There are times when I’m looking to buy something new that I just want a cheap, no frills product which will get the job done. This may not be the most recognizable power tool manufacturer, but the Earthwise CS30116 12 Amp 16 inch corded chainsaw has already delighted a number of satisfied buyers and in this review you will discover why.
Not only this, but it comes with a price tag which you will find hard to beat, making it a low cost solution for any homeowner looking for an occasional use chainsaw.
Carrying on reading to see if you, too, will be tempted.
Performance and Handling
This chainsaw has been designed to carry out a range of light and medium cutting duties around the home, which makes it suitable for clearing brush and trimming trees. In addition, it can also be used to cut small amounts of firewood for your stockpile.
Starting up the CS30116 is child’s play. Push the lock button with your thumb and squeeze the throttle trigger with your finger and the saw will start immediately. After this the lock button can then be released. This is a single speed saw and when you want to turn it off you just need to release the trigger. You should note that the chain coasts for a short while after you release the trigger so you should ensure
it comes to a complete stop before you relax your control of the saw.
This is a reasonably light, easy to handle product so operating the saw should be within the capabilities of most people accustomed to using power tools. User feedback suggests it can comfortably cut through limbs up to 10 inches in diameter and is capable of carrying out more demanding tasks. The bottom line is, if you have any light or moderate cutting tasks, such as clearing up a bit of wind damage, cutting firewood or felling small trees, the CS30116 will take care of it.
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As with all corded saws, you should only use the CS30116 when the conditions are right, which means not in damp or wet weather. As with other models, you should not use it to cut vines or small underbrush which can get caught in the cutting equipment and cause the chain to whip off.
The only other issue to bear in mind when handling the Earthwise is that it doesn’t have a chain brake. In the event of kickback, when the bar is thrown back towards the user suddenly, many saws have inertia activated brakes which stop the chain from rotating. A number of electric saws don’t incorporate brakes as the chain will stop when the trigger is released and, provided you handle the saw properly and as per the instructions, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The CS30116 comes with a 16 inch bar and chain. Both of these are Oregon products so are of good quality.
The bar is a 91 Double Guard which is lightweight and has a small radius nose to help prevent kickback. It has a nose sprocket to reduce friction, thereby improving chain movement and the cutting performance. The nose of the bar will need to be regularly greased so that the sprocket doesn’t get jammed. This is a simple task which involves injecting a little grease into the sprocket hole on the tip of the bar.
The chain is Oregon’s 91 Low Profile. This is a low kickback product which meets the kickback requirements of ANSI B.175.1 and as such is a much safer type for the inexperienced or occasional user. It has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge and 57 drive links. It is a very popular chain because it offers a good balance between performance and durability. It does, in common will all chains, need to be kept sharp. This can be done professionally for a few dollars or by the saw owner. If you feel comfortable doing this (and it is something which can definitely be learned) then you will need a 5/32” round file and file holder. Full sharpening instructions are provided in the manual.
You will need to ensure that the chain is kept properly tensioned and you should therefore check this regularly. In the early days chains have a tendency to stretch so keep a close eye on this when you first use the saw. With the CS30116, keeping your chain in the correct cutting state is easy thanks to the tool-less chain tensioning system. You simply need to loosen the guide bar screw and then move the tensioning wheel up or down. (These are both shown in the Design section). No tools are required to perform this operation so you won’t need to head off back to the garage mid-cut to retrieve a screwdriver and wrench.
Design and Construction
The CS30116 is a simple, well designed chainsaw constructed from hard plastic and metal.
As shown in the diagram below, it has the classic style rear handle with a throttle trigger and cord attachment hook. The oil reservoir cap is situated on top of the saw, making it easy to get to and fill the tank. Just below the cap you will see the oil reservoir window.
There is a large chain cover knob and tensioning wheel used to fit the bar and chain as well as tensioning the chain.
The diagram above provides a view of the other side of the saw. The cable measures around 1.5 feet in length. On the rear handle you will see the lock button which is used in conjunction with the trigger to start the saw. There is a half-wrap front handle which sits just behind the front hand guard. On the front of the power head unit, there is also a set of bumper spikes which are used for providing stability when cutting.
You will note that the motor protrudes quite a way on the left side of the saw. This may affect the balance slightly but it isn’t something that users have flagged as being a problem.
This product comes fully assembled so all you need to do is plug into a power cord (not supplied), fill with bar and chain oil and you are ready to go.
The Earthwise is powered by a 12 Amp motor, which is about middle of the range for a corded saw.
A motor of this size should be capable of generating just under 2 horsepower, which is sufficient power to drive the 16 inch cutting equipment. The chainsaw cord is only around one and a half feet in length so you will need to use an appropriate extension cord. This should be suitable for outside use and be the correct gauge.
The maximum cord length recommended by the manufacturer is 50 feet. This should be at least a 14 gauge cord, although a 12 gauge is likely to provide better performance. Some users have used cords up to a 100 feet in length. If you are tempted to do this, it should be at least a 10 gauge cord.
Chain Oil System
The CS30116 has an automatic fixed flow oiling system. This means that oil is automatically released to the cutting equipment when the saw is in operation so you don’t have to remember to do it manually. As it is fixed flow, the rate at which the oil is released can’t be adjusted.
Oil is added through the cap on top of the chainsaw, which is easily accessible, making filling up very straightforward. Any good quality bar and chain oil can be used and if you are pruning trees it is recommended that a vegetable based oil is used. If bar and chain oil is not available you can add unused motor oil (weight SAE 30).
You should always ensure that there is sufficient oil in the reservoir as failure to oil the chain will cause damage to the cutting equipment. Checking the oil level is easy thanks to the transparent window. The reservoir capacity is 1.6 oz. and oil is used at the rate of around 0.2 oz of oil each minute. This means that you will get around 8 minutes of cutting time per reservoir full of oil so you should always ensure you have a supply close by when cutting for any length of time.
A few users mentioned that they had some issues with the oiler in that it wasn’t releasing oil to the chain. To overcome this, they used an oil can to manually add the oil. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it isn’t recommended and if you have any issues you should contact the manufacturer to resolve. The oiler is designed to release the correct amount of oil.
Note, as is the case with the majority of chainsaws, no oil is supplied with the purchase.
The safety features on the CS30116 include:
- Lock switch which must be deployed before the trigger will operate. This prevents accidental start-up of the saw.
- Reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain which meets ANSI B.175.1 safety standards. Note, this will not completely eliminate kickback, but it will reduce the likelihood and impact.
- Bumper spikes. These metal spikes help to provide more stable and safer cutting.
- The front hand guard will protect the user’s hand from coming into contact with the chain should grip on the saw be lost.
These safety features are pretty standard but you should remember that the best way to reduce the likelihood and effects of accidents is to use the appropriate safety gear (covered in this article) and to operate the saw in the prescribed manner.
This chainsaw weighs 9.7lbs. This is a reasonably light product and is similar to other models in its class. For example, the Worx WG303.1 16 inch saw weighs 11lbs.
As well as an operator’s manual, the CS30116 comes with a scabbard to protect the bar and chain.
- Low price
- Easy to handle and operate.
- Tool-less chain tensioning
- Some oiler issues reported
I have read through just under a hundred reviews online for this product. Even though there aren’t as many reviews as for other popular saws and some caution therefore needs to be exercised, there are enough to draw some conclusions.
Over 90% of buyers rated the product as either good or excellent. Consumers liked the ease of use, the tool-less chain tensioning system and the low price. They also commented on how well it cut through small and medium size wood.
The only real negative was that a few users commented that the oiler on their saws did not work properly.
You should buy this saw if:
- You are looking for a low cost product.
- You have occasional light/medium cutting duties around the home
- You have access to a power outlet.
- You want a saw which is east to start and operate.
- You want a low maintenance chainsaw.
You should not buy this saw if:
- You are looking for a quality product and have several hundred dollars to spend.
- You want a saw for regular use, involving medium/heavy duty cutting.
Earthwise CS30116 Electric Chainsaw Price
Currently available at well under $100, this is one of the cheapest products in its class. Indeed, this saw could well pay for itself in saved landscaper costs after just one use.