What Size Hydraulic Cylinder for Log Splitter

What’s the best size cylinder for your log splitter? The size of the hydraulic cylinder will depend on how much force you need. The larger the cylinder, the more force you will be accessing. The most common size is a 4-inch 2,500 PSI hydraulic cylinder.

The hydraulic cylinder is critical to your log splitter. It is what will provide the force required to break through the log.

Getting the right hydraulic cylinder for your log splitter can sometimes be a challenge. There are a few things to consider. Keep reading to learn some of the tips you can use to find the right one for you.

Closeup of Hydraulic Cylinder on a log splitter cutting wood

Related Reading: What Size Hydraulic Pump for Log Splitters?

What Does the Hydraulic Cylinder Do?

Let’s start by briefly talking about what a hydraulic cylinder does and why it’s so important. The hydraulic cylinder is the part of the log splitter that produces the force needed to cut through the wood. It does this by applying pressure to the piston, which is in the center of the chamber.

The chamber can be divided into two sections. The pressure will build up in the lower chamber, forcing the piston to fly out and slice through the wood. Once it’s done, the pressure will be lowered. So, the piston comes back inside the cylinder.

Most Common Cylinder Sizes

There are a few common hydraulic cylinder sizes. They are:

  • 4 inches, this is the most common option for backyard log splitters.
  • 4 and a half inches
  • 5 inches

The larger the diameter, the more power you will be getting. However, as we’ll discuss later, it also requires more pressure, which can mean a slower reload speed.

Finding the Right Size for a Log Splitter

Now that we know what the cylinder does, we can turn our attention to finding the right size for your log splitter. There are a few things you need to consider when doing this.

Size of the Logs

The first thing you want to think about is how large the logs you want to split will be. The bigger the logs, the larger the size of your hydraulic cylinder. The most common option is 24-inches. This will be enough to cope with the logs that you will find in your backyard.

The best way to tell how much power the cylinder is providing is by looking at the PSI levels. The most common option for most residential users is 2,500 PSI. When combined with a 24-inch diameter cylinder, this will provide 31,000 pounds of force. This will be enough to break through a log.

In most cases, you’ll need to get something that will have 30 tonnes of force. This will be enough to handle most logs. If you are in doubt, it’s usually best to go up a size. Having too much power isn’t a bad thing.

If you are replacing an existing hydraulic container, you should be able to find the technical details. These will be in the owner’s manual or you can search for them online. This will ensure that you are purchasing something that will be compatible with your log splitter.

Power of your Log Splitter

It can be tempting to use a large hydraulic cylinder. This will give you more power, so you can easily cut through the logs. But there are some downsides to this approach.

  • Oil requirements. The larger the cylinder, the more oil it will require.
  • Reset times. This is the biggest downside to using a larger cylinder. The larger it is, the more time it takes for the pressure to build up. As a result, it will take longer to reset. In most cases, it will be 20 to 30 seconds between each reload.

Most backyard splitters will be five horsepower. If the cylinder is too large and the reload speed is taking too long, there is a way to fix the problem. You will need to get a more powerful pump. This allows you to build up pressure faster.

While it might be possible to use a larger cylinder than your splitter was designed for, this isn’t a good idea. It will push the engine beyond its limits. This increases the chances that it will overheat, which could lead to expensive repairs.

Changing the Pressure on Your Hydraulic Cylinder

Your pressure isn’t fixed. You will be able to adjust it, based on the type of job you are undertaking. For example, green logs will be harder to split. Because of this, you will need a little more power to get through them.

However, if the woods are older, you can turn it down. This increases the speed, as less pressure needs to build up. Here are the steps you need to follow to adjust the pressure:

  1. Start the engine
  2. Put the pump lever into neutral
  3. Adjust the pressure. You’ll need to use a flathead screwdriver to do this. Turn it clockwise to raise the pressure. There should be a guide to tell you what pressure it is.

After you’ve made this adjustment, it should be ready to start using it with the new pressure settings.

Other Ways to Increase the Power of your Log Splitter

The amount of pressure and the type of hydraulic cylinder you are using are both important. But they aren’t the only factors that you need to consider. Some other ways to increase the power include:

  • Check the oil. Sometimes, the log splitter might not be working properly because the pressure isn’t being built up in the cylinder properly. There is an easy way to check whether this is the issue. Look at the lines to see if oil is leaking out. If this is the problem, replacing the worn-out parts should solve the problem.
  • Upgrade the motor and pump. This is one of the best ways to get more power is by increasing the motor and the pump. This does a few things. First, you’ll be able to run a larger hydraulic cylinder. It will also increase the speed.

Related Reading: Buyer’s Guide for Log Splitters – Budget to Premium

Final Thoughts

The ideal size hydraulic container will depend on what you are looking for. In most cases, it will be a 4-inch 2,500 PSI model. This is what the clear majority of log splitters are using. Though if you are prepared for some slower return speeds, you can increase the size of the container and get more power.