Most of us associate chainsaws with the earsplitting growl of a 110-decibel motor. Thanks to quantum leaps of innovation in cordless power tool technology, quieter battery-powered chainsaws are now becoming more competitive with the telltale buzz of gas-powered models.
These less-noisy chainsaws operate at around 80 to 95 decibels (similar to that of a lawn mower) and feature powerful batteries and efficient, low-friction motors that are becoming nearly as mighty as their gas-powered cousins, but without pull-start engines, fuel requirements, and harmful gas emissions.
Among battery chainsaws, there are three categories: light duty, heavy duty, and heaviest duty. Light-duty chainsaws are for very occasional use like trimming a branch, cutting up a downed branch, cutting up to a 4-inch-diameter tree, or removing a shrub or two. Heavy-duty chainsaws can handle processing downed trees, bucking logs, and cutting firewood. The heaviest-duty chainsaws can be used for heavy-duty applications, but they just do those jobs better.
Through hands-on testing, we used all the chainsaws on the following list in real-world applications to determine which is best for different uses. Whether you’re doing some light pruning or chopping up fallen trees, this guide can help determine the best battery chainsaw for your projects.
- BEST OVERALL: Ryobi 40V HP Brushless Cordless Battery Chainsaw
- RUNNER-UP: Milwaukee Electric Tools 2727-21HD Chainsaw Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: EGO Power+ CS1604 Battery Chainsaw Kit
- UPGRADE PICK: DEWALT DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Brushless Chainsaw
- BEST LIGHT-DUTY: DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw 12-Inch DCCS620B
- BEST COMPACT: Makita XCU03Z (18V X2) LXT Brushless Chain Saw
- BEST TECH: Husqvarna 540i XP
- BEST ENTRY-LEVEL: WORX WG322 20V Power Share 10″ Cordless Chainsaw
- BEST FOR FIREWOOD: Greenworks Pro 80V 18-Inch Cordless Chainsaw GCS80420
- ALSO CONSIDER: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max Cordless Chainsaw (LCS1020B)
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Battery Chainsaw
Most DIYers base their purchase of a cordless power tool on the size and brand of the battery. While battery power is important, there are other factors to consider when shopping for the best cordless chainsaw, including guide bar and chain length, motor type, and weight.
Cordless tool technology has made quantum leaps into outdoor power equipment territory that has been, until recently, totally dominated by gasoline-powered tools like string trimmers, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and battery-powered chainsaws, the subject of this hands-on review.
Battery chainsaws use lithium-ion batteries as a power source. Unlike their predecessors, which required up to 12 hours to recharge, lithium-ion batteries produce more power, can recharge in as little as 1 hour, and they’re lighter to boot. With multiple lithium-ion batteries, it’s easy to keep the woodcutting going by simply rotating batteries.
When shopping for a battery-powered chainsaw, there are a few things to look out for that will help determine how often it needs 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.
The higher-voltage saws with bigger bars and batteries can process more timber, have chain speeds (which refers to how quickly the chain moves around the bar) nearing that of gas-powered saws, and can—with multiple batteries—handle bigger jobs like downed trees whose diameters don’t exceed their bar lengths. However, if there is a need to dismantle a downed 80-foot oak or black walnut tree, it isn’t the place for a battery-operated saw. While many of the saws in this test delivered near-gas power, they didn’t deliver it for long—and some didn’t even come close.
Although runtimes will vary depending on use and the chainsaw’s size, expect to get about 20 to 30 minutes of intermittent use out of a cordless chainsaw before it needs a charge. For those who already have an arsenal of cordless power tools, consider buying a chainsaw of the same brand to use the batteries interchangeably among 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 runtime before the battery needs recharging; less friction also means better motor power. A brushless chainsaw is typically about 85 to 90 percent efficient, whereas one with a brushed motor is around 75 to 80 percent efficient.
Matching the uses to power needs can help ensure that using the saw is productive and enjoyable. Choosing an underpowered saw for cutting up dense hardwood logs will surely frustrate as it bogs down and overheats. Conversely, using a heavy-duty saw for limbing a fruit tree might be hard on your back due to its increased weight.
With battery-powered saws, much of the power rating is based on the voltage of the battery used, not its amp-hour (Ah) rating. A battery’s Ah rating has more to do with how long the battery will run. For prolonged uses (felling trees or cutting logs into firewood rounds), a DIYer benefits from a battery with higher amp-hour ratings in the 6-Ah or 8-Ah range. For quick jobs, a 4-Ah battery can provide plenty of runtime.
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. Due to power limitations, battery chainsaws have bars 18 inches and shorter; for general DIY use, the sweet spot for chainsaws is 14 or 16 inches.
Smaller chainsaws, which have a 10-inch or 12-inch bar, are suitable for pruning. Small saws are lightweight and easy to use all day, and they’re useful for trimming limbs and small trees. They’re also handy at a campsite for cutting firewood to length (where allowed, of course).
Large chainsaw jobs, such as cutting down a mature tree, require a long 16-inch, 18-inch, or longer bar to handle the trunk’s large girth. Larger bars are most helpful for felling trees and cutting firewood. However, they’re heavier and less convenient for limbing trees than a smaller saw.
Bar oil helps the chain run smoothly in the bar’s grooves without overheating. Oiling prevents the chain from wearing out prematurely and the bar from burning from the speed of the chain. It also allows the saw to run at optimal speeds for the fastest cutting. Topping off the bar oil with each battery charge is an easy way to remember this task.
The most convenient way to go is with an automatic oiler, which will continuously lubricate the bar during use, as long as the on-board reservoir is kept full. Older options include a manual oiler (a thumb-operated plunger that releases oil onto the bar) and, most rudimentary, pouring oil over the bar by hand, but these outdated systems are not likely to be found nowadays.
Chainsaw chains are known to stretch with use due to a combination of temperature change and centrifugal force. New chains stretch quite a bit due to the same factors as well as simply “breaking in,” and that’s totally acceptable. However, when a chain stretches, it can fit loosely on the bar or even skip off of the bar altogether—annoying, if not dangerous.
To account for stretching, chainsaw bars have a back-and-forward adjustment that takes the slack out of the chain. The most easily adjusted models come with toolless tensioning systems: Simply loosen a knob on the side of the bar by hand, twist the adjustment knob until the slack is gone, and tighten the bar up again—all without pulling out a single hand tool.
As with a standard chainsaw, cordless chainsaws have two handles: one in the rear that includes the trigger and a larger wraparound handle in the front for the guiding hand. Given the danger involved with using a chainsaw, the grip is crucial.
Chainsaw handles use rubberized grips that allow the user 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 the user lose the grip on the rear handle. The front handle curves around the chainsaw, allowing the user to hold the chainsaw in various positions for different cuts.
Tools are not toys—and any chainsaw can be dangerous if it’s not operated correctly. Look out for the following safety features that make using a chainsaw safer:
- A blade guard is crucial for protecting the chain and preventing accidents when the chainsaw is not in use. This protective sleeve fits over the blade like a scabbard, protecting the blade and preventing accidental cuts when transporting or storing the chainsaw.
- Manual chain brakes mounted in front of the grip keep the user’s top hand protected and allow a user to quickly engage the brake by rotating their wrist forward. Their main function is to arrest the chain if the saw kicks back.
- Clutches found on some saws quickly disengage the chain when the trigger is released; this prevents a free-spinning chain from catching the user off guard after the cut. Low-kickback chains are also available.
Tip: “Kickback” happens when the uppermost portion of the bar’s tip makes contact with a log, causing the saw to “kick” back toward the user, potentially making contact between the user and the spinning chain. To avoid kickback while operating a chainsaw, never use the tip of the saw for making cuts. Instead, cut using only the top and bottom sections of the bar until you become very experienced with a chainsaw.
Other miscellaneous features may be found in the chainsaw market. Some may be irrelevant depending on a user’s needs, but others may provide a compelling reason to select one tool over another.
- Variable speed: While some chainsaws offer only a single speed, which simply allows the chainsaw to be turned on or off, higher-end chainsaws offer variable speed controls. These chainsaws regulate the chain’s speed via a pressure-sensitive trigger, allowing a user to optimize the chain’s speed for different types of cuts.
- Anti-vibration: A certain amount of vibration is inevitable, but better chainsaws use special engine mounts to reduce it. Spring-mounted handles further insulate the user from vibration.
- Spring-assist starting: Some chainsaws have spring-assist starting, which reduces the pulling force needed to get the tool going.
- Extra batteries: Certain chainsaws come with an extended-life battery and/or extras to extend runtime. Batteries can be replaced during long sessions.
Our Top Picks
In order to select the best battery chainsaws, we tested some of the most popular chainsaws from reputable power tool manufacturers. While some battery chainsaws are created for DIY use and others for light professional use, we put all the saws through their paces in the field. The following are some of the best battery chainsaws by category.
Ryobi’s 18-inch-bar 40-volt chainsaw hits on all criteria needed to be a top battery chainsaw. It delivers top chain speed, instant response trigger, and superb power. It has a traditional two-bolt chain housing, and not only does it come with a chainsaw wrench, but it also comes with an on-board chainsaw wrench that stows in the handle.
Through our hands-on testing, we found that it has top chain speed for working larger branches and logs. Even when it was deep in larger cuts—where other saws could be slowed down as more teeth were engaged cutting wood—the Ryobi powered through. It has great runtime, which is ideal for work not adjacent to an electrical source, like a tree or large branch downed way in the back corner of the yard.
Battery exchange is a snap, the tool is well-balanced, and the price and availability of other parts and supplies is great. It even has aggressive bucking spikes. The unit also ships in its own blow-molded carrying case—the only one in the group—which is ideal for actual field use of a chainsaw. Not only can the saw be transported, but so can spare chains, the battery and charger, and a bottle of bar oil.
The saw is well-balanced, and the trigger release and trigger work seamlessly.The battery delivered outstanding runtime with a terrific power-to-weight ratio. Plus, the included 40-volt rapid charger charges RYOBI 40-volt batteries four times faster than the standard charger.
- Voltage: 40 volts
- Bar length: 18 inches
- Weight: 13.2 pounds
- Best power and chain speed through wood fiber
- Great power to weight ratio
- Top runtime
- Thoughtful features include on-board wrench, storage box, rapid charger
- Not as powerful as a gas chainsaw
When maximum cutting power is required for taking on overgrowth in a yard, a heavy-duty chainsaw is needed. This chainsaw can 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.
Designed with professional landscapers in mind, this chainsaw features Milwaukee’s cutting-edge battery technology with its M18 Redlithium high output battery. During our hands-on testing, this saw was just about as close to gas power as can be gotten out of a chemical reaction inside a battery cell, with great chain speed, nice balance, and plenty of power and runtime.
This formidable power source provides 50 percent more power and operates 50 percent cooler than a standard 18-volt battery pack, making this saw somewhat comparable to a 40-cc gas-powered chainsaw. All that power does come at a cost; weighing nearly 14 pounds, this is one of the heavier battery-powered chainsaws. It also has a two-bolt blade housing and an included chainsaw wrench.
- Voltage: 18 volts
- Bar length: 16 inches
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Powerful commercial-grade tool
- Designed for professional landscapers
- Innovative, high-performance battery technology
- 150 cuts per battery charge
- Limited runtime (30 minutes)
With a 16-inch bar, high chain speed, and 5.0-Ah 56-volt battery in a well-balanced saw, the EGO can make wood chips in downed branches, downed trees, and a stack of firewood. In our field tests, the saw delivered good runtime cutting in hardwood. The battery exchange is user-friendly, and the battery gauge is bright and easy to read. The trigger and release switch both work well, too.
The unit has a soft start, meaning there’s a slight pause before the chain reaches full speed. Compared to gas-powered chainsaws and the other instant-max RPM in the battery chainsaw tool category, this is a noticeable feature that takes some getting used to. It’s not a detriment for many users, but it is different. Once it’s going, it’s going, and this unit can process some smaller downed trees, branches, and firewood.
The oil filter screen is a generally good feature to help keep chips and debris out of the oil reservoir, but if the bar oil is viscous (as can happen in cold temperatures; it gets syrupy) it makes adding oil a slow process because the oil needs to pass through the small apertures of the filter screen.
The box has a map of the United States with an arrow pointing to the company’s headquarters in Illinois. The fact that the brand’s customer service info isn’t buried inside a web maze or doesn’t require hunting down a phone number is a good sign the manufacturer is dedicated to helping customers, which is a big plus for busy tool users. With its 56 volts of power, this tool has a big, heavy battery that’s hungry to make chips.
- Voltage: 56 volts
- Bar length: 16 inches
- Weight: 16 pounds
- Powerful and aggressive tool
- Good cut capacity
- Good runtime
- Batteries designed for outdoor power equipment
- Soft start takes some getting used to
- Oil filter can slow adding oil into reservoir
This formidable cordless chainsaw from DeWalt is one of the most powerful battery chainsaws on the market. It’s suitable for felling trees up to 14 inches in diameter or cutting firewood. Coming in at 12.2 pounds with a chain brake for protection from kickbacks, this chainsaw is also easy to handle.
Powered by DeWalt’s 60-volt max battery system, this saw easily spit out some wood chips during our field tests. It is well-balanced for working in the crown of a downed tree or processing firewood. For the category, it has a good battery life of about 30 minutes and an electric brake that stops that chain upon releasing the trigger.
A tool-free chain-tension adjuster makes this chainsaw a low-maintenance model, enabling a user to work without interruption. Like other chainsaws, it comes with a rigid bar scabbard to protect the chain when not in use. It also has one 2Ah battery and a charger. Overall, it’s a good workmanlike saw, and it’s firewood-ready.
- Voltage: 60 volts
- Bar length: 16 inches
- Weight: 12.2 pounds
- Runs for 30 minutes
- Electronic brake for added safety
- Auto-oiling feature
- Tool-free chain-tension adjuster
Some of us don’t require the power needed to topple tall oaks like a lumberjack. We need a chainsaw that can handle light-duty work, like cutting up small trees after a storm or pruning overgrown branches.
Surprisingly from a pro brand like DeWalt, we found this tool’s chain speed to be low and its bar short. A small saw is very handy for lots of light-duty items and at less than 9 pounds, it is also small enough to wield easily. Its balance also made working with the saw easy, but it had difficulty in larger and denser material. However, this compact 12-inch chainsaw from DeWalt is large enough to cut through logs up to 10 inches in diameter.
With its no-tool chain-tension adjuster, users 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.
- Voltage: 20 volts
- Bar length: 12 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Affordable tool
- Lightweight design
- Brushless motor
- Up to 90 cuts per charge
- Made for light-duty work
- Limited 45-minute runtime
Makita’s 14-inch bar chainsaw features a dual-battery 18-volt design, and despite those extra batteries, this chainsaw still weighs less than 11 pounds. The 14-inch bar makes it suitable for cutting through trees up to 12 inches in diameter.
During our tests, the compact saw performed with great chain speed and good balance. To sidestep a trigger-release switch, which can be annoying, Makita employs an on-off button. While it works, the onboard electronics go to sleep if the saw is inactive for a few minutes, and the button needs to be pressed again. But if the necessary time has not elapsed, then it is still active, so it can become annoying in a different way. It also has a built-in lock-off that prevents the saw blade from accidentally starting. Overall, this saw is firewood-ready and agile with great chain speed.
- Voltage: 18 volts
- Bar length: 14 inches
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Dual-battery design
- Runs for up to 40 minutes with four batteries
- Auto power-off and lock-off features
- Not suitable for larger jobs
- Trigger-release switch takes practice
This medium-duty saw is built with super-pro features, starting with its battery. If there’s a need to track tool performance or tool location and service history, the Husqvarna Fleet Services app can help. It also has an energy-save setting that optimizes output and extends battery life.
Activated by an on/off switch rather than a manual trigger release, it powers through dense logs, runs smoothly, and is a well-balanced rear-handle saw. Its top-mounted 40-volt battery seats nicely and springs loose when the release tabs are depressed for the easiest battery exchange in the bunch.
The saw is light and nimble enough to work branches in a downed tree, the unit is powerful enough to buck larger logs and firewood, and it has the best bucking spikes in the group.
- Voltage: 40 volts
- Bar length: 14 inches
- Weight: About 10 pounds (with battery)
- Aggressive bucking spikes
- Battery release
- Good power
Compact and light duty, the Worx saw’s low chain speed and 20-volt slim-pack battery combined with light weight and nice balance make this a saw suitable for someone who doesn’t need a heavier-duty chainsaw, has never run a heavier-duty chainsaw, or only has occasional need to cut up wood, like a downed branch, kindling, or a small log. The compact design makes it easy to store between uses, taking up little shop, shed, or garage space.
With its small bar, small battery, and low chain speed, the Worx struggled in tough material during our hands-on testing. LIke the other light-duty saws on this list, it works well for occasional use.
- Voltage: 20 volts
- Bar length: 10 inches
- Weight: 6.2 pounds
- Lightweight and well-balanced
- Easy to use
- Compact for storage or transport
- Good price
- Not for heavier use
- Unable to process larger timber
With its massive 80-volt battery and brushless motor, this cordless chainsaw is the biggest in the group of battery chainsaws tested. Even with its big size, it’s firewood- ready. Well-balanced for bucking (cutting logs), it has a big cut capacity and can make serious chips. The battery exchange is easy, but it flew through its charge in just 20 minutes. It can cut a lot, and it consumes a lot of power doing so.
As long as there are other charged batteries on hand or time to recharge, the saw can do the work. Its battery needs 30 minutes for a full recharge. It has a traditional two-bolt chain housing, but there is no chainsaw wrench included. With steel bucking spikes, 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.
- Voltage: 80 volts
- Bar length: 18 inches
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Suitable for large jobs that can be done quickly
- Bucking spikes prevent kickback, electronic chain break for safety
- Charges quickly in 30 minutes
- Comes with battery and charger
- Only runs for 20 minutes of constant cutting
- No chainsaw wrench included
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.
This small saw has both a short bar and a tiny battery. Combined with a low chain speed, it is for very occasional use: processing a downed branch, maybe removing a shrub or two, or cutting kindling.
With an overall weight of just more than 7 pounds, it’s easier to manage than larger chainsaws. User-friendly features include a tool-free chain-tension adjuster and an automatic bar oiling system. This Black & Decker 20-volt Max Cordless Chainsaw is sold on its own or with a battery pack and charger.
- Power source: Battery-powered
- Bar length: 10 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Affordable tool
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Tool-free chain-tension adjuster
- Suitability limited to light-duty work
- Runs for only about 10 minutes
Based on pure cutting power, balance, and ease of use, the Ryobi stood tall. With great chain speed, responsive trigger, and a thoughtful placed trigger and trigger release, it delivers lots of power and is offered at a great price. Even the storage box—the only one included among the chainsaws we tested—is terrific. This doesn’t take into account what battery platform you may or may not be on, which is always a factor when buying cordless tools. If you’re already on the Milwaukee platform, the power the 18-volt Milwaukee Chainsaw Kit dished out was impressive.
How We Tested the Best Battery Chainsaws
This test of cordless chainsaws included DIY and professionally branded tools of varying voltages, bar lengths, and applications. Rather than having each tool compete directly against one another, we picked applications where the tools were best suited. The three categories were: 1) heaviest-duty for firewood, logs, downed trees; 2) heavy duty for downed trees, branches and logs; and 3) light duty for very occasional use.
In the field, we cut hardwood trees downed from a recent storm. We tested each tool for balance (cutting branches in the crowns of the trees), power, trigger response, switches, chain removal, and particularities and unique features that made certain tools stand out.
The Advantages of Owning a Battery Chainsaw
For the right user, cordless chainsaws—and the tech behind them—deliver. If it’s casual firewood cutting or a downed branch or even a small tree there’s no rush to remove, there’s a lot to like in this cordless chainsaw category.
Among the numerous advantages of owning a cordless chainsaw are the convenience and lower maintenance than with standard gas chainsaws or 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, 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 requires regular maintenance or it can be difficult to start when you 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.
- 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.
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-inch or 12-inch chainsaw should suffice. For larger jobs, consider purchasing a 16-inch or 18-inch chainsaw.
More than just the capabilities of the saw, the battery platform that you already own may be a big factor in choosing a chainsaw.
Q. How long will a battery-powered chainsaw last?
A battery-powered chainsaw typically runs 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 with each battery change. 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 immediately dull the chain.
- Keep the chain sharp. A sharp chain not only improves the cutting power of the chainsaw but also prevents dangerous kickbacks. Backup chains are useful, too.
- 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, and all of that vibration can shake fasteners loose, negatively impacting the chainsaw’s operation.