I grew up cutting and splitting ten cords of firewood every spring. And after running both a logging sized Husqvarna and Stihl chainsaws the thought of a cordless chainsaw had been, well, amusing. But after using a Milwaukee battery powered chainsaw on a few trees in the backyard am a believer that for casual use the noisy gas chainsaws can be retired.
Batteries have made a quantum leap from powering drills to powering cars.
And, in the last five years, have started powering everything from cordless tablesaws to, well, chainsaws.
So why buy a cordless chainsaw? For homeowners the first reason is simply to cleanup around the yard without the hassle of mixing gasoline. But the noise factor is what most desire as few lawn and garden tools generate more noise than a chainsaw.
While I chose Milwaukee because it fit my large investment in Milwaukee tools there are dozens of saws to choose from. In this guide we’ll break down these saws by type, reviews and price.
What are the most popular battery powered chainssaws? Well, power tools users will choose a Dewalt, Milwaukee or Makita; and for large jobs a professional grade Stihl or Husqvarna. Lawn and garden brands abound like Echo are available, but the batteries can’t run your power tools.
Types of Cordless Chainsaws
Mini Cordless Chainsaws
When it comes to trimming branches on trees that are within reach a mini chainsaw is where landscapers turn to. With a blade usually less than 10-inches, compact one-handed function and a budget price these saws are popular with homeowners.
Pole Cordless Chainsaws
For branches that cannot be reached from the ground, a pole saw will power through thick branches. As a fast alternative to a standard pruning saw that requires back-and-forth action, this saw will quickly cut through thick branches.
Compact Cordless Chainsaws
If your firewood cutting won’t require cutting down 12-inch trees or a few cords of wood, then a compact saw will fit both your budget and use. These saws feature 10-14″ bars, run on interchangeable battery systems and can power through wood quickly.
Full-Size Cordless Chainsaws
For cutting larger diameter trees and limbs and for long-running jobs a full-size cordless chainsaw is where professionals turn. While suitable for small jobs as well, these saws have longer bars, higher capacity batteries all with refined operating features.
Before we begin, we’ll leave mini cordless chainsaws and pole cordless chainsaws to another article.
Unlike most lineups of cordless tools, the chainsaw market has three major categories of manufacturers. From standard chainsaw brands such as Stihl, home and garden brands like Echo to power tool mainstays like Makita there are three main brands driving innovation in these tools.
Top Brand Chainsaw Manufacturers
If you’re looking for a chainsaw brand that you might find limbing branches on the side of a mountain, these three brands are where professionals start:
- Stihl offers six choices with their MSA lineup that feature 12-16″ bars.
- Husqvarna has eight battery powered chainsaws suitable for suburban to professional use.
- Jonsered has focused their battery powered saw down to just a single 16-inch bar model.
- Oregon has a variety of battery powered chainsaws that compete with their traditional line-up.
Garden Power Tool Manufacturers
From big box stores to online marketers, these brands have a reputation for powering lawn and garden tools:
Traditional Tool Manufacturers
From contractors to woodworkers and other tool enthusiasts there’s a lot of reasons to buy a chainsaw that fits your batteries:
Cordless Saw Features
Every manufacturer of battery operated chainsaws has many of the basic features, but a few saws have innovations or configurations that make them unique.
- Chain, battery and charger
- Bar brake to stop the chain during kickbacks
- Bar oil resevoir
- Brushless motors
- Top handle or rear handle configurations
- Tool-required chain tension adjustment
- Kick-back shield
- Weatherproof for use in the rain
- Trigger release chain brakes
- Self-sharpening (only available on Oregon saws PowerSharp system)
- Tool-less chain tension adjustment
Understanding Chainsaw Batteries
As you know, the battery is what makes the chainsaw.
And the basic equation is chainsaw operators want the MOST POWER for the LONGEST TIME.
Which is why buying the right battery system is critical.
Battery Voltage (Power)
For any tool, a higher voltage means more power. And for batteries, voltage is simply a rating of the maximum energy potential the battery can release. While there are chemical engineering-level explanations, for heavy duty power tools voltage matters. But beware of marketing tricks that compare nominal versus peak voltage and compare on nominal values.
Amp Hours (Runtime)
If there is any buying criteria to pay attention to it is absolutely amp hours. For anyone familiar with power tool batteries, a 2.0AH battery will run half the time of a 4.0AH battery.
The difference? Cost. The larger batteries simply have more fuel cells and thus more stored potential energy.
Fuel Cell Technology (Runtime)
Fortunately almost all chainsaw batteries have modernized to the latest Lithium ion technology. Compared to older NiCD and NiMH batteries, Lithium have greater energy management and do not require full-cycle charging to avoid loss of full battery potential.
The bottom line in batteries? Look for higher voltage, maximum amp hours and Lithium batteries.
Battery Powered CHainsaws For Firewood
Firewood is measured in cords.
And while ten cords of wood will heat a home and garage for a cold northern climate winter, it is a huge pile of wood to cut.
So how do you decide what the right chainsaw is for a firewood pile? Well, understanding batteries is important. But also considering the weight of the saw, bar length and chain kerf will help choose the right saw.
Best Cordless Chainsaw for A Small Firewood Pile
If your firewood pile is less than a few dozen logs or would take a half-days cutting then just about any cordless saw will do.
In fact, for smaller jobs the choice often comes down to:
- Budget, as many saws can be found for under $300.
- Battery compatibility, like my choice in a Milwaukee saw, with other lawn or power tools.
- Brand reputation if your preference has been for “logging brands”.
- Service as some saws have long warranties.
TOP PICKS FOR SMALL JOBS
- OLD BRANDS: From a decades old chainsaw brand, the HUSQVARNA 120i features a 14-inch bar, 40-volt battery and a compact size
- POWER TOOL COMPATIBLE: MAKITA XCU03PT with a 14-inch bar, 36-volts with dual 5.0aH batteries.
- LAWN & GARDEN: BLACK+DECKER LCS1240 features a 40V battery system, 12-inch bar and capacity for cutting about 60 4×4 pine on an single charge.
Best Large Cordless Saws
Stepping up to a serious gas chainsaw replacement requires looking at a battery powered chainsaw that can keep you cutting for hours.
And that means taking an entry-level chainsaw and adding:
- Bar lengths that can cut thru 16-inch logs
- Secondary batteries that keep charging while you’re cutting
- Safety features to prevent injuries
- Balanced lightweight saw with shoulder and back-saving ergonomics and weight
- Fast charging to allow for fast rotation of batteries.
- High quality bars with professional-grade tension adjustment.
- Service as price increases, so does replacement cost.
- Weatherproof to keep cutting in damp or rainy conditions
STIHL Cordless Chainsaws
Founded in Germany in 1926, and with a USA headquarters since 1974, STIHL has been a top choice for professionals in chainsaws and other outdoor equipment for almost fifty years.
Since STIHL limits sales to authorized vendors, you’ll not only have a face to the initial purchase but a place to go for parts and service.
- Over 1000 patents on STIHL tools and equipment
- STIHL does most of their manufacturing in-house versus piecing together parts from many suppliers
- 120 C-B 12-inch bar, AK-20 battery
- 140 C-B 12-inch bar, AK-30 battery
- 200 C-B 14-inch bar, AP 300 battery
- 220 C-B 14 or 16-inch bar, AP 300 battery
- 160 C-B 10-inch bar, AP 300 battery
- 161 T 12-inch bar, top handle, AP 300 battery
Husqvarna Cordless Chainsaws
Husqvarna has been around since the 1600’s and originated as a rifle manufacturer. With production plants in the USA, they now provide a wide range of lawn and garden equipment.
- 120i with 14-inch bar
Professional Grade Chainsaw Models
- 535i XP 14-inch bar, 40V battery
- 540i XP 12-14 inch bar, 40v battery
- T535i XP 14 inch bar, 40v battery
- T540i XP 12-16 inch bar, 40v battery
Makita Cordless Chainsaws
Of the top three tool manufacturers (Makita, Dewalt, Milwaukee), Makita has arguably the most complete lineup of cordless chainsaws. With rear and top handle options, dual batteries that drive 36v performance, and bar lengths from 10 to 16-inches there is a Makita in every size.
And, the key difference in performance from Makita, is their use of dual batteries that allow for 36v performance.
Makita Chainsaw Models
- Top handle: XCU06Z (10-inch), XCU10Z (12-inch), XCU08Z (14-inch) or XCU09Z (16-inch)
- Rear handle: XCU04Z (16-inch), XCU07Z (14-inch)
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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:34 / Images from Amazon
- About the Author
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Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.