My Totally Awesome Yardworks Electric Log Splitter

As someone who is prone to having strong opinions based on very little empirical data, I shouldn’t be surprised by the number of people I meet who make the assumption that electric chainsaws and log splitters are useless. They’ve never used one, but somehow they know they’re useless.

Well let me tell you, after using these items for a decade, this simply is not the case. They’re quite amazing. First and foremost, an electric motor lasts forever. A gas motor is an invention that spends its entire life (often short) trying to destroy itself through a billion explosions of an ignitable gas and air mix. The explosion and burning of the fuel is what’s causing climate change, so from my perspective an electric motor is worth investigating.

My electric chainsaw and electric log splitter are in fact ‘solar powered,’ as is every electric appliance in my house, because I am off-grid and power my home with the sun, and some wind. So my electric chainsaw or splitter, which usually cost 10 to 20% of the comparable gas models, doesn’t cost me a penny to operate now that my solar panels are paid for.

Many people heat with wood and consider it “carbon-neutral,” with the carbon released from burning the wood simply carbon that the tree absorbed while growing. But when you cut the tree with a gas chainsaw, haul it back to the house in an F-150 pick-up truck and then split it with a gas powered log splitter, it seems you are straying from the zero-carbon idealism. So every time I use an electric device that I power with the sun, I feel I’m closer to my zero-carbon goal. Every time I don’t have to buy gas for these tools makes me happy too.

For a decade and a half I have split all my firewood by hand, with an axe and a maul. I love splitting wood. There is nothing like the satisfaction that comes from a pile of wood you’ve split by hand. There is no smartphone app or Hollywood blockbuster that can provide the endorphins and stress relief of splitting wood with an axe. It’s exceptionally therapeutic and I believe I have been able to avoid selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that my brain could probably use by picking up an axe and heading to the woodpile anytime the problems of the world seem insurmountable. So, on top of the money I save heating with wood I add on the saving of not having to buy SSRIs and it just looks better all the time.

Now that I am in my mid-50s, quite frankly I am skeptical about the quality of healthcare that will be available in the future as governments strain to deal with climate change, the collapse of the fiat currency, peak oil and all the other goodies. I’m also thinking that the likelihood of my joints getting worn out is increasing. My tennis elbow is bugging me and I figure I need to think about all of the weeding and hoeing ahead of me, so I have regretfully switched much of my splitting to a powered log splitter.

My 4-ton Canadian Tire Yardmaster electric log splitter continues to amaze me. I bought it last year and was pretty tentative about what I split with it. First I was paranoid about its effect on my inverter*, but the inverter has no problem with it. I stuck to poplar and made sure that the poplar had no gnarly knots and spots where branches had grown out that often impede splitting. It worked great. (*My inverter converts the DC electricity in my batteries to the AC electricity that my appliances use and is a very integral part of my off-grid electrical system.)

This winter I started to get more aggressive with it and it has performed remarkably well. I’ve split a lot of poplar but I also graduated to hardwoods. I started with some smaller birch, and then moved up to maple and it has continued to perform well. In the photo you can see the pile behind me and it was split entirely with my 4-ton electric log splitter.

electric-log-splitter

There is a 6.5-ton version of the electric log splitter and I might graduate to that at some point. There are some logs that the smaller electric splitter just can’t handle. You’ll also see some larger maple on the ground. I’m either going to tackle that with the axe or my neighbor Ken’s gas powered 20-ton log splitter. And yes, now you can say, “See, I told you that you needed a gas one.” Well first off, I could use the axe. Second, if you look at the pile behind me, I’ve split almost 90% of next year’s hardwood with the electric log splitter.

I’m grateful to have access to Ken’s log splitter. It’s terrifying how powerful it is and from what I’ve learned this year, it is horrendously overpowered for the bulk of my splitting. It reminds me that one of the things I love most about the electric is that I don’t have to work so closely to a gas-powered engine (without the emissions controls that a car has). So I know I’ve been breathing in some nasty stuff. So I tend to rush. I’ll line up a bunch of logs to split, crank through them not being too concerned about where they fall, then shut off the engine and organize what I’ve just split. With the electric there is no rush. There are no emissions. I take as long as I want to. I think I’m less likely to trash my back because I’m taking my time. With the ice and snow we had this year I’m less likely to trash numerous parts of my body when I take a header by rushing. It is much easier to work in a Zen-like state with the slow methodical pace of the electric. And I’m not as concerned with lopping off a limb as well.

So, there you have it. A 5 Star rating for my 4-ton electric log splitter. I’ll let you know if I graduate to a 6 ton at some point and how well it does. Zero-carbon firewood. Zero-carbon preparation. No gas bill. No pollution. Tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

softwood-pile

 

P.S. Sorry if you received notification about this post twice. Some of our subscribers did not receive the first notification (including both me and Cam) and so I wasn’t sure if anyone had received it so I sent it out again. WordPress is being wonky today! ~Michelle~

11 Responses to “My Totally Awesome Yardworks Electric Log Splitter”

  • Barry:

    I have the same one except it’s from Princess Auto. Both are made in China, but at least it’s guaranteed forever from P.A.

  • To answer Neil’s question, this log splitter is rated at 15 amps. But as I watched the inverter handle the load as Cam turned it off and on it would spike at about 40 – 50 amps and then quickly drop down to just 5 amps. ~Michelle~

  • Baloghsma:

    It’s a TONKA TOY!!!!

  • Heidi:

    I bought Gary the 6.5 for his birthday last year. On sale at Canadian Tire, almost half price.
    He looked at it and laughed – electric??????.
    After one try, and he was bragging about it to the guys at work.
    Best present ever………

  • Steve Martyn:

    Eccentric Axe – Heard about this on CBC Radio on the commute home tonight and thought you might find it interesting given yout love of chopping wood.

    http://boingboing.net/2014/04/17/eccentric-axe-uses-physics-to.html

    Cheers,

    Steve

  • John wensley:

    Thanks for the information Cam. I used to own a splitter that ran ran off the PTO of my diesel tractor. Had to run tractor to use the splitter. I decided breathing in diesel fumes was not a good idea, so I sold the tractor and splitter. I have often wondered if the electric splitters where any good and now I have my answer, thank you.

  • Gerrit:

    Thanks for this good info Cam. We should consider it as well. Cheers.

  • Hi Susan! Actually we took these photos a couple of weeks ago. Spring HAS sprung here and the grass is now greening up.

  • Susan:

    The only thing I see wrong with this picture is the snow. What is with that? Doesn’t spring come in your neck of the woods?

  • Neil:

    Actually, just went on the Cdn Tire web site… it says 15A for the 6.5 splitter. But it does not list amperage for the 4 ton.

  • Neil:

    You know I am a long-time convert to using electric chain saw to do the final cutting and bucking that doesn’t need to happen out in the bush. So no I am considering the electric splitter too… what is the amp or wattage draw on the 4 ton version you have? Any idea about the 6.5 ton?

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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