What Is A Kinetic Log Splitter [BETTER THAN HYDRAULIC?]

Mechanized log splitters are an efficient way to chop through a pile of wood. You have two options: a hydraulic splitter or a kinetic one. Kinetic splitters are the faster of the two. Yet, they also have drawbacks such as an inability to be placed in a vertical position.

You have a load of wood to split. An axe could do the trick, but that requires a lot of manual labor and time. The other alternative is to get yourself a log splitter to ease the burden.

If you are wondering what a kinetic splitter is, read on. We will run you through how they operate as well as looking at reasons why a hydraulic splitter may be the better choice.

Closeup of kinetic log splitters cutting wood

Related Reading: What Size Log Splitter Do I Need? [ANSWERED]

How does a kinetic log splitter work?

Let’s start by looking at the most popular option: hydraulic log splitters.

These operate by having oil move through a hydraulic pump. This causes pressure to build up which is then released into the ram. Then the ram pushes the splitting wedge into your log.

Kinetic log splitters use flywheels instead of hydraulics. The engine of your splitter transfers power into the flywheels which store this as kinetic energy. The pressure that is built up is released by a lever. The flywheels then move the ram to split the wood.

The amount of energy a flywheel can store is determined by its weight. So heavier flywheels reserve more power than lighter ones.

So, if the fundamentals of the two types of splitter are the same, what’s the difference? Why should you choose a kinetic splitter over a hydraulic one?

The pros and cons of a kinetic splitter

There are several benefits that kinetic log splitters offer over hydraulic machines. Yet, there are times when you should consider grabbing that hydraulic unit.

Pro: Kinetic splitters are faster

The energy build up in the flywheels is what makes these machines so fast. You release the lever and the ram head quickly makes its way through the log.

The whole process of the ram head splitting the wood and returning back to its starting point takes between 2-3 seconds.

Compare that with the cycle time of a hydraulic splitter which typically is anywhere between 12-30 seconds. Some other estimates stretch this out to 60 seconds. That’s a lot of time you have to stand and wait before you put in your next log.

Even though kinetic splitters are faster, you still need to place in the next log and get it positioned for splitting. This adds some lag time to the process. So, though kinetic splitters are faster mechanically, you still need to factor in some labor time. Yet, you will still find kinetic splitters faster than hydraulic ones.

Pro: Maintenance is simpler

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time with maintenance, then kinetic splitters are the way to go.

With hydraulic splitters you have hoses and pumps that need to be checked and maintained. Also, you have hydraulic fluid that has to be examined for contamination and replaced on a regular basis.

You don’t have these issues with kinetic splitters as they don’t use hydraulics.

However, that doesn’t mean that kinetic splitters are completely maintenance-free.

The motor requires upkeeping. Plus, there are the rings and gears that have to be cleaned and lubricated. You can use a solvent or compressed air to maintain these parts.

A regular clean of your splitter will ensure that it performs when you want it to whilst extending the life of the machine.

Con: Kinetic splitters can be expensive

If you are in the market for a log splitter, you might baulk at the price of the kinetic models. They are more expensive than hydraulic splitters.

Here you need to contemplate if spending extra cash on a splitter is worth it.

Remember that kinetic splitters are quicker than hydraulic machines. So you’re saving time. That can be worth considering if you are selling the wood. The quicker you get through your wood, the sooner you can sell it and have cash rolling in.

You don’t have to spend money on hydraulic fluid. So there is a cost saving that kinetic machines offer.

Do a cost-benefit analysis and let that guide you in your purchasing decision.

Con: Forget about going vertical

When it comes to heavier logs, it is easier to roll them onto a splitter vertically. With hydraulic machines this is possible as they allow you to switch between horizontal and vertical positions.

Because of the way kinetic splitters are designed, they only allow one option: horizontal. That means a lot of bending down and lifting weighty logs. Not an ideal situation if you suffer from back issues.

Con: Not great for hard wood

Working with a lot of harder wood? Then you will become flustered with your kinetic splitter. They may do the job, but you can find that it may take several attempts of the machine to cut through the log.

Knotted wood presents a similar issue as the splitter struggles to work through this blemish.

Kinetic splitters are definitely faster than hydraulic machines. However, if you have a pile of wood that is hard and contains knots and other similar nasties you may find that it is going to take a while to work through the log stack.

You face a similar situation with greener wood. Because of its softness, your kinetic splitter will need several attempts to cut the log in half.

Don’t get us wrong. Kinetic splitters can handle the tougher wood. It just may take longer than if you were to use a hydraulic machine.

Related Reading: Gas vs. Electric Log Splitters – What’s the Difference?

What is the tonnage of a kinetic splitter?

If you look at hydraulic splitters, they are rated by tonnage. This is how much force the ram applies as it splits the wood.

The higher the tonnage, the easier it is for the ram to split the wood. How much tonnage you need is determined by how hard the wood is as well as its diameter.

For example, a log that is 6-inches in diameter and falls within 300-600lbs of hardness needs at least 4 tons of force to split it. A similar sized log with a hardness of 1501-2200lbs requires 10 tons of pressure.

When you look at kinetic splitters, there is no tonnage rating. This is because kinetic and hydraulic splitters operate using different forms of force.

However, if you want to know how much tonnage your kinetic splitter offers, your manufacturer may compare it to an equivalent hydraulic model.

Stay safe

Like any piece of machinery that you use, log splitters have safety requirements.

As the wood splits, there is the possibility of wood chips and debris flying towards you. Protect your eyes with goggles.

There is the possibility of a wayward splinter cutting into your skin, so keep your legs and arms safe. Wear gloves to look after your hands.

Because of the quick movements with kinetic splitters, there is the chance of injury if you don’t pay careful attention. Treat the machine with respect and stay focused. Don’t rush through the clearing process.

That doesn’t mean that hydraulic machines are less dangerous. Always use best safety practices.

Continue Reading: How to Use a Log Splitter [SIMPLE GUIDE]


When it comes to choosing a log splitter you have the option to go with either a hydraulic or kinetic machine.

If you’re wanting power, then go the hydraulic way. For speed, grab yourself a kinetic splitter.

Hydraulic splitters are cheaper yet require more maintenance than a kinetic unit. That is due to the pumps, hydraulic fluid and wiring found within hydraulic splitters.

At the end of the day, it’s a question of power vs. speed. What’s more important to you?