Comparing petrol, electric, and manual log splitters for wood splitting power

We’d all like to think we could survive in the wild, chopping down trees with a mighty axe and then building ourselves a log cabin. But truth be told, 99.9% of us aren’t experienced lumberjacks at all, and many of us have never even tried to fell a tree with an axe or chainsaw.

A larger percentage of Brits have had a go at splitting timber with an axe though, and they would probably tell you that it isn’t as easy as you think, requiring a lot of physical effort just to create enough to keep a small fire pit going..

So, unless you’re just chopping wood as part of some ‘back to nature’ workout program, you can save yourself a ton of time and effort by using a log splitter. The best versions of these tools really do work wonders and will have you turning that pile of logs into manageable, smaller pieces of timber, in no time at all.

Log splitters come in numerous forms, from different versions of manual splitters to electric and petrol-powered models, but which should you buy?

In this article we will look at the available options, comparing petrol, electric, and manual log splitters so that you can make an educated choice that suits your own personal needs.

As for me, I have my own technique, similar to this 😂

Comparing different types of log splitters

This section will take each type of log splitter and go over its benefits and flaws. We have tried to keep this as brief as possible, while still giving you all the necessary information.

Manual log splitters

First off, are manual log splitters, and just to clarify, I am including wood splitting wedges in this category too.
A wood splitting wedge is probably the most low-tech tool out of all your options, and therefore the cheapest, costing between ten and thirty pounds. They are exactly what they sound like: wedge-shaped pieces of metal that are dug into the top of a log and then hammered into it using a mallet or similar. Although they are simple, they are actually quite effective if used correctly, although you will still need to use a lot of physical power to get the job done.

The other type of manual log splitter is a little bit more technical and requires a lot less labour from you to split those logs. There are a few different designs of these log splitters, with some that you lay on the ground and activate using a foot pedal to create pneumatic pressure and others that use weight and gravity to drive an axe point into a log vertically.

Obviously, these machines will save your shoulders aching in the morning when compared to swinging an axe or even a mallet, and they will allow you to split logs much faster too, but there is a limit to the size of logs you can work with.
A good quality manual log splitter of this type will cost between eighty and ninety pounds, although there are cheaper versions available. They are great little tools but are really only designed for light and occasional work.

This video shows how effective these splitters can be, but you’ll also notice that there is still a little physical work to do.


Electric log splitters

Using electrically powered pneumatics to attack those logs, electric log splitters are far more powerful than manual models and will allow you to get through a good-sized pile of logs in a fraction of the time it would take with a manual log splitter.

Again though, there is a limit to the size and thickness of the logs that you can split with these machines, and the fact you need to be near a power source means that they are best suited for home use unless you want to tow a generator out into the forest or use a mile-long extension lead.

Although not as powerful as petrol log splitters, electric models do have some advantages over them. For example, there are no fumes and smoke with an electric machine and this makes them a better choice for using indoors, such as a shed, garage, or workshop; something that will come in very handy in winter.

You can expect to pay between two hundred and four hundred pounds for a decent electric log splitter, with some of the more heavy-duty models exceeding that, but if you wan’t too save money, I’ve heard this lady is offering her wood-cutting services 😂

Petrol log splitters

If you will be splitting a lot of logs or having to tackle large and thick pieces of timber, a petrol log splitter is what you need. Producing far more wood splitting power than any other type, these tools will take nearly all of the manual labour out of the equation and have you blasting through even the most heavy-duty tasks.

You will have to pay for all that power, and the price tag can be in the thousands of pounds. There are also the fuel and maintenance costs to consider too, as well as the extra noise and fumes that come with any petrol gardening tool, be it hedge trimmer, tiller, or anything else.

Still, for the best log splitting power, you can’t beat a petrol machine, and as they don’t need to be connected to the mains, they are quite mobile, allowing you to move the log-splitter next to your log pile and saving you a lot of energy that would have been used carrying the logs longer distances. If you do intend on shifting a lot of logs around, you might benefit from buying a good pair of logging tongs that you can find on our log splitter accessories page.

Petrol log splitters aren’t too difficult to operate, as this video shows-


The type of log splitter that you should buy will largely depend on how often you need to split wood, and how large and thick the logs are.

If your needs are minimal, you can save a lot of money by using a log splitting wedge, or simply an axe, and for occasional tasks and smaller logs, a manual pneumatic log splitter should more than suffice. Some of the larger manual log splitters can actually handle more than you would think.

Electric log splitters offer more than enough power for most home tasks, and the fact that they are easy to use emits no fumes and are compact compared to petrol machines, make them a good choice for most people.

For raw power and performance, you can’t beat a petrol log splitter, and they are the thing to go with if you have a lot of work to do. However, because of the increased costs involved, you should really think hard about whether or not you really need all that extra splitting power, or if an electric model would be enough to do the job.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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