Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Log Splitter Reviews:
- What is a log splitter?
- Benefits of using a gas log splitter
- How much do electric log splitters cost? Which should I buy?
Each winter millions of us go outside for our favorite chore - chopping wood so we have a nice supply for the cold season. Depending on how much wood you need to chop or split, it could take hours or even days. Using an axe or a sledge hammer and wedge to split a cord of wood is not only tiring, but it can be dangerous as you get more tired. Is there a better way to split logs? You bet. A log splitter will do the work of 5 men and there are no aches or pains at the end of the day to complain about.
The 2 most popular types of log splitters are the hydraulic log splitter and the electric log splitter. Hydraulic log splitters come in vertical or horizontal models and they both do an excellent job of splitting timber for fireplaces or woodstoves. Most people buy horizontal splitters for home use but those out in the forest or on uneven slopes should consider a vertical log splitter for safety concerns.
The video below shows the basics of log splitters so you know what to expect:
Log Splitter Buying Guide
A power log splitter is powered by gas or electric motors and they are really easy to use once you have read over the manual or had someone show you the working parts of the machine. You place the log/wood in a cradle so that it is secure. A ram with a sharp blade that has a wedge shape is then driven into the log with enough pressure from the hydraulic pump or the electric motor eventually causing the log to split into 2 pieces.
Making firewood has never been easier with modern log splitters. The best woods to burn are straight grained hardwoods like walnut, hickory, pecan, locust or oak. We researched consumer sites like Amazon.com and Epinions.com to see what customers say about their log splitter purchases and we also read countless reviews in online forums at Gardenweb.com, Firewoodcenter.com, Arboristsite.com and Motherearthnews.com.
One of the most in depth and comparative log splitter reviews we found was at Popular Mechanics website with quite a few models tested and compared head to head. A new hydraulic log splitter will cost between $1000 and $4000. Features to look for - Firstly, you need to decide on the splitting force. Log splitters are broken into categories based on their splitting force power (in tons). You'll see some below 10 tons, but most offer 20 to 40 tons of splitting force. The splitter doesn't rely on speed to split the wood, it uses sheer power.
The higher the ton #, the more power you'll get. A good way to determine what size splitter you need to get is how big are the logs you'll be splitting. You typically go by the diameter of the log - 6 inch diameters require at least 4 tons of splitting force, 12 inch diameters should have a minimum of 16 tons, and 24 inch diameter logs need 30+ tons of splitting force. The age of the wood will also become a factor as freshly cut wood is harder to split than logs that have aged and lost some of the moisture in them. They refer to the log types as 'green' or 'seasoned'.
Cycle time is another factor to consider. Average cycle time (the time required to split the log and return the ram to it's original position) is about 12 to 20 seconds. That means you could get through 3 logs in roughly 1 minute and take on a whole cord of wood in no time. The maximum log length varies from splitter to splitter - usually from 18" to 32"+. Something else to think about is - Will you need to tow the splitter? Are you going to be taking it to another property and have to tow it on the highway? Not all splitters are towable, so keep that in mind. We found that reviews for electric log splitters were above average.
Owners like the fact the machines are quieter to run than gas powered and they work great on mid-sized logs. The drawback is the electric power cord that keeps you near a power outlet. Hard to use electric log splitters out in remote areas - you would need to take a generator. The 3 point log splitters (also called PTO wood splitters) attach to your tractor and let you take the splitter anywhere on your property to take on the wood splitting chore. Assembly on all the log splitters we reviewed was fairly easy - few complaints. The largest number of concerns are with splitters that leak hydraulic fluid.
Also, the log cradles don't always keep the logs in place after they have been split. Sometimes this results in the split log pieces falling into the battery or motor area depending on the design of the wood splitter - this can cause damage. Look for splitters that have a solid housing around the working parts so they can remain free of damage. Electric start function is a nice touch - just push a button to start instead of pulling a cord. We also like the log splitters that have a low idle setting when not splitting, reduces noise and wear and tear on the motor.
The top brands are Troy-Bilt, Timberwolf, Champion, Ariens, MTD, Northstar, Yard Machines, Brave, and Swisher. Please see below for our findings on the best log and wood splitters on the market today. You can browse the most popular log splitters online here.
Best Log Splitter:
The one company that consistently came in with great ratings on their log splitters was Timberwolf. The Timberwolf TW-P1 ($1900) is the most popular hydraulic log splitter. It's powered by a Honda 5.5 HP OHV engine and a Barnes 11 GPM pump. Standard features include the bolt-on log cradles and 2-way wedge (there is an optional 4-way wedge). This hydraulic wood splitter is the "Cadillac of splitters" says one owner.
The Timberwolf firewood splitter can handle logs up to 24 inches and the RAM is 20 tons/13-second splitting cycle. The trailer is rugged and the machine is heavy duty for a horizontal splitter. If almost $2000 is too much to spend on a reliable log splitter, consider the Champion 92221 Gas Powered Log Splitter ($1200) which received excellent reviews from users who don't need to split or burn that much wood each year.
The OHV engine handles plenty of work without slowing down and it delivers 22 tons of power and a 14-second splitting cycle. Owners say the Champion log splitter is perfect for those that need to split a few cords of wood each year for wood burning stoves or fireplaces. Features a towable trailer with DOT approved tires. The splitter is dependable, durable, and works great either horizontally or vertically.
To check out how to use a log splitter to split wood - click the image below to go to video.
Top Electric Log Splitter:
The Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter ($450) receives high marks from owners and experts alike. It's an excellent, affordable log splitter for homeowners with a 2 HP motor that delivers 7 tons of RAM power. We compared the features to those on the other popular electric splitter - the Pow' R' Kraft 65575. Users say the Boss Industrial log splitter is "surpisingly quiet" and they comment that the splitting carriage at shin level makes it easy to load/unload logs. It's easy to operate with one hand on the hydraulic lever.
If used properly, you can split up to 100 logs an hour. Lastly, owners say the push button electric start is a great feature, especially on cold days when pull starting a gas motor could be tough. Check out the Pow' R' Kraft 65575 7-Ton 15 amp 2-Speed Electric Log Splitter which gets good reviews as an electric log splitter. Probably meant for lighter loads - the Pow R Kraft log splitter will handle quite a bit. One owner left several comments about the more than powerful splitting force of 7 tons of RAM. It will split wood up to 20 inches long and 12 inches in diameter.
Gas Log Splitter:
The Troy-Bilt 27 Ton Log Splitter ($1600) is an incredibly well built piece of machinery that offers an electronic ignition, low oil alert, and dual element air cleaner with a 5.5 HP Honda engine. It has 27 tons of RAM pressure for quick, effortless splitting. The 14-second cycle time w/ automatic cylinder return really increases productivity and you can split logs up to 25". The Troy-Bilt log splitter will operate in either the horizontal or vertical positions giving you the ultimate in versatility.
There is a replaceable cast-iron cutting wedge, a 1 7/8 inch universal size locking ball trailer hitch and jack stand, steel fenders, 16-inch pneumatic tires, and tail lights. It weighs in over 600 lbs and you get a 2-year warranty. Many reviews we read mentioned how quiet the Honda engine is and owners say if you want to split firewood, stop renting for $100's/day and buy the Troy-Bilt. If you plan on splitting more than 3 cords a year, then experts agree you should consider a higher performance log splitter - those from Swisher, Steele Products, NorthStar and Troy-Bilt.
BEST - The Swisher 34 Ton 12.5 HP Log Splitter gets excellent reviews for durability, performance, cycle time, capacity, and power. The Swisher operates both horizontally and has a 12.5 HP engine with 34 tons of RAM and a 12-second splitting cycle
More videos and resources are here on our Log Splitter Resource Page.
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