Log Splitter Buying Guide


Your first task, once you decide that you would like to purchase a log splitter, should be to figure out how powerful of a machine you will need. You should be able to answer these three questions about your future usage because the answer future decisions regarding power source and design will be based on these questions. What is the diameter of the largest log that I expect I will need to cut? Will I be using my log splitter to split freshly cut stumps into manageable stacking chunks, or will I only be using my splitter to split smaller seasoned logs before they go into my wood burning stove? What kind of trees did the logs that I am splitting come from? The answers to these questions should help you identify power, design, and power source requirements that should help you narrow your search and identify the best log splitter for your specific situation.

Tonnage

The first question, “What is the diameter of the largest log that I expect I will need to cut”, will identify how much force your log splitter will need to be able to generate in order to satisfy your needs. Log splitters quantify the splitting force that they are able to generate in a metric called tonnage. Think of tonnage like this: Consider a log standing vertically with a steel wedge placed against the top of the log, ready to split the log in half. Instead of hitting the wedge with a hammer, you start adding weight to the top of the wedge. First you place 100 pounds on top of the wedge and see the point dig into the wood an inch or so. Next, you try putting 2000 pounds, or 1 ton, on top of the wedge, and you see that this is enough weight to push the wedge into the log, but eventually the wedge gets stuck before it can completely split the log. Finally you try 10,000 pounds, or 5 tons, which winds up being enough weight to push the wedge the entire way through the wood and split the log in half. In this unrealistic, but hopefully easy to understand, example you required 5 tons of force to split your log. So how do you know how much tonnage you will need in your log splitter? Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact equation that will tell you exactly how much tonnage you need, but there are a few guidelines you can follow to help you determine a general power requirement range.

Log Diameter

Log diameter has the strongest correlation to tonnage. Diameter refers to the thickness of the log, or the measurement across the face of the log from one edge to the other. The thicker the log, the more force is required to split it. If you have ever seen a tree stump, you might have notices the circular bands that start at the center of the stump and work their way outward. As a kid, I used to count these to figure out how old a tree was when it was cut. Each band provides an additional layer of support to the trunks, which is why splitting a thicker tree trunk requires more power than splitting a thin tree trunk. Think of it like trying to stretch a rubber band until it breaks with your hands. Pulling apart one rubber band is easy, but it requires more effort to pull apart two. The same concept applies to tree trunks. Thicker tree trunks have more bands of reinforcing internal support and, therefore, require more force to split. Although this is far from exact, we find that a general rule of thumb is that if you multiply the width of the log in inches by 0.8, you get a rough estimate of the tonnage required to split that log. For example, if you have a 12 inch seasoned log that needs split, you will require (12 x 0.8 = 9.6 ) around 10 tons of splitting force. It is important to mention that this estimate applies to seasoned logs because, as we are about to discuss, green logs require additional force to split.

Log Diameter

Green vs Seasoned

The next consideration that you will have to factor into your force requirement determination, is the type of logs that you will be splitting. We refer to a freshly cut log as a green log because it is still moist and resilient and often has a green hue. The internal reinforcing bands of a green log are able to stretch which makes them much stronger than the bands of a dry log. But, after the log is cut, it starts drying out. It is smart to let your wood dry because it is better for burning and easier to split. When the internal trunk bands lose their moisture, they lose their ability to stretch and flex. This makes them more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Dry logs, or seasoned logs as we like to refer to them as, are easier to split than green logs. Think about trying to pull apart a fresh rubber band as opposed to an old brittle rubber band. The fresh rubber band will stretch and provide resistance, but a brittle rubber band will crack and fail quickly. This same concept holds true for logs. Seasoned logs require less force to split than green logs. When we gave you a rule of thumb for the relationship between log diameter and required tonnage, we were assuming that the logs that you will be splitting are seasoned. If the logs that you need to split will be fresh, moist logs, you should follow a different rule of thumb. For green logs, multiply the width of the log in inches by 1.25 to get a rough estimate of the tonnage required to split that log. For example, if you have a 12 inch green log that needs split, you will required ( 12 x 1.25 = 15 ) 15 tons of splitting force.

Seasoned Logs

Seasoned Logs

Green Logs

Green Logs

Wood Density

You are also going to need to consider the density of the wood that you will be splitting into your final determination how much splitting force you will require. Different types of trees have different wood densities, which influences its strength and resistance to being split. Denser wood is made up of thicker fibers and is more difficult to split. When you’re out splitting wood, you probably don’t have access to a computer or charts, so you can use weight as a general indicator of density. Typically, heavier logs are denser and harder to split than lightweight logs. When you have put in a few seasons, and start to get a feel for splitting wood, you begin to notice things like weight. You will be able to pick up a log and say to yourself, “this one feels heavier than normal.” Use your instincts, and make a subconscious note to yourself that heavier logs will put more strain on your log splitter.

When you are researching and trying to decide what is the best log splitter for your needs, you might have access to a computer so you can factor wood density into your logic more accurately. Every tree is different, even within the same species, so there is no equation to exactly quantify density and convert it into tonnage. The most precise conversion tool that we can use to help us is the Janka hardness test. The Janka hardness test measures the force required to embed a steel ball into different types of wood. The results of this test can be used to scale tonnage requirements based on wood type. This test was performed on dry, but still relatively unseasoned wood.

Tree Classification Hardness 6-inch 12-inch 18-inch 24-inch
Aspen Softwood 420 4 12 20 27
Spruce Softwood 510 4 12 20 27
Poplar Softwood 540 4 12 20 27
Fir Softwood 710 6 15 20 27
Pine Softwood 860 6 15 20 27
Cedar Hardwood 900 6 15 20 27
Walnut Hardwood 1010 7 20 26 30
Magnolia Hardwood 1020 7 20 26 30
Beech Hardwood 1300 7 20 26 30
Ash Hardwood 1320 7 20 26 30
Maple Hardwood 1450 7 20 26 30
Birch Hardwood 1470 7 20 26 30
Elm Hardwood 1540 10 22 26 30
Oak Hardwood 1620 10 22 26 30
Locust Hardwood 1700 10 22 26 30
Hickory Hardwood 1820 10 22 26 30
Dogwood Hardwood 2150 10 22 26 30

As you can see, the results above don’t always remain consistent with our rule of thumbs for diameter and green-vs-seasoned wood. The fact is, there isn’t any exact science to determining required tonnage. For this reason, it is smart to estimate conservatively. As much as we don’t like to push our readers to spending extra money, we think it is always better to buy a stronger log splitter than you think you will need.

If you can afford to invest in a stronger machine, we highly recommend it. First of all, engines that are overworked tend to fail quicker because they are being pushed to their limits. An engine used hard, will have a shorter lifespan than an engine that is used in its comfort range. So, spending the extra money up front for a more powerful machine is actually a smart investment, because it will last longer and cost you less in repairs in the long run.

Power Source

Once you determine the tonnage that you require the next decision that you should make, is what kind of log splitter you should buy. When I say what “kind”, I am referring to the power source. Standalone log splitters come in three power variations: electric, gas-powered, and manual. All three have their respective strengths and weaknesses and vary significantly in price. Whenever you are comparing products, you will find that it difficult to compare separate variations of log splitter because they are so different from each other. It is best to weigh out the pros and cons of each power source up front and select the variation before you start searching for actual products. This will allow you to compare specific log splitters within the same category to each other, which will help you more accurately determine the best value.

Electric Log Splitter Motor

Electric Motor

Gas Log Splitter Motor

Gas Motor

Manual

Manual log splitters are the least expensive variation because they do not have any power source. All of the power that needs to be generated to split the log is produced by the user. Because they don’t have any power source, they are the least expensive variation. They are also the most reliable. Years of experience with power tools and farm machinery, has taught me that the simpler the design is the more reliable it is. The more parts you have the more opportunities there are for a defect and failure. This concept applies to log splitters as well. If you will be using your log splitter on a daily basis to split the wood that is going to provide you heat, we understand that you probably aren’t going to want to be manually splitting wood each day. But, it is important to have a backup plan in case your gas-powered motor seizes up or you lose electrical power. A manual log splitter will never let you down because you are the one that will be powering it. If the electricity goes out or you run out of gas, it doesn’t matter because you will still be able to use your manual log splitter to split the wood that you need to provide heat for you and your family.

In addition to being a smart option for a backup plan, manual log splitters are also good options for people who won’t be using their machine regularly. A recreational user might be ok with the idea of putting a little extra effort into splitting wood, if it means saving a few bucks on the product. Another benefit of manual log splitters is that they are the lightest weight option. They don’t have any kind of motor, which means that they are lighter weight and able to be used without relying on resources like electricity or fuel. That makes them great options for people who plan on using their log splitter when they go camping. I keep a foot-powered log splitter in the belly of my RV, and use it many times we go camping to chop fresh firewood. Foot-powered log splitters are actually one of many manual sub-variations. Each sub-variation has its own pros and cons as well.

Wedge/Axe

The most primitive, but reliable, way to split wood is to swing something heavy over the top of your head and drive a wedge down through the center of the log. Usually you are swinging a sledge hammer and driving a solid steel wedge into the wood. There are no joints, hydraulics, or any moving parts, which means that there are hardly any components that can fail. This is the simplest and most reliable method. Everybody who needs to split wood should own an axe or wedge for odd shaped logs that don’t fit into their wood splitter or emergency situations where their primary splitter fails.

Ax

The concept between an axe and a wedge is the same, even though the products are different. A wedge is a single piece of steel, usually weighing between 2-8 pounds shaped like a triangle. You pound the wedge into the wood with a sledge hammer, and as you drive the wedge down through the log, it splits the wood and pushes it outwards. An axe is the same idea, except the wedge is fixed to the handle you are swinging. So you are swinging directly into the wood instead of striking a second component and pushing it into the wood. One isn’t better than the other, so you can pick which option is more appropriate for you based on what you already own. For example, if you own a sledge hammer already, maybe you just want to buy a wedge because they are less expensive than an axe. If you don’t own any kind of axe, maybe you want to purchase the axe because axes can be used for applications outside of splitting wood as well.

Foot Operated

Engineers figured out that you can use gravity and your body weight to generate the force necessary to split logs if the product is designed in a certain way. This idea lead to the invention of hybrid manual-mechanical designs. What I mean by “hybrid manual-mechanical” is this; the design utilizes hydraulics, levers, and intelligent engineering, but the machines are powered by human strength or weight. Manual-mechanical log splitters are still very reliable, suitable for emergency backups, and are easier to use than an axe or wedge.

Foot Operated Log Splitter

One of the more popular manual-mechanical designs is the foot-operated log splitter, which requires the user to use their foot to operate a lever. Whenever the lever is pushed down, a wedge is advanced along a track. The user steps on the lever over and over again, advancing the wedge through the log.

Once of the benefits of the foot-operated log splitter is that you can step onto the lever with your full body weight to generate mechanical power. It is easier to take a step and let your body weight drive the machine, than it is to swing a sledge hammer or an axe. The lever on a foot-operated log splitter is long and forms an acute angle, so a big step moves the wedge a short increment. This is means that it will take quite a few steps to move the wedge the entire way though the log. This is good because more power is utilized in smaller increments, meaning you can split larger logs. The drawback to this is that it your legs get tired after a while.

Another drawbacks of a foot-operated splitter is that you are limited in the amount of force that you can generate by your body weight. So, there is a limit to how big of a log you can split. With an axe, you can keep swinging away, splitting the log no matter what the size is, but you cannot do this with a foot-operated machine. Another drawback is that the wedge is usually pretty small and close to the lever. This limits the girth of the log that the machine can handle because bigger logs are larger than the wedges of most foot-operated splitters. You have the option to rotate the log and split from different angles, but this can get difficult.

Foot Operated log splitters are appropriate for splitting firewood, but aren’t designed to be able to split large logs. They are great for splitting pre-cut chunks for use in your wood-burning stove. They are also good options to take on camping trips because they are somewhat portable. I don’t recommend a foot-operated log splitter for large logs or for any kind of heavy duty use.

Manual-Hydraulic

Hydraulic log splitters are the most sophisticated manual-mechanical design. They are engineered to transfer human power into hydraulic machinery, allowing us to produce tremendous power with minimal effort. Physics teaches us that all power is conserved, so there aren’t any designs that are able to amplify the power that we are able to exert. But, hydraulics are able to utilize it more efficiently and focus it into smaller increments. Hydraulic manual log splitter allow users to convert large human movements into tiny mechanical movements, isolating all of that power on a small movement. This means that humans are able to use manual hydraulic log splitters to split very large logs.

Hydraulics log splitters work the same way a hydraulic car jack works. You move a lever up and down to pump liquid from a smaller tube into a larger tube. The lever is easy to pump because of the long swinging movements you can make with your arm that focus on a moving a small amount of liquid. The liquid is easily pushed into the larger tube, which results in a much smaller movement. I don’t want to get too deep into the physics of how hydraulics works, but I do want to mention that it is a brilliant method of transferring a lot of low power into isolated high power. This is exactly what you want to be able to do when you are splitting logs.

Hydraulic log splitters are the most expensive manual log splitter, but they can generate the most force, so they are worth the money if you have a pile of thick logs that needs taken care of. If strength and durability are your metrics, then hydraulic log splitters are the best manual log splitters for you. We recommend hydraulic log splitters as a primary option to split wood before it goes into your wood burning stove, or as a backup to your gas or electric powered log splitter.

Hydraulic log splitters do have their drawbacks. They are too heavy to be considered portable, so they would not be appropriate to take camping. Any human generated power will get tiring after a while, so we don’t recommend them for your primary log splitting machine for a long day of work. Because they translate long movements into short mechanical increments, it takes a while to split a log. It would be inefficient to use a heavy-duty hydraulic log splitter to split thin logs that could easily be split by a foot-operated machine. But, don’t let these drawbacks scare you. They are the best option if you don’t want to worry about maintaining a motor.

Electric

If you prefer not to put any manual effort into splitting your logs, you are going to need to purchase a machine with some kind of motor. Of course you have the option in investing in a gas operated behemoth that can cut through train tracks, but before you lean in this direction I want to point out some of the advantages that electric motors have over gas powered motors.

The first, and often most important, reason that you might prefer an electric motor over a gas powered motor is because they are significantly more affordable. Gas operated log splitters start at a thousand dollars and continue to get more expensive as you add horsepower. Electric powered log splitters cost a fraction of the cost of their big brothers. Even the best electric log splitters cost less than the least expensive gas powered machines.

Electric log splitters are easier to use and maintain than gas-powered log splitters. You don’t need to worry about changing their oil or spark plugs. You don’t need to worry about running out of gasoline. Basically you don’t have to deal with any of the inconvenient nuances of a combustion engine. This means that you don’t have to worry about exhaust, either. Gas powered log splitters create harmful exhaust from burning fuel, which means they should only be used outside. But, electric motors don’t produce any exhaust, so you can use them wherever. You could use an electric log splitter in your living room right next to your stove if you wanted to.

The biggest drawback to electric powered log splitters is that they are limited in the power they can put out by the amount of electricity they are allowed to draw. Most residential houses are wired to support 110 volts, so electric log splitters are built to be most effective with that current. That is all of the power that the engine can use, though. So, electric motors have a ceiling of how much power they can produce and thus have a limit to the size of the logs they can split. Electric motors can still apply the same concept of slowing down the wedge as a way to increase the tonnage that they can push, but this is a sacrifice that you will need to consider. If you are ok with a slower split, then maybe an electric motor is the right choice for you. If you do decide that you are interested in an electric log splitter, keep in mind that they come in multiple variations as well.

Electric-Hydraulic

Electric log splitters are typically hydraulic designs because all of the benefits that we talked about for the hydraulic manual log splitter apply to any log splitter that uses hydraulics, regardless of the power source. Hydraulic electric log splitters often resemble hydraulic manual log splitters, with the caveat that they have an electric motor attached to the underside of track. Electric motors are able to produce more power than the typical person can put into splitting logs, so electric log splitters usually are able to handle larger logs than manual machines can.

One of the benefits of hydraulic electric log splitters is that they typically weigh around 100 pounds. This might seem like a lot, but compared to gas-operated log splitters that weigh around 500 pounds this weight is manageable. A 100 pound electric log splitter can still be lifted by two adults into the back of a truck or in a trunk, which gives you the flexibility to transport it if necessary. And remember, it’s not going to leak any oil so you can transport it on its side.

The biggest drawback to hydraulic electric machines is that they have a low ceiling for how much power they can exert. The best hydraulic electric splitters are able to produce 6-7 tons of pushing power, which is sufficient for splitting logs with a 10 inch diameter or less.

If you plan on using your log splitter for logs with a diameter less than 10 inches, a hydraulic electric log splitter is your best option. They are easier to maintain, easier to transport, and can be used inside. And most importantly, they are less expensive. We are big advocates on not spending unnecessary money, so we never recommend a more expensive product than what will reliably complete the job. For people who are going to be splitting medium to smaller logs, we recommend a hydraulic electric splitter.

Electric-Kinetic

In the electric motor category, the next step up from the hydraulic electric log splitter is the kinetic or flywheel electric log splitter. Kinetic log splitters are available with gas motors too, but aren’t as common. They are typically more expensive than hydraulic machines because the kinetic design has some advantages over the hydraulic design. Kinetic log splitters use a motor to create energy, and then build up and store that energy until you are ready to split your log. It works like this. A motor spins a heavy flywheel very fast, which is storing enormous kinetic energy as it is rotating. Whenever you are ready to split your log the spinning flywheel engages a set of gears that are connected to the ram which pushes the log. By pulling a lever, you transfer kinetic energy from the flywheel into mechanical energy that the ram uses to push the log into a wedge.

Since kinetic designs are able to build up and store potential energy, they do not have a ceiling like hydraulic machines do. Hydraulic electric log splitters can only use as much electrical power as is available to it in that instant from the outlet that it is plugged into. But, with kinetic designs, you can let the electric motor run for a little while (a few seconds) to increase the speed of the flywheel, and build up additional momentum. Theoretically, the longer you wait, the more power you can build up.

How does this design translate into practical advantages? Well, the most important advantage that a kinetic electric log splitter has over hydraulic log splitters is that they can produce more power. As we said before, hydraulic electric log splitters are constrained to the electric current that they can receive from your wall outlet, so they usually can only generate between 6-7 tons of pushing power. Since, electric kinetic log splitters are able to build and store power, they are able to produce up to 10 tons of pushing power.

The next big advantage that kinetic log splitters have over hydraulic log splitters is that they operate faster. Whenever the flywheel engages, the plungers push the log through the wedge pretty quickly. The splitting process is usually around 2 seconds, and the recovery time needed for the plunger to reset itself is often only a second. This is a significant increase over the lengthy hydraulic process and makes kinetic log splitters a viable option for splitting large amounts of wood.

We recommend kinetic electric log splitters for anybody who wants to be able to split smaller logs quickly. Despite their increased power, we still don’t recommend them for large scale log splitting because even 10 tons of pushing power will struggle with logs thicker than 10 inches wide. But, they are going to be able to split any fire wood chunks for you without any problem. And, they are actually quite fun to use.

Gas

There are two stages in the wood splitting process. Once you have cut down the tree, and cut the trunk into manageable cross sections, the first stage is to take the thick stumps that are too big to stack and split them into half or quarter chunks that are more manageable for stacking. The stack of smaller full cross-sections and chunks usually sits outside or in a shed until the wood is needed to be burned. Once the wood is brought inside there is a second stage of splitting, which involves taking the smaller cross-sections and chunks and splitting them down even farther into smaller pieces that are appropriate for burning.

You can get away with an electric or manual log splitter if you are only using it for stage two. In stage two, the logs that you are splitting are less than 10 inches wide. But, if you need to use your log splitter in stage one, chances are you will need to split logs much thicker than this. Towards the base of a tree trunk it is not uncommon to have stumps that are two feet in diameter. For situations that you need to split logs thicker than 10 inches in diameter, you will need to invest in a stronger machine. You will need to generate more power than your wall outlet is capable of producing. You need a good old-fashioned gasoline-powered combustible engine. Gas powered log splitters are the most powerful type of log splitters and are a necessity for people who need to split thick logs. They are the heavy hitters of the log splitter market and are relied on by people who split wood out of necessity.

Just like the other variations, gas powered log splitters have their drawbacks. The biggest drawback is that they are expensive. These machines can cost multiple thousands of dollars. But their cost can be justified by the value they bring to the owner. For people in colder climates, who burn wood for a source of heat, a gas powered log splitter can pay itself off in a single season. Another major drawback they have is the fact that they have a gasoline engine. That means that all of the same concerns that you have for your car or lawn mower are going to apply to your log splitter as well. You will need to change its oil and oil filter. You will need to clean out its fuel lines at some point. And, among other concerns, you cannot operate a gas engine inside because of the exhaust. Most people use them for short times in their garages during the winter to split wood before bringing the wood inside, but the same precautions in regards to carbon monoxide poisoning apply to a gas powered log splitter as applies to an automobile.

Another drawback to gas powered log splitters is that they are heavy and much less portable. Gas powered log splitters usually weigh over 500 pounds, which completely rules out the ability to lift one into the bed of your truck. Fortunately, pretty much all gas powered machines are built with a hitch attachment and can be towed behind a vehicle. That means that if you wind up purchasing a gas powered log splitter, you will also need to configure your vehicle to be able to tow it, if it is not already set up with a tow package.

These drawbacks are negligible when you compare them to the benefits that a gas powered log splitter provides, though. Non-commercial log splitters are able to produce up to 50 tons of brute crushing power, which is enough power to split a Sequoia. There is no limit to the power the gas powered machine can generate because you can continue to increase the size of the engine to suite your needs. That means that there is no tree on earth that is too big for a gas powered log splitter to split.

We recommend manual and electric log splitters for a select group of people who know that they will only need to split logs less than 10 inches in diameter. For everybody else, we recommend a gas powered engine. Combustible engines can split logs quickly which means that you can get through your work efficiently without feeling like you are being held up by you splitter. Gas powered log splitters are also capable of being used all day, every day, without failing due to strain on the engine. They are built to be able to support continuous abuse while not sacrificing performance. They have impressive longevity, too. A gas operated log splitter will last as long as you maintain it. If properly maintained, you should expect your gas powered machine to be able to provide you satisfactory performance for 25 years.

Gas Hydraulic

Gas powered hydraulic log splitters are the work horses of the log splitter market. They are the most common of all of the variations because they have a proven record of reliability and high performance. Most people who are searching for a log splitter require a machine that will be able to split logs thicker than 10 inches wide, which means that an electric or manual log splitter won’t be sufficient. So, out of necessity, they wind up requiring a gas motor. Similar to electric powered log splitters, there are two types of gas powered designs: hydraulic and kinetic. Of these two designs, hydraulic log splitters are much more common because of their strength and reliability.

The biggest advantage of a kinetic design is that it allows you to run the motor for a few seconds and build up energy. This is valuable for situations that you have a finite power source such as an electrical outlet. Electric motors are limited in power output because they only have as much electrical current to work with as a residential house can output. But gas powered motors do not have a limit to how much power they can produce. If you want more crushing power, you can get a larger engine and give it more fuel. Kinetic designs are more expensive than hydraulic designs so it is actually cheaper to buy a machine with a larger engine then to buy an equivalently powerful smaller kinetic machine.

Hydraulic gas powered log splitters are hardy and reliable, which is another reason that they are so popular. The mechanical components of a hydraulic system are simpler than a kinetic system, which means there are less components that could potentially fail. We have talked to many people that have used the same gas hydraulic log splitter for 25+ years and haven’t noticed any decline in performance. As long as you maintain your engine, you can expect your machine to last for a very long time.

Gas hydraulic log splitters don’t have a ceiling to the power they can produce, so whatever your log situation is, there is a machine that is capable of handling the job. Non-commercial gas powered log splitters typically come with 5 – 12HP engines and are capable of delivering 25-35 tons of splitting force which can split 30 inch logs. There are larger non-commercial machines that have 15HP engines that are capable of delivering 50 tons of splitting force. It is important to remember that whatever your needs are, there is a machine that can handle them. If you have the financial resources, you will be able to find a gas powered hydraulic splitter than can handle any job.

We recommend gas powered hydraulic log splitters for everybody who will need to split logs thicker than 10 inches in diameter because they are strong enough to be able to split large logs. We also recommend gas powered hydraulic log splitters for people who will need to use their machine heavily. Gas motors are capable of withstanding constant abuse without suffering any setbacks in performance. They can be your go-to splitter day after day, year after year.

Gas Kinetic

Since there isn’t a limit to the size of the gasoline powered motor you can purchase, a gas kinetic log splitter doesn’t offer any power advantages over a hydraulic design. The big selling point for kinetic designs is that they are able to generate additional power by building up and storing kinetic energy in a rotating fly wheel. The concept works like this, a motor runs that spins a flywheel faster and faster. As it speeds up and gains momentum, it becomes easier to spin. So if you run the motor for a couple of seconds, you can significantly increase the speed at which the flywheel is rotating. When you are ready to split your log, you engage the rotating flywheel on a track and let the built up kinetic energy transform into splitting force. Because this design has the ability to spin a wheel for a few seconds and build up energy before the split, a gas kinetic log splitter would be able to generate more force than a gas hydraulic log splitter with the same engine. This is a brilliant innovation for electric log splitters because there is a finite limit to the amount of power that they can use. But for gas powered machines, if you need more power, you can just buy a model with a larger engine.

Gas Kinetic log splitters have one advantage over hydraulic log splitters, which is why they are still manufactured. They can split a log and reset much faster than a hydraulic machine, under 2.5 seconds for the ram and return. The reason for this is because the high velocity spinning flywheel progresses the wedge very quickly along the track, and springs reset the wedge even quicker. Hydraulics work by moving fluids through different sized tubes, which is a lengthier process. So there is still demand for these machines.

You usually do not see gas operated kinetic log splitters with more splitting force than 25 tons, though. The reason for this is because the flywheel needed to generate this amount of force weighs around 55 pounds and spins at 400 rpm. The larger the flywheel, and faster the spin, the more volatile the machine becomes. So more heavy-duty parts are need to maintain safety. These upgraded rods and bearings, that support the flywheel, cost money. At some point the prices of the upgraded parts contribute to an overall design cost that exceeds the design cost of a hydraulic design.

Gas operated kinetic log splitters dominate a very specific niche. We recommend them for people who require a fast split cycle and won’t be splitting any logs thicker than 18 inches. For logs thicker than 10 inches, but thinner than 18 inches, a kinetic gas log splitter is going to outperform a hydraulic machine in terms of speed. For people whose needs fall into this specific niche, a gas operated kinetic log splitter may be the best option.