Anyone with experience in chopping trees might reject the idea of using an electric chainsaw without a second glance. But that second glance is worth taking because, for a whole range of tree removal or trimming jobs, an electric model is ideal. Here’s why.
Table of Contents
- 1 Electric Chainsaw Types
- 2 Noise
- 3 Power
- 4 Bar Length
- 5 Weight
- 6 Best Electric Chainsaw Reviews
- 6.1 1) Oregon PowerNow CS250 Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.2 2) WORX WG303.1 Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.3 3) WORX WG304.1 Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.4 4) SunJoe SWJ701E Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.5 5) Remington RM1645 Corded-Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.6 6) Remington RM1425 Corded-Electric Chainsaw Review
- 6.7 7) Black and Decker LCS1020 Battery-Powered Chainsaw Review
- 7 Budget
- 8 Summary
Electric Chainsaw Types
There are two basic types of electric chainsaws: corded and cordless. Not surprisingly, each has its pros and cons. Sometimes, neither will do. There are situations where only a gas-powered model will tackle the job. But for a number of lighter jobs an electric offers tons of advantages.
A “corded electric chainsaw” is just what it sounds like: a chainsaw powered by electricity, but one that requires a cord plugged into an outlet. Almost always that outlet is a standard 110V house circuit.
That cord introduces several pros and cons all on its own. It ensures you’ll have power as long as the house does. That house-supplied power is typically enough to supply a 15-amp corded electric chainsaw that will chop branches up to several inches thick.
However, clearly it won’t work during a power outage. That can be just the time when you need your chainsaw most. After a big windstorm, for example, the power might be out but you desperately need to clear a fallen tree away from the house. Most of the time, though, that task can wait until the power is restored.
The cord itself can be a pain, too, naturally. It drags off the end, limiting freedom of movement. If you don’t get one beefy enough, it can heat unduly. That may trip the circuit breaker. If you’re savvy enough to get a heavy duty extension cord, they can be expensive, especially the 100-footer you need to get all the way to the end of your property.
On the upside, there’s no getting around the many advantages a corded electric model offers.
Apart from that continual power mentioned above, a corded model is invariably quieter than a gas-powered chainsaw. How much quieter? Well, if the numbers mean anything to you, an electric may be down around 40 dB, while a gas chainsaw can be 85 dB or more.
On the other hand, the noise from the act of chopping down or trimming your trees itself might be more than compensate for the difference. I wouldn’t weigh “electric vs gas” too much on the noise produced by one or the other.
Electric chainsaws are typically lower powered than a fuel-powered unit. If you’ve got heavy-duty tree chopping or trimming tasks, there’s no substitute for a big gas-oil chainsaw. Still, a corded model may offer more power than a cordless electric.
A cordless, battery-powered model is likely to be rated around 9 amps. More current than that, and you’re usually going to have to spend serious bucks to get serious beef. By comparison, that would be a pretty wimpy corded model, which can easily reach 15 amps. That said, the smaller unit might well be enough for what you typically need around the home.
A cordless battery-operated model is usually rated a little differently. It’s possible to specify the power in such a unit as, say, 2000 mAh, for example. Some heavy-duty models offer batteries as large as 4000 mAh. But more often cordless chainsaw batteries are rated by voltage, with 20-40V being the typical range.
Neither power rating may be all that helpful, of course. What you want to know is how long it will run and how big a branch or tree it will tackle. For that, you have to look at individual models, natch.
To give an average, though, the run time hovers around an hour for a cordless. Some models are as short as 30 minutes. That range is decent. Most guys are going to take a break after that much work anyway. If the job requires more time you’ll want a corded or even a gas chainsaw anyway.
Of possibly greater interest, at least for an initial buying decision, is how long a cordless chainsaw battery will last and how expensive they are to replace. The news is not happy, I’m sorry to say.
Like those used in robot vacuum cleaners and laptops, Li-ion batteries typically wear out after a couple of years. They can only be recharged so many times and, based on average usage, that number tends to give you from 18-24 months before needing a replacement.
You might think that, if you use your chainsaw much less than the vacuum cleaner or computer, you’d get more time. Not usually. If they sit, they also degrade over time, even if they’re constantly plugged into the wall. That’s rechargeable battery technology as it stands today.
Replacement batteries can run anywhere from $40 to $150 or more. The difference in price tends to correlate with amp-hour ratings or voltage. Larger ones cost more, natch. And remember, you have to lay that money out every couple of years. To select a cordless model, you have to really want its unique advantages – which admittedly are real and sometimes substantial.
“Bar length” refers, unsurprisingly, to the length of the bar on a chainsaw. And, in case you’ve never heard: that’s the flat, oval piece of metal the chain wraps around the bar. That chain incorporates metal teeth and rides in a groove made into the bar.
Bar lengths – of corded, cordless, or gas-powered chainsaws – are all over the place. Any given model might be shrimpy or huge. That said, gas chainsaws are almost always the largest – 20 inches or more.
Professional gas models – and nearly all pro models are gas-powered – may be 26″, 32″, or even as much as 36″. Of course, there are some that are 59″ but calling that a chainsaw is iffy. There is some overlap on the lower end. Stihl has a few chainsaws they label “professional” that have bars as short as 12 to 16 inches. But that’s more for reasons of power and durability than length. Most pros wouldn’t use one that short except around the house, and that rarely.
By comparison, the bar on an electric chainsaw may run anywhere from as short as 6″ up to 18″. There is considerable overlap but corded models tend to be 12″-18″ and cordless units roughly 8″-14″. Naturally, there are pros and cons to bar length, just as with any feature. You might tend to think “the longer the better”. Other things being equal, that’s true. But things are not always equal.
A shorter bar has less flex. That gives a more secure cut with less wobble, less chance of the chain slipping off when twisting the bar. That can happen, for example, when it’s caught in the tree during cutting.
More importantly, a shorter bar is lighter. It also requires a shorter chain, which means fewer teeth to sharpen. If you sharpen the teeth, a must for any chainsaw that sees regular use, you’ll appreciate the savings in time. If you have it done, you’ll occasionally save a little money with a shorter chain.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that the odds of kickback vary a lot with bar length. There are lots of factors that can be involved, not least is your skill level. Chain design counts, too. Length is key, however, because kickback is more likely when you saw using the area of the bar closer to the tip. The closer you get, the more likely it is. So, a longer bar helps you avoid that.
Electric chainsaws sometimes have special design features to reduce that risk even with a shorter bar. They may, for example, use a tip protector. Or, they may have a specially-shaped bar, one with a narrower nose, for instance. Those are more often used for special wood carving projects, though, than for felling, bucking, or trimming trees.
Electric chainsaws are usually lighter than gas-powered ones. My electric with a bar length about 14 inches weighs maybe a few pounds. My gas model, though granted the bar is 18 inches, tips the scales around 10 lbs.
A cordless may weigh anywhere from 5-10 lbs and a corded model anywhere from 6-13 lbs, on average. But gas models are typically heavier than electrics. There is some overlap among all the types but these are rough averages.
Best Electric Chainsaw Reviews
1) Oregon PowerNow CS250 Electric Chainsaw Review
But before you decide to purchase an Oregon built chainsaw, most specifically the Oregon PowerNow CS250, it is important that you become better acquainted with its specifications and features.
The Oregon PowerNow CS250 comes fully equipped with a 40-Volt Lithium Ion Battery that adds to a longer running time and since its made with high tech premium cell technology, there are hardly any power fades and the battery can hold power for months until requiring a recharge. Unlike its predecessor, this model is known to give you 66% more battery time which is equivalent to about 1000 charging cycles and 400 tree limbs of 2 to 3 inch diameters.
Oregan is one of the world’s leading chainsaw manufacturers and thus has fitted the Oregon PowerNow CS250 with a state of the art chain which easily manages larger cuts of over a foot in diameter in just a few seconds. The chin pitch is low profile at 3/8 inches and the chain gauge is 0.050 inches which adds to the chainsaw’s overall efficiency and speed. It also comes with an integrating sharpening system (PowerSharp) which eliminates any traces of a dull chain and sharpens the chain in less than 8 seconds.
Unlike gas models, the Oregon PowerNow CS250 does not require any primping and cranking for it starts instantly without any oil mixing or chords to pull. There are no harmful emissions released in the air and there is absolutely no need for any warming up before starting with the job. It is also said to be about 4 times quieter between cuts than earlier models or gas run chainsaws
At only 19 pounds, this modern piece of technology is lightweight but balanced and steady as compared to its contemporaries. It also vibrates less thus cutting down on the fatigue of the user.
- Automatic PowerSharp chain sharpener
- Electricity run means no harmful emissions released in the air.
- Tool-free side cover means easy and quick maintenance with debris removal.
- Less power as compared to gas runs chainsaws
- Not very tough
- Kick break may start to malfunction if oil from the chain comes in contact with it.
2) WORX WG303.1 Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
The 16″ bar 14.5 amp Worx WG303.1 corded electric chainsaw is the best-selling electric chainsaw on the market.
The only complaints with this chainsaw are that it uses a lot of oil and leaks constantly. Only a small amount of oil is included with the purchase, so it would be a good idea to immediately buy extra quarts of chain and bar oil, especially with the high rate of oil consumption.
The other complaint is the ejection port can sometimes get clogged with wood chips.
The Worx WG303.1 is powerful enough to handle most cutting jobs and can cut limbs up to about 15 inches. It has good balance and operates fairly quietly.
At 14.5 amps, the WG303.1 has the highest amps among the 16″ bar chainsaws. The other electric chainsaws have 12 amps.
- Automatic chain tension adjustment
- Automatic oiler
- Low-kickback chain
- Instantaneous chain brake
- Can cut logs up to 15 inches
- Comes fully assembled
- Uses a lot of oil
- Wood chips can jam the ejection port
- Chain oil is included but it’s a very small amount
3) WORX WG304.1 Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
The Worx WG304.1 has a powerful 15 amp motor and an 18″ bar. This saw can easily cut most hardwoods and diamters up to 17 inches.
The chainsaw comes fully assembled out of the box and even includes a quart of oil to get started immediately. The 200 ml oil reservoir has a translucent panel to monitor the oil supply level. Chain oiling is automatic.
No extra tool is necessary to adjust chain tension. The large knob on the side makes this adjustment very easy. The large knob is convenient because sometimes the chain can get clogged with oil and sawdust particles.
NOTE: Most of the literature online describes the Worx WG304.1 as having 4 horsepower. This is incorrect. It should be rated at 1.65 HP. Here is the formula for calculating the horsepower of an electric motor: (Voltage X Amps X Efficiency)/746=HP
For the WG304.1: (110 volts X 14 amps X 80% efficiency)/746=1.65 hp
- Powerful 14 amp motor
- Large knob makes tension adjustment easy
- Includes one quart of chain oil
- Built-in safety brake for kickback protection
- Automatic oiler for chain
- Kickback safety brake
- Plastic gear wears out
- Uses a lot of oil
- Chain becomes disengaged
4) SunJoe SWJ701E Corded Electric Chainsaw Review
The SunJoe SWJ701E comes with an 18″ bar and 14 amp. motor. It is one of the most powerful corded electric chainsaws and can easily cut logs up to 17″ in diameter.
It comes fully assembled out of the box. The chain is already in place, and all that is needed is to purchase and add a little chain and bar oil. The oiler is automatic with a translucent viewer to monitor the oil level.
No tool is needed to adjust the chain tension. There is a knob on the side to make this adjustment. This adjusting knob is a little small compared to the knob size on other electric chainsaws and could be a little difficult to turn when the chain gets jammed with wood particles.
- Excellent customer support for any problems
- Translucent oil tank to check oil level
- Chain brake
- No tool needed to adjust chain tension
- Lightest of the 18 inch bar corded chainsaws
- Small tension adjusting knob
5) Remington RM1645 Corded-Electric Chainsaw Review
The Remington RM1645 has an 16″ bar and 12 amps of power. The RM1645 comes fully assembled and ready to go. Just need to add SAE#30 motor oil. This chainsaw does not use regular chain and bar oil.
The oiling is automatic, and the oil reservoir has a clear window to monitor the oil level. Several users had problems with the oil pump getting clogged.
Chain tension adjustment is easy with the large knob on the side.
- 16″ bar
- Moderate weight
- Automatic oiler
- See-thru window to monitor oil level
- Low-kickback bar
- Large knob to adjust chain tension
- Wraparound hand guard for more protection
- Does not come with chain and bar oil. Must use SAE#30 oil.
- Oil leaks
- Oiler can get plugged and cause the motor to smoke
- Too many users report that the motor either smoked or caught fire
6) Remington RM1425 Corded-Electric Chainsaw Review
The Remington RM1425 14″ 8 amp electric chainsaw is designed for occasional cutting of small limbs and saplings. It is very inexpensive and only weighs 6.2 lbs. This weight compares to the heavier-duty 16″ and 18″ chainsaws which weigh around 11 lbs.
The negative issues range from oil leaking, chain frequently coming off and failure of the motor to start.
This electric chainsaw works very well when it is used for the purpose for which it is designed: cutting and trimming of small limbs. This doesn’t mean that it won’t cut a 6″ limb,it can, but it’s not the chainsaw for a lot of heavy duty cutting.
- Comes fully assembled
- Only weighs 6.25 lbs.
- Low kickback bar and chain
- Low price
- Manual chain oiler
- Chain frequently falls off
- Leaks oil
- Chain tension must be adjusted manually with a screwdriver
7) Black and Decker LCS1020 Battery-Powered Chainsaw Review
The Black and Decker LCS1020 is an 8″ cordless electric chainsaw with a 20 volt lithium-ion battery. It includes a battery and charger.
The LCS1020 is designed to handle a small amount of cutting small limbs. It is not intended for extended use cutting 3″-6″ limbs. The motor is not powerful enough and the battery will not last long enough.
Whether or not you will like the LCS1020 depends on what your expectations are. If you don’t expect too much, then you will be very happy. If you expect to cut a lot of limbs for a long time, then you will be very disappointed.
- Light weight
- Low kickback bar and chain
- Comes with an allen wrench for assembly
- Oil leaks a lot
- Chain frequently comes off
- Does not come with chain oil
- Does not come assembled
- Will not handle normal cutting of small limbs
- Not enough power
Anything I say about the prices of electric chainsaws might well be out of date by the time you read this. Nonetheless, there are a few truths that tend to last, so I’ll plunge recklessly ahead.
Cordless electric chainsaws are typically more expensive. That’s not surprising since you’re paying for that convenience factor and good Lithium ion batteries are still pretty costly to make. Given that you have to replace them every couple of years, as mentioned above, weigh this option carefully.
By the way, there are a few Ni-Cd battery cordless models around. They’re typically less expensive, but they also are on the lower end of the scale power-wise. On the other hand, the replacement batteries are usually lower priced, too. If you have exclusively lightweight jobs to do, and don’t want the noise or weight or cost of a small gas chainsaw, this type can be ideal for you.
In either case, you’re looking at an expenditure (as I write this) of around $50-$100. Of course, there are a few even lower, and some as high as $500. But if you’re going to spend that much, a gas-powered model is usually a better bet. Also, if you’re considering something for less than $50, don’t expect it to do much or last long. In fact, that number might reasonably be shifted upward to $100.
That number range is roughly the same for a corded electric model, with the proviso mentioned above: cordless models tend to be higher for similar specs. True, with a corded model you have the added expense of an extension cord. But that’s a one-time cost (or, at least, once every 10 years or so), and the cord is usually used on other tools as well.
On the upside, a corded electric model typically costs much less than a good gas-powered model. By “good” I mean not just good quality but a mix of power, bar length, and other features.
Just as there are buyers with all types of personal situations, there are chainsaws of all types. An electric may meet your needs perfectly. In any case, you can only choose the right one by reference to your budget, power needs, and relative desire for convenience.