3-Tonne Digger – Everything You Need to Know!

The 3-Tonne digger is one of the most widely produced types of excavators manufactured across the globe. But why may you ask? Well, to help you discover everything you might need to know about the 3-Tonne digger, we are putting together this exclusive resource to help.

This exclusive resource will cover everything you need to know about a 3 Tonne excavator, to ensure that you choose the right excavator for your project. Whether that is hiring or purchasing a machine.

3 Tonne excavators have a huge amount to offer to operators as well as the efficiency of construction projects of all sizes. Let’s find out more…

What is a 3-Tonne Digger?

What is a 3-Tonne Digger

A 3 Tonne digger can be called by several names, such as mini digger, mini excavator, mini ex, compact excavator, or even 3T digger. Even with all these inherited names, they all refer to an excavator with an operating weight of 3 Tonnes. (More on that later).

A 3-Tonne digger is deemed to be towards the larger size of mini excavators. Offering more power, larger load capacities and all better efficacy compared to a 1.5 Tonne or Micro excavator. This makes them the ideal investment for several different applications such as

  • Light Demolition
  • Construction projects
  • Stump removal
  • Landscaping project
  • Material Handling
  • Utilities projects

Just like its other counterparts, the 3 Tonne digger operates I the exact same manner that a standard excavator would do so. Only on a scaled downsize. These machines come with several unique benefits that make them extremely popular.

Benefits of a 3-Tonne Digger

Benefits of a 3-Tonne Digger

This type of excavator makes the perfect partner for a lot of small-scale projects that have that can accommodate it. Their main benefits are:

Ability to work in small areas.

Similar to its smaller brothers, the 3 Tonne excavator is still small enough to navigate through tight spaces, leading to a supercharge in the speed of a project. There is no doubt that if you can safely fit a larger excavator into the area you are working in, you are better off doing so. Their compact designs make them very desirable to use across a wide variety of applications.

Easy transportation

Unlike larger excavators, some 3 Tonne excavators can be transported on the back of a towing trailer without any additional driver’s licences. This completely depends on the overall weight of the load. Nevertheless, these machines are far less complex to transport than standard-size excavators.


One of the largest benefits of hiring a 3 Tonne excavator is their cost-effectiveness. The 3 Tonne excavator bridges the gap between the mini digger and standard excavator costs. This benefits operators as they do not have to pay more than they effective should have to. Overall saving the user a huge amount of money over time. We will come on to costings a little later in the resource.

Simple to operate

Unlike standard excavators, the 3 Tonne excavator is very simple and easy to operate, similar to a small mini or micro digger. This is one of the biggest reasons why they are one of the most sort after excavators to hire. Easy operation means staff can be trained quicker to safely operate the machinery.


One of the biggest benefits of the mini digger range is its ability to be exceptionally versatile. Mini diggers ranging from 1.5T to 3T are compatible with several attachments. This allows the excavator to be used for far more than just digging and loading earth. They can be used to bore post holes, rake and screed soil, forks, cutting hedges and much more.

How much can a 3-Tonne digger lift?

How much can a 3-Tonne digger lift

The overall lifting capacity of a 3-Tonne digger depends on a few important factors. These are the make and model of the machine, the bucket weight, and finally, the dozer up or down. When you hire an excavator, you will want to have an accurate idea of how much weight the machine can lift safely without causing any damage to itself or potentially causing a safety risk.

That being said, an example of what you can expect a 3 Tonne excavator to lift is as follows:

A 3 Tonne JCB 8026 that has an operating weight of 2867kg, 2.5m away from the machine, at ground level, with the dozer blade down will lift 1255kg.

The maximum lift capacity will change depending on where the lifting point is from the machine. An example of this is as follows:

A 3 Tonne JCB 8026 that has an operating weight of 2867kg, 3.5m away from the machine, at ground level, with the dozer blade down will lift 812kg.

The same applies to the dozer blade. In our first example, the 3 Tonne excavator could lift 1255kg with the dozer down. If you remove the dozer blade, then the machine can only lift 742kg.

If you are unsure of how much an excavator can lift, you should always speak to your hire professional or see the operator’s manual for the machine. All of which are easily accessible online these days.

How much to rent a 3-Tonne Digger for the Day?

The overall cost of hiring or renting a 3 Tonne digger varies by supplier. This could be to do with the age and quality of the equipment. However, based on an online survey conducted in September 2022, the average cost of renting a 3 Tonne digger is £145.80 +VAT per day. This may not include any additional options, such as buckets, attachments, delivery, or trailer hire.

If you are looking to hire or rent a 3T excavator, you can expect prices between £97.00 to 190.00+ VAT per day for a machine of this size. Major factors that will directly affect the cost are such as:

  • Age of equipment
  • Quality of equipment
  • Excavator value
  • Additional services
  • Your choice of supplier

The quickest way to get the most up-to-date cost to hire a 3 Tonne excavator is to contact your supplier directly. If you require the equipment for quite a period, you may be entitled to a long-term hire discount, saving you money in the long run.

How deep can a 3 Tonne digger dig?

How deep can a 3 Tonne digger dig

The overall digging depth of a 3 Tonne digger depends on a few factors. Firstly, is the machine manufacturer, followed by the boom’s length. Different manufacturers offer a variety of different sizes of booms with their excavators, directly affecting the machine digging depth.

However, to help you get an idea of types of depths you would be looking to reach with a 3 Tonne digger. A JCB 8026 3T digger will reach 2740mm deep as standard. This machine has an operating weight of 2867kg. Reaching these types of depths makes these machines very popular across all the whole construction board.

How is the operating weight figured out of a 3 Tonne excavator?

The operating weight of a 3 Tonne excavator is calculated by the basic weight of the excavator (which can be found in the operator’s manual) the driver/operator, and fuel. The operating weight can alter from user to user.

Hazards and safety protocols for operating a 3 Tonne excavator.

safety protocols for operating a 3 Tonne excavator

Operating any type of machinery comes with hazards, and the correct safety protocols should always be taken to protect the operators. To operate a 3 Tonne excavator commercially, HSE requires drivers to produce an NPORS operators’ card prior to using the machine on a building site. No matter the size of the excavator the same safety protocols should be adopted:

  • Wear a safety belt
  • Ensure you vision is not blocked, adjust mirrors
  • Do not use the machine to transport colleagues
  • Always survey the site before commencing digging
  • Work smoothly and avoid fast movements
  • Do not dig under other excavators
  • Always wear the required PPE
  • Avoid uneven terrain that could cause tipping hazard.

Example of manufacturers who supply 3-Tonne diggers


Yanmar excavators

Viewed as the diesel mini excavator’s birthplace, Yanmar offers eight compact excavators, six of which feature a true zero tail swing cab. Designed to be fuel-efficient and to provide flexibility, Yanmar considers itself to be a leader in compact equipment.  Yanmar equipment is widely available to hire across the UK


Kubota Excavator

Originally established back in 1890 in Japan, Kubota began as a corporation that manufactured cast-iron pipes. It was not until 1979 when they established their UK base out of Thame, Oxfordshire, where they stretched into producing machinery. Since the design of the first true four-wheeled drive compact tractor, Kubota has continued to grow. They now claim to manufacture “The UK’s & ROI’s best-selling mini excavator” Kubota manufactures from Micro-5T in size.


JCB Machines

This UK-based business is globally recognised for its famous yellow machinery. Established back in 1948, JCB pushes the boundaries of innovation. Most recently constructed the first hydrogen-powered prototype plant machinery. JCB manufactures mini diggers excavators ranging from micro up to 3T in weight, accompanied by the last technology to maximise productivity. Their brand, quality of machinery and after-service, holds them in high regard as market leaders.

Where to hire a 3 Tonne excavator?

If you are looking to hire a 3 Tonne digger then our large stock of 3T excavators from JCB could help you. WHC Hire has been servicing the UK with state-of-the-art plant and tool equipment for over 20 years. With a large fleet of low-hours equipment, we can provide the solution to your evacuation project fast and efficiently. We supply only the latest equipment construction companies, ground workers, civil engineers and national utilities companies and the public. All of which is serviced by our in-house team of qualified engineers. Get the job done with a 3T excavator from WHC Hire. Search or full range of excavators here or contact 01684377977 to book your hire today!