Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Battery Powered Chainsaw
If you've ever gone shopping for a battery-powered chainsaw, then you know you have quite a few different brands and models to choose from. Today's battery-powered lawn equipment is more powerful and reliable than ever, which means battery-powered versions of tools including chainsaws are both more popular and more readily available.
The large number of options doesn't make it easy to decide which battery-powered chainsaw is right for you. It can be hard to figure out how to interpret information about battery capacity and cutting power, or which features are most important on a battery-powered chainsaw.
In this article, we've put together a guide to which features you should look for in a good battery-powered chainsaw as well as which brands we recommend for best overall performance.
Battery Capacity, Run Time, and Cutting Power
When comparing battery-powered outdoor equipment, just looking at the battery voltage doesn't give you a good idea of how powerful each tool will be. You'll also have to compare how efficiently each tool uses the power available.
In one test comparing saws by DeWalt, Echo, EGO, Greenworks, Kobalt, and Oregon, the Echo has the lowest battery capacity but it was actually the saw which could make the most cuts on a single charge. Echo also topped this list for power and speed.
Other brands that rank well on cutting power, speed, and run time include DeWalt, EGO, and Stihl. Husqvarna, Greenworks, and Oregon also tend to rank decently well, though they're not as powerful or as fast as the others.
Battery-powered chainsaws tend to have short cutting bar lengths. 12-inches to 16-inches is pretty standard. You can get an 18-inch cutting bar on the Kobalt 80V Max Chainsaw, but it's also heavier and less efficient than competing saws.
Most top-quality battery-powered chainsaws offer 16-inch cutting bars, including the Echo cordless chainsaw. Stihl's largest battery-powered saw uses 10-inch to 14-inch cutting bars but makes up for the shorter length with top-notch cutting performance.
Each chainsaw bar is designed either for tool-free adjustment or adjustment using a scrench tool. Most of the battery-powered chainsaw models opt for tool-free adjustment. It's a quick and easy way of adjusting the chain and most users will find it the most convenient option.
Echo, Greenworks Pro, and Kobalt are a few major brands that do require tools to adjust. This makes adjusting the chain tension a little more time-consuming. However, it also lets these brands equip their saws with two mounting studs on the bar instead of one, which some users prefer. To make adjusting more convenient, Echo has a tool storage slot built into the saw. Kobalt does too, but in tests the scrench fell out easily during use.[imagenumber: https://www.richardsonsaw.com/pub/media/catalog/product/cache/926507dc7f93631a094422215b778fe0/m/s/msa200.png]
Chainsaws can't run without bar and chain oil, so you'd expect to find chainsaws designed for easy filling. Most are, but some brands/models aren't as easy to work with as others.
Some saws are designed with narrow filler necks that cause spills. Some saws leak excessive amounts of oil while in storage. Others don't feed oil properly unless the tank is completely full.
You won't have problems like this with a brand like Stihl or Echo, but in a months-long test comparing several chainsaws DeWalt 40V Max and Greenworks Pro saws both experienced chronic oil problems.
Bucking spikes (also called bumper spikes, felling spikes, or dogs) sit against the body of the saw alongside the bar. They're there to help push the saw through wood more efficiently.
You can find steel spikes on some saws, including ones from Greenworks, Kobalt, and Oregon. Other brands like Stihl and Echo features sturdy plastic spikes. Both styles work well.
If bucking spikes are a feature you care about, though, you'll probably want to avoid saws like DeWalt and EGO. These saw designs only feature small plastic ridges across the front, which aren't much use in gripping wood when cutting.
There are a couple other features you should know about when you're researching battery-powered chainsaws.
Brushless motors (which most leading brands now use in their new chainsaws) provide superior power, performance, and battery regulation. They're also quiet and easy-maintenance.
Some battery-powered saws include a variable speed trigger to give you more control when cutting. Saws with this feature include the Echo battery-powered chainsaw, DeWalt 40V Max, and Greenworks Digi Pro.[imagenumber: https://www.richardsonsaw.com/pub/media/catalog/product/cache/926507dc7f93631a094422215b778fe0/m/s/msa200_3.png]
Safety features are included in all good chainsaw designs. For example, the current UL standard requires that electric chainsaws have a trigger with “two separate and dissimilar actions required” to activate the chainsaw. Some brands, like Echo and DeWalt, include mechanical lockout switches as well. These switches don't interfere with ease of use but do add another layer of safety and help prevent accidental starting.
You'll also want to make sure the chainsaw you're considering has a reliable chain braking system. Some saws, including certain models from Stihl, even feature more than one brake. The Stihl saws have a controlled braking device to stop the rotating chain when the trigger is released and an additional, manually-activated chain brake.
You'll want to choose a chainsaw that's comfortable for you to use. This often depends simply on your personal preferences. You might not know if a particular saw is right for you until you pick it up. In general, though, you'll want to look for a saw with easy-to-grip handles, rubber grips on the trigger handle, and a balanced design.
Echo and Stihl saws consistently rate high on balance, comfort, and ease of use. One reviewer described the Stihl MSA 200 as so lightweight and well-balanced that it's “almost like an extension of your arm or hand.”
For overall cutting performance, reliability, and battery quality we recommend the Stihl or Echo chainsaws. These saws consistently rank among the highest-rated battery-powered chainsaws on the market. Plus, both Echo and Stihl offer a full line of other battery-powered equipment that can share batteries with your chainsaw. If you want to invest in more than one battery-powered tool, then you'll save money by choosing one brand to stick with.
We carry both Stihl and Echo products here are Richardson Saw & Lawnmower. If you'd like to check out both systems for yourself and get any questions answered, just stop by our location here in Richardson, TX. We'll be happy to help you pick out the chainsaw that fits your needs best.