Choosing the right log splitter can be a daunting task considering the numerous features, sizes, and capacities. To make matters worse for first-time buyers, you’ll also have to decide on whether investing in a hydraulic log splitter or a kinetic log splitter is better for you.
There are several key factors to keep in mind when contemplating between hydraulic or kinetic log splitters. Keep in mind that there is no one blanket solution that will suit every person equally, so you can use this brief article to get an understanding of the different capacities of each type of machine and their respective pros and cons.
Hydraulic Log Splitters
The most common type of log splitter you’ll find on the market is the hydraulic variety, and there’s a very good reason for it: hydraulic log splitters are super-powerful. The beefiest gas-powered models can deliver upwards of 40 tons of force for splitting mega-large seasoned and green wood logs. This means that you can tear down an entire forest and cut the logs down to size (but don’t wipe your forest clean).
Another huge advantage of hydraulic log splitters is, due to their size and power, they can usually be positioned for both horizontal and vertical log splitting. When set in its vertical position, you won’t need to lift heavy hundred-pound logs far off of the ground to place it on the rail, saving you time and effort in splitting wide-diameter logs.
However, hydraulic log splitters also have a fair share of disadvantages. One such con is the price tags that come with these machines. Due to their heavy-duty engines and size, you might need to make a significant dent in your personal finances to obtain one. However, the upfront cost of a hydraulic log splitter is worth the money in time and labor saved in the long run.
In terms of fuel consumption, gas-powered log splitters are notorious for chugging on gasoline like it was water. This is necessary to provide sufficient power for splitting thick, long logs with a sweep of the wedge.
Kinetic Log Splitters
Although kinetic log splitters aren’t as popular as their hydraulic counterparts, they’re still very well the consideration when searching for a reliable log splitter. The first thing you should know about kinetic log splitters is that they don’t exert as much force as hydraulic models.
Most kinetic log splitters can deliver between 5 and 7 tons of force, but larger units can provide upwards of 10 tons. This, however, means that the logs and condition of the logs you’re splitting are limited. Most kinetic models don’t support splitting logs more than 20 inches long, and they have to be seasoned prior to splitting.
Because these machines are rather weak compared to hydraulic models, this eliminates the need for having dual positions. Most of the log sizes within the splitting capacity of a kinetic log splitter are lightweight and narrow, so having a muscle-saving vertical splitting position is rather pointless.
This is considerably weaker than hydraulic log splitters, but there’s a very, VERY good reason for this. These machines are incredibly fast. The cycle time for the average hydraulic log splitter is about 15 to 30 seconds. In all fairness, this is extremely quick, especially when compared to traditional axe-and-chopping block methods that our forefathers were used to doing. In comparison, the best kinetic log splitters require less than 5 seconds to split logs. Some models even offer 100 cycles per minute and thousands of cycles per hour.
The reason why kinetic log splitters are much more time-efficient than hydraulic models is that they don’t use a pump, but rather fuel (gas or electricity) rotates two flywheels at up to hundreds of RPMs. When the lever is engaged, the pent-up energy delivers a sudden burst which strikes the wedge in quick succession against the log before automatically returning to its original position.
Both hydraulic and kinetic log splitters have their own sets of pros and cons. Hydraulic log splitters are extremely powerful and (for the most part) have both a vertical position as well as a horizontal one to help with splitting larger, heavier logs. On the other hand, kinetic machines make incredibly quick work of splitting smaller logs – more than twice or even three times are fast as hydraulic models – but their power is rather limited to up to around 10 tons of force.