It seems foolish to me that people still use an axe to split logs into firewood. It made sense a hundred years ago but times have changed. In this article we help you choose the Best Log Splitter under $1000 so you never have to swing an axe again. A log splitter is the evolution of the axe in the same way that cars are the evolution of horse drawn carriages. If you use a lot of firewood in the winter then investing in a high quality log splitter is probably a good investment for you.
Log Splitter Buying Guide — under $1000
If you’re looking for a quality log splitter capable of handling quite large pieces, expect to pay for it. Though there’s no sense spending too much, going too cheap can end up being a real disappointment. So, can you get a really decent log splitter under $1000? We’ve found that you can, and that’s what this review is all about.
Yes, a thousand bucks is a lot of cash. But, when buying equipment of this nature (a log splitter needs to be quite heavy-duty), you need to make sure that you’re buying something that’s going to last more than one season. You want a product that’s going to work well for many years. So considering both your budget and long term durability is equally important. It’s not just what you’re paying for your log splitter today, but what about maintenance and running costs in the future. Buying the best log splitter that you can afford is going to be worth the investment over the years to come.
YARDMAX YS0552 — 5-Ton Electric Log Splitter | Two-handed operation
Gas vs Electric Log Splitters
When selecting the best log splitter for your needs, you should first consider whether it’s a gas or electric log splitter that you’re looking for.
Electric log splitters will be the most economical option. Not only are they cheaper to buy, they’re cheaper to run. Generally, you’ll find that what you spend on electricity to run a log splitter will be less than the gas used for an equivalent gas-powered machine. In addition to this, your annual maintenance costs will also be lower. While an electric log splitter will require some maintenance on a regular basis, it will never be as much as maintaining a gas engine.
All log splitters, both gas and electric, have hydraulic components that need the correct maintenance – this is essential. However, an electric motor needs very little maintenance, and not all that often. We all know the service requirements for gas engines – oil, filters, sparkplugs, and the like. This costs a bit and takes up your time. Electric log splitters are quieter, easier to start (especially in cold weather), and there’s no gas fumes to deal with. So it seems, at least on the surface, that electric will be your best option when buying a log splitter.
Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 | 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter
But is it really as simple as all that? Not really. A gas log splitter is always going to be the most powerful option, so electric log splitters are limited by the size logs that they can handle. This is the most obvious advantage to using a gas-powered machine. An electric log splitter will seldom provide more than about 5-tons of pressure, whereas gas models can exceed 30-tons. Then there’s the question of long term durability.
Yes, an electric log splitter doesn’t cost much to run. But, when that electric motor gives up the ghost, that’s the end of the road. An electric log splitter remains functional for as long as the motor lasts. After this, it’s usually uneconomical to repair. An electric motor lasts for quite a number of years, but it has a limited lifespan. A gas engine, on the other hand, can be repaired many times and could last several decades with the correct maintenance and care. A gas log splitter also doesn’t need to be close to an electric outlet, so you can use it anywhere.
VIDEO | How to Split Logs for Firewood
So there are pros and cons to both types of log splitters. With that said, if you don’t need all the power of a gas log splitter, electric is probably your best bet. They certainly seem to be the most popular amongst homeowners who only need to split smaller logs for firewood and do so close to the home where there is an electricity supply.
For this review, we’ve chosen a few of each type and these are widely considered to be the best in their class.
Reviews — Best Log Splitters under $1000
We’ve selected two of the best gas log splitters and 3 of the best electric models that all fall within our price limit of a thousand dollars. You’ll recognize some popular brands amongst these and they all have one thing in common. All these log splitters come highly recommended by the people who have bought and used them. In some way or another, each can be considered as the best. This might be for its price, ease of use, or durability. It really is up to you what you’re looking for. Though I’m confident that you’ll find the best log splitter for your needs in this review. Best of all, they all come at a very reasonable price. So you know you’re getting value for money, whilst spending $1000 or less.
The log splitters that we’ll be reviewing…
Gas-powered log splitters
Electric log splitters
Champion 90720 — 7-Ton Log Splitter
For under $1000, you get this well-built, easy-to-use, workhorse log splitter. This will make splitting logs into firewood a quick and painless thing to do.
- 7-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter
- Champion 80cc single-cylinder OHV engine
- Cast-iron sleeve, a 0.4-gallon fuel tank, 0.4-quart oil capacity (recommended 10W-30) and a low-oil shutoff for safety.
- Low-profile design makes it much easier to load a large log onto the splitting beam
- Integrated log cradle keeps the log safely in position.
- Handles logs up to 19 inches long, weighing up to 50 pounds.
- Hydraulic oil system has a 1.3-gallon oil capacity and operates at 3 gpm
- 20-second cycle time and dependable auto-return valve, capable of 180 cycles per hour.
- 2-stage gear pump reliably adjusts flow and pressure by delivering high flow/low pressure when there is no resistance and low flow/high pressure when cutting through a log to increase productivity.
- Will fit easily in any truck bed
- 10-inch never-flat tires.
- Assembly and setup is easy, with clear directions and thoughtful packaging.
- EPA certified and CARB compliant.
- 2-year limited warranty and FREE lifetime technical support.
For many a homeowner, the Champion brand has come to represent a good deal of quality for a very reasonable price. The Champion 90720 is an inexpensive 7-ton, gas-powered log splitter with a high level of durability. With that said, it has been received with mixed feelings amongst consumers. While the majority of users have nothing but praise for this log splitter, not everyone feels this way. There have been some complaints, mostly about the power. Well, that’s simple to address, if you’re paying less for gas-powered log splitter, it’s going to be on the small side.
VIDEO | Champion 90720 : 7-ton Gas Log Splitter
For a 7-ton machine, this one will do the same job as any of the same size. If you need more power for thicker pieces of hardwood, you need a larger log splitter and then you should expect to pay more for it. As far as price goes, the Champion can cost almost half of the $1000 budget that we’ve set for the log splitters in this review. So it’s really cheap.
Yes, this may a surprisingly cheap log splitter but, in this price range, it is certainly one of the best. I’m not going to try convince you that this is a commercial-grade log splitter. It’s a great machine for home use. So, if used as intended and, with correct care, you should get splendid use form the nifty little Champion. I say little in the context of gas log splitters. It is, as expected, a fairly large machine – weighing just over 143-pounds, with a length of 53.1” and a width of 23.6”. It has large 10” solid wheels for transportation but does not have trailer hitch for vehicle towing. It stands 18.1” from the ground, which is very convenient height when lifting heavy logs onto the bed.
The 80cc engine is powerful enough and is up to the task at hand. This engine is CARB certified (compliant in all 50 states). It has a recoil starter which may not be as convenient as electric, but it is an easy engine to start and isn’t a problem in cold weather. This is a 4-stroke engine, you don’t need to mix the gas with oil and it’s a reliable unit. Like most modern engines, it has low oil shutoff.
The hydraulic system looks to be very capable. Though I’m a little disappointed to see there’s no hydraulic oil filter. For the rest, it’s what one would expect to find on a 7-ton log splitter. The system oil capacity is 1.3-gallons with a 0.9-gallon tank. The maximum pressure is 3000 Psi, supplied by a 2-stage hydraulic pump to a cylinder with a 3” diameter (1.5” cylinder rod). It has the typical hardened steel wedge and is capable of splitting logs up to 19” in length with a maximum weight of 50-pounds. The auto return valve works well and is reliable, this gives it a 20-second cycle which may not be the best, but is still very reasonable.
The log cradle gives it good support and you won’t run the risk of logs rolling off. It doesn’t have fenders. Though this is not a big deal as the wheels are positioned behind the log cradle and there’s very little chance that they can be damaged during operation. As far general durability goes, I’m quite impressed – especially for a machine this cheap. The steel components are thick and strong with a chemical resistant coating that should keep it rust-free for quite some time. The bed can only be used in the horizontal position. You can’t tilt it for vertical splitting.
Saying a machine is great for its price can be a bit of a paradox. Is the Champion 90720 the best 7-ton log splitter that you can get? No, there are much tougher machines with the same capacity, but they are going to cost double, even triple what you’d pay the Champion 90720. So it is really good value for money. In a situation where it’s not expected rip through tons of logs all day long, the Champion is going do what one expects of it. For home, seasonal use, it should keep you in good standing for many years and it’s covered by a 2-year warranty.
YARDMAX YU2566 : 25 Ton
— 208cc, 6.5HP. Powered by a Briggs and Stratton engine. This is slightly above the budget of $1000, unless you find it on sale, but it’s in the ballpark and worth your consideration. A true workhorse log splitter.
- Patent pending log spinner foot plate easily rotates logs for splitting, reducing stress on the beam — view here.
- Patent pending U-Beam structural design is significantly stronger than typical I-Beam design.
- Patent pending 4-way wedge (included) is designed for quick connection and jam free operation with no need to change log stripper plates.
- 7.5″ 2-way wedge easily splits larger diameter wood into two pieces.
- Longer table length to accommodate up to 26″ logs.
- Oversized hydraulic components provide the shortest cycle time in its class.
- Hydraulic oil filter is mounted inside the reservoir, eliminating damage from falling logs and operator entanglement.
- Dual end cylinder support for equal weight distribution and wear reduction.
- Beam handle offers easy transition from a horizontal to a vertical position.
- Log stripper mounted to end of hydraulic cylinder to remove tough log jams.
- Pair of log cradles — 2-positions, with option for mountable log table.
The Yardmax YU2566 may end up costing a snippet over our budget limit 0f $1000, but not much. Then again, this is a full beam, 25-ton gas-powered log splitter. So, even though it costs about twice as much as the (very cheap Champion 90720), it has more than three times the capacity. If you need to split hardwood, or large diameter softwood logs, then this is the best option if your budget is around $1000. The Yardmax brand is another one of those highly respected names in the lower price range for garden and power equipment. So, like with Champion, you can’t expect a commercial-grade machine. But, in the realm of home equipment, this is one of the best.
The mighty, Briggs & Stratton 208 cc engine gives this machine the power it needs. This engine drives a 14 GPM hydraulic pump with a 4.2-gallon hydraulic capacity. You end up with an amazing 25-tons of force and a great 9.7-second cycle time. This is with a longer (26”) full beam log capacity. It includes two log cradles and an optional log bed. You also get a 4-way hardened steel wedge along with the standard 7.5” 2-way wedge. It is a two-way log splitter, allowing you tilt it into the upright position for vertical splitting. This is made easy with a simple pin release and great center of gravity.
Naturally, this is going to be a large heavy machine. It weighs 517 LBS, is 99.5” long and 48” wide, standing at a height of 37”. Like any log splitter of this size, it has a tow hitch and is fitted with DOT approved, 16” O.D road tyres. There’s a flip down stand, as expected.
I really like the rugged design and durable components used for the construction of this large log splitter. Instead of the usual I-beam, they’ve used a much stronger U-beam design. All the hydraulic components are over-sized and the pipes have the added protection of outer steel springs. It has a hydraulic oil filter inside the oil reservoir, so this won’t be damaged. The cylinder is supported on both ends, giving it a great weight distribution and is excellent for long-term durability. A log stripper has been fitted to the end of the cylinder to remove jammed logs.
For this type of log splitter, the Yardmax YU2566 is remarkably cheap. Though despite its pleasingly low price tag, this is a pretty tough 25-ton log splitter. It has a fantastic cycle time, so you can plow through large, heavy logs in just about no time at all. The warranty is a pretty standard 1-year for home use (90-days for commercial use).
Tip : Make sure you remove any additional material that may obstruct the Log Splitter operation such as nails, wires, or screws. These may be sent flying during splitting and cause serious harm, which leads to another important safety tip : Make sure you are wearing safety gear whenever operating your log splitter.
Boss Industrial ES7T20 | 7-Ton
- Split logs up to 20.5″ length; up to 10″ in diameter
- Durable 2 HP electric motor
- 3,500 psi hydraulic pressure
- Automatic ram return
- Lightweight and portable
- 2 years limited warranty
- 7 tons of splitting force
- One-handed operation
- Automatic ram return
- Lightweight and portable
- Strong tube log trays / legs
- Durable 2 HP motor
- 2 year residential, 180 day commercial warranty
- 5-inch steel wedge
- Easy push button electronic start
- Built using superior materials and a stronger structure
- Fully assembled – no assembly required
- Durable high density rubber wheels
The Boss Industrial ES7T20 may not be the cheapest electric log splitter, but it’s also far from being the most expensive. Even if you include optional extras, like the stand and a really great 4-way wedge, you shouldn’t be paying much more than 500 bucks. The basic machine, without the extras is likely to cost less than half our $1000 budget. It offers exceptional value for money when you look at its price vs quality and the 7-ton capacity. This is about as good as gets for an electric log splitter, most of which are limited to a maximum of 5-tons. So you’re getting a good deal more power from a very well made machine.
VIDEO | See the Boss Industrial ES7T20 in Action
With very few exceptions, all the customer reviews that I read seem to agree that this is a fantastic little log splitter and certainly worth the price. You could spend twice (even three times) as much and yes, you’ll probably be getting a higher quality machine. But, with that said, the Boss isn’t far behind the really expensive log splitters and that makes it great value in my opinion.
The powerful 2HP electric motor runs on standard 115V household power. This is very convenient, but check your cable gauge if you intend using a long extension cord, you’re looking at 13A. For a reasonably compact electric log splitter, the Boss packs quite a punch. It has a very respectable 3500 Psi hydraulic pump with a 4-quart oil capacity. The length capacity for log splitting is better than I’d have expected (20.5”) and it can handle logs up to 10.5-inches in diameter. Though don’t expect it to split hardwood that thick.
At a weight of 117 LBs, moving this thing around is not child’s play, but it’s still a lot lighter than any 7-ton gas-powered log splitter. It has large, steel-rimmed wheels to make it easier to move about and the length of the machine provides good leverage when you lift the front to move it. With all the weight concentrated at the back (over the wheels) this isn’t a tough task and the wheels can handle a fair amount gravel or obstacles. It’s only when you need to lift it, that you may want an extra hand to help you.
This is a horizontal-only machine, you can’t tilt it to split vertically. Though this is fairly common with smaller log splitters that don’t have the capacity for very heavy logs. It has an automatic return, but they don’t provide a cycle time, so I’m not sure how long this takes. Users have commented on how conveniently easy this machine is to use with its single hand operation. You just pull on the lever, which means it doesn’t have the safety feature that so many do – requiring you hold down a safety button whilst operating the machine.
I like the overall quality look and feel of this machine. The dual tubing stand is much more stable the usual flip down stand, which is also really great. Bottom line, you’re getting one of the best electric log splitters in the lower end of the price range with a 2-year residential, or 180-day commercial warranty.
Powerhouse XM-580 | 9-Ton Log Splitter
For well under $1000, this electric log splitter has plenty of power to keep your firewood flowing all winter long.
- Dimensions: 38.19″L x 11.81″W x 19.29″H
- Weight: 121 lbs
- Motor: 110-120 volts/60 hertz/2850 rpm
- Frame: 3mm thick powder coated steel
- 9 tons of max force
- 120V of electricity power this tough machine
- Steel wedge offers a durable splitting surface
- Pneumatic wheels deliver dependable traction and support when in transportation
- New patented hydraulic system increases torque by 45%
The suggested retail price on the manufacturer’s website places the Powerhouse XM-580 at a little over $1000. I find this price to be more than reasonable considering that this is a 9-ton electric log splitter. It’s rare to find an electric machine this powerful. What I found to be startling and amazing is that, when researching this product, I found it on amazon for less than half the listed retail price. This doesn’t look like a special offer, so it could be available at this price for a long time to come. If you can get this larger than average electric log splitter for around 500 bucks, it’s an incredible bargain.
VIDEO | See how the foot switch works on the Powerhouse XM-580
This is a powerful beast with a 4HP (2900W) electric motor operating at 120V. So this means using a pretty heavy extension cord as it has a maximum current rating of 24A. With all this power the 1.2” diameter ram with a 1’ travel has no trouble splitting soft wood up to 12” diameter, hardwoods can be as low half this diameter, depending on what type of hardwood you’re splitting. It can handle a length just over 20”.
While the general quality seems to be of a reasonable standard, I’m not all that impressed with some of the components. The plastic handle for lifting the front end when transporting it, doesn’t look all that strong. I suppose this is not a critical working component – but it does display a certain cheapness. Judging by the 121-pound weight tag, there’s enough heavy steel to make it a reasonably tough machine. Again, I would rate this as great log splitter to use at home and not really a commercial machine. It has decent wheels with steel rims and is easy enough to move about.
The Powerhouse XM-580 has two easy to use operating levers. While I can’t find a spec for the cycle time, the operator’s manual states that it splits the logs in 5-seconds. If we take into the account the return stroke of the ram, I’d guess a full cycle time of 9 – 10 seconds, which is reasonable. Though the full beam Yardmax (with 6” longer ram travel) has a similar cycle time.
I like that this is a 9-ton electric log splitter. The 4HP electric motor certainly gives you more power, so you can achieve more with this machine than you would with most other electric log splitters. Overall, the quality seems to be of a good standard. Notwithstanding, a few minor quality issues that I have and this may be just be my personal OCD take on things. Going by the many customer reviews I’ve read about the Powerhouse XM-580, people seem to love this machine. So it is certainly worth getting.
One of my biggest complaints against this machine is the lack of information available for it. I think the company, Powerhouse, really needs to do a much better job at providing technical data and images for the product. I don’t understand why some companies don’t take their job at marketing their products seriously. Here’s some advice — Provide ample information about your products, take great large photos, share educational videos of your product. If you do all of these things you will sell more products. It’s simple but some companies do not understand how important it is.
Safety Tips when using your Log Splitter
The hydraulic ram that splits the wood works with immense force and that can be dangerous if you don’t follow the correct procedures. So I’m going to provide you with the basic tips on how to operate your log splitter safely. Remember that these are general tips that will apply to any log splitter, but yours may have some special requirements. So it’s essential to read your operator’s manual thoroughly. Pay special attention to the assembly instructions as it’s vital that everything is fitted with the necessary care. Most manufacturers will offer some basic safety tips in the manual, so go through these carefully.
It can be tempting to crack open a cold beer when splitting logs on a hot afternoon. Though, you should resist this temptation. Remember that you are operating heavy machinery and the same health and safety rules should be followed as you would in the workplace. You should never operate heavy machinery when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any type of medication that may impair your ability to work safely.
Wear protective gear. Leather gloves, protective work boots and eye protection gear are essential. If you’re using a gas-powered log splitter, noise levels can become excessive and it may a good idea to wear ear protection. Never wear loose clothing can become entangled in the machinery.
Before you start, make sure that your log splitter is on level, firm ground. It must be stable as heavy logs can easily tip the machine over if it’s not secure. This can result in a serious injury. Once everything is in position, check the hydraulic fittings for wear or damage. With a gas log splitter, check that the fuel lines are not damaged and check the electrical connections and cord on an electric log splitter. Electric log splitters must not be connected if the ground is wet or damp. Your electric socket must always be kept dry and it should have GFCI protection.
Work neatly and orderly. Logs lying haphazardly on the ground can easily cause you to trip and injure yourself. Be patient, make sure that the cycle is complete before you place the next log onto the machine. This means that the ram must have come to a complete stop. Place your logs firmly into position and don’t try load logs that are too long or too wide for the log splitter that you’re using. If you push it too far, the log may be forced upward – this can be extremely dangerous. You should never operate a log splitter in close proximity to children or pets.
It can happen that the wedge becomes jammed into the log that you’re splitting. When this happens, it’s important to ensure that the ram is disengaged and not placing any hydraulic force onto the log. You should then free it from the obstruction before continuing. You must never place your hands close to the wedge or any of the moving parts whilst the machine is active. Check your logs before you split them to make sure that there are no nails or foreign objects. You should never attempt to split wet wood or logs that have branches extruding from them.
Before transporting a gas-powered log splitter, make sure that everything is switched off and that the fuel supply has been shut off. It may be a good idea to drain the fuel before transporting – this is the safest way of doing things.
Always do your routine maintenance. Keep the machine clean, especially around the hydraulic connections and the ram. Make sure that you have it properly serviced by a qualified technician according the recommended service schedule. Hydraulic equipment can be sensitive and it needs the correct maintenance. This will not only ensure your personal safety, but also keep your log splitter in good condition, prolonging its lifespan. Always use the recommended hydraulic fluid. If you’re not sure what oil to use, contact the supplier or check your operator’s manual.