Compact Hydrostatic Loader or a Skid Steer? Which one should you consider?

posted by Sunil Newatia on April 7th, 2021

Skid Steers are gaining popularity in India but so are Compact Hydrostatic Loaders. Considering the Indian conditions and the various applications the contractors put their machines to, we need to understand and evaluate the utility of both equipment. Here we compare an entry level skid steer loader with Eimco Elecon AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader

Bucket capacity

An entry level SSL has a bucket capacity of 0.9 m3 while AL120 CHL has a bucket capacity of 1.4 m3 giving almost 50 % more bucket capacity and tipping load.

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader

Travel Speed

AL120 compact hydrostatic loader is a fast machine and offers a travel speed of upto 20 kmph. Skid steers average about 11–14 kmph. AL120 Compact hydrostatic loader also articulates quickly and loads much faster than a skid steer.

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader

Engine Power

Here too AL120 wins hands down. While AL120 delivers 76HP most entry level skid steer loaders deliver 50–55HP. But keep in mind the two machines use their power differently. The skid steer needs the extra horsepower to push itself around, counter-rotate and such. AL120 compact hydrostatic loader transfers power to the ground more efficiently so it can use more power to carry loads

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader


Nothing can match the skid steer for manoeuvrability. It can counter-rotate in its tracks and the low cab height allows it to move under structures with low clearances and compact spaces. If you need a machine that needs to get into very compact and small places, skid steers are ideal for you

Advantage: skid steer


Vertical lift path of skid steers allows you to dump a bit higher. But AL120 compact hydrostatic loader sits higher, which improves visibility when dumping / loading and dumping height of a standard dumper / tipper is easily achieved

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader


Skid steer gives you a good visibility to the bucket cutting edge while AL120 compact hydrostatic loader gives you better overall visibility, behind and to the sides of the machine

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader


Because of side-entry door, getting in and out of AL120 compact hydrostatic loader is a lot easier than crawling over the bucket to get into a skid steer. More spacious cabin with better foot room make it easy for operators to use AL120 over long hours without getting tired or uncomfortable

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader


A skid steer is often portrayed as a multi-function machine with a wide variety of attachments. AL120 Compact hydrostatic loaders tend to be viewed as bucket machines, although with auxiliary hydraulics they too can power a almost all the attachments that a skid steer can handle

Advantage: Draw

Attachments on a Compact Hydrostatic Loader

Operating costs

Here is where it gets interesting. Fuel and tires are the two biggest operating costs for skid steer loaders. AL120 Compact hydrostatic loader uses only 3–4 litres/hour and its articulated front-end steering is easier on tires too, thereby reducing tire wear. Maintenance and servicing costs are much lower due to a locally made engine and a less complicated mechanism

Advantage: AL120 Compact Hydrostatic Loader

Purchase price

Price of AL120 CHL is probably 4–5% higher than any entry level SSL. However, advantages of using AL120 are much higher due to its versatility

Advantage: Draw

The Verdict

In the end, the better buy for you is primarily driven by applications. If you don’t need the manoeuvrability, working in confined spaces then skid steers’ for you, but if you look at overall utility and versatility, operating expenses, AL120 would work better.

The savings you get with better fuel efficiency and tire costs on AL120 and the potential for increased productivity when compared to a skid steer, you may save or earn more than double the money you would make on a skid steer

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