If you want an electric chainsaw which is reliable, light and easy to use then the Sun Joe SWJ701E 18-Inch 14 Amp Electric Chain Saw could be the product for you.
The saw packs a surprising punch and is capable of sawing through wood up to 16 inches in diameter, which makes it useful for cutting firewood and larger branches. It is well designed making handling easy and allowing you to make precise cuts every time.
It may not look like the sturdiest power tool you’ve ever seen but at well under $100 you won’t go too far wrong the Sun Joe.
Carry on reading this review for more information.
Performance and Handling
With an 18 inch bar, this chainsaw isn’t the best option for trimming and pruning in tight spaces and indeed the manufacturer states that it is best used for cutting thick limbs, firewood, logs and branches.
So let’s look in more detail at how this saw handles and performs. Firstly, switching the saw on is simple and just a case of pressing the safety lock button with your thumb and squeezing the trigger with your finger. The saw will start instantly and at this point the lockout button can be released. One point to note is that there were a number of negative reviews mentioning that the saw would not start. A number of these reviews were later altered when the users realized that the chain brake had been accidently engaged.
When the brake was pulled back the saw started without issue.
When it comes to cutting performance, the manufacturer advises that it has a cutting diameter of 17 inches. User feedback suggests that this is the case and many people have used it to fell and buck trees up to 16 thick without too many problems. Users also point out that, providing you don’t force the saw when cutting, it will cope with hardwoods such as oak and mesquite.
If you need to cut the occasional cord of firewood then this saw is a good choice. If, however, you have a lot of regular cutting to do, a gas powered saw (despite all the hassle and preparation) might be a better option.
In terms of handling, the SWJ701E has an adjustable ergonomic handle. Added to this is the fact that it is pretty light (less than 10 lbs.) and as a result fatigue is minimized during use.
Most people should find this saw well within their handling capabilities, although novice users should remember that longer bars can be a little trickier to handle.
Reviews are mixed about whether or not this is a quiet saw when being used. The manufacturer advises that the sound power level is 107 dB(A) and prolonged exposure to noise at these levels can lead to hearing damage. It is therefore recommended that hearing protection should be worn during use.
As stated earlier in this review, the Sun Joe has an 18 inch guide bar and chain.
The bar is an Oregon 1862A041 low kick back bar with a nose sprocket. The sprocket helps to reduce friction and improve movement of the chain which in turn improves cutting performance. The tip of the saw will require to be greased on a regular basis to prevent the sprocket from seizing. This can be done easily with a grease syringe, available to buy for around $10.
The chain is an Oregon Low Profile S62. This has 62 drive links, 3/8” pitch and 0.05” gauge. These popular sized chains are very common on electric and small gas chain saws and meet the low kickback requirements of ANSI B.175.1 (USA) and CSA Z62 (Canada). They are readily available so you shouldn’t have any issues getting replacements down the line.
The chain needs to be kept properly tensioned at all times to optimize cutting performance and prevent it from slipping off the bar. I’ve read descriptions on some websites stating that the chain tensioning system on the SWJ701E is tool-less but this is incorrect. There is a chain tensioning screw on the front of the saw’s powerhead unit which needs to be turned using a screwdriver.
Full instructions on how to tension the chain are provided, however many users advised that this can be a little tricky when compared to the tensioning systems used on other saws. In addition, a number of users mentioned that the chain has a tendency to slip easily from the bar. It’s important therefore that the tension is checked regularly as they tend to stretch as you work. These checks are especially important when new whilst the chain is settling in. You can also try to prevent slippage by keeping your cuts straight and not allowing the branch or wood to pinch the bar.
As well as keeping the correct tension, the chain must also be kept sharp. You will know when the cutting equipment is dull as the sawdust looks like dust, cutting becomes more difficult and vibration increases. If you capable of doing this you will need a 5/32” round head file and holder. Sharpening chains is a skill which must be learned and if done incorrectly can cause issues with both performance and safety. If you are not happy doing this you should the chain sharpened by a professional or alternatively buy a new one. (You can pick one up for around $15).
Design and Construction
The Sun Joe SWJ701E is constructed mainly from plastic parts. This helps to keep it light and although it isn’t the most robust and hard wearing chainsaw you will find, most users found it perfectly capable of standing up to the rigors of light/medium duty cutting.
In terms of design, it is a traditional rear handle model and comes in Sun Joe’s traditional green and yellow colors. The above diagram shows the right side of the saw. As you can see there is an oil cap, which is easily accessible and on a slight angle which allows easy fill up of the oil reservoir. Just beneath the cap is the oil level checker window. The sprocket cover is kept in place by a single end cover nut, shown with a decorative cap. There is also a set of plastic bumper spikes which provide stability during cutting.
On the left side of the saw (depicted above) you will find the front handle and hand guard (which also acts as the chain brake). The brake is engaged by pressing forward on this guard and which needs to be disengaged before the saw will start. The safety lock button and trigger are in close proximity on the rear handle. The handle also has a cord restraint hook which provides a secure method of attaching an extension cable to the chainsaw. (You should note that the power cord is only around a foot long so an extension cable will be required).
Overall this isn’t the sturdiest product on the market so needs treating with a bit of care but given the low price this is only to be expected.
The SWJ701E has a 14 Amp brushed motor, which is towards the top end in terms of power for an electric saw. This converts into roughly 2 Horsepower when taking into account that brushed motors are around 80% efficient. This power is equivalent to some smaller gas powered saws, such as the Husqvarna 240 2HP and should be sufficient to carry out the light and medium cutting tasks for which it was designed.
You will need to use this saw with an extension cable. This should be suitable for outdoor use and the correct gauge. If you are using a 50 foot cord, it should be a minimum of 14 gauge (thought 12 gauge would be better) and a 100 foot cord should be a minimum of 12 gauge (though a 10 gauge would be better). You can read more about extension cords in our article here but basically the higher the gauge (represented by a lower number) are more efficient they are at delivering power.
Chain Oil System
Keeping the cutting equipment properly lubricated is easy thanks to the automatic oiler which means that you don’t need to worry about manually releasing oil to the bar during cutting. The system is the most popular fixed flow type so the rate of oil flow can’t be adjusted.
You need to ensure that suitable bar and chain oil is added to the reservoir. This should be a good quality bar and chain oil (preferably vegetable based if you are pruning), although if this is not available unused SAE 30 weight motor oil can be substituted.
Oil is added through the cap which is easily accessible on the side of the saw. The reservoir itself has a capacity of 3 oz. (90 ml) and the saw will use approximately 6 ml of oil per minute. If my math is correct (!!) you should get around 15 minutes cutting between fill ups but you can easily check the oil level through the translucent window. You should note that oil is NOT supplied with this purchase.
One thing of note is that in common with many other chainsaws, oil has a tendency to leak during storage. To avoid this you may wish to drain the tank after each use and consider carefully where the tool is stored.
The SWJ701E is a relatively safe chainsaw and comes with a number of safety features. Some of these have already been mentioned, but just to summarize these include:
- Front and rear hand guards. These protect the hands from flying debris as well as coming into contact with the chain.
- Safety lock button which prevents accidental starting.
- Chain brake. The hand guard doubles as a chain brake which can be activated by pushing this forward in the event of kickback. This will bring the chain to an immediate halt.
- Bumper (bucking) spikes which help to stabilize the saw when cutting.
- Reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain which help to reduce the likelihood and impact of kickback.
As always, it is important not to take these safety features for granted and assume that they will keep you fully protected. The best way to ensure your safety is to ensure you operate the saw in the correct manner and wear the appropriate safety gear. More information about this can be found in our article on safety apparel.
The SWJ701E weighs 9.7lbs. This is extremely light for a saw in this class (that is 14 Amp 18 inch blade). As a comparison, the Worx WG304.1 18 inch 15 Amp chainsaw weighs around 11lbs.
The saw comes with an instruction manual and a dual-tipped hex key/screwdriver tool for use when fitting and tensioning the chain. It also comes with a plastic scabbard to protect the cutting equipment.
• Powerful motor
• Cuts well
• Automatic oiling
• Easy to start and handle
• Excellent price
• Tool required to tension the chain, which can be tricky
• Leaks oil during storage
There are several hundred ratings on line and over 80% of buyers rate this saw as either good or excellent.
Consumers are happy with the saw’s cutting performance and power as well as its ease of use. Negative comments centered on the fact that oil tends to leak during storage and the chain has a tendency to slip off. Interestingly, many buyers were happy to accept these issues given the overall performance of the product. Some users also mentioned that they had difficulties starting the saw but as I mentioned earlier a number of these were due to not following the proper instructions.
You should buy this saw if:
• You need a saw for occasional light and medium cutting
• You need a lightweight chainsaw
• You have access to a power supply
• You want a competitively priced product
• You need a saw which is safe and easy to use
You should not buy this saw if:
• Quality is important and you are prepared to pay extra for it
• You have a lot of light cutting and pruning in confined spaces
Price of Sun Joe SWJ701E Chainsaw
You can check out today’s price by clicking on the image below. Currently available at well under $100 this product represents excellent value.