If you’re the type of person who only uses a chainsaw for light cutting and trimming every 5 years, you really don’t need to be spending $200 on a new saw. If you’re looking for a reliable machine which will cost less than $50, then the Homelite ZR43100 9.0 Amp 14-in Electric Chain Saw could just fit the bill.
This may be a reconditioned saw but that shouldn’t put you off. There are hundreds of happy on-line buyers who are glad that they made the purchase. As one satisfied consumer pointed out, you can save the cost of this chainsaw after just a single use. After all, the cost of getting someone in to do a bit of garden clearance can be quite expensive these days.
If you’re still not tempted by a reconditioned saw, then the exact same model, the Homelite UT43103 can be purchased for around $15 more.
Carry on reading this review to discover more.
Performance and Handling
This saw is designed for light cutting duties around the home. It can be used for basic limbing, felling and bucking small trees, as well as removing buttress roots.
It has a safe-start system which involves pressing a lock-out button which then activates the trigger, which is pressed to start up the saw. Simply release the trigger and the saw will coast to a stop and reset the lockout button. This reliable starting system means that you can carry out all those stop/start tasks without worrying if the saw will start again once it gets warm. Unlike gas saws, you can also be sure that after a few months inactivity in your garage, it will start up again without problem.
Despite its size, you will find this to be a pretty capable saw. It has a 14 inch blade, which means it should in theory be able to cut through a 12 inch log in a single pass. User feedback suggests that it is capable of doing this, although when cutting through thicker limbs it is slower than a gas saw. It will perform much better on limbs up to 8 inches in diameter, which should cover most light duty home cutting jobs. This makes it perfect for pruning and cutting small amounts of firewood.
Being an electric saw, you will of course need access to a power supply (either a socket or generator) and will need to work around the cord and extension cable. If you can do this, the advantage over a battery saw is that you have a pretty limitless supply of power without worrying abount having to recharge.
In terms of handling, at under 11 lbs., this is a reasonably light saw and anyone used to operating power tools should be able to handle this machine. It has a full wrap front handle for user comfort and as chainsaws go it is a safe saw to operate, thanks to its SAFE-T-TIP anti-kickback nose guard, which helps to prevent rotational kickback.
You can check out this saw in action below:
The ZR43100 comes with a 14 inch reduced kickback bar and low profile chain.
As mentioned earlier, the bar is fitted with Homelite’s SAFE-T-TIP system which helps to prevent rotational kickback. This occurs when the tip of the blade makes an incorrect contact with the wood being cut, forcing the blade to be thrown back violently towards the operator. The guard ensures that the tip of the blade does not come into contact with the wood. The bar has a nose sprocket. This is just a wheel on the nose of the bar which helps chain movement. There is a sprocket hole which must be greased on a regular basis to ensure that this doesn’t seize up. You can buy a grease gun for around $10 to do this.
The chain has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge and 52 drive links. This is a popular type of chain, being both reasonably strong and lightweight. Some users mentioned that the chain isn’t of the greatest quality and whilst it does the job, replacing with an Oregon will improve performance. The Oregon 91PX052G is suitable for this saw and costs around $16. Given that this is almost a third of the cost of the saw itself, my advice would be only to buy this when the original chain requires replacement.
The chain needs to be kept properly taut at all times. This is easy thanks to the Homelite’s tool-less chain tensioning system. There are two large buttons on the side of the powerhead unit. Simply loosen the chain cover lock knob and turn the tensioning knob clockwise to tighten. As experienced users will know, a chain is properly tensioned when there is no slack on the underside of the bar and when it can be turned by hand without binding. A few users mentioned that the chain does slip off unless tensioned regularly, although they also pointed out that this is both a simple and quick procedure to perform. Users should also ensure that the nut which holds the bar in place is properly tightened. If you keep a close eye on tension and check after every five cuts or so you shouldn’t have any issues.
To get the best performance from the saw, the chain will also need to be kept sharp. Full instructions on how to do this are provided and you will need a filing kit containing a 5/32” round file and holder. If after reading the instructions you do not feel comfortable doing this, it is recommended that you have the chain sharpened professionally or replaced. For further information, you can read out article on chain sharpening
Design and Construction
The Homelite Z43100 is a traditional rear handle chainsaw.
As shown below, it has a rubber rear handle, designed for user comfort and a full wraparound handle, which helps to cut at different angles.
The rear handle houses the lockout and throttle trigger and the flat bottom acts as the rear hand guard. There is also a cord retainer on the handle which helps to prevent the extension and power cords from separating during use. On top of the powerhead unit there is a large, easily accessible oil cap and the oil reservoir has a semi-translucent window.
As can be seen on the image above, the power cord is around 1 foot in length. The image also shows the two large knobs used to keep the chain tensioned as well as the SAFE-T-TIP anti-kickback mechanism.
User feedback suggests that the Homelite is a pretty well made saw. Some users were disappointed with the state of the reconditioned model received, although most were more than happy with their purchase.
On a final note, the saw comes fully assembled so you simply need to fill up with bar oil and you are ready to go.
9 Amp Motor
The 9 Amp motor will produce almost 1,100 watts which is around 1.5 HP (although engine efficiency is not 100% so this won’t be achieved). Although not comparable to a gas or some of the larger electric saws, it has more than enough power to deal with light cutting duties.
An extension cord will be required and this should be one which is suitable for outdoor use. It also needs to be the correct gauge. If you are running a 100 foot cord, this should be at least 12 gauge (10 gauge is recommended). This will ensure that you don’t have any issues with lack of power or the machine overheating. If you have a 50 foot cord, it should be a minimum of 14 gauge.
If you need to work away from a power outlet, this saw can be used with a generator providing it has sufficient power (based on the watts and amp ratings).
Chain Oil System
It will be necessary to ensure that the cutting components are kept properly lubricated and this is done by the Homelite’s automatic oiling system. This means that oil is released when the saw is switched on so you don’t have to do it manually.
You will need to use a good quality bar and chain oil (Homelite recommend their own oil but any other decent oil can be used). If you are doing a lot of pruning, it is recommended that a vegetable based oil is used to prevent harm to your trees and plants.
The reservoir on the Homelite has a capacity of 6 oz. which is around 180 ml. This is a reasonable size, however users mention it does get through a fair amount of oil so you should always keep a supply handy. The manufacturer recommends that the oil should be checked every 20 minutes and there is a translucent reservoir window which will help you to do this. User feedback suggest you will get through around 12-15 ounces of oil per hour.
One comment a fair number of users made was that this saw does leak oil during storage. Homelite recommends that the oil tank is emptied after each use and that the saw is run for a minute to get rid of excess oil. Even so, you may wish to give some consideration to where this is stored.
It should be mentioned that no oil is supplied with this purchase.
As I mentioned earlier, as chainsaws go this is a pretty safe saw and it has a number of safety features, including:
- Reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain, which meets the ANSI B.175.1 standard in this regard.
- Bar Tip to prevent rotational kickback.
- Front and rear hand guards to prevent the operator’s hands from coming into contact with the chain or being hit by debris.
- Safe-start operating system to prevent accidental start-up.
- Bumper spikes to provide stability when cutting.
Whilst all these features help, the best way to guarantee your safety is to operate the saw correctly and wear appropriate safety equipment (gloves, chaps and eyewear).
The powerhead unit weighs 7.8lbs, but with the bar and chain the total weight is 10.6lbs. Although this is a little heavier than other electric saws, it shouldn't be too onerous for the majority of people used to using power tools.
The saw comes with an operator’s manual. Unlike most other saws, it does not come with a protective bar scabbard. You can purchase one separately, such as the Husqvarna bar scabbard which will cost around $10.
• Easy to start and operate
• Tool-less chain tensioning
• Good safety features
• Cuts well
• Oil leaks during storage
• Need to check cutting gear tension regularly
There are over 300 reviews online for the Homelite and consumers definitely give it the thumbs up, with over 80% rating their purchase as either excellent or good.
Buyers like the fact that it is easy to start and handle and that it cuts well. They also like tool-less chains tensioning system and the low price.
The main negative comments centered on the fact that it does go through quite a lot of bar oil (not a bad thing in my opinion) and can leak during storage. Chain tension also needs to be regularly checked to avoid it slipping from the bar.
You should buy this saw if:
- You need an occasional duty home saw for light cutting duties.
- You don’t want to spend a great deal of money on a new machine.
- You have access to a power supply
- You want a chainsaw which is reasonably light and easy to handle
You should not buy this saw if:
- You are worried about buying a reconditioned product (Opt for the UT43103 in that case)
- You need a saw for heavy duty cutting
Price of the Homelite ZR43100 9.0 Amp Chain Saw
This product is on sale through a number of online retailers including Amazon and Home Depot at under $50. If you like the Homelite but don’t want a reconditioned product, the UT43103 is available at around $15 more but the cost still comes in under $70. We believe that buying either new or reconditioned are good options for the money. As many users pointed out, using the saw just once saved more than the cost of hiring a professional to do a light garden tidy up!