Best Battery Powered Chainsaws
Go cordless with a battery-powered chainsaw. The battery adds weight and cost to the saw but going cordless opens up a whole range of possibilities. It will need recharging but it is not recommended to operate a chainsaw continuously for more than an hour at a time anyway.
For first time chainsaw buyers and people who just want to learn more about chainsaws we have written the buying guide below. We go into batteries, guide bars, types of motors and more.
We have written a similar guide specific to corded electric chainsaws too.
- 1 Best Battery Powered Chainsaws
- 1.1 Battery Chainsaw Buying Guide
- 1.2 Buying considerations
- 1.3 Battery Chainsaw Reviews
Battery Chainsaw Buying Guide
As summer fades and the leaves start falling, the need for a good chainsaw becomes apparent. Contrary to popular belief, these appliances can benefit everyone. A tiled stove, fireplace, or cast-iron stove can add tremendous value even to homes with modern heating systems. These appliances burn wood, making a battery powered chainsaw—or a traditional version—essential. In addition, people can use these tools for various other household jobs, including cutting trees and other material, or even for bucking and pruning.
Advantages of cordless chainsaws
Cordless, battery-operated chainsaws have a sleek shape, light weight, and a lithium ion battery that does not use any environmentally harmful materials. Thanks to the chain guide and the chain itself, these machines can provide a powerful cutting performance and have a long service life. The tool-free chain tension usually makes the job easier, along with the automatic chain lubrication feature. This adds to the durability of the tool. The system brake and quick-release hand guard bracket provide additional security.
Therefore, the main advantages of a battery-operated chainsaw are easy operation and safety, arguably the two most important buying considerations for customers. Apart from very occasional power issues, a battery-operated chainsaw is the superior choice for beginners.
They feature more convenient designs, and with the evolution of lithium ion batteries, they can offer power too, combining the best qualities of gas-operated and corded chainsaws. The only downside is charging time, but with the turbo charge function that most appliances offer nowadays, even that issue seems to be disappearing.
Battery power, Ah and voltage
To differentiate between the various battery designs and outputs—undoubtedly the most important component of a battery powered chainsaw—it is beneficial to understand Ah and voltage, and what kind of information people can get out of these values.
Amps-hour (Ah) means the capacity of the battery (energy absorbing capacity). 1 amp equals the distribution of a 1A current for a period of 1 hour, or a 10A Current for 0.1 hours. So, if someone has a device that takes on 20 amps and is charged for 20 minutes, the Amp-hour demand is 20 (amps) × 0.333 (hours), equaling 6.67 Ah.
Cyclical and starter batteries have an Ah capacity generally designed for a period of 20 hours. So when a battery has a 100 Ah capacity, it can distribute 5 amps for 20 hours without the battery voltage falling below 10.5V, which is crucial in terms of durability.
Voltage in a battery refers to a difference of electric potential. The higher that difference is, the higher the voltage is. The battery’s maximum voltage drops steadily during use and continues to increase during charging.
If the terminal voltage drops below a certain level—that level depends on the battery—while charging, the battery may be compromised, and the charging must be terminated before the additional load causes further damage.
The charge must also be terminated when the terminal voltage reaches the charge value. Overcharging can cause serious damage in a battery-operated chainsaw, which can lead to a dangerous chain reaction.
Guide bar length
There are two types of bar lengths, cutting length and overall bar length. Sometimes, people get confused, and don’t know which type of bar length they really need. Cutting length is the actual length one needs to determine bar length.
This applies to all makes and models, including battery operated chainsaws. To measure the required bar length, one has to take a measuring tape, put it where the chainsaw body and the bar meet, and measure the distance between that point and the tip of the bar.
That is the required length of the guide bar, and once rounded up, also the actual cutting length the battery operated chainsaw should handle. One of the most common mistakes is measuring the full length of the bar, which is not the correct length for the chainsaw bar.
The bar length impacts performance, which is why it is not recommended to go too long. If that happens, the battery operated chainsaw can lose some of its power. One can easily avoid that if they follow brand recommendation regarding maximum bar length.
Chainsaws are dangerous tools, so it is important to have the right protective equipment while operating them. The primary personal safety gear includes:
- Leg protector: The appropriate pants protect against accidental cuts and prevent dust and chips from penetrating the skin
- Protective helmet: It is especially important when cutting overhead, and can save lives when cutting trees or bigger branches
- Gloves: Protect against accidental cuts and provide a more secure grip. In addition, in cold weather, they keep the hands warm, which is ideal for the grip, an important factor when handling dangerous power tools
- Eye protection: Glasses with side shields can prevent tree chips and powder getting into the eyes
There are many considerations when buying a battery-powered chainsaw, including price, size, and weight, to name the three most obvious aspects. These criteria are obvious to any buyer, but there are other considerations to ponder.
Battery included or not: The battery is the most important—and often most expensive—component of a battery-powered chainsaw. This is especially true for lithium ion batteries, which bring a lot of advantages to table when compared to corded or gas-powered designs, or even their regular counterparts.
One of these advantages is capacity, both nominal and maximum. While a lithium ion battery can be depleted till about 5% of its total capacity, nickel-iron batteries must be recharged once they drop below 20% of their charge. The other advantage is quick chargeability.
A lithium ion battery is expected to last nearly twice as long as nickel-iron accumulators. Even beyond its expected lifetime, a lithium ion battery is still capable of outputting about 75% of its rated capacity.
The third major advantage is practicality. When charging a battery powered chainsaw, there is no need for a charging station, or ventilation for that matter. The battery can be charged in the machine.
For these reasons, deals that involve an extra battery in addition to the one already in the machine—which should be the bare minimum—should be considered superior. Any company that offers extra batteries clearly understands these tools.
Battery charge time
Charge time is another important trait of the battery. A battery-powered chainsaw that has a quick charge or turbo charge function is inherently more practical. When time is in short supply, the quick-charge function can be very useful.
Types of motors
There are three main types of chainsaw motors, electric ones that require corded designs; gas-powered engines that burn fuel to operate, and battery-operated motors, which can be brush or brushless power sources.
The internal concept is virtually the same in both designs. Once the engine is energized, a magnetic field appears and reacts to the magnets, creating the shaft force which ultimately routes the electric power, making the rotor move.
The main difference between brush and brushless designs are these little moving parts called commutators, which are present only in the brush motor designs. The brushless motors use an amplifier, which is triggered by another device, often an optical encoder.
Brushless motors are about 10% more efficient than their brushed counterparts, thanks to the reduced loss in heat energy.
Guide bar length
To guarantee safe cutting, the guide bar length should be about 2’’ longer than the wood one wishes to cut. Large trunks should be cut using heavy-duty chainsaws that were designed for that kind of work. For most homeowners, an average bar length of about 16’’ should be ideal.
Top handle or rear handle
A top handle battery powered chainsaw allows more control, and is ideal for trees and branches. They have great balance, but are not as versatile as rear handle designs. As a result, they are better for tree work and cutting above ground level.
Many experts argue that they should not be used for ground work. For that purpose, the rear-handled designs are more suitable, as they bring much-needed versatility compared to the top handle chainsaws. Rear handle tools are more beginner-friendly.
A high-quality battery-powered chainsaw can be a good addition to any home, especially those with frequent garden projects. They can provide the best features of gas-powered and corded electrical designs, with none of the weaknesses.
Battery-powered chainsaws developed a bad reputation because of its power output, but these doubts are no longer valid. Today’s batteries are capable of providing consistently good energy outputs, powering strong chainsaws with high RPMs.
They get the job done with flying colors, and the only downside is the recharging process, which can be countered too. With extra batteries, one can complete bigger projects without skipping a beat.
Battery Chainsaw Reviews
The Zombi ZCS5817 cordless chainsaw is part of the highly rated Zombi 58V series of battery-powered tool marketed by the American Lawn Mower Co. of Shelbyville, Indiana. 58V is about half the US wall voltage, so you would expect this battery-powered chainsaw to be quite powerful. And you would be correct.
Before that, the first thing you’ll notice about the Zombi ZCS5817 is its aggressive styling and paint job, as if it belonged in the X Games. The chain speed is rated at 3,700 RPM, which is higher than many corded electric chainsaws. It weighs 16lb, which is not too heavy, considering the 58V 4Ah lithium ion battery.
Higher battery voltage is not necessarily better. It is the Zombi ZCS5817’s excellent, high-efficiency brushless motor that makes it so powerful. The 16” Oregon low-kickback bar and chain can cut through thick logs with ease. This chainsaw has all of today’s standard safety and convenience features.
GreenWorks G-MAX 20312 40V
GreenWorks is perhaps the best battery-powered tool brand to come out of China. The G-MAX series chainsaw, the GreenWorks 20312 is one of the most popular in its price range.
The 40V 4.0Ah G-MAX lithium ion battery is fade-free without memory effect, though it takes 2 hours to charge. The company claims its brushless motor delivers 30% higher torque while generating 70% less vibration than traditional brushed motors.
All standard safety and convenience features are built in. This chainsaw is equipped with a 16” bar and chain, which is on the long side for a battery-powered chainsaw.
While the GreenWorks G-MAX 20312 is powerful for its price, it is more suitable for moderate-duty cutting. We managed to get this chainsaw to shut down when using it to cut overly thick hardwood.
Black & Decker LCS1240 40V
The Black + Decker LCS1240 is a compact battery-powered chainsaw with a 12” bar. The 2 Ah battery is rated at 40V max, which means 36V nominal charge. The maximum charge is just the way many manufacturers chose to rate their battery-powered tools these days.
This economical chainsaw has tool-free chain adjustment and automatic chain oiler but no chain brake, probably because it uses a short 12” chain. This also makes the Black + Decker LCS1240 very lightweight at just 11lb. including the battery.
The 2.0 Ah 72 Wh battery will last about 45 minutes trimming light branches. It takes about 2 hours to charge, which is slow by today’s standard. It is a good lithium ion battery that can hold a charge up to 18 months with no memory effect.
Makita XCU02PTX1 18V x2
The Makita XCU02PTX1 is a serious battery-powered chainsaw that can satisfy even professionals. This is Makita’s only cordless chainsaw, and it is sold as a kit with an angle grinder.
This chainsaw uses two Makita 18V LXT lithium ion batteries (for 36V total). The dual-port charger takes only 45 minutes to charge the batteries. Don’t let the light weight of 10 pounds and the short 12” bar and chain fool you. The Makita XCU02PTX1 is fully capable of cutting very thick 30” wood if you know what you’re doing. We like the great balance of this chainsaw thanks to the rear-loading batteries. This chainsaw handles like there’s no tomorrow.
It features chain brake, tool-less chain adjustment, and automatic chain oiler. The chain speed is rated at 1,650 FPM or 8500 RPM. The angle grinder uses only one 18V LXT battery.
WORX WG321 Jawsaw 20V
The WORX WG321 is a battery-powered lopper (the company calls it Jawsaw). It comes with an extension pole that can extend the reach to about 12ft, perfect for tall branches without the need to climb ladders.
The Jawsaw chain is 6” with an effective cutting diameter of up to 4”. The WORX Jawsaw is well built, and the extension pole is thick and robust. With built-in auto-tension system and automatic chain oiler, it is also very easy to use.
The 20V 2Ah lithium ion battery does not last very long, maybe about 30 minutes of non-stop cutting. It will take close to 3 hours to recharge.