Many people often ask the question: what kind of oil does an electric chainsaw use? The subject of what type of oil you can put in a saw can be confusing, especially if you have never used one before. You will come across terms such as bar oil, mixing gas and oil and it’s important that you understand the difference. In this article, I will clarify and explain what these terms refer to.

Mixing Gas and Oil

This applies only to gas powered chainsaws and refers to the fuel which is required to run the saw. Instead of putting only gas into the tank, a mix of gas and oil is used in a particular ratio (usually 50 or 40 parts gas to one part oil). In this case the oil used is usually 2-stroke engine oil.

Oil for Electric Saws

Bar and Chain Oil

Chainsaws also need oil to provide lubrication to the bar and chain when cutting. This ensures that friction is reduced during operation resulting in better cutting performance. If oil is not supplied to the cutting equipment, friction will increase eventually resulting in damage to your saw. It’s highly likely that you will notice smoke coming from the bar if you are doing any type of demanding work.

The standard oil used to lubricate the bar and chain is completely different to that used when mixing with gas. Each manufacturer will usually recommend a particular type of oil but often it is difficult to get hold of a particular product. In these circumstances any good quality general use bar and chain oil can be used and some popular examples are shown below.


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When deciding which oil to put in your saw, there are a few things you should consider:

• Look for an oil which reduces ‘throw-off’. This means that the oil will hold the bar and chain better, which in turn will enhance performance.

• Look for bar oils which work well over a range of temperatures, especially if you need to work in extremes. You may find that when working in very low temperatures, the viscosity of the oil changes and the flow rate is reduced. Choosing a product which can be used over a range of temperatures should be considered.

• If you are using your saw primarily for pruning you should consider a vegetable based or biodegradable oil. This will prevent harm to your trees and brushes as well as being friendly to the environment.

Can I use an alternative to Bar and Chain Oil?

This very much depends on the chainsaw, but some manufacturers do permit the use of motor oil. If this is the case they will advise SAE ratings (Society of Automotive Engineers). In summer this would usually be an SAE 30 weight motor oil and in winter an SAE 10. Always read the operator’s manual for guidance in this regard.

What you should not do

Whatever oil you decide to use, there are a couple of rules you need to follow. Always ensure that the oil you add is fresh. Never use oil which has been recycled and emptied from your car or boat. Finally you should only ever add oil to the reservoir when the chainsaw is switched off and not running.

I hope you have found this article useful and now have a clearer idea about the type of oil you can put in your electric chainsaw.

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