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Paper Shredder Shopping Guide
Paper shredders are an extremely useful tool to have around for when you need to dispose of sensitive documents. They all seem the same, but despite what you might think, they are not. Different paper shredders have different features and are designed for different uses and types of materials. Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind when looking for a paper shredder.
What Type of Shredder Do You Need?
There are 3 major types of paper shredders. Each differs from the others based on how it cuts the paper. In general, the more finely the machine shreds the paper, the more secure it is. The DIN number gives a good idea of how secure that machine is. The higher the DIN number, the smaller the paper particles will be. For example, a DIN P-3 shredder would cut paper into smaller pieces than a DIN P-1 shredder.
Strip-cut paper shredders are the simplest and most straightforward. Strip-cut shredders just cut the paper into long, thin strips. Most basic paper shredder models are strip-cut models.
Cross-cut paper shredders add an extra step and cut the long strips horizontally into smaller strips. Cross-cut shredders usually have a distinct horizontal slicing mechanism. The fact that they cut paper into smaller pieces makes them more suitable for securely disposing of sensitive documents. A decent cross-cut paper shredder can turn a single sheet of paper into about 400 smaller pieces.
Micro-cut paper shredders are the most involved and thorough. Micro-cut shredders mince paper into hundreds of tiny confetti-sized pieces. Micro-cut paper shredders are the absolute most secure way of disposing of paper documents, as it is nearly impossible to put the pieces back together.
In addition to paper, heavier-duty paper shredders are able to handle plastic materials like credit cards or CDs. Some shredders might have special slots specifically for non-paper materials while others may just use the same feed slot.
How Many Sheets Do You Need To Shred?
You also need to consider how many sheets the machine can handle at once. A small office shredder can handle anywhere between 1-4 sheets at once, depending on the paper material. Larger shredders can handle up to 20-30 sheets at once. If you overload your machine’s sheet capacity, it will get jammed and you’ll have to clean it out. If you need to shred large quantities of documents at once, then you will need a heavy-duty paper shredder.
How Long Is The Run Time?
All paper shredders contain an electric motor. This motor can overheat from overuse and mechanical stress. Most shredders indicate a run time which is how long you can operate it before the motor will get too hot.
The exact run time can depend heavily on the specific type of shredder and brand. Most paper shredders can go for about 10-15 minutes before needing a break, but larger machines may be able to go for 30-40 minutes.
Paper shredders also have a cooldown time which is how long it needs to be off before turning on again. In general, the higher the DIN security, the longer the cooldown time. A DIN P-5 shredder likely has a longer cooldown than a DIN P-3 machine.
How Large Is The Bin?
Most paper shredders come with a storage bin or drum that holds the shredded paper bits. Cheap models just have a shredder unit that you have to put over a recycling bin. The size of the bin depends on how much paper you need to shred on a regular basis and how many people will be using the shredder. Large bins can have several gallon capacities. Keep in mind that a higher DIN number machine will fill the bin faster, so a strip-cut shredder will fill up a bin faster than a micro-cut shredder.
There is also the bin type. There are bottom bins that have a top you can lift off to empty the machine. Most personal use paper shredders have this design. However, this model is not very convenient when you need to shred large quantities of paper. Removable bins are larger and can be removed from the machine without taking anything apart.
Do You Want Any Special Features?
Modern paper shredders have cool features that make them easier to use and manage. For example, a lot of modern shredders have jamming sensors that automatically shut off the motor if the blades get clogged. This feature prevents overheating. Some models also have auto wake-up cycles that respond when you load paper and indicators that can tell you how full the bin is or how fast the machine is shredding.
Trusting Our Top Pick
Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
Join the millions that have trusted BuyersGuide.org to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you find the paper shredder that's right for you.
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We leverage user data to understand decision-making and put the best products in front of each user. We tailor our comparisons to what matters to our user's needs, specific or broad. We keep our content up to date, we are constantly looking for new merchants and products to compare, and we are quick to remove any that are outdated or no longer meeting our standards. Our rankings change day-to-day based on our proprietary algorithms, that crunch data to identify top-performing products and tailor recommendations to exactly what our readers are looking for.
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