Guide articles about paper shredders’ requirements, features, and considerations you need to take before buying one. Also posts about maintenance and troubleshooting of common issues if you already own one.
Home vs. Commercial Use
Before starting looking for the right shredder, you should establish the intended purpose. Is it for home, commercial, or industrial use? Knowing this would help you narrow down the options and save time and money.
If you never used a paper shredder, you should consider several things before buying one. First of all, is the budget. Depending on the volume, type cut, speed, you should be able to decide if it’s worth investing in a more or less performant machine. Second of all is the frequency of use. If you only shred a few pieces of paper once a week or so, then your product requirements differ significantly from those of an organization. They need to process hundreds of sheets a day or large stacks in one sitting.
Paper shredders intended for home use can generally process only a few sheets at a time. And not items such as filled envelopes or stapled documents. You should expect to have a shorter run time and required cool-down period between each shredding session. This range could vary between 20 to 90 minutes.
Commercial devices have a bigger volume capacity, increased shredding speed, and duration.
Features of Paper Shredders
Once you decide between home and commercial products, use the following characteristics to find the right model:
- cut size
- cut type
- security levels
- noise levels
- power consumption
- extra features
The capacity of paper shredders widely varies. One of the main factors that determine the capacity of such device is its cut size. For example, a strip-cut shredder with a 1/8″ cut will turn a standard sheet into 68 strips. Now, consider a general-purpose cross-cut model with a normal cut size of 5/32″ x 1 5/32″. This type of machine will turn a sheet of paper into about 515 pieces. A cross-cut shredder must apply a lot more power to make the additional cuts, unlike a strip-cut shredder.
For the same size machine, a cross-cut shredder will have a lower throughput versus a strip cut version. A given motor can only supply a limited amount of power to the job. The bottom line is that the smaller the cut, the smaller the stack of paper one can feed.
Generally speaking, the higher sheet capacity devices allow for quicker shredding. If a shredder is going to be used frequently, it is going to be shredding more paper. Therefore it’s better to opt for a higher sheet capacity model. If you know how much you will be shredding, you can avoid frequent bin emptying and opt for a micro cut shredder.
Another classification to distinguish different types of paper shredders is the type of cut they produce. Generally, we distinguish three types of cuts: strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut.
This is the most used option and is destroying the paper into long strips about 3/32″ to 1/2″ wide. It would be possible for the machine to churn out strips that are the same length as a continuous sheet. They are generally recommended for light home use but they could also be used for small offices with a light load. Strip-cut shredders use a single blade to destroy paper, leaving the user with many long, vertical strips. They come with a small waste bin, which is often sufficient. They are quick to access, being available in most of the general stores, and are also easier to maintain because they require few blades to cut. The remains could be repurposed for compost or animal bedding.
The strip cut shredding provides the lowest level of security, but you can buy these models for a very good price.
Also called a diamond cut and confetti cut. It is the middle option in terms of cutting. One piece of paper turns out into approximately 400 small strips.
Cross cut shredders cut both vertically and horizontally, making it nearly impossible to put the document back together. Cross-cut shredding offers 7.5 times more security than strip-cut shredding. They are a good option for more sensitive information both at home or in the workplace. Two common types of cross cut shredders are diamond cut and confetti cut. The diamond-cut offers even more security due to cut paper at an angle, creating diamond-shaped pieces, very hard to recover. Confetti cut creates small pieces similar in size and shape to confetti also very difficult to reconstruct. The downside is a greater risk of breakdowns as they require a more powerful motor to cut the way they do. Also, typically they have a lower sheet capacity.
These are the best choice when you are looking for extra security. The particles left are so small that you cannot distinguish a single letter. A simple A4 document is going to be cut into thousands of tiny pieces. These machines are appropriate for confidential documents, legal, military, and financial documents. When purchasing a micro cut shredder, you need to consider high care and maintenance. An easy way to prolong the life of your product is to shred a shredder oiling sheet. These preserve the motor and cutter blades.
After you clarify the main specifications to meet your usage and security requirements, you can select other features. Some of these address problems like paper jams, safety, quiet shredding, auto-oil, ability to shred credit cards, CDs, and DVDs.
Paper jam issues are solved by introducing new and innovative jam-free technologies. They not only eliminate the jams but also power through tough jobs. There are alerts for a user to remove the paper excess before continuing to shred. Therefore helping to prevent unnecessary jamming.
Safety features provide varying levels of protection. From the basic safety lock to more advanced protection, allowing to automatically stop the shredder when hands come close. There are also features to prevent the device from operating if the load area is touched or if the shredder bin is left open.
Noisy vs. Silent
Noise is also one issue to consider when using a shredder as it is expected to make some. Luckily, there are models now available that aim to reduce this noise significantly. These models are often referred to as noise reduction or ultra-quiet shredders. And can be great for office environments.
Shred More Than Just Paper
Shredders are mostly used to destroy documents but there are also many models able to get rid of more than that. Shredding staples and paper clips is not so useful by itself. But imagine how much time it saves as you don’t need to remove these from your documents manually one by one. And shredding credit cards, CDs, and DVDs? That is another level of confidentiality.
Do you need to save even more time? An auto-feed shredder features a tray, much like a printer, where you place documents you wish to be shredded. Then the machine will automatically feed itself. It is not the fastest method and it involves a little human involvement but allows you to attend to other tasks while the shredder operates.
Power consumption is also an important factor to consider when buying a shredder. Always check the horsepower of the motor supplied with your device, and compare it to the voltage (power) the machine requires. Versus the amperage (current drawn) your outlet is capable of handling. Most models have the HP, voltage, and the required FLA (full load amps required to run) listed on the back of the machine. In general, a paper shredder uses approximately 200 watts, on average for a paper shredder is used approximately 8 hours a day.
What type and size of shred bins do I need? Shred bins are designed to keep your documents safe between shredding services. To find which shred bin suits you best, you first need to know how much paper you collect between shredding. Shred bins are equipped with secure hasps so that the lid can be padlocked to prevent unauthorized access to documents waiting for shredding. To avoid needing to regularly unlock containers, shred bins are designed to be like a mailbox with a one-way slot for depositing documents for shredding. For large-scale shredding, high-capacity bins are equipped with wheels to more efficiently transport them to the shredder.
In the end, purchasing the right machine for you comes down to the reason you need it in the first place. With multiple high-profile security breaches in the recent past, data security, identity theft, and credit card fraud being top of mind. Using a shredder is one way you can do to protect yourself from opportunistic thieves who attempt to steal your personal information.
Oiling your device is an essential part of shredder maintenance but also very often neglected. Therefore to help with this, many products now come with an auto-oil system, a great way to keep the shredder performing smoothly and optimally.