When the Electric Log Splitter Dies…

The great thing about an electric log splitter is the energy used to split the wood is free when living  with solar energy.  I would never trade my electric log splitter for a gas one. I don’t want another gas motor to maintain and pay for the fuel to operate it.   My electric log splitter may perform slower and at times  have less power for the task at hand, but it is better than swinging the old maul and still far less cheaper than a gasoline log splitter.

Yep, there's the problem... Looking at the capacitor in my hand a buldge can be clearly seen on the left. This is why the log splitter could no longer run correctly.

Yep, there’s the problem… Looking at the capacitor in my hand, a buldge can be clearly seen on the left. This is why the log splitter could no longer run correctly.

But, when the electric log splitter dies and I don’t have the fire wood in yet, three possibilities come to mind: return to swinging the maul, fix it, or buy a new one.  I realized that I have been aggressive with my Homelite electric log splitter over the past three years.  I have violated almost every recommendation in the user’s manual.  The most egregious for this breakdown was most likely using an extension cord with a gauge too small to handle the power draw.  The poor log splitter was drawing power from a 12 gauge 100 ft. electric cord while requiring a constant draw of 15 -18 amps.  A simile would better explain.  The log splitter is like a person drinking a 32-ounce soda through a plastic stir stick instead of a straw.  It was starving for power.  I knew I would have to buy a larger gauge outdoor extension cord, 10-gauge minimum for the 100 ft run to the wood shed.

Unfortunately, I was too late with the new cord. The log splitter would sputter to life momentarily, flip the breaker, and cease to run.   At first I thought maybe it was the breaker, after reading some Internet posts about it.  I ordered a new breaker and once I replaced it; the splitter behaved slightly better, but the breaker would still flip after a few minutes of running.

I began looking around the electrical wiring and noticed the capacitor was bulging on one side.  I began looking into bench testing capacitors and behold, I found my problem.  The splitter’s capacitor was definitely weak and failing.  Once I replaced the capacitor, the problems ceased and the log splitter was once again running like new and more powerful than it has been in a long time.  The new power was obviously from the replaced capacitor, but I also realized how much better the splitter performed with the new 10-gauge outdoor extension cord I also purchased.

I created this short video to give a run down on the problem and the part I had to replace to get the  log splitter operational again.

So, if you have an electric log splitter and it is having a difficult time engaging the ram and flips the breaker each time it tries to engage, the capacitor may be toast.  If the capacitor shows any sign of bulging, chances are very high that the capacitor is the problem.  You can also test the capacitor with a volt meter to get a general idea if it is performing correctly.

The cost to repair and trouble shoot this problem with my electric log splitter was as follows…

Breaker =$13.37 (not needed), *Capacitor = $24.03, 10-gauge outdoor extension cord = $139.00 for a grand total of $176.40.  However, to purchase a new Homelite electric log splitter would have been $299.00, plus $139.00 for the extension cord.  I would still purchase the 10-gauge extension cord so I would not repeat the same mistake again.   However, buying new, the expensive option, would have been $438.00.

*I included the link to the capacitor that needed replacing. The company I purchased it from, eReplacement Parts, is not the cheapest out there on the Internet, but their shipping was within 4 days to N. Idaho, which was good enough for me and dependable.

15 thoughts on “When the Electric Log Splitter Dies…

  1. Thanks for the heads up – we have a Trademaster and although I love it, I only operate it on full sun days, and then I turn of our Vestfrost/Conserve fridge, because I’m concerned the large draw for the splitter my cause damage to the fridge. I use a 12 gauge 50 foot cord, but your idea of going larger gauge makes sense… maybe I can avoid damaging the capacitor. Great post, & keep up your good work with your homestead and business. Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Update:
    Just saw someone recently searched how to turn the pressure up on an electric log splitter and ended up here. If you have been using your electric log splitter for a while and it begins to shutter or sputter as it moves toward the maul, then you may need to add hydraulic fluid. This has happened to me in the past. Once I added hydraulic fluid, the splitter acts like new again in performance. Also, consider the gauge extension cord you are using. In this story above, the 100 ft.,12 gauge extension cord caused my capacitor to blow, and I had to buy a new capacitor. I also purchased a 100 ft. 10 gauge extension cord to prevent this from happening again. Always remember to open the bleeder valve as well or the pressure could rupture the system or you will have no pressure and hydraulic fluid leaking everywhere.


  3. There is an even bigger problem and that is the wedge. I have engineered a new design to use less energy and be safer and make kindling with my angled shear 3/8 inch x 6 to 8 inch high , from 4 ton to 8 ton.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve split my wood by hand since I moved up here. Unfortunately that is fast coming to an end, as my health won’t allow it. I almost didn’t get enough wood split and stacked for this winter as it was.
    Investing in an off grid pellet stove for next year. Three tons of pellets should last well into the following year as small as our cabin is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MY wife and I have talked about what we will do when we can no longer tromp through the woods and gather firewood. We may have logs delivered, and I will buck the wood, split and stack. After that, we may switch completely to propane or sell it all and head to the tropics.


    • I don’t know your log splitter make and model. Do a Google search with the info you find on the machine and check the link I provide in my blog for a possible part. Good luck and happy hunting.


  5. My splitter would hum then trip the breaker.. i was told to take a look at the electric motor which no longer spins freely. I was told it can be fixed, but was never given an answer as to how. Don’t suppose you know of a fix?


    • Knott, your symptoms sound like mine did and it was the capacitor. Open the case up and check the capacitor for any warp or miss shaping. Make sure you are using a heavy 10 gauge extension cord after you fix it. My log splitter is still running now after 7 years of heavy use, splitting 7+ cords each year.


    • mine hummed also and i freed it up then after 6 months of sitting i plug it in to the wall and NOTHING…i have power to the switch and when depressed i have power going to the motor…capacitor looks brand new and even tested it showing it to be good…this one has totally mystified me…any thoughts?


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