How Would You Get & Process Wood?

byQ

Feeling the Heat
May 12, 2013
491
Idaho
If you could only use electric all through the process (vehicles, saws, splitter, etc...). ? Say you have solar panels and want to use your own electricity only. Could it be done?
 

byQ

Feeling the Heat
May 12, 2013
491
Idaho
I guess you would put a trailer hitch on the back of your electric vehicle - whether it's a golf cart on your acreage or your Chevy Volt/Bolt. You would have to figure out some way to cut trees/logs away from a plugin. Hmmm...
 
Last edited:

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
Fell the trees with an axe and saw. Buck it with the saw.

Use your electric stuff once the tree is down. No sense dropping a tree on your car.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
I'd probably be selective about the trees I cut. Personally, I would want to split as little as possible. Electric splitters do the job well, but I bet they'd drain a battery quick.
 

pjohnson

Burning Hunk
Oct 2, 2013
115
I think were all soft and spoiled when I was little which was a long time ago. My grandpa lived in a log cabin he built in the woods. He only had wood heat and a wood cook stove. He'd walk out in the woods with his axe and cut a smaller tree down and drag it to the house. He'd buck it up with a buck saw and split with an axe.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
Never split with an axe, but have popped a bunch of rounds with a sledge and wedge. I used a light maul a good deal too.

It's not that hard if your tools are sharp and quality vintage tools can still be bought cheap.
 

ABMax24

New Member
The vehicle is by and large the most expensive, hardest to make work for this purpose, and most energy intensive part of the process. Maybe a model 3 with a hitch, or similar. But a car wouldn't get into most places we get wood.

A chainsaw would be fairly easy, Dewalt, Milwaukee, Makita all make cordless chainsaws. Lots of spare batteries would be needed, and a lot of patience, they would cut at a fraction of the speed of a gas saw.

An electric splitter would also be easy, most run on a standard 110 volt 15 amp outlet something easily powered by a standard off grid electrical system. Of course an axe wouldn't use any electricity.


Now if you choose to leave modern conveniences behind a horse, wagen, swede saw and axe would also get the job done. This wouldn't even require the solar panels.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,626
Northern NH
Assuming this is a thought experiment, I would not spend a dime on anything until I built a zero energy home. The easiest wood to cut is the wood you dont have to. Even in northern climates you can build a Passivhaus or a house using Pretty Good House concepts and drastically reduce your heating load. That cuts your wood usage way down and makes things far easier if you elect to burn wood. For most zero energy homes they can ride through several cloudy days in cold weather without supplemental heat and then when supplemental heat is needed the owner fires off a small wood stove. If the house is on the grid with net metering, the owner may even skip the wood stove and use heat pump technology for supplemental heat. The other issue is square footage, obtaining wood to keep a 1000 square feet heated is lot less daunting than for 5000 foot home.

When I was in high school during the first arab oil embargo my dad wanted to burn wood so we cut trees with a bow saw and hand split them, then hauled them home in the trunk of car, We processed about a cord. It was lot of work and made us appreciate a chainsaw. I use about 3 cords a year to heat my home and I have hand split 95% of it for about 20 years. I supplement with a mini split run off of surplus net metered power from my PV system.

The key would be to cut and process and dry the wood preferably in the backyard so that a car or truck is not needed. If the wood has to be hauled over the road , the wood preferably would be cut, split and seasoned at the wood lot so that the amount of weight that needs to be hauled is substantially reduced. Hauling water in the form of wet wood kills you two ways, a ton of 50% moisture content wood is 1000 pounds of water that needs to be hauled. Let it dry to 20% and there is only 400 gallons of water to haul. Then once its home, if the wood is 50% when it goes in the stove that 1000 lbs of water has to be evaporated to vapor to go up the stack. That is roughly 1 million btu of heat lost up the stack. Its actually far more as the vapor would keep the flame temp low so there would be incomplete combustion and unburnt gases goign up the stack (which leads to creosote). Get it down to 20% and that is far less water that needs to be evaporated and the flame temp is going to be a lot hotter leading to cleaner combustion.

Before you do a thought experiment you need to draw boundaries and look at total energy including embodied energy. Concrete requires a lot of embodied energy, the global concrete industry is significant source of global warming,. The clacining reaction requires very hot flame temps which means lots of fossil fuels plus the reaction give off CO2. The lime needs aggregate and crushing rock requires a lot of energy. Then the ingredients need to be mixed with water and then hauled down the road to the site. Cut the use of concrete in home and the embodied energy goes down substantially. If electric power needs to be stored the current choice is lithium based chemistry. Battery grade lithium has a lot of embodied energy, it may take years for a lithium based battery to offset the embodied energy used to make the battery. Lead acid has far less embodied energy as lead is far easier to recycle. Nickle Iron batteries can last for 100 plus years so they are probably the least embodied energy. The trade off is the energy storage density and cycle efficiency is far lower than lithium.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
Assuming this is a thought experiment, I would not spend a dime on anything until I built a zero energy home. The easiest wood to cut is the wood you dont have to. Even in northern climates you can build a Passivhaus or a house using Pretty Good House concepts and drastically reduce your heating load. That cuts your wood usage way down and makes things far easier if you elect to burn wood. For most zero energy homes they can ride through several cloudy days in cold weather without supplemental heat and then when supplemental heat is needed the owner fires off a small wood stove. If the house is on the grid with net metering, the owner may even skip the wood stove and use heat pump technology for supplemental heat. The other issue is square footage, obtaining wood to keep a 1000 square feet heated is lot less daunting than for 5000 foot home.

When I was in high school during the first arab oil embargo my dad wanted to burn wood so we cut trees with a bow saw and hand split them, then hauled them home in the trunk of car, We processed about a cord. It was lot of work and made us appreciate a chainsaw. I use about 3 cords a year to heat my home and I have hand split 95% of it for about 20 years. I supplement with a mini split run off of surplus net metered power from my PV system.

The key would be to cut and process and dry the wood preferably in the backyard so that a car or truck is not needed. If the wood has to be hauled over the road , the wood preferably would be cut, split and seasoned at the wood lot so that the amount of weight that needs to be hauled is substantially reduced. Hauling water in the form of wet wood kills you two ways, a ton of 50% moisture content wood is 1000 pounds of water that needs to be hauled. Let it dry to 20% and there is only 400 gallons of water to haul. Then once its home, if the wood is 50% when it goes in the stove that 1000 lbs of water has to be evaporated to vapor to go up the stack. That is roughly 1 million btu of heat lost up the stack. Its actually far more as the vapor would keep the flame temp low so there would be incomplete combustion and unburnt gases goign up the stack (which leads to creosote). Get it down to 20% and that is far less water that needs to be evaporated and the flame temp is going to be a lot hotter leading to cleaner combustion.

Before you do a thought experiment you need to draw boundaries and look at total energy including embodied energy. Concrete requires a lot of embodied energy, the global concrete industry is significant source of global warming,. The clacining reaction requires very hot flame temps which means lots of fossil fuels plus the reaction give off CO2. The lime needs aggregate and crushing rock requires a lot of energy. Then the ingredients need to be mixed with water and then hauled down the road to the site. Cut the use of concrete in home and the embodied energy goes down substantially. If electric power needs to be stored the current choice is lithium based chemistry. Battery grade lithium has a lot of embodied energy, it may take years for a lithium based battery to offset the embodied energy used to make the battery. Lead acid has far less embodied energy as lead is far easier to recycle. Nickle Iron batteries can last for 100 plus years so they are probably the least embodied energy. The trade off is the energy storage density and cycle efficiency is far lower than lithium.
Energy storage still is, and probably always will be, the greatest challenge we face as a species. I agree with you, the best method would just be to need less of it. I'll have to find those books you mentioned.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AlbergSteve

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,886
Philadelphia
There was a fairly entertaining article posted to this forum awhile back, about a girl who had made her own all electric pickup truck, and we all know the Tesla truck is due out... someday. It was just pushed back again, but they’re still saying this year.

Me? I think the most practical way to apply a bunch of all-electric toys to the job of getting wood processed is to sell them to some sucker who actually believes they’re up to the task, and then use that cash to buy some real tools.

That opinion is subject to change, as the tech improves, but I’ll stand by it for today.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,296
WI, Leroy
We may or may not see advanced capacitive storeage in the next few years v/s the chemical reaction types we have now.
 

Knots

Minister of Fire
Mar 13, 2013
1,171
Alfred, Maine
It seems like some of the battery chainsaws are hitting the low end of acceptable. I'd get a Milwaukee and limit myself to small diameter stuff and short cutting sessions. Depending on your situation, you could wheel barrow it around and manual stack.

I was really impressed by the 18v string trimmer.
 

byQ

Feeling the Heat
May 12, 2013
491
Idaho
It seems like some of the battery chainsaws are hitting the low end of acceptable. I'd get a Milwaukee and limit myself to small diameter stuff and short cutting sessions. Depending on your situation, you could wheel barrow it around and manual stack.

I was really impressed by the 18v string trimmer.
This looks like the biggest saw that could be used out in the field on small to medium sized trees (equals about 45-50cc saw). You could cut logs to 4 feet, load them, and use your plug-in saws at home to finish the job.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Knots

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,296
WI, Leroy
Next door neighbor grandchildren came over to help him with some large tree branches that came down they were using a new Dewalt battery chainsaw, I was impressed. Last time I saw a battery rig being used it cut about 4 pieces off some 4x4's and that was all it wrote ( Ryobi) course that was about 10 years ago so the tech wasn't too good back then.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
You can make batteries pretty small and light, but they won't cut that long. Electric motors can certainly have the torque to pull a chain through the wood, it's a question of endurance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

Knots

Minister of Fire
Mar 13, 2013
1,171
Alfred, Maine
This looks like the biggest saw that could be used out in the field on small to medium sized trees (equals about 45-50cc saw). You could cut logs to 4 feet, load them, and use your plug-in saws at home to finish the job.
82v! Yowza.
 

Microduck17

Member
Dec 21, 2017
127
New Concord Ohio
The Dewalt Flex Volt saw seems pretty decent, but until batteries become lighter than fuel, count me out.
I have the 16 inch flexvolt saw. It is a pretty good saw, as long as the chain stays sharp. I use it up in trees to cut limbs since you don't have to start a saw 40 feet up in a tree. The 9Ah battery lasts about as long as a tank of gas in a similar size saw. It would definitely be doable to charge the battries off a solar electric system.

Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
I like the idea of not having to start a saw in a tree.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
I have the 16 inch flexvolt saw. It is a pretty good saw, as long as the chain stays sharp. I use it up in trees to cut limbs since you don't have to start a saw 40 feet up in a tree. The 9Ah battery lasts about as long as a tank of gas in a similar size saw. It would definitely be doable to charge the battries off a solar electric system.

Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
I think about snagging one for my wife, but I already have four saws! I do have a few 9ah batteries though...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Microduck17

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,033
Schenectady, NY
I don't think any of us think ill of you for only having 4 saws. Especially since it sounds like you've already picked out your 5th. Lol