The Zombi ZCS 12017 16-inch 13 Amp corded electric chainsaw is made by the American Lawn Mower company which produces a range of power tools, including blowers and hedge trimmers. Although there isn’t an extensive range of tools under the Zombi brand, the company also has several other brands such as Earthwise, Great States and Scotts.
In this review, we’ll look in more detail at the Zombi’s features so that you can decide if it’s the right saw for you.
Performance and Handling
With its 13 amp motor and 16 inch blade, the ZCS12017 is designed for light and medium cutting duties around the home and farm. As with most electric models, it is an occasional use saw. It will therefore come in handy for felling small trees, clearing minor storm damage, as well as limbing, pruning and bucking medium sized wood.
It should be capable of cutting through a 14 inch diameter piece of wood in a single pass. However, as is the case with many electric saws in this class, it is likely to be most effective when cutting small diameter wood of up to 8 - 10 inches in diameter.
In common with most electric chainsaws on the market today the ZCS12017 has safe start system, which is both quick and reliable. There is a lock button which must be pressed so that the throttle trigger can be activated to turn the saw on. The saw will power up immediately and lock button can then be released. If the throttle trigger is released at any point the safety lock will reset and must be pressed again to start the saw.
In terms of handling, the Zombi weighs around 12lbs, which is similar to other saws in this class. You should therefore be reasonably comfortable handling reasonably heavy power tools. The saw comes equipped with a rubber over-molded handle for extra comfort.
The ZCS12017 is equipped with a 16 inch guide bar and chain. Both these are Oregon products so their quality can be taken for granted and buyers can relax knowing that replacements are readily available.
The bar is Oregon’s reduced kickback Double Guard 91. These bars have been specifically designed for occasional use. The bar is reversible for longer life and has a sprocket nose which helps to improve the movement of the chain around the bar. To keep the bar in top condition, the sprocket nose needs to be greased on a regular basis. This involves using a grease gun to inject grease into the sprocket hole, positioned on the tip of the bar.
The chain itself is also produced by Oregon and meets the kickback performance requirements of ANSI B.175.1. It has a 3/8” pitch, 0.05” gauge and 57 drive links. This is a popular sized chain so replacements shouldn’t be hard to come by. The chain used is the Oregon Chain 91PX057X.
Keeping the chain properly tensioned is important to prevent it slipping from the bar. On the Zombi this is simple thanks to the auto-chain tensioning system, which means that you don’t need to fiddle around with a screwdriver and wrench. You simply need to loosen the cover by turning the bar cover knob and then tension the chain using the tensioning knob. This is a simple process which should only take a matter of seconds. New chains tend to stretch when first used so it is important that you check chain tension regularly, particularly in the early days. This will help prevent issues with the chain jumping off the bar.
Finally, as well as being kept taut, the chain needs to be sharp to maintain cutting performance. You will need to sharpen the chain whenever it starts to get dull. You will know it’s time when cutting seems to take more effort and the sawdust is fine and powdery. If you are used to sharpening your own chains or think it is a skill you are capable of learning (see our article: What size file do I need for my chainsaw?), then you will need a 5/32” round file and holder, together with a flat file. Alternatively, you can invest in a new chain (cost around $22) or have it sharpened locally by a professional.
Design and Construction
The ZCS12017 is a traditional rear handle chainsaw, constructed from marbled blue plastic. The picture below shows some of its main features.
There is a large throttle trigger positioned on the rubber rear handle. The safety lock switch is positioned on the left hand side of the handle (out of view).
There is a large oil cap positioned on top of the saw and a large transparent oil reservoir window on the side. The chain tensioning buttons are positioned on the front of the powerhead unit. Just in front of these buttons, on the front of the powerhead, is a set of sturdy metal bumper spikes for more stable cutting. The Zombi has a half-wrap front handle which sits behind the front hand guard.
The saw comes fully assembled, so you only need to add bar oil and you are ready to go.
13 Amp Motor
You will find that home owner electric saws generally have motors ranging in power from 8-15 Amps, so the ZCS12017 is towards the top of the range. It therefore should have sufficient power to handle all the light and medium cutting duties for which it was designed. In theory, this will provide 1,560 watts and around 2HP (although in practice it will be less than this due to the fact that motors are not 100% efficient).
The power cable on the Zombi is about 6 inches long so a suitable extension cord is required. The cord should be suitable for outdoor use and be of the correct gauge. For example, if you are using a 50 foot cord, this should be at least 12 gauge (12/3). A higher gauge cord (for example a 10/3) could also be used.
Chain Oil System
This product has an automatic, fixed flow lubrication system. Oil will therefore be released to the bar when the saw is in use, meaning that you don’t need to remember to release it manually. This is the most common type of oiling system found on homeowner saws.
It is important that oil levels are checked regularly as failure to do so could result in poor cutting and damage to the cutting equipment. You can easily check the oil levels thanks to the Zombi’s translucent window.
In terms of oil, any good quality bar and chain oil can be used. If pruning, this should be vegetable based to prevent harm to the trees. If unavailable, unused SAE 30 weight motor oil may be used.
On a final note, oil is not supplied with this purchase. This is the norm when it comes to buying chainsaws so you will need to ensure you have a supply available.
There are a number of safety features, which help to keep the operator protected. These include:
- Reduced kickback cutting components. The chain has met all the safety standards imposed by ANSI B.175.1. Although this doesn’t guarantee that kickback won’t occur, it helps to reduce the likelihood and severity of such events.
- Hand guards. These help protect the hands from flying debris and also from coming into contact with the chain.
- Safe starting system. Starting the saw accidentally is prevented thanks to the safety lock button which must be activated before the throttle trigger can be used.
- Bumper spikes. These pivot on the wood and provide stability when cutting.
These measures will help to keep you safe. However, they do not eliminate risk entirely. That is why wearing appropriate equipment (gloves, eye protection and suitable clothing) is recommended. The saw should always be operated in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
The saw weighs 12lbs. This is slightly heavier than some comparable electric models, but the difference in weight is only about a pound, so this shouldn't really be a factor when choosing between different saws.
The ZCS12017 comes with an instruction manual and blade cover to protect the cutting components.
• Automatic lubrication system
• Tool-less chain tensioning
• Quick start and easy to operate
• Competitively priced
• Stylish design
• Chainsaw is relatively new and doesn’t have an established track record.
Being a relatively new saw, there aren’t sufficient reviews to make a judgement about the performance of the Zombi.
You should buy this saw if:
• You need a saw for occasional use light and medium cutting tasks
• You don’t wish to spend a great deal of money on a new saw.
• You want a saw which is clean and easy to start.
You should not buy this saw if:
• You have heavy cutting tasks to undertake.
• Do not have access to a power supply.
Price of Zombi ZCS12017
It is currently available at just under $100. This is a reasonable price and in line with other saws in this class. If you are concerned that this product doesn’t have an established track record you could opt for the popular, highly rated Worx WG303.1, which will cost a few dollars more.
That said, the Zombi comes with a relaible 2-year warranty and we believe it would make a good choice for anyone looking for an occasional use chainsaw.