Electric chainsaws are the cheapest type of chainsaws you can buy, and for the majority of homeowners, these provide the right combination of efficiency, price and power. The purpose of this article is to give you all the information you need to help you decide if an electric chainsaw is right for you. And, we’ve compiled a list of some models that you should consider to stretch your dollar.
Electric Chainsaws | What You Need to Know
We sometimes think of chainsaws as being big, powerful tools to be used by forestry officials and professional loggers, but there are times when the average homeowner needs one too. If you have a large yard with an established hedge or a few trees, you will need to trim and maintain them for the sake of the garden’s health, and perhaps the peace of mind of your neighbors.
Chainsaws can offer a simple, effective way of dealing with unwanted branches and heavy-duty pruning jobs without calling in outside help. There are, however, two important questions to ask yourself: should you choose an electric chainsaw over a gas-powered machine and, if so, which model is best for your needs.
This guide will look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of choosing electric chainsaws for yard work – such as the issues of power, safety and general convenience – before discussing some of the best products on the market. By the end, hopefully you will have a better understanding of the benefits of electric models for homeowners, the importance of the right power supply and extension cord and the options that are available.
Benefits of choosing an electric chainsaw over a gasoline chainsaw?
Electric powered chainsaw are often seen as the best option for homeowners because they are so much more convenient than gas-fuelled models and easier to handle – from starting her up to dealing with the task at hand and putting her away.
Gas Chainsaw = More Power + Fumes
Starting up a chainsaw is often the biggest obstacle for new users – there is nothing more intimidating than yanking on a temperamental pull start of a gasoline model to set that dangerous blade in motion. With an electric model, this sense of danger and uncertainty is removed with the simple flick of a switch. The device still demands care and respect – as there is still a large blade on the end – but it is much easier to handle.
Electric chainsaws are often criticized because they cannot carry out the tough jobs. This is true as they are best used to handle lighter pruning, the removal of thin branches and the felling of small saplings. Larger trees will require a more professional approach. The diameter the device can handle will depend on the power of the machine.
A heavy-duty 15-amp machine could quickly take down a thick, 20+ branch and do a decent job of a tree with enough persistence and patience. Low-end models with 9 amp outputs, however, may be able to handle nothing thicker than 6 inches. This is why it is important to consider the job and your requirements before browsing sales pages. Fit the machine to the task.
These chainsaws may be less capable than gas-powered models, but they also tend to be smaller and more lightweight. The bar is an average of 14-16 inches, although this can vary, and even the tougher models can weigh no more than 10lbs. This can make a big difference as it makes the saw much easier to carry and to wield overhead. A heavy-duty gas model can require a lot of upper body strength and practice, which may be too much effort when you are only using the saw for light yard work a few times a year.
This limited use and user convenience also leads to another important benefit that some buyers may overlook – storage. What happens to the chainsaw when the job is done? Gas chainsaws need to be left to cool, prepped for storage by draining them of their remaining fuel and kept in optimal conditions (upright in a cool, ventilated area). With electric models you don’t have to worry about any of this because there are no dangerous fuels, which is also why this types of models are seen as the safer option. Simply turn it off, unplug it and store it in a safe place.
Electric chainsaws may be more user-friendly, but what about the power issue?
For some consumers, the issue lies in the fact that an electric chainsaw requires a power cord. Not only does this long cable potentially restrict a user’s freedom of movement around the garden, there is the danger that inexperienced users might cut through that cord by accident. The solution for some buyers might be to opt for a cordless electric model – a battery powered alternative that has been designed for this very reason – but these products have their limitations too.
They may be small, light and maneuverable, but as soon as the battery runs out, they lose their worth. Some models only provide around 20 minutes of juice before they need to be recharged, which means they are no longer the convenient, consistent tool that buyers need. They are also less powerful than mains-powered electric models, which could be a problem if you need a quick, simple cut.
A corded electric model is the way forward, which means that you also need to consider the extension cord.
In order to use these electric chainsaws out in the yard, you will need to plug the device into an extension cord to receive power – no chainsaw has a long enough cord to plug straight into a wall. It cannot be emphasized enough that you need to find the right cord for your tool to avoid poor performance and safety issues. This means looking at safety ratings, the gauge and the length. Top companies like Craftsman and GreenWorks recommend shorter cords of 50 feet because as the longer a cord is, the lower its power efficiency. Also, it is unlikely that you will need a 100ft model for basic yard work.
The gauge is also crucial because it helps to protect the saw and maintain that efficient source of power. There are many reports of extension cords overheating and this is usually down to the fact that buyers have simply chosen the wrong option for their tool. The electricity cannot flow through the wire effectively and heat builds, which could cause the chainsaw to overheat and burn out itself. It seems illogical to newcomers, but the lower the number on the wire, the higher the gauge.
If you have a lighter saw at around 12-amps, a lighter 16 gauge model with a 50ft. cord may suffice. If, however, you have a tougher machine that require more power, you will need to go for a 12 or even a 10 gauge cord to stay safe.
Your extension cord also needs to have the correct safety ratings and must be classed as an outside cord to be suitable. These models are designed to handle changes in temperature and other environmental conditions that indoor cords are not prepared for. The more protection you have for the electricity that is being carried to your saw – through a thick gauge wire and a strong jacket on the outlet – the greater the chance of a quick, efficient performance.
To learn more about choosing an extension cord read our guide to help you make the right decision.
Best Electric Chainsaws | Buying Guide
Now that you can be sure about the pros and cons of electric chainsaws and know a little more about these cords, it is all about choosing the best model. The following models are all highly regarded and while many share a number of features, there are key differences that could be crucial in the decision making process.
- 9 Amp electric motor. Recommended: 16 Gauge extension cord.
- 14-Inch bar makes is suitable for small cutting tasks.
- Tool-less chain tensioner for fast adjustments.
- Wrap around handle enables you to cut comfortably from all angles.
- Auto-oiler means your chain will always be well-lubricated.
- Push button start makes it super easy to get going.
- Ideal chainsaw for limbing and pruning.
OVERVIEW | GreenWorks 20222
Starting at the lower end of the scale in terms of power and performance, we have the GreenWorks 20222, a model from a company with one of the best customer satisfaction ratings due the consistency and ease of use of their products. Some buyers will disregard this model immediately because it has the smaller 14-inch bar and 9 amp motor but, if the reason you have chosen to go with an electric model is because chainsaws are generally intimidating, this could be a good starting point.
Buyers have said that it is actually more powerful than expected, with reports that it can handle 12 inch saplings with ease, but there is a limit. Push this machine too hard and it will overheat and burn through the oil with speed. This chainsaw is great for the inexperienced user because while there are no strange, innovative features, there is enough here for user convenience and peace of mind. This includes the tool-less tensioning system, comfortable handle and auto-oiler.
The low power of this devices means that a light duty, 16 gauge extension cord should be fine here.
If you need a little more power consider the GreenWorks 20332 — rated at 14.5 amps and comes with an 18″ bar and chain.
Remington RM1425 Limb ‘N Trim | Electric Chainsaw
This is a basic chainsaw that has proven itself to be a real workhorse for consumers. Dirt cheap, lightweight and easy-to-use.
- Compact, lightweight design.
- Push-button manual Oiler.
- External Chain Tension Adjuster.
View or download the MANUAL.
OVERVIEW | Remington RM1425 Limb ‘N Trim | Electric Chainsaw
The Remington RM1425 Limb ‘N Trim has been designed to appeal to the more casual user because it too has a fairly low-powered motor – in fact it is even less powerful than the GreenWorks model at 8 amps. The appeal here comes from the fact that it knows its place and that the designers have focused on created a budget-friendly model that is ideal for light work and little else.
This electric chainsaw won’t be able to handle thick branches, but users say that the 14 inch blade is still reliable which used on smaller tasks, particularly branches under 6 inches in diameter. This may be thin, but the company promise that the saw is “ready to slice through your trees right out of the box” and there are also reports of older, senior homeowners using it with ease. Neither claim is hard to dispute because the product is light, at just 6.2lbs, and comes fully assembled.
Like the low-end GreenWorks 20222, this saw is best used with a light duty 16 gauge extension cord because it isn’t as demanding.
The manual states:
This saw is classified by UL as a Class 2C saw in accordance with CSA Z62. 1-03. It is intended for infrequent use by homeowners, cottagers and campers, and for general applications such as clearing, pruning, cutting firewood, etc. It is not intended for prolonged use. If the intended use involves prolonged periods of operation, this may cause circulatory problems in the user’s hand due to vibration.
*This chainsaw was formerly referred to as the RM1635W.
If you want power, well, this isn’t the electric chainsaw for you, but if you want an inexpensive and lightweight saw for limbing and pruning around the yard then this is a good option for you. Nothing fancy but reliable for cutting wood under 8-inches. Sure, you can cut larger wood on occasion but it’s only 12 Amp.
When you force a chainsaw to cut beyond it’s capabilities you reduce its lifespan and create the potential for injuring yourself. This is a cheap chainsaw so it’s important to stick with small jobs. I read the comments of consumers stating they cut down large trees with this but this isn’t what it’s designed for. If you need to fell large trees, purchase a Makita DCS642120 (64cc gas).
- 16″ low kickback chain.
- 12 Amp motor. Recommended extension cord : 14 Gauge.
- External adjustment screw for chain tension.
- Oil level viewer for easy maintenance.
- Wraparound handle enables you to cut from a multitude of angles.
- External adjustment screw for tightening the chain.
- Translucent window allows you to easily view the oil level.
- 2-year limited warranty.
View or download the MANUAL. *Note: this is an excellent manual that covers a wide range of cutting techniques. Even if you don’t buy this chainsaw, I recommend looking at this manual for tips.
OVERVIEW | Remington RM1645 | Electric Chainsaw
Remington have created a great range of chainsaws for different purposes and where the Limb N Trim is their no-nonsense, budget approach to light work, the Versa Saw is the next step up for a slightly more powerful, effective performance. This is ideal for buyers that like the look of the previous option and the Remington name, but feel it wont quite meet their needs.
This Versa Saw has a longer blade at 16 inches and a 12 amp output, so can handle thicker branches for what the brand call “fast and easy trimming, pruning and light cutting”. There are additional features that add to the experience, such as the automatic oiler and buyers simply feel that it is a more capable machine. There are drawbacks, as you will have to pay more for this model and Remington models tend to be heavier than their rivals, but it is probably worthwhile to achieve that balance between value and a great performance.
- Built-in PowerSharp chain sharpening system. Sharpens in seconds.
- Lightweight, balanced ergonomic design.
- 15 amp electric motor.
- 18″ (45 cm) reduced kickback guide bar and chain.
- Instant start.
- Over-mold handle for comfort and flexibility in cutting.
- Automatic oiler with translucent view-through window.
- Low noise.
- Tool-less chain tensioning system.
- Integrated chain brake.
- Weight: 12.6 lbs (5.7 kg) with guide bar and saw chain attached.
View or download the MANUAL.
OVERVIEW | OREGON CS1500 | Electric Chainsaw
Sometimes it is easy to find ourselves drawn to recognizable brand names like Remington because we think it means better quality or reliability. This is not always the case, however, and it may be worth considering a model from a lesser-known brand, such as the OREGON CS1500.
This electric chainsaw has impressed many users because it ticks all the right boxes without being too flashy. It is not the most expensive model out there but it is powerful, high quality, it starts well and it gives a good performance. In contrast to the previous models, this machine has a 15 amp motor that means it is capable of cutting through wood up to 16 inches in diameter. This means it is better suited to felling branches than simple pruning.
Video | Oregon CS1500 Electric Chainsaw
There is one additional aspect to this saw that sets it apart from the competition – it is self-sharpening. This may not mean much to newcomers but it means that the blade is easily maintained for a more consistent performance and greater longevity.
If you have come to electric chainsaws for the ease of use and lack of annoying maintenance, this could be a great choice. As this has such a high output at 14.5 amps, it is recommendable that buyers purchase a heavy duty extension cord here, either a 12 gauge or the more robust 10 gauge.
For more detailed information on this OREGON electric chainsaw then read our in-depth review.
Makita UC3551A (14″) and Makita UC4051A (16″) | 15 Amp
- 14.5 Amp electric motor. Recommended: 12 Gauge Extension Cord
- “Tool-less” blade and chain adjustments for convenient operation and easy maintenance
- Rubberized grip handles are ergonomically designed for comfort
- Large trigger switch with soft start for smooth start-ups
- Built-in current limiter helps protect motor from burnout by reducing power to motor when saw is overloaded
- Large oil reservoir with view window allows operator to check bar oil level
- Automatic chain oiler for heavy continuous cutting
- Electric chain brake for maximum productivity
- Zero emissions and reduced maintenance
- Soft start for smooth start-ups
- Current limiter helps protect motor from damage caused by heat
Documents | UC3551A / UC4051A
OVERVIEW | Makita UC3551A & Makita UC4051A
Heading back to another well-known and respected brand of electric chainsaw manufacturers, we come to Makita. This brand is known for their professional feel, having been around since 1915, and this is seen here in the use of materials. Unlike most electric chainsaws, the gears are made of metal, which means greater strength and a longer life.
There are two models that are mentioned repeatedly in blogs and guides – for good reason – and they are the Makita UC3551A and Makita UC4051A. The reason that these two machines are placed together is that they are actually the same chainsaw except the UC3551A has a 14″ bar and UC4051A has a 16″ bar and chain. They have both been recently upgraded from older models for a better user experience and refined features.
These chainsaws have been adapted to make them even more user-friendly, with a new oil pump, ergonomic design and adjustment system. When choosing between them, it really does come down to the power and the job that the machine is being used for. If you feel the 14 inch model is not quite strong enough, opt for the more professional upgrade.
The Makita UC4030A is ideal for pruning, trimming, firewood cutting and felling trees up to 14 inches thick, so it is definitely a versatile chainsaw that I feel is a great value for homeowners. Because these models are driven by powerful 14.5 amp electric motors, you should definitely buy a 12-gauge extension cord.
WORX WG303.1 | 16-Inch | 14.5 Amp | Electric Chainsaw
Also available in a slightly more powerful model (15 Amp) with a larger bar & chain (18-inches) : WORX WG304.1
- 14.5 Amp electric motor powers the 16″ bar and chain.
- Patented auto-tension chain system prevents over-tightening for extended bar & chain life.
- Built-in chain brake for your safety and piece of mind.
- Automatic oil lubrication and built-in oil reservoir with level indicator.
View or download the MANUAL.
OVERVIEW | WORX WG303.1 | Electric Chainsaw
As you have seen, two of the most important reasons for choosing electric chainsaws over gas-powered models is that they are much more user-friendly and tend to have a better safety record. This is why the WORX WG303.1 is so well-liked and so frequently mentioned online. In fact, it is currently the best selling electric chainsaw on Amazon.com, and has been for quite some time.
This machine is at the higher end of the scale in terms of power – as it has a 14 amp output and a 16 inch chain – and again it is great for medium level yard work and branches of medium thickness. This is made easier through the 11lb weight.
Despite this, the specification seems to focus on user comfort and safety. There are plenty of automated features here to make life easier for the user, such as the tensioning system and the oiler, but there are also interesting safety features like the kickback protection and built-in safety chain brake. As this is another 14 amp model, you need to buy a 12 gauge or 10 gauge extension cord.
Sun Joe SWJ701E | 18″ | 14 Amp | Electric Chainsaw
Ideal for: Cutting wood under 12″ in diameter. Suitable for pruning, limbing, and firewood.
- Ideal for : limbs, firewood and logs.
- Powerful 14-amp motor tackles tough cutting jobs
- 18-inch self-lubricating Oregon bar and chain
- Hand guard with kickback brake function
- Lightweight design with ergonomic handle maximizes user comfort
- CSA approved; Full 2-year warranty
View or download the MANUAL.
OVERVIEW | Sun Joe SWJ701E
The final electric chainsaw model to be considered here is the Sun Joe SWJ701E, which is probably the toughest of all the examples mentioned in this guide. Like the WORX chainsaw, this has a 14 amp output but it also has the added benefit of the 18-inch Oregon bar and chain – the same Oregon that made the interesting self-sharpening model above – and a weight of 9.7 lbs.
This size and power may be too much for buyers that are just getting to grips with these devices, especially if you only need it for light work, and it should be noted that there is the 12 inch Sun Joe SWJ698E 9 amp model as a more user-friendly alternative.
The 14 amp model is a great tool for tougher jobs where users don’t want to have to call in a professional and is the only model that is designed to make short work of thick limbs and logs of 16 inches diameter and higher.
There is an additional downside here that means that this model is not suitable for inexperienced users, and that is the lack of tool-less tensioning. Tool-less tensioning provides a simple dial system to take away the hassle of maintenance. Again, the immense power here means that you should use a 12 gauge (or 10 gauge) extension cord.
What should you do if you know you need an electric chainsaw, but these powerful models just aren’t for you?
Thankfully, there are chainsaw alternatives designed for safety. Let’s be honest, chainsaws are dangerous tools so if you only need to cut wood under 4″ in diameter than I strongly recommend buying either the Alligator Looper or the WORK JawSaw. See details below.
The Alligator Lopper is also available in a 20V lithium-ion battery model: LLP120B
Chainsaws aren’t for everyone. No matter how safe and gentle manufacturers make their products as they diversify their lines, the idea of using these powerful machines with their dangerous blades is just too much for some consumers. If you are looking at the 8amp models and still think that you would rather call in a professional to avoid handling these devices altogether, there is an alternative solution to consider.
There are now electric saws and loppers that enhance the more appealing approach to cutting branches and take away the manual labor element. There is a clear downside here in that they are designed for limbs no thicker than 4 inches in diameter. This makes them more powerful and capable than manual loppers, but less so than the weakest chainsaw listed above. There are two interesting models worth considering – the Black and Decker LP 1000 and the Worx WG307.
The JawSaw is also available in a 20V battery-powered model: WORX WG320
The WORX model comes from the same company that made the powerful, reliable chainsaw mentioned above, so you know you are in good hands. Just like the chainsaw, stability, safety and user comfort are all high priorities here. There is an auto-tension system to ensure the ideal cut with minimal effort and the scissor cut mechanism is designed to reduce kickback.
The Black and Decker option, meanwhile, is perhaps a little more appealing due to its lower price tag and recognizable branding. Some feel that the scissor action is slightly more effective on this product and there are additional features like the retractable blades and lightweight, but it also has a small oil reservoir.
Buying the Best Electric Chainsaw for your Needs
There are lots of benefits to buying an electric model over a gasoline chainsaw: they are safer, more environmentally-friendly, easier to start and store and generally easier for newcomers to handle. The list above provides a great range of products, from cheap and simple options to those that are more powerful and professional, but there are still many more out there to look at. It all comes down to your priorities as a consumer and the job that it is being purchased for.
It is pretty straightforward to say that light yard work and pruning only require a basic model and heavy-duty landscaping requires a more professional product, but there is more to it than that. Safety features, ergonomics, noise levels and automation all play a big part in the choice. Understand your needs as a consumer, check the specifications carefully, read user reviews and don’t forget to buy the right extension cord for your chosen product.