested in Best Motorised Powered Wheelbarrows, Buyer’s Guide & Review. For something more manual, check out my Best Wheelbarrows Reviewed – All Models Compared.
And to go along with this, I have my best garden shovels for different tasks, from moving bulky materials to digging trenches that may be handy.
Last update on 2023-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API