Since a log splitter is a large item to purchase, it is important to know what you are looking for before buying. Your own needs and expectations play a huge role in this.
Whether you are planning on splitting hardwoods or softwoods, large logs or small, and the environment you plan to work in all play a role. Different types of log splitters are best suited for different situations.
There are several contributing factors to consider. These factors include manual vs. mechanical, gas vs. electric power, and vertical vs. horizontal configuration.
Though the choices are daunting, at the end of the day, you should be able to come away with your perfect log splitter. Consider the following factors to help you choose what log splitter you should buy.
Manual vs. Mechanical
The first consideration to make when deciding what log splitter you should buy is whether you need a mechanical or manual splitter. Manual splitters rely on your own strength to operate the hydraulic pump while mechanical use gas or electricity.
Manual log splitters have the benefits of simplicity and portability. Because you do not need to worry about fuel or electricity, you can use your manual log splitter anywhere you are.
The caveat, however, is that a manual log splitter does not have the same kind of power as a mechanical one. Gas and electric powered log splitters have the capacity to use up to thirty tons of pressure, depending on the model.
Ultimately, your wood splitting needs will be the most important factor. Since a manual splitter uses less force, it is best suited for smaller log splitting jobs. Conversely, mechanical splitters are best for large scale splitting needs.
Gas vs. Electric Powered
Should you decide that your log splitting needs do warrant a mechanical log splitter, you have two options: gas or electric. Although both offer more power than a manual log splitter, they are suited for different tasks.
Pressure-wise, an electric powered splitter has a similar capacity as a manual one. Since you are not relying on your own strength and energy to operate it, however, you can work for longer. It is also a good option if you have back problems.
If your concern with manual splitters was the power, though, a gas log splitter may be your best choice. Gas powered splitters have the capacity for over thirty tons of force, depending on your model.
Another consideration here is the environment you plan to work in. Gas powered splitters do emit fumes whereas electric do not. If you work in an enclosed space, an electric model will be best.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Configuration
Whether or not your chosen log splitter is manual, gas powered, or electric, there are two possible configurations: vertical or horizontal. Horizontal log splitters require that you place the log onto the splitter; vertical allows you to stand the log on its end underneath the splitter.
If you are not planning on splitting logs you cannot lift by hand, a horizontal configuration should work just fine. If you are planning on splitting some larger trunks, a vertical configuration will save your back.
Some higher-end horizontal models include a log lift to solve the issue of moving the log onto the splitter. Despite this, a vertical version may still be the easier route.
If you are planning on doing some lighter and some heavier duty log splitting, look for a log splitter that can change positions. With these models, you can swivel the whole machine from a horizontal position to a vertical position.
As with any large purchase, your own needs will dictate what log splitter you should buy. Consider your own log splitting plans and then move forward from there.
For heavier duty log splitting, consider purchasing a mechanical log splitter. Gas and electric both have their strengths, so think about what you are expecting before buying.
For lighter log splitting, a manual log splitter has enough force. It also has the added benefit of portability. If your back cannot handle the manual splitter, however, an electric splitter will work for the same tasks.
At the end of the day, once you have weighed your own needs and expectations, you should know what log splitter you should buy. Considering the job at hand will help you make an informed decision you will not regret.