Best Plate Compactor – Ultimate Buying Guide 2018

When you are paving or placing pavement, the equipment you use is essential to the quality of job performed. Using the best plate compactor aids you in jobs requiring work to compact sub-base or asphalt on a driveway. They are also helpful when working in parking lots and small repair jobs.

Some contractors find that a plate compactor is an ideal tool in areas where larger rollers have trouble reaching. Wikipedia says that a plate compactor features, “a large vibrating baseplate and is suited for creating a level grade.”

You’ll find three main types of plate compactors on the market: the single-plate compactor, the reversible plate compactor and the high-performance or heavy-duty plate compactor. Choosing the best plate compactor is going to depend on the needs of the job being performed.

One of the most important things to consider when you are attempting to find the best plate compactor is if it has enough power to get the job done. It should also be well-suited to the ground you are working on.

With the large variety of plate compactors on the market today, it can be difficult determining which is going to meet your needs the best. Doing this research on your own can prove to be time consuming and confusing. Skip the hassle and read ahead through our in-depth reviews.

Table of Contents


Multiquip MVC82VHW

Best Overall

VP 1340A

Best for the Money

WEN 56035

Best on a Budget

Top 5 Best Plate Compactors

To eliminate confusion, we’ve been through all the brands, styles and variations to find the 5 best plate compactors currently available. In this review, we’ll take a look at the price points, features and reasons to choose each one. Some of them come with higher ratings and more advanced features than others, so choose what works best for your needs.

1. Multiquip MVC82VHW Honda GX160 Plate Compactor with Water Tank

Multiquip MVC82VHW

Solid, high-strength steel base plate with curved edges for excellent performance and smooth turns on hot asphalt

The Multiquip plate compactor is at the highest end of the price spectrum but clearly qualifies as the best plate compactor around. Model MVC8VHW measures 18-inches wide and is ideal for compacting granular soil or asphalt.

It comes complete with a water tank that can hold 11.5-quarts of fluid. In addition, the anti-vibration design reduces overall operator vibration by up to 50-percent. Trust me, after a long day of working with a plate compactor, you’ll be grateful you paid more for that reduction level.

The design of this plate compactor really sets it apart from some other cheaper models. It’s what gives you peace of mind because it is durable and made to last. The base plate is made from a prime-strength steel that is solid. The curved edges offer a better performance which is smooth while working on hot asphalt.

This unit is highly maneuverable making it ideal when trying to work in a confined or tight location. It also features 5,600 VPM and has a maximum forward speed of 72-feet per minute. In addition to that, it won’t guzzle down fuel at alarming rates. In fact, it is rated at just 0.31-gallons per hour.

The Honda GX160 engine is reliable and offers an easy start-up. With a low-oil shutdown on this unit, you also have increased durability. They’ve also created it with a cyclonic pre-cleaner which captures a majority of airborne contaminants to protect your engine even further.

The seated belt cover keeps rocks and dirt out of the machine which extends the life of your belt. It is also a cog-tooth belt drive for a longer life than a conventional V-belt. If you want to get a tough job done quickly and you want it to look high-quality, this is the best plate compactor for you.

Technical Specs:

  • Height: 39.5-inches
  • Weight: 198 pounds
  • Plate Size: 17.7 x 22.4 in.
  • Max Forward Speed per Min: 72 ft.
  • Exciter Speed: 5,600 VPM
  • Fuel Consumption per Hour: .31 gal.
  • Warranty: 1-year parts and labor
  • Features a water tank that can hold 11.5-quarts of fluid
  • Offers an anti-vibration design to reduce operator fatigue
  • Durable construction
  • Moves forward at up to 72-feet per minute
  • Designed for medium to heavy-duty projects

  • Expensive
  • Could be too much machine for smaller projects


2. Wacker Neuson VP 1340A Value Vibratory Soil Plate

VP 1340A Value Vibratory Soil Plate

Special contoured running surfaces and rounded edges provide maximum performance and maneuverability

If you need to spend a little less than the Multiquip, but you still want high-quality performance, you might find the Wacker Neuson to be your best plate compactor. It features a special contoured running surface with rounded edges to provide for optimal maneuverability and performance.

The completely enclosed belt is protected further by a lightweight belt guard. This offers reduced wear and means less service is needed. In addition, the exciter bearing design also requires minimal maintenance while still giving outstanding amounts of productivity.

For the operator’s comfort, it features ergonomically designed lifting handles so that you don’t struggle to load or unload it at the job site. This unit also provides for a 30-percent reduction in vibration making it easy to use for longer projects.

The engine is an air-cooled, 4-cycle, single cylinder Honda gasoline model, so you know that it will be durable and efficient. In fact, it only uses up to 0.48-gallons of fuel per hour. In addition to that, it is lighter than the Multiquip at just 163 pounds instead of 198. That could make a big difference.

If medium to heavy-duty projects is what you’ll be working on, this unit from Wacker Neuson might be the best option for you. It is lighter in weight than the Multiquip and costs less, but there aren’t as many customer reviews on the performance.

Technical Specs:

  • Height: 35.5-inches
  • Weight: 163 pounds
  • Plate Size: 16 x 23 in.
  • Max Forward Speed per Min: 75 ft.
  • Exciter Speed: 5,800 VPM
  • Fuel Consumption per Hour: .48 gal.
  • Warranty: Limited to defects
  • Has an enclosed belt
  • Features ergonomically designed lifting handles
  • Durable construction
  • Moves forward at up to 75-feet per minute
  • Lightweight compared to some other heavy-duty machines

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t feature a lot of customer reviews


3. Generic 6.5 HP Plate Compactor Vibratory Gasoline with Water Tank


Engine Air-Cooled, Single Cylinder, 4-stroke ; Power (HP): 6.5 HP ; Electric Ignition

To save significantly less than the other models, you can choose a plate compactor that isn’t made by a well-known brand name. While this might save you some money now, it can be difficult to tell what quality you will receive, especially since there are no reviews currently featured.

I’ve known many power tools to come without a brand and still be a great option, so there is the chance that this could be the best plate compactor and people just don’t know yet. It features a ductile iron base plate to provide superior durability.

The open-plate design also provides the option to self-clean. In addition to that, the radius base plate provides for easy access to tight corners. The sealed belt cover on this plate compactor keeps the sand and soil from getting inside thereby prolonging the belt’s lifespan.

When you are using the water tank, you’ll enjoy the easy to remove design that features a built-in valve. This unit does weigh on the heavier side at 198 pounds, but it features a centrally located lifting bar to make transportation easier. In addition, there is a built-in wheel to make portability more of an option.

The engine is a 6.5-horsepower, air-cooled, single-cylinder, 4-stroke designed to get the work done quickly.

Technical Specs:

  • Height: 37-inches
  • Weight: 198 pounds
  • Plate Size: unknown
  • Max Forward Speed per Min: unknown
  • Exciter Speed: 5,600 VPM
  • Fuel Consumption per Hour: unknown
  • Warranty: none that we know about
  • Has an enclosed belt
  • Lower cost
  • Powerful motor
  • Makes it easy to access tight corners and spaces
  • Built-in wheel and lifting bar for portability

  • Has no brand name
  • Doesn’t feature a lot of customer reviews


4. Tomahawk Power 6 HP Kohler Engine Economic Plate Compactor

Tomahawk Power 6 HP

Travel speed of 79 ft. per minute for greater productivity

Another great choice for our list of the best plate compactor is this Tomahawk Power machine. It features a 17-inch by 21-inch cast iron base plate and delivers a powerful performance of 3,000-lbs. per square foot.

There is a 6-horsepower Kohler engine that backs this machine. That makes it perfect for commercial job sites, rental fleets or household projects. It easily maneuvers into narrow and cramped spaces and compacts most granular or cohesive soils up to 22-inches.

Customers have found this compactor to be ideal for landscapes, roadways, asphalt and hardscapes as well. It is not only tough but also highly durable and backed by a 3-year engine warranty and 1-year product warranty.

One of the other aspects that people seem to enjoy is that it tends to be 2 dBA quieter than some of the competitive models. It is also slightly lighter in weight at just 176 pounds.

With a travel speed of up to 79-feet per minute, you can expect to get most of your jobs done quickly and efficiently. The heavily reinforced steel exciter box offers you maximum protection while still creating a smooth operation. The majority of customers had no trouble giving this plate compactor a 5-star review.

Technical Specs:

  • Height: 37-inches
  • Weight: 176 pounds
  • Plate Size: 17 x 21 inches
  • Max Forward Speed per Min: 79-feet
  • Exciter Speed: 6,400 VPM
  • Fuel Consumption per Hour: unknown
  • Warranty: 3-year engine warranty and 1-year product warranty
  • Superior warranty coverage
  • Lower cost
  • Quieter than other models
  • Makes it easy to access tight corners and spaces
  • Moves at up to 79-feet per minute

  • Might be too much for the home user doing small jobs
  • Speed can run a little fast for some users


5. WEN 56035 Construction Zone 4,496-Pound Capacity Plate Compactor

WEN 56035 Construction Zone

Powerful: 212cc engine is larger than most in its class, producing 4,496lbs of force at 5,400 blows per minute

This WEN model is the best plate compactor when strictly comparing the speed. It moves at up to 82-feet per minute and features a powerful 212 cc engine. This engine is capable of producing 4,496-lbs of forced at 5,400 blows per minute.

The engine also comes with an angled combustion chamber which offers more power per displacement. It also has a pull recoil start plus a low-oil shutdown which further protects the engine.

Despite its heavy 207 pound weight and the increased power, it is still quite maneuverable. That’s due in part to the unique swing-over handle and the compact, contoured edge plate. There is also a central lifting and loading bar that makes it easier to transport.

Surprisingly, with all the extra features this seems to offer, it is the lowest price of the five we’ve reviewed. The vibration isolators on the unit are located between the welded steel plate and the engine. Combined with the high-density foam in the handles and you have an effective reduction in the vibration thereby leading to a longer life.

You’ll find this to be a handy piece of equipment for working on patios, walkways, paver installations, small asphalt projects and landscaping. It is also capable of increasing the density of gravel, loose granular soils, crushed aggregate and other materials.

By using this machine to create your foundation, you extend the life of your project. That’s because it reduces swelling, water seepage and expansion. Finally, this plate compactor comes complete with a one-year limited warranty and 90-day commercial warranty so you can have peace of mind about your purchase.

Technical Specs:

  • Height: 18.5-inches
  • Weight: 207 pounds
  • Plate Size: 24 x 17-3/4″
  • Max Forward Speed per Min: 82-feet
  • Exciter Speed: 5,400 VPM
  • Fuel Consumption per Hour: unknown
  • Warranty: one-year limited warranty and 90-day commercial warranty
  • Lowest cost option reviewed
  • Powerful motor
  • Vibration reduction
  • Makes it easy to access tight corners and spaces
  • Moves at up to 82-feet per minute

  • Machine is smaller than some others
  • Materials aren’t as high-quality as the other machines


How to Choose the Best Plate Compactor

Here are some helpful guidelines to help you find the best plate compactor.

How Does a Plate Compactor Work?

Plate compactors are designed to increase the overall density of various materials. This can include gravel, sand, loose soils and stone aggregates. This tool then compacts the materials into a solid and level foundation.

Generally, a plate compactor will be a walk-behind machine powered by an engine. That triggers the compaction down through the steel plate mounted to the bottom of the unit. By using a plate compactor, you effectively reduce the likelihood of expansion, swelling and water seepage of your foundation. It also increases the overall lifespan.

Plate compactors are utilized by landscape contractors to work on paver patios, retaining walls and more. It is also used regularly for general contractors or advanced home DIY-ers.

Common features on the plate compactor include an automatic low-oil shutdown, an emergency shut-off switch, vibration isolators and foam handles. You might also find units with angled combustion chambers, lift handles for transportation and a rust-proof powder coating. Some machines are capable of moving both forward and backward while others will only move in the forward position.

Tips for Buying Plate Compactors

The first thing to ask yourself before purchasing the best plate compactor is whether it is worth the purchase. You could rent a plate compactor at a local shop for a couple hundred dollars. If you are only planning to use it once, this might be the better option.

If, however, you plan to use the plate compactor on a regular basis, renting one can be a hassle. Not only will you have to shell out several hundred dollars each time, but you will be on a time frame. That’s not all! You’ll also have to transport it back and forth to the rental location.

Picking the best plate compactor starts by determining the plate size you need. That’s going to require that you lay out your plans in advance for upcoming projects. If you are working on a small parking spot, you only need a small machine. Likewise, if you are doing an entire parking lot, you want the biggest machine you can afford.

Don’t forget that a plate compactor is good for more than just preparing the ground for your projects. You can also use it for other household tasks like installing paver stones.

The next consideration is power. If you are a smaller person, you aren’t going to want the heaviest, most powerful plate compactor on the market. That is going to be difficult for you to ultimately control and could lead to an accident. Instead, opt for a machine that fits your needs and your ability.

Running a Plate Compactor

Before you begin using any piece of machinery, it is important that you become familiar with every aspect. That’s why you want to start by reading the manual and them familiarizing yourself with all the controls.

Turn on the plate compactor after you’ve ensured that there is fuel in the machine. To do this, turn the choke on and give it a good pull to get it started.

It is always a good idea to find an area where you can practice working with your plate compactor. Most professionals agree that practice is important before taking on your bigger tasks. You might think that handling a plate compactor is an easy task, but it is actually harder than it appears.

To see this illustrated, check out this video

Plate Compactor Safety Tips

To ensure a good experience, here are some safety tips you might find useful:

  • Always follow the guidelines set out before you in the operating instructions.
  • Do not operate the unit inside of a building or environment that isn’t fully vented.
  • Keep your hands and all clothing away from the machine’s moving parts at all times.
  • Never use drugs or alcohol when you are operating heavy machinery.
  • Refuel the compactor only when the engine is off. Do not refuel when the engine is hot either.
  • Clear your work area of all debris before using the machine.
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment when operating. This includes headgear, eye and ear protection.
  • The compactor can slide sideways on a sloping terrain. Steer the plate towards the rising of the slope to properly angle the machine.
  • Do not use the machine on a fully-compacted or non-yielding surface. This can cause damage to the unit.
  • Maintain your machine as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Remember to store the plate compactor properly.

When You Run Into a Problem

Plate compactors are heavy-duty machines, but sometimes things can go wrong. Here are some general guidelines when you run into trouble.

  1. Check to ensure you have enough fuel. You may also want to take a peek at the oil level as well. Do this while the compactor is on a flat surface.
  2. Inspect the entire machine. Look to ensure that all your components are tightened. This includes the belt, air filter and spark plug.
  3. Wash the plates. Sometimes the plates can contain an accumulation of dirt and debris. Clean them off as needed. Don’t ever pressure wash your plates as it could cause damage to the engine.
  4. Clean the fuel tank. Before you store or transport your plate compactor, you should properly drain all the gas and oil from the tanks. Make sure the unit is off when you do this.
  5. Check the battery. Sometimes the connections can come loose. You can use electrical grease if the poles need lubrication. This provides better connectivity and reduces acid accumulation.


As you can see, there is a vast selection of machines you can search through when looking for the best plate compactor. For your next project, why not skip renting one and invest in a high-quality machine of your own? Then, you’ll have it handy for future projects around the house or on the job site.

There are plenty of options available ranging in prices so you can find one that fits within any budget. You’ll also find that there is a variety of options when it comes to power, sizes and weight. Choose the machinery that is going to work best for your particular needs and don’t purchase something that is over-powered.

If you have the extra money, be sure to pick a model that reduces vibration. This will be important to you after a long day of using the compactor. By taking the time to invest in the best plate compactor on the market, you set yourself up for success in all your future projects.

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