When somebody mentions the name Husqvarna, you often think about gas powered chainsaws and sometimes overlook the fact that they have a great range of cordless power tools. The Husqvarna 120i 14-inch brushless chainsaw is one such tool.
In this review, we’ll take a look at a chainsaw packed with great features which is sure to tempt anyone looking for a premium product made by such a reputable brand.
FIND OUT MORE
Performance and Handling
This lightweight saw has been designed for felling small trees as well as for pruning and cutting small branches. This makes it an ideal occasional use saw for carrying out all those light cutting duties around the yard. If you are a keen outdoors person, it will also come in handy for those camping breaks and trips into the woods. It comes equipped with some impressive features which will be explained in more detail as we go through this review.
In terms of performance, with its 14 inch blade it is capable of cutting through a 12 inch log in a single pass, although as is the case with many electric saws it is likely to perform at its best cutting slightly smaller diameters. You can check out the Husqvarna in action further below, and one thing you will notice that this is much quieter than saws in Husqvarna’s gas powered range. With a measured sound level of 97 dB(A), this is the equivalent to the noise produced by a gas lawnmower at three feet. Whilst this shouldn’t upset your friends in the neighborhood, prolonged exposure to noise levels over 90 dB(A) can be harmful to your hearing so if you plan on doing any major work it is recommended that ear protection is worn.
When it comes to handling, if you have used gas powered saws or indeed any other reasonably heavy power tool, you should find the 120i to be well within your capabilities. It is light (weighing less than 11lbs) and has a slim design for better ergonomics, both of which will help minimize operator fatigue. There is a rubber rear handle for improved comfort and one neat design feature is the front ‘see through’ hand brake which allows the user to better see the nose of the chainsaw. This should help to avoid incorrect contact with the wood being cut, thereby helping to prevent kickback.
An intuitive keypad controls the on/off function. You simply need to insert the battery and then press and hold the stop/start button on the keypad until a green LED light appears. Then a throttle lockout switch is activated and the trigger can then be used to instantly start the saw. To stop the saw you need to press the stop/start button on the keypad until the LED light disappears.
One handy feature is that the saw will automatically be deactivated if not used for more than a minute.
On a final note, the battery must be kept dry and the saw cannot therefore be used in wet conditions. This isn’t unusual for this type of saw, although there are a few models which are capable of operating in damp conditions.
You can check out the Husqvarna in action in the video below.
The 120i comes with a Husqvarna own brand 14 inch bar and chain, both designed for low kickback for safer use.
The chain has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge and 52 drive links. This is a popular size chain on homeowner chainsaws, being both strong and reasonably light. The maximum speed of the chain is 11.5 m/s which is slower than most gas saws but in line with many electric models and perfectly adequate for light cutting. The speed of the chain can actually be reduced to 10 m/s by employing the Husqvarna’s savE feature. This preserves battery power and is useful when cutting smaller branches where having maximum chain speed isn’t as important.
Another feature of the 120i is that it has an inertia activated chain brake which can help reduce the likelihood of injury in the event of kickback. The brake can be activated manually by pushing the front hand guard into a forward position with the left hand, and also automatically in the event of kickback. You should note that in the event of slight kickback the brake will not activate as if it were too sensitive it would prove to be a nuisance.
Keeping the chain tensioned is also vitally important and on the Husqvarna this is done with a tool-less tensioning system. The more you use a saw, the longer the chain becomes so it’s important to keeping checking it on a regular basis. To adjust, you simply need to loosen the sprocket cover by turning the large loosening knob, then either tighten or loosen the chain as required by turning the small tensioning wheel either up or down. This couldn’t be simpler and should take no time at all meaning less work-time wasted. Note, a new chain has to be run in and tension should therefore be checked regularly until this has been done.
Experienced chainsaw users will also know that chains need to be sharpened regularly to keep them in good condition. Failure to do so will result in a deterioration in cutting performance, as well potentially being dangerous due to an increased likelihood of kickback. If you are experienced at this sort of thing, you will need a 5/32” round file and guide (holder). If you are interested in learning how to do this, check up on our article: What size file do I need for my chainsaw?. Alternatively you can have the chain sharpened professionally or invest in a new chain, although this is likely to prove more costly in the long run.
Design and Construction
The Husqvarna 120i has a simple, ergonomic design.
The rubberized handle houses the throttle trigger and lockout switches just below the keypad. The battery slots neatly into the top of the powerhead unit in a central position to retain balance. The battery release button is visible on top of the unit. There is a full wrap front handle which is ideal for cutting at different angles and just in front of this is the combined front hand guard and chain brake.
On the left hand side of the saw is an easy to open flip up tank cap, as well as the tank window. Also on the left side of the saw, there is an air-intake which is part of the 120i’s cooling system, to keep the working temperature as low as possible.
On the right hand side of the saw you will find the chain cover knob and tensioning wheel which are used together to keep the chain taut. On the front of the powerhead unit (not shown) there is a set of bumper spikes which pivot on the wood and provide stability when cutting.
Overall this is a well designed and constructed product.
40V battery and brushless motor
The Husqvarna’s 40 volt 4 Amp Hour Lithium-ion battery, in conjunction with the highly efficient brushless motor, provides plenty of power and endurance.
In simple terms the voltage provides an indication of the power and 40 volts is pretty standard for a saw in this class. The amp hours provide an indication of a battery’s runtime and generally the higher the amp hour rating the longer the runtime. Many saws in this class have 2 amp hour ratings, so the 120i scores well in this regard. But what does this mean in practical terms? The manufacturer indicates that you will get around 45 minutes of cutting time (with savE activated) from a single charge, which is pretty decent. This should enable you to undertake most small cutting tasks on a single charge but if you are planning on carrying out any major projects it will obviously be necessary to plan the work carefully or invest in a second battery.
The battery will also fit other Husqvarna products, including hedge trimmer, blower and trimmer and can quickly and easily be swapped between tools. It has an LED display which indicates what stage of charge the battery has reached. Note, the product comes only 30% charged so you will need to top this up before using the saw. A battery charger is included with the purchase and a full charge takes around 2 hours. It’s also worth pointing out that Lithium-Ion batteries can be charged no matter their charging level, which means you don’t need to let it run down completely before recharging. A fully charged battery will not lose its charge, even if left in the charger.
In terms of charging, as mentioned the charger provided will do the job in 2 hours. You can invest in the Husqvarna fast charger which will do a full charge in 30 minutes, although at around $130 this is expensive.
As well as the battery, the Husqvarna also has a modern brushless engine. These types of engines are around 90% efficient, which is much better than the traditional brushed counterpart. The benefits of this are reduced noise, a higher weight to torque ratio for increased efficiency and longer life.
Automatic adjustable flow oiler
As well as keeping the cutting equipment tensioned it also needs to be properly lubricated with suitable bar oil. The 120i has an adjustable automatic oiling system which, in my view, is the best type available. Not only does it remove the need to release oil manually to the bar but the rate of flow can also be adjusted to match the cutting conditions. When working in different temperatures the viscosity of oil can change and being able to adjust the flow can allow the correct amounts to reach the bar.
The manufacturer recommends use of its own chain oil (Husqvarna Chain Oil), although any good quality mineral based bar and chain oil is suitable. Oil is added through the flip up cap on the side of the powerhead unit (shown earlier). The cap is large and easily accessible and you will simply need to lay the saw on its side to add the oil.
The oil level should be checked regularly. One excellent feature of this saw is the capacity of the oil reservoir which is 200 ml and much larger than you will find on most electric models. Providing the right sort of chain oil is used, the oil is designed to last for 3 battery charges. It is, however, recommended that you check this more frequently, a task which is simple enough thanks to the transparent window.
On a final note, as with the majority of chainsaw purchases, oil is not supplied.
Safety is of paramount importance when using a chainsaw and the 120i comes with all the features you would expect. These include:
- Reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain which meet the safety standards imposed by ANSI B.175.1 (US) and Z62.3 (Canada).
- Front and rear hand guards. These stop the operator’s hands from coming into contact with the chain as well as from debris.
- Chain brake which will activate in the event of serious kickback.
- Chain catcher. This is a device designed to catch the chain if it either snaps or jumps off the bar. This should happen if the chain is properly lubricated and tensioned.
- Power trigger lockout which will prevent accidental operation of the throttle.
- Plastic molded bumper spikes to provide extra stability when cutting.
As always, the safety features will only keep you safe to a degree. Using proper cutting techniques and wearing the correct clothing (eyewear, chaps etc.) is the best way to remain safe.
The powerhead unit weighs 6.6lbs. When the battery and cutting equipment are attached the weight is 10.8lbs which is similar to other models in this class. It is certainly lighter than comparable gas powered saws.
The 120i comes with:
- 40 volt 4AH battery and charger
- Protective blade scabbard
- Operator’s manual
- Automatic, adjustable lubrication system
- Tool-less chain tensioning
- Large oil reservoir
- Good battery and brushless motor
• Charge time not as fast as some other products
Unfortunately, there is only a handful of ratings online at the moment (mainly 5 stars) so no conclusions can be drawn at the present time. I will update this section at a later date.
You should buy this saw if:
- You want a saw for light cutting duties around the home
- You want a portable alternative to a small gas saw
- You have other Husqvarna cordless power tools
- You are a fan of Husqvarna saws
- You want a product with a range of first class features
You should not buy this saw if:
- You have a lot of medium and heavy duty cutting work to carry out.
- You are looking for a budget saw.
Price of Husqvarna 120i 14 inch Brushless Chainsaw
At just under $300 this product is not a cheap. However, given the superb range of features, not to mention the excellent brand reputation, we consider this to be a fair price.