Like most people, you probably enjoy the cozy feeling you get when you sit next to a crackling fire.
Whether you have an indoor fireplace, an outdoor fire pit or both, it is important to have access to a reliable supply of firewood.
If you supply your own wood, but you have grown tired of using primitive tools to split it, you might want to consider purchasing an efficient firewood processor – a log splitter.
Here, we look at the various kinds of log splitters, so that when you are looking for the perfect log splitter for sale online, or offline, you can identify a model that is right for you.
The essential log splitter buyer’s questions (the EBQs)
If you are in the market for a new log splitter, you must be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. A log splitter will make your life much easier, but it’s a pretty big investment. Since you do not want to spend your money foolishly, it is important to ask yourself some questions that will help you to determine which type of log splitter will suit you best. Here are the EBQs:
1. What size logs do you intend to split?
When purchasing a new log splitter, the most important consideration should be the size of the logs to be split. Because log splitters use sheer power instead of speed to do their work, they are rated in terms of the amount of pressure they apply while in operation.
For instance, a 4-ton log splitter is adequate for splitting logs and branches up to 6 inches in diameter, but it will probably not be very effective at splitting larger logs. On the other end of the spectrum, 30-ton log splitters are able to handle gigantic trunks with ease. This is why it is so important to consider the average size – both diameter and length – of the logs you intend to split.
2. Horizontal, vertical or both?
Another consideration that has a lot to do with log size is whether you require a machine that operates vertically, horizontally or in both orientations.
Most log splitters have a default operational setting that allows for horizontal splitting. However, this requires you to lift the logs onto the splitter, which may be more work than you are ready to perform.
Vertically operating log splitters allow you to simply roll logs into the splitter’s cutting area. Once the logs are split into manageable sizes, you can return the machine to its original, horizontal position for further splitting.
3. Cured or green logs?
Freshly cut wood contains moisture that must evaporate before the it is ready to use in a fire. For this reason, fresh wood is heavier and more difficult to split than wood that has been allowed to dry out, or cure.
If you plan to use your machine for splitting cured wood, you do not need as much power. On the other hand, if you plan to use the splitter on fresh, green wood, you will need a machine with greater tonnage.
4. Gas or electric?
Like many types of outdoor power equipment, log splitters are available in gas-powered and electrically-powered models.
Gas-powered machines are typically more powerful, but they can be loud and unfriendly to the environment. They are also impractical if you plan to use your splitter in a shed or barn, where dangerous fumes are unable to escape.
Electric machines are not quite as powerful as their gas-powered counterparts, but they are quieter and able to operate in unventilated areas. Of course, electric machines must be operated within close proximity to a power outlet.
5. Where will you use it?
Most log splitters can be towed with a lawn tractor, ATV, golf cart or truck. Some of the more advanced and expensive models can be towed on roads, while others should only be towed within your own property. If you require a more portable machine, you should try to find one that features a street-legal design and hitching capabilities.
6. How much do you want to spend?
Log splitters can be very expensive, especially if you purchase a high-end, gas-powered model. If you absolutely require the most powerful machine available, you should be prepared to spend thousands of dollars.
However, if you do not require the most powerful log splitter available, you can save a lot of money by choosing a machine with appropriate power for the jobs you have in mind.
7. How quickly do you need to operate?
One specification of log splitters that you will notice is something called, “cycle time.”
Cycle time is the length of time, usually measured in seconds, that it takes a log splitter’s cylinder to go through an entire cycle.
Some log splitters have a cycle time of less than five seconds. Others take closer to 20 seconds to fully cycle. If you need to process a large number of logs in a short amount of time, you will be better served by a machine featuring a shorter cycle time.
Different types of log splitters
There are five distinct types of log splitters on the market.
The most simple and least expensive are manual log splitter models, such as this YtL International 8 Ton model. These machines use a hydraulic pump to channel your energy into log splitting force. Some of the more advanced models are capable of up to 12 tons of pressure. If you are looking for a log splitter to ease the amount of effort you need to expend, you will probably be disappointed with a manual log splitter.
Gas-powered log splitters might be the most common in existence today. They are the most powerful, with tonnage ratings ranging from 8 to 40. Since there are so many types of gas-powered log splitters, their prices can vary widely depending on size and features. The smallest, least expensive models typically cost between $800-$1,000.
The next category is the electrically-powered log splitter. These machines can be found in a number of different sizes and the power ratings range from about four to 20 tons. Many electric log splitters can be purchased for under $1,000, making them an economical choice. They are also quiet and friendly to the environment. However, electrically-powered log splitters are not typically set up to be towed, making them less portable than other types of splitters.
The next two categories of log splitters are not nearly as common as those mentioned previously. Three-point log splitters are designed to be powered by a tractor’s PTO system. This makes them ideal if you own a tractor, but of no use if you do not. The final category of log splitter is the the skid steer log splitter. These machines, like the name implies, are designed to be attached to skid steers for operation.
Here, we will focus on electric and gas-powered log splitters. Manual models are not highly recommended, and they are something of a niche product. Three-point and skid steer splitters are less common amongst average consumers.
Gas-powered log splitters
Size and power of gas-powered log splitters
Gas-powered log splitters use powerful engines that allow the machines to apply between eight and 40 tons of pressure to logs. Models in the lower price ranges are typically smaller, but they may not be towable. Gas-powered log splitters on the high end typically allow for horizontal and vertical splitting.
Features to look out for in gas-powered log splitters
If you plan on splitting larger logs or green wood, you will want a machine capable of applying enough pressure to do the job you require. You might also want to consider buying a machine that offers vertical and horizontal operation. This will make it easier for you to split more logs with less effort. You should also try to find a machine with the shortest cycle time you can afford.
Best uses for gas-powered log splitters
In most cases, gas-powered log splitters are more powerful than electric models. For this reason, they are better suited for larger jobs involving bigger and tougher logs. Also, many gas-powered splitters can be towed from job site to job site. This is an important consideration if you plan to split logs in multiple locations.
The Swisher 34 Ton 12.5 HP Log Splitter with Electric Start LS12534H12V is fully featured model up at the top end of the range of homeowner log splitters.
It has 12.5 Hp Briggs and Stratton Intek engine, generating 34 tons of splitting power, electric start and a fast cycling 16 gallons per minute heavy duty two stage pump. It is designed for cold weather starting and you can use it horizontally or vertically and easily tow it to where you need it.
The Powerhorse Horizontal/Vertical Log Splitter 20 Ton, 208cc will suit you if you don’t need the power of the Swisher.
It has a 208cc, 7 Hp OHV engine driving an 11 gallons per minute pump and generating 20 tons of splitting power. This Powerhorse machine will split logs up to 25 inches long and 14 inches in diameter. It works horizontally and vertically, so there’s no heavy lifting, and can be towed into position.
A slightly cheaper, horizontal only version, is also available: Powerhorse Horizontal Dual Split Log Splitter – 20-Ton, 208cc.
Electric log splitters
Size and power of electric log splitters
Though they are not as powerful, generally, as gas-powered machines, electric log splitters are powerful enough for most consumer-level log splitting jobs. Tonnage ratings typically range from four to 20 tons. Given this wide range, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices, but you should always choose based on your specific needs. If in doubt, buy the most power you can afford.
Features to look out for in electric log splitters
As with gas-powered machines, you want to choose a model that has enough power for the jobs you want to accomplish. If portability is important to you, you should opt for a machine that can be towed, though only the most expensive electric log splitters can be set up to tow on the open road. You should also invest in a splitter that allows for vertical and horizontal operation.
Best uses for electric log splitters
These machines are best suited for people who wish to split wood inside a garage, shed or barn. Since they produce no fumes, they are perfect for this purpose.
Also, electric splitters are much more quiet than gas-powered models, making them ideal for use in neighborhoods with noise restrictions.
Electric log splitter have the added advantage over gas models that they start every time and require little or no maintenance.
The Mantis SwiftSplit Electric Log Splitter is an impressive homeowner log splitter. It has a 5 ton maximum output and can split logs up to 20 inches long and 12 inches in diameter.
The Mantis SwiftSplit features:
- a 15 amp, 1500 watt motor
- 15 inches total ram travel
- unique cart design and large wheels for great portability and easy storage
- easy access vertical design
- user friendly controls.
The Pow’ R’ Kraft 65575 7-Ton 15 amp 2-Speed Electric Log Splitter has a dual output 1,500 watt/2,300 watt electric motor that runs on household electric current, but with a failsafe ground fault breaker in case of overload.
The 2-speed electric motor produces 7 tons of force at slow speed, for use when actually splitting the log, and 4 tons of force at the faster speed. You can switch to the faster speed once the initial split has been made.
This log splitter will also split logs up to 20 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter.
|The Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter is also well regarded. This log splitter features a 2500 watt, 3Hp electric motor generating 7 tons of force and 3500RPM.
It will cut logs up to 20.5 inches long and 12 inches in diameter, taking only 6 seconds to do so and then a further 5 seconds to cycle back to enable you to start on your next split.
If you are ready to save yourself some effort the next time you get firewood ready, you should prepare yourself so you know how to buy the best log splitter.
Many choices are available, and some of them are very expensive. Since you want to bring the ideal splitter home with you, ask yourself the EBQs set out above and assess your needs. If you go through the process carefully, you will become the proud owner of an awesome, log splitting machine.
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