It’s finally happened. You have a project in front of you, and the only way to finish it is to buy a new chainsaw. It probably seemed like a fairly simple task until you realized just how many different types of chainsaws were out there. Where should you begin? We suggest taking the time to figure out which kind of chainsaw you want: gas, electric, or battery-powered. That’s why we put together this buyers guide to help you learn about each type of chainsaw and choose which one is right for you.
Are gas chainsaws and electric chainsaws really that different?
Gas chainsaws have an onboard engine that runs on a mixture of gasoline and oil. If you use this type of chainsaw, you have to mix the gas and oil in the right ratios every time that you want to refuel the tool. Also, this fuel emits fumes that may irritate the senses of some people, especially if you’re not a fan of the smell of gasoline. On the other hand, both battery-operated and corded electric chainsaws use clean energy. There’s no mixing of gas or oil — simply plug in an extension cord or recharge a battery.
Tip: To get the most use out of your cordless chainsaw, try purchasing an extra battery, so that you have a charged back-up to bring along with you on longer jobs. Plus, some batteries can be used across a range of power tools within the same brand, so buying the extra battery (or batteries) can be a smart investment.
Gas chainsaws will have more power and cutting speed. The combustion engine of a gas chainsaw gives it the ability to tackle bigger, more intense projects such as felling large trees. Gas-powered chainsaws are also great for long projects and jobs that require you to move around a large area of land. Just make sure that you bring extra fuel with you if you’re in for a long day!
However, the added power of a gas chainsaw comes with quite a bit of extra weight. This can make it harder to maneuver the chainsaw and lead to arm fatigue, especially for those that don’t use a saw that often. Plus, anyone that’s used a gas-powered chainsaw before can attest to the fact that they can be difficult to start, even for the most seasoned tree-cutter.
Electric chainsaws, on the other hand, typically have less cutting power, but that doesn’t mean that you should count them out. They’re also relatively light, easy to carry, and simple to start- just press a button. Some people may not like to be limited by cord length (even with an extension cord) or battery life. However, if you’re a beginner — or you don’t plan to use your chainsaw very often — ease of use may be more important than cutting power and speed.
Battery-operated models can have even less power than corded chainsaws, except for newer ones with higher voltage batteries. They are better suited for smaller, simpler tasks that can be finished before the battery dies. If you’re thinking of buying a cordless chainsaw, it’s worth it to research the typical battery life. You should also note that if you have yard work scheduled, you’ll need to think ahead and charge your chainsaw’s battery before you can begin.
When it comes to noise, things are fairly straightforward: electric and cordless chainsaws are significantly quieter than gas chainsaws. If you live out in the country, noise may not be your biggest concern. However, if you’re planning on using your chainsaw to trim the hedges in your yard without making your neighbors hate you, you may want to find an electric model.
When comparing the costs of gas and electric chainsaws, you’ll need to think about more than just the initial price tag. Estimating the other expenses associated with the chainsaw — such as battery replacement or gas and oil refills — can help you get a better idea of how much you should expect to spend in total.
For example, gas chainsaws typically cost more up front but may end up saving you money in the long run because they have a longer operating life. Your local chainsaw dealer should be able to help you compare the overall costs of the chainsaws that you’re considering.
Maintenance of your gas or electric chainsaw
Regular maintenance is the key to prolonging the life of any chainsaw. To keep your saw in good working condition, Stihl chainsaw manufacturers recommend cleaning all of its parts regularly, especially anything that touches the gas and oil. If you plan on storing your gas-powered chainsaw for a while, you should completely empty it of fuel before putting it away.
Electric chainsaws have less regular maintenance requirements, which is part of what makes them so appealing to more casual chainsaw users. Because there’s no combustion engine on the saw, you don’t have to worry about changing filters or cleaning fuel buildups. For battery-operated chainsaws, your main concern will be keeping the battery charged. For corded chainsaws, you’ll have to make sure the cord is damage-free before plugging in and using the saw.
No matter which chainsaw you buy, you should follow the manufacturer’s specific maintenance instructions.
Will a gas or electric chainsaw get the job done?
The type of chainsaw you buy should be determined by the work that you plan on using it for. Ask yourself before shopping around:
- How often will you use your chainsaw?
- Where will you use your chainsaw?
- What will you cut with your chainsaw?
- How long will a typical job take you?
- Do you need to worry about noise?
- Are you worried about arm fatigue?
- Will you need to work far away from an electrical outlet?
With the answers to the above questions in mind, consider that:
Electric and chainsaws are more suited for smaller jobs, such as casual yard work and landscaping. If you need to trim a few branches every month or two, the ease of use and quietness of an electric chainsaw could be exactly what you’re looking for. Electric chainsaws usually have a lower range of available bar lengths than gas chainsaws.
Gas chainsaws are a better fit for larger, more heavy-duty jobs. They are a great option for people with commercial needs and those with a large area of land that needs regular tending. Their power is more reliable for cutting bigger trees and branches, or for cutting many trees or branches in a row.
Tip: Pole chainsaws can be used to cut high-up tree branches without the use of a ladder. They have all of the standard components of a regular chainsaw attached to the end of an extendable pole. Pole chainsaws can be gas, electric, and cordless.
Chainsaw safety tips
When operating any chainsaw, the most important focus should be your safety and the safety of those around you. Every job will come with a unique set of safety considerations. However, some useful general tips recommended by OSHA are:
- Make sure that your chainsaw is clean and in good working condition before starting it.
- Never operate your saw without lubricating the chain.
- Clear away any small rocks, limbs, or other obstacles from the chainsaw’s path.
- Always wear safety glasses, ear protection, and protective gear such as gloves, a vest, and chaps, if needed. Avoid loose-fitting clothing.
- Plan your cut and know where the tree or branch will fall.
- Try not to cut anything above chest level.
- Make sure that chain tension stays consistent throughout the entire job.
- Learn how to avoid and deal with kickback , one of the biggest dangers associated with chainsaw use. Consider looking for a saw that reduces the kickback hazard with guide bars, chain brakes, and low kickback chains.
Best gas and electric chainsaws of 2019
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re searching for a new chainsaw. Some of our current favorites are:
- Husqvarna 20 Inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw — Powerful and durable
- Makita UC4051A Electric Chainsaw — Quiet and efficient
- Stihl MS 271 Farm Boss Gas Chainsaw — Reliable and robust
- BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 Cordless Chainsaw — Lightweight and portable
- WORX WG303.1 Electric Chainsaw — Heavy-duty and fast
- Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw — Long-lasting and dependable
Buying tips for your gas or electric chainsaw
Still wondering which chainsaw is right for you? Try checking out your local chainsaw dealer. Their trained staff will be able to lead you in the right direction. One of the benefits of buying your chainsaw in-person is that you’ll be able to get personalized assistance if you have any questions or issues. Buying a chainsaw is a long-term investment, and talking to an expert can help you be confident that you’re making the right choice.
Tip: Some chainsaws, such as the Stihl Farm Boss mentioned in the previous section, can only be bought in-person at a registered dealer.
To sum things up, the type of chainsaw that you should buy depends on your specific situation and preferences. As a rule, an electric chainsaw is usually best for simple yard work and landscaping. If you need a chainsaw for more heavy-duty tasks, such as felling large trees and chopping firewood, gas-powered may be the way to go. No matter why you need your chainsaw, the staff at your local chainsaw dealer will be able to help. Click here to find a chainsaw dealer in your area today!