What's best? Tilt Coupler or Tilt Bucket?

September 1, 2021
Flexibility is the key to greater productivity in civil and construction works. And nothing provides more flexibility than being able to tilt a bucket. The question must then be asked, Tilt Coupler or Tilt Bucket?
Wedgelock Tilt Couplers and Tilt Buckets give greater flexibility

When should I choose a tilt bucket over a tilt coupler?

Flexibility is the key to greater productivity in civil and construction works. And nothing provides more flexibility than being able to tilt a bucket. The question must then be asked, Tilt Coupler or Tilt Bucket?

The main differences between Tilt Buckets and Tilt Couplers

1. What do you need to tilt?

The first and most obvious difference between the two is that a tilt coupler can tilt all of your attachments, including your spade bucket, ripper and trenching bucket. It also means that should you have two cleaning buckets of different sizes or capacities, you can tilt them both.

2. How far do you need to tilt?

Tilt buckets are limited to 45–50 degrees of tilt each side (90–100 degrees total). A rotary tilt coupler can tilt 60–90 degrees each side, which means that if higher angles are required, a tilt coupler (rotary actuator) is the choice.

3. Is price a factor?

On average there is a 40% premium to pay for a tilt coupler over a tilt bucket. That can be enough to purchase another attachment, so unless the advantages of a coupler that tilts are significant, it might be best to tilt the bucket exclusively.

4. How often do you perform changeovers?

Every time you switch from a tilt bucket to another attachment, or back again to the tilt bucket, the hydraulic hoses must be manually connected or disconnected. If you are changing attachments regularly throughout the day, this time penalty can mount up. Tilt couplers are permanently connected, so changing attachments is fast and easy.

Wedgelock tilt coupler tilts all attachments
Tilt multiple attachments with a Tilt Coupler

Those are the primary differences between tilting your coupler or bucket. If you need to tilt other attachments, or tilt your bucket beyond the limits imposed by tilt buckets, or make multiple changeovers every day, then a Tilt Coupler should be your preferred option. But if your excavator is going to be operating a tilt bucket most of the time, with moderate angles only, then the cost saving of a Tilt Bucket is attractive.

Here are a few other, less significant, differences to consider.

  1. Using a tilt bucket means running less weight on the end of the dipper when using other attachments, such as rippers – advantage tilt bucket
  2. A tilt coupler is permanently installed, which can mean the hydraulic hoses are better fitted and less exposed to damage – advantage tilt coupler
  3. If your excavator has limited auxiliary ports and you need to connect to a hydraulically enabled attachment, such as a breaker, a tilt bucket will ensure that ports are available. If a tilt coupler is installed using the only auxiliary circuit, any hydraulic attachment will require routing additional hoses – advantage tilt bucket
  4. When not in use, the auxiliary ports on the excavator and the hoses on the tilt bucket are vulnerable to contamination unless extra measures are taken – advantage tilt coupler
  5. The lower profile of a standard coupler/tilt bucket means there is a slight advantage in breakout force at the ends of the bucket – advantage tilt bucket
  6. Replacing the tilt bucket with a dig bucket means a narrower profile for trenching. The use of a rotary tilt coupler gives the same advantage for a higher initial investment – advantage tilt bucket
  7. The head of a tilt bucket can fall to one side when detached, making for a slightly fiddly attachment operation with more room for error – advantage tilt coupler
  8. In the event of mechanical or hydraulic failure in the tilt mechanism, a tilt coupler side-lines the entire excavator, whereas a tilt bucket failure allows the machine to continue with other attachments – advantage tilt bucket.


Choose a Tilt Bucket if;

  • You don’t make a lot of changeovers and tend to use the one cleaning bucket
  • You don’t have a need to tilt any other attachment
  • You don’t need to tilt more than 45 degrees

Choose a Tilt Coupler if;

  • You change attachments regularly throughout the day
  • You need to tilt additional attachments
  • You need tilt angles higher than 45 degrees

Further Reading

Safe Attachment Changeovers

Safe Attachment Changeovers

Over the years the detach–attach operation of quick couplers has become increasingly foolproof. But there are a number of additional factors that will smooth the process and render it completely safe for everyone concerned.

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Twin-Ram Tilt or Rotary Tilt Coupler?

Twin-Ram Tilt or Rotary Tilt Coupler?

There's no doubt that a tilting coupler offers greater flexibility, but which type of tilt mechanism is best?

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OEM Pins vs Attachment Pins

OEM Pins vs Attachment Pins

There are two types of pins used in the operation of an excavator, and using the wrong type in the wrong place can cost the operator.

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