When the manufacturer of a battery powered chainsaw claims to have made the perfect replacement for a gas powered saw you need to sit up and take notice. The Greenworks 20312 G-Max 40v 16-inch cordless chainsaw just happens to be that product.
In this review we’ll check out the validity of the manufacturer’s claim. Offering great power, superb performance and ease of handling this saw is packed with some of the most up to date technology and is full of surprises.
Experienced woodsmen may not be ready to hang up their 2-strokes just yet but even they might be surprised by how far battery powered saws have come!
Performance and Handling
When it comes to performance and handling, the 20312 G-Max scores pretty highly. The manufacturer states: GreenWorks NEW G-MAX 16-inch DigiPro Chainsaw is powered with our innovative brushless technology allowing for longer life, greater efficiency and less noise with more torque making this the first battery powered chainsaw that can replace your gas.
The comparison to gas saws is based on the fact that unlike corded electric chainsaws, the 20312 offers the same flexibility in that users do not have to be close to a power source. This would therefore make it useful for taking on camping trips to cut some firewood, for example. Many people who live in areas of woodland, where fallen trees blocking roads are often a problem, carry chainsaws in their vehicles. In such circumstances, the 20312 offers an alternative to a gas powered saw.
The brushless technology refers to the type of motor in the DigiPro. Old-school brushed motors had a number of component parts, one of which was a set of carbon brushes. New-style brushless motors get rid of several components, including the brushes, and incorporate some new technology. The overall result is that motors can be more powerful as they don’t suffer voltage drop from the friction of the brushes dragging against other parts and there is also more room to make the copper windings larger.
In addition to this, new technology provides more efficient, smarter use by only using the power required to carry out specific tasks. In theory, therefore, the motor would not call on as much power to cut through 2 inch pine as it would say 6 inch oak.
So what is the GreenWorks like to handle? The motor design claims to reduce vibration by up to 70% and having seen the 20312 in action I can see that it cuts smoothly and has a noise level which doesn’t seem much louder than a blender. It is certainly much quieter than a traditional gas saw of a similar size. The lack of noise and vibration is also confirmed by many users.
Many users commented that the saw is lightweight and it has certainly proved popular with many experienced women chainsaw users looking for something a little easier to handle than a gas saw. It has an operating weight, including the battery, of 13.3lbs which isn’t too dissimilar to some 16 inch gas saws, such as the Husqvarna 240 2 HP. While it is therefore lighter than some of the heavy duty chainsaws, it doesn’t particularly hold any advantage over gas saws designed for similar tasks.
Where the DigiPro does come into its own compared to its gas counterparts is how easy it is to start. There is no need to mix gas and oil. You simply need to press and hold the on/off button which allows you to operate the switch trigger. The switch trigger is than pressed and held and the on/off button can be released. Whilst starting a gas saw is not necessarily a problem, if you are doing a number of small jobs which involves stopping and starting the saw, gas saws can become temperamental after a while. You will not have any such issues with the Greenworks. The other major advantage, of course, is that you won’t have to worry about breathing gas fumes from the engine.
Having considered the handling, let’s have a look at what the GreenWorks 20312 is capable of doing. This saw is designed to carry out light and medium duties and the manufacturer advises that it is ideal for heavy pruning, removing small trees such as birch trees, clearing debris and dismembering fallen trees for easy disposal. In addition to felling and limbing, it can also be used to clear buttress roots. The manufacturer says that it is capable of cutting logs with a diameter up to 25 inches, although this should be treated as an occasional cut.
Although the saw has a 16 inch bar, you shouldn’t assume that it can comfortably cut through large logs. If you try to cut through a dense 25 inch oak, for example, the saw would struggle and power would drain from the batteries very quickly. Feedback suggests that whilst it can cut through logs with a diameter of 12”-14”, it is best suited to smaller cutting. You will find that it performs best when cutting logs with diameters up to around 10 inches.
In summary, this saw is not suitable for a professional and don’t expect it deforest the continent! However, it is definitely capable of coping with all those light and medium duty cutting tasks around the home and farm.
The 20312 is equipped with a 16 inch Oregon low kickback bar and reduced kickback chain. In terms of the chain, it is a MicroLite (90px) and has a pitch of 3/8”, a gauge of 0.043” and 56 links. As with all saws, it is important to keep the chain sharp for optimum performance and to do this a 5/32” (4 mm) round file and holder is used. As far as bar size goes, a larger bar should not be used on this saw.
It has a cutting speed of 11 meters per second. This compares to around 16 m/s for the Husqvarna 240 and 12 m/s for the Worx WG303.1 14.5 Amp electric saw (both 16 inch saws). The higher the cutting speed generally translates into improved cutting performance so the Greenworks falls well short of the Husqvarna in this respect.
As with all chainsaws, it’s important that that the chain is kept properly tensioned at all times. On the G-Max 40v this is done by using the large ‘chain tension knob’ on the outside of the saw. This is a pretty simple procedure and involves removing the battery, loosening the chain cover lock bolt and then turning the chain tension knob clockwise to tighten. The chain cover lock bolt is tightened and that’s it!
As always, new chains tend to stretch more so the chain tension should be checked more regularly when it is first used. To ensure you have the correct tension, a cold chain will have no slack on the underside of the guide bar, the chain will be snug and it can be turned by hand without binding. During operation as the chain gets warm, it will hang around 1/16” (1.3mm) out of the bar groove. This is perfectly normal.
The guide bar itself has a narrow kerf nose sprocket. The kerf is basically just the width of material removed by a cutting process. The advantage of using a narrow, lean kerf cutting system is that it requires less power from the saw to make the same length cut. The sprocket itself improves chain rotation which results in improved sawing performance. To ensure the bar is kept in top condition you will have to remember to regularly grease the tip. This is done by adding grease to the lubricating hole using a grease gun which can be picked up for less than $10.
Some users did report issues with the chain coming loose quite a bit but these were in the minority. Providing the instructions are followed correctly you shouldn’t experience any problems you wouldn’t normally expect to see with most saws.
Check out the video below to see the 20312 in action.
Design and Construction
The Greenworks 20312 is constructed mainly of hard plastic. Although it doesn’t have as many metal parts as some of the more expensive gas saws, it is still reasonably robust and certainly sturdy enough for home use. The fact that it is plastic also helps contribute to keeping the weight down which is obviously important given that it has to carry a 3lb battery. You shouldn’t have any issues with corrosion (although use in damp and wet conditions is not recommended).
The rear handle is rubber coated for comfort and houses the throttle trigger as well as the on/off switch which is positioned on top of the handle. The front handle is the half wrap style and sits behind the front hand guard, which also acts as a chain brake.
On the left hand side of the saw’s powerhead there is a large white cap for the oil reservoir. This is easily accessible making adding chain oil easy. To help gauge the level of oil in the saw, the reservoir also has a window.
On the right hand side of the saw, you will find the chain tension knob, chain cover and chain cover locking knob. These are all large, uncomplicated buttons which make fitting the bar and chain, as well as keeping chain tension correct, simple operations. The added bonus is that tools are not required.
The battery itself slots into the top of the powerhead just behind the front handle. Unlike some other battery saws, where the battery is fitted to the side of the machine, this has the advantage of maintaining a nice balance when cutting.
Although full instructions are provided, some people reported that getting the battery in and out is a little tricky and takes some getting used to. Whilst this is a little inconvenient at first, most users finally found the correct technique and managed to get the hang of it.
Overall, the 20312 has an unsophisticated but functional design and its construction is capable of handling the demands made of it.
The 20312 comes equipped with a Greenworks 40v 4AH G-Max battery, along with a battery charger. G-Max is part of the manufacturer’s lithium-ion battery range so this battery is compatible with a number of the company’s lawn G-Max lawn and garden range of products.
With regard to the battery’s 4AH capabilities, AH stands for amp hours and means that the battery is capable of continuously delivering a load of 1 amp for 4 hours, 2 amps for 2 hours, 4 amps for 1 hour, 8 amps for half an hour and so on. If you already own a Greenworks 40v 2AH battery from another tool purchase, this can be used as a back-up for the saw. A feature of the battery is that it has a visible ‘fuel’ indicator so you can easily see how much charge is remaining in the battery. You can read our article about chainsaw batteries HERE.
So what does all this mean in terms of cutting time and workloads? The manufacturer advises that the fully charged 4AH battery is capable of cutting up to 150 pieces of 4×4 wood in a single charge (which would be wood four inches thick). How long the battery will stay charged depends on its level of use but generally it should have a run-time of between 30 and 45 minutes. If you have a 2AH spare this would have a run-time of around 20-25 minutes. Many users have been able to carry out jobs over several hours of non-continuous use and found plenty of charge left in the battery afterwards. On the other hand, you may find that for continuous, high intensity workloads it will only last around 20 minutes before recharging is required. Users have indicated that even when charge is running low the saw still operates at full power.
When it comes to recharging, this usually takes around two hours. This compares favorably with some other brand batteries which can take up to four hours to charge. The manufacturer makes a number of points with regard to charging and storing the battery.
Firstly, it is easy to see when the battery needs recharging. One green light indicates that the charge is down to 10% and will soon require charging. When charge falls below 10% all lights go out and immediate charging is required. The battery does not develop a memory which means that you can charge it at any time without any problems.
Note, it is not advisable to leave the battery on charge for an extended period of time. Also, when the saw is not in use the battery should be removed as otherwise it will not retain its charge.
All batteries should be stored in a clean, dry environment and in temperatures between 43-104°F. If you plan on storing the battery for long periods, it is recommended that this is done on half charge.
Finally, it should be pointed out that the battery does not come charged. You will therefore have to wait for a few hours to start using your new saw!
Chain Oil System
When it comes to the 20312’s oiling system there are both positives and negatives. Firstly, on the plus side this is an automatic oiling system which means that you can just fill up the reservoir and go. There is no need to remember to flick a switch to start oiling the chain.
On the downside, there is no way of adjusting the flow of oil to match your operating conditions which means there may be occasions when more oil than necessary is being released. Based on consumer feedback, this saw also has a problem with oil-leakage when not in use so unless you follow the manual guidance you may find your storage surfaces, not to mention the saw, covered in oil when you next come to use it. The manufacturer recommends that after each use the reservoir is emptied and the saw run for one minute before storage. As the oil is fed to the bar by gravity, you could reduce the inconvenience by storing the saw with the bar facing down and allowing oil to drip onto a plastic surface. As with all saws, it is inevitable that some oil will leak during storage so it is always wise to take appropriate precautions.
The oil reservoir has a capacity of 170ml (5.75 oz.). The oil level should be checked after each 20 minutes of use and refilled when necessary. This can easily be done thanks to the window in the oil reservoir. The oil reservoir cap is large and easy to access so filling up won’t cause any problems. In terms of the oil, you should use only specific Bar and Chain lubricant. As with most chainsaws, you will find that oil is not included in the purchase so you will need to ensure you have a supply before use.
This saw has a host of safety features, including:
• Low kickback bar and reduced kickback chain. The chain meets all the requirements of ANSI B.175.1 in meeting certain low kickback requirements.
• Chain brake. This can be activated by pushing the front hand guard forward towards the saw.
• Bucking spikes are attached to help with stability whilst cutting
• There is an on/off switch which must be pressed before the trigger will activate, therefore preventing accidental start up.
• Vibration is kept to a minimum thanks to the motor design, which will help to reduce the likelihood of developing hand problems commonly associated with power tools.
• Both the front and rear handles have guards which help protect the hand from debris and also coming into contact with the chain.
The operating weight of the saw is 13.3lbs (including the battery).
The DigiPro comes with a range of accessories, including:
• User manual
• Soft carry case
• Guide bar scabbard
• Battery and charger
• Simple starting procedure
• Excellent cutting performance
• Quiet operation
• Low vibration
• Reasonably light and easy to handle
• Excellent power for a battery operated saw
• No cord to worry about as with corded saws
• Oil leakage when in storage
• Care needed to ensure proper chain tension maintained at all times
GreenWorks 20312 40V Chainsaw Consumer Ratings
There are hundreds of consumer reviews on line and the vast majority of them are positive. Just under 90% of buyers rate this product as either good or excellent which is a great endorsement of this product.
Positive reviews centered on cutting performance, ease of use and the saw’s surprising power. Many users were pleased with the way the saw handles, not to mention its quiet operation. The saw proved particularly popular with older users who no longer feel comfortable handling their big gas powered saws.
In terms of negative reviews, the main complaint is that unless the reservoir is drained after use, oil will quickly leak out. Some users also had issues with keeping the correct chain tension, especially in the early days of use. These negative reviews, however, should be kept in context given the overwhelming positive support for this saw.
You should consider buying this saw if:
• You need a saw for light and medium cutting duties.
• You are a Greenworks fan with other power tools in their G-Max collection.
• You want a decent powered non-gas saw for work where there is no access to electricity.
• You want a cordless saw for jobs where you need to regularly stop and restart.
• You don’t want the hassle of mixing gas and oil and pull starting.
You should not buy this chainsaw if:
• You want a budget saw.
• You need to tackle large jobs on a regular basis.
• You need to use a saw for continuous heavy use over several hours
Price of the GreenWorks 20312 40V Chainsaw
Coming in at a touch under $250, this isn’t a cheap saw. However, feedback suggests that consumers are happy to have paid a few more dollars for this quality product.
GreenWorks provides a four (4) years repair warranty against defects in materials, parts or workmanship. GreenWorks at their discretion will repair or replace any and all parts found to be defective, through normal use with the exception of any part that has become inoperative due to misuse, commercial use, abuse, neglect, accident, improper maintenance, or alteration.