I love my trusty old petrol chainsaw. Now, let me be clear, that’s not in a ‘leather face’ chasing promiscuous teenagers through ‘the woods’ way, but in the way that it has saved me so much time and effort, and on more DIY gardening jobs than I care to remember.
After owning a chainsaw, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without one and might even develop a bit of chainsaw- mania, finding more and more jobs to do just so you can bring your new tool out to play (‘sorry about the fence love, I’ll just chop that tree down and build you a new one’).
Seriously though, these tools aren’t toys and you will need some proper safety equipment like gloves and chainsaw trousers. And eye and ear protection. When used with care, chainsaws are great tools and as safe as using any other bladed tool like a hedge trimmer or pruning saw.
Chainsaws now come in three distinct guises, and those are electric chainsaws, cordless versions, and petrol models. If you’ve been wondering what the differences are, and which one would suit your needs the best, this article is for you.
We will compare the three types of chainsaws for things like price, weight, and of course; performance so that you will have a good idea of the pros and cons of each one.
By the way, just in case you do get the urge to chase things with your chainsaw, it’s best to do it in the virtual world, or you might find yourself in a spot of bother. 😂 This is the safe option-
— BigToothyGothWife (@Mileena_Kahnumm) June 4, 2021
Which is the best chainsaw for felling medium to large trees?
Although the power of cordless chainsaws has improved significantly in recent years, they still can’t match petrol models for raw power, and that’s why I would go with the latter over any electrically driven chainsaw for medium and large-sized trees.
There are some cordless chainsaws that will be able to handle cutting down a medium-sized tree, but because the job requires a constant amount of cutting power for an extended period of time, you would have to own a model that is powered by the largest lithium-ion batteries available: something like a 31.1Ah.
Unless the tree you want to fell is very close to your house, or you want to use miles of extension cable or even a portable generator, corded electric chainsaws aren’t my number one choice for cutting down trees. They also tend to lack the power of other types of chainsaws and are best suited to other tasks.
In this clip, you can see someone talking about cutting trees with a cordless chainsaw-
Which is the best for cutting down small trees?
For smaller trees, I would opt for a cordless chainsaw. Being generally much lighter than petrol chainsaws, they are easier to handle and will cause you fewer aches and pains in your arms and shoulders.
Of course, a sharpened and oiled petrol chainsaw will do the job just as well, or probably even better than a cordless one, but why put up with the negative aspects that come with all petrol tools when you can get the job done without them? Different horses for different courses I always say.
Again, the fact that corded electric chainsaws need to be connected to the mains or a generator doesn’t make them ideal for cutting trees away from the home, but if you have a small tree in close proximity to your home, then I don’t see why you couldn’t use one. Just be careful not to let it fall onto something like your garden furniture or expensive lawnmower that you’ve left nearby.
This youtube video shows a man using a corded electric chainsaw while on a step ladder (not something I would recommend) and you can see that you would have to be very careful with that cord hanging around for numerous safety reasons.
Best chainsaw for trimming branches
We all know that hedge trimmers, pole hedge trimmers, and pruning saws are excellent tools for shaping your hedges and shrubs, but some tree branches are just too thick or hard for those tools to cut through successfully. In these cases, you’re better off using a chainsaw.
Both petrol chainsaws and cordless ones are fit for the task here, but I would suggest using a cordless model if you are going to be trimming branches that are high up. The reason being that you’re probably going to be up on a tripod ladder, or at least reaching up above your head to cut those branches, and the extra weight of a petrol chainsaw will make that more difficult than with a cordless model.
If you are going to use a chainsaw to trim branches, doing it from under them, and not like this or you might be in for nasty fall, at the very least-
That time I woke up & saw a random Mexican standing on a tree branch with a chainsaw… No safety harnest, casually trimming branches pic.twitter.com/zFJE3JoEuj
— M.A 44 (@NotoriousEL_) March 1, 2017
Petrol, electric, and cordless chainsaws compared for cutting firewood
If you’re going to be cutting up firewood close to the house, then I would say you could use any of the three types of chainsaws for the task. You can also combine the use of a chainsaw with a good axe or log splitter for smaller pieces. However, before you decide on a specific chainsaw, there are a few things to take into consideration for each one-
Petrol chainsaws- These have the most power, and so are the best choice for cutting larger logs into smaller ones that can then be split with a wedge or an electric log splitter. The downsides to using one of these tools are that they tend to produce more vibration than electric and cordless chainsaws and this can become tiring with continual use. There is also the factor of the fuel tank which will need refilling after a while.
Cordless chainsaws- With their lighter weight and reduced vibrations, cordless chainsaws are much easier on the arms than petrol machines, and you will feel far less fatigue after a long firewood cutting session and be able to feel more relaxed as you sit around your fire pit later.
The problem you might run into with using a cordless chainsaw is the battery running low, and you need to stop and charge it halfway through the job. You can overcome this with spare batteries but that drives up the cost significantly.
Electric chainsaw- As there is no fuel to run out of, or batteries losing charge, you can work through a load of logs in one go when using a corded electric chainsaw, especially when combined with a chainsaw mill setup.
Like with cordless models, the vibration levels with electric chainsaws are low when compared to petrol versions, and so they are more comfortable to use for jobs that take a while to finish. The only issue with electric chainsaws is that some of them will lack the power to cut through really thick logs, and this can be said for a lot of cordless chainsaws too, so make sure you get one that packs enough of a punch.
Cutting firewood with a chainsaw can actually be very therapeutic and a great way to release stress. Well, it’s either that or have another fight with your better half over your constant need for new tools, right? 😉😂
I bought a chainsaw. I now have endless firewood for my (almost) daily campfires on the back porch. It’s great stress relief to cut up a tree with a chainsaw, and doubly so when you get to sit and relax by a fire with the fam afterwards.
— Andrew H. Shute (@andrew_h_shute) April 21, 2020
Petrol, electric, and cordless chainsaws- price comparison
The cheapest option out of the three, electric chainsaws can be bought for as little 50-60 pounds and even well-known brands selling theirs for around the hundred quid mark. That puts them in the same price bracket as corded electric hedge trimmers. There are also no real running costs apart from a slightly larger electricity bill when the time rolls around.
Cordless chainsaws are more expensive than their corded cousins, and getting one with a trusted brand name attached will cost you at least 150 pounds, but many are more expensive than that. You also have to be very careful when buying a cordless chainsaw as not all products will come with the battery and charger included and they can be quite pricey themselves. you don’t want to make the same mistake as this person-
Ummm honest truth I didn’t think it through 🤦🏽♀️🙄 I liked the chainsaw and saw but didn’t connect the dots in power unit🤷♀️ which in hindsight was expensive and illogical 😆
— Jones, Julia (@juliajones110) June 7, 2021
Petrol chainsaws can range anywhere from 90 pounds right up to multiple hundreds, and when you factor in the fuel and oil costs, not to mention servicing, I would say they are the most expensive type of chainsaw. Still, for heavy-duty tasks such as cutting thick hardwood and cutting down larger trees, they are really your only option.
As you can see, different chainsaws are suited to different jobs. Bigger cutting jobs need more power, and so a petrol chainsaw is the right choice. You will have to deal with fueling and maintaining the tool, but they are the best performers.
For small ad medium-sized tasks, cordless chainsaws will do the work just fine, and the lower vibrations make using them a much more pleasant experience than with petrol machines. You do have to keep an eye on the battery life, and they aren’t the cheapest products, but they are good all-rounders.
Because of the power cord, electric chainsaws aren’t suited to working far from the house, and as most of them come with shorter bars, they are best suited to light to medium cutting tasks. On the plus side, they are relatively inexpensive, produce low vibrations and no fumes, and will not run out of juice halfway through a job.