The prospect of pruning your trees can be quite a daunting one, especially when most of the branches are thick and in difficult to reach places. If you’ve been putting off the job for a while then now might be the time to consider investing in a pole saw and there are two models sold by Sun Joe which may just fit the bill.
In the review below, we cover the Sun Joe SWJ800E Electric Pole Saw. The company also sells a similar model, the Sun Joe SWL802E Adjustable Head Electric saw and in this article we will highlight the differences between the two products.
Carry on reading to find out if one of these great products can help you and how they can save you both time and money.
Performance and Handling
The Sun Joe is a light duty pole saw, perfect for pruning trees around your property. If you have any overhanging limbs, or just trees in need of a general tidy up you won’t need to worry about bringing out the step ladders and using a manual saw. The SWJ800E will help save you a great deal of time and effort as well as possibly saving you the cost of getting a landscaper come in and do the work.
Snow Joe, which manufactures this product, specifies that it can cut limbs up to 7.5” thick, although the recommended cut thickness is 6.5”. This is supported by user feedback which suggests that it cuts quickly and very easily through limbs up to 6 inches (depending on the type of wood). However, larger limbs take a little longer to get through. Users have put the Sun Joe to work on a variety of trees, including oak, crepe myrtle and palm trees. It is a versatile tool which can also be used to cut underbrush, although as with any saw you need to be careful not to run the chain into the ground.
So, what’s the Sun Joe like to use? Firstly, turning it on takes a matter of seconds. As with most electric saws, you simply need to hold the safety lock button and then press the trigger switch. The saw will start up immediately, at which point the safety lock can be released. To stop the saw, you simply release the trigger switch and it will come to a stop in a matter of seconds. You should only press the trigger switch when you are ready to make a cut.
In terms of handling, like most pole saws it will take a few try outs to get the cutting technique right but once you’ve mastered this you should find operating the Sun Joe reasonably straightforward. There is also a telescopic pole which extends from 5.6 feet to 8.7 feet. The manufacturer states that this should provide an overhead reach up to 15 feet but this obviously depends on how tall you are. Bear in mind that if you are short, the overhead reach won’t be quite as high.
Extending the telescoping pole is quick and easy. Just loosen the large collar (see diagram in the Design and Construction Section) by turning counter clockwise, adjust the length of the bar and then tighten the collar by turning clockwise.
There is one point you should note when considering buying a pole saw and that is that they can be unwieldy and a little difficult to handle. Even though they are generally light in terms of absolute weight, when they are being used they will feel heavier as all the weight is at the end of the pole. If you struggle with weights you may find the Sun Joe a challenge to control, especially when being used with the pole fully extended. If you are young, strong and fit you will likely not have any problems with this saw. If on the other hand you are perhaps older or not used to handling heavier weights you may need to take regular cutting breaks to prevent fatigue.
Lastly, the manufacturer advises that the SWJ800E produces a noise level of 108 dB (A) and that it is a quiet tool. I have to take some issue here as constant exposure to noise levels above 85 dB (A) can result in hearing impairment. At 108 dB, the safe exposure time is less than two minutes. Given the nature of use, you are not likely at any point to be constantly exposed to these noise levels as you will cut a branch, stop the machine and then move on to the next cut. However, if you do plan on doing any work which may result in the machine being on for more than a couple of minutes at a time you may wish to consider ear protection.
Does the SWJ802E differ? The answer is yes, slightly. The 802E has an adjustable angle head which provides more precise cutting at 0° to 30° angles. This allows you to access hard to reach areas. In addition the pole can be extended to the maximum length of 9.4 feet.
The SWJ800E is equipped with an 8 inch guide bar and an Oregon 91PX chain. This is a low profile chain which has met all the low kickback requirements of ANSI B.175. It has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge (link thickness) and 33 drive links (which fit into the bar). You can read more about chains in our article on chainsaw chains but this chain offers good cutting performance for its weight.
As with all saws, the chain needs to be kept in good condition, which means regular sharpening. Unfortunately, many new buyers don’t appreciate that chains do tend to dull quite quickly, which in turn impacts on cutting performance. You could learn how to sharpen the chain yourself, for which a 5/32” sharpening round head file and file holder will be required. Alternatively, if you are not comfortable doing this I would always recommend that you get a professional to do it for you. In this case, however, the cost of a new chain is around $7-$11 depending on the deals available so it probably easier to invest in a new one. Indeed, keeping a spare chain in reserve is always a good move as it will ensure you can always finish the task you start as well as covering you should there be any problems with the existing chain.
When using the saw, it is important that the chain tension is always set properly. Full instructions are provided on how to do this, but basically it involves using the hex key/screwdriver tool to turn a screw on the front of the saw. You can see this demonstrated in the video below.
As you can see from the video, it’s vital that you get the chain direction correct when fitting it to the bar. A number of people get this wrong and then wonder why the saw won’t cut properly.
Does the SWJ802E differ? No, the cutting equipment is exactly the same.
Design and Construction
The Sun Joe is a well-designed product available in distinctive yellow, green and black. The diagram below shows the saw’s handle.
As you can see the handle has a non-slip grip for improved control and has been designed with user comfort in mind. It has a throttle trigger and safety lock button for safe starting as well as an extension cord restraint hook. This prevents drag on the cord which may result in the cord becoming detached from the extension cable during use and a possible short circuit.
The diagram above illustrates the saw motor and cutting equipment. The oil cap is positioned in an easily accessible place on top of the unit and there is an oil reservoir window which is handy when checking the oil level. The collar, positioned between the pole and the saw is used to adjust the pole’s length as I mentioned earlier.
As far as the pole is concerned, this can be varied in length from 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) to 8.7 feet (2.65 meters).
Whilst the saw is reasonably well made, you should remember that it is a budget, light duty power tool and will suffer damage if mistreated. A few quality issues were raised. A few users mentioned that the foam grip on the pole does show early signs of wear and tear, although this doesn’t affect the saw’s functionality. Some other consumers reported that parts on the saw, such as the oil cap, weren’t of the greatest quality and had failed. Despite this, the majority of buyers haven’t experienced any issues.
Does the SWJ802E differ? The design of the two models is pretty much the same with just a few minor differences. Instead of a collar, the pole is extended using a cam-lock and bolt. As with the 800E, this is pretty straightforward. The design of the power head is also slightly different as there is a dial to adjust the angle of the head. Also, as mentioned earlier the pole can be extended from 5.9 feet to 9.4 feet.
Powered by a 6.5 amp motor, the SWJ800E has enough power to handle its light duty cutting work.
It must be used with an appropriate gauge extension cord. If using a 100 foot cord you should use one with at least a 14 gauge rating (a higher gauge such as 12 or 10 would be better). If your cord is 50 feet in length it should be at least a 16 gauge, though a 14 inch gauge is recommended. You can read more about extension cords in this article on our site.
Note, if you are planning on using this saw with a generator, it will produce around 780 watts. You need to ensure that the generator can provide at least this power in running watts and double this in surge watts to cope with the start up.
Does the SWJ802E differ? No, the motor is exactly the same.
Chain Oil System
The Sun Joe SWJ800E has an automatic oiling system, removing the need to manually release chain oil to the bar.
Oil is added to the reservoir through the cap on top of the cutting unit. Several users have pointed out that this is a little tricky without making a mess as the filling hole is quite small. It therefore takes a little while to fill the reservoir. You may find a funnel is will help in this regard.
The oil tank has a capacity of 2.0 oz. (60ml) and consumes 4 ml of oil per minute of use. The oil should therefore last around 20 minutes of use but you should ensure that the reservoir is topped up when it gets to a quarter full. This level is marked on the oil reservoir window making it really clear as to when you need to top up.
In terms of the oil you should use, the manufacturer recommends a good quality bar and chain oil. This should be vegetable based to prevent harm to your trees and bushes when pruning. NOTE: oil isn’t supplied and needs to be purchased separately.
Does the SWJ802E differ? No, the oiling system is the same.
It may not be as big and powerful as other chainsaws, but this is still a serious power tool and safety is of vital importance.
To help ensure personal safety, the Sun Joe has a number of safety features, which include:
- Low kickback chain to reduce the effects and likelihood of kickback.
- Safety lock switch to prevent accidental start-up of the tool.
- Bumper spikes on the front of the saw to provide cutting stability.
As with all saws, these features can’t eliminate the risk entirely. You should read the operator’s manual which shows the correct way to operate this saw as well as wearing appropriate safety clothing. This includes safety goggles, gloves, as well as head and hearing protection.
Does the SWJ802E differ? The safety features are the same.
The SWJ800E weighs around 7lbs. This is reasonably light compared to some pole saws. Remember, however, that the further the pole is extended the heavier it is likely to feel.
Does the SWJ802E differ? Yes, this model weighs a slightly heavier 7.9lbs.
As well as an operator’s manual, this saw comes with a hex/screwdriver tool and a scabbard to protect the blade.
Does the SWJ802E differ? The accessories are the same.
- Cuts small limbs very well
- Excellent price
- Easy to start and operate
- Powerful engine for its size
- Oil reservoir needs to be filled slowly and with care to prevent spillage
There are over a thousand reviews on line for this product and consumers rate it very highly. Over 85% of buyers rate the Sun Joe as either good or excellent.
People like the ease of use, the great cutting ability and how sturdy it feels. Others mentioned the convenience of the automatic oiling system and the affordability.
In terms of negative feedback, a number of users mentioned that the saw struggled to get through even the smallest of branches. I suspect, however, that many of these reviewers simply placed the chain in the wrong direction.
Other users felt the saw was heavy and difficult to handle when the pole was fully extended. Unfortunately, this is the nature of pole saws given their weight distribution.
You should buy this saw if:
- You have trees and bushes which require regular pruning.
- You are looking for a low cost saw
- You want a saw which is easy to operates and starts first time
- You want a low maintenance saw
You should not buy this saw if:
- You have difficulties lifting heavy weights
- You need a saw for medium/heavy duty cutting
The product comes with a full 2 year warranty.
Does the SWJ802E differ? No, the warranty is the same.
This product is currently available for well under $100. Given that the costs of getting a professional to come in and do some tidying up would be significantly more than the cost of this saw, we believe it represents excellent value.
Does the SWJ802E differ? The prices are very similar, with this model costing around $5 dollars more.
To summarize, both these saws are similar in most respects. The Sun Joe SWJ800E is slightly lighter and costs slightly less. The SWJ802E has an adjustable angle head designed for more precise cutting. They are both excellent products.