Power tillers are becoming popular in home gardening, but before buying an electric or a gas unit you should ask yourself whether you do need it.
If you have a small yard, consider other alternatives to power tillers. See if you do need a power tiller. Manual tilling tools cost a lot less and are petroleum-free...
Garden hoes and shovels can replace mini-tillers in small tasks. They do not require much physical effort in non-compacted soils, and are very cheap ($10-$20).
On the other hand, for occasional use you may rent a tiller ($30-$70 per day, depending on their type). Renting or borrowing a tiller is often the best choice...
Selecting the type of tiller
If you want to buy or rent a power tiller, consider its horsepower and types.
New cordless cultivators are lightweight and easy to use, but do not expect too much from these machines. They can be rather useless.
Electric corded tillers are easier to use and maintain than gas units - and are lighter and quieter. Though useful for light gardening tasks, they may not add much to manual tilling tools.
Their prices vary significantly, but are mostly in the range of $100-$300.
Large and small gas tillers
Even small gas mini-tillers have a limited horsepower. They too are designed for small or medium gardening tasks: re-seeding a lawn patch, planting shrubs...
Their power output is a step above that of corded electric tillers, but it is a small step, and they are more expensive ($200-$400…) and noisy and also energy-inefficient.
If you need to reseed a large area (larger than, say, 400 square feet/40 m2) and the soil is difficult to break-up, you might need a stronger gas tiller.
In this case expect prices above $1,000 or even $2,000, and prefer a CARB - California Air Resources Board-certified - compliant unit, for a cleaner operation.