All shredders have a duty cycle (also known as run time). This refers to the length of time that the shredder can continuously shred before it needs to cool down. Many small household shredders will run for 2 or 3 minutes continuously before they need a cool down period (e.g. 20 minutes or so). However, some larger high-spec shredders can shred for an hour non-stop - or even continuously.
When buying a shredder, the duty cycle period you require depends on the volume of shredding you intend to do. If you’re buying a home shredder which you want to use just occasionally, then a 2 or 3 minute duty cycle will probably be fine. However, if you need an office shredder for multiple users, or if you intend to do a high volume of regular shredding then you’ll most likely want to get a shredder with a high or continuous duty cycle.
Duty cycle for a shredder is also sometimes quoted as the number of sheets you are able to shred before the shredder needs to cool down. If you know roughly how much shredding you want to do, this can be a useful figure.
There are quite a lot of shredders that have helpful cool-down light indicators so you know when the shredder is in its cool-down period - and thermal cut-out (or overload protection) refers to the shredder automatically stopping before it overheats.
Other things to consider when looking at the performance of a shredder are maximum number of sheets the shredder can shred at a time and shredding speed. Taking account of all these factors can help you to buy the best paper shredder for your needs.