What Type Of Chainsaw Do I Need?

The type of chainsaw that is best for you depends on your needs and budget. Chainsaws generally fall into three categories: electric chainsaws, gas chainsaws, and professional chainsaws. So, which one is best for you?

Electric Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws work nearly as well as gas powered chainsaws for many cutting tasks. These chainsaws can usually be found in hardware stores and some home improvement centers.

Electric chainsaws come in both battery powered and corded versions. Both are great for quick cutting jobs and offer ease of use.

However, battery chainsaws cannot get too far from a charger or it will not have power once the battery runs out. And a corded chainsaw can limit the distance you can move away from a wall outlet or power generator.

Electric chainsaws are great for cutting smaller wood pieces than gas powered chainsaws. Because of this, many homeowners choose electric powered chainsaw. Some items electric powered chainsaws can cut include:

  • Firewood
  • Saplings and small trees
  • Medium sized trees

One major disadvantage of battery-powered chainsaws is they cannot handle the same extreme cutting jobs that gas powered chainsaws can. In fact, attempting to cut a tree trunk of 10-12 inches in diameter could stress the chainsaw and possibly break it.

Another disadvantage is the battery will need to be recharged after about one or two hours of use. And you cannot quickly fill up the gas tank and continue, but must wait for the battery to recharge. Replacement batteries are available but they can be quite expensive.

Electric powered chainsaws are best for smaller cutting jobs that last less than two hours. They also are quieter than gas chainsaws. Additionally, they offer more safety because the motor is not always running when not used for cutting.

Gas Chainsaws

Gas Chainsaw

Gas chainsaws can be quite powerful and are great for both large and small cutting jobs.

However, they require a gas mixture to run and this presents some safety risks when it comes to use and storage. The gas must be stored safely in a container in a cool and shady location. Gas chainsaws also require chains to be changed and sharpened with regularity.

Gas chainsaws tend to be noisier than electric chainsaws and produce toxic exhaust fumes while operating.

Industrial Chainsaws

Industrial chainsaws are some of the most powerful (and dangerous) chainsaws you can use. However, they are best for only the biggest and most difficult cutting tasks. These include:

  • Professional tree cutting
  • Forestry management
  • Forest fire suppression

Most homeowners, and even park rangers do not need industrial chainsaws to do their jobs. If you think about chainsaws in general, they are usually used to cut down trees. There is a range of chainsaws that can do this job:

Cordless Chainsaws

Cordless chainsaws do not require a power cord to operate. They are powered by batteries that are recharged after use.

Cordless chainsaws may come with the ability to self-sharpen the chain. This is of obvious benefit and means you can keep cutting without having to worry about the chain getting dull.

Rechargeable Chainsaws

Electric chainsaws that are powered by batteries are rechargeable chainsaws, and provide users with convenience and ease of use. They are often smaller and lighter than gas powered versions but can be powerful in their own right.

Choosing a rechargeable chainsaw is not as simple as picking the one with the lowest price tag. There are many chainsaws of all shapes and sizes available, so it’s important to consider what you need.

Rechargeable chainsaws use lithium-ion batteries and often come with their own wall chargers.

Top Handle Chainsaws

Top handle chainsaws are common and are used like conventional chainsaws with one or two hands grasping both handles, one at the rear and another on the top of the chainsaw.

The main difference between top handle chainsaws and regular chainsaws is the rear handle can move to the top of the chainsaw. This allows the user to operate it with one hand if needed. This makes them well-suited for arborists that often need to be up in the tree or hanging in the air.

However, buying and using a top handle chainsaw in a professional setting may require certification(s) of competence.

What Are Top Handle Chainsaws Used For?

Top handle chainsaws can be used for landscaping and light chainsaw work, such as dropping small or large trees and cutting brush

. The top handle chainsaw is a chainsaw that has its motor and chains above the handle. Such chainsaws lack a rear handle and cannot be used for overhead cutting.

Top Handle Chainsaws: A Unique Design

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When Should You Use A Top Handle On A Chainsaw?

These chainsaws are designed for one or two-handed use. They give the user the ability to grip the chainsaw tight and stabilize it will making difficult cuts of large tree branches. They can also be held with one hand if needed to carry in required heights.

However, top handle chainsaws are not necessary for regular cutting tasks while standing on the ground or a platform. Top handle chainsaws are only really needed by professional arborists or tree fellers.

Mini Chainsaws

Mini chainsaws, or very small chainsaws, are best for lighter duty applications such as pruning trees, clearing brush or using chainsaw bar oil .  

Mini chainsaws may not have the power or size to cut larger trees. Mini chainsaws are lighter, and use less fuel (often battery powered), than regular sized chainsaws.

These are ideal for someone just starting out chainsawing or who rarely needs to use one. Mini chainsaws are usually easy to carry around and store.

Do Mini Chainsaws Really Work?

One may ask if a mini chainsaw will even work well enough to be useful for the average homeowner? The answer is a definate Yes.

Chainsaw size is a main factor in whether or not a chainsaw will work well. The smaller chainsaws often cannot cut anything larger than a small tree branch. If you decide to purchase a mini chainsaw, also purchasing a larger chainsaw as well may be a good idea. If your property has large trees, a large chainsaw may be required at some point.

What Type Of Chainsaw Is Best For A Homeowner?

This all depends on the property style and how often trees and brush need to be trimmed. Also, if a person lives in a windy climate or one that faces extreme weather events (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) then large trees or branches can fall and block driveways or streets.

This is why having a larger gas powered or electric chainsaw may be better than having only a small or mini chainsaw. In fact, having both sizes is a great way to cover all possibilities and give you the tools you need to get the job done.

What Is The Most Reliable Chainsaw?

Reliability is an important factor when it comes to chainsaws. You don’t want to be in the middle of a cutting job when the saw suddenly stops working for no apparent reason.

However, the most reliable chainsaw is not always the most expensive. It also depends on what you intend to use the chainsaw for. A small chainsaw may simply not hold up when having to cut larger trees.

Some of highest quality chainsaw brands are:

  • Husqvarna
  • Stihl
  • Makita
  • Echo
  • Oregon

Chainsaw reliability should be determined on a model by model basis, or even year to year. Chainsaws are continously evolving so new features could pose problems when they have not been fully tested or matured in the marketplace.

There is no one chainsaw that will suit everyone due to varying chainsaw specifications that people prefer. It is worth taking into consideration these points before deciding which chainsaw to buy.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium