Sunday, 24 February 2008

Al-Ko H1100 electric garden shredder review

This is the first of four reviews I shall be posting on my experience with garden shredders over the next couple of weeks.

The aim of this review and the other garden shredders in this blog is to pass on my experience of the machines I have used. I have found it very difficult to get real advice on what machines are really like. I have found it a bit like trying to buy financial services – the only sources of advice seem be the dealers who sell them and there is little if any independent information around. Even with the internet there is not much review information around other than the odd newspaper or Consumers Association group tests. Usually these do not cover the machines I am interested in, nor do they offer anything other than a superficial comparison. My reviews aim to give more depth to the ones I have used.



Sometime around 15 years ago before garden shredders were an established product I saw a demonstration of a small Al-Ko electric shredder at a garden centre. I had not given much thought to how I prepared material for my compost bins until that moment – all I did was to chop it up into convenient lengths so that it fitted into the bins and wondered why the results were pretty average.

So I bought the shredder, an Al-Ko H1100 (see photo), to give it a go as the idea seemed sensible; it should save me time chopping up the woody bits and would ultimately make better compost. It had three spindly legs and the material was fed from the top, or for straight woody material into a side chute, into a rapidly rotating chipping knife with the material coming out the front; and it was orange.



What was it like to use?

The three spindly legs made it difficult to move around as the only way to do so was to lift it and it was an awkward shape to lift, although not particularly heavy. The infeed was small to avoid the chance of getting hands into the cutting blade so it was only possible to feed tiny handfuls of material into it.

It was very noisy – it emitted a high pitched electric motor shriek that was not at all neighbour friendly.

It was OK at chopping small diameter, straight, dry’ish woody material. Anything at all damp or soft very quickly clogged up the exit. There was no easy way to unclog it – I simply had to unscrew the top (with the thoughtfully supplied spanner) and clear out the offending material by hand. I probably had to do this about every 5 minutes if I was shredding anything remotely damp – it made shredding most things very time consuming and tedious. It certainly did not save me time…

The resulting shredded material, however, was well chopped, composted well and it did convert difficult to compost woody material into useful compost much quicker than before.

Conclusions
I had the shredder for about five years and as you may imagine did not use it for much other than the occasional ideal woody prunings. Luckily at this stage we were living with a small garden and when we moved to a much bigger garden (1/3rd of an acre) there was not much other than grass to worry about.

I did, however, learn quite a lot about what good shredded material could do in the compost and what to look for in a shredder. I was also convinced that a shredder was an excellent idea – they produce excellent compostable material, save many trips to the waste tip (and save the car interior from damage at the same time) and I discovered that producing tubs of evenly shredded material from a pile of thorny, woody material was a strangely satisfying thing to do.

After a couple of years in the new larger garden we started to produce piles of woody material that needed shredding and it was time to think about getting a much better shredder…

While I am sure that my experience with this machine designed and built around 15 years ago does not represent today’s machines at all it did remind me that you usually get what you pay for and that a better machine would cost more, whatever the state of technological development.
Read more...

37 comments:

Unknown said...

I saw a Al-Ko H1100 shredder sitting beside the curb by a few bags of trash and stopped to investigate. i had just talked to my wife about all the woody stuff that was building up in the yard and of my experience 25 years ago wherein the chipped green stuff that road crews routinely generate and give away to anyone interested was used to heat water for a hot tub by the simple and effective method of building a coil of black poly pipe into the pile of chips as it was poured out in a heap. the water was abundant and nice and hot if i remember well over 100 Fahrenheit if not 115 and it lasted week after week as the chips slowly digested by bacterial action. Anyway, so here's this free shredder. i brought it home to test it - it's dull, but reading your blog let's me know what I'm in for and as you say - you get what you pay for. Thanks! Brian

Unknown said...

I am very surprised about your comments on the Alko H1100.

I have had my machine for over 21 years - and believe me it has taken a real hammering in that time - and it is still going strong. However, the other day I thought I would upgrade to a 2400 watt machine [not Alko]and have been bitterly disappointed. The new, shortly to be returned shredder, does not have a separate branch opening so that all material goes straight to the spinning disc. This means that if you a shredding anything under an inch and a half diameter, before you know it, the outlet port is plugged even if you are using dry twigs. In addition the Alko with the forked blade above the disc, is great for shredding leaves - with the new model the leaves block the insert tube.

Above all the Alko with its 1100 watts is more powerful than the 'bigger' machine. Why I don't know but there it is.

roofing austin said...

Cool! I also use shredders for years and it's really helpful in my work. Especially in the office that there are materials which are secured but are due to be replaced because of updates on the content, then I use the shredder.

OC Shredding

19ninety said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
19ninety said...

This isnt a bad bit of kit really. A friend has given us one as we have massively over grown buddleias which are quite woody and also some seasoned roses which have very hard stems.
The machine got a good 4 hours continual use yesterday, it only jammed a could of times but that was using the branch tube on the side to feed it branches that only just fitted, other than that its chewed up everything thats has gone in it.
I was wary of putting too much greens stuff in the top after reading your review, it never slowed up, but sense was to chuck a load of green stuff in between some for small branches so as to keep things moving through the machine.
All in all I'm pleased with it, it produces quite fine chippings which will compost nicely and be great for the vaggie patch next year.

buxtonian said...

I bought a second hand one (H1100s)and it worked for approx 5 mins then died on me!!!! Changed the fuse to no avail - anyone have any ideas?

Unknown said...

I got a branch stuck in the top of my grinder AKA lko 11 h11 hundred and I'm curious if anybody knows how to get that stick out thank you

Unknown said...

Find a long enough metal implement suitable for hitting only the bit of wood & tap with a hammer

Catherine Williams said...

I couldn't believe my eyes when i found your review page and saw that little Alko shredder. I bought mine in the 1980's and still have it, looking rather worse for wear now but it has been a real little work horse over the years. The only reason i am now looking to replace it is the difficulty in moving it as i'm not as young as i used to be and my old joints can't cope with heaving it about ,i have certainly had my moneys worth out of it.

Unknown said...

I have a 1988 Al-Ko 1100. It has only just begun to misbehave. Yesterday it started, as usual, and within 20 seconds the motor stopped. Several more attempts resulted in the same cutting-out.I think it must have a cut-out but looking at its interior workings I cannot decide where it might be. It may, of course, be some other fault. Any ideas folks?
The innards look very simple - motor; large capacitor and the on/off switch. Very little to go wrong so what has gone wrong?

Unknown said...

Mine is the 1100s yellow version.
There is a safety switch that is operated by the screw that holds the top/hopper on the blades. The screw needs to be done up for the motor to run. Don't know if this might help.

I know this because I have another problem and mine is now in bit in the garage. The blade starts to turn when switched on but stops again. Just gives a clunk and the blade moves slightly but stops, it's like the switch starts the motor but then something stop the power going to the motor.
Wondered if this could be the capacitor? Anyone able to help?

Unknown said...

Re.'Wondered if this could be the capacitor'...it could be. My ALKO Classic 1100 watt shredder was doing something similar...indeed was trying to turn the wrong way....reading up on it pointed to the capacitor. I removed the capacitor (which had split and disgorged some of its contents) and replaced it, like for like (approx. £4 + postage/ebay). Once fitted with the new capacitor, the shredder worked normally.

John Boyd

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Deanrg said...

Hi I have An old alko H1100s the switch is dodgy it turns on one in a blue moon so I opened it up connected a wire and tested it, it worked but putting it back together it now wont with on. No .noise. I can feel a loose black bit of plastic at the point where the feeder unit screws in, can anyone help thanks

William Clarke said...

I have an AlCo H1100S shreader. How do I remove the top funel please.



Unknown said...

The start capacitor may need to be replaced. I've had that happen to me a couple times in the 20 plus years I've had my H1100. Remove the back cover Under the machine and you will see the capacitor, connected by 2 wires to the motor. The size of the capacitor in mucrofarads and voltage will be written on the capacitor. Get that exact same capacitor. You should be able to Google the capacitor information and find several suppliers of capacitors of the size needed on the internet.

Unknown said...

Mine is 38 years old and although I've bought a new set of blades it still shreds anything I give it.

Unknown said...

I started to read the review with interest as I intend parting with mine. I stopped reading because the review bore no relationship whatsoever to what I have experienced over the past thirty-odd years.

Mine has given sterling service. Yes, the legs are spindly but are very robust and the fact that they are readily detachable, means easy storage when it's not in use. The motor does not scream, shriek or make any other noises apart from a relatively quiet drone. I agree it's noisy when chopping sturdier cuttings when they rattle around the cylinder but I've kept timescales to a minimum to avoid bothering neighbours who own lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, garden blowers and other power tools.

I've had no issues with fibrous materials clogging the outlet. I've frequently made mulch from a mixture of hard twigs and pieces of thin branch, plant stems and cuttings covered with foliage. Occasionally, a hard piece of wood has landed awkwardly and caused the blades to jam. I've quickly unplugged the lead, removed the head and cleared the offending item and it was soon back in operation.

So why am I wanting to part with it? Well, I'm not getting any younger and, over recent years, I've made my garden easier to look after with decorative slate and artificial grass. It's still wildlife friendly but I have less use of mulch so my shredder will be going on that well-known auction website in the hope that someone else can continue to make very good use of it.

Unknown said...

After 25+ years of operation my AL-KO H 1100 finally bit the dust... I think it was the main bearing. I like to buy a new or used one
to replace it, but I cannot seem to fine a dealer in the US or if they still even make them. Anyone out there have a clue where to Buy?

Richard Wasson

Unknown said...

I live in the UK and when I needed a wheel bearing for a trailer, I went to a local bearing supplier rather than the trailer dealer. They were very helpful and provided the relevant part immediately. If you can remove the old bearing, do you have a similar company you could approach who could match it?

Cyril said...

I have two. The first one must be 20+ years old, and other than an occasional problem with the switch slipping, switching it off, all is well.
The second one was bought, second hand, from advert in local press. It must be a newer, as it has wheels, which my original one does not. I bought it because I did not want to be without a shredder, and having seen other models, none compared.
I shed fruit tree and shrub prunings, and add the shreddings to one of my gree, dalek, compost bins, and have first class compost after a year.

I think they are fantastic machines, and would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who wanted to buy a shredder. However, as both of my machines have had plenty of use, to be on the safe side, I would like therm to be serviced.
Does anyone know where Alko have service shops?

Unknown said...

I found this on Google:

https://www.shouldersofshoreham.co.uk/alko-spares-parts/alko-shredder-spares-spare-parts-older-machines

Unknown said...

Thanks for the note about the fixing bolt switching a safety-switch. That was my eureka moment!