In recent years, electric chainsaws have been gaining in popularity, especially with home and farm owners looking for an easy to operate but capable power tool.
They are ideal for carrying out a variety of tasks around your property, such as clearing light brush, trimming hedges and pruning trees. In addition, some of the larger electrical saws are able of carrying out heavier duties, such as cutting firewood or moderate bucking (cutting a felled and delimbed tree into logs).
There are two types of electric saw:
Corded – As the name implies, these saws are attached to a power supply by a cord and need to be used together with an appropriate extension lead. The majority of popular models currently on the market have a power output somewhere between 8 and 15 Amps, allowing them to perform a whole range of jobs on your land. To give you an idea, a 15 amp motor is capable of generating up to 2.5 horsepower which is similar to that produced by many 40-45cc gas powered saws.
Cordless – These saws are powered by a rechargeable battery. Most of the products on the market now use Lithium-Ion batteries. These are low-maintenance batteries with high energy density, which means that they are able to operate longer between charges than the traditional Ni-Cad battery. Most batteries range in power from 20v to 40v and as you would expect, the higher the voltage, the more power they have.
If you are still unsure whether to buy a gas powered or electric saw (corded or cordless), it’s worth considering some of the Pros and Cons.
• Generally, electric saws tend to be much lighter than gas powered saws which makes them easier to handle and operate. As a result, the user is far less likely to fatigue as quickly as if using a gas saw. Of the two types of electric saw, the cordless products tend to be heavier given the additional weight of the battery.
• They tend to be much quieter than gas powered saws. This makes them more suitable for use in built up neighborhoods, near schools, hospitals and other noise sensitive areas.
• They are pretty clean to operate. Unlike gas powered machines, the user doesn’t have to contend with the unpleasant fumes emitted during operation.
• Although you still need to maintain and take care of electric saws, they require less ongoing maintenance than their gas powered counterparts.
• Unlike many gas saws, they are very easy to start. It’s usually just a case of pressing a few buttons and off you go. In fact, they are so easy to fire-up they often unsettle unwary users as they spring to full power immediately after being switched on. This is in contrast to gas saws which rev up after being started. To overcome this problem, some models have a ‘soft start’ facility which makes the motor gradually build in power giving the operator more time to get prepared.
• Small electric saws, especially battery operated models, can be excellent for close quarter cutting and getting into areas where larger saws won’t go.
• There is no need to worry about mixing fuel and oil as with gas powered models. Sometimes, having to mix fuel to carry out a five-minute job just doesn’t seem worth it, making electric models far more convenient.
• With the increasing popularity of these products, manufacturers have increasingly developed user-friendly features. These include things like automatic oiling and self-tightening chains.
Clearly there are many reasons why getting an electric chainsaw makes excellent sense. However, there are some disadvantages which need to be taken into consideration.
• Unless you buy a professional grade saw, it is unlikely to be as powerful as your average gas powered product. This makes them unsuitable for regular, heavy cutting duties.
• If the saw is corded, your work area is restricted by the length of the power cord. This means that there may be areas of your property which are off limits to the saw. You can run these tools off a portable generator, although if you don’t already own one it isn’t worth going to such an expenses just to run a chainsaw. Obviously, if the model is uncorded, these constraints don’t apply.
• When buying an extension lead, you need to ensure that it is appropriate for your needs. This means getting a cord suitable for outdoor use which is the right length and gauge. Our reviews will always indicate the most appropriate cord to use.
• Cords have one ‘stand-out’ disadvantage. You guessed it, they can be easily spliced by a misplaced cut! In addition, care is also need to ensure that it doesn’t get snagged and more importantly that the user doesn’t trip over it while using the tool. Battery and gas operated products clearly have the advantage here.
• Although advances have been made in terms of battery power and storage, you still need to ensure that you have sufficient power to finish the job being undertaken. I have read numerous horror stories about people having to leave precariously balanced ‘nearly’ felled trees because the saw ran out of juice. If necessary get a spare battery to take with you just in case.
• Due to their lighter construction, these saws tend to have more plastic parts and are not quite as durable as some of the traditional gas powered saws. As with all your power tools you should, therefore, treat your saw with care.
Should I buy?
So, now for the million dollar question – should you get an electric chainsaw?
You should consider buying if:
• You want a chainsaw for occasional use.
• You are looking for a lightweight saw capable of carrying out some general light/medium duties around your property.
• You will be using the saw in noise sensitive areas.
• You have access to a power point (unless you opt for the battery saw)
• You are an inexperienced chainsaw user.
You should not buy if:
• You want a durable product for regular medium to heavy duty tasks.
• You have a large property with no access to a power supply (and don’t want a battery operated saw).
• You are an experienced chainsaw user who wants to tinker with the saw to fine tune performance in different operating environments.
The above information hopefully provides some general advice to help you with your buying decision. If you are still undecided, don’t worry. Just wander over to our review section where you will find this information covered in far greater detail in our various individual product reviews.