What is the Best Chainsaw? (Battery vs. Fuel)
Battery powered rechargeable chainsaws are taking the world by storm of late. Although most people are warming to the idea of battery powered chainsaws with each passing day, very few of these people have ever asked the most important question: are they good enough at cutting down trees and handling everyday tasks? Well the reason they probably never ask the question is probably because they already know the answer after either seeing demonstrations of the saws in action or maybe even using the saws firsthand from a neighbor family member or friend.
The majority of these people are leaving fuel powered chainsaws without due consideration of what they are capable of that battery powered chainsaws cannot do, and vice versa. In this very important article, we will help you choose between the two chainsaws. In the final section we will give our honest opinion and let the chips fall where they may.
In order to help you make an informed decision on the best chain saw for you and your cutting needs, we are going to look at aspects from both sides.
Battery powered chainsaws have a major appeal for people who in general wouldn’t really be using the saw for cutting for more than a few hours. Rechargeable chainsaws are capable of doing everything a petrol chainsaw can. However it is important to select the correct battery operated chainsaw for your needs. If you just need a light saw for pruning and trimming around the garden then there’s a saw for you.
The smaller twelve or fourteen inch saws will be ideal for these needs. If you have slightly heavier work to do like cutting larger logs, small trees and would like a chainsaw for all round work then there are saws for this too like some of the fourteen and many of the sixteen inch saws on the market. If cutting larger trees and you are looking for a saw to match a gas saw pound for pound then you are best looking at the saws with eighteen inch plus bars and higher powered batteries. These saws are usually called pro saws and are a little bit more expensive but are well worth it if you want a battery powered chainsaw with the same capability as a gas or fuel powered saw.
We have learnt that if you want to cut down trees with a diameter of four inches plus and a height of 20+ feet, then there are certain battery operated chainsaws, that will not suit this need, essentially smaller saws with lower power ratings. Much in the same way you wouldn’t use a small gas powered topping saw to cut down a tree, you wouldn’t use an underpowered battery saw to fell a tree either!
The reality of the matter is that when you decide to cut down or fell a tree, time is critical. You don’t want to delay the process any longer than is needed and risk the wind or gravity having an effect by tipping the tree over while you are still in the middle of cutting it.
Every second spent near an unstable tree increases the risk of unfavorable results. The biggest danger is on the side of the tree and not the saw itself. If the tree is unstable and decides to fall on your side then this becomes a life threatening issue for you or others around you.
For example a larger powered gas operated chainsaw is a perfect machine for cutting down huge trees. Why? Well because these saws have very powerful engines, some are the same size and even bigger than would be in a smaller sized moped or scooter.
So these chainsaws when tunes right, with their large bar and chain will tear through large tree trunks with ease. There is no risk of running out of power or needing to stop half way through. So the cut can be planned before hand and then executed in one go meaning it takes less time cutting the tree and hence reduces the risk associated. If you delay cutting an unstable tree, then it can fall without you expecting it which can be life threatening and cause damage to property and belongings.
Usage Time and Battery life
Experts say that a battery lasts for the same time as a tank full of gas. If the battery is fully charged, it can last for up to 3 hours in most of the standard saws at the time of this post. However, this can be a bit misleading for some people because currently a 2 amp-hour battery will go down after 10 minutes of continuous cutting.
Now the point we would like to get across to anybody reading is that yes there is no question that a battery powered chainsaw can carry out the same tasks as a petrol saw can. If it’s just a case where you need to make a few cuts here and there over the course of a few hours then there isn’t an issue.
However in a continuous cutting face off a petrol chainsaw has the upper hand over the battery version. Why? Well because the continuous run time is at the time of posting longer on petrol saws versus the battery alternative chainsaws.
This is what people complain about most in regard to battery operated chainsaws. Some of them say that the battery went down after 10 minutes of activity and sometimes it can run down before the tree is down. The good thing however is these modern batteries take a shorter time to recharge.
A good lithium battery can last for up to 3 hours and be recharged in another 2 hours. If you are cutting branches or small trees, battery life will not be an issue for you. However, if you are leaving home for a full days cutting experience in a place where there’s no source of electricity to recharge your chainsaw, then it becomes harder.
One solution is to purchase more than one battery. This will allow you to charge one battery while using the other. You can then simply exchange the battery when needed and recharge that and continue the cycle.
One of the positives with gasoline chainsaws is that they don’t need to be recharged. What this means for you is that you can spend a full day in the forest or any other place where there’s no electricity connection for recharging needs.
In this situation, a rechargeable chainsaw is not really a good fit unless you have a way to create portable electricity to charge the batteries, perhaps using a portable generator or solar charging system. The battery is likely to go down and you will waste time looking for somewhere to recharge your batteries and go back to work. You know what we mean right? You can carry gasoline in a container, but you cannot really carry an electricity connection to the forest with you unless you use some sort of portable generation device.
The other thing is that rechargeable chainsaws are silent compared to petrol powered chainsaws. If you value your ears and don’t like working in a noisy place, then choosing a battery operated chainsaw is a god send.
When comparing battery versus fuel powered chainsaws on the needs of maintenance, you are likely to note that Petrol powered chainsaws will need more maintenance, compared to battery operated chainsaws. They are also a lot easier to start and maintain power levels consistently whereas fuel powered chainsaws can fluctuate out of sync. They can run too lean or too rich and adjusting them can be tricky especially on older saws but is even the case with newer versions too. This is a major drawback of these gas powered saws.
The comfort and peace of mind that reliability brings cannot be emphasized enough. To know that a tool will work as it should time after time is fundamental in the joy it will bring to its user, and this is especially the case with chainsaws. Using a chainsaw that is coughing and spluttering and lacking power is not what you want or need.
So another thing these rechargeable chainsaws bring to the table is their reliability. Once the battery is charged they will always work for you time and time again without any surprises or nasty side effects from lying around for a few months.
There are no air filters needed, no risk of flooding the engine and no spark plugs to change. The chain can be tightened without the use of multiple tools and you won’t need to mix oil into the fuel. You won’t have to worry about bad fuel or the fuel system getting clogged up from lack of use over time. On the other hand battery operated chainsaws will generally have shorter bars and as a result they cannot cut a trees with larger diameters, although you can of course get bigger rechargeable chainsaws with longer bars capable of this task if needed.
Here there is no debate. Battery operated chainsaws are the best when you want to go about your daily tasks without causing much disturbance to your family and neighbors. With battery operated chainsaws, there is no smoke and almost no noise that will emanate from the machine. This means that they are quieter and leave almost no smell of smoke in their wake. Which is as it should be.
Although gas operated chainsaws are noisy and smoky, they are ideal for heavy duty cutting tasks that require a constant cutting time or for all day use. If you have many trees on your farm or property that you need to get rid of, then gas operated chainsaws are better suited and they can stay operational for a long time unless you purchase a pro saw with additional batteries and can spread the task over a number of days which will probably will be the case anyway.
Gas operated chainsaws will cut huge trees and can turn large logs into firewood. They usually come with a large bar and chain fitted as standard. They can therefore cut bigger and more demanding trees. You will never run out of battery charge, although you may run out of fuel unless you have a proper gas supply with you.
As well as that you won’t be confined to any one area. You don’t have to stay close to your home because you may need a recharge at some stage. Although this is not as much of a concern if you have a means of charging your battery from an adequate power supply. There are ways to generate electricity regardless of location.
For example you could use a power adaptor device called an inverter on your car or vehicle. This will essentially use your vehicles engine to generate electricity to charge your batteries. Or as we have discussed earlier use a portable generator, many of which come in compact lightweight sizes so they can be transported easily. These could be good solutions only if you are away from an appropriate power supply and you have a spare battery or two that you can charge while you are cutting.
If you are strongly concerned on limiting the impact of fossil fuels and the idea of using fuel powered devices to generate this electricity you could perhaps consider solar or wind power options to charge the batteries instead. These may be viable options in certain locations where sunlight and wind speed is substantial although perhaps not best suited to being on the forest floor when neither are in large supply.
The Bottom Line
In our opinion, no chainsaw type will be completely flawless. Whether that’s gas powered, rechargeable or corded they will all have some elements that could be better. However that being said we feel that the overriding thing to remember when selecting a chainsaw or any tool for that matter, is that it is suitable for your needs and brings you happiness and joy from its operation.
Hopefully this site will enable you to achieve this level of satisfaction by helping you learn more about the benefits and indeed the limitations to expect when considering rechargeable chainsaws.
A lot of the time what matters most is the context. If you need a chainsaw for pruning trees in your garden, cutting logs and small and medium trees a good standard battery powered chainsaw is the one for you.
If you need it to cut larger trees over the course of a full day of operation, or on a repetitive basis, then you need to consider a gas powered chainsaw. They are different tools but serve the same purpose. If you are home owner whose chainsaw needs are varying from time to time, you will be better served with the battery operated chainsaw.
When considering a chainsaw for commercial use, then you need to put more focus on the run times of the saws and finding a method to recharge your saw anywhere anytime may be worthwhile. If you do a lot of tree work and use a chainsaw constantly for example as a tree surgeon etc. then the run time will be critical and a gas chainsaw may still be the best solution because they can stay operational for a long time.
However if you are a gardener or landscape contractor and you use a chainsaw for occasional use then a rechargeable chainsaw may be an ideal solution especially if a lot of your work is in built up environments where noise and fumes can be troublesome.
Now with all this being said. When and it really is only a matter of time now that a battery is introduced into these chainsaws that can outlast fuel powered versions, then that will really be the final death nail for petrol powered versions. Until then they will still have a market and customers who will still seek them out.
This development will essentially mean that the only thing that has put fuel powered chainsaws ahead in one sense, is now gone and there would be no question that the best chainsaws on the market would be battery operated chainsaws.
To wrap up this post, it is clear that battery operated chainsaws have more pros when compared directly to their petrol powered alternatives, and because of this, when weighing everything up they are they overall winner in our book when everything is said and done.
If you have the need for a chainsaw perhaps you have just moved into a new home and your backyard garden is overrun with shrubs and bushes or for regular garden maintenance then check out our other articles and blog posts. If you are a beginner and have never used a chainsaw before it will be worth your time having a look at our post on the best chainsaw for a beginner.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you found this article useful or indeed if you have any questions or indeed if you would like to share your experience of your battery powered, corded or indeed petrol powered chainsaw. Also please share this article with others if you feel they will benefit from its content. Thanks and happy cutting!