If you burn a lot of firewood then a log splitter can be an indispensable tool that saves you time, money, and a lot of hard work. They operate with a hydraulic ram forcing a log into a wedge thus splitting the wood in 2. In some cases you can find 4 way wedges or dual wedges which can save you from having to make multiple passes. That amount of force is rated in tons and is the main spec to look for.
There are two main types of log splitter machines – gas powered and electric. Gas powered models are more expensive, but they are also more powerful, have more tonnage – ranging from about 10-50 tons, and typically have larger frames that can be towed. All that means you can handle larger rounds both in diameter and length in addition to harder woods. Electric units are cheaper, but they typically only have between 4-10 tons of force which limits the size of rounds you can use and is better for softwoods.
Besides tonnage some other things to consider include the cycle time – how long it takes for the ram to move all the way forward and then all the way back, engine and motor size, horizontal and vertical operation capabilities, and the warranty.
We reviewed dozens of models to come up with our list of the best gas powered log splitters and the best electric log splitters which you will find below. We also have a spec comparison chart near the bottom of this article.
If you want more information on the hardness rating of different woods and what force is needed to split them see our tree hardness ratings and log splitter guidelines.
The hardest, gnarliest wood up to 24 inches long is no match for this machine and its 7-inch wedge. The cycle time is a bit slower than some models at 16 seconds, but that still equals 225 cycles per hour.
Other features include horizontal and vertical splitting, integrated log cradle, 2-inch ball hitch for towing, 16-inch tires, and jack stands.
Overall the Champion Power Equipment 100425 is a beast and we highly recommend for anyone who has a lot of tough splitting jobs to do. The only real downside is the price.
Featuring a 224cc OEM engine with 9.96 ft lbs of torque, it slices through wood 24 inches long by 36 inches around with 27 tons of force. It converts from horizontal to vertical in seconds and also has a quick cycle time of just 11 seconds. It comes with 16 inch DOT approved tires and is tow-able.
If $1000 is your spending limit for this type of machine, then look no further – the Champion Power Equipment 100424 is for you.
The 100408 is the heaviest model on our list at 644 pounds, but it can be towed to get into position. It is well built overall and we would not hesitate to recommend it.
This thing is rigid and sturdy at 634 pounds, but that weight also makes it a bit more difficult to move around. It has a Kohler 196 cc engine with 9.1 ft-lbs of torque and 22 tons of splitting force. The very short 10.9 second cycle time will probably be quicker than your pace to keep up. Overall the performance is outstanding, although it can get a bit bogged down by very large pieces of hard wood.
We highly recommend the Dirty Hand Tools 100171 for any home user.
Other features include a 2 inch hitch and 16 inch pneumatic wheels which makes it tow-able, 8-inch tall wedge, and horizontal or vertical splitting positions.
For those of you looking for a cheap gas log splitter then the Powermate PLS20825 is a good choice for you.
The SLS20825 is pretty well built and performs well, but since this 25 ton unit is very similar to the the PLS20825 while costing more we don’t really recommend it.
It is also available at Amazon.
It is powered by a 20 amp motor that produces 10 tons of force and can handle logs up to 20.5 inches long and 12 inches around according to specs, but we found it can handle much larger rounds – even 24 inches – when dealing with seasoned softer woods. The wedge moves and splits in both directions so it does not need to return in between cycles.
At 214 pounds the ED10T20 is a bit heavy to move around, but that mass makes the platform more sturdy when in use. The built in stand and log racks also keeps everything off the ground so you don’t have to bend over constantly.
Overall the Boss Industrial ED10T20 is for someone who absolutely wants an electric log splitter, not gas, that can handle most splitting jobs and doesn’t mind paying for it. Just be aware that it can still have difficulty with large rounds of hard wood or green timber.
This 128 pound machine has a 14 second cycle time with automatic return. It is capable of handling logs up to 20.5 inches long and over 10 inches around.
We would recommend the Boss Industrial ES7T20 for any home user with small to medium sized jobs and doesn’t want to pay nearly double for the ED10T20 or for a gas powered model.
On the downside some of the user reviews on Amazon are not quite as good as the top rated models with a 3.9 star average out of 5. Some users have complained about the construction quality and parts failing prematurely, so buyer beware. However, reviews on some other websites are more positive and many users also really like the 104 pound Powerhouse XM-380.
One nice feature is a vertical storing option which saves space when in storage.
Overall the SELS60 is a good choice for home users on a budget.
It has a long cycle time of 20 seconds, but it does come with a stand so you can elevate the machine so you don’t have to work on the ground.
If price is your biggest concern, then the WEN 56207 is perfect for you. It is pretty comparable performance wise to other models in this price range and comes with a stand.
It is also available at Amazon.
Since it really struggles with hardwoods, we only really recommend it if you are going to be splitting soft woods of a small diameter – it is a good machine for that purpose and the affordable price makes it a good buy.
Best Log Splitter Comparison Chart
|Champion Power Equipment 100425||9.5||Gas||$1,499.00||34||16||558||OEM||338||15.4||24||36||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Champion Power Equipment 100424||9.3||Gas||$999.00||27||11||434||OEM||224||9.96||24||36||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Dirty Hand Tools 100408||9.3||Gas||$1,078.80||27||14||644||Kohler||6.5||196||9.1||25||36||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Dirty Hand Tools 100171||9.1||Gas||$950.62||22||10.9||634||Kohler||6.5||196||9.1||25||36||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Powermate PLS20825||9.1||Gas||$899.00||25||17||439||OEM||208||8.5||26||30||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825||9||Gas||$999.00||25||17||OEM||208||8.5||26||30||Vertical / Horizontal|
|Boss Industrial ED10T20||9||Electric||$902.04||10||16||214||20 Amp Electric Motor||2.5||20.5||12||Horizontal|
|Boss Industrial ES7T20||8.9||Electric||$449.00||7||14||128||15 Amp Electric Motor||2||20.5||10||Horizontal|
|Powerhouse XM-380||8.7||Electric||$508.30||7||15||104||20 Amp Electric Motor||3||20.5||12||Horizontal|
|Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60||8.7||Electric||$248.47||6||18||106||15 Amp Electric Motor||1.75||20.5||10||Horizontal|
|WEN 56207||8.7||Electric||$245.01||6.5||20||98||15 Amp Electric Motor||2.5||20.5||10||Horizontal|
|Homelite UT49103||8.7||Electric||$259.00||5||20||105||15 Amp Electric Motor||20.5||10||Horizontal|
Wood Hardness Ratings & Log Splitter Guidelines
Here are some of the most common types of trees and their Janka hardness ratings which is a way to determine how hard a wood is.
Dogwood – 2150 lbs
Hickory – 1820 lbs
Locust – 1700 lbs
Oak – 1620 lbs
Elm – 1540 lbs
Birch – 1470 lbs
Maple – 1450 lbs
Ash – 1320 lbs
Beech – 1300 lbs
Magnolia – 1020 lbs
Walnut – 1010 lbs
Cedar – 900 lbs
Pine – 860 lbs
Sweet Gum – 850 lbs
Boxelder – 720 lbs
Fir – 710 lbs
Alder – 590 lbs
Catalpa – 550 lbs
Poplar – 540 lbs
Spruce – 510 lbs
Cottonwood – 430 lbs
Aspen – 420 lbs
Basswood – 410 lbs
Buckeye – 350 lbs
In the table below we tried to estimate what the minimum tonnage it would take to split various types of wood based on their Janka hardness. Besides the diameter and length of the round, there are many other factors that affect how easily firewood will split including how dry it is, the grain, and knots. Therefore this table is not perfect, but should give you a good approximation of what each model is capable of.
Appx Minimum Tonnage
|Wood – Janka Hardness (in force pounds)|
|300-600 lbs||601-900 lbs||901-1500 lbs||1501-2200 lbs|
|6 Inches||4 ton||4-6 ton||5-7 ton||7-10 ton|
|12 Inches||7-10 ton||7-15 ton||11-20 ton||15-22 ton|
|18 Inches||11-20 ton||15-22 ton||20-27 ton||22-30 ton|
|24 Inches||20-27 ton||22-30 ton||27-35 ton||30-45 ton|