Dump Trailer vs Dumpster Rental – Which is best for you

by | Jul 14, 2023

Dump trailers and open-top dumpster rentals have a lot in common but there’s some major differences that set them apart. Everyone’s waste management plan looks different. It’s important to identity and compare these seemingly similar products to improve the efficiency of an operation. We’ll dissect these products, break down the pros and cons of both, and make the decision easier for those confused about the differences.

What is a Dump Trailer?

A dump trailer is a waste removal bin that includes an open box bed with the capability to dump the materials out easily. Most have the components necessary to “hitch” or attach the trailer to a vehicle for transport. They are typically bought outright over rented and have a lower bin capacity than open-top dumpsters.

dump trailers lined up

Features and Types of Dump Trailers

Some of the standard features of all dump trailers include axels and wheels built into the design, a hitch or attachment to connect the trailer to a vehicle, and a hydraulic system to tip the dumpster upright and remove the materials. Within those baseline features, you have 3 major types of dump trailers with additional benefits.

channel frame beams

Channel Frame Dump Trailer

Channel frame dump trailers refer to the frame used to hold and lift the bin upwards. This design is known for being a light weight frame option with surprising durability. Its composition fits well for smaller loads similar to utility trailers or equipment haulers. The frame is great for protective coatings that decrease corrosion due to its accessible cross pieces. 

I-frame beams

I-Beam Frame Dump Trailer

The weight distribution of an I-beam frame allows for large amounts of vertical and horizontal stress loads. They are known for their high weight to strength ratios but require an additional component called a torque tube to prevent twisting in larger units. These frames are best suited for large payloads, but have limitations to their sizing to avoid the need for additional parts.

tube framing

Tubular Frame Dump Trailer

Tubular frames are considered the strongest of the 3 major categories for dump trailers. They are a much higher price but you get larger load capacities and reliable dumping style with fewer malfunctions.

Who Uses a Dump Trailer

Dump Trailers are typically used to haul waste to a dump. The differences are centered around waste haul capacity. They have a significantly smaller capacity for waste compared to open-top dumpsters. Typically dump trailers are used by landscapers, driveway repairmen, junk removal businesses, and heavy machinery transportation projects. They are typically not associated with day-to-day business waste management plans due to their smaller size and certifications necessary to tow on highways or haul to landfills.

landscapers working

How Much Do Dump Trailers Hold?

SizesHaul CapacityPrice Estimate
8-10 ft. length3,320 – 5,000 lbs$3,000 – $4,000
12-15 ft. length5,000 – 7,500 lbs$7,000 – $10,000
16-20 ft. length8,000 – 12,000 lbs$10,000 – $15,000

This chart is based on industry trends and generalized market research for a selection of industry options.

What is an Open-Top Dumpster?

An open-top dumpster, also known as a roll-off dumpster, is a waste removal bin that is typically placed in a static location and is hauled away when full. They are designed to be transported by special hauling trucks with high weight capacities and the necessary attachments.

open top dumpster

Features and Sizes of Open-Top Dumpsters

Open-top dumpsters are designed with reinforced siding and bottoms for waste capacity support. They typically have swinging doors and open lids for easy loading and access. They have a large range of sizes and weight capacities to fit the needs of a variety of sizes. 

full open top dumpster

Small Dumpsters

Open-top dumpsters are measured in cubic yards. The smaller dumpster sizes are typically 10 to 15 yard options. These hold around 3,500 to 6,000 pounds of waste or the equivalent of 4 to 6 pickup truckloads.

Medium Dumpsters

Medium open-top dumpsters are 20 to 30 cubic yards and can hold 4,000 to 10,000 pounds of waste at a time. These are the most typical size ranges for open-top dumpsters and are very popular with businesses all over the country.

Large Dumpsters

The biggest options on the market are 40 cubic yards. Very few waste management businesses offer sizes larger than this and typically viewed as the largest on the market. 40 yard bins can hold upwards of 12,000 pounds of waste at a time. Common uses for a dumpster this size are demolition sites, large construction operations, and cleanout projects.

How to Save Money on Dumpster Rentals

If you are considering an open-top dumpster rental or are currently using one, there’s a way to make your dollar stretch further with every haul. A partnership with SMT services can ensure cost efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and save employees time and effort.


Mobile Dumpster Compaction

Smash My Trash brings an emerging service to businesses all over the nation known as “mobile waste compaction“. With the help of a proprietary vehicle design and our trained service professionals, mobile waste compaction keeps your bin capacity at bay with scheduled “smashes” that compact waste, allowing clients to get more into every dumpster. Through our service, we can compact dumpster waste by 70% which limits the amount of necessary hauls, in turn saving customers significant money on their monthly waste costs.

CO2 Reduction

An underlying benefit to mobile waste compaction service is the positive impact it can have on the environment. Less necessary hauls means less gas guzzling haulers on the road. The trucks that are capable of transporting open-top dumpsters to transfer stations or landfills are some of the least efficient vehicles available. Curious about the environmental impact possible? Click here to speak with a trained representative who can help you calculate the carbon impact potential for your business.

Price Comparisons: Dump Trailer vs. Dumpster Rentals

Put simply, the cost difference is essentially rental prices vs outright purchasing prices. Dump trailers are not typically rented to customers but rather something you purchase for personal use. With that comes more responsibility and requirements necessary to haul away waste to the right location.

Dump Trailer Costs

Dump trailers range from $3,000 up to $15,000+ as you go up in size. Occasionally they can be financed independently through the dealership selling the trailer but typically are bought outright. This relies on businesses or independent haulers to have more capital ready to make a purchase. 

Dumpster Rental Costs

Open-top dumpster rental prices have a massive variance based on market, the business supplying the bin(s), and contractual agreement based on the size of an operation. The benefit is less responsibility on the clients end for removing waste and returning with an empty container. 

Dump Trailer or Dumpster Rental – Which Should You Choose?

We’ve laid out the cost benefits of each, the features and common dimensions available, and how they can be utilized. If you’re a business owner interested in a dump trailer or dumpster rental, consider the factors above and how they fit into your individual waste plan. Smash My Trash services are for open-top dumpsters and can provide additional support with waste costs and the efficiency of an operation. If you’re interested in learning more about SMT services, click the button below to see exactly how it works.