Balancing Budget When It Comes to Log Splitters
I’m not going to pretend that log splitters are cheap, especially when you start adding on the features or ramping up the power. But just because there are some expensive options on the market doesn’t mean that you have to choose one of them. It’s absolutely possible to find the perfect log splitter without having to take out a second mortgage. Below are some tips to help you find the cheapest splitters out there, and then pick the best one for your needs once you’ve weeded out the pricier units.
Setting Your Maximum Price
First, you have to set a realistic maximum price point. You’ll need to know exactly what your upper limit is so that you can start eliminating every model that goes above it. When I say “realistic” I mean the absolute most you’re willing to spend. Just be honest with yourself up front about what you can afford and it will really help you out in the long run. If you set your budget too low, you might miss out on a splitter that has all the power you need. Sometimes it helps to set two prices – the one you’d like to pay and the one you’re willing to pay if everything lines up right. Log splitter prices can start jumping up by hundreds of dollars very quickly, so having a realistic budget can really make a huge difference.
Determining Frequency of Use
Next, you’ll need to think about how often you’re going to use the splitter, because this can directly impact the final price. If you’re only going to be splitting a few logs in your back yard here and there, then you probably don’t need a bigger, more expensive model. Occasional use like this makes a manual splitter a smart choice, because these are often the cheapest out there since they don’t have any motors or mechanized parts. Just know that these units are the weakest of all the options, so you’re going to have to work a little harder to use them.
Now, if you’re planning on splitting a lot of logs pretty often, then you’re going to want to think about either a gas or electric model. Both of these motor types allow you to split more logs in less time than a manual unit, but each has its own set of pluses and minuses. This is where you’re going to see the price start jumping up, so you’re going to have to consider every feature of each model to find the splitter that gives you everything you need.
Finding the Right Amount of Splitting Force
Power output is another huge factor in determining what price range you’re going to be considering. The rule of thumb is that the more powerful a log splitter is, the more expensive it is. Electric splitters are cheaper than gas models, so if you don’t plan on working with particularly hard wood or really large logs and stumps, an electric model is probably going to be your best bet. It gives you a good balance of power, with most models ranging from 5-10 tons of pressure, without getting too high in price. An electric log splitter does need to be connected to a power source at all times, which is one of the few drawbacks.
To determine how much power you actually need, think about the type of wood that is on your property. If you have a lot of oak, beech, or elm trees, which are generally pretty solid and difficult to split, then you’re going to need more power. You might also need a lot of splitting power if your logs are knotted, twisted, or in poor shape, such as from a downed tree or one that grew at an odd angle. Electric splitters don’t have the capacity to handle these heavy or oddly-shaped types of timber.
Long Term Maintenance Costs
Gas log splitters require a lot of extra care, and can become pretty pricey to maintain over time. Electric splitters need much less maintenance, as you don’t really have to do anything to make sure the motor stays in good shape. However, since it does have a lot of moving parts you do run the risk that it will break or malfunction. It might not cost as much to fix as a gas model, but it’s still going to cost you. If you’re concerned about the maintenance prices, or just the amount of effort you have to put into caring for your splitter, then you might want to focus on a manual model. There are several out there that can handle pretty sizeable logs, so you’re not going to be sacrificing too much.
The Importance of Portability
While not as important as power and frequency, you should think about whether or not you need to move the splitter very much. A lot of people probably plan on storing the splitter in a garage or shed and using it close by, like in a backyard. If this is the case for you, then an electric model is a great choice because they are lighter than gas splitters. Of course, manual splitters are usually lighter than electric models, but you’ve got to think about the output and whether or not you want to be doing all of the work yourself. There are some gas models with a lower power output that are surprisingly portable, so don’t close yourself off from them completely, but don’t expect to find very many of them, either.
The Final Decision
Ultimately, your maximum budget is going to be the biggest factor dictating what log splitter you choose. If you find a splitter that does everything you need it to do but falls above your price range, you’re going to have to think about whether or not it’s worth it. Of course, if your end goal is to spend as little as possible and still get the job done, then a manual splitter is really your best choice.