Most associate chainsaws with the ear-splitting growl of their 110-decibel motor. It’s a familiar sound that conjures images of bearded, flannel-clad lumberjacks and 1980s horror flicks. Thanks to innovations in cordless power tool technology, quiet battery-powered chainsaws are now competing with the tell-tale buzz of the gas-powered models.
These quiet—80 to 95 decibels—chainsaws feature powerful batteries and efficient, low-friction brushless motors that make them as mighty as many of their gas-powered cousins without the headache of pull-start engines and messy fuel mixing.
There are many battery-powered options on the market, so selecting the right one can be a challenge. Whether you’re doing some light pruning or chopping up fallen trees, this guide will help you find the best battery chainsaw for the task. Also, don’t miss the list of top recommendations.
- BEST OVERALL: Makita XCU03Z 18V X2 LXT Brushless Cordless Chain Saw
- RUNNER UP: Greenworks Pro 80V 18-Inch Cordless Chainsaw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Cordless Chainsaw
- UPGRADE PICK: DeWalt 16 in. 60V MAX Cordless Brushless Chainsaw
- BEST COMPACT: DeWalt 20V MAX XR Chainsaw, 12-Inch
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Milwaukee Electric Tools 2727-21HD Chainsaw Kit
- BEST POLE SAW: BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Pole Saw, 8-Inch
What to Look for When Buying the Best Battery Chainsaw
Most DIYers base their purchase of a cordless power tool on the size of the battery. While battery power is important, there are other factors to consider when shopping for a cordless chainsaw, including guide bar length, motor type, and weight.
Battery chainsaws use lithium-ion batteries as a power source. These powerful batteries, which replaced weaker nickel-cadmium batteries, can largely be credited for the emergence of the battery-powered chainsaw.
Unlike their nickel-cadmium predecessors, which took up to 12 hours to recharge, lithium-ion batteries produce more power and can recharge in as little as an hour, and they’re lighter to boot. With multiple lithium-ion batteries, it’s easy to keep the woodcutting going by simply rotating batteries from saw to charger.
When shopping for a battery-powered chainsaw, there are a few things to look out for that will help you determine just how long it will last before needing a recharge. To rate how powerful they are, batteries use voltage. Some chainsaws use multiple 18-volt batteries, while others use single 20-volt batteries. High-end battery chainsaws use 40-volt, and even 80-volt batteries.
Although run times will vary depending on use and the chainsaw’s size, expect to get about 30 to 40 minutes of intermittent use out of a cordless chainsaw before it needs a charge. If you already have an arsenal of cordless power tools, consider buying a chainsaw with the same brand to use the batteries interchangeably between your cordless tools.
Battery chainsaws use standard motors or brushless motors. As is the case with the motors in other cordless power tools, brushless motors are more efficient because they create less friction. This equates to a longer run time before the battery needs recharging; less friction also means better engine power. A brushless engine is typically about 85 to 90 percent efficient, whereas a brushed DC motor is around 75 to 80 percent efficient.
While some cordless chainsaws only offer a single speed, which simply allows you to turn the chainsaw on or off, higher-end chainsaws offer variable speed controls. These chainsaws regulate the blade’s speed via a pressure-sensitive trigger, allowing you to optimize the chain’s speed for different types of cuts.
A chainsaw’s ability to run efficiently largely depends on keeping the chain well-lubed with oil. Chainsaws include a reservoir that stores lubricating oil. Lubrication prevents the chain from becoming stuck in the wood or binding on the chainsaw’s bar. Some chainsaws require you to lubricate the chain manually. Look for cordless chainsaws that use oiling mechanisms to deliver oil to the chain automatically.
Guide Bar Length
The chainsaw’s bar, which is the long metal piece that guides the chain, determines its cutting capacity. A chainsaw can cut trees with a trunk 2 inches less in diameter than the guide bar’s length. Large chainsaw jobs, such as cutting down a mature tree, require a long 16-inch, 18-inch, or an even longer bar to handle the trunk’s large girth.
Smaller chainsaws, which have a 10-inch or 12-inch bar, are suitable for pruning. Due to power limitations, cordless chainsaws have bars 18 inches and shorter.
As with a standard chainsaw, cordless chainsaws have two handles: one in the rear that includes the trigger and a larger wrap-around handle in the front for your guiding hand. Given the danger involved with using a chainsaw, the grip is crucial.
Chainsaw handles use rubberized grips that allow you to get a good hold on the chainsaw. The rear handle also incorporates the trigger that activates the saw and a safety switch that engages to shut off the saw should you lose your grip on the rear handle. The front handle curves around the chainsaw, allowing you to hold the chainsaw in various positions for different cuts.
Size and Weight
When it comes to size and weight, cordless chainsaws are equal to, or slightly heavier than, gas-engine power saws. A fully fueled gas-engine chainsaw with an 18-inch bar will weigh around 12 pounds, while a cordless chainsaw with the same bar length will weigh 13 or 14 pounds. Both types of chainsaws are similar in size to models with equal bar lengths.
A blade guard is crucial for protecting the chain blade and preventing accidents when the chainsaw is not in use. A blade guard fits over the blade like a scabbard, protecting the blade and preventing accidental cuts when transporting or storing the chainsaw. Most cordless chainsaws include a blade guard. Blade guards are also available as separate accessories.
Our Top Picks
This selection of some of the best battery chainsaws includes a few of the most reputable power tool manufacturers in the business. These chainsaws are lightweight and feature powerful batteries and motors.
Makita’s cordless chain saw is an example of the brand’s innovation. It features a dual-battery 18-volt design, doubling the maximum power and run time of a standard single-battery chainsaw. Despite those extra batteries, this chainsaw still weighs in at less than 11 pounds, making it easy to handle. The brushless motor allows its batteries to distribute more power to the saw than a standard motor, making it as powerful as some gas-powered chainsaws. A 14-inch bar makes it suitable for cutting through trees up to 12 inches in diameter.
Makita also packs plenty of other features into this chainsaw, including an auto power-off function that shuts the saw down to save battery life when the saw is idle for too long and a built-in lock-off that prevents the saw blade from accidentally starting.
With its massive 80-volt battery and brushless motor, this cordless chainsaw from battery-powered tool specialist Greenworks rivals many similarly sized gas-powered chainsaws. Proving that a small carbon footprint doesn’t equate to wimpy, this formidable chainsaw can make up to 150 cuts on 4×4-size lumber before needing a charge, which equates to 1 to 2 hours of runtime. Its 18-inch bar length allows it to cut through trunks up to 16 inches in diameter.
And, with its rapid charge capability—it needs just 30 minutes for a full recharge—you can easily rotate batteries to avoid lags in productivity. With steel bucking spikes to prevent kickback, an electronic chain brake for safety, and a weight of under 11 pounds, this chainsaw is easy to handle. The Greenworks Pro 80V is available with the battery and charger, or as a tool only.
This affordable model from Black & Decker is an excellent option for those budget-conscious DIYers who need a chainsaw for light-duty use only, as well as those who don’t have a lot of experience operating a chainsaw. Thanks to a smaller 10-inch blade, which is less likely to kick back, and an overall weight of just over 7 pounds, it’s easier to manage than larger chainsaws. That’s not to say it isn’t powerful. This chainsaw packs plenty of punch with a 20-volt battery and can cut through branches up to 8 inches in diameter.
User-friendly features include a tool-free chain tension adjuster and an automatic bar oiling system. This Black and Decker 20-volt Max cordless chainsaw is sold on its own or with a battery pack and charger.
Boasting a 60-volt battery and brushless motor, this formidable chainsaw from DeWalt is one of the most powerful battery chainsaws you can buy. It’s suitable for felling trees up to 14 inches in diameter. Coming in under 10 pounds with a chain brake for protection from kickbacks, this chainsaw is also easy to handle.
An auto-oiling feature, which keeps the chain continuously lubricated, and a tool-free chain tension adjuster make this chainsaw a low-maintenance model, enabling you to work without interruption. This chainsaw comes with a rigid bar scabbard to protect the chain when not in use, one 2Ah battery, and a charger.
Some people don’t require the power to topple tall oaks like a lumberjack. They need a chainsaw that can handle light-duty work, like chopping up small trees after a storm or pruning overgrown branches. This compact 12-inch chainsaw from DeWalt is large enough to cut through tree trunks up to 10 inches in diameter, but, at less than 9 pounds, is also small enough to wield easily.
And, though small, it’s mighty, thanks to its brushless motor and powerful 20-volt battery. That’s enough power to make up to 90 cuts per charge on 4×4 pressure-treated lumber. With its auto-oil feature and no-tool chain tension adjuster, you won’t have to slow down to make adjustments or lube the chain. This chainsaw is available for purchase on its own or with a battery and charger.
When you need maximum cutting power for taking on that overgrown forest in your yard, you need a heavy-duty chainsaw that’s on par with what the pros use. Designed with professional landscapers in mind, this chainsaw features Milwaukee’s cutting-edge battery technology with its M18 Redlithium high output battery. This formidable power source provides 50 percent more power and operates 50 percent cooler than a standard 18-volt battery pack, putting this saw in the same league as a 40-cubic centimeter gas-powered chainsaw.
This chainsaw will make up to 150 cuts on a single charge and won’t bog down when faced with a tough cut. Its 16-inch blade is capable of cutting through trees with trunks up to 14 inches in diameter. All that power does come with a weight cost; at nearly 14 pounds, this is one of the heavier battery-powered chainsaws.
Put that step ladder away and take a safer approach to cutting down tree limbs with this pole pruning saw from Black & Decker. With its maximum 14-foot reach, this saw allows you to safely cut higher branches while keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
Its 8-inch blade can cut through limbs up to 6 inches in diameter. Meanwhile, its lightweight fiberglass pole and total weight of less than 11 pounds make this pole chainsaw easy to manage. With a 20-volt battery, this chainsaw is powerful enough to make 100 cuts of 1.5-inch limbs on a single charge. It comes with a 20-volt battery and charger.
The Advantages of Owning a Battery Chainsaw
There are numerous advantages of owning a cordless chainsaw. Battery chainsaws are lower maintenance and offer more convenience than standard gas chainsaws or electric, corded chainsaws.
There is no need to go through the tedious process of mixing gas for a 2-cycle engine to power a cordless chainsaw. Nor do you have the inconvenience of running a long power cord for an electric chainsaw. Simply keep the battery on the charger, and then pop it into the chainsaw, and you’re ready to go.
There also isn’t the need to maintain a gas-powered engine. If you only use a chainsaw on occasion, a gas-powered engine may eventually deteriorate, making it difficult to start when you do need it.
Gas chainsaws can be difficult to operate. They use pull starters to get the engine running, requiring significant effort, especially if the engine is cold. They also tend to stall if the throttle is engaged too quickly. Battery chainsaws won’t stall, and they start with the push of a button.
Obviously, there are many advantages to owning a battery chainsaw.
- They do not require long extension cords or special fuels.
- They are easier to maintain than gas-powered chainsaws.
- They can use the same batteries as other cordless tools of the same brand.
- They are easier to start and don’t have the stalling issues that plague some gas chainsaws.
FAQs About Battery Chainsaws
If you’re still wondering about battery-powered chainsaws, read on for answers to the most cutting questions about chainsaws.
Q. How do I choose a chainsaw size?
When it comes to chainsaws, a general rule of thumb is that they should be at least 2 inches longer than the thickness of the tree or limb you are trying to cut. With that in mind, when shopping for a chainsaw, consider what types of jobs for which you’ll be using the chainsaw.
If you’re planning on using the chainsaw primarily for pruning and removing young trees, a 10- or 12-inch chainsaw should suffice. For larger jobs, consider purchasing a 16-inch or 18-inch chainsaw.
Q. How long will a battery-powered chainsaw last?
A battery-powered chainsaw will run about 30 to 40 minutes with intermittent use depending on the battery’s size.
Q. How do I maintain a battery chainsaw?
There are several measures you should follow to maintain a chainsaw:
- Check the bar oil regularly. Lubricant is necessary to keep the chain smoothly rotating around the bar and through the wood. Nothing will thwart your chainsaw job more than a dry blade, which will cause the chain to derail, bind in the wood, or kick back.
- Keep the chain sharp. A sharp chain not only improves the cutting power of the chainsaw but also prevents dangerous kickbacks.
- Clean the saw blade after each use. Make sure to remove any debris or sawdust. Built-up debris can easily clog the oil hole, preventing lubricant from reaching the blade.
- Tighten loose nuts, bolts, and screws. Chainsaws vibrate a lot. All of that vibration can shake fasteners loose, negatively impacting the chainsaw’s operation.