Hand Auger Vs Post Hole Digger

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Depending on the job you have to do, a hand auger vs a post hole digger might be the best choice.

But, when should you choose one over the other?  

Find out the pros and cons of each type of digger and which one is best for your upcoming projects.

hand auger vs post hole digger
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What Is a Manual Post Hole Auger? 

A hand auger is the perfect example of a tool designed to do the majority of the work for you. Digging a hole is time consuming and labor-intensive, which is why post hole augers are designed to be easy to use.  

With its help, you can easily shave hours off the time you’d typically spend outside trying to dig semi-perfect holes.   A hand auger is one of the most frequently used items in any landscaper’s equipment due to its versatility and ease of use.

What is a Post Hole Digger?

A post hole digger also digs holes.  The difference is that they are powered by gas, propane or a battery. They drill holes with less effort than a hand auger and they drill holes faster.  If you've got more than 1 or 2 holes to dig, a post hole digger would be a good investment.

Hand Auger Vs Post Hole Digger

More often than not, you’ll find powered augers used for landscaping projects because they take the time and effort out of digging holes.  This is particularly true if the holes need to be relatively perfect in shape and at very deep depths. An alternative to a powered post hole digger is a hand auger, which you might prefer.

Post Hole Digger

Manual

Requires Battery/Fuel No Power Required
Heavier Lighter
Not as Portable More Portable
More Expensive Cheapest Option
Easy to Drill Holes Harder to Drill Holes
Works in Tough Soil Not so Great in Tough Soil
More Maintenance Less Maintenance

Main Differences between the 2 Types of Soil Augers

#1. Cost

Manual dirt augers are obviously cheaper than powered ones. That’s because there are far fewer pieces that go into them.  They don't have motors or all of the parts that would come with a powered dirt auger.

Manual or hand augers are the best if you're on a budget.  They are cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain over the years because there is no motor.  Just know that you will have to sacrifice performance and use a ton more elbow grease to get holes dug even is good soil conditions.

#2. Poor Soil Conditions

Less than good soil conditions, forget about it, you're going to need to grab a powered post hole digger.  

#3. Maintenance

There aren’t many moving pieces in manual augers, which means that you won’t have to worry about replacing parts as much as you would with a powered model.

Also, manual augers are built simply, which makes them more user-friendly. If you’re just getting into the world of landscaping, a manual one can teach you how an auger should be used.

#4. Environmentally Friendly

Hand augers are all people powered.  You won't be using an fossil fuels to power your drill only elbow grease.  This is the option of choice if you are being environmentally conscious.

Powered post hole diggers use gas and propane to power through a ton of holes.  The compromise is an electric post hole digger, which emits no gases into the atmosphere while drilling holes.

#5. Weight

If you know you’re going to need to take your auger with you and need it to be portable, a hand auger is your best bet. It’s more lightweight than any other variation.  

Without an engine, fuel tank, and wiring, it’s way lighter and better for travelling long distance over lakes etc. when ice fishing.  

If being able to travel with your auger is important, like on the back of your sled while ice fishing, then a hand auger is for you.  If weight is not a problem, and you need that extra power from a post hole digger, then grab a powered auger.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Hand Auger? 

Selecting between a hand auger and a post hole digger is made easier when we take a look at the pros and cons of each model and what they bring to the table.  Otherwise, you’ll never truly see their advantages over using a traditional shovel to dig holes.

Hand augers are used in both ice fishing and in landscaping.  Every design comes with different features and advantages to make digging holes a more enjoyable (and faster) experience. 

Pros of a Manual Hand Auger

No Fuel to Worry About

By far, the largest advantage of a manual auger is the fact that it doesn’t require any type of power or fuel. This makes them way more affordable.  

They are also ready to be used at a moments notice, without any prep work or fueling up.  

You don't have to worry about the oil and gas ratios, or if you have enough fuel, like you would with gas-powered augers.  And you won't have to make sure its batteries are charged, like with electric augers. 

Hand-operated augers are far more convenient because you don’t have to worry about it running out of fuel halfway through a job.

This gives you the ability to make as many holes as you want throughout the day, making it a great option for ice fishing as well. 

Storage is as simple as wiping and cleaning off the blades, putting on a blade protector and hanging your hand auger up in the garage or shed.

User-Friendly for Beginners and Experts

There’s no point to having a tool designed to be convenient but it's still hard to use, which is why manual augers are as popular as they are.

They have very limited features and using one only requires one person rather than two. Using one is a two-step process since all you have to do is pick it up, mark the spot you want to dig in, and then start digging. 

Another important factor of its user-friendly design is that it helps to reduce the amount of strain your body experiences from digging holes with a shovel.  Anyone in your household can use an auger, they are safe and easy to use.

Light and Portable

You’ve likely heard that electric augers are more lightweight than gas augers, which is true, but did you know that a manual auger are the most lightweight option?

Since there aren’t any engine parts or fuel and fuel tanks added to your hand auger, it’s by far the most convenient type of auger to carry around with you.

They are built to last, heavy-duty, so you won’t have to worry about replacing parts any time soon.

If you’re someone who frequently goes from one job site to the other, you’re not going to want to have a tool which needs to be strapped to a dolly or a wheelbarrow because of its weight. Manual augers are highly portable and easy to carry on your own. 

Great for Occasional Use

If you need to dig one or two holes, you could start up your gas-powered auger.  Or, grab your cheaper, quieter hand auger and get digging. 

With their convenient and ready-to-use design, it’s a far better option for simple tasks around the yard. You won’t have to worry about waiting for it to start up, clean the carb, prime the engine, or fill up the fuel tank.  

Easy to Use

Individuals who have never used an auger before might be intimidated by the idea of using a gas or electric-powered one, as it may have more control over you than you of it.

Manual augers are powered by you and you alone, making it easier to create holes at specific depths without over- or under-digging. The more control you have over your tools, the faster the job will be and the happier you’ll be with the results. 

Whisper Quiet

Because you don't have to worry about startup noises or the sound of a motor powering the tool, you can guarantee hand augers are MUCH quieter than their gas or propane powered cousins.

If you’re particularly sensitive to sound, or maybe your neighbors are, this is very important to take note of.  Plus, it’s a better alternative for ice fishermen who need to make holes in the ice without scaring fish away. 

As you can tell, there are plenty of advantages to having a manual auger, but there are a few disadvantages to take note of as well. 

Cons of a Hand Auger 

A manual auger is an all-in-one solution, but as with any tool, it’s not recommended for every job in the world. A couple of the most important disadvantages you might experience with a hand auger digger include: 

Manual Labor

When compared to an electric or gas auger, a hand auger is going to take way more effort, especially if you’re digging multiple holes during the day.

It takes less effort than a traditional shovel, but it isn’t as convenient to use as a powered post hole digger.  If you’re in the market for a tool that makes holes in a matter of minutes, a manual post hole digger or ice auger isn’t your best option. 

Not Recommended for Hard/Rocky/Difficult Soil 

It would be nice to have an auger that can power through any type of terrain, as you might not know what type of material is found beneath the surface of your work area.

For example, if you’re digging post holes, you might not know whether there’s soil or rock beneath the topsoil.

Unfortunately, manual augers are not recommended for hard soil or rock. 

In fact, there’s a very high likelihood you can damage your post hole digger when working with tougher materials, especially rocks, as you’ll be putting more pressure on the device than it’s built to handle.

It’s highly important you survey the land you’re working on before using one. 

Conclusion

Depending on your needs, you might find a powered post hole digger is a better option for your project.  

This is true is you have a ton of holes to drill at different depths in less than the best soil conditions.  A hand or manual auger is great is your goal is to dig one or two holes, you have good soil conditions and you're trying to save a few bucks.


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