Electric Chainsaws: A Quick Introduction
Electric chainsaws have been around for a while, but they have developed in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. Many of these tools are now cordless, although some of the lower-priced options still retain their cord.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best options available on the market at the moment -depending on your application. We’ll consider home pruning, occasional wood chopping, all the way through to the most demanding users.
You might be asking how these compare electric chainsaws compare to gas-powered professional chainsaws. Put simply, these are excellent options for residential usage, which could include everything up to felling a small tree.
However, we would advise you to consider a gas-powered chainsaw if your logging sessions run longer than a few hours. That said, the cleanliness and ease of use of the electric chainsaws do make them very appealing for most residential buyers.
The Best Electric Chainsaws: Our Picks
1. BLACK AND DECKER LCS1020 20V MAX Cordless Chainsaw
⤍ Lightweight option at just 7.2lb
⤍ Compact 10” blade
⤍ Battery compatibility with other devices
⤍ Tool-free tensioning and adjustment
⤍ Comfortable grip
When it comes to our overall pick, you really can’t look much further than the BLACK DECKER LCS1020. This electric chainsaw is squarely aimed at the residential market and offers a highly effective trade-off between performance and value.
Equipped with a 20V Lithium-ion battery, this little machine has plenty of power to complete most occasional yard tasks. Sure, the 10” blade might give you the cutting power of some of its larger cousins, but it will happily handle most of the work you can throw at it.
This saw is also extremely light – one of the lightest in the review – coming in at only 7.2lbs. Such a compact form factor makes it extremely handy for trimming and lopping branches around the yard when you might otherwise find yourself reaching for the hand saw. And in a nutshell, that’s really what the electric chainsaw market is all about – quick and easy to use tools for occasional trimming.
We’re also very excited to see BLACK DECKER extending their battery compatibility across their range of outdoor electric tools. Being able to switch batteries between machines makes life much easier when it comes to charging and maintenance, so we see this as a major plus.
All in all, we think this saw is a perfect fit for most electric chainsaw buyers. With thousands of happy buyers online, we don’t hesitate in recommending it.
Best Cordless Chainsaw
2. CRAFTSMAN CMCCS660E1 60V 16″ Cordless Chainsaw
⤍ Powerful 60V Lithium-Ion Battery
⤍ Brushless Motor with tool-free tensioning and auto-oiling
⤍ Large 16” cutting bar
⤍ Outstanding cutting power
⤍ Extended run time
When it comes to all-out performance, the CRAFTSMAN CMCCS660E1 will open your eyes to what is possible with a cordless electric chainsaw. This model builds of CRAFTSMAN’s extensive experience in cordless power tools, bringing a ton of technology and features to bear on this new category of the tool.
This saw features a large 16” cutting bar, connected to a powerful 60V brushless motor. Safe, simple use was clearly top-of-mind when CRAFTSMAN designed this saw, leading them to incorporate multiple innovative features, like auto-oiling and effective tool-free tensioning of the chain. This means you can pretty much pick it up and get going, rather than having to fuss with fuel and chain tensioning like you would with a gas chainsaw.
CRAFTSMAN has also included extended run time and precise cutting with a bubble level of battery allowing for precise and level cutting. It is a minimal maintenance option with low kickback, making it safe and easy to use.
If you are looking for a workhorse electric chainsaw, then the CRAFTSMAN is a fantastic choice. Powerful cutting paired with rugged construction means it is ready for whatever you throw at it. It’s a little pricier than some other models in this review, but so worth the money.
3. WORX WG303.1 16″ Chainsaw
⤍ Solid performance at an unbeatable price
⤍ Large 16” bar to cut big logs
⤍ Powerful 14.5amp motor
⤍ Auto-tensioning chain
⤍ Auto-lubricating system
Given most people don’t use their chainsaw all that much, it makes a ton of sense to look to a good-value option. In the WG303.1, that is exactly what WORX has created, and they did so without making huge sacrifices to performance.
While this chainsaw might not have the freedom of a cordless machine, that isn’t a huge concern for many buyers looking to chop firewood in a small yard setting. In fact, it can be hugely helpful, given you won’t need to charge or carry extra heavy batteries along with you.
Featuring a 16” cutting bar and a sizeable 14.5amp motor, the WORX WG303.1 is ready to tackle large logs with ease. This saw also features an auto-tensioner on the chain, which is a nice innovation aimed at limiting the need for continuous adjustment. Oiling is also taken care of with a simple system that only requires occasional top-ups.
All in all, WORX has put together a solid package at a very impressive price. If you don’t want to break the bank and are happy with a corded approach, this is a good choice.
4. Greenworks 20262 12-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw
Compact design great for pruning jobs
⤍ 40V battery system
⤍ Tool-free chain tensioning
⤍ Auto-lubricating chain
The smaller cousin of Greenworks’ 16” saw, the 20262 has proven to be a hugely popular compact cordless saw with buyers online. Like the BLACK DECKER 10” offering, this machine is not designed to be a powerhouse, but rather a dependable little saw you can use for quick trimming work.
Equipped with a 40V battery system paired with a traditional brushed motor, this unit weighs in quite a bit lighter than its bigger brother. At just 6lbs, it’s a very light saw, and lighter than many gas-powered options too. This is a machine that will really shine for small jobs in hard to reach areas – like a pesky branch in a far corner of your yard.
The less efficient powerplant does lead to a reduction in cutting power compared to the more powerful alternatives, so if you anticipate heavy logging sessions, then this might not be the best saw for you. That said, with a 75 cut-per-battery quoted capacity, there’s enough to get through a good number of logs. Online buyers don’t seem bothered, however, and have reported great results with this saw.
We certainly believe this is a strong contender, and the only thing that gave us slight hesitation is the lack of cross-compatibility with other Greenworks’ batteries. This is a slight irritation, but if you are already using their G-Max system, then you’ll be unaffected.
5. BLACK AND DECKER CS1518 18” Electric Chainsaw
⤍ Outstanding Corded Chainsaw
⤍ Large 18” Oregon Cutting Bar
⤍ Low Kickback
⤍ Auto-tension & Lubrication
While many electric chainsaws these days are of the cordless variety, some buyers do prefer the simplicity of the simple corded saw. Not having to charge or replace batteries is certainly nice, and it’s good to see big brands like BLACK DECKER continuing to produce some corded options.
The CS1518 is one such device and is a very reasonably priced long bar option. This 15-amp machine has plenty of power available, and without the hindrance of battery life, can work its way through a good number of logs.
This saw comes equipped with many of the features we expect to see on a modern electric chainsaw, including tool-free chain tensioning, a quality low-kickback Oregon bar, and an automatic oiling system. While it might be a no-frills device, with thousands of happy buyers online it has a solid following of happy owners.
If you’re looking for a basic corded device – then the CS1518 is certainly worth a look. Although perhaps not a standout in any one area, it’s a solid machine which should get the job done.
6. Oregon CS1500 18 In. Self-Sharpening Corded Electric Chainsaw
⤍ Clever tool-free quick sharpening
⤍ Auto-lubricating chain
⤍ Tool-free tensioning & adjustment
⤍ 15amp brushed motor
When most companies are running chainsaw bars made by Oregon, you know they know how to make a good chainsaw. The CS1500 is Oregon’s corded offering and features a unique self-sharpening feature so you can get sharpen the blade and get right back to work with minimal downtime.
Starting with the basics though, this is solid mid-sized chainsaw fitted with an 18” bar. Power comes from a 15amp traditional brushed motor, which is a solid reliable power source for a chainsaw like this. As you’d expect, it’s fitted with many of the standard features for a saw in this category, like auto lubrication and tool-free tension adjustment.
The CS1500’s main innovation comes in the chain sharpener, however. This lever is pulled back, and applies a cutting stone to the surface of the chain, re-sharpening it. It’s a great feature for sure, and we’re certain it’s something that’ll appeal to many buyers out there.
In summary, this is a very solid corded electric chainsaw, and the self-sharpening ability is certainly a nice addition.
7. Makita XCU03PT1 LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 14″ Chain Saw
⤍ Twin 18V batteries interchangeable with other tools
⤍ Medium 14” cutting bar
⤍ Tool-free adjustment
⤍ Solid, durable design
The XCU03PT1 is Makita’s mid-sized offering and features a 14” bar which is similar to many of its immediate competition. Traditionally known for their drills and saws, recent years have seen Makita expand further into the realm of garden tools. For the most part, this has been successful, with a great selection of leaf blowers and other machinery available.
Digging into the features, the first standout is Makita’s clever twin battery system. We often get annoyed about battery compatibility, and it’s really nice to see Makita stick to their reliable and very common 18V platform. This battery powers over 250 tools, so you can feel confident when purchasing other machines in the Makita range.
Those twin 18V batteries power a modern brushless motor system, which delivers impressive power. This isn’t the lightest of saws, weighing in at a hefty 22lbs, so might not be the best choice for a buyer looking for a lightweight option. Chain tensioning is taken care of with a reliable tool-free system, and as you would expect there is an auto lubrication feature as well.
If you’re looking for a saw to build on your existing range of Makita tools, then this is a great buy. If you’re not committed to the brand, then it is worth noting it’s a rather heave saw for its size.
8. Husqvarna 14 Inch 120i Cordless Battery Powered Chainsaw
⤍ Compact 14” Saw
⤍ Safety code prevents unwanted use
⤍ Auto tensioning chain
⤍ Auto lubrication
⤍ 40V Battery system
With a rich history in garden equipment and chainsaws, in particular, no chainsaw review would be complete without a Husqvarna option. They have, however, not been as well-received when it comes it electric chainsaws, so we were keen to see how this stacked up.
The Husqvarna 120i is a small-to-mid-sized package, featuring a 40V battery system hooked up to a brushless motor. There’s plenty of power on tap for most residential users, and it should be able to handle most of the work you throw at it. Like other saws in this review though, this is definitely aimed at trimming rather than heavy logging sessions.
Husqvarna has fitted a clever safety pad feature that will certainly appeal to many parents. This requires a code to be punched in to run the saw, and will help prevent accidents should kids pick up and play with the machine.
Many of the usual features are also included, such as tool-free chain tensioning and bar adjustment, along with auto lubrication. We have noted a few users online reporting battery issues, so we’re hesitant to give this unit the top recommendation, despite its heritage.
9. Greenworks 20312 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw
⤍ Powerful 40V Brushless motor
⤍ Lithium Ion batteries
⤍ Large 16” bar to cut large logs
⤍ Growing range of tools on the battery system
Another very strong contender for the Best Overall Performance category is Greenworks’ 20312 40V electric chainsaw. This unit is tremendously powerful and will take sizeable logs and trees without breaking stride.
Powered by a 40V brushless motor, the 20312 is not short of grunt. The upgrade from brushed to brushless means more than just power though, offering increased torque and longer runtime when compared to a traditional electric motor.
Greenworks have generously equipped the rest of the saw to match the powerplant, fitting a 16” Oregon bar with an auto-tensioning chain. Oiling is also taken care of via an automated system, and the transparent tank makes it easy to check the oil at a glance. Safety has also been carefully considered, with a chain brake fitted to help prevent kickback.
Greenworks are certainly a newer brand when considered alongside BLACK DECKER or DEWALT, but have a fast-growing range of electric tools. We’ve been generally impressed so far, and if the 20312 is anything to go off – they appear to be here to stay.
10. LiTHELi 40V Cordless Chainsaw
⤍ Great value cordless electric saw
⤍ 40V Brushless motor
⤍ Lithium Ion Batteries
⤍ 14” Cutting bar
Although perhaps not a household brand, LiTHELi is pushing hard to gain a place in the market with affordable tools. This 40V cordless electric chainsaw features many of the features you would expect to find on a much more premium offering.
Starting with the powerplant, you’re looking at a 40V Lithium-ion battering and a brushless motor at a very competitive price. That is hooked up to a 14” cutting bar which is fairly standard for a chainsaw of this size. The usual features are all present – auto lubrication and tool-free tensioning, so on paper, this seems strong.
As a newer company, however, it’s hard to get a solid feel for long term performance. While there are some delighted customers out there, it’s hard to form a solid opinion at this stage. That said, with so much on paper at a compelling price, some buyers might be happy to take the leap.
What To Consider When Buying An Electric Chainsaw
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy an electric chainsaw rather than the traditional gas-powered version. But what key features should you be thinking about? In this section, we’ll take a look at the key elements.
Cordless vs Corded
20 years ago, corded machines dominated the electric chainsaw market. Now you can buy either type, which does add extra confusion for buyers. Generally, we think corded saws are better suited to long repetitive cutting sessions. A good example is slicing up a large pile of logs for storage. They have plenty of power to get the job done, and won’t run out of battery.
If you’re pruning the odd branch around the yard though, a cordless chainsaw is probably a better choice. You don’t have the hassle of dealing with the power cable, and you can easily carry the saw around to different parts of your yard.
The bar size of a chainsaw refers to the length of the metal bar that supports the cutting chain. Larger bars will allow you to cut larger logs, but with them comes additional weight. For large and powerful saws, you’ll see large bars, all the way down to small ones on lopping saws.
For the purposes of this review, you really only have the choice between a compact trimming saw (10-12” bar) and slightly larger 14-18” medium-sized saws. The shorter bars work best for cutting small logs and branches as they are lighter and more compact.
Longer bars help when you cut thicker logs because you can go straight through in one shot. However, being larger, they can be unwieldy for pruning work. For felling large, thick trunks, you need the longest bar you can get your hands on. A log splitter is great for breaking down large logs into more manageable firewood.
Voltage, along with amps, determines the power of the saw. To simplify things though, electric chainsaws basically fall into two camps – 24V or less, and 36-40V. Lower powered batteries are often smaller and lighter. 24V saws are great tools for occasional light-duty trimming work.
For more power though, you need to look to more voltage. With that will often come more weight, but it’s a necessary tradeoff in order to cut up larger logs and trees.
Chainsaw chains need to be carefully tightened to ensure they work correctly. The reason is that they need to move freely around the guide bar, but not so freely that they become detached from it and snag in the log. Chains also stretch as they are used, and as a result, need constant adjustment.
Traditionally, manufacturers placed tightening bolts at the bottom of the chainsaw bar. The owner would then tighten or loosen these bolts using specially supplied tools, which always seemed to go missing!
Over time, buyers have become frustrated with the tool-based approach. Now, many saws now feature tool-free tensioning, or even automatic tensioning. All the saws in this review have one of those two features, but check on whatever saw you buy.
Chainsaws are dangerous pieces of equipment – it’s no mistake you’ll find them in all sorts of horror movies! Manufacturers are continually working to make them safer to use, and have added numerous new features to help.
Traditional gas-powered chainsaws have always been a little bit difficult to start, which created a natural barrier to unwanted use. Cordless electric chainsaws, on the other hand, are more problematic – anyone can grab one (assuming it’s charged) and start it.
As a result, some manufacturers equip their saws with safety codes to turn them on, which we highly recommend if you have kids. The other alternative is to store the chainsaw and batteries separately.
Another key feature to consider is a chain brake. Most saws are fitted with one these days, including all the saws in this review, but it’s worth checking. These brakes will stop the saw in a dangerous situation, such as when you pull the off switch. Generally, the faster the better.
Make sure you always wear face, hand, and leg protection when operating a chainsaw. It can be very easy to forget, but these simple safety items can save your life. Read up on woodworking safety here before getting started.
Chains are mechanically quite complex systems because many parts are moving against one another. To perform well, they require regular lubrication. This is challenging in a chainsaw setting because oil is continually rubbed off on the wood you saw.
As a result, manufacturers now design chainsaws with a self-lubricating chain system. This dispenses chain oil onto the chain as you use it, to keep it lubricated. You need to remember to keep it topped up though, so check for a saw with a simple system you will be able to keep checking and fill up easily.
Electric Chainsaw Buyer’s Guide FAQs
Buyers ask all kinds of questions when trying to select with the right chainsaw. Below, we’ll dive into some of the most common questions we come across.
As with any tool, the best electric chainsaw is the one best suited to your use case. Let’s explore some of those and discuss the best performers.
When it comes to all-out performance with a cordless electric chainsaw, we highly recommend the DEWALT DCCS670X1. This powerhouse of a machine features a top-of-the-line brushless motor, 60V Lithium-ion battery, and all the latest tech in electric chainsaws. It cuts like a champ and is pretty much the best when it comes to all-out performance.
That said, if you prefer a corded saw (perhaps you have a mountain of logs to work through), then the BLACK+DECKER CS1518 is a great choice. Although waning in popularity slightly, corded saws do still have a place in the market, and this saw is a top performer in that segment.
Trading off performance and value, we come again to BLACK+DECKER, this time with the LCS1020, which is our top overall pick. This machine offers excellent performance at a very reasonable price point and has been a hugely popular saw with online buyers. You can’t go far wrong with it.
Yes, they certainly do! But they are designed for a certain type of job, and let’s discuss the places they really shine.
When it comes to cutting, many do cut as well as gas-powered saws aimed at the household buyer. They will happily help you fell a small tree, and devour logs with ease. Where they fall short is in very demanded use cases – whether cutting down big trees or cutting all day long. Battery power can only produce a limited number of cuts, and you’d need a lot of spare batteries.
So, with the performance as good as many gas saws, what else is there? Well, there’s a lot to be said for ease of use. Not more clogged carburetors, no struggling with the pull cord, you can just pick one of these up and get right to it. Owners love that, given that chainsaws aren’t used regularly and are often needed on short notice. What’s more, there’s no messy 2-cycle fuel mixing or fuel storage at all for that matter.
When it comes to quick pruning jobs and basic residential work – electric chainsaws are a great choice and offer quite a few benefits over their gas cousins.
Saws range in price wildly. For a low-end corded electric chainsaw, you’re looking at $75 and up. Cordless saws start at $125 and run all the way up to $350 for a top-quality machine.
Although that might come as a shock to some buyers, it’s worth bearing in mind that these tools are an investment. You should be looking to get many years out of the machine, so more often than not they do end up being worth it.
Battery chainsaws have come a long way in the last few years. The latest generation can power through piles of logs with ease and will give you 50-100 cuts on a single battery. Most of the battery systems are interchangeable with other tools, so you can build your toolset around them.
Corded saws do still have a place if you’re doing lots of repetitive cutting, but we expect battery chainsaws to continue to improve. If you are doing a lot of repetitive cutting of small logs, and you don’t have to move your saw away from your power source, you might still want to stick with the corded variety.
All chainsaws are dangerous pieces of equipment – whether gas-powered or electric. Some might say electric saws are safer, but it depends on who you ask.
One common argument is that electric saws don’t require gas, which is in itself dangerous. This is certainly true, and if you carry gas around with your saw you need to be careful about smoking and other potential ignition hazards.
Some people think that electric saws are safer because they are somehow less powerful. However, these days that isn’t really true – as many electric saws are just as powerful as their gas counterparts.
All in all, yes, they might be marginally safer, but you should make sure you take the proper precautions before you pick up any type of chainsaw.