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Compact Tractors: How Much Horsepower Do You Need?

How much is enough? The age-old question that comes to mind when trying to decide which tractor has the right amount of horsepower for you. If you're new to the tractor world, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to navigate all the different tractor model options and differentiate what each is capable of. There are two key factors to consider when deciding which tractor is best for the work you will be doing, one is the tractor size and the other is how much horsepower it has.

In this article, we will be breaking down how to understand what the different horsepower options mean. On every tractor, there are at least two horsepower (hp) numbers, the engine horsepower and the power take-off (PTO) power. Most of the time, the horsepower that is first stated when referring to a tractor is the engine power, but this number isn't equal to the PTO power. The PTO power will be lower than the engine power because some of the power gets lost in the powertrain between the back of the engine and the PTO shaft. The power that's lost is being used to run things like hydraulics and power steering. This loss is called parasitic loss.

How to Choose a Tractor

Ultimately, the tractor you need is totally dependent on the tasks you will be taking on. The larger and more heavy-duty tasks, the more powerful a tractor you are going to need. Below, we have broken down some of the most common types of tasks different horsepower tractors are equipped to take on. A good way to tell how much power you need is to check the power requirements on the types of implements you will be using. If the PTO-powered implements you will be running require 25 horsepower and the engine on the tractor you are looking at puts out 25 horsepower, it is not powerful enough to run the implement. The PTO power has to be equivalent to or greater than the power needed to run your implement.

20-35 Engine Horsepower Tractors

These tractors are great for doing all your landscaping tasks. You can use mid or rear mount mowers to give your yard a fresh cut. These tractors are also great for hauling yard working supplies. If you are wanting a machine that's capable of tilling a small area for a vegetable garden, these tractors will handle the job with ease. They are also good to use for giving your driveway a facelift with attachments such as box blades or land planes.

36-50 Engine Horsepower Tractors

These tractors are great for property maintenance. They can take on everything from dirt work to trail clearing with a wider range of specialty attachments. If you need a machine for daily chores, these tractors are fit for the job. Their compact size and mid-range power make them efficient and versatile. These tractors are no strangers to hauling chopped wood and pulling trailer loads.

51-65 Engine Horsepower Tractors

Compact tractors that fall into this category are powerful enough to take on farming jobs but depending on the size of frame on the tractor, might not be able to do quite as large of jobs as utility tractors. These machines are perfect for small-scale farmers looking for a primary tractor and for large-scale farmers looking for a smaller tractor to do chores around the property. These tractors can be used to plow small plots, haul hay, clear brush, put in fence rows, and more.

If you are between two tractor power options, it is often suggested to choose the more powerful one so you don't end up short on power to get the job done. With that being said, there also isn't any point in buying a tractor with a lot more power than you need. Speak with your salesperson about current and future tasks you see using your tractor for, and they can give the best recommendations on horsepower needs.