Buyer’s Guide: Pole Saws

Prune the trees on your property safely and efficiently with the power tool that best suits your needs.

Choosing the Best Pole Saw for Any Yard

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In order to stay healthy and look their best, trees need occasional pruning to remove broken branches and thin out dense limbs. Perhaps the best way to tackle this project is with a pole saw—basically a chainsaw attached to a long pole that lets you reach up to cut branches while remaining safely on the ground. That sure beats more dangerous methods, which involve either climbing the tree or teetering on a ladder while lopping off limbs with a handheld chainsaw.

While pole saws can make pruning a whole lot easier, they’re not right for every situation. If removing thin twigs, dense vines, or foliage, you’re better off using shears or a manual pole pruner (operated by pulling a lever or with a sawing motion). If you aim to cut branches between two and eight inches in diameter, however, a pole saw is just the ticket. Ahead, we’ll discuss the important features of these power tools, and share our top three picks for the best pole saw, based on buyer reviews and ratings.

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FUNCTIONALITY FACTORS

Like all power tools, pole saws are designed to suit various needs; some are geared toward the do-it-yourselfer, while others are better suited for professionals. Consider the following features when shopping:

Choosing the Best Pole Saw for Any Yard

Photo: istockphoto.com

Working Height: The saw’s “working height” often appears on the packaging but doesn’t indicate the actual length of the pole—it refers to the length of the pole plus your arm length. Manufacturers typically estimate two to three feet for arm length, so if the pole saw claims to have a 10-foot working height, the pole saw itself, from tip to tip, will be seven to eight feet long. Most pole saws max out at 10- to 12-foot working height, because at greater heights, the business end of the saw can become difficult to safely control, especially in windy conditions. Many models include telescoping poles that allow you to adjust the length.

Cutting Bar Length: The cutting bar determines the maximum diameter of the branches you can cut. Bar lengths run from six to 12 inches, with eight inches being the most common. The standard rule of thumb is that the cutting bar should be a minimum of two inches longer than the diameter of the branch you’re cutting. For example, you’d need an eight-inch bar to cut a branch six inches in diameter.

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Weight: The heaviest pole saws weigh in at about 20 pounds but even lighter models, at seven to 15 pounds, can start to feel heavy when you’re working overhead. Electric and cordless saws typically weigh less than gas-powered models (see the Power Particulars section below).

Removable Saw: Some pole saws feature a cutting head that can be detached from the end of the pole for use as a handheld chainsaw. This can be helpful if you wish to cut a branch into smaller pieces after you’ve felled it—for firewood, say.

Additional Features: Manufacturers are constantly striving to make pole saws more durable and easier to operate. On some saws, you’ll find anti-vibration features and non-slip grips, and many of today’s pole saws come with a self-oiling chain. If it’s not self-oiling, you’ll have to oil the chain by hand (detailed in the owner’s manual).

POWER PARTICULARS

Pole saw power options include electrical, cordless (battery-operated), and gas-powered. Not only does the type of power affect the cost of the saw, it also factors into its intended use. Get to know these three types better to find the best pole saw for your landscaping needs.

Electric pole saws
For homeowners with small yards, an electric pole saw is an affordable choice, running $60 to $125, depending on quality and added features. Because it plugs into a power outlet, however, you’ll be restricted in how far you can trim by the length of an extension cord. Electric pole saws usually weigh less than 15 pounds and are quieter than gas-powered models, but don’t expect silent operation—all pole saws make noise. Electric pole saws aren’t as powerful as gas-powered models; the power they produce is measured in amperes (Amps) and most range from six to 10 Amps, which is powerful enough to cut branches two to five inches in diameter.

Cordless pole saws
For medium to large size yards, cordless pole saws, powered by rechargeable batteries, are a good choice if you don’t want to be restricted by the length of an extension cord and prefer a lighter saw (around 13 to 15 pounds). Cordless saws, ideal for branches three to eight inches in diameter, are quieter than their gas-powered counterparts and more expensive than electric models, averaging $125 to $300. Their power capability is measured in volts, which relates to battery size, and ranges from 40 to 80 volts. The higher the volts, the more powerful the saw.

Gas-powered pole saws
If you have a lot of trees to trim, and you don’t mind the noise, a gas-powered pole saw is a good option. Running $100 to $300 or more, depending on quality and engine size, they can be used in remote settings where electricity isn’t available. They’re often heavier than electric or cordless models, weighing in around 14 to 20 pounds. Professionals often use commercial-grade gas-powered pole saws because they can operate for hours and cut through branches up to eight inches in diameter. (Branches larger than 12 inches in diameter are usually cut with heavy-duty chainsaws.) Gas-powered saws are measured by engine size in cubic centimeters (cc) and range from 20 to 40cc. The larger the engine, the more powerful the saw.

Three Top Picks

We researched dozens of models to chose three best pole saws—one in each power category—that stand above the rest, based on buyer reviews and ratings.

 

3 Picks for Best Pole Saw - Worx 10-Inch 8 Amp Electric

Photo: homedepot.com

WORX 10” 8-Amp Electric Pole Saw ($89)
This electric pole saw got an enthusiastic 4.5 out of 5 stars from Home Depot shoppers who found it perfect for smaller yards. Powerful enough to trim branches up to five inches in diameter, it comes with an eight-foot detachable pole (for a 10-foot working height), so the saw can be used as either a pole saw or a traditional chainsaw. The pole is telescoping, and the 10-inch cutting bar has a hard plastic sheath for safe storage. It has an automatic chain oiler, weighs in at 13 pounds, and comes with a limited three-year warranty.  Plus, its price can’t be beaten—this is the best pole saw for your buck. Available from Home Depot.

 

3 Picks for Best Pole Saw - Greenworks PRO 10-Inch 80V Cordless

Photo: amazon.com

Greenworks PRO 10-Inch 80V Cordless Pole Saw ($269)
With 80 volts of power, the Greenworks PRO 10” Cordless Pole Saw offers maximum cutting ability in a convenient battery operated saw, earning it 4.4 stars from Amazon buyers who claim it “cuts like butter.” Weighing in at only 12.8 pounds, it’s lightweight and easy to handle, and it features reduced vibration technology. Its telescoping bar extends for a maximum 10-foot working height, and it comes with a 2AH (ampere hour) battery, meaning it runs for an average of two hours before needing a recharge. This top-notch pole saw can cut through branches up to eight inches in diameter, has an automatic chain oiler, and comes with a limited four-year warranty. Available from Amazon.

 

3 Picks for Best Pole Saw - Remington 8-Inch 25cc 2-Cycle Gas Saw

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Remington Maverick 8” 25cc 2-Cycle Gas Pole Saw ($158)
The Remington Maverick 8” 25cc 2-Cycle Gas Pole Saw is a great option for homeowners who want cutting power without limitations of cord length and battery life. With its telescoping pole, the Remington offers a maximum 12-foot working height and its eight-inch cutting bar easily saws through branches up to six inches in diameter. Weighing in at 17.5 pounds, the Remington has a 2-cycle engine, which means you’ll need to mix gasoline with engine oil before adding the fuel to the gas tank, but the engine does feature QuickStart technology to make pull-starting easier. The saw includes an automatic chain oiler, and you can detach the engine to use with other Remington attachments, such as their leaf blower and hedge trimmer. The Remington Maverick earns 4.1 stars from Home Depot shoppers for its power and mobility, but buyers say it’s a tad on the noisy side. It comes with a limited two-year warranty. Available from Home Depot.